23 August, 2007

Google Earth

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With the new release of Google Earth (4.2) , it might be worth taking a quick look at how we might use it in teaching and learning. George Siemens argues that this is the sort of inspirational resource that educators and educational institutions should be focussing our resources on developing, rather than focusing on Learning Management Systems.

The easy place to start is looking at what people are already doing with Google Earth, whether in formal education or not.

Brian Romans started a Where on (Google)Earth? Quiz on his blog. This developed into a community effort. People try to work out where the screenshots taken in Google Earth are from. For example here is an example of a question and an answer.

Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, USA is an example of an institution who have created a KMZ file which if you open will turn the campus in Google Earth into quite a complete campus map with 3D buildings, photos and annotations. You can learn about creating 3D buildings on the Google Sketchup site if that is of interest to you. Also you can add photos at panoramio.com; see the post on my experiences if you want to know more.

While there might be no reason for creating a campus map from a teaching and learning point of view, you might want to create annotations or use existing resources to bring an issue that you are covering in an academic programme to life. Google Earth Outreach has helped non-profit organisations work on this, for example those raising awareness of deforestation in the Amazon.

For more ideas, have a look at Google Earth Community discussion boards specifically the Educators discussion board.


Frank Taylors 'Google Earth Blog' is a great place to go to keep track of developments and uses for the software in the future. Subscribe to it's RSS Feed with your feed reader. If you don't have one and want to start subscribing to blogs, it is worth getting a Bloglines account.

More technical information can be found at Stefan Geens' Blog 'Ogle Earth' and at 'Google Earth Hacks'.

15 August, 2007

Sharing RSS Feeds with Bloglines

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We've written quite a few posts about sharing information from RSS feeds (see RSS tagged articles) from allowing people to subscribe by email to displaying content of your feeds on your web site.

I think one of the simplest ways has been overlooked - that is creating a Bloglines account containing the feeds that you want to share, and setting the 'Show My Blogroll' option in 'Options/Blog Settings' to 'Yes, publish my Blogroll'. The NHS National electronic Library for Medicines have created a Bloglines account to do this. My own account can be seen too at http://www.bloglines.com/public/pfh.

This gives an easy way to allow people to keep track of a set of feeds by visiting your page. Alternatively they could download the OPML file containing your subscriptions (by clicking on 'Export Subscriptions') and upload it into their own Bloglines account. This would allow them to add and delete feeds to suit themselves.

If you're interested in following peoples thoughts on using technologies in teaching and learning why not download my OPML file, set up your own Bloglines account, upload the OPML file using the 'Import Subscriptions' link and delete the categories and feeds that you don't need. That's a quick way to get started building a library of RSS feeds of your own.

Producing Learning Resources on DVD

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When looking at formats for resources that most students could access, DVD would probably be among them. If a module was producing a large amount of video and audio resources, I was wondering how realistic it would be to distribute them this way - or at least have this as an option when students were struggling to download resources.

We have software to burn DVDs and create simple menus - iDVD on the Macs in the LINC Building, Pinnacle Studio, Premiere Pro and Ulead's DVD MovieFactory. We've not got higher end software such as DVD Studio Pro and Adobe Encore anywhere here (as far as I can tell), so we couldn't currently create more professional looking DVDs with things like multiple language support.

The book Designing DVD Menus is available in Edge Hill Library and is a good introduction to the possibilities and challenges involved in creating DVD menus.

09 August, 2007

Social Bookmarking in Plain English

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The Common Craft Show have released another video in their Technologies in Plain English series, this time highlighting the power of Social Bookmarking.




The short video, (3.25 min) focuses on Del.icio.us, and simply illustrates how to get started and why you should want to. Another really great video - which is definitely worth watching.

01 August, 2007

The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

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I've been having a look at the new issue of IRRODL. This is a peer-reviewed Journal, which "aims to disseminate research, theory, and best practice in open and distance learning worldwide".

It's certainly has an international focus, for example the paper "Integrating Mobile Learning into Nomadic Education Programme in Nigeria: Issues and perspectives". This gives you a different perspective that just reading about stuff in the UK and US HE sector.

I really liked the fact that they've produced MP3 versions of the papers. These are computer generated, but good enough quality to listen to. The audio files are great because I'd never get time to read a journal like this but I've listened to a few papers in the gym this week on my MP3 player. It'd be even better if there was an RSS feed that allowed you subscribe to the MP3s as a podcast in software like iTunes, but there is a feed you can subscribe to that lets you know when each issue is released.