Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-13

  • @mpascoe Thanks for pointing that out, here’s the link http://bit.ly/jcxBNr #
  • Tech-savvy doctoral students increasingly look to open web technologies http://bit.ly/jcxBNr (prev tweet has broken link) #
  • @mpascoe wrt students and lecture capture, study was done by a company selling devices for lecture capture…have to wonder about results #
  • One year on « The Thesis Whisperer http://bit.ly/jf84Rw. Interesting comments on what research students came looking for #
  • @sportsdoc_chris Thanks for the FF #
  • @simtho001 Who’s giving the course? What you covering? Would love to know what you thought of it when you’re done #
  • @romieh Great question. On looking further, it seems that the paper was released by a company specialising in lecture capture! #skeptical #
  • BioMed Central Blog : Exploiting the advances of multimedia technology in medical publishing http://bit.ly/l186Ad #
  • BioMed Central Blog : Bringing open access to Africa: BioMed Central announces far-reaching program http://bit.ly/jIktNm #
  • Cultivate your Personal Learning Network http://ow.ly/1tEHl6 #
  • Who Really Owns Your Photos in Social Media? http://ow.ly/1tEHib #
  • Students Rank Lecture Capture ‘Most Important’ Blended Learning Resource http://ow.ly/1tEH8t #
  • Tech-savvy doctoral students increasingly look to open web technologies http://ow.ly/1tEGVJ #
  • Why Augmented Reality Is Poised To Change Marketing http://ow.ly/1tEGOM #
  • Periodic Table welcomes two new, ultraheavy elements, jury still out on the names http://ow.ly/5eHZe #
  • United Nations Proclaims Internet Access a Human Right http://ow.ly/5eHIT #
  • Daily Papert http://bit.ly/muCVu1. Many do not appreciate fully the ways in which digital media can augment intellectual productivity #
  • @RonaldArendse need something to do while waiting for kettle to boil 🙂 #
  • Pic du Midi de Bigorre cloudy Wikimedia Commons.jpg [POTD for June 08 from commons.wikimedia.org] http://ow.ly/5ex2S #
  • Pic du Midi de Bigorre cloudy Wikimedia Commons.jpg [POTD for June 08 from commons.wikimedia.org] http://ow.ly/1tE5Rk #
  • Scottish university to introduce comic studies degree http://ow.ly/1tE5QP #
  • Wikipedia Is “Making the Grade” With More & More Academics http://ow.ly/1tE5Q4 #
  • A few improvements to discussions in Google Docs http://ow.ly/1tDvEU #
  • UCT open educational resource wins 2011 Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence http://ow.ly/1tDvEJ #
  • Introducing: Zotpress http://ow.ly/1tDvrH. Pulling Zotero libraries into WordPress blogs #
  • Daily Papert http://bit.ly/kgoatr. Children’s thinking “has its own kind of order and its own kind of logic” #
  • Technology in Schools: Local fix or Global Transformation? : The Daily Papert http://bit.ly/mIogF8 #

Notes on podcast from Stephen Downes

I thought I’d make some notes while listening to this podcast interview from Stephen Downes., where he talks about personal learning environments, problems with e-learning and open vs. closed educational content.

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Mentions Plearn as part of the opening discussion and bio.

What is a PLE? Compares LMS to PLE. LMS is based around the institution, and when the student leaves the system, they lose access to that learning. Same applies when changing institutions, or learning in different environments. PLE provides access to services and educational services from a personal space, rather than an institutional one.

Very new category of “learning system” right now, so there are no applications that exist that define a PLE. Rather, it’s a generic collection of tools and concepts.

Most resources are accessed on the fly, through the browser. Some people have small libraries that they keep locally, but only for backup purposes or content they need to access offline. Students will access lectures as audio and video streams if available. I disagree with the assumption that we’re all connected all the time and that there is no longer a need to download content to be kept locally.

There’s always going to be a mix of local and remote content that’s relevant for learning. A PLE should support whatever works best / whatever the learner needs in whatever context.

Discussed the Khan academy and the role of online video (YouTube) as an educational resource. Quality of the video production isn’t as important as the quality of the video content. The problem is that the video format is linear, which means that it consumes time, it isn’t searchable (it’s not random access). You can’t find the specific piece of information you’re looking for. Content can be more efficiently acquired through text and images.

Videos are also not social or interactive (although video conferences are). Skype conferencing mentioned. Contextual, flexible teaching and learning isn’t really possible when watching video.

Classrooms are not especially well designed for personal learning “1 size fits 30+”.

Is artificial intelligence a viable approach to education? “Going to be tricky”. Some components of the concept available in primitive recommender algorithms currently present in Amazon, iTunes, etc. But going to be a long time before true AI is going to be able to truly personalise the learning experience.

Software will continue to get smarter and understand more and more about what we want to do. It will be able to aggregate, filter, categorise content dynamically.

Discussion on online identity as a tangent to the above point i.e. that your point of entry into the network (i.e. the browser) would be the software that would aggregate, etc. the content you’re interested in. Downes created a tool that did something like this, but which was subsequently superseded by OpenID. Also a brief mention of OAuth.

Briefly talked about SCORM / IMS and the Common Cartridge format (i.e. learning objects). Useful for closed organisations’ learning requirements e.g. the military. Not useful for learning content that needs to be interactive and to engage with other environments / scenarios. Doesn’t do much for the social component and is unnecessarily complex in trying to create “units of knowledge”. The best model is the open web. Many companies trying to create common formats, but also lock consumers in.

Not an easy, decentralised way to create a “learning” management system. But the context there is in managing students or content, not learning. Nothing wrong with the LMS to manage students, but it’s not about learning. How do you give people the freedom to learn in a personal way?

Ends with some discussion on revenue, profit and commercial aspects of education.

Mozilla Open Education course: seminar 3

Open web tech

Again, I missed this seminar because of poor internet connectivity on the day and am catching up on the audio after the fact.  Here are my notes from the presentation given by Mozilla’s Chris Blizzard.

  1. Open as a concept
  2. Innovation and change = important building blocks
  3. Relevance and why open matters
  4. Repurposing key web technologies

“Open”: what does it mean?  First of all, the opposite of open is not necessarily “closed”…though useful terms, in this context they shouldn’t be seen as polarising.  In the context of the open web, the opposite of open may be thought of as opaque…you don’t understand how it works, can’t see inside it, don’t know how it came about.  Gives a sense of the visual.  Therefore, open could be thought of as “transparent”.

Not requiring permission is an important component of open because it relates to patents, licensing, etc.  Comparison of video codecs like h264 and ogg theora and the difference that open licensing makes with regards permission to use the code.

Side note: all content from this course is available under an open license for anyone to re-purpose for any use.

“Generative” – word that is used widely in academia.  Meaning that through your action you allow others to do something as well. It allows people other than the original creator of the work to change the work and use it for things that the creator didn’t think of, it facilitates the mulitiplication of efforts and exploration.

“Innovation” is over-used in many circles…a black box in which things are improved but where the process is invisible.  The most important characteristic of innovation is that it represents change (both good and bad change).  Intentional disruption = standing up to make a difference in a way that’s going to be uncomfortable…and people are often reluctant to change because it’s uncomfortable.  Setting things up to purposefully be uncomfortable and going up against various interests (possibly commercial or political) who would not benefit from that change.  Setting yourself up against the status quo.  In an open model where you’re trying to encourage change / innovation / disruption, you’re going to run up against issues.

Where does experimentation come from?  Assume that progress and innovation stem from experimentation and failure (learning from our mistakes), it’s important to understand this process as it leads to change.  The core group of contributors to large projects are not necessarily the ones doing the experimenting, it usually comes from the periphery.  How do you set yourself up to have “edges” in the community and be open in order to promote experimentation and innovation?  This disruption is difficult for business to commit to because it’s hard to determine future value in experimentation and innovation.

As messy and painful as it is, the open web has worked well.  Very few other inventions have disrupted communication so comprehensively before the web (maybe the printing press, telephone).  An instantaneous communication network that people are continually changing and re-purposing without having to ask permission from anyone is very important.  The nature of the web made this possible i.e. intentionally built on a model of open technology / software where anyone could make changes without permission.

What makes something open web technology?  Web browser is the gateway to the web and we spend a lot of time using it, therefore it should be comfortable and easy to use.  Can you see the page source to understand how it works?  Being able to look at somebody’s source is part of the transparency / open-ness of the web.  Source is delivered (HTML, Javascript) and compiled / executed locally.  Historical mistake where originally authors were writing simple documents where source didn’t matter as much.  Now, this presents as a learning opportunity where others can see what you’ve done and use it in other ways.  This doesn’t mean that you should copy and paste everything, rather figure out how it works and learn that way.

If you have access to the source you may be able to figure out the API (or the API is open), which means that you can then re-purpose the application.  Twitter is an example…even though it’s only a simple application (status updates), others have figured out how to use it in different, more complex ways because of it’s open API and a whole ecosystem has developed around it. 

Another example is how people have changed Google search by implementing code in the browser, even though Google hasn’t explicitly given that permission.  An example of people using the open-ness of the web to figure things out and make changes that have not explicitly been allowed by an open license.

Key peices of open web technology:

  • HTML = core of open web, describes document structure, content, continually improving and evolving
  • XML = more generalised data management (not as widely used), semantic meaning is important in the open web
  • CSS = controls presentation of content (unlike HTML), can imply visual structure, media context, also implies semantic meaning
  • Images = static visual medium that conveys expression (jpg, png are simple but allows everyone to use), adds context to the open web
  • Javascript = integration of all the other peices, makes the static web dynamic
  • Open video = transparent, generative, not closed implementation of web video (in contrast to Flash), using ogg theora (patent- and royalty-free video codec)