Tuesday 20 February 2018

Call for proposals: 8 conferences and workshop #CfP #elearning #mlearning

This is a Call for Papers delight! It seems that an array of inspiring conferences is open for proposals, workshops, doctoral consortium options. Listed below are one workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Ethics, six academic conferences (mLearn conference in Chicago, , the ECTEL conference in Leeds, UK, the Australian International Education Conference (AIEC) in Sydney, Australia, IAU global university partnerships, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, EdMedia in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the Alt-C conference in Manchester, UK) and two grand elearning conferences (mixing academia, policy and corporate): DevLearn in Las Vegas, USA and Online Educa Berlin (OEB) in Berlin Germany.

mLearn2018 – International Mobile Learning conference
Where: Concordia University, Chicago, USA
When: 11 – 14 November 2018
Deadline for proposals: 30 April 2018
General theme and description
Mobilized Learning: Pedagogical and Technological Innovation for Teaching & Learning
mLearn is the leading international conference on mobile and contextual learning and attracts participants annually from more than 60 countries. mLearn 2018 provides a forum for researchers, policy makers, professionals and educators from higher education, school education and vocational education, government departments, industries and international organisations as well as IT developers and solutions providers to share knowledge, research and practices and debate critical issues pertaining to sustainable futures for mobilized learning.

EC-TEL – European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning
Where: University of Leeds, UK
When: 3 – 6 September 2018
Deadline for abstracts: 15 April 2018 (with statement of Open Science!)
General theme and description
‘Lifelong technology enhanced learning: Dealing with the complexity of 21st century challenges’.
We live in an increasingly digital and globalized world that offers great opportunities for information sharing and the generation of new knowledge. This reality has enabled us to move forward rapidly as a society in many respects, but has also led us to complex, diverse and interdisciplinary challenges that affect all areas of knowledge such as health, demographic change and wellbeing; food security and bio-economy; secure and clean energy; smart and green energy; or climate action and environment - to name just a few that are emphasized by the European Union.

Australian International Education Conference (AIEC)
Where: Sydney Conference Centre, Sydney, Australia
When: 9 – 12 October 2018
Deadline for proposals:9 – 12 October 2018
General theme and description
The theme is 'empowering a new generation' and the program will feature world leading experts, unique social events and an exhibition, all hosted in and around the new Sydney Convention Centre, ICC Sydney.
With over 1300 attendees, AIEC 2018 will once again be the leading event on the international education calendar in Australia.

Higher Ed Partnerships for Social impact - IAU International Conference
Where: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
When: 13 – 15 Nobember 2018
Deadline for proposals: 3 April 2018
Call for cases: https://etouches-appfiles.s3.amazonaws.com/html_file_uploads/359a2a74df239ceb38058b89d2a040c5_Callforcasestudies.pdf?response-content-disposition=inline%3Bfilename%3D%22casestudies2018%22&response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJC6CRYNXDRDHQCUQ&Expires=1519126805&Signature=z%2F34LHX4LaVnayZo7CpkoKNo3TY%3D
General theme and description
The conference will address the theme ‘Higher education partnerships for societal impact’.
IAU believes that higher education institutions (HEIs) play an important role in the development of societies. Higher education institutions engage with society in a variety of ways. Partnerships with civil society, the private sector, the local authorities and decision-makers or between HEIs take on numerous forms and shapes. IAU invites its Members, the global higher education communities, and their partners to reflect on and discuss their mandate and social responsibility, while presenting different forms of partnerships adopted around the world and for what societal impact. The conference will also be a venue to discuss the challenges and obstacles related to this mission.
Call for case studies
Several breakout sessions will show-case examples of partnerships from around the world between higher education institutions and different partners (civil society, the private sector, local authorities etc.). If your institution is pursuing partnerships for societal impact and you wish to show-case your experience during the conference, please send a short description of the partnership and its purpose to IAU.

Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands
When: 25 – 29 June 2018
Deadline for proposals: 9 April 2018
General theme and description
Innovation and Education
EdMedia + Innovate Learning, the premier international conference in the field since 1987, spans all disciplines and levels of education attracting researchers and practitioners in the field from 70+ countries.
This annual conference offers a forum for the discussion and exchange of research, development, and applications on all topics related to Innovation and Education.
EdMedia + Innovate Learning is an international conference organized by the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)

Where: Manchester, UK
When: 11 – 13 September 2018
Deadline for proposals: 8 March 2018
General theme and description
Will you be a part of it?
For ALT’s 25th Annual Conference we will bring together different critical perspectives in Learning Technology from across our community that will examine the challenges ahead and question the shape of things to come. Will you be a part of it? This is your invitation to make your contribution to our 25th year as the UK’s leading professional body in Learning Technology

Workshop Ethics for Artificial Intelligence
Where: University College London, UK
When: 30 June 2018
Deadline for proposals: 30 April 2018
Call for abstracts (sending via email): https://aiedethics.wordpress.com/join-us-get-involved/
General theme and description
Ethics in AIED
The field of AIED raises far-reaching ethical questions with important implications for students and educators. However, most AIED research, development, and deployment have taken place in what is essentially a moral vacuum (for example, what happens if a child is subjected to a biased set of algorithms that impact negatively and incorrectly on their school progress?).

OEB – Online Educa Berlin
Where: Berlin, Germany
When: 5 – 7 December 2018
Deadline for proposals: 30 April 2018
More info: https://oeb.global/
General theme and description:
Learning to Love Learning!
OEB, incorporating Learning Technologies Germany, is the global, cross-sector conference on technology supported learning and training. Shape the agenda of the 24th edition of OEB by proposing a topic, talk or session under the overall theme “Learning to Love Learning”: Technology is changing society. The way we live and the jobs we do will never be the same again. In twenty years, the world of work will be unlike anything we have ever known. The development of artificial intelligence will allow machines to replace workers in many industries on an unprecedented scale. Humankind will face some fundamental, existential questions. Why are we here? What are we doing? How are we different from the machines? Education will shape our response to the immense challenge of this new age. But education and training will have to change too. So will the nature of employment. Learning will no longer be a brief phase in life. It will become a central part of our existence. In an era of constant and increasing change, we will discover a new appreciation of learning and an understanding of its place in the future. We will learn to love learning. At its 100+ sessions and at the exhibition, the conference will bring you to the forefront of learning and technology developments, give you new insights on opportunities and challenges that are changing the world of learning, show you the latest best practice from leading organisations and allow you to meet, discuss and network with more than 2,000+ international learning professionals from the workplace learning, education and public service sectors.

Where: Las Vegas, USA
When: 24 – 26 October 2018
Deadline for proposals: 9 March 2018
General theme and description
Developing Learning
DevLearn Conference & Expo, North America’s leading event focused on learning technologies, is where the entire industry gathers to share and learn about innovative thinking and emerging technologies, explore the possibilities they present, and define how they can drive innovation within our industry … our organizations … and our learning. It is the place where you can meet with industry thought leaders, share strategies with colleagues, discover best practices, and learn about the hottest topics and ideas for learning. Join the community of industry pioneers that is defining the future of training and performance!

Monday 19 February 2018

Part 1: creating voice-activated #ID #learning #Alexa #smartclass #elearning

In this first post on the topic, I share how I installed Alexa, using a basic smarthome skill (Philips Hue) and some features that increase or limit Alexa’s search returns (e.g. playing Spanish podcasts via free radio).

Testing the Amazon Echo Dot
The last couple of weeks I have been enthusiastically using the Amazon Echo Dot (which answers to Alexa). I am trying to setup a voice operated learning hub (well, as much as possible in a relatively cheap and simple way). With each step, I will keep you updated and share what works, what did not work, and which unexpected hurdles needed to be solved. In following episodes I want to use some coding options for additional Alexa skills, combine the Echo dot with an Arduino board as well as a Raspberry Pi to see what can be done with relatively cheap computer boards, and of course in relation to IFTTT and for specific voice operated IFTTT.

Why? Because with all the Fab Labs emerging (you can locate your nearest fablab using this map), I wanted to see how much of that could be built at my home (as I will be mostly home based for the next couple of months), so I might as well work on making my home into a fab lab or at least a smart learning hub.  The Echo dot has been used in classrooms using its basic functionality, but also for some special ed purposes for communication skill practice for children withautism.

I bought my Alexa with last year’s frequent flyer miles (made it much cheaper), but you can also buy it from Amazon for 40 $  or Amazon UK for 49 £. This does mean I got the German version of the Alexa, but as I can read and understand German, that was something I could start with. Once it was installed, I could switch to English. I also got two Philips Hue light bulbs, as they would enable me to test out the smart home part of the Alexa. By using this simple Alexa in combination with existing objects (things) that react to an impulse coming either from a mobile, voice or other object, it becomes easier to feel what the Internet of Things (IoT) is really like.
With a new online course in the back of my mind (working title of the course 'instructional and learning design examples, with added academic background information'), I want to explore a more meaningful application of this Amazon Echo Bot learning hub setup.

Installing Alexa
This is super simple, and only requires an internet connection and a mobile. The mobile app (either Android  or iTunes store ) is used to control Alexa and possible other devices, e.g. the Philips Hue, Nest thermostat….

As Alexa is voice-activated, it depends on specific language. In the Amazon Echo dot I bought, it was either English (you can choose American or British English) or German. My German is not that active, so I have installed my Alexa for British English use, also because I want to install specific skills on it. Skills are conversational applications that allow you to ‘ask’ Alexa something specific and then – hopefully – get a meaningful answer in return, so a skill connects to end users via the conversational Amazon Echo platform. Reddit features anice list of skills here once you have decided to add a skill, go to the Alexa app and add it to your skills.

The name Amazon Echo Dot says it: this device is a home device that will want you to buy more from Amazon. It uses Amazon prime to play music (paid service, I don’t use it, so will share other free options soon), and you can buy a list of options from Amazon, which is why I immediately deselect the buying option in the Amazon device, I do not want to order something buy mistake or simply because some of my Flemish sounds like “Alexa, buy a supersonic airplane from Amazon”…. And it does happen that Alexa thinks I am asking her something, as she has returned uninvited answers during regular conversations at the dinner table. There is some commotion on Alexa spying, if interested you can read upon these here.

Basic Alexa features
Alexa can be used for some basic options:
  • Ask a question (answer found via Bing browser)
  • Ask what the weather is like (still some limitations on regions, but if you add your own town in an English voice it can give you the weather there… my town is called Aalter, it took a while before I could get the weather forecast for that particular very Flemish town.
  • Ask a silly question (Alexa sing a song, do the dishes…)
  • Play music (mostly paid service, but free, easy option below)
  • Make a to do list (“Alexa, add write blogpost to my to do list” afterwards ask “Alexa what is my to do list”)
  • Make a shopping list.
  • Set a timer (“Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes”).
In case you are not a native English speaker
If you are not a native English speaker, it is good to use Google translate, type in your word or the words you are looking for, then push the speaker button to hear how it is pronounced. After that you can choose either to perfect your English-speaking voice, or you can say 'Alexa', and type in 'search google for X' into google translate and push the audio button again to have the English version of what you are looking for. I confess, it takes a bit of practising to get a fluent mix of both actions (speaking and pushing button on time).
First steps in a smart home/learning hub
First I bought two Philips Hue lights and one Hue bridge  to get the lights to work on voice-command. That works well with the skill of Philips Hue, which you need to install to get Alexa working with it. The Philips Hue lights need to be installed with one ‘Hue Bridge’ per 50 light bulbs. This means you need to have an internet connected bridge to manipulate the Hue lights either through Alexa or through the Hue mobile app. You need to install the lights and turn on the lights first in order to be able to control them from a distance. With the Hue mobile app you can group the lights together per room, making it easier to tell Alexa which lights to turn on or off (btw you can also operate them from any location, so you can trick your partner in turning off the lights unexpectedly…. Well…. If they do not mind that joke…).

The process is simple and indicative of how the Alexa Echo Dot works:
  • Address Alexa by saying her name out loud,
  • Speak specific command (a command is a coded speech operand that triggers Alexa to do something specific): e.g. “Alexa, turn on lights living room” or “play Singing in the Rain’ by Gene Kelly
  • And then wait for Alexa to return an answer, or in this case play that specific song.
Learning podcasts, using radio feature
Alexa is linked to Amazon, so some features simply do not work for free (no free music, as Alexa’s options are Amazon prime or Spotify pro) and the search option is linked to Bing, which does not always return useful answers. But if you like music, you can find it without having to resort to any skill by using the command “Alexa play TuniIn [followed by the name of your preferred TuneIn radio station].
e.g. “Alexa, play TuneIn Learn Spanish - SpanishPod101.com” which triggers the latest podcast of this radio station.
You can find a list of radio stations here: https://tunein.com/

Next post on this topic will be on installing a skill that you customize using Amazon Web Services and Amazon Developer services (but with the help of 'the people who know'). 

Friday 16 February 2018

Open Textbooks through REBUS community #opened

Great open textbook opportunity! Ever contemplated writing and sharing an open textbook? This might be the moment/community you were waiting for. The Rebus community offers an organized (actively learning) option to create, review, add, to open textbook initiatives… and - in the end - get them published. So open access, open writing, open collaboration … all the way and with an international perspective as well, in addition to being open minded about using multiple languages. 
Driven by a huge goal: “building a universal library of free Open Textbooks in every subject, in every language”, I have the feeling this is something to volunteer for, even if it is simply to gain more knowledge on the subject itself. They gather librarians, educators, researchers... to start or help with getting projects realised. I am very tempted (which book first?!).

How does the Rebus community achieve this goal? By supporting initiatives to write, organise and publish open textbooks on specific subject matter, and in as many languages as possible. As it is a non-profit organisation, those willing to put an effort into creating an open textbook, will not be paid… but like in Wikipedia, every contributor adds to a greater good: available open textbooks.
Every open textbook is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license, where the copyright remains with the author(s), and readers have access to the content without any kind of payment. 

Forum-driven, but with social extensions and network
Their main medium to create these textbooks is a forum. Forums have been trialed, tested over decades and they work if they are actively moderated. In this case, it is a dynamic and focused forum moderation.
They partner up with institutions and organizations dedicated to Open Textbooks, including: The Open Textbook Network, BCcampus, eCampus Ontario and OpenOregon (University of Arizona, University of Washington, University of British Columbia, Cleveland State University, University of Saskatchewan, University of Minnesota, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Brigham Young University, University of Hawaii, University of Maryland, and Plymouth State University).
More practical FAQ’s can be found here: https://about.rebus.community/faq/

Some practical first findings

  • The collaboration can take place on multiple levels: copy edit/proofread/illustrate (etc.).
  • The forum is well organized, and clearly aims at promoting collaboration based on social interaction.
  • They have monthly, online office hours/meetings: video meetings offering advise or sharing knowledge (one definitely worth watching is the “open textbook: internationalperspectives” video with guest speakers from South-Africa, Haiti, Chile, Australia and USA), all of the videos can be seen here, e.g. how to adapt open textbooks, as well as planning options (e.g. who is willing to work on what).
  • Although the community relies heavily on a forum, there is a clear and well-designed social media integration, both for projects, posts as for social purposes (e.g. following).

The Rebus community describes itself as
The Rebus Community is a non-profit organization developing a new, collaborative process for publishing open textbooks, and associated content. Rebus is building tools and resources to support open textbook publishing, and to bring together a community of faculty, librarians, students and others working with open textbooks around the world.
We want to make it easy for the community to contribute to the creation of open textbooks (their own, or others’), and support the creation of new, high-quality open textbooks, available for free to anyone, in standard formats (web, EPUB, MOBI, PDF, and print).