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Steve's Learning Journal. A.K.A Adventures in the land of sync, cybercommunities and learning theory.

Updated: 2017-03-14T03:11:57.127+00:00


Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Designing For Usability and Designing for Accessibility


A brief post highlighting the differences between universal design, designing for usability and designing for accessibility. This article What is the difference between accessible, usable, and universal design? sums things up succinctly. In essence these are the differences:
  • Accessible design is a design process in which the needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered. Accessibility sometimes refers to the characteristic that products, services, and facilities can be independently used by people with a variety of disabilities.
  • Universal design is a broader concept that is defined by The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” In the case of information technology, products that are universally designed are accessible to and usable by people with a wide variety of characteristics, including different types of disabilities. These products are often designed to eliminate or minimize the need for assistive technologies. At the same time, they are compatible with common assistive hardware and software devices.
  • Usable design, like accessible and universal design, serves to create products that are easy and efficient to use. Usability has been defined by the International Organization for Standardization as the “effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which a specified set of users can achieve a specified set of tasks in a particular environment.” Usability engineers test the ease at which users can learn to operate a product and remember how to do so when they return to the product at a later time.

Are you participating in MOOC or a Massive Online Course acting as a MOOC


The Background It started with this tweet: stevemac121 ‏  MOOC-the M in Massive should be viewed as an aspiration and uncontested, If not truly Open, then it is not a MOOC. in conversation I quickly followed up with this tweet:stevemac121 ‏ if it's not truly Open, its a MOC, and further more it is making a MOCERY of MOOCS :-)I have been encouraged to explain my thinking a bit further by Vanessa Vaile, an online friend and valued member of my personal learning network, so In relation to the tweets and the blog post title here we go. Image Courtesy of opensourceway under the CC 2.0 SA licenceSome More BackgroundTo be absolutely accurate it started with me perusing the Academia and the Mooc MOOC discussion board (Running from the online learning platform, Canvas) and observing a discussion around "is MOOC the right name to explain what you are participating in when involved in a MOOC". At the same time i was reading the JISC CETIS document on "MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education" (pages 4-5) which explains the origins and subsequent labelling of recent online course initiatives."Following on from the development of Open Education Resources and the Open Education movement (Yuan, et al., 2008), the term Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) was first introduced in 2008 by Dave Cormier to describe Siemens and Downes’ “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” course.  This online course was initially designed for a group of twenty-five enrolled, fee paying students to study for credit and at the same time was opened up to registered only learners worldwide.  As a result, over 2,300 people participated in the course without paying fees or gaining credit (Wikipedia, 2012). In 2011, Sebastian Thrun and his colleagues at Stanford opened access to the course they were teaching at the university, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”, and attracted 160,000 learners in more than 190 countries (Wikipedia, 2012).   Since then,MOOCs have become a label for many recent online course initiatives from institutions, individuals and commercial organisations."In this same document (page 6) the following paragraph grabbed my intention:"The original aim of MOOCs was to open up education and provide free access to university level education for as many students as possible.  In contrast to traditional university online courses, MOOCs have two key features (Wikipedia, 2012):1.    Open access - anyone can participate in an online course for free2.    Scalability - courses are designed to support an indefinite number of participantsHowever, these features may be interpreted differently by different MOOC providers; some MOOCs are massive but not open and some are open but not massive."Some even More backgroundThose that know me will know that I am a strong advocate of connectivist learning. I believe that participation in cMOOCs is a fantastic opportunity to not only learn but to also build and enhance a lifelong personal learning network for ongoing future connectivist learning.I think we can all agree however that is more than one way of learning. I fully appreciate the need for different learning approaches for different people, situations, and levels of development including transmission mode teaching and learning. xMOOCs are often characterized as transmission mode style of learning and there is no doubt that thousands of learners have benefited from participating in these courses just as have thousands benefitted from leraning in cMOOCs. The exercise played out on this blog post is purely a discussion of the terminology related to MOOCs and by extension the relevance and significance in relation to "cMOOCs" and "xMOOCs".The Nub of itThe Nub of this post simply started with a deeper look at the language that describes a genuine MOOC. Looking at the The JISC CETIS paragraph citing the original aim and then especially the phrase some MOOCs are massive but not open and some are open but[...]

Wordpress Blog as Online CV and Personal Development Auditor


Spark for this session was this blog post "is technology eating your job". me realize in a competitive job market place how important it is to be organised and ready for to secure the (a) job that you want. This got me thinking, then got me playing and then sharing my thoughts with a small group of social media enthusiasts at the university where i work - De Montfort University.Before we start the images incorporated into this blog below can be viewed much more clearly by watching this flicker slideshow in full screen or go directly too the  flickr Wordpress CV slideshow. The image below gives you a snapshot view of the user view of the Wordpress CV blog that i envisageWordPress CV Blog - User ViewThe following notes collate the main points that were addressed in our session.Purpose of this Session1. Highlight the use of Social media (wordpress) as a medium to organise CV information and Record Personal Development information. It is a career imperative to be organised.2.  Highlight how WordPress (and other blogging platforms) can be adapted and used for many purposes. A Blog is a Blog is a Blog - No! Blog platforms are very flexible and with creativity they can be used for many different things.Setup and thinking1. Use this technique with any easily created Blog from No programming skills required.3. You can make wordpress Private to you! and that was and currently is my intention, whilst i am still building this site.In any event, the intention is for it to be private, the idea is for you to organize your history, skills and assets in an easily getattable :-) format, in order to customize CV's as appropriate for the job in hand (which generally need to be completed in specific online or offline electronic application forms).In this process of CV building you can give deeper consideration to the larger projects that you have worked on in your day to day work and use categorisation and tagging to indicate what skills, experience or knowledge they show evidence of. There will also be many smaller day to day skills and many professional developmental sessions that you have attended and that you can easily record in this way.4. Once finalized the question that can more fully addressed, shall i make it public or parts of it public. Which may be an option, but was not the original intention. In our small discussion the idea was suggested that maybe the CV can be tailored in some way - this is something i will look to consider as i move on and see if there is a feasible way of doing this - I will report back.Other questions - Can  a portfolio of electronic evidence be incorporated or should the portfolio be separate (can be organised using the same approach as i will outline in the following paragraphs).Worpress Features, how they are used and Useful Strategies.1. SELECT A THEME that suits your need. I was looking for a very simple theme. i chose Theme: Ari by Elmastudio. 2. CATEGORIES AND TAGGING Tailor the theme so that the only widget displayed is the Category widget. You will be posting various information from your CV as a series of blog posts ORGANISED by category. Tagging can add a further element of organisation and cut across two or more categories. In my current theme I could add a tag cloud widget. I chose not to as i did not like the tag cloud widget, i prefer a list but this was not available. A list widget would probably have changed my mind. Perhaps it is simpler without it anyway (tag links are still listed at the bottom of posts)3. CREATING CATEGORIES In the Admin view we need to create the CV categories. This can be done at the beginning in the post categories secti[...]

MOOCING on Gas: Early Thoughts on Three Concurrent Offerings


Brief Overview of the MOOC SceneJohn Mak a long standing and leading analyst in the field of Moocs identifies five different types of Moocs in this article What are the main differences among these types of Moocs.  For simplicity and for relevance to this post, i shall identify what i consider to be the three main approaches which are i) primarily an instructivist learning approach ii) primarily a free form distributed approach and iii) primarily a project based approach. Currently we have a 'perfect' storm whereby all three types are running just about concurrently, we have in order of type as described above i) E-learning and Digital Cultures (#edcmooc) ii) Educational Technology (#etmooc) and iii) Online Learning Design (#oldsmooc). I initially joined up for #etmooc but have since got involved on both of the other courses.When participating in a MOOC what are you looking for? What are you expecting?For first timers especially, chances are that you are expecting a pretty structured learning path and this is what you can generally expect from xMooc courses such as those offered by Udacity or Coursera. Both these type of xMooc offerings are geared to a traditional classroom based individual study approach, allowing for the fact that coursera does promote the notions of active learning and peer assessment (see Coursera pedagogy),i'm putting this in the instructivist camp). This on the face of it is the type of offering for the E-learning and Digital Cultures course. E-learning and Digital Cultures CourseHowever if you sign up to a pure distributed cMooc such as #etmooc things may not be so clearcut. Not withstanding some guiding information about how to work in a cMooc environment you are very much expected to build your own learning environment using social media tools such as twitter, facebook and google plus, wikispaces, diigo etc whilst learning about the subject matter (on learning and technology moocs you will possibly be bombarded with all manner of useful applications (you won't remember everything, but you will learn a lot)).Educational Technology and Media CourseThe Online Learning Design (#oldsmooc) cMooc although encouraging the use of distributed social media tools revolves strongly around the in-house socially connective software cloudworks that for the purpose of the course acts in my opinion a bit like a VLE, but does include the ability to connect with all previous registered users ideas and interactions through the vehicle of clouds (individual idea, comments, questions, tasks etc) and cloudscapes (a collection of clouds). Because of the project based nature of the course it does have a community of practice feel to it.Online Learning Design CourseLooking from a student perspective all these approaches will have a certain amount of structure and you can be sure that the use of social media tools will be encouraged and has been encouraged on all the courses.Some thoughts on MoocsThe xMoocs have a great role to play in straight forward knowledge transfer and for me the big issue to address is when they may inappropriately be used with a topic that would benefit from more connective, distributive learning type approaches. Effectively they offer a traditional self directed individual study route that may benefit additionally from a cMooc approach but it may not be necessary.With cMoocs the big question is can you get the connectivity, the distributivity and oxycontinicity ( @angelatowndrow and @trendingteacher inspired language) flowing. Do the learners feel the glow of support, encouragement and eureka moments that will sustain and nourish them in the tough task of being a blogging, connective learner. Are they MOOCing on Gas! Why is this important you ask?It's important because cMoocs do three main things:They first and foremost ar[...]

Wordpress LMS LearnDash - The greatest LMS in the World?


Well that is what I am betting on for the soon to be released WordPress LMS - LearnDash! Why would I bet on it or make a claim of such largesse when I have not even seen or used it.First off we know that this LMS is built on the strongest of foundations - The brilliantly devised WordPress blogging platform. This platform is very mature with nearly 10 years of worldwide development and support. The open software architecture has been cleverly devised to allow for useful applications to be added to WordPress through the use of plugins making it very easy to extend the functionality either by installing ready made applications or by developing plugins yourself. In a nutshell we have an easy to use platform for developers, visitors and non-technical editors.Secondly we have had nearly 14 years to observe the growing pains of modern day web based learning management systems. The LearnDash designers have had all this time to learn from the mistakes and design faults that these systems may have. Although the various current products on offer have varying strengths and weaknesses I cannot believe that many will be as tightly and efficiently coded as a product that is going to fit into the ultra sleek WordPress blogging platform.As long ago as December 2006 I shared my dismay at mainstream LMS/VLE systems (see Embrace Web 2.0 technology or Die - that's an order!) and advocated the use of web 2.0 technology for ease of communication and thus ease of learning. More recently I really have started to appreciate the power and beauty of WordPress and thus with the launch of a Wordpress LMS - LearnDash this Monday 28th Jan I do believe this could be the launch of the greatest LMS yet.Photo Courtesy of Ben Sheldon  under the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.I don't profess to know the full repertoire of features and how they fully work yet but building on the core features of student management, unlimited course creation and the 'Tin Can API' (which captures activities that happen as part of learning experiences),I am particularly looking forward to the easy certificate creation when students pass tests and quizzes, the powerful report generating module and the easy integration with any other WordPress themes and plugin applications. Tin Can APIIt lifts many of the older restrictions. Mobile learning, simulations, virtual worlds, serious games, real-world activities, experiential learning, social learning, offline learning, and collaborative learning are just some of the things that can now be recognized and communicated well with the Tin Can API.It all sounds promising, looking forward to trying it out soon and keeping my fingers crossed that it truly is going to knock spots off all competitors. If it sounds interesting to you, take a look here for more information WordPress LMS - LearnDash.Once I start working with it I'll let you know if it lives up to the Hype :-)[...]

ETMooc - Stevie Italiano


I am using this and my first ETMOOC posting to briefly introduce myself, but more importantly in this blog post introducing the notion of closed captions on videos (easily achieved using Camtasia) and previously i introduced a photo that was made available for use under the creative commons license.

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If anyone wants to discuss anything relating to these tool educational tools then please leave a comment. Grazie :-)

ETMooc - Moocing old style


As a participant of the first truly massive mooc CCK08, I am looking forward to participating in an old style :-) Mooc (cMooc) as opposed to the newer brand of xMoocs.

After participating in other cMoocs such as PLENK10 and CCK11 I have maintained loose connections with a number of early Moocers but in the last year or so have adopted a more passive (lets say less active) than active approach but I have still made a few spasmodic contributions on the topics of educational technology and connectivist learning and i know that long term i have the mentality of a contributor and so my time to serve will :-) come again.

Photo Courtesy of ryan2point0 under the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

My participation in this mooc i am hoping will re-awaken the more active connectivist in me.

Let me say that a big hats off to the course creators. I think the two week per topic over 12 weeks is a master stroke in enabling participants the opportunity to keep up with the programme and I think will help enormously with the problem of participants getting disheartened when they cannot keep up with the schedule.

Beginners Guide to WordPress: Setting up a local site, Setting up a working development environment, Gaining practical skills and Developing understanding


Before we move onto the central theme of this article, as a foundation to our knowledge I suggest you read this article which outlines the different versions of WordPress that are available: individual developers we are concerned with the full version of WordPress.  For individual developers that are learning their trade or who need access to an environment where they can experiment and practice without the additional issues of acquiring web space and a web server we need a local web server installed that will replicate the online web space where WordPress would normally be housed. There are a couple of solutions listed below. I suggest you try out both options i) to see what environment you like working in the most and ii) give you the opportunity to work on a couple of WordPress sites as you experiment in the future.·         Have a read of section 1 for some background to the technology·         Try both implementations in section 2. You may want to go to section 3 before you start and download WordPress. Instructions will then be given in section 2 on how to install this onto your local web server.·         Section 4 will give tips on using Dreamweaver as your development environment. If you do not have Dreamweaver links to other options are provided.·         In section 5 we get down to work by creating a WordPress theme.·         Section 6 Plugins, you will not really need at this stage, but it is there for future reference·         Section 7 offers some thoughts on development Strategies, Environments and Tools·         Section 8 offers links to websites that can help with the development of individual LAMP technology programming skills.·         And in section 9 some other useful resources are listed.I. Background to the Technology1. Understanding LAMP: Setting up the Local web server Infrastructure (XAMPP)2a. XAMPP Home link is for an overview of product)3a Download XAMPP (v1.8.1) (includes Apache web server v2.4.3, PHP programming language v5.4.7 and MySQL database v5.5.27 and phpMyAdmin 3.5.22 : (probably best to use the installer option. Note also there is Lite version for use on USB Sticks)4a How to Setup a WordPress Development Environment for Windows (XAMPP): Setting up the Local web server Infrastructure (WAMPSERVER)2b WampServer Home (This link is for an overview of the product. The product is made by a French company, use the ‘ENGLISH’ text link on the home page to translate the page, not the browser translate option if prompted.)3b DOWNLOAD WAMPSERVER 2.2E. From the Home page there are a range of installation options depending on your computer and the specific versions of Apache, MySql, PHP and phpMyAdmin. If you intend transferring an existing php intensive WordPress site into this setup it is probably best to match your existing versions. You get the choice of 32 bit or 64bit depending on your machine. You can find this out by looking of the properties of your ‘computer’ or ‘my computer’ icon on your desktop (right click). When downloading you will be presented with a form to fill in(for training) – you don’t need to fill this in, you will [...]

Camtasia 7.0 Part 1: Key Preparation


This post is the first in a series that will shed light on my approach to developing a videocast. In particular what i would call a video 'infocast'. This post mainly draws on my experience of developing a set of videocasts that introduce students to 'online and distance learning' (See parts 1,2,3,4,5,6) at the University that i work DMU. Photo Courtesy of elibrody under the CC BY-NC 2.0 license.To ensure that you do not waste unneccesary time, there are six key things you need to do before you embark on your project. These are:1. Split your project up into approx 5 minute videos. There will be research around that indicates that 5 minutes is at the outer limit of time that people will set aside to concentrate on watching a videocast. In my own particular project I ended up with about 6 videos. One video did stretch to 7 minutes, but i personally think in the context of 5 other shorter videos of between 2-5 minutes, then slightly breaking the rule but keeping the breaks natural was ok to do (I say - follow guidelines but don't be afraid to break the rules). 2. Store and Work on a USB Memory Stick. One of the few poor things about Camtasia is that when you add Media to the project it only refers to the media using the original absolute file path and location. If you wish to move your folder somewhere else or if you want to work on your project at home and also at work you will have to re-find the media everytime you change locations before you can start working on the project. To get around this problem you need to store all your work on a USB Memory Stick, keep a consistent folder structure and make sure that whatever machine you work on assigns the same drive letter to your USB Stick. This article explains how to Assigning a Drive letter to a USB drive. For me as the work machine forced me to use a G:/ Drive, I reassigned my own drive at home to match up and ensure i could work on both machines with no problem should i have to. 3. Set up a clear working folder structure. There are lots of different types of files that may be used when developing a Camtasia project. In order to work in a methodical, stress free way it pays to get your working folder structure clearly organised before you start. In the Development of this series of online and distance learning videocasts my preferred working methodology was as follows:A. i) Create a "_Camtasia projects" folder to save the project file and any iterations thereof. ii) Create a "_Final outputs" folder to store the many variations of output that you may experiment with during the production process e.g. 480x360px screen size versus a 320x240px. iii) Create a "_Powerpoint storyboards" folder to store the powerpoint file (and any iterations thereof) that i use to build and develop my ideas. iv) Create a "AA Finalised projects" folder to store the completed series of videos that will be ready for distribution. v) Create "audio, images and video" folders to store the various media that may be used and finally vi) Create a "transcript" folder to store your transcripts and vii) Create a "caption" folder to export finalise audio text captions for use with closed captioning.B. Plan and map out the sequence of the video using Powerpoint. This allows me to use individual slides (save as > other format - jpg files) as graphic images in the videocast and for me to use the notes section of a powerpoint slide to write and then perfect the initial audio transcript. I can print the slides (publish > create handouts in microsoft word) with the transcript for reference when delivering voiceover narration. C. Develop and use Other media (audio, video, graphics) as appropriate and save in clearly labelled media folders.D. Experiment if necessary by producing a final output to the "_Final outputs" folder. This a test folder to see various output [...]

Making a case for creating Open Educational Resources for use in Higher Education


To set the scene we'll start with a useful and pragmatic definition of Open Educational Resources from Stephen Downes (although he does not support the idea of an 'official' definition) – Read more here"Open educational resources are materials used to support education that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by anyone."BackgroundInspiration for this post was attendance at the one day MEDEV workshop From curiosity to confidence: sharing what it takes to ‘go open’ with learning and teaching resources. Keynote speaker Kieran McGlade (Queen’s University Belfast) kicked off proceedings with an Introduction to open educational resources (OERs) and open educational practice (OEP). Megan Quentin-Baxter (MEDEV) and Jane Williams (University of Bristol) prompted useful discussion not just on copyright issues in relation to OERs but also on the very important ethical question of consent (i.e consent of lecturers, participants and patients for the re-use and distribution of OERs). Image Courtesy of opensourceway under the CC 2.0 SA licenceSangeetha Rajoo and Caesar Wek (Both, Queen Mary University London) demonstrated the good work that they have done creating open educational resources and outlined their approaches and the issues that they have come across. In the final session of the morning Paul Scott (Hull York Medical School) gave an important insight into institutional approaches to developing OERs, emphasizing the importance of planning early from the beginning to ensure all resources do not infringe copyright and that consent is obtained before the creation of resources.Suzanne Hardy (MEDEV) rounded off the session in the afternoon with many practical tips and advice on tools to use that will aid the development of OERs.Further ReadingWith a business hat on one of the prime motives quoted to justify the creation of OERs is that it is good marketing for the institution and it allows the institution and/or the individual to showcase their skills and knowledge, enhance their reputation and encourage students onto the standard regular courses and programmes that are offered. This may be so, however I have not been overly convinced about the cost effectiveness and sustainability of this approach for the institution and the effectiveness of OERS in being re-used and re-adapted for teaching and learning. To help improve my understanding and come to an effective rationale to make the case for creating Open Educational Resources for use in Higher Education and beyond I’ve also recently read two articles on the topic. i) Positioning the OER Business Model for Open Education and ii) Extending the Territory: From Open Educational Resources to Open Educational Practices. Accepting there are merits in the motivation mentioned above, for me it is not yet clear if this alone is a strong enough basis for a Strong OER commitment that fits into the overall strategy of a Higher Education institution and further how it fits in with the notion of still trying to gain competitive advantage over other Institutions who you are collaborating with in a spirit of altruistic educational endeavour. I probably need to examine in more detail the philosophy and ‘success’ of an institution like MIT with their renowned open courseware (OCW) programme (See MIT’s Presidents message about OCW), but attendance at the workshop combined with the further reading has helped me to crystallize a number of reasons that will help make the case for institutional backing for creating and developing open educational resources for use in Higher Education.The First ArgumentThe first argument is that as a leading educational institution it is in the public good to share knowledge globally for[...]

Articulate Presenter: Adding Voiceover Sound


In a previous post we looked at how to include voice-over sound in PowerPoint presentations. For those that also have access to the Articulate Presenter PowerPoint Add-In there is the opportunity to add sound to an enhanced presentational format.

This two part series demonstrates how add to add voiceover sound to Articulate presentations and highlights a few basic points about the files and folders that are generated.

Part 1: Adding Voiceover sound to Articulate Presenter - Adding Sound, Previewing and Publishing
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Part 2: Adding Voiceover sound to Articulate Presenter - Files, Folders and External Sound
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Adding Voiceover Sound to Powerpoint


I have created a 4 part series of videos demonstrating and discussing how to include voice-over sound in PowerPoint presentations. For those that are new to PowerPoint, electronic presentations or are slightly technophobic in these matters hopefully these videos will be useful to you.

Part 1: Adding Sounds

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Part 2: Summary and Considerations

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Part 3: Audacity

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Part 4: Adding External Sound Files and Final Summary

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HOLD THE FRONT PAGE - PLE's need Teachers


Call it a PLE if you like, to me it is connectivist learning. Other terms that i can identify with are Dave Cormier's 'Community as Curriculum' approach and Wendy Drexler's elucidation of Networked learning in the 'Networked student model' (video) .I agree with Jenny Mackness blog post on Curation and Balance in that it is the process that is of most interest and relevance when trying to explain to staff and students the benefits of 21st century connectivist learning. I think however the terms PLE and PLN are with us to stay and so an appreciation of the differences between the terms is useful. From the various blog posts it would seem that the consensus is that a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is more concerned with tools and technology and that Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are more concerned with connections to people. I agree with these distinctions and I like Vahid Masrour's (PLE, i think i got it (for me, anyways) concise view of their respective functions.PLE - "My PLE is where I store all my “keys” to the network. The PLE takes me to my PLN through various gates and paths." and later he says "PLE's are nice, and useful, but they're the ticket and ride, not the destination. The destination is the PLN."PLN - "One of the key concepts for me in a PLN is that learning is a social activity.", "The PLN is then more akin to a community, but with much looser connections, described in the literature as “weak ties”. He also states "The key aspect here are the connections, and what I can do with them, in the sense of doing something with them, not just benefiting from them."PLE's and PLN's in contextBefore I move onto the main theme of this post - The role of the teacher in a PLE, I wish to just talk about the context of PLE and PLN use. I can think of three different contexts where a PLE-PLN will be in use:Unconsciously - Those who without prior knowledge of the terms PLE and PLN learn from online pursuit of their interests combined with ongoing general social interaction.True self directed independent learners who have naturally seen the potential of connective technology to enhance their own learning and understanding OR initially teacher supported users who are now confident working and learning autonomously in a self directed way.Teacher supported PLE's and PLN'sAs educators who see the learning benefits in a PLE/PLN approach then i think we need to recognize the importance of teacher supported PLE's and PLN's and the need to educate both teachers and students in order to promote this approach to learning.Balance and the Teacher as Curator/FacilitatorJenny Mackness and Wendy Drexler both highlight the issue of balance (in many respects), but notably in the issue of teacher intervention and getting the right balance between supporting and scaffolding the learner experience and letting students independently develop and grow their own PLE's and PLN's.This excellent post by Leigh Blackhall Regarding George Siemens curators and George's subsequent excellent response breaks down possible roles involved in networked learning that the teacher may be classified as (Expert: Someone with sustained contribution to a field, Teacher: experts with authority, Curator: play the role of interpreting, organizing, and presenting content, Facilitator: able to guide, direct, lead, and assist learners, not necessarily being a subject matter expert.I note that George in his Networks, Ecologies, and Curatorial Teaching post likes the idea of curator to reflect the role of network administrators/organisers in a networked learning environment. Previously I have always used the term 'teacher as facilitator'. After reading George's definitions i believe curating is probably mor[...]

A Deliberate and Effective PLE


Initial reading that has help me to formulate my opinion on this topic is the excellent Developing Personal learning networks for open and social learning article by Alec Courous who explains the rationale for choosing a primary free and open learning environment and describing the course facilitation model to promote an open an social personal learning network, John Mak's Research into the Design and Delivery of MOOC blog post which contains a number of prompts in relation to open and social learning compared with the more structured and traditional way of learning, Dave Cormier's 5 points about PLE'S and PLN'S which gives a good overview of key points on the topic and Scott Leslie's Mother of All PLE Diagram Compilation.Thinking about my own PLE in relation to the reading led me to developing my own PLE Model. The thinking behind the model is outlined below the following diagram.Questions that crossed my mind were:1. Is your PLE Deliberate? By this i mean has your PLE just grown organically by adding and experimenting with different services or have you deliberately organised and designed your PLE to suit your learning Purpose.2. What is the Purpose of your PLE? which leads onto the question...3. What model of a PLE fits your purpose? (need to review PLE Models)When considering Question 2 further questions come to mind such as:4. What do you do in a PLE?5. What is learning in a PLE?Once you have a better understanding of what you do in a PLE, How you learn in a PLE and what the purpose of your PLE is you can in a more informed way address the question6. What technically do i need to do to make my PLE Effective?So - What about my PLE, is it Deliberate, does it have a purposeIn asking myself is my PLE deliberate the simple answer thus far is NO. Yes i do have a collection of tools that i use to help with my learning and maintaining personal connections, but previously i have not thought through clearly what i hope to achieve with my PLE. Until now most of my learning is driven by my immediate needs, the galvanising effect of being enrolled on a formal course or involved in informal but Studious and intentional courses such as this MOOC and serendipitous casual learning.When thinking about the purpose of my PLE it strikes me that i have needs for a number of distinct learning situations, but i shall concern myself with my primary interest which is learning and education and in particular social, active and participatory learning.Towards a Deliberate and Effective PLEIf we start with the premise that when creating a deliberate and effective PLE you are signed up to the notion you can enhance your learning by learning in an open, social, participatory, sharing way then at the most abstract level I think of what you do in a PLE as the 3x3.1. Collate, filter/sort and share TOPIC/CONTENT information2. Collate, filter/sort and share PERSONAL ACTIVITY3. Collate, filter/sort and share NETWORK ACTIVITYBy actively contributing to these activities you will be contributing to your own and others learning. It can quite a demanding business, but being organised and deliberate will help and being kind to yourself in recognising that you may not have all the time you would like to contribute fully will help as well.Practically - What do you do in a PLE?It was interesting perusing the diagrams at Scott Leslie's Mother of All PLE Diagram Compilation, but quite overwhelming at times. Nevertheless it did help me consolidate what i believe occurs in a PLE and consequently has now given me a model to follow in constructing my own deliberate and effective PLE.To simplify and understand what you do in a PLE I have broken down the key elements to SIX key activities [...]

Digital Participation, Digital Inclusion and Social Learning


Digital Participation - Why?Attended the 'Measuring the Unmeasurable: Digital Participation' Seminar at Birmingham University on Monday 19th July. I was unsure as to what to expect. My motivation to attend stems from my interest in informal online learning and how connectivist methods of online learning can be used to promote digital participation. Also interested in the notion of measuring participation. The purpose of the session was to provide a forum for discussion of the meaning and measurability of digital participation. Key objectives of this initiative from Birmingham City University was to:To start up a continuing dialogue between researchers, activists and policy-makers about issues of research and measurement.To identify key concerns about the meaning and value of digital participation.It would seem and i agree that widespread digital participation is a desirable aim for the government of any country. Desirable if you are a government that wishes to be inclusive and not have certain sections of the nation excluded from modern communication. Indeed here in the UK the topic has attracted interest because the previous government identified a goal of increasing digital participation. The new coalition Government also shares this ambition. More information can be found here at the raceonline2012 website. The importance of digital inclusion and digital participation for the Government are emphasised by Martha Lane Fox, the governments UK Digital champion:"We need to be ambitious, ‘think internet first’ when we design services, and put the needs of the hardest to reach at the heart of industry, charity and government. There is a social and moral case to make sure more people are online but there is a clear economic case too. We will all be better off when everyone is online." July 2010Throughout the seminar i kept asking myself why - Why are the Government pushing this, What is their motivation, What is their Vision. Martha Lane Fox offers this:and the seminar introductory text offers this:"Lord Carter presented the final Digital Britain report in June 2009 (. The report highlighted the need to engage a wider cross section of the public in going online; identifying that such engagement would result in the efficiencies and economic benefits expected from living and working in the digital age. It is quite a detailed report and i have not had a chance to read it yet. As part of the digital participation agenda the following were identified as important topics to address:Digital Life SkillsDigital Inclusion andDigital Media literacyOverview of ProceedingsSpeakers at this event included:Professor David Macguire Birmingham University, Pro-Vice Chancellor Corporate DevelopmentPaul Watson – Director, Digital Economy Hub for Inclusion through the Digital EconomyCatherine Bunting – Director of Research, Arts Council EnglandAlison Preston – Senior Research Associate, OfcomProceedings were kicked of by Professor David Macguire who emphasized the point that we are now part of a knowledge sharing economy and that through the development of digital technology their has been an information revolution, but without effort to achieve digital participation throughout the country then we will perpetuate the digital divide that exists, whee currently 12.5 mullion out of the 65-70 million will not be participating.Keynote Speaker Paul Watson told us about the Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy. (side) research project that looks at problems of accessibility, connection at home and in society, transport and capitalizing on the emeregence of creative industries through the eyes of technologists, sociologists, business l[...]

Connectivist Learning #CritLit2010 #CCK09


After reading George Siemen's post on Connectivism taxonomy and John Mak's response I compared the points expressed with the critical literacy taxonomy that i had published in my last blog post and with my own views on connectivist learning. I have subsequently created a wiki page to develop a Critical Literacies Taxonomy and a wiki page that looks at Connectivist Taxonomy Linked to Critical Literacies. I'd welcome any input to develop and discuss the issues as a group from interested colleagues.If we start with some feedback on George's proposed connectivist taxonomy. Firstly I agree with the suggestion from Brad Hodge that metacognition could come in as early as connection forming. Maybe at Praxis level metacognition encapsulates more thought about the network. As John Mak asserts maybe in the "chaos and fuzzy dynamic" connnectivist online environment it is difficult to "measure competency in a discreet manner" with regard to the development of a connectivist learner. I based my subsequent Connectivist Taxonomy Linked to Critical Literacies, on John's further proposal that a dynamic n-dimensional (mxn) model of taxonomy may be more suitable. You'll notice from the model that one further distinction i have drawn is that the connectivist taxonomy appears to progress from individual knowledge development and then move on the network knowledge development and i thought it was important to emphasize that distinction.The other strong points to emerge for me were the 1) excellent point raised by Avi Charkam and the role of the teacher in the taxonomy of connectivist learning and 2) John Mak's highlighting of the social and emotional elements that contribute to learning e.g. emotional control, self awareness, self confidence, motivation, social skills and interpersonal skills, social elements (social awareness, ethics, intelectual property awareness etc). Perhaps a matrix model may help in this regardOn a side, but equally relevant issue these two points struck a chord with me as my in my masters dissertation i proposed a model of distance learning termed SCORE 2.0. This model was inspired by connectivism, wherby i see not just the fantastic potential of asynchronous communication to aid informal learning, but i see the interactive synchronous classroom sessions as a fantastic medium to connect people much more strongly than asynchronous alone. I see the teacher being very important in this model of distance learning - not just in delivering, but in planning the whole learning experience. Connectivist, active and social learning runs through the heart of the model and the teachers role is to engineer and support development of a connectivist mentality. It would seem that the approach to connectivist learning is that it is strongly self directed learning. I believe that connectivist learning can be viewed along a continuum from heavily supported learning to a fully self directed learning and that the teacher has the important role if giving the appropriate support at various times along this continuum.The key findings of my masters disseration were that the online synchronous classroom when used in conjunction with varied learning activities can be a motivating and engaging environment in which to build a community of learners. Supporting ‘Web 2.0’ technologies play an important part in supporting the community of learners and in helping to develop learner autonomy. Vital to the successful implementation of the model is an appropriately trained and motivated teacher. For those interested here is my dissertation.[...]

Network Learning: A Taxonomy of Critical Literacies #CritLit 2010


From the discussions and reflection so far in the CritLit 2010 course I set out to build on my earlier blog posts and develop my own understanding of critical literacies for the 21st century networked learner. Encouraged by Ruth Howard and John Mak i initially considered developing a taxonomy of literacies in the form of a visual model to capture the elements identified by the Critit2010 group. In considering what to include and how to represent it i started to reflect back on the course materials, presentations and discussions.Foundational Critical LiteraciesStrange as it may seem i have not seen many of the presentations related to the weekly topics, but have worked from the readings and the subsequent blog postings of others. It was good then to work my way through Grainne Conole's presentation on one of the key foundational literacies (as proposed by Stephen Downes) which came in week 1 on Cognition.Simultaneously i was trying to appreciate the significance of what i would call the other key 'communicative' or 'signifying' foundational literacies of syntactics, semantics and pragmatics and wondering whether these foundational literacies can be worked into my proposed visual model. An example of what i had in mind can be seen is this visual model of Bloom's Taxonomy.The importance of the other key foundational literacies of 'appreciation of context' and the 'ability to recognise and adapt to change' quickly became apparent in Grainne's presentation. Grainne pointed out that the context of education is itself changing. We have an explosion of new and ever changing technologies, ubiquitous networked access (mobile and broadband) and an abundance of free online tools and applications.Additionally learners themselves are changing - they are growing up 'digital' - i.e technologically immersed, task orientated, group based and just in time mentality and comfortable with multiple representation. This context facilitates new technological approaches that move from a content driven, transmission passive recipient model of learning to a more participative, active and social way of teaching and learning. In this context the six key foundational literacies are going to be much more important for networked learning. Grainne points out that although the technological environment in the 21st century fosters a myriad of affordances (action possibilities) for a learner - the affordances for an individual will be limited to their capabilities - i.e their critical literacies.Grainne suggests that the technological affordances at all levels (written words and numbers, 1st wave technology - phone, radiot, tape,TV, 2nd wave technology of computer networks, mobiles, the internet) are communication, connection, interactivity and representation and that practices evolve depend on the characteristics of the users (e.g. preferences, interests, skills, context).We can see for networked learners in the 21st century an example of how critical literacies are important when we consider Grainne's example of using the microblogging service 'Twitter". Examples of use include posting queries, commenting, gathering opinions, sharing ideas, brainstorming, maintaining social presence. We'll just consider some of the issues of using this service that were raised and how they may relate to our foundational critical literacies. Issues identified were:i) Your 'a-ha' moment (cognition - ability to infer)ii) is it the right network (context)iii) your digital voice (syntax, semantics and pragmatics i.e how you communicate)iv) Inappropriateness (syntax, semantics, pragmatics cognition, context and ma[...]

Getting Anchored in My #CritLit 2010 MOOC


ConsolidationWhen I started the Critical Literacy 2010 course, I started late and was not exactly sure what the major focus of the course was. In my mind the dominant thought was that this was a course that was primarily concerned with Critical Thinking Skills. Reflecting back at the outset, the course details did outline that:"Content for the course is being drawn from the presentation Pedagogical Foundations for Personal Learning This presentation provides a frame for an understanding of the critical literacies required in a networked learning environment. Briefly, the elements are as follows: i) Syntax, ii) Semantics, iii) Pragmatics, iv) Cognition, v) Context and vi) Change."During the course, discussion has emerged around the topic of critical thinking and many of the participants have gone on to suggest practical critical literacies that learners in a networked learning environment need to develop. The six week course as it suggests in the course details does also indeed follow the course themes weekly and these provide a background to the practical critical literacies which are being discussed on the course. I am much more comfortable discussing the practical critical literacies as i previously have not looked at all deeply at the underpinning elements of communication and thinking that are the bedrock of this course. I have not been able to attend the online synchronous presentations and i have not looked at the recordings (included here) yet either:Week 1: Gráinne Conole Cognition Week 2: Dave Snowden ComplexityWeek 3: Graham Attwell PragmaticsImpetus to learn more about Philosophy and CommunicationWhilst preparing this blog post it seemed that although i believe i have something to contribute to the course that my main focus should be to ensure that i have good (better) grounding in the main underpinning topics and themes. This was a deviation from my intention which was to peruse various blogs from the CritLit 2010 course, looking for further discussion of literacies that might be deemed critical (as in imperative). Instead inspired by Ruth Howard's Blog post Self as a locus of Learning I linked to the following article on the pros and cons of postmodernism. Ruth was directed to this resource by the industrious, forthcoming and very interesting blog postings of John Mak. John's recent postings relating to the topic of critical litercaies include:Educational Leadership #CritLit2010 Reflective Thinking – A Personal Perspective Part 1#CritLit2010 Reflective Thinking – A Personal Perspective Part 2 Reading the article on the pros and cons of postmodernism.gave me the impetus to get a brief grounding in Philosophy - A subject that i have not previously explored in any great depth. What i discovered from Wikipedia was that "17th century philosophy in the Western world is generally regarded as being the start of modern philosophy,", generally known as the Age of Reason. I learnt that this era was followed in the 18th Century by the Age of Enlightenment. The Age of Enlightment preceded the 19th Century Modernism philosophy, before the 20th century philosophy of Postmodernism came to the foreground.Looking at the main themes of the course, communication is the nub of all the critical literacies being considered and therefore an appreciation of Linguistics, the study of natural language is a useful attribute. Important to note that linguistics can be divided between the study of language structure (grammar including syntax) and the study of meaning (semantics and pragmatics). Within the field, linguist is used to describe som[...]

Critical Literacy – The Struggle Moves to a Different Arena – My Arena #CritLit2010


A snapshot of discussion around the term ‘Critical literacies’ The topic of what is actually meant by Critical Literacy has been raised in a number of places. Heli Nurmi an educationalist with many years experience has some great blog posts around the topic of critical literacy in this course and asks the questions “are we going to learn anything new, will we learn about new knowledge building, new media literacies (yes, but what?) or is it only technology which develops?” Heli’s three initial blog post give plenty of food for thought: My web identity and critical literaciesCognitive resonances in my online identityCritical thinking and levels of reflectivity To guide others on the course Ulop O’Taat highlights the following text with this signposting - So Ken, if you and others are struggling with what is meant by critical literacies in this course, re-read the opening moodle page. “Critical, as the course is not just about finding out how to use the latest technologies for learning, but to look critically at the Web and its underlying structures. Literacies, as it is more about capabilities to be developed than about the acquisition of a set of skills”. Ken Anderson in his post on Critical Literacy had previously highlighted his struggle to understand what is meant by Critical Literacies in the context of this course. He identifies two themes from the course information: CL: literacies critical to functioning in a PLE. This definition suggests tool familiarityCL: abilities related to critical thinking, reading, writing i.e. logic skills, syntax etc. as noted in the course outline And makes an additional observation about the course What I have really found interesting is Kop’s statement that the heart of the ‘course’ is about who controls access to information. Is this what this ‘course’ is primarily concerned with? Those that control the means of distribution (of information)… Will this be a course in Marxism? My own sense-making of the term ‘Critical Literacies’ and my subsequent learning strategy I more or less identified the same two strands as Ken, which i referred to in an earlier blog post. In trying to establish what is meant by critical literacies in the context of this course I focused on what I considered to be the two most relevant meanings of ‘critical’ that come to mind. These being: Critical as imperative. i.e. imperative literacies to haveCritical as in being analysed and evaluated i.e. Literacies that analyse and evaluate Additionally mindful of the stated aims/purposes of the course I also was aware that i need to consider the following element of criticality. 3. Critical as in looking at (analysing and evaluating) the Web and its underlying structures: i.e. sing traditional Critical thinking skills to analyse and evaluate the web and its underlying structures. It seems to me that there is already a well established set of generally agreed critical thinking skills – therefore in relation to point 2 above I think the question to be pursued is “What technologies will best facilitate traditional critical thinking skills?”. With regard to point 1, 'critical' as imperative seems to me to be the most important thing to focus on for the self directed learner in a networked personal learning environment and so far on this course the following critical literacies have been offered from the floor or have been found by me in text or video content that i have perused: My intention is to[...]

Critical Literacy Course: An Online Distribued Learning Model adhering to a pedagogy of self directed learning using a PLE–Introducing #CritLit2010


Some Background I became aware of connectivist, networked models of learning whilst completing my MA in the use of interactive and collaborative technology for Adult Distance Learners in 2008. I immediately appreciated the fantastic learning opportunities afforded by web 2.0 or social software and during this time I developed a model, of learning which I termed SCORE 2.0 (Synchronous Community Orientated Reflective and Experiential). A lot more research and development needs to be done but essentially i see this model as a combination of formal learning with the informal self directed connectivist model of learning. I look forward to revisiting and refining the SCORE 2.0 Model to compare with the Online Distributed Model of Learning that drives this course as i am keen to work connectivist learning into formal learning situations. Additionally whilst being a learner on CCK08, the first Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) I became aware of this much larger (Massive J), more open way of learning. Why I enrolled I enrolled on the course initially to learn more about critical thinking skills. The course also gives me a focus for learning, a motivation to put the hours to read and think more deeply than if i was just perusing the web for learning opportunities. Although the course is built around self directed learning there is a loose structure and more importantly a simultaneous group effort focused on the same themes at the same time (spread over a 6 week period). What I found After reading the course details further I found that the focus of the course whilst embracing critical thinking is primarily focused on the critical literacies that are needed to work with technology in a networked personal learning environment. Perfect – I get to: · Think more about Critical Thinking Skills· Think more about Critical Literacy Skills in relation to networked PLE’s · Practically develop my PLE and Networking skills in this MOOC environment.· Learn about Learning First Thoughts Firstly I needed to get organised – Do not want to miss any possible postings in this distributed environment. Prior to the course my own personal learning environment has revolved around using tweetdeck to monitor twitter activity. The easy setting up of search columns makes this a great application to monitor twitter activity. – John Mak and Irmerli Aro and Michelle Drechsler have recently awoken me to the to the fantastic media rich and connectively sweet environment that is facebook. (I have never fancied using Facebook educationally in a formal class, but adopting it for use as part of your own personal learning network is a WIN WIN WIN situation). So, for this course I Joined up to the Daily (aggregator of course news), but the best thing at the moment is using Google alerts – a quick and easy notification to my Google mail of anything related to the course using the hash tag #CritLit2010. Started to gather all #CritLit2010 feeds in Google reader, but have reverted back to just working from the alerts in Google Mail. Found most useful to read the Course details page on the wiki to orientate myself to what this course was all about. The Blog posts of Jenny Mackness, John Mak and Heli Nurmi have initially kept me orientated. I feel; as though I am struggling to catch up, but we’ll see how we go. Mike Bogle’s Warcraft guild for CritLit2010 Blog post and his suggestion of using the gaming arena as a vehicle to facilitate learning seems good to me [...]

Technology Celebration at DMU and A Triumvirate platform for success


Symposium HighlightJust returned from the typically heartening and uplifting Biennial DMU Technology Enhanced Learning Symposium. Biggest impact for me came not from any of the presenters but the attendance of the recently appointed Manager of ISAS (Information Services & Systems), Michael Robinson. It was obvious to see he had a keen and genuine interest in finding out what technology was important to staff at DMU. I had a very brief chat with Michael, but my impression is that he is not just a technical guy, but appreciates how important technology is to the culture not only of teaching and learning, but also to internal and external organisation communication. I hope my first impressions are correct because it will fit very well with all the excellent technology enhanced learning initiatives that our e-learning co-ordinator Richard Hall has driven through.DMU TEL 2010 Conference logo/themesIt's the Culture not the TechnologyA lot of what has been achieved at DMU in the field of Technology Enhanced Learning has been derived from a culture that has encouraged innovation, self expression, self development and a sense of worth in contributing to organizational aspirations.The general theme of the conference centered around the importance of culture in driving the technology and not the other way around. Keynote speaker Dave White warned of the dangers of not being clear about what your values and aims are otherwise technology will drive and push you to places that maybe you do not want to go. An interesting read related to culture and the use of new social media is Tribes by Set GodinKeynote Speaker Dave White and the points that touched a chordOther key points Dave made where having an appreciation of the types of students (customers) that we have and how this might affect how we deal with them. Using his excellent Visitors and Residents analogy he offered a view of how the student population will range on a continuum from those just visiting web spaces, getting information and retreating offline and those students that see being online in all manner of web spaces as part of there natural normal daily life, just like going to the park and hanging out with friends. I remember previously reading that Dave suggests that different approaches may taken in different area of life i.e. socially with friends, at work and educationally for example. Not totally sure of the implications for me in any teaching that i do, but i will give it some consideration in the future..prezi-player { width: 400px; } .prezi-player-links { text-align: center; }VisitorResident on PreziIt kind of chimes in with another theme of Dave's which is the conflict of what a student wants and what they need. For example Students often take the strategic surface approach to learning in that they just want to learn about the things that will help them pass the assessment, whereas educationally what they might need to enhance their deep learning is group work and reflective work, which they may find an irritant, but is actually beneficial to them. Dave cited some evidence that just giving students what they want in online distance learning is not engaging enough and drop out rates are high. Dave noted that what students need is collaborative (and other deep learning) tasks to foster engagement and i wholeheartedly agree with this.These observations tie in nicely with a Faculty workshop on plagiarism i attended yesterday and lead me to conclude that assessment strategies may benefit fro[...]

One Year of Bikram and I am Still Standing (but is my knee locked)


The Anniversary!I thought I would mark my one year of practice by revealing my thoughts about Bikram Yoga. This post is written with the relatively new or not yet started Bikram Yoga attendee in mind. If you have not attended a Bikram Yoga session I hope to inspire you to take the plunge and for those that have like me been practicing for a while, I hope that some of my observations touch a chord and that my observations and any associated links are beneficial. I am a mere novice, but keen and eager to learn more in relation to Bikram Yoga, Yoga, Health and Well Being so I welcome any comments, counter comments and challenges to my observations and perceptions.It's So Much More than just StretchingOne year of Bikram and I am still standing, still going strong (started 26th March 2009). Like a lot of devotees i realised early that regular attendance will give a core foundation to maintaining good health and well being and this is the primary reason I consistently attend Bikram Yoga classes. From my very first class I have been consistently attending Bikram Yoga classes three times a week. You can feel this notion of well being after each and every class and it is this feeling combined with the knowledge that Bikram Yoga is a well thought out carefully planned system of self development that makes me love Bikram Yoga! Not that Bikram Yoga is easy, it is a tough 90 minute session that for me acts a catalyst to self development both physically and mentally.I believe that you owe it to yourself to be the best that you can be and an important part of that is physical development. This is where Bikram Yoga comes in as a core element for your own personal development. Once you commit to Bikram Yoga, you learn not only how to improve your posture, flexibility, agility, strength and balance (through the physical postures), but you take a deeper interest in other aspects of your life that may well influence your health and well being. For example drinking water regularly, re-evaluating your eating habits, the importance of sleeping, the importance of resting and the importance of nasal breathing. Regular attendance at a Bikram Yoga class reinforces good habits that promote health and well being. It keeps you on track.Where I PracticeI practice at Bikram Yoga Leicester, UK. The teachers are fantastic. Each one delivers consistently the Bikram Yoga Program and all give good advice during the class. Bikram Yoga tends to attract clientele with a good outlook on life. The combination of great teachers, attendees of a good nature and a well thought out program of postures that the teachers and the attendees believe in creates a positive vibe during class and a lovely satisfied afterglow when the class has finished. I think a good description is that it is serious fun. There's me below checking in for a session, that's the fun bit, the serious business is about to begin (check out my serious face in later photographs). Fortunately there is fun to be had in serious hard work and the teachers whilst keeping us focused never lose the opportunity to sprinkle humour throughout the class.So How has it been for Me?Initially I attended Bikram Yoga to improve my flexibility. It quickly became apparent that there is more to Yoga and Bikram Yoga in particular than stretching and flexibility. I have found attending Bikram Yoga classes a great stimulus to learn, it has been very educational and made me think more about many other aspects of personal dev[...]

Videoblogging versus Blogging


This blog post gives me an initial opportunity to consider the potential of videoblogging compared with straightforward blogging. It is a short initial piece, primarily for me to focus on the video editing technology. I lay the foundations for a deeper more meaningful discussion on the learning potential of both types of blogging with a few observations about both types of blogging (not by a long chalk, full and complete), suggesting that one advantage of videoblogging could be that it is a quicker more productive method of blogging.My initial conclusions are that for learning purposes, both types of blogging require some thinking through and some preparation and planning. For audience capturing, videoblogging may help in this regard, but both types will need high quality output, be that written text or engaging on-camera presence. I am coming around to the idea that it actually might be a good idea to mix the two approaches. Having a visual stimulus on the blog i think will spark more initial interest.Video Editing TechnologyAlthough my initial interest was in using videoblogging to produce content more quickly. I actually became more interested in how to make good use of video editing technology and i have made a start here in this blog. What i can say is that Camtasia is an excellent video editing tool, allowing importing and editing of webcam video, video screencasts, camera video, audio files and image files. With creation and editing also of functions such as zoom and panning, captions, on screen text 'callouts', hyperlinking and an option to include flash based quizzes and surveys there are plenty of tools to be creative with your finalized video output. The bottom line is that working in the camtasia editing environment is very easy even for a teacher that has no previous experience of editing video.For what you get i think camtasia is very well priced (at last time of checking £134 for educational license), however if you are looking for a free video editor then windows movie maker is also a great free bit of software, that can add a bit of variety and interest to a straightforward talking head webcam.Final WordIf you did not know already text based blogging is a fantastic learning tool (see my earlier blogging posts). However whatever blogging method is used, you the blogger need to find a subject worth blogging about and then invest time in using your blogging weapon of choice to engage and interest your audience in what you have to say. This may be i) Developing your writing style ii) Improving your webcam talking head delivery or iii) Understanding visual media delivery to make best use of the great video editing tools that are at your disposal. In short if you are like me you blog to learn, but also blog to offer something of value to the audience. In offering something of value to the audience it pays to improve the many communication skills at your disposal.[...]

The Three Dubya's - Wimba, Webex and WiZiQ


Coming towards the end of a phase of Live Online Learning learning using Wimba Live Classroom. Thought i'd take some time to reflect on the Wimba application and compare it with my previous experiences with Webex (training room) and WiZiQ. These are just my initial comparisons, I intend to go into much more depth on these and other applications at a later time.Good teaching, Great Passion and a Critical EyeMy great passion for live online learning started when i enrolled on the Synchronous Learning Expert Certificate run by insynctraining. I was taught by great teachers with a great philosophy on how learning online needs to be a participative active learning experience. This effects the way i look at the various web conferencing tools. I am looking very critically to see how best the various applications at our disposal incorporate tools to aid learning and how effective these tools are in facilitating technologically efficient, trouble and interference free learning. With each of the three tools that are the focus of this post i have been involved heavily in design, delivery and support of live online synchronous classes. For each web conferencing application at least 30 participants/students in total have partaken of at least one or more live online synchronous classes.Example: Interaction during Live Online Webex ClassNote: technology should be like a good football (soccer) referee i.e you don't notice it/themContextI have an interest in looking at the most effective tool for teaching and learning but also the most appropriate for integration into a higher education institutional setup, where external services may not be an appropriate solution.Webex: Agreed a year long trial with Webex at their standard business rates for just a one user licence. A personalised DMU Webex site was created with full admin facilities including the setting up of automatic email reminders and integration with Microsoft Outlook. Can be integrated to Blackboard VLE, but was not for this trial.Wimba: Wimba are a company that look to agree institutional wide solutions which would involve integration with Blackboard VLE. Agreed a year long trial with a personalised Wimba website. Admin facilities existed but no automatic email reminders and integration with Microsoft Outlook. The Wimba trial was a stans alone classroom outside of Blackboard.WizIq: Free service available to individual teachers. Teachers can sign up to the service and start delivering live online classes. Participant/students need also to sign up and get account before they can participate in any live online classes. For a monthly fee more services can be added.Logging on to a live Online ClassroomWebex was by far the least problematic. An email link is created for each session and a listing is available from your main personalised webex site. Most participants could logon satisfactorily. Wiziq - unfortunately our students had major problems logging into this service. Most problems seemed to occur when clicking a class invitation link, users also often seemed to go around in circles trying to log back in after changing passwords. After a lot of irritating unnecessary time and effort (for myself and other colleagues), students eventually got sorted out and it was ok after a while. Do not know the exact nature of the problem, but something was not quite right and this experience was a big driver to look for other solutions. Wimba[...]