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Welcome to the Western Sydney Institute Staff who have asked me to run a workshop in the use of free and open software for teaching and learning (primarily online).

If you are the WSI staff I’m referring to, you have probably come to this site after receiving an email from the email group called TeachAndLearnOnline. When you have finished looking around, come back to this article and commence step 1.

Step 1. Set up your own blogspot.
If you scroll to the top of this website you’ll see in the top right corner a button reading “get your own blog”. Right click that button and open the link in a new window.
Blogger.com has opened in that window, and it is Blogger.com that will allow you to set up your site. Follow the very easy instructions to “create your own blog”

Step 2. Download and install Hello.

If you right click the Hello link, and open it in a new window, you will open the Hello website. Find the download Hello button and install Hello on your computer.
Hello is a little Internet chat program that also allows you to send images to not only the person you are chatting with, but to your Blogspot!

Note: If you are working on an organisation’s computer, chances are that their network security will stop Hello working properly. Also, at the moment Hello only works on a Windows PC. See below for an alternative way to store and display images for free.

Alternative to Step 2: Open a Geocities account to store and link to your images
There are other alternatives as well, but this is probably the most flexible. If you open a Geocities you will give yourself 15 megabytes of Internet storage that you can upload images and other files to. Once they are uploaded to your Geocities site, all you have to do is link to the files from within Blogger. The Blogger text editor has a number of buttons at the top to help you do this.

Another alternative is to open a Flickr account and upload your images there. The good thing about using Flickr is you won’t have to worry about compressing your images, it will do it for you.

Step 3. Take a photo of yourself and send it to your Blog through Hello – or with one of the Step 2 alternatives
If you are with me in the face to face workshop, I have brought along a digital camera to take your picture. This being your first time with Hello, you may feel a bit unsure – give it a go, if you have trouble Hello will help you.

Step 4. Use your uploaded photo in your Blogger profile.
Now that your picture is on the Internet! You can use it all over the place. Display your image in your blog, right click it and view profile. In the profile is an Internet address ending in .jpg. This is the definitive location of your image. Select that address, right click the selection and copy it. Now view your profile from the link in your Blogspot. Click edit your profile, scroll down the fields and paste the address in the field called “Photo URL”. Then press save. It may take a while to show up, just keep clicking refresh, it will show.

There’s the very basics of setting up your own website. You’re either confused or buzzing with ideas. If you are confused, leave a comment at the bottom of this article, and I’ll come in and help you.

This is only the beginning! There are so many tools you can use that are easy, free and have a big number of people ready to help you out in learning how to use them. You will get a lot of help from this site alone.

Click this link to open an article with information on a good range of free tools to teach and learn online.

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Something interesting, innovative and informative out of Yale. Staying Ahead of Your Patrons talks about organisational info management agents, such as librarians, using Weblogs and News Feeds to publish and manage the flow of info – not just for achival purposes, but for currency as well!
This is a presentation done in Blogger, which in itself is interesting. What a beautifuly simple and obvious idea, how innovative, how easy! No more powerpoint or PDF, no more complex Content Management Systems… just Blogger – Easy, online, interactive, hyperlinked, searchable, NewsFeedable, comments etc etc. A great idea I reckon. Great links in this presentation too. I’d be interested to hear what Dianne the super librarian makes of it?


I haven’t tried this one out yet, but it looks OK. I looks like a good tool for teachers and students to use and easily create online slide shows. Either this and/or flickr

The jClicker is a set of web page files, a few button images, and JavaScript code that will allow you to easily assemble and create a slide show presentation in a web browser. You do not need any knowledge of HTML or JavaScript to create your own slide shows.


I was wondering if the online discussions held late in 2004 as part of the Net*Working 04 Conference would be archived, and here they are. Hope they stay there as it will be very interesting to read them in 5, 10, 20 years time.

Don’t freak out. You’re in the right place. I just thought it was time for a change in the way this blog looks. All the content is the same, and last I checked, was still all here… its just that, after the eLearning conference today, I saw many other people’s blogs and saw that the template I was using before this one was… very popular. I hope Blogger keep updating their templates – I like trying on new clothes.

The eLearning Conference was pretty good. All the usual faces, plus a few more. Some were quite interesting. My presentation went OK, I was pretty nervous and rushed for time, but I think I got my points across.

Of particular interest was Interactive Ochre, a CDROM for awareness of Australian Aboriginal culture. What made this project stand out was a couple of things.

Firstly because it was presented in the middle of a bunch of recent and pretty unremarkable Toobox productions.

Secondly because it had pretty interesting content matter

And thirdly because it had bold production values. Too often I see things like Toolbox CDROMS suffer from a lack of artistic and creative energy. Usually as best as it might get is a couple of fancy front end Flash animations, but once you click past that its straight back to boring flogs of text and gaping silent gaps between abrupt elements of multi media .

Interactive Ochre’s production values obviously come from a different angle. Managers Jeff Hunter and Doug Milera like to use the old Huxley (or was it Orwell) term infotainment but in a much more positive light.

Jeff and Doug showed us a couple of videos on the CD and it was clear that the infotainment they were talking about was something we in eLearning should sit up and take notice of. They employed real artists to write and record songs and music, and using real designers and editors to make video clips out of the songs, they packed heaps of graphical signification to back up the topics and issues that the songs were about.

Of course, the use of song and artists who identify with indigenous Australian culture help this CDROM achieve its objective far more fully than if it were just another corporate style, overly programed CD, but that’s not to say that it was only because of the topic that this CDROM could do such a thing. Any CDROM, given the right people scripting it, could use such successful and simple devices! I’d be giving Jeff and Doug a call if I was managing a production, just to talk about the approach they took.

Barbara Pitman and the project she introduced in 2003 Livin in the House probably inspired a significant portion of the concept behind Interactive Ochre, actually I thought I heard Jeff give it mention, but where Livin in the House introduced an idea for artistic values and cultural product in eLearning content, Interactive Ochre takes it quite a bit further.

Unfortunately, getting a hold of a copy of Interactive Ochre is difficult. My only link is to the Framework website, and as far as I can see there’s no mention of how to get a copy… 😦 will keep and eye out.

I’ve been given a scorching 15 minutes to present the OpenCourseWare project and talk about the key outcomes of this Learnscope04 professional development project, at the Australian Flexible Learning Framework’s eLearning event on Friday 18 Feb.

Will briefly talk about:
1. how the project was conducted – 3 minutes
2. an overview of a range of free and open source software – 3 minutes
3. how we might use free and open software in education – 3 minutes
4. propose more publishing of open courseware – 3 minutes
5. and point to further readings – 3 minutes

15 minutes may not be much, but it may be enough to point people to this blog where they can download the presentation (972kB-PDF), download the paper (751kB-PDF), and view the comic strip concept outline below (included in the PDF downloads). Please note that the paper is in draft stage and yet to be accepted by the Framework.
NB. Better to right click the links and save directly to your computer rather than have them open in your browser.

Here’s a preview of the comic strip I included in it:


From Scoop based on a press Release: Waiariki Institute Of Technology

New Zealand early adopter of Moodle

“New Zealand has taken the lead internationally in adopting Moodle software”, said Dr Reynold Macpherson, CEO of Waiariki.

“The February 3 and 4 conference at Waiariki was the largest ever to date with over 170 participants, with many more participating through the net”, he said. “Spending on site licenses is apparently switching into support for elearning design”.

“This conference showed early adopters that it is crucial to get a sponsor, surround yourself with professionals, get buy-in from teachers and IT, plan the implementation, employ elearning facilitators, use a reliable platform, encourage collaboration, encourage feedback and use games to make learning fun,” Gary Benner said.

The location of the next conference is yet to be decided. Wherever held, it will have to be larger to cope and more interactive to address the interests of three distinct groups; the `nerds’, the `chalkies’ and the `critical scholars’. Ideas are welcomed by Gary Benner.

Using a Yahoo GeoCities account, and a Yahoo BriefCase account I get Internet storage space to the tune of 50 meg and 30 meg respectfully – for free. What I want to do is store media on these accounts so I can display more graphics in the blog and link to pdf files in a post.

First test: Linking to a pdf in Briefcase:
Here is a copy of the Free and Open Source Primer for Education (PDF)
Doesn’t work! because Briefcase is a secure file server 😦 Geocities works though.
Link to my own paper on FOSS in education

Second test: Displaying a JPEG image file loaded GeoCities:

Third test: Displaying a Shockwave animation in blogger:

Leigh’s Portfolio

Works in Mozilla FireFox browser, but appears to not work in IE.

Unlocking IP – New Models for Sharing and Trading Intellectual Property

Thanks to Dianne Davis the super librarian for forwarding on this link…

My real concern about this conference is, with all the news feeds, blogs, and eGroups I’m in, not to mention personal contacts and general outspokeness on the issue – how the hell did I miss this one!?

My only other concern is the very middle ground this conference chose to take, painting a polarised debate and situating itself apparently in the middle – but, I’m an extremist who would say that…

“People take extreme positions about intellectual property: from ‘maximalists’ who advocate complete private control through statutory rights, criminal penalties, contracts and technological protection, to those who advocate a wish to see as many works as possible in the ‘public domain’, free of any private rights. But many works (including content and software) are now located on a new continuum between these extremes. This conference explored the many points in between, and considered whether and how new models can be applied to emerging problems.

Session topics covered:

* business models for publishing, IT and licensing
* the copyrights continuum
* analysis of licences for ‘Open Source’ or ‘Free’ software, and ‘Open Content’
* sharing and trading learning resources
* examples of good practice
* policy directions from legal and educational perspectives
* overviews of international developments in this emerging field

Much of the focus is on copyright, but there is also coverage of the role of patents and other ways of managing intellectual property in certain areas.”

Other related links:
Open Learning Institute of TAFE and CAL join forces for digital future
The Open Learning Institute of TAFE Queensland (OLI) and Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) have signed an agreement to implement a partnership that will benefit OLI and its students, as well as CAL’s members, authors, artists and publishers.

AEShareNet’s “Unlocking IP” Conference Hailed As A Success Includes pictures of the conference and general background from an AESharenet perspective.


Well, you all know I’m not a fan of buying or promoting the buying of stuff for education… but I just noticed this on the macromedia site. So if you have access to one of those book publisher promo deals (being a teacher and all) and your institution has and allows students to use Flash, then you might consider having a look at Digital Narrative Project for Macromedia Flash MX 2004

“In the Digital Narrative project, students build an online narrative presentation to demonstrate their understanding of an academic concept.”

But just to even the score, you could get hold of this book, and the paper below, and use Open Office Presentation to create a pretty good digital narrative for free…

And while we’re on the topic of digital narratives, a paper: Using Digital Narratives to Support the Collaborative Learning and
Exploration of Cultural Heritage

“…Recent trends, particularly in science
museums, have been toward supporting visitors to
actively learn rather than passively receive
information. Here we propose how narrative can be
used within the design of new technologies to support
lifelong learning in a cultural setting…”