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Yahoo, have been getting noticed a lot lately. They have started offering blogging services, they acquired Flickr, their vision is to help communities develop… I have been quietly watching it happen, not too blown away… that is until this! Searching for creative commons content! TALO member Sean Fitzgerald introduced a worthy blogger “Ben” into our world, Ben has commented on a few things of big interest to us in education, specifically issues with Internet. Ben, posted on Yahoo’s search engine for creative commons, including a link to Laurence Lessig’s endorsement of the new Yahoo services


I’ve only just come accross, but after reading their mission, joining up and having a look around… I think its the one we have been looking for.

Ourmedia is several things in one. We are:
• An open-source project built and staffed by volunteers
• A destination Web site that freely hosts grassroots video, audio, music, photos, text and public domain works
• A community space to share and discuss personal media
• A learning toolkit to help our members create rich and compelling works
• An archive so that these works can be preserved for the ages
• A clearinghouse that allows anyone to search for licensed video, audio or music, download it and remix it, with proper attribution. Legally.
Soon we hope to become:
• A 501(c)(3) non-profit
• A resource and global registry to bring freely shareable media to the desktop so users can create image albums, slide shows, jukeboxes and media libraries with a few mouse clicks

Every now and then, something comes along and manages to capture everything that inspires you, then uses those things to paint a picture of a future civilisation that is very believable or in fact already here, and you tell yourself, “hey, he’s talking about me!”

I read Planning for Neomillennial Learning Styles at lunch in the UWS cafeteria, after printing it out from my bloglines account. The very first page just grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and slammed my face into its pages… my hot chips went cold, and the cafe around me fell silent…

Planning for Neomillennial Learning Styles by Chris Debe (note to self, seek more by this fella) has boldly predicted a future world, or perhaps described a rapidly emerging underworld, where people are “psychologically immersed” in customised media streams, engaged in multiuser virtual environments, and constructing augmented realities for their communications, entertainment and information…

If I have made it sound scary, its not! Its thoroughly exciting, insightful, and inspiring to read, and it does a good job at plainly stating what we teachers need to do so that people from this world find our lesson engaging and even relevant!

That’s right, after all this talk about how pointless Learning management Systems are, I’m going to jot down an idea of what I reckon the perfect LMS would be like. I’ve been reading quite a few articles on LMS lately, and understandably the rise of Blogging, RSS and the range of free Internet publishing tools that make it all so easy have caused quite a few people to reconsider the relevance of LMS.

What inspired this idea was a basic workshop in the use of WebCT. In my new job I will be required to know a lot about WebCT. Anyway, the usual faults common to all LMS remained prevalent, such as its use being a dead end for students as their learning is deleted at the end of the course; or the pretty crappy replications of email and chat within WebCT; or the clunky use of the editor.. etc – but one thing did impress me. The ability to reduce the menu bars of WebCT down to such a minimal state that the WebCT is little more than a bar at the top of the browser window, much like the Blogger link at the top of this.

Its this reduction of the LMS that sparked the idea I have now. The thing I really like about the browser Mozilla FireFox is the ability to add functional pluggins to it. Being open source, I imagine that its even possible to create your own, but what I use now with my FireFox is pretty good already.

Take Bloglines for example. You can download a little pluggin to FireFox that adds a few Blogline buttons the right click function in FireFox. So now when I land on a site that I think is generating a news feed, all I have to do is right click and add to bloglines.

This suggests to me that it is possible to create quite an extensive array of applications that pluggin to a browser like FireFox, in particular my LMS idea.

I imagine this LMS to be little more than an icon up there with the Browser’s array of icons. Lets say it is the University logo with the words “My Learning” next to it. When the user clicks this logo the application features are activated (perhaps with a login – though that would suck).

Functions include:
1. The user has the ability to capture the news feed from the site they are on, into their Bloglines-like news reader that is more customisable in look and function itself – such as a Print this weeks news option…

2. The user has the ability to publish a blog of course, but this blog is more customised as an educational blog, intergrated with the University admin, open to the www, integrated with the portfolio feature of the LMS

3. The LMS generates a sketch portfolio, including learning objectives, learning completed, skills acquired, papers published etc etc. At a basic level this portfolio tracks and updates according to the users activities. It then can be edited and refined later.

4. Add to favorites is similar to in that it will store and capture favorite links, make them available to the www if need be, and auto network the links with other similar links and account holders. Being open to the www means the favorites can be easily shared with others for group work etc.

5. Right click direct links into university services etc.

These are my initial ideas. The main thing is that the LMS is no longer a replication to the Internet with compromised functionality, but a pluggin to it with increased functionality. If a user chooses to use hotmail instead of student mail, no worries, it will work with it. Same goes for chat and voice over IP apps… etc etc.

More to follow.

Leigh Blackall

Victor van Reijswoud has distributed his report: Free and Open Source Software for Development Myth or Reality? Case study of a University in Uganda

Victor has been working at the Martyr University in Uganda, migrating all the university’s computers to a Linux operating system and a suite of free and open software such as Open Office.

Victor has written a report on the project that is very open and useful for all of us who can only dream of such a day here in Australian universities.

I met and contacted Victor through the United Nations website in a forum running under the recently published paper on FOSS in Education. Today he has emailed me, attaching his finished report:

Dear all,

Some time ago you asked for the story about the FOSS migration at my
university. I put you a bit ‘on hold’ since I did not have the article
finished. Now I do. Please find attached the complete story.

The article will be presented by me on a workshop on policies for
bridging the digital divide in Finland next week, and has been
submitted for publication in the Journal for Information Technology for

If you additions, remarks or questions, please let me know.

Best regards,


Prof. Dr. Victor van Reijswoud
Head – Department Computer Science and Information Systems
Uganda Martyrs University
P.O. Box 5498 – Kampala – Uganda
Phone +256 77 908490

This recnt article by Michael Hotrum Masters of Distance Education Programme, Athabasca University – Canada’s Open University, for the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (March – 2005).

Breaking Down the LMS Walls

The Internet is independent of device (hardware or platform), distance, and time, and is well-suited for open, flexible, and distributed learning. Yet traditional online, distributed learning methods are anything but flexible, open, or dynamic. What went wrong? Parkin (2004a, b) believes that we failed to appreciate that the Internet is a vehicle for connecting people with each other. We implemented LMS methods that imposed bureaucratic control, diminished learner empowerment, and delivered static information. “In a world hurtling toward distributed internetworking, e-learning was still based on a library-like central-repository concept.” Parkin suggests it is time to explore the true promise of e-learning, and to rework our ideas about how learning should be designed, delivered, and received. It is time to stop letting the LMS vendors tell us how to design learning. It is time to stop the tail from wagging the dog.

Thanks to Peter Le Cornu and his blog Learning, Knowledge & Technology for bringing this to my attention.

Sourced from the The Distance Educator

Charles M. Schweik, assistant professor of natural resources conservation and the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA, recently received $500 000 to study Open SOurce Software over the next 5 years. “Open source software, and the collaboration that helps develop it, has great promise beyond its use in computer science,” Schweik says. “I believe we are in a new potential era in sharing scientific knowledge.”

Schweik says he will use his research to develop a sequence of courses for students interested in solving environmental or public policy problems. Currently, many individuals and organizations worldwide are unable to pay for special proprietary software needed to conduct such analyses, he says. This curriculum will show students how to use such software and also encourage them to contribute to such collaborations in some form, such as the writing of new documentation or testing.

Might be worth having a yarn with Charley, and keep track of his progress:

(image from another interesting article by doctors, Fernette Eide and Brock Eide talking about the possible motivations of kids with ADHD)

In case anyone needed to articulate why blogging is good for analytical and critical thinking, this article is quite helpful. (Originally sourced from The BlogHerald)

Its a post to the Eideneurolearning blog titled the “Brain of a Blogger”. In short it argues that:
1. Blogs can promote critical and analytical thinking.
2. Blogging can be a powerful promoter of creative, intuitive, and associational thinking.
3. Blogs promote analogical thinking.
4. Blogging is a powerful medium for increasing access and exposure to quality information.
5. Blogging combines the best of solitary reflection and social interaction.
Their conclusion: “it looks as if blogging will be very good for our brains. It holds enormous potential in education, and it could take societal communication and creative exchange onto a whole new level.”

“A moblog is a blog created with a cameraphone. As in mobile phone + camera + blog = a moblog! In structure it’s very similar to a regular blog with the exception that every post contains a photo that was taken via a cameraphone and beamed directly to the blog via the cell phone’s internet capability…”

So explains

Yesterday I received a call from Anne Paterson. She’s keen on moblogging and we ended up chatting for over an hour about the pros and cons of it for educational use.

After I got off the phone with her, I felt I had to spend some more time looking at this moblogging business. I did give it a try back in November 04 but not much of a try, and it seems a whole new innovation and social evolution in communication has slipped me by!

Moblogging is amazing! Mainly because of the social aspect. I spent about 2 hours last night after I got of the phone with Anne, checking out the lives and interests of so many people, as seen through the eye of a mobile phone camera…

Of course there’s home porn, soft porn, belly porn, and titty porn… then there’s all sorts of stuff I’m not sure is porn or not… then there’s some really interesting artistic interpretations of moblogging… and an amazing array of just average people, pictorially documenting their everyday lives.

The feeling I get from roaming the moblogging sites is something similar to the inexplicable sensation I get watching real TV shows. Its totally voyeuristic, but more than that. Its reflective as well.

Moblogging is obviously popular with teens and young adults. So it seemed to me after looking at one moblogging service. And there’s were it fits in with education. Moblogging is one very interesting use of Internet Communications Technology that we educationalists must take note of, if only because the teens and young adults (our biggest student group) are so into it.

Anne has some great ideas on how to use moblogging in education. She’s in the TALO egroup. Maybe we should talk about it more there, and see if we can’t help her along with some more ideas…

If you have a mobile with camera that will send email (most do these days), maybe you should get started. Unfortunately I threw mine out last year when it started costing me too much money, and when I couldn’t get signal from my home – but I think I’m going to invest again…)
here’s a few links to get started with:


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