Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Digital'ish Britain

For those who missed the furore over the Digital Britian report out last week. Promises for upgrading our anitquated network are at the heart of this report. But the proposed tax on upgrading has obviously stirred up the media!

"The government has, for the first time, recognised the hugely important issue of online aggregators' impact on the provision of quality content, and the need for collective action to address the problem, however, there is a long way to go before this will be resolved, and we look forward to engaging with all relevant parties to work towards a fair exchange of value between content providers and aggregators."

More >>>

And if you feel inclined, air your views in the forum :


Monday, 22 June 2009

new stickymoodle

Those clever people @ VLEMiddleware (AKA Kiddi College) in the West Mids have upated their StickyMoodle. That is Moodle + a server all on a USB drive.

You download the zip file and unzip it onto a USB drive. I've tried the previous version and it works a treat. Ideal for anyone who wants their very own Moodle to carry around. Trainers, developers, teachers, and even students who could have their own VLE!!

More here

Friday, 19 June 2009

I see "fail" written all over it.


I could not resist posting about this. As my old dad would say "what will they think of next?"
nuff said...

Bowling ball for Wii

Turn every Wii bowling experience into a perfect 300 with the Bowling Ball for Wii. This ultra-realistic accessory, allows you to mimic all the critical motions a ‘striking’ performance requires. This Wii peripheral is the first of its kind to be fashioned after an authentic bowling ball, turning your wii-mote into the optimum performance-enhancing accessory! To operate simply press the release button to open the ball in half, place the Wii remote inside and close the ball. Once the remote is set inside, plug the three holes with your fingers, as you would a bowling ball. Lastly, make sure to wear the wrist strap securely around your wrist, this will prevent the ball from accidently flying out of your hand, and you are ready to bowl virtual strikes like a Pro!


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Telling stories

The Plenary panel: Julie Hughes, Lisa Grey, Emma Purnell, Sarah Chesney, Shane Sutherland

This post is a summary of some of the sessions and my thoughts on the recent Telling Stories conference which ran last week at the University of Wolverhampton.

It was the latest conference celebrating the impact and potential uses of "eportfolios". I helped run a live DimDim webinar by Kathi Yancy (Florida, USA) who opened the conference with a fascinating keynote speech describing how we are at the precipice of a new era of learning pedagogies. Listen to Kathi's Keynote here (45 mins).

The seismic shifts in the educations system she describes are just being understood by eportfolio pioneers (such as Emma Purnell & Julie Hughes who organised the conference). Kathi describes the way eportfolio systems are challenging the established norms of HE and are helping to weave the formal and informal learning into a holistic picture of modern students learning experiences. Shane Sutherland gave an interesting talk on the second day about "what is not an e-portfolio" , although all this did was to confuse most, and perpetuate the needless debate about tools, features, and types! But Shane did redeem himself by spelling out the need for an eportfolio system/process/assessment method . etc.. etc, to be very purposeful, and indeed to tell a story. To "storyboard our lives" he said. Shane even advocated a move towards a new language to encompass all the possible variations of such eportfolios by adopting the phrase "personal learning spaces". Which makes some sense, but is no less confusing for those new to the arena.

That would certainly help move the debate on, and help us focus on spreading effective practice rather than the semantics of the word eportfolio, like we get with VLE or e-learning! Anyhoo, Shane has a massive wealth of knowledge and experience with eportfolios, and we were happy to receive his wisdom. I was lucky enough to be asked to join the plenary panel with Shane & Lisa Grey (see picture above) :OD

Now what I'd like to do is to put down some bullet points I picked up from attending some of the parallel sessions to help others piloting or trying to embed e-portfolios in their organisations. Download the document from my e-portfolio wiki page which contains other evidence of best practice.

Two points I've taken out of the document I want to share with you now are;

  1. the first pertains to the new interoperability e-portfolio standards LEAP 2A. Promote interoperability and standards driven tools to all transportation of user data freely between institutions. The new LEAP 2a e-portfolio standard which is out in August 2009 will assist this.

  2. The second point was raised about teaching staff and students to reflect. Most of the room were unanimous in directing us to use Andrea Duncan’s NUPAD reflective frameworks to help scaffold staff and student learning.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Streaming video delivery

We ran a 1/2 day workshop today covering the requirements for Colleges to be able to record, digitise, and broadcast (stream via the web) video content. Whether the content is an existing bit of recorded video ( or from DVD or VHS), or recorded from "free to air" TV.

We watched an interesting presentation from Dave Kings of Worcester College of Technology who has developed their own unicast streaming service for internal College use only. The system is very robust and uses MS Expresssion Encoder to compress the video, and an Opsprey TV capture card to record TV from Freeview. The encoder creates a suite of files at different bit rates , so the server can decide upon whcih video to deliver to the end user depending upon network cababilities at the point of delivery. The new MS Expresssion encoder will also allow, chaptering, overlays ( for college logos), and captioning. All this is powered by IIS 7 with the smooth streaming plugin. All recordings are made available to staff on the Sharepoint intranet/CMS platform. The vids are played through a browser media player called MS Silverlight, which was new to me. It looks like a whole new .NET framework, as opposed to "just a media player"?

All of this high quality video is being delivered to students internally, whcih is covered by the eduational ERA licence. NB they have developed a "you-tube" type of servce to deliver lower quality videos (mainly Flash based) to students on home (DSL) connections. If you are a College, you need the ERA PLUS licence to run this service externally. See my wiki page covering other streaming video case studies here.

We also sat through two demonstrations of companies offering solutions to record, digitise, archive, record from live TV, embed videos, link resources, etc,etc. By ClickView and Streaming UK. Both systems were feature rich, versatile , user friendly and offered some excellent and robust features. It was interesting to see how both companies had incoroporated features such as embed URL, to deliver videos via VLE featured as standard on most free video hosting sites. Both good systems, with slightly differing market niches, and some Colleges in the room were already using Clickview.

My favourite free web hosting is still Vimeo.

JISC Digital media are offering to assist Colleges set up such a service by bidding for some funds they are dishing out. Find out more and download docs on the event page.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Video Debate: The future of e-learning

When we train we all want to get best value from our learning experience. Has e-learning come of age to replace classroom learning? Is the best approach a blended one? What technologies can help?

BCS Managing Editor Brian Runciman discusses the issues with Clive Shepherd, Chair of the e-Learning Network; Samantha Kinstrey, MD of 2e2 Training; Laura Overton, MD of Towards Maturity; Lars Hyland, Director of Learning Services at Brightwave and Jooli Atkins of Matrix FortyTwo and Chair of the BCS Information and Technology Training Specialist Group.

Part 1: Saving money from e-learning
Part 2: Is classroom training finished?
Part 3: Learning technologies to help
Part 4: Getting the blend right

View the rest of these vids here : http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=ConWebDoc.25708

April 2009

WAVE goodbye to email

Could this be the end of email as we know it?