Tuesday 20 September 2011

Choosing a free on- and offline #reference software: Zotero

As my thesis is becoming a reality, I felt a need to reevaluate the online reference tools that are currently available and choose one I would use for the next couple of months (at least).

After having a closer look at Mendeley, Zotero and Endnote, I decided that Zotero would be the tool for me. But I must admit it was a close shave with Mendeley. Why?

  • There is an online and offline option (the offline one is called standalone);
  • When searching in scholar google, Zotero got the most details out of the references (this was why I choose Zotero over Mendeley, the funny thing is scholar must have the option 'import into endnote' to import into Zotero :-);
  • Zotero offers different publication styles for its references, and the one I need (APA 6) is amongst these options;
  • Zotero allows pdf's metadate to be screened for its details and import it into Zotero itself (see here);
  • You can build shared repositories for your research team or colleague group;
  • It allows notes to be added: enabling me to put my quotations into the notes section, thus I only need to filter these notes to find relevant quotes;
  • Zotero allows grouping of references;
  • It allows tags to be added to the papers;
  • Stored tags, notes and references can be searched;
  • Free up to 100 MB (which is not much), if you want more storage space you need to purchase it on a monthly basis (which might add up to quite an amount, so be careful to see when switching to another reference tool might be necessary. But same is true for Mendeley and Endnote is a commercial software);
  • You can add multimedia files as well as text files;
  • And last but not least: I would think a mobile option will be built, but in the mean time the Zotero community is posting trials with android tablets.

So... off to add more references to the Zotero library....

Thursday 15 September 2011

On #Higher #Education and Society in Changing Times and searching for the reason why educational research centres are under siege

As the economic crisis is hitting a lot of countries, the strategies to counter this crisis are quite diverse. Certain countries opt to increase education and research (e.g. Germany) and cut budgets in other areas, other countries are slicing down education/research (e.g. United Kingdom). Personally, I cannot imagine how any politician that understands the growing knowledge era can vote in favor of research/educational cuts. But then I am a firm believer that education will add to human solutions (which is not the same as that education will save us all, but .... most of us will be able to improve our own path through life). In times of need, I think you must run ahead, move forward and explore to find new horizons. In that respect I like the American adagio of looking for the new frontier.

How strange is it to read on the one hand that education is changing rapidly and is in need for a new balance, while on the other hand educational research centres are - just in these times - shut down?

The UK has been a knowledge bastion for centuries (just like other regions in the world), but recently some major Technology Enhanced Learning centers were closed, without alternatives being set up. Last year Becta was closed, this year CHERI, or the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information is closed.

Before closing down, CHERI has published a final document that is of interest to Higher Education: "Higher Education and Society in Changing Times: looking back and looking forward."

It is an interesting document, looking at different aspects of Higher Ed:

  • Higher education and social change: researching the ‘end times’ (John Brennan)
  • Looking back, looking forward: the changing structure of UK higher education, 1980-2012. (Roger Brown)
  • Globalisation and higher education.(Roger King)
  • Learning and engagement dimensions of higher education in knowledge society discourses. (Mala Singh and Brenda Little)
  • Supporting students in a time of change (Ruth Williams)
  • Higher education in the ‘risk society’ (Sofia Branco Sousa)
  • Implementing the Bologna Process: an example of policy recontextualisation – the case of Spain. (Marina Elias)
  • The public role of higher education and student participation in higher education governance. ( Manja Klemenčič)
If a nation or region is in crisis, looking at succesful strategies to climb out of recessions, difficult situations, natural disasters... is a worthwhile investment. Cutting educational research downsizes chances for the weakest of any regions citizens, and a nation or region can only be as strong as its weakest members, or is this just some idealistic illusion speaking from within my heart?

Friday 9 September 2011

#html5 #authoring tools and how you can code it yourself

Html5 is the new magical solution for cross-device publications. It is all the rave for mobile developers and newbies. The amazing thing about html5 however, is that it is not really breathtakingly new. In fact, like Brian Fling (expert in mobile design, so connect to his media to stay updated) mentioned on his blogpost on html5 anatomy: "if you know HTML, then chances are you’ll understand what’s new in HTML5 in under an hour."

Teach yourself html5
For those of you with html5 expertise, simply take the free, online html5 course offered by W3C.
But to make really beautiful html5 accessible webpages, you need to digg into Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) as well as they will allow you to produce an eye-catching look and feel. This is also at anyone's fingertips thanks to the W3C tutorial on CSS.
Now you have the basic coding, you have a nice look and feel, this combination will already allow you to publish neat html5 pages. But for those wanting to run the extra mile, the only thing that remains is to add more interactivity and for this you can use JavaScript. Take a look at these 6 free JavaScript books and tutorials from the read and write blog.

Why is html suddenly back as the best webpage coding language?
Let's be honest html is an easy coding language, as such it was put into a corner a bit, pressed away by php, asp, and other more complex coding languages. So I wondered, why did it become cool again to use html?
I feel that with the rise of html5 we see a rise in specialization in instructional design. This makes room for instructional designers that are in fact no longer building designs from scratch, but who use templates and designer tools to put any content in a beautiful and accessible jacket.

And ... of course html5 enables designers to come up with cross device designs, even allowing a variety of mobile phones to access material in a pleasing way (well, it is not that standardized yet, but we are getting there).

For those wanting to test there html5 coding
If you do delve into the html5 code and you have come up with some pages, make sure to test drive them through the free W3C markup validation tool. You have two validation tools, one is for html in general: html validation markup.
And one focuses on mobile html (great tool!), which will allow you to feel confident with the coding you are providing (and that it fits specific browser needs): Mobile Validation.

Looking for an easier option? Use html5 authoring tools
Simply take a look at these html5 designer tools:

Rapid Intake Mobile Studio (I really recommend this one, sooo easy!) and it allows publication to both Flash and html5, so really useful and it has scorm compliant quizzes (for the LMS lovers amongst us): http://www.rapidintake.com/products/mobile/mobile-learning-studio/

And an interesting tool from Adobe Labs, Edge (to download it you will need to make an Adobe account if you don't have one yet): there is an Edge 2 preview you can download http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/edge/

For those using Mac, there is a nice app, the Tumult Hype app: http://tumultco.com/hype/

IBM has also launched a html5 authoring tool project, called Maqetta, but to look at this tool you need to upgrade (if needed) your browser to Firefox 4, Chrome 5 or Safari 5. This tool has to be installed on your server. Get more information here: http://maqetta.org

Thursday 8 September 2011

Learning happens by sharing #knowledge, #DevLearn is an inspiring #eLearning conferences

Last year I had the pleasure of attending DevLearn and this conference is surely worth a visit. Not only because of this years location (Las Vegas!), but most of all because you will get the opportunity to get in touch with eLearning professionals that know how to inspire and it will elevate your eLearning expertise in just 3 days.

The early registration is still open for a day, so check out this wonderful set of concurrent sessions and keynote speakers in order to decide whether you want to attend or not.

When and where? November 2 - 4 at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

There are a lot of strong concurrent sessions (on iPad use, reaching hard to get learners, mLearning, knowledge, statistics for analysing eLearning...).

Keynote speakers
Keynote speakers should inspire and challenge you. DevLearn|11's keynotes include:

Dr. Michio Kaku
Professor, Theoretical Physics, CUNY
Host of Science Channel’s Sci Fi Science
Author, Physics of the Future

Tom Koulopoulos
Author, The Innovation Zone, and Living in the Cloud

Steve Rosenbaum
Author, Curation Nation

Register by Friday, September 16th, in order to save $100 or more with our early registration discount. Experience all the excitement, learning, and inspiration that is DevLearn for less. But hurry, there are fewer than 10 business days left to take advantage of this discount.

Register Now

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Add your knowledge to the #mLearning toolkit from #JISC

JISC, the UK agency for leadership in digital technology and learning (and also the host of the IAmLearn mail list) launched a new guide: Emerging Practice in a Digital Age: A guide to technology-enhanced institutional innovation.

To augment this guide, JISC infoNet are developing a Mobile Learning infoKit with version 0.1 of this resource now available at http://bit.ly/mobilelearninginfokit.

The Mobile Learning infoKit is a practical guide for educational institutions planning to implement mobile learning initiatives. At launch, it comprises a wiki-based resource collating information and guidance from JISC and others sources. It will develop to include a section on future trends, incorporate additional examples, and be made available in a variety of formats.

If you have any questions or feedback about the Mobile Learning infoKit, please get in touch with Doug Belshaw at doug.belshaw (at) northumbria.ac.uk

CIDER free online session on project based learning for postgraduate distance education

For those interested in pedagogical principles in clinical education: get behind your computer tomorrow!

Iain Doherty will discuss the pedagogical principles underlying a taught postgraduate distance course, ClinED 711 eLearning and Clinical Education. The aim of ClinED 711 is to teach clinical educators the necessary knowledge and skills to convert their own courses for flexible and distance delivery. ClinED 711 was designed to offer a personalized and authentic learning experience and Iain’s presentation will focus on how these aims were progressively realized through refining and improving the course design for ClinED 711. Whilst ClinED 711 is a specialized postgraduate course, the principles for the design and delivery of the course should be of interest to a wide audience.

When: Wednesday, September 7, 2011, 11am-12pm Mountain Time (Canada) *Local times for the CIDER sessions are provided on the CIDER website.

Where: The CIDER sessions have moved to Adobe Connect! To join this session go to: https://connect.athabascau.ca/cider/

Please note that it is extremely important that you get your system set up prior to the start of the event. Make sure your Mac or PC is equipped with a microphone and speakers, so that you can use the audio functionality built into the web conferencing software. Also, the Adobe Connect platform may require an update to your Adobe Flash Player. Allow time for this update by joining the session 20 minutes prior to the scheduled presentation start time.