Free Virtual World

September 19, 2007

You’ve heard of Second Life (which I don’t get) now there is MetaPlace!

The BBC is reporting on this new development in virtual worlds (which isn’t quite ready yet).

A free tool that allows anyone to create a virtual world has been launched. Users of Metaplace, as it is known, can build 3D online worlds for PCs or even a mobile phone without any knowledge of complex computer languages.

Read rest of article on BBC News.

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QR and Datamatrix Codes

September 19, 2007

It would appear that the last mobile phone barcode I posted was not a QR code at all but a datamatrix code (thanks Roger).

This is a QR Code.

qrcode

I generated this code at the Kaywa website.

I am using the Kaywa reader software on my Nokia N73 to test the concept and it reads both the QR codes and the datamatrix codes really easily. I have done tests both on screen and printed.

Very clever concept and having showed a few people in college we think there are a lot of potential uses.


QR Codes

September 19, 2007

The current craze in Japan is for QR Codes that allow information to be sent to a mobile phone via the camera.

Simply put the information or link is encoded into a barcode type graphic.

e-Learning Stuff

You then take a photograph of the barcode, and with special reader software you are able to convert the barcode into information, which could be a link to a website or just plain information.

You can make simple barcodes on the Nokia website, there are also links to various applications which can read these codes.


Why every school should be podcasting

September 19, 2007

Interesting article on podcasting.

Podcasting is transforming school life for forward-thinking schools, stimulating creative learning and new ways of communicating.

Read more


“Please switch on your mobiles”

September 19, 2007

The Guardian has an interesting article on how educational institutions are using mobile phones to enhance, support and deliver learning.

They were banned as a distraction in lectures and seminars, but now colleges and universities are exploiting them as learning platforms. Mobiles that double up as internet platforms and iPods and MP3 players that can download hefty video or audio files mean students own what is in effect a portable learning tool. Digital mobility is drawing in students through distance learning, outreach or aids for special needs. What’s more, the use of technology can be highly motivating, adding value and content in opening up entirely new teaching scenarios.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a passion for the use of mobile devices to support learning. I lean towards the use of portable entertainment devices as opposed to the use of PDAs. By this I mean using mobile phones, iPods, PSPs rather than the business orientated PDA (such as an iPAQ).

The PDA has many greater advantages over entertainment devices in terms of what it can deliver especially in terms of text entry and interactivity. For me though one of the key issues of any mobile device is how personal it is to the user. If you don’t own a device or even know you are going to have it for a long time, why would you use it on a regular basis or even keep it charged.

Handing out mobile devices in a classroom also seems illogical to me, why give all students a PDA when a laptop trolley (or even moving to a computer suite) would give a similar (or better) experience.

Though being on a field trip a PDA (or an UMPC) would certainly be a better choice over a traditional (heavy) laptop, more so with features such as GPS.

I also see that the mobile device as only one part of the learning design, the learning activity would not be solely delivered via a mobile device. It would be used in conjunction with non-mobile delivery and assessment.It’s also about choice.

Allowing learners to choose how, where and when they access learning has an impact on their learning compared to been dictated where and when they can learn.

As the article demonstrates I am  not alone in seeing the benefits of mobile learning.


Moodle taking the lead in the secondary sector

September 19, 2007

Moodle (the open source VLE) one of the most popular VLEs in the FE sector is proving to be a real hit in the secondary sector.

The Guardian reports that:

Schools are becoming increasingly attracted to open source virtual learning environments (VLEs), according to a report by the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa), which also reported a solid increase in spending on the software packages that assist the development of personalised learning.

The report, Personalised Learning in Schools, questioned more than 600 schools in England and found Moodle, a free e-learning platform, was now the second most popular in schools, but with the preference split between primary and secondary. Moodle was the virtual learning platform of choice among secondary schools and the third most popular among primaries, after Digital Brain and My Grid for Learning.

However are they going for Moodle because of the benefits of the open source system, the flexibility and the fact that it “works”, or are they attracted because they believe that it is free and are under the impression that this means free as in no cost.

Anyone who has every run a VLE realises that when you take in all the costs of running a VLE, the licences are a very small part of the overall cost of the implementation, development and operational costs of running a VLE.

Hopefully those schools which are using a VLE (and that means any VLE not just Moodle) are not relying just on the efforts of a sole enthusiast and have a scalable and costed implementation plan. Anyone can install and run Moodle (personally I have three versions running on a single Mac mini) however it is a different story when that implementation needs to be accessed by hundreds of learners from across (and outside) the institution.