Monday 22 December 2008
Just before I am zooming off into my (much longed for) Christmas holiday, just a post about an easy to install widget I added to my blog.
It is just a small addition, but it makes all the blogposts more accessible. I have added the free (you have to sign in though) audio widget from odiogo. This widget allows visitors to click on the audio version of any blogpost. Odiogo uses text-to-speech software to convert your posts into an audio format. It was amazingly easy to install (click on the URL, go down in the window and click on 'free sign up' in the blogger part of the window, enter your blog and email, and here you go).
For next year I have a plan, so hope is born. Yes! I will be working on the realization of this eLearning plan during the Christmas holiday (ooohh, the pleasure and inspiration!).
I hope you all have a GREAT end of the year and that you will have inspiring ideas, eLearning inspiration and A LOT of FUN! A quick image of my hometown (Gent) and happy wishes to all.
Monday 15 December 2008
In order to view it, you need to make yourself a member of WiZiQ (= free) and you need to sign in to WiZiQ in order to get permission to view the session. The session allows you to hear what was said and which questions were raised.
After you have registered (or if you are already a member) surf to this link and click on 'view recording'.
If you are interested in the powerpoint, but you do not feel like going through the session (60 minutes), then you can just look at the powerpoint I used for this presentation. If you want to you can also download it and test out all the links that are mentioned on it. The presentation is an updated version of a previous one with more relevant links.
During the session I mention other mobile resources that I blogged about in the past, you can find all the posts here.
The session went well, but I always find it a pity that I cannot immediately show the things I talk about. Sometimes the questions are related to not having seen the mobile methods that I describe or not having felt the accessibility (or lack of) of mobile courses. I should think about bridging this gap in a future session.
During the last Online Educa Berlin, podcasts were recorded all through the conference. In one of them you can hear a bit of what we (= the eLearning team) does at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium. But what is really interesting to hear is the podcast part of Michael Wesch.
The podcast is the third and final part of Thursday’s coverage from ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2008 where we meet with more of the contributors to the conference and discuss their topics in more detail.
1 - Mathew Constantine, IE Business School (0m.30s) talks about using mobile phones to deliver market simulations and learning nuggets to students on business courses.
2 - Inge de Waard, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium (6m.01) shows us how mobiles are being used to spread health information as part of a blended offering in the developing world.
3 - Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Social Anthropology at Kansas State University, US (10m.02s) shares his insights and thoughts on the future of education, particularly focussing on a global perspective.
Friday 12 December 2008
If you have not tried it yet, visit the mobile site.
For some background information on their framework:
Thursday 11 December 2008
This is one great invention coming from Erwin De Vries, put to my attention by the ever great blogger Willem Karssenberg, aka trendmatcher (in Dutch). Erwin teaches German at the Willem Lodewijk Gymnasium in Groningen. He has developed a Voicemailboard which allows everyone with flash enabled computers to post mp3-messages in a really easy fashion (= no installation, just push record, play back to ensure and send to yourself and the voicerecord keeper to add it to all of the recordings).
Although the layout of this embeded feature is in Dutch, I heard that Erwin has offered Vociz to students in Denmark and Greece also. So if you are interested, do not hesitate and contact him.
Yes, you do have voicethread, but just give this application a try. It is really incredibly user-friendly and immediate. You can feel it is developed by a teacher. It enables students to exchange audio comments asynchronously without the hassle of downloading, installing, registering. Really great.
Just imagine a couple of students that need to do some language exercises (oral exercises). Then you simply implement this in their learning environment and off they go. I should send this to the Basque learning innovator Antoine Bidegain in France... he is always looking for easy access language tools.
At this moment Vociz is still in Dutch, but you can try it out by recording something right now (please do, the ease will astound you I am sure).
How to use it:
- click on Vociz embed;
- (it might be that a java pop-up appears);
- click on the upper tab 'recorder';
- start recording with a microphone;
- fill in your email address;
- click the 'vociz it!' button.
I was thrilled by this :-)
Tuesday 9 December 2008
This virtual classroom session is part of the Lifelong eLearning session that the International Training Centre of Turin, Italy organises. The session will focus on three mobile cases that were developed (or are in development) at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp, Belgium.
I will try to keep the presentation of the cases to a minimum of 15 - 20 minutes, allowing the international participants to ask questions and thus all of us can collaborate in this session of 60 minutes.
If possible, please use a head-set with microphone. This will enable us all to enhance interactivity and collaboration.
Joining this session is free, but you need to follow a couple of steps:
Do these steps before the start of the session (that way you can make sure you can follow without a problem).
- First you need to 'join for free', by clicking that button on the WiZiQ website ;
- After joining you will receive a mail in which the confirmation code is send (it is send immediately, so if you do not see it pop-up immediately, look at your junk-mail folder):
- login to the wiziq site using your Wiziq username and password;
- click on the link session below to enter the session;
- after checking your audio/video settings, accept the settings;
- log-in to the session a couple of minutes in advance. This will allow you to check your microphone and headset.
Session link: http://www.wiziq.com/tutorsession/detail.aspx?id=A701A7F1799B4722ADE616015D0747FB
You can also use this embedded code, but you need to register with Wiziq just the same:
Friday 5 December 2008
This will be more of a grim post. The biggest aha-moment on eLearning I got this year came when I talked to Nicola Avery last week. We both attended Online Educa Berlin and started venting our frustrations afterwards.
The same old, same old... that is what the internet is becoming
Social media would make a difference! It would give people the power to gather knowledge, not only that but they would construct knowledge and it would be taken up. That knowledge would build a new world ... and I strongly believed that.
I vaguely remembered a previous believe in the internet with a book called the Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway (a great feminist book). It all looked so positive then, and I was willing to believe it. The internet would change the world. And yes, it did change the world, but not the way I had imagined it... because it turned into the some old thing all over again.
The more people that get on to the internet, the more mainstream it will get and gets, the more it will become a mirror image of society, and society is all about consumerism/big capital/reality shows that don't get you anywhere... so suddenly I see my favorite medium turning into the media I tried to avoid.
Social media picked up immensely this year, so the content put out there was immense as well. So companies and corporate people (after not envisioning the possibilities before) started picking up on it as well. Suddenly you see strange phenomena arising in learning and on the internet at large. What about Learning Town from Masie (I refuse to link, just google if you must)? All of a sudden people get asked to come in and join a learning environment that is rather paternalistic in approach and ... it has a much bigger following then the more knowledge critical forums. On top of this Masie is into defense and army stuff... and yes, that bothers me. You do not improve the world by learning soldiers to double their chance of survival by all sorts of simulations! You improve the world by talking, by getting conflicts solved. So do I like big corporations that finance warrior stuff under a learning flag? NO! I am with Mahatma Gandhi and others. So do I like learning corporations that build army oriented lessons? NO. And strangely the OEB conference had a 'security and defense learning workshop', which made me wonder about all the good eLearning can provide.
Additionally, do I like learning professionals that follow so called guru's of learning blindly? NO. The internet and social media were to be used critically. Do I use it critically... well no I confess I do not always do it (human), but I try to be somewhat critical (says she failingly more then she wishes).
So will social media make a societal difference? I do not think so (but there is still hope). The undercurrent of society will be able to stay in touch with these new media, but I recall that they did before any new media was accessible. But apart from this underground movement, the mainstream will once again result in the same ol' same ol'... or will it?
The eLearning guru's hopefully stay open minded and will not fall into the pit (or should I say airy bubble) of their ego
At Online Educa Berlin there was something else happening. The conference always gives me a lot of ideas and inspires, but ... there are other thoughts that have popped into my mind while I was there.
First of all it is a conference were everything is sponsored, this has an effect, because this brings sponsors to the conference as well. So procentwise the salespeople grow. Sponsors enable you to have things, but it can take the mind of the essence. The essence is learning, and learning - in my view - is something you do to better the world and I follow Jean Jacques Rousseau in that respect that education is crucial for personal and societal development and that it can keep us from corruption by society.
In this respect I liked the mLearn08 conference very much because it was all about the learning, the organisational element was not that big, but the content was truly amazing and the keynotes were baffling (and reachable because the crowd was small).
And at Online Educa Berlin I (and Nicola and I guess others, had a feeling John Traxler was feeling it to but did not go into this at that point with him) some of the learning explorers suddenly manifested Ego. Which is ok in an eccentric kind of way, but which is not very nice if it makes that same person less critical of one's self.
And yes I have an ego from time to time, but it is my duty to talk to it, dare it, question it... and that will put it back in a healthy place without all the unnecessary gaz. And if that does not work, my friends, my colleagues, you, life will put everything back into perspective.
During OEB some of the Ego's started to become apparent, people that felt they were the knowledgeable ones, the people to know started emerge, and so their pioneering, critical spirit looked fading. Their knowledge suddenly became to be set in stone, they were no longer as open to it. And they got a following of people that were not critical also (which scares me more then any ego).
So here we are. People into eLearning, into making minds critically aware that suddenly become less critical themselves. Mind you, there are critical learning professionals that are just amazing and they keep being critical and experimental (Stephen Downes, Shafika Isaacs, Wilfred Rubens, Diana Laurillard, Adele Botha, Yrjö Engeström, Steven Verjans, Tony Karrer, Jay Cross ... and admittedly they all have their own personality, but they are open to criticism, discussion and so on... Some of them are fearce discussers, but that helps in building arguments for eLearning cases), but I was just amazed by some of the others.
So if I put these two together, I see a world that I believed in, fade and becoming absorbed in a too well known human trend. Remember the revolution of 68? There is a common saying that the followers of that revolution became the corporate leaders of the last decades. And it resulted in a crisis from bad financial governing (being too crued, a lot of good stayed of course, luckily). It seems to me that the social media revolution might result in the same thing: starting out promising, leading towards a knowledge revolution, but then...
(If you have any links to direct me to the eLearning undertow full of experiment and into democratic change, please send it to me, I am in need of an antidote).
The Learning Circuits blog from Tony Karrer has posted a new question of the month: 'what did you learn about learning in 2008'.
The biggest aha-moment seemed to have come from an informal learning moment with Nicola Avery at OEB over dinner and one with Luk De Clerck on the plain back home. Maybe the biggest aha-moments are always the one's you have had last. (as Tony Karrer commented, I did not mention that I was going to write a specific blogpost about the aha-moments... you can find it here).
Here is my two cents of positive learning results of this year:
- I learned to write papers with a vengeance.
- I have read up on the dark side of the web.
- Got emerged in QRcodes.
- Broadend my knowledge on mobile learning.
- Participated in Connectivism Course, but not as much as I thought I would... need to straigten hat out.
- Explored low resource settings some more.
- Got some ITM outputs on my blog.
- Dugg deeper into the whole social media/2.0 thing, but who hasn't?
All of us agreed that the economic crisis will be here for a couple of years, resulting in job losses. Seeing that in the past the learning department was one of the first departments to be cut in companies, estimates are that nearly 70 to 80 % of the learning budgets will be cut in the next couple of years. So we all better gear ourselves to overcome this crisis, both on a personal and on an institutional level.
It was a round table, so I jott down the main topics that were raised:
- more emphasis on open source/open resources;
- shift in company ethics, durable (energy) solutions;
- the world is in an economic shift going gom the industrial age towards a knowledge age => so investing in knowledge = learning will be crucial if you want your company/organisation to stay financially valid.
- the world is in an economic shift going gom the industrial age towards a knowledge age.
- CEO's need to be included in defining strategy for eLearning (training, coaching, awakening management will be crucial if the learning departments want to keep alive);
- equiping people to manage the recession => that would be a business worth investing in.
- it is time to invest in more bottom-up, informal learning;
- dare to invest time to seize the day the opportunity to be prepared for the long-term future.
- in times of crisis you go in search of the essence of what you have and what you need => a personal process;
- learning is personal.
- being confronted with dire straights inspires, the ones that dare in these times florish.
- some companies (Volkswagen, Google) dare to incorporate learning on personal interest in the workers time.
- personal knowledge/learning techniques will benefit the whole or the communities to which the learners belongs.
- personal learning is essential in addition to managemental learning change.
- learning touches all societal issues.
- outsourcing the learning department to some extent might be a possibility.
- increase the consciousness that learning has a definite positive impact on the complete organisation or/and person (if you cut a department, it will effect the whole; if you cut knowledge, everyone will be challenged).
- knowledge on new learning techniques should be increased.
- more really tailored content has to be provided. In many cases we now buy a complete package from which we only use a small percentage, because only this content is of interest to us. So focus on small content tailored for the user and standardized so it can be build on.
- learning touches all the society.
Moderated by Shafika Isaacs from
E-Learning Experiences in
Jan Beniest, World
A man with a yellow ‘debardeur’ (Flemish word I keep in because he is Flemish speaking and such a word brings it home for me).
Web-Based Courses for Capacity Strengthening in the Agricultural Sector in Developing Countries
CGIAR and eLearnikng
Knowledge banks, but these are resources that people need to access individually.
(eradic notes, but they give an idea on what is said)
(eradic notes, but they give an idea on what is said)
With this project they wanted to use standards to make these resources accessible. So they use open standards (yeah!).
Agricultural: 6 week preparitory period which was face-to-face (expensive course) 1 week problem solving workshop. To get everyone on the same wave length and afterwards the online content came in.
‘Contextualizing agroforestry’ from within
These courses become relevant because mathematics, language topics were mixed into agroforestry making everything much more contextualized, much more comprehensible to all the learners.
No accreditation, no certificate so the course was intrinsically motivational. From the 40 starters 30 finished all the courses (so purely on personal interest: IMPRESSIVE)
Learners got into the subject matter much quicker.
Because of the previous online contacts, it was much easier to work with them during the face-to-face part.
Access and and navigation was NOT an issue (in regard to the common understanding of low resource areas).
A network was build an was seen as a positive surplus.
Future: looking at mobile possibilities, other locations to distribute these courses.
Dr Herbert Thomas, University of the
The E-Learning Manager as Prophet: The Curious Case of a Developing Country
Emphasizes the need for internationally acceptable quality standards from government side.
96% of students own a cell phone ó 57% own pc at home. So you can easily see the potential of mobile learning.
Management needs to drive the change within eLearning.
Mobile course on one of the millenium goals that Ericsson was involved in.
80 million in Africa 2007
+46 million in first half of 2008
What is the benefit of having a 3G network if you do not provide interesting content.
So they started looking at village clusters.
Child mortality issues were used to construct a mobile course. SCORM compliant and distributable.
The latest evolutions in mobile use:
Geo positioning ·
Mobile tv ·
Whiteboarding (sharing applications) ·
Daniel Richard Stern,
Rural Community and Family-Oriented Education by
Daniel is kind of a paternal figure. He has done amazing things in his life (lived and aided junkies in Geneva, lived in a cabin amidst a wooded reserve without many facilitations (together with his family), lived on one of the highest mountain tops in Switzerland together with his six sons and surviving from the earth…and now living in Uganda). He has a big grey beard and likes to talk.
One of the main problems in
Solar power is one of them.
He suggests that if you understand the meaning of life, you will be a secure learner and you will find what interests you.
Self-directed learning is the future and will keep on inspiring learners.
Self-reliance is important for learners and facilities.
Thursday 4 December 2008
Michael Wesch works at Kansas University and he mixes anthropology, ethnology and culture into the new learning equation. He does not only talk about it, he immediately uses it. For a quick intro, visit his youtube channel. His most famous video is probably the 'Web2.0... the machine is using us'.
He talked about the future of education in which he stated that there is currently a 'crisis of significance' in which he states 'How can we create students who can create meaningful connections'. He linked his subject to Papua New Guinea where he lived for an extended time.
For this statement on the 'crisis of significance' he referred to YouTube which has enabled a real shift both in the media world and in the educational realm. Learners no longer are passive, but they create content, distribute, comment, organize, filter ... learners have become active learners and they are becoming more and more connected.
Web2.0 has created a revolution of which the complete impact is becoming clearer everyday. Learners are connecting to their taste in music, culture, content and they are no longer passively taking over the toplists that big media multinationals propose.
This revolution affects learners on many levels. Unfortunately our schools have not adapted to this revolution, they are still very traditional in approach. So many learners are in dubio, they love learning and creating, discussing content... but they do not like the rigid traditional educational ways that fill a lot of our school's curriculum.
Michael Wesch is all over the web, if you are interested this is the link to a paper he wrote about antiteaching.
The OEB08 session in which I spoke was amazingly rich in content (talking about the other participants). They all had great applications making use of language technology, sms, multimedia and all combining it in mobile examples. Because I was the last one to speak, I was too nervous to take notes while they were giving it. I looked up links to them:
Gavin Cooney, Learnosity, Ireland on 'Voice: The Killer Application of Mobile Learning';
Mathew James Constantine, IE Business School, Spain on 'Mind the Gap – Narrowing the Distance to the Learner'
Sarah Cornelius, University of Aberdeen, UK on 'Real-Time Simulation on the Move: The Learner Context'
The audience that was present was amazing. They gave idea after idea on how the QRcodes could be used in a learning or broader setting, it was mindblowing. I tried to jott down all of the ideas mentioned:
- Adding it to a business card;
- Using QRcodes to promote an article or thing on the go (in the street, open space);
- using it inside buildings (flour plans);
- using it in tours by linking it to audio that give background information on the sights;
- using it in (newspaper) articles to link to extra/background information;
- putting it on geocaching games and articles;
- using it to guide people directly to a map to go to a hotel, university... (from bus stops, train stations...);
- linking it to audio samples to construct a bigger sound landscape;
- using it to guide learners to sights and learning spaces;
- making a mobile tour and in that tour linking certain spots to the Basque language (or any other language, but I liked the idea of linking it to a language that is not mainstream yet very rich).
I also uploaded my presentation for anyone who is interested.
Wednesday 3 December 2008
Jay is a wise man using humor to spice up any workshop and at this occasion he was wearing a yellow tie and suspenders. The audience was very diverse but all with an eLearning perspective and their social media background as well.
The workshop is taken a complete day, but unfortunately I had a deadline to meet in the afternoon, so what follows is only on the first part of the day (before lunch). Jay Cross had asked me to be one of the 'guides' during the workshop. A guide is someone who is into informal learning and/or using social media and willing to share information on it. I am always willing to share, so I rushed to the occasion! Thanks for asking Jay!
Where can you find all of what Jay Cross is talking about:
internet time page;
Jay Cross homepage;
The cluetrain manifesto: for handling intellectual property in the open internet age.
Web2.0 framework by Ross Dawson;
unconferencing as a conference format;
barcamp as an example of an unconference.
fish bowl format in conferences
idea: for people to be able to have a conversation in a little group but which is aired to the complete group (concentric circles for interaction).
sometimes it works, other times it falls flat. It is important to have a common purpose and to have a format that supports that, otherwise participants might not be that pleased with the issues that will be raised.
Jay mentions he is a bit dubious towards books: a publisher takes a year before publishing it. A book freezes the content for always. The author does not need to get into conversation with the readers. So how do we go about in opening books and make them updateable? He tries it:
Un-book from Jay Cross: Learnscaping
The workshop flow:
We started to know each other (= the participants) by introducing the person on each of our right, building some connections in our heads. And after the intro the workshop was a mix of informal information giving by 'guides' and more didactical as well as informal parts given by Jay.
My two cents that I shared during the workshop:
- kids learn naturally and by doing.... there is no framework, no structure, they just do it: Web2.0 allows this kind of learning. It enables you to explore the knowledge that is out there and to connect with people with similar or related interests.
- Informal learning allows you to connect with people you might otherwise not know off, or in different fields, but by connecting you can see other ways of working to come to the same results and maybe ... these new ways are more (cost)-effective.
- Informal learning is about making choices: you know which knowledge you need, you select, you connect and you put it out there the way you want it for other people to find.
- Informal learning is about forgetting pride: you will never know it all, so be humble and open for learning each day. Titles no longer matter, it is what you effectively know and exchange and collaborate on (what you are really doing) that matters.
- Informal learning makes you critical: you just do not swallow everything that is send to you, you choose, decipher and take what you need because it seems a better fit.
- Social media allows you to let go of rules and explore new possibilities.
- Social media is global, it is everywhere, also in low resource areas: they are using it: mobile journalism, farmers learn through blogging, the whole world is exchanging and discussing knowledge.
- Social media is personal: you make it to fit your interests, yet building on all of our knowledge and insights.
What I jotted down in the course of the workshop:
The world is in an economical crisis, but this is happening at any major cultural/socio-economic shift the industrial age is ending, the knowledge age is here. Informal learning is all about knowledge.
How people learn:
- natural learning
You learn from mistakes (because it is discussed, because you get a first hand experience of what works and what is not = practical experience),
conversation results in learning (because it is all about communication, argumenting why yes or why not, critical thinking...)
collaboration is learning (one person never again will know it all, not even the largest chunk of anything, the world is a rhizome = everyone is connected and the connections are not always visible).
informal learning is typically
- no curriculum;
- no constraint time frame;
- push (formal which pushes the content to you) versus pull (informal and what you need you can and do find - or build);
- openness and curiosity.
the world is changing at warp speed
some management and supervision have not taken account these changes: firewall restrictions, company rules... But as we look at new learners (not necessarily young but the learner explorers) we find that control is out of date. So it is time to give workers trust and giving them credit for their own way of knowledge gathering.
Discussing on ROI are no longer completely valid as it comes to the growing amount of intangibles that companies have, because ROI focuses on tangibles only. In the business world virtuality is a fact, intangibles are a fact, think of google and its assets.
But social media is about sharing, and openness sometimes gives a strange feeling
openness is a starting point, semantic web which tells you all about private things, but who do you want to give access to what of your private life).
Openness is a starting off point, but which will demand more access rules.
So how can we share things? And to what extend are we willing to change? And to what extend does management allow us to change?
One of the reasons for not opening up is because you want to keep out the people that want to burn the house down. This is something we want to get pinned down.
Questions that were raised (will go into these in later blogposts):
- how do you measure informal learning outcomes?
- how do we cope with intellectual property in an open access environment?
- how do you convince people of using new technologies within an institute or company?
A slideshow on the future of books: