You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2004.

For all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection for the way
computers have enhanced our lives, read on.
The story below is an excellent reminder that teaching and learning
online has a long way to go, especially as it all depends on the much
needed improvements to general usability and enjoyability of a computer!

At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the
computer industry with the auto industry and stated, “If GM had kept up
with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving
$25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”

In response to Bill’s comments, General Motors issued a press release
stating: If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be
driving cars with the following characteristics (and I just love this

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to
buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You
would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows,
shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could
continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause
your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would
have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable,
five times as fast and twice as easy to drive – but would run on only
five percent of the roads. (In my experience Macs are no more reliable
that PCs)

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all
be replaced by a single “This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation”
warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out
and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door
handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn
how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate
in the same manner as the old car.

10. You’d have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine on


I received this open letter to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) regarding the UNESCO agreement with Microsoft in an eGroup recently.
The letter points to the important work UNESCO has done with Free and Open Source Software in Education, and expresses concern at this recent agreement with Microsoft… One to watch.

There’s a hell of a lot to read here, but if you are interested in constructivist pedagogy, communications, and blogging and ICTs generally, then you should probably have this one on your shelf.
Jame’s Farmers blog “Incorporated Subversion” has an immense post titled “Communication dynamics: Discussion boards, weblogs and the development of communities of inquiry in online learning environments”
I believe you can judge a book by its title and cover – and I’m proven right with this one.

Vote for the best Edu Blog here, or just take a look at what people think the best is. The best indy blog seems a touch strange to me.

eGroups are a great thing to be a part of. I’m in at least 10 lists, and sometimes I find time to look at a few of them. Craig Bellamy, a Melbourne historian runs a very quirky list called Globalise This, and recently he sent around a link to a very fine piece of Flash animation about Alzheimer’s Disease.
I’m going to be collecting up these kinds of things here on Teach and Learn Online and build a strong example base for encouraging people to invest a lot more in the artistic and design aspects of their online teaching resources. I’m a multi media and Flash designer myself, so I guess I have a touch of bias – but I just can’t get over the idea of online learning resources created by artists and designers. With a general script that highlights the important content, I tend to think artistic designers could vastly improve the successes of online teaching and learning simply by enhancing the resources with their eye for beautiful communication.

“…Every person in the room walked out with endless possibilities roaming around their mind and already with their own web site up and running. And it was soooooo easy. On top of that the commercial possibilities are almost endless…” – Tony Lorriman, Hunter Institute.

Gave another workshop to a small band of Hunter Institute staff involved in the Introduction to Teaching and Training Online (ITTO) course.

In less than an hour, all the participants had their own blogger sites up, and we spent quite a while discussing the potential for the free and open approach to eLearning.

A presentation that ran before mine was a real beauty. Gary Sewell from the Hospitality Faculty – Baking Trades talked quite a bit about the real financial benefits experienced in his Section after they put BlendedChocolate online freely and openly. Gary described the amazing offers he has received to train industry internationally after a number of corporations were able to view and try out BlendedChocolate after finding it through Google. Gary is now negotiating content production and course delivery to 3 major baking corporations…

Imagine if the Department of Science Education and Training bought a couple of very big servers, installed free and open source software on them and allowed every person in Australia (why not the world) to publish eLearning content to and/or use that content for self directed learning.
It would run a bit like Blogger, but with extra features to make it better for Teaching and Learning Online. Everyone would be given free access, with at least 50 Meg of space to save stuff to. The communities of teachers and students, parents and other players would rate the content, that in turn would be reviewed by DEST for possible use in Institutionalised learning programs. And all this content would be stitched up with category hyperlinks much the same as Blogger does.
Geeks could get in there and tweak the source code to make it run better, teachers and students would be free to use it the way they saw fit – reviewed by their peers and community. The only thing different to Blogger would be the Department’s own little banner would run across the top of the user’s elearning blog – something like the one I have knocked up above this post, in the same inconspicuous size dimensions as the blogger banner above this page.
Of course DEST would have the rights to use all content on its servers for public educational purposes… what a way to grow eLearning in Australia…

In his article LMS, The Wrong Place to Start eLearning, George Siemens believes LMS constrain instruction and do not cater well for informal and connectionist learning. He advocates learning environment utilise a range of conferencing tools, rather than using one tool to do everything, in order to provide greater choice for instructors and learners. This argument ultimately promotes the use of open source over proprietary software…

And then just to add salt to the wound Derek Morrison’s article, E-Learning Frameworks and Tools: Is It Too Late? points a finger at the managers who wrote no exit strategy for their Institutes when signing contracts with proprietry LMS…

And other related discussion can be found either here in this blog or at the OpenCourseWare project


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