A decade of blogging

December 18, 2007

Well 17th December 1997 saw the first use of the term, weblog, from which blog, blogging and blogosphere all arise from. The BBC reports on the history of the blog:

The word was created by Jorn Barger to describe what he was doing with his pioneering Robot Wisdom web page.

The word was an abbreviation for the “logging” of interesting “web” sites that Mr Barger featured on his regularly updated journal.

A decade on and blog-watching firm Technorati reports it is tracking more than 70 million web logs.

So this is one of these 70 million and here’s to the next ten years.

A decade of blogging

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iPod touch, impressions

December 17, 2007

Gloucestershire College is undertaking the Glossy project as part of MoLeNET and as part of that I am evaluating and reviewing mobile devices that we may use as part of our project as well as seeing how they work so when we create (and convert) content for use on a mobile device we can ensure that it works on the majority of devices that our learners actually use.

Well I now have an iPod touch, and though I have touched one before, to actually use one for quite a bit of time, is a different kettle of fish. I am very impressed still with the device. Apple have done an excellent job.

The touch interface is very impressive and compared to the typical Table PC or Archos touch interface, the iPod touch interface is more fluid and responsive, and though I don’t like the fingerprints all over the device, the use of the finger is very intuitive.

It is these fingerprints which will probably mean that the device is not suitable for use in a classroom environment with the institution providing the devices. Learners will more thank likely look after their own iPod touch, but a class set would soon get very grimy and would need to be cleaned on a regular basis. That’s not to say this would not happen to other mobile devices, I only need to look at my phone and my iPod to see fingerprints all over them, but there is a difference when you are using your finger to poke and swipe to actually use the device.

Having said all that I can certainly see learners been able to use this interface quickly and easily, more so if webpages (ie web content) is designed for the interface.

The screen quality is excellent and images and video look excellent.

iPod touch

Syncing took a bit of time, it’s just an 8GB device, but I did put over five hundred photographs on the device as well as 4Gb of music and podcasts. This is something to consider when first using the device, it will take time to initially charge and synchronize.

The browser is probably the best I have seen on any mobile device, the way you can intelligently zoom in and out makes browsing webpages really nice and you don’t feel you are losing out with the small screen (well it’s a lot smaller than my 20″ iMac).

Overall I do like the iPod touch. it is one of the best mobile devices I have ever used and I have used a lot.


Google wants its own online knowledge project

December 16, 2007

Anyone whoever searches using Google will know that Wikipedia more often then not appears in the search results.

It’s interested to read (from the BBC) that:

Google has kicked off a project to create an authoritative store of information about any and every topic.

The search giant has already started inviting people to write about the subject on which they are known to be an expert.

Google said it would not act as editor for the project but will provide the tools and infrastructure for the pages.

Many experts see the initiative as an attack on the widely used Wikipedia communal encyclopaedia.

It will be interesting to see how this will work out. I also wonder what will be the impact of such a project on the search results in Google, will Wikipedia be pushed out, in other words will the Google algorithim be changed to favour Google’s site over Wikipedia.

From a learning perspective, it certainly means that there will be another site which students can use, but whether it will be as good or as bad as Wikipedia (depending on which subject you look at) it can only be a good thing that there is going to be more (good) information available freely to learners to support their learning.


Open Yale Courses

December 14, 2007

Yale University (in the US) are going to allow anyone in the world to access their most popular undergraduate courses for free.

Yale University is making some of its most popular undergraduate courses freely available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet.

The project, called “Open Yale Courses,” presents unique access to the full content of a selection of college-level courses and makes them available in various formats, including downloadable and streaming video, audio only and searchable transcripts of each lecture. Syllabi, reading assignments, problem sets and other materials accompany the courses.

The production of the courses for the Internet was made possible by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The seven courses in the sciences, arts and humanities—which were recorded live as they were presented in the classroom to Yale students—will be augmented with approximately 30 additional Yale courses over the next several years.

This means that institutions across the world will be able to see and view how Yale deliver their undergraduate programme, and unlike much of the others who have been doing this already, they are using a lot more video and audio content.

Obviously you need to attend Yale to get accreditation, but this kind of move from someone like Yale demonstrates again the importance of the institution and the teacher over the content in education.

Some lecturers are very protective about the content they use in their teaching and are unwilling to share, this kind of programme that Yale are undertaking, shows once more that it is the teaching and the support an institution provides is so much more important than the content.

And the more we share content, the more we can save time and ensure that our students (online or offline) achieve on their courses.

So here in the UK we have the Open University sharing some of their content, I wonder when we will see more Universities and more FE Colleges sharing their content? It’s not as though we don’t have a way of doing this, we do have JORUM.

Old Book

So here’s hoping Yale and others will continue to release more content for learning and e-learning online.

Photo source.


Free Online PDF Creation

December 3, 2007

Though you can create PDF files on a Mac, it is not always possible on a PC unless you have dedicated software. This is where online PDF creator sites can be very useful.

They are also useful if you for example have been sent or downloaded a Microsoft Publisher file and you have a Mac, or you don’t have Publisher on your Windows PC. They can take the Publisher .pub file and print it as a PDF.

One such site is PDF Online, which can convert a range of file formats (including Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Office) into a PDF which is then e-mailed to you.

I would suggest that if you do use such a service that you use a disposable e-mail address, or one that can be deleted later.