Monday, 21 December 2009

have a pumpkin dance xmas

It what the web is for! Not much more to say really, is there? Have a merry berry sherry crimbo :OD -

Here's some holiday reading to keep you occupied :

  • The Learnovation project is aimed at stimulating a consensus-based definition of eLearning and Technology-Enhanced Learning, in order to inspire their total exploitation in implementing lifelong learning strategies across Europe.

  • Plus the new futurelab publication is online at URL:

    • Finally-The impact of web 2.0 in Europe. In order to investigate how social computing applications can be used in organised learning settings to enhance learning activities and promote innovation and inclusion in Education and Training......, at URL:

Monday, 14 December 2009

the scaling framework

This MS scaling tool was passed to me recently. Could prove useful, to move use
from the samll scale "Fred in the shed" situation, we often find ourselves in when large educational organisations fail to support or invest in innovation?

go to : ,  to find out how to use it.

"One of the things that has been done as part of the worldwide Partners in Learning programme is The Scaling Framework – an interactive tool that helps analyse how you move an innovation from being something done by 1 or 2 people, to making it widespread.

imageIt made me think of two specific cases where today there is a challenge of scaling innovation. The first is Virtual Learning Environments, where it is proving to be difficult to take good practice from one lecturer/department/college to the whole system. And the other is taking an innovative ICT teaching initiative and spreading it to other departments.
The Scaling Framework is a simple interactive tool that explains the five dimensions of scale, and then digs down into areas such as “Traps to Avoid” and “Next Steps to Explore.”

Friday, 11 December 2009

Game based learning

Game based learning is a hybrid area of development taking the best of games technology and trying to shoehorn it into some serious educational contexts.  This area of R&D is growing in popularity. See my previous posts on what Sony (PSP) are doing in this arena.

I attended a webinar the other day that was co-orgnaised by the

I took some notes from the webinar & would like to share them with you plus some related videos that will feed into this blog post neatly.

Scott Hewitt from :,  gave a first half presentation encompassing some very interesting topics and some current projects and platforms.

  • revising to combat revision stress - Flash based learning game. It included easter eggs + combination scorings. planning revision breaks was paramount - they scored higher if they did this.

    Scott then talked about another tool Open simulator : currently in alpha version - create own virtual environments - d/load onto own server - Open Source - similar to SL. Can build your own "worlds", and make it private - UK Army are experimenting with it.  BCU have built Shareville as a 3D immersive world as a learning resource:

    • Unity : multiple platform development tool - very advanced, but need some experience to use it. A widespread community.

    • Thinking worlds (Caspian) : a rapid development engine, SCORM output, scoring and links to LMS to record scoring, shallow learning curve - advantageous to elearning devleopment teams (and as a teaching + learning tools) . Using with Students - pushing the boundaries:

    • Blackberry, iphone,  ipod touch are all being used for innovate games design, in schools. Flash support for iphone comming soon, which will help release more applications, quicker and easier.

    • Can you develop a game in a day? Yes they did with 35 games design students, see the project @ URL: , see 1/2 way down page for brief they gave to students to deign the games. They used thinking worlds for this. Split into roles and went through the whole process, including narrative, rewards, learning outcomes, flowchart, storyboards, testing and pilot, etc. All groups (about 6 in each group) did at least 1 game each in 1/2 day. nb/. dentisry looking at the wii controller to teach techniques.

    See also this useful video on hacking the wii:

    Second half of the session was run by Steve Harris - Northumbria Uni. His talk was equally interesting, but focussed on the underpinning principles of effective games design he teaches. High level concepts about game design and how education can benefit from these high level principles. Some notes I made:

    • Pace of learning - using games for differentiated learning design.

    • Recouperation is good for this- command and conquer, ie. intense period of action, then relaxation to reflect. Don't throw a constant barrage of info' at learners. Give time to reflect.
    • Motivation - fallout 3 game: sense of freedom (like ps2 game) - sense of discovery (not critical to quest) like easter eggs! Player feels as if they are in more control of the narrative - like GTA. ie. medical sim game - delivering medicines - add other medicines. They can discover to use in other situations.

    • Conflicts : places player in a situation where they have differing situations - like mad dash racing. Developing tactics and strategies to cope with rules of games. Helps to develop thninking, by allowing them to develop specifc skills i.e. time management.

    • Condorcet Paradox in gaming : remove dominant strategies: few number of paramenters create larger number of possibilities. Don't allow the learner to always win. Desgin in simple strategies.

    • Reward systems - fundamental in games: Operant conditioning - the more you use a technique or method, the better you become. It has to be balanced with other strategies to make you follow game rules. And Xbox 360 gamer acheivements online tag, to show others your skills. Simple to bolt on to a platform.

    • Apply thorough testing: ie. Halo 3 heat maps : bungie has these heat maps on their web site - in relation to specific weapon use - live payer date captured to allow you to learn from others. Intelligent use of gamer data.

    • Player assistance: i.e. player 2 can take temporary control to help player 1. Works with young and special needs games design.

    • Look at existing board games for ideas for effective learning/game design.

    I posed the question "are games designers utilising existing educational pedagogies to make their games educational?"  The answer was a no!  Which I thought was very strange indeed.  It seemed like a one way street, i.e. educators are looking for games based applications/platforms/technolgoes/graphics to make learning objects or content more engaging, but why are'nt games designers looking at the many (thousands of years) of teaching and learning experiences to make their games better? Or are they?  Let me know.

    Links and related books:

    • Understanding Video Games. Nielsen, Smith &  Tosca. (2008) . Routledge. ISBN: 0415977215. Gee, P. (2007) What Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and
    • Game Design Workshop: designing, Prototyping and Playtesting Games Literacy. Palgrave. ISBN: 1403984530. Fullerton, Swain &  Hoffman. (2004) . ISBN: 1578202221

    • + The cube   I love bees + NiN ARG (Wired article)

    • UK army gave personel DS Lites for eLearning: Developed by Epic (Stuart Chadwick) - won an award this year

    Finally have a look into the future at Project Natal

    Friday, 4 December 2009

    Strategy infokit out now

    The strategy infokit1 produced by JISC InfoNet covers all aspects of the strategy process.

    Not much more to say here. If it's like all the rest of the infokits, we can look forward to another top quality resource.

    BTW, you might also be interested to read about JISCs support for business community engagement :

    guide to funding

    Looks like this is worth getting hold of for all SMT & curriculum mangers. Obtained from URL:

    The hands-on guide to post-16 funding, written by Nick Linford, Edexcel's Special advisor on Funding and Performance. The guide explains in simple terms what is funded and how this is delivered. It looks at the funding changes for 09/10 and the current plans for funding in 10/11.  Get it here :

    Thursday, 3 December 2009

    edublog awards 2009

    It's that time of year when we vote for our fave blogs. Here's my nominations for the

    Wednesday, 2 December 2009

    buzzin with mind maps

    The use of mind mapping can help promote creative thinking,  visual learning preferences,  and especially to help dyslexic learners.  I've provided a list of mind mapping tools at the bottom of this post.

    This blog post was inspired after attending a mind mapping course by a Tony Buzan (creator of mind mapping techniques) accredited trainer.  We used imindmap, which I must admit blows all of the other mind mapping tools out the water for shear versatility, adherence to the mind map methods and its rich feature set. It's due to be released online soon ( to allow for collaboration), and as an iphone app' :OD..  But Mindmeister (above) comes close as a good free alternative.

    dyslexia an overview from kevbrace on Vimeo.

    By the way, I was told by our trainer, that the research of predominantly left or right brain processing is not outdated. Current research points to more of a complex trigger of neurons across both hemispehres. But there is still a great deal of research that supports the differences between left & right hemisphere differences for creative Vs logical modes of thought.

    Other mind map tools to consider as alternatives to imindmap;

    • bubb.lus (free online) = ok, as a basic tool.
    • freemind  (Free / Open Source) = good basic tool
    • Xmind (Free / Open Source) =  I'm advised that this is very good
    • Mind genuis (buy licence) = a good all rounder - exports to Word & PPT - ideal to brainstorm projects, essays, etc.
    • inspiration (buy licence) =one of the market leaders, often quoted as a very versatile tool adhering to the orginal mind map principles. 
    • Compendium (Free / Open Source)
    • mindomo   (online)
    See also my shared book marks on mind mapping

    leave a comment if you know of any more tools I've missed out on