You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2007.

Nancy White points to an animation explaining the simple process of peer assisted problem solving. Check it out, its a pretty cool little animation with a charming voice over imo…

If only it was easier to find a quality facilitator! That is something we realised in the FLNW tour – good facilitation services are very very hard to find. Of all my contacts, I can think of very few that I think would be a good facilitator, and I know I can never remain a safe distance from any topic so that certainly counts me out.

Then there are the woes of face to face communication. Prejudices on age, gender, accent, body shape, race, fashion etc etc, subtle and not so subtle, are such impediments to good dialogue I reckon – but that’s were online peer assist might work better. Using a web conferencing facility – not for lectures and presentations like we’re used to, but for peer assist problem solving!

I’d love to try that out.. I want kids in there, tradies, academics, a chinese, a frenchie, an american, a pommy, a mother of 6, a great grand dad, a poet, a musician, an engineer, a sex worker and a designer… but then we still need to find a good online facilitator 😦


Did you mind that podcasting was synonymous to iPods? Did it worry you that everyone was irrationally spending over $500 on a glorified walkman? Does iTunes give you the shits? Do you find format, device and signal provide lock in downright revolting? Does all this apple-tech worship bother you? Are you resisting the beauty trance of Apple and its marketing? If you accidentally sat on your iPhone would you cry?

For me, its the NokiaN800

Read Stary Hope’s 10 reasons why

But I’d still cry if I sat on this too.

Thanks Leonard Low for the pointer, and a good read – Walled Gardens and Mobile Learning.

From Michael Nelson via email:

The GNU/Linux operating system Ubuntu has formed a screencast team and is generating a bunch of videos on how to install and use the software. The second they create a screencast on how to create a screencast in Ubuntu is the second I install it. I can use Firefox, OpenOffice, GIMP, Audacity and Scribus pretty well now. I am almost there, almost free. Just a video editor, screenrecorder and Blender 3D animation to go.  I wonder how long before there is a viable alternative to Flash?

Link if WordPress doesn’t show Google’s embed code.

Thanks Alec for the pointer

Received a very interesting comment from Simonfj (who only identifies with EDNAGroups 😦 regarding my post relating to Glen Davies’ thoughts and ideas from the Rob Curley keynote. I finished that post expressing the usual frustrations of trying to get institutionalised teaching practices, and institutionalised learner expectations to change and start adopting a far more multi media, web2 approach. I said, “how do we get this market to the conversation” – referring to the Cluetrain of course.

Simonfj inverted the slogan and asks how do we get this conversation to market, making some observations of the comparativesuccesses that web2 has in attracting numbers of people when compared to a classroom.

We can compare the mindsets (and their results). (institutionalized) Teachers will use Web tools to communicate but try and keep their media limited to their local PLU’s.
Market growers will look to their global peers and create environments to help them learn from one another.

..and there are those who straddle both.

I recently unplugged myself entirely from EdNAgroups, and I’ve noticed a few edubloggers stating a similar decision. I want to focus on the glocalisation, and am tired of the introverted discussion in may arenas, sapping the energy of people who would clearly be better off having their views considered by a wider network.

Simon finished with this strange line however:

One thing we do know. Peers can only change institutions from the inside. Otherwise all they can do is set up a blog, wiki, etc and throw stones at them.

I’m not sure where Simons perspective comes from on this. What is the effectiveness of those ‘stones’ if we consider their impact on other institutions like politics and elections, journalism, and marketing… just to name a few biggies. And most people I know who work on the ‘inside’ say its almost impossible to seed change there.

I think 2007 will be an interesting year for the adoption of the new socially networked, open source practices. The change agitation has been building in pressure on/in institutions for some time now, I’d hope that at least a few of the suggestions for socially networked and open source will have made it through and there will be a suit of attempts towards those new practices. I’d expect 2 big crashes for every 1 project that makes it through though – as this is the second wave, and earlier adopter euphoria and persistent passion has started to wear off. For those institutions with extreme web filtering turned on, and huge investment on what amounts to nothing but an expensive reinvention of a wheel (sharepoint for example), I’d expect almost 100% failure. See Simon’s comments.

As an interesting relation to this topic Alec Couros has pointed to a turn of events over at BECTA. Perhaps this is an indication for what 2007 will bring – the year where the end began. BECTA released a report last year (or was it the year before) that basically said open source in education is a good thing for UK schools and saves a lot of money. They are currently working on a report on Microsoft Vista and Office 2007 with some initially damning comments we should all make sure our IT departments see. The bewildering bit about it all though, is the fact that BECTA is continuing their Microsoft contract.

To me, this is the sign that the end for Microsoft’s monopoly in Institutionalised Education has begun. BECTA’s left hand is not yet getting heard by its right hand, but is getting heard loud and clear by the BECTA readership. This will have an inevitable end, unless that right hand is corrupt. When in the face of its own research BECTA’s right hand cannot rationally justify its continued relationship with proprietary software like MS, then the left hands suggestions will take hold. BECTA will adopt open source technologies, a few other educational flagship will follow suite and the snowball will roll. OpenSource usability and reliability will surpass proprietary software, the user base will grow, more product developers and service providers will include support for open source, the market will shift etc. Not all this in 2007, indeed most of it is already happening, but the clear beginnings of socially networked, open source change in instutionalised education will occur in 2007.

Whenever I am asked to show colleagues how to do a thing or two, I hit record. Most of them are kept at, but from now on I’ll try to remember to pop them in here as well.

I dropped a comment on Glen Davies’ post on LMSs and socially networked software, pointing to an ITConversations recording of a talk by Rob Curley. Glen responded with a new post about the talk and has touched on some important ideas I hadn’t considered while listening to the recording.

“In the new millennium journalism can no longer be a monologue, it has to be a dialogue with our readers”. Surely that applies to education as well.

I think it does certainly apply, but its the most difficult. We have people entering tertiary education with expectations still to be told, and we have an overwhelming majority of teachers who are quite comfortable doing the telling. Even with all the banter about socially constructed knowledge, on the whole – the furthest that seems to get is assigned group work! argh 😦 But to be fare, the availability of socially networked software and even the Internet could be seen to be still quite young, and may take more time to have an effect. I’m still quite hopeful that the technology will determine practical changes in teaching.. it’ll just take time.

The other concept was that of hyper local journalism. As Rob Curley pointed out, there was no way his local paper could compete with CNN for international news, so their online paper dedicates itself to local news and this has been the key to its success. Food for thought here for institutions involved in learning. Perhaps the key to success is in going hyper local/hyper specialised, rather than trying to compete on a global scale.

I find this idea quite exciting. In NZ, the vocational education and training sector – namely the Polytechs, have been instructed to better serve the local community. At first that didn’t sit well with me because I am used to collaborating on a slightly more global scale and couldn’t see how localisation would work. Now with Curley’s talk and Glen’s interpretation – I can see how it can happen. This reminds me of the concept glocalisation

And the final point was his comment about their youth oriented service. They set this up completely separate to the newspaper, with its own identity. One of the reasons being that a newspaper run by an over 40s editor trying to pretend that it appeals to a young audience just doesn’t work. The same thing goes for institutions and elearning companies trying to set up their own social networking sites, etc. they just can’t be hip. I can’t help thinking that if the social networking/web 2.0 concepts are to have any impact on education, and appeal to learners, they need to be kept separate from the traditional institutions.

I think the issue I mention in response to Glen’s first idea is present here as well. We have students paying hefty fees for their education and training, so they come to us not only with a specific expectation and behavior for education, but also with an expectation of purchased product. How do we ask students – or the younger ones in this example – to forget about the education they have come to expect and now have to buy, and take ownership and control of their learning environment? How do we grow this market into a conversation? Do we help people with their digitally networked literacy (after we have helped ourselves) and then leave it to them to self organise – with a few prods from carefully constructed assessment tasks? or is there another way? I certainly agree that providing the platform and artificially inseminating it is not going to work at all.

You are Binary.  You are not human and go to great lengths to prove it.  You always know where you are and how you got there, but no one else does, ever.
Which Programming Language are You?

Derek Chirnside points to a gem of an application – Scribus.

Scribus brings award-winning professional page layout to Linux/Unix, MacOSX, OS/2 and Windows desktops with a combination of “press-ready” output and new approaches to page layout.

Here’s my quick screenrecording of myself finding my way through the application. At first glance its beautiful! Great application for creating fliers, fancy layout handouts, posters, and books.

Click To Play

An even better screenrecording
comes from Jason Scott.

View from Homer Tunnel

I’m back!! Well sort of. My soul is still in the mountains where I’ve been playing over the past month or so. I’d like to get back there as much as possible, but while I’m bound to this computer again, at least I have the flickr photos to remind me.

TALO2006 – The Future of Learning in a Networked World book and DVD is almost ready for printed distribution. The free PDF is there at the moment, I’m just waiting for the printed proof to come through and check it before making a full colour and bound version available. By then Steven should have finished the DVD too. We hope Lulu will enable us to distribute them together, making it a pretty awesome package chock full of challenging insights and recorded media from the tour.

Other exciting news is that I’ve made some progress in terms of getting Creative Commons into my place of work’s IP policy. It seems the senior managers are willing to use a CC-By license as a default statement on all IP – unless an individual owner or stakeholder indicates otherwise. I think that’s a great way to go about it. It enables the organisation to go open courseware, it gives the ultimate ownership of IP to the individuals who created it, and makes it possible to protect cultural heritage or commercial interests if need be (rather than as a default and therefore restricting the proven benefits of sharing under Creative Commons).

There is a slight sticking point, which is not too significant. It is the absence of a NZ Creative Commons statement. I checked with Creative Commons International and was told that it is underway and was introduced to Danyl Strype. Danyl tells me that a group in the North have it underway including the very early stages of a portal site. I’ve joined the CC NZ mailing list and introduced myself, but so far no replies… hope I didn’t scare them off with my usual over enthusiasm.. I don’t think I’ll ever learn to play it cool 😦

Derek Wenmoth points to some other work being done by Stephen Marshell to challenge NZ’s woeful copyright legislation in terms of it addressing digital works. But while Stephen’s preamble is strong and to the point, some of his suggested amendments are still only patching the problem in my view (line 58 as an example affecting open courses).

Personally, I hope NZ takes the opportunity that being far behind offers us and leaps ahead with a beautiful solution to copyright madness – similar to their position on no nuclear power, arms or testing; a treaty with Maori, a signatory to Kyoto Protocol; no whaling; liberal imigration… how about a radical rejection of the copyright madness that grips the world? How about something totally fresh and liberating?! I think CreativeCommons as an information portal links to many insightful ideas on the issues.