16 December, 2008

Bloglines vs. Google Reader: Feed Readers for Heavy Users

3 comments
I've been using Bloglines for quite a while to subscibe to web feeds, and it has worked wonderfully even with over 1000 subscriptions. Looking around about 18 months ago, nothing else seemed to deal well with that number of feeds.

Google Reader though, has developed and looks like a possible competitor. So in this post I'll take a quick look at how the two compare.

Browsing

With both services the experience of browsing feeds, marking them as read, and following links is fine. There is no major difference between the two.

Subscribing

Subscribing to feeds is simple in both, but while Bloglines makes it easy to choose what folder the feed with be held in, Google requires you to choose it manually. A small point, but it's an extra step.

Language translation

With Bloglines I used Yahoo Pipes to translate the feed's contents into English, which takes 10 minutes to set up, but Google reader allows you to set a feed to be translated into your language by going to 'Folder settings' and choosing 'Translate into my language'. This is much easier.

Other points

If you use lots of Google's applications, Google Reader would integrate well with them, and save you logging into an extra service. If you like stats, Google Reader keeps track of which feeds you are reading posts from, amoung other things. Bloglines still makes it easier than Google Reader to manage large numbers of feeds, and folders.

In Conclusion


Overall there isn't a major difference between the two services. Because it is easy to try different feed readers, by exporting your OPML file and importing it into another service, it's easy to give both a go and discover which works best for you.

20 November, 2008

Online Discussion Workshop

1 comments
I have just developed a workshop around online discussion (asynchronous), which ran for the 1st time yesterday.
The technical aspect of creating discussion forums in Blackboard is the easy part... the real problem lies in the understanding of why, and how, to embed discussion within course content, and how the tool aligns with learning and teaching e.g. Social Constructivism. Understanding at this level is critical for courses that hope to create and engage in meaningful online discourse.

group discussion



The session has already generated some interesting discussion, as it encourages reflection upon previous experience, the actual use of the tool alongside teaching styles, as well as some practical aspects to gain experience in creating and using the discussion tool within Blackboard. The session also picks up on Netiquette guidelines and 'what to expect in online discussion', as well as highlighting some key texts around the topics such as; Contingent tutoring, Lurking or Learning?, a Model for eMentoring, and Structuring online discussion for meaningful discourse.

The discussion workshop will run again on the 4th December so contact staff development to register. Also look out for the other workshops that look at the various Blackboard tools in more detail.

18 November, 2008

Using eXe to Create Web Pages

0 comments
Blackboard is not a web development environment, and so we've tried to find other pieces of software that allow academics to produce simple collections of web pages for use in Blackboard.

Wimba's Course Genie (now Wimba Create) was used by some staff for a while, but cost was a barrier to a wider role-out of it's use, as well as difficulties with Wimba's licencing system.

A collegue mentioned eXe editor to me. I'm pretty impressed with it's ease of use and the fact that it is freely available and Open Source. There is also a version of the software that can run from a memory stick, meaning you don't have to install software to use it - very important for those who use Sunrays.

I've put together a series of short videos to show how you could get started using the eXe editor. It would be really good to hear from those of you who have used it, to find out what you think.

1. What is eXe (0.24)
Windows Media Version
YouTube Version

2. Downloading eXe (0.59)
Windows Media Version
YouTube Version

3. Adding iDevices (1.43)
Windows Media Version
YouTube Version

4. Adding More Pages (1.33)
Windows Media Version
YouTube Version

5. The RSS iDevice (1.46)
Windows Media Version
YouTube Version

6. Changing Content and Styles (1.47)
Windows Media Version
YouTube Version

7. Exporting and Saving (1.40)
Windows Media Version
YouTube Version

8. Importing an IMS Content Package to Blackboard (2:38)
Windows Media Version
YouTube Version

17 November, 2008

Using Virtual Worlds in Higher Education

0 comments
As I'm focussing my SOLSTICE Fellowship project on using Virtual Worlds in Higher Education, I decided to put together an overview of the possibilities and challenges relating to using them.

For my purposes, 'Virtual Worlds' includes 3D social spaces like Second Life, simulation environments (like Google Earth might be used as part of) and gaming environments like World of Warcraft. Metaverse Roadmap's overview especially their diagram of where Virtual Worlds, Mirror Worlds, Lifelogging and Augmented Reality fit together, looks like a useful tool to help me keep a focus.

Much research has already been done and made publically available. For a visual overview of virtual worlds in general Kzero have produced diagrams which do a great job of helping us to visualise the overwhelming variety and number of non-gaming virtual worlds that are being developed. For the 3rd Quarter of 2008 they have a diagram that shows the age group that use the environments, the number of subscribers and when each was released. They also have one that shows the type of the environment, and the age group that use it.

Other interesting starting points include JISC's new scoping study, Serious Virtual Worlds which links to relevant research. The Second Life in Education wiki is a extensive collection of links to the ways that educators are using that particular environment.

After looking at some of the research and activities going on, there are several general areas and questions that I think might be worth looking at.

1. Online Synchronous Discussion.

The Openhabitat project included a cohort of Philosophy students using Second Life for group discussion and David White's excellent presentation about Openhabitat includes information about this. Listening to this presentation got me thinking about how online interaction differs in a Virtual World, compared to the basic Chat tools that we use now. Is anything useful added to the experience by using Virtual Worlds? As the technology develops how will these experiences and the value of using the environments for online discussion change?

2. Learning to Navigate and Create.

Some Virtual Worlds allow you to build complex environments and simulations. Pretty much any project going on in Second Life will require some building, and projects like the PREVIEW project will require more complex scripting. If we are going to create environments for Edge Hill courses, it would be useful to the planning process to know what skills, processes and time are required to build environments, of various levels of complexity, in different Virtual Worlds. Also what time and skills would the student require to use each environment?

3. The Future.

a. It seems like the initial rush by businesses to set up in Second Life has slowed down. What are businesses in general likely to be doing next in the area of Virtual Worlds? Can we help prepare students for any uses of Virtual Worlds that they may come across in their working lives or future lives outside of work?

b. Currently, according to Kzero's data, the most subscribed to Virtual Worlds are aimed at children. This suggests that, over the next 5 to 10 years we might be expecting people who have grown up using virtual worlds. What might virtual worlds look like then, and how can we best prepare for their possible mainstream use?

05 November, 2008

e-Portfolios: Practical and StrategicThinking

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I've been attending the JISC Innovating e-Learning online conference this week, and found the discussions around ePortfolios useful.

The idea that we can split the uses of what are being called e-portfolios into 4 areas is popular. This is covered in the AlphaPlus document about existing e-Portfolio use, and gives a framework when thinking about what the purpose of their use. The 4 areas in this document are:

-Portfolio of work that demonstrates learning - The learner can put anything in here that demonstrates learning. If they make it available more publically it can be used for formative assessment by peers and teaching staff.
-Portfolio for summative assessment of learning on a course - This is marked against criteria.
-Portfolio to transfer learner information between institutions - The learner has little control over this.
-Portfolio to present your work, perhaps to a potential employer - This contains specially selected work for a particular audience.

Whatever you want to achieve by asking or encouraging your students to create an e-portfolio, you need to be able to communicate this to the students. Even if the advice is vague, and full freedom is given to the student, they need some idea of what is achievable and why they will benefit. The learner could see what could be done by seeing exisiting portfolios, like this gallery at Penn State University, and the 'e-Portfolios: Why Create an e-Portfolio' video on the e-Portfolios at Penn State podcast might help answer the 'Why?' question.

This is all at a practical level, but there is also a lot to think about around institutional strategies.

Thanet College seem to have done a lot of work in this area, and the document 'Thanet College: Personalised learning spaces - the next challenge for ILT', is worth a read if you are interested in the strategy side of things.

The ideas that stand out to me from Thanet are firstly, providing all tutors with PebblePad (an e-Portfolio system) accounts. If the staff think about their own e-Portfolio and use the system then they are better prepared to lead the students in their use.

Secondly, the idea of the Institution 'owning' the VLE and the learner 'owning' the e-Portfolio is useful, as it helps us think about and communicate to the students what we can expect from the different software tools we use.

Finally they saw a challenge in deciding where the college stood on transferability of the portfolios, which perhaps fits in with ideas around lifelong learning.

10 October, 2008

Running a University using iPhones: Revisited

2 comments
Back in May I wrote about ACU's video which gave an idea how a university could integrate systems, the student experience, learning and teaching through iPhones.

Well respect to them, because they've given it a go in reality. Every new student gets an iPhone or iPod Touch which runs the university created application. This gives access to things like timetables, Google Apps, and seems to contain basic VLE functionality.

It wouldn't necessarily have to be these products used. I can imagine it would be wonderful just to know that all students had an identical reliable platform to access information and files that we know works. It's so time consuming for both students and the institution to be troubleshooting all the potential issues that come with the wide variety of devices and browsers.

The use of the devices has also replaced the need for seperate Clickers/Audience Response Systems in the classroom, as everyone can do that using the university application via the newly vastly expanded wireless networks. This use and any other potential uses, save money from being spent elsewhere and so perhaps begin to pay back the costs of launching the system.

Also from a learning and teaching point of view, every student now has a mobile device available for storing and consuming video and audio materials.


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24 September, 2008

Locus of Control

0 comments


This article from 'Inside Higher Ed' discusses an issue pertinent to the debate around Locus of Control in Blended Learning; a consideration we have begun to address within a number of CPD courses in Edge Hill's Faculty of Health.

The issue of Locus of Control is often avoided (or even frowned upon), but perhaps the debate is becoming more pertinent in an age where HEIs compete for every last student. The debate basically suggests a shift in Locus of Control in blended learning settings, from a Tutor-controlled blend, to a Learner-controlled blend - creating/enforcing/allowing a greater sense of ownership for learning (on the learner's part). Traditionally, it is the academic who determines what parts of a course must be accessed face-to-face, and what 'extension activities' can be through e-learning means, and so the amounts of choice is minimal.

e-Learning promised flexibility. Is this really flexible?

Being involved in any such debate and seeing the different viewpoints is interesting;

Academic managers are certainly in the 'For' side, due to the obvious benefits of recruiting wider audiences, which basically translates to 'more money'!
Then we have the Faculty based champions of e-learning, who genuinely seek to use technology to enhance learning and teaching, and see the possibilities afforded by the developments of Web 2.0, and consequently e-learning 2.0 (yes you all know who you are!).
From a CPD perspective, Employers also sit in the 'For' crowd. Nursing trusts 'send' employees on CPD courses, which translates into time away from wards, which means less man (or woman)-power on the ground. By shifting the locus of control, such learners can access content from a work PC (if by chance they are hooked up with a decent connection, and of course, a firewall that doesn't block everything and anything (is that asking too much?)).

Many people on the ground (not all, but many academics) are shouting for the 'against' side, as they simply do not have the time or technical expertise to create engaging and stimulating content that warrants online access (in opposition to the face-to-face session). Similarly, the 'againsters' (?) believe their students are not technically capable to access materials in such a mode (i.e. too old) or educationally immature (i.e. too young). The notion of educational maturity is a debate which stretches beyond this post, but nonetheless applies equally to the academic as it does to the learner. Some also believe that online learning cannot make up for the interaction within classrooms (see the comment in the article from Dr J, Asssitant Director, Student Services at Florida Gulf Coast University, at 9:41 am EDT on September 23, 2008).) I must say that these viewpoints are becoming more of a minority, and are likely unfamiliar with e-learning theory (with little experience therein).

Andy Guess' article from 'Inside Higher Ed' highlights the willingness, and perhaps educational maturity of many learners to take more responsibility and ownership without having to travel to classes. Afterall, much of contemporary education subscribes to Social Constructivist theories whereby such ownership is a clear objective, and where learners are provided opportunity to find, select, critique, share, and create knowledge, opposed to traditional rote learning 'chalk and talk' approaches. The capabilities for this through use of the Internet and Web 2.0 are endless.

In my opinion, this is the future of learning and teaching, and the worries of many academics (many of which I share) can be tackled through consideration of different conditions to, for example, create and harness a larger Community of Practice that could ever be possible in face-to-face environments.

So, shifting the Locus of Control onto the learner... Possible? (un)Desirable? Over to you...

12 September, 2008

Moving Back off the Web: From Virtual Reality to Alternate Reality

4 comments
A lot has been said over the years regarding using games/Online Games to aid the learning of complex topics and skills. For example using Civilization III to help children develop an understanding of historial development of civilisations, or using Lord of the Rings online to aid understanding of narrative and it's development in different media.

Jane McGonigal spoke at the New Yorker conference about alternate reality/pervasive games, which can use the connecting power of the web to create Massively Multiplayer (Offline) Games. These are in some ways similar to role playing simulations that I've seen used in the past, but the emphasis is taken off role play - you play yourself in an imagined alternate reality. Looking at the example she spoke of, the game World Without Oil, it is difficult not to be impressed by the potential educational value.

In World Without Oil, instead of players playing an online game set in a virtual environment, they changed their own lives for 32 days, as they would have to if there was an oil shortage. This could be done without being based online but the fact it was, brought together 1800 people who were interested in doing this, created synergy. For example there are the videos that people made to develop this alternate reality, blogs where they shared experiences and ideas, and even personal interaction where people worked together to modify cars to run on biofuel.

Where would it be appropriate to get our students involved in things like this? Is there scholarly value in them? Do they have a place in Higher Education?


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09 September, 2008

'Connectivism and Connective Knowledge' Open Online Course

1 comments
The new Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Open Online course run by George Siemens and Stephen Downes started yesterday at the Univeristy of Manitoba. It is a 12-week course that "will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and explore their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning."

It is particularly interesting because it is an open course that anyone can take part in. Only those who are wanting credit need to pay fees. It also uses a wide variety of online services to enable communication. Matthias Melcher has created a diagram to try and show how some of the tools and services link together and the course Pageflakes page brings together all the RSS feeds related to the course. The university's Wiki is probably the best place to get an overview.

It'll be interesting to see what happens, but at the moment I think open courses like this can bring benefits to the paying students as well as those who just take part. There are lots of readings and learning materials, but there is also real value is in the conversations surrounding them. An increase in the number of people in the debate can, in my experience, help undertanding by making more connections between ideas and bringing diverse ways of looking at things. For an example of the numbers that are at least thinking about getting involved, there are currently about 250 people in the course Facebook group.

05 September, 2008

ALT-C 2008 - Rethinking the Digital Divide

0 comments
The ALT-C Conference takes place over the next week. If like me, you find it difficult to get away to conferences at this time of year, you can still get involved in the three keynote sessions which are being 'broadcast' using Elluminate Live.

See details on the ALT Conference Weblog, but basically:

-Tuesday 9th Sept 08- 9:50-11:00 BST - Hans Rosling talks about world development.
-Wednesday 10th Sept 08- 14:00 -15:00 BST- Itiel Dror looks more deeply into what learning is and how that might change the way learning materials are created.
-Thursday 11th Sept 08- 12:10-13:10 BST - David Cavallo looks at learning environments and the OLPC.

Visit the Elluminate support pages to make sure your web browser will work with the site. Then go to the conference Elluminate pages at the relevant time to listen to a session, and interact with others who are listening. Elluminate Live is more than just a content delivery tool as it allows audience communication, so it might be an interesting experience if you've not used anything like this before.


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28 August, 2008

Nicon's Universcale

2 comments
I love things that help develop understanding of difficult concepts, and Nicon's Universcale does that. It is a visualisation of the massive differences in size between the size of the whole universe and the sub atomic scale.

I think it shows the way that online technologies (in this case Flash) can be used well to convey something that would be very difficult any other way. Well made visualisation tools like this and Google Earth, can help change the way we see the world around us.

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14 August, 2008

SOLSTICE Conference 2008: Videos

0 comments
Did you miss the SOLSTICE 2008 conference? Well at last you can put aside your regrets as some of the presentations from 'SOLSTICE: eLearning and Learning Environments for the Future' conference are now available as WMV files to watch online:


Les Watson: From Space to Place - In which Les explores what we should think about when designing new spaces for learning - 50 minutes - [abstract] [slides]

Eric Hamilton: Learners, Learning Environments, and Classrooms of the Future - In which Eric explores changes in educational settings, now and in the future - 43 minutes [abstract] [slides]

Peter Hartley: Summary of the Conference - 9 minutes

31 July, 2008

China, Learning Objects and Sharing

0 comments
We've had some people from Edge Hill University in China showing an onlne course, and this brought up an interesting question; Will the learning objects hosted outside the University (YouTube videos, etc.) be blocked in China?

With a move to running online courses that can be used internationally, this is one of the hidden localisation issues that will sometimes need to be considered.

Wikipedia has a list of websites blocked in China, which seems to be updated regularly and might be a useful resource.

Perhaps the best way to solve this and other issues, is for content producers to make their learning objects licenced in a way that would allow people to download and place the objects in a VLE when necessary. Creative Commons can help you licence your work in a way that would allow sharing while you hold on to the rights, and David Wiley's presentation "Openness, Localisation, and the Future of Learning Objects" is an eloquent argument for doing this.

25 July, 2008

iTunesU: Worlds of Wordcraft at Vanderbilt

1 comments
I've been exploring iTunesU a bit more recently, since British Universities started appearing on there, to see what resources institutions are releasing.

The course that I've enjoyed looking at most has been Worlds of Wordcraft that ran at Vanderbilt. This is a first year English module exploring narrative and how it changes moving from novels, to movies or to games.

The technology used to support this course feels so well integrated into the course. Their video 'Narrative forms in the Digital Classroom' explains it well, but from the point of view of looking at these materials after the course has run through the class blog and the recordings available via iTunesU, the wide variety of technologies used, feel like they are being used as an important and relevant part of the course.

Looking at iTunesU, I was wondering what use it could be to us at Edge Hill University. Basically it's wouldn't supply us with anything that we don't already have, as it is just hosting videos and linking to your course blog or web site. I could see it being used for marketing (i.e. look we're using iTunesU), and if management saw that as a positive thing, it could bring the neccesary investment needed to record more teaching sessions.

09 July, 2008

Towards a Scalable and Sustainable Model for e-Learning Development

0 comments


I can see two ‘models’ that are used when approaching the development of e-learning courses and resources at Edge Hill.

On one case we’ve got the courses that are simple to put together, perhaps containing a few documents, web links and VLE tools like Discussion. The time taken in running these courses falls almost totally on the teacher/facilitator. They spend time communicating with the students, perhaps being involved in online discussions and debates. I’d say that, providing it is acknowledged that staff require time to teach this way, this is a sustainable model.

On the other hand you’ve got the courses that contain lots of HTML based materials, video, animation and other learning objects that take a lot of work to produce/maintain – even to produce at a pretty low quality. The added work here usually falls on support staff, and I see in Learning Technology Development that we can spend a lot of time creating and maintaining resources for a small selection of courses. This can mean that we have no time to spend with other staff who are starting to use technology in teaching and learning.

In the early days of Learning Technology at Edge Hill, the idea of designing ‘prize’ courses which take a lot of work to create and maintain was seen as good because it would show people what was possible. However this way of working has never been replaced by something more scalable and sustainable. So what models are out there that work, and how could they fit in with Edge Hill?




The most useful article I’ve seen on the subject is ‘Building a Sustainable E-Learning Development Culture’ by Tracey Leacock, 2005.

The model covered in this article involves developing resources using flexible teams of developers, instructional designers and project managers. Other specialists can come and go from the team as required. The development works as a project, with time scales and most people working on the project as a full time focus.

Developers would have the technical skills, instructional designers and assessment experts would provide “leadership and guidance in innovations in e-learning pedagogy, e-learning tools, and related support services” and would also try and find resources that had already been produced elsewhere to cut down on development.

This set up is very different to Edge Hill, where development work has been done in Learning Services, or sometimes by IT Services or outsourced to external companies. I definitely like the idea of the split between development teams and e-learning guidance, as we’ve seen in our department that it’s tough to do both as well as we’d like.




So this article brings up lots of ideas that could be involved in sustainable e-learning development such as re-use of learning objects and ideas around what a development team/new academic team might look like.

Does anyone have any other thoughts around how we could get to a place where developments are scalable and sustainable?

SOLSTICE Conference 2008: One Minute Mix

0 comments
This video contains photos and clips from interviews taken at this year's SOLSTICE Conference, entitled 'eLearning and Learning Environments for the Future'.




Below are links to blog posts about the conference:

Anywhere Learning by Stuart Smith
Yukiyama's Daily Life by Yukiyama
Web Services by Mike Nolan
E-flections by Paul Lowe
Blog by Lawrie Phipps

04 July, 2008

My Top 5 Learning Technolgy Blogs

3 comments

I've never written a "top 5/top 10/top 100..." blog post. I guess I've always seen them as a cheep attention grabbing tactic - but nothing wrong with grabbing people's attention cheeply if you got something you think is worth saying. So in this post I'm going to share with you the 5 elearning related blogs that I never want to miss... in no particular order.

1. elearnspace by George Siemens
Elearnspace is a great collection of links covering a wide variety of educational/technological issues, always with insightful comment from George's perspective. You could just subscribe to this blog and keep a fairly good grasp of developments and thoughts in elearning.

2. e-portfolios for learning by Helen C. Barrett
If elearnspace covers everything, then this blog details an obsession with e-portfolios and the technologies which could be used to create them. Dr. Barrett has created and recreated her own e-portfolio using almost every imaginable tool. If you are thinking about using e-portfolios with your students this is a good place to start your exploration.

3. apophenia by Dana Boyd
Dana writes about a variety of issues, but her real area of specialisation is on "how American youth engage in networked publics like MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Xanga, etc". If social networking is an area that interests you then having a look at the Best of Apophenia page will be a good place to start. I'd say that we should be very careful about how we use social network sites in education, but understanding what engages our students in their personal lives can help us a lot.

4. Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds
So much of what we do in education is presenting. Whether it be lectures, conferences, or training sessions. This blog gives plenty of ideas about how one can experiment with presentations, and it is always interesting and inspiring.

5. (No Longer) Alone in a Library by Kimberly McCollum
This blog is quite new but so far I've found it's enthusiasm and honesty engaging. If you are interested in using blogs with your students, have a look back at her experiences of undertaking the Comments Challenge and give something similar a go yourself.


These blogs speak to me where I am, and might not be relevant to everyone. But if you're wanting to subscribe to a comprehensive collection of learning technology feeds I'm sure you want most of these in your OPML file. Other blogs that are great and that you might want to subscribe to are:

Remote Access by Clarence Fisher
Eide Neurolearning Blog by Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide
Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold

Always remember that much of the value of blogs is in the interaction in the comments or between blogs, that can create communities. If you've got any recomendations, why not share them in our comments.

28 May, 2008

Running a University using iPhones

0 comments
I liked this video from ACU in Texas. It's a fictional exploration of how a University could use mobile devices to connect with students in different ways.

The video is arguing that giving all students an internet connected device might increase their connection to the university, to resources and experiences provided for learning, and to each other. Also if the university supplies a device like that, perhaps the students would be OK with it being used for learning and not feel like it was intruding in their personal, informal space, as has been an argument against using Facebook for example.

I guess the students need to see why they might want to use the technology to enhance their learning, and we can start explaining that now. If we can communicate the value of a personal learning environment which makes use of RSS and mobile video and audio, and which is easy to develop, then students would use the resources that they've got to build and maintain it. Without this understanding, the students wouldn't end up using their university iPhones for learning anyway.

I like the idea of using a piece of hardware like an iPhone that is designed primarily with the user experience in mind (rather than technical specifications), and which is designed to just work. Surely that could only improve the student experience and retention?

16 May, 2008

Blackboard World Europe 08: Student Led Audio Creation as a Group Assessment

0 comments
Been at Blackboard World 08 in Manchester this week, and the food was great. There were also some sessions that I thought brought up important points for people thinking of doing similar projects. I'll try to communicate the content of one here.


Using Blackboard Technology for Student Led Podcasting and Group Assessment:

This session by Christopher Stokes and Paul Wigfield from the University of Sheffield was the story of what happened when they asked the dental students to create group presentations as audio files rather than as classroom presentations.

They were asked to create 5 minute audio files on their topic, where the whole group had to speak. They admitted that these aren't really podcasts, but that's what the students wanted to call them. Submission was by attaching the audio file to a message on the VLE's discussion board.

They gave the students little advice on recording and equipment, and were surprised to find that none of the groups came to them with technical problems. They assume that there must have been someone in all the groups who had the understanding to sort out any issues, and said that it might had been different if the assignments had been individual ones.

They also thought that recording in this format meant that the individuals in the groups worked together more, where in the past the students had split the responsibilities. For example they might have had one person creating the presentation slides for the introduction, one person putting all the slides together and one presenting in class. This was what the presenters were most pleased with.

Other important issues brought up were:

-When feedback was collected on the students' experiences they said that it was good to do this near the start of term when people had more time, meaning that it was easier to get together.

-Some students raised concerns that the assignment was crossing over in to their personal/informal spaces (e.g. Garageband software that they usually use to make their own music rather than University work) and later on when students were offered the audio files as a podcast, they weren't interested in subscribing to it with iTunes for similar reasons. Their MP3 players are seen as being for music and not University stuff. It would be useful to find research or undertake research around these student perceptions of informal online spaces.

-Accessibility. Will Deaf or hard of hearing students be able to participate fully in creation and peer review? Do students need to produce transcripts?

-Students awareness of copyright issues. Home made music is OK, but if some use commercial music are you going to refuse to accept their assignment?

30 April, 2008

Setting up a Section in Blackboard: The Complete Beginner's Guide

0 comments
Blackboard (Campus Edition 6) is the upgraded VLE that Edge Hill University is currently switching over to.

The following screencast videos have been created to introduce staff to setting up and using their own Blackboard areas, and to act as a reference. They are available as streaming WMV (Windows Media) files.

The first section will briefly introduce you to teaching with on-line technologies at Edge Hill University, and show you the Blackboard environment. It is probably worth watching all of these if you are new to Edge Hill or to Blackboard CE 6.

The second section will demonstrate the various tools available in Blackboard, such as discussion boards, student profiles and online assignment submission. You are probably best just using the videos that relate to your needs at a particular time, rather than watching them all as there's over 90 minutes of videos.


Part One: An Introduction

01 - Introduction - 1:55 (details of contacts)
02 - Logging In - 1:53
03 - The Environment - 3:15
04 - The Home Page - 3:24
05 - Manage Course - 5:55
06 - File Manager - 2:13
07 - Instructor Tools - 3:15
08 - Adding a Student - 0.53
09 - Turnitin - Adding - 1.25
10 - Turnitin - Settings - 0.53


Part Two: The Blackboard Tools
Communication Tools

Discussion
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 1:01
02 - Setting up Discussion Boards - 2:41
03 - Things to Consider - 1:54

Profile
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:50
02 - Editing and Viewing Profiles - 1:45

Mail
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 1:08
02 - Settings - 1:12
03 - Sending and Managing Messages - 2:40

Chat
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:41
02 - Chat Rooms - 0:38
03 - Checking Java - 0:57
04 - Using a Chat Room - 4:08

Who's Online
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:39
02 - Using in Your Section - 1:12
03 - Using Via the myBlackboard Page - 0:33
04 - Setting Your Availability to Chat - 0:44

Announcements
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:46
02 - Navigation of the Calendar - 1:33


Content Tools

Learning Modules
01 - Introduction - 0:46
02 - Add Tool - 0:29
03 - Add Learning Modules - 1:23
04 - Add Content - Externally Created Files - 1:53
05 - Add Content - Content Links - 0:33
06 - Add Content - HTML Pages - 0:47
07 - Content Page Headings - 0:55
08 - Editing the Titles of the Links - 0:29

Web Links
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 1:00
02 - Add Categories - 0:36
03 - Add Links - 1:42
04 - Linking to the Library Catalogue - 3:08
05 - Adding Links to Folders and the Home Page - 0:55
06 - Managing Links - 2:13
07 - Alternative to Web Links: RSS Feeds - 3:16
08 - Sharing Lists of Feeds with Students - 2:19

Media Library
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:51
02 - Creating and Linking to Glossary Entries - 1:36
03 - Creating Collections of Images, Audio and Video - 1:06

SCORM
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:39
02 - Importing the Content- 1:12


Organisational Tools
Calendar
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:42
02 - Navigation of the Calendar - 1:02
03 - Adding Entries - 1:20
04 - Settings - Part 1 - 1:26
05 - Settings - Part 2 - 1:11

Search
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:33
02 - Searching - 1:18

Syllabus
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:45
02 - Adding Sections to the Syllabus - 1:41


Student Learning Activities Tools

Assignments
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 1:15
02 - Add Assignments - 3:33
03 - View as a Student - 1:20
04 - Manage Assignment Dropbox - 1:31

Assessments
01 - Introduction - 0:38
02 - Adding the Tool - 1:20
03 - Creating an Assessment - 1:26
04 - Changing Assessment Settings - 2:27
05 - Creating a Question - 2:20
06 - Previewing Questions - 0:50
07 - Managing Questions - 0:57
08 - Adding Questions to Assessments - 0:35
09 - Exporting and Importing Assessments - 1:03
10 - Revealing Assessments to Students - 1:53
11 - Assessment Manager - 3:57

Goals
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:56
02 - Creating Categories and Goals - 1:16
03 - Linking Goals to Content - 1:04


Student's Own Tools

My Grades
01 - Introduction - 1:37

My Progress
01 - Introduction - 1:16

Notes
01 - Introduction- 1:02

29 April, 2008

The Blackboard Student Tools: My Grades, My Progress and Notes (4 minutes)

0 comments
Here is a beginners guide to using the My Grades, My Progress and Notes tools in your Blackboard CE 6 section. Again, these are initial versions and feedback/corrections are welcome.


My Grades - 1:37
My Progress - 1:16
Notes - 1:02

More Blackboard Tools: Assignments, Goals, Media Library and SCORM (17 minutes)

0 comments
Here is a beginners guide to using the Assignments, Goals, Media Library and SCORM tools in your Blackboard CE 6 section. Again, these are initial versions and feedback/corrections are welcome.

Assignments
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 1:15
02 - Add Assignments - 3:33
03 - View as a Student - 1:20
04 - Manage Assignment Dropbox - 1:31

Goals
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:56
02 - Creating Categories and Goals - 1:16
03 - Linking Goals to Content - 1:04

Media Library
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:51
02 - Creating and Linking to Glossary Entries - 1:36
03 - Creating Collections of Images, Audio and Video - 1:06

SCORM
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:39
02 - Importing the Content- 1:12

25 April, 2008

More Blackboard Tools: Chat, Discussion, Mail and Who's Online (20 minutes)

0 comments
Here is a beginners guide to using the Chat, Discussion, Mail and Who's Online communications tools in your Blackboard CE 6 section. Again, these are initial versions and feedback/corrections are welcome.

Chat
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:41
02 - Chat Rooms - 0:38
03 - Checking Java - 0:57
04 - Using a Chat Room - 4:08

Discussion
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 1:01
02 - Setting up Discussion Boards - 2:41
03 - Things to Consider - 1:54

Mail
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 1:08
02 - Settings - 1:12
03 - Sending and Managing Messages - 2:40

Who's Online
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:39
02 - Using in Your Section - 1:12
03 - Using Via the myBlackboard Page - 0:33
04 - Setting Your Availability to Chat - 0:44

24 April, 2008

More Blackboard Tools: Profile, Search, Syllabus and Announcements (9 minutes)

0 comments
If you are wanting a quick introduction to using the Profile, Search, Syllabus or Announcements tools in Blackboard CE 6, these might help you get started. Again, these are initial versions and feedback/corrections are welcome.

Profile
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:50
02 - Editing and Viewing Profiles - 1:45

Search
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:33
02 - Searching - 1:18

Syllabus
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:45
02 - Adding Sections to the Syllabus - 1:41

Announcements
01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:46
02 - Navigation of the Calendar - 1:33

22 April, 2008

The Calendar Tool in Blackboard (6 minutes)

0 comments
The Calender tool in Blackboard (CE 6) is a very simple way of sharing times of events with students, and keeping track of appointments.

If you have your own calendar/diary you probably won't want to use it as it will be another place for you to look for appointments, but it's there if you want to use it.

Again, these screencasts are initial versions, so any feedback will be appreciated.

01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 0:42
02 - Navigation of the Calendar - 1:02
03 - Adding Entries - 1:20
04 - Settings - Part 1 - 1:26
05 - Settings - Part 2 - 1:11

Podcasting in Plain English by Common Craft

Lots of people are still confused about what podcasting is, and why they should care.

Common Craft are always worth a look when you need technologies explaining to you in a simple way, and they've got round to creating a video about using podcasts. While the best way to get your head round it is to subscribe to some podcasts, this video will introduce some of the concepts to you.



Probably the easiest way to get started consuming podcasts is to install iTunes on your computer, and search the podcast area of their store for podcasts on subjects that you are interested in.

Ask your students if they use podcasts. If they do perhaps you can start a podcast on a subject that you are an expert on, and share it with them and other people around the world? Perhaps you can encourage students to create their own as part of their learning.

Just listening to/watching podcasts alone is unlikely to result in deep learning, but it is a way of getting an introduction to subjects and discussions that are going on around subjects. Personally I listen to them while I'm travelling, doing housework, and in other situations where I might be bored and am glad of something to think about. So for me, well made podcasts are a free and welcome way of learning the basics about a subject, without the pain.

21 April, 2008

Creating Learning Modules in Blackboard (7 minutes)

0 comments
Learning Modules in Blackboard CE 6 allow you to create a series of pages (web pages, images, files, web links, discussions, etc) that a student can work through. You might want to use this to present online lessons to students.

In these videos we explain how to set up a Learning Module. These are the first drafts of the training, so please let us have feedback.

01 - Introduction - 0:46
02 - Add Tool - 0:29
03 - Add Learning Modules - 1:23
04 - Add Content - Externally Created Files - 1:53
05 - Add Content - Content Links - 0:33
06 - Add Content - HTML Pages - 0:47
07 - Content Page Headings - 0:55
08 - Editing the Titles of the Links - 0:29

18 April, 2008

The Web Links Tool: Sharing Links to Resources on the Web (15 minutes)

0 comments
The Web Links tool in Blackboard CE6 is used to create and organise links to resources on the Web. In this session we look at using this tool and an alternative to it.

These screencasts are streamed WMV files. Please let us have any feedback that you have.

01 - Introduction and Adding the Tool - 1:00
02 - Add Categories - 0:36
03 - Add Links - 1:42
04 - Linking to the Library Catalogue - 3:08
05 - Adding Links to Folders and the Home Page - 0:55
06 - Managing Links - 2:13
07 - Alternative to Web Links: RSS Feeds - 3:16
08 - Sharing Lists of Feeds with Students - 2:19

15 April, 2008

The Learning Theory Podcast

0 comments
Often Learning Technolgists move into education with a background in technology but not educational theories. For those of with that background Dan Campbell's bi-weekly Learning Theory podcast might be a useful introduction. It is in the form of monologues which isn't as engaging as conversations, but it is very concise and as it is audio you can listen on the way to work, walking round the supermarket or whatever.

It might give you a skeleton of understanding about learning theories and thinkers that will help you explore, and that you can build upon.

10 April, 2008

The Assessment Tool: Setting up Quizzes and Surveys in Blackboard CE6 (18 minutes)

0 comments
We're putting together some just-in-time training for those who want to set up areas in Blackboard. I'll put the initial versions online section by section as they are produced.

The first section that I've recorded is for the Assessment Tool, which you can use if you want to create quizzes and surveys.


01 - Introduction [Google Video] - 0:38
02 - Adding the Tool [Google Video] - 1:20
03 - Creating an Assessment [Google Video] - 1:26
04 - Changing Assessment Settings [Google Video] - 2:27
05 - Creating a Question [Google Video] - 2:20
06 - Previewing Questions [Google Video] - 0:50
07 - Managing Questions [Google Video] - 0:57
08 - Adding Questions to Assessments [Google Video] - 0:35
09 - Exporting and Importing Assessments [Google Video] - 1:03
10 - Revealing Assessments to Students [Google Video] - 1:53
11 - Assessment Manager [Google Video] - 3:57

Please give any feedback that you have :)