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Look at these names:

Black Board, WebCT, Moodle, Drupal, Mambo, Janison

Pretend you’re the average educational manager who knows nothing about computers, software and the Internet, let alone teaching and learning. Pretend you believed in LMS and had to decide what system you were going to force everyone to use. All you have to go by is your Microsoft trained, strangely anti social IT unit’s advice, and because you know nothing about the Internet, you really wouldn’t know where to start in getting a wide range of information… Any luck a few activists and subversives in your organisation have managed to confuse you with a list. What do you do? which one sounds as though it has anything to do with education?… Yep! I know what a Black Board is. I used it and chalk so much its what made me who I am today…

That’s clearly how most managers and directors decide to spend hundreds of thousands if not million of dollars on LMS software. There can be no other explanation for it. To hell with proper research, perpetual consultation, needs analysis and investigation.. we don’t have the time or motivation for that. The name says it all.

Look at these names:

ePortfolio, web journal, blog, wiki

Its pathetic isn’t it, but I truly believe that the reason free and open source software and free and open ways of working have not been duly recognised sufficiently in education is simply because of the names. Moodle rhymes with doodle; blog sounds like poo; drupal sounds like a late night let down; wiki sounds like… well I dunno really, but GIMP! that says it all! Even though there are plenty of research papers, opinion, numbers and success stories getting published in clear favour of FOSS and its economic model, the people who just can’t resist spending money just don’t get read… and like sheep, those managers and directors “do what they’ve always done, so we get what we always got.”

Even these days, in the so called FOSS heyday, when someone in education says free and open source LMS, people hear Moodle! Tell me, who said Moodle? FOSS is what was said? Sheep I say. The education sector (of which I am a part) should be ashamed of itself. We are an autocratic structure full of conservative bureaucratic thinkers. If we were half of what we demand our students to be, (life long learners, critical thinkers, risk takers, readers, good communicators, democratic) we’d be a lot better off, well.. come to think of it there’d be no such thing as teachers, managers and directors.

We’d be fare and equitable, we’d be supportive of freedom and openness, we’d be current and well read, we’d be 21st Century literate, we’d save a shit load of public money, we’d be making less teachers redundant, and we’d be attracting better people into our workforce.

On the rare occasion that I actually do meet someone even remotely informed on free and open source software in an educational role, about the only discussion I think is worth having is on performance of the software. Crap like support, industry standard, “real” cost, and other white wash makes me wanna puke fire.

It is true that Open Office is slower to start up than MS Office, but with all the better features, formats including MS, and the fact that it runs on ALL operating systems, its understandable really. I agree that GIMP can be a wildly difficult program to use and not as featuresome as Photoshop, but when I can’t afford to buy Photoshop and all I have to edit images with is Windows Paint! You bet I’m going to download GIMP! And I can download, copy and distribute these to anyone I know without a single worry that some pale faced, black shirt is gunna come and sue me. Its just a real scandal that so few people in education are supportive, let alone aware of such opportunities.

I’ve been pushing for the equal use of free and open source software and educational materials for 2 years, a blip in time compared to the committed work of so many others. I can’t be sure of seeing any progress though, and I think its because we are playing their game. What I have seen is a stronger union of those who do get it, but at the expense of being sidelined, labeled a subversive, and having to get angry and vent with posts like this. Enough pandering to the autocratic system! Those reports and proposals are just mechanisms to sponge away our energy and actual reach.

Ignorance and stupidity prevails, reject it!

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Met Peter Mellows for dinner tonight. He is talking tomorrow about his StudyTXT project. Basically its a simple service in which students txt a course or subject code and get txt back a 100 or so character message with facts and figures. Here’s a video of Peter demonstrating the service.

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I guess some people might be noticing the old Teach and Learn Online blog slowing down. Well I’ve noticed anyway. Its that fulltime job you see… its not that I’m not blogging! I’m still blogging as furious as ever, but more to do with my job. Below is a recent post that may be a little interesting to some readers of TALO. You can see what else I’ve been doing at my work journal.

Since the podcast about podcasting session, there’s been an increase in the number of people at Otago Polytechnic interested in audio recording and publishing. We had a few people at the Digital Video Recording and Editing workshop yesteray. Merrolee wanted to find out how to make her mobile phone recordings available online. Julia is interested in how she can AV record her presentations and make them available online. Rachel is interested in current trends in video for use in her photography classes. Phil turned up to get ideas. Bronwyn was there as well. Ken couldn’t make it because of a meeting, but her is interested in audio recording and podcasting lectures.

Seeing as this was the first workshop on digital video, I kinda held the floor for the hour going over all the different things involved, and explaining what it doesn’t involve – for me.

I started off explaining how this workshop fits in the series of workshops in networked learning, and how there is an eMail list for the participants to continue discussion before and after workshops. I showed how everyone is a manager in that eMail list and urged everyone to invite and add others. I also demonstrated how to RSVP a time for workshops from the workshop calendar.

Then I moved into what the session is about. I pulled out my little pocket camera and explained my perspective on these camera’s video recording capabilities. For the most part these cameras do a good enough job in terms of quality for use on today’s internet. The fact that they can only record short lengths of video is a blessing in my view. Like the expense of film, storage issues for digital cameras means we are more careful and thoughtful in how we shoot video. This naturally leads us into a practice of in camera editing, which in the long run is a very good practice to get in to.

From that I showed YouTube. One of many free DIY video publishing web sites that offers free streaming for your videos. I showed some of my uses of YouTube and demonstrated the extra benefits of using socially networked services like YouTube – especially how when you upload a video of your own, it automatically relates your video with other videos like it, based on how you describe yours. This can be a valuable feature that will save we teachers from “reinventing wheels”, and networking us with other video creators with similar interests.

I showed how I am largely using YouTube for screencasting. I use the free and open source screen recorder CamStudio to record demonstrations of using particular websites and software. I then upload the demos to YouTube and copy the code offered by YouTube and past it in this blog to display the video in context, as such:

If you are reading this post in your email, then it is likely that you cannot see the video. The email has been forwarded from the original blog post. Click the “educational development” link at the bottom of the email to see this post in its original context.

I then talked about the limitations of YouTube only really being usable to people who have access to broad band Internet. Unfortunately, YouTube does not yet offer a feature of being able to download the video to play offline. What we need is a service that will at least allow people to set their computers to download a video file so that they can walk away and come back next morning and have a video file to play.

So I showed OurMedia. OurMedia offers unlimited file storage, non commercially. It is the contemporary media capture arm of the Internet Archive, an impressive project working towards the goal of offering universal access to all human knowledge.

But before uploading video to OurMedia, it is a good idea to process our orginal video into a size and format that is optimized for the Internet. I use the free video converter Videora. Videora processes videos into the MPEG4 format which is playable in the Quicktime player, as well as the iPod video player. It is generally accepted to be the most widely used and playable format.

Once original video has been processed into MPEG4, it can be uploaded to OurMedia, and then the Universal Resource Locator (URL or Link) is offered by OurMedia for you to copy and use in your online communications. That is the link that people on slower connection can use to save the video to their computer for viewing later.

We talked about a whole bunch of other issues and potentials in the workshop, but hopefully these notes cover the core elements.

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