Resistance to innovation

June 30, 2010

There has always been resistance innovation and I suspect it will continue…

Martin Bean last year gave an excellent keynote at ALT-C 2009 and in the first few minutes (from 3m 50s) described some historical views on innovation.

View the section of the keynote that deals with resistance to innovation from here.


Mobile Learning Boot Camp

June 29, 2010

Gloucestershire College Open Day Tuesday 6th July 2010

Mobile Learning Boot Camp

With the wealth of learning technologies mobile technologies and web 2.0 tools and services available to Further Education, this open day, will provide an opportunity to see how Gloucestershire College are using learning technologies to enhance and enrich learning.

The open day will also give you an opportunity to plan, develop and build learning resources for mobile learning in Further Education. This is a change to the original advertised programme.

Gloucestershire College is running the open day as part of the Becta Technology Exemplar Network (TEN),

This event is free to all FE Colleges and learning providers in the learning and skills sector; you do not need to be part of the TEN to visit.

We are running the Open Day on Tuesday 6th July at our Gloucester Campus. The day will focus on the creation of mobile learning resources and how they can be used to enhance teaching and learning. The day will also give you an opportunity to tour the college to see how we use ILT and how we have embedded learning technologies across the curriculum.

The day will consist of a formal introduction followed by semi-structured unconference format in which delegates will be able to build and create resources that can be used on mobile devices such as the PSP, the iPhone and mobile phones.

Delegates will be expected to bring some content for repurposing or ideas for content.

The day starts at 10.00am and will finish at 4.00pm, lunch will be provided.

Travel

Gloucester is well served by rail networks from across the UK and the college is a 15 minute walk from the railway station.

Gloucester is on the M5 and can be accessed from Junction 12 from the South and 11 from the North. Please note that there is no parking available at the college, though pay car parks are close by.

Booking

Please book online by Friday 2nd July here.


0870 – iPhone App of the Week

June 29, 2010

0870 – iPhone App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive. Though called iPhone App of the Week, most of these apps will work on the iPod touch or the iPad, some will be iPad only apps.

This week’s App is 0870.

Many companies use 0870, 0845, 0800 numbers for customer service, which usually cost around 35p per minute to call.

0870 will turn these expensive numbers into 01, 02 (which come out of your contracted minutes) or cheaper 08 numbers.

Save money on phone calls!

Free

This is quite a simple App, which does one thing really well.

Enter in one of those BT local numbers and it will provide you with the “real” number. Simple, but can save you money.

Photo source.


Kindle gets sounds and vision…

June 28, 2010

Amazon have announced that certain Kindle titles will now have embedded video and audio.

However to enjoy these new “multimedia ebooks” you will need to view them on the iPhone, iPod touch or the iPad using the Kindle iOS4 App.

Amazon.com today announced a new update to Kindle for iPad and Kindle for iPhone and iPod touch, which allows readers to enjoy the benefits of embedded video and audio clips in Kindle books. The first books to take advantage of this new technology, including Rick Steves’ London by Rick Steves and Together We Cannot Fail by Terry Golway, are available in the Kindle Store at http://www.amazon.com/kindleaudiovideo.

Though Together We Cannot Fail is not actually available to buy for customers from the UK!

Probably not obvious to most, these titles with embedded audio and video, though can be read on the Kindle device, will not play the audio and video.

This does beg the question, does Amazon believe that the future of Kindle titles is on the iOS4 platform, on the iPad and the iPhone? Or will we see a more enhanced Kindle in the future that can play the embedded audio and video in these new titles?

Amazon have recently reduced the price of the Kindle, this may be an indication of either of those two points of view.

We will have to wait and see.


“VLEs are crap”

June 28, 2010

If you work with a VLE and with staff and managers, you may have come across a comment similar to the title of this blog entry, “VLEs are crap”. This comment was quoted on a mailing list I belong to. Going to events I often hear these comments (and even occasionally back at college); they may go onto to talk about very negatively about the VLE. They talk about how learners like wizzy Web 2.0 tools and services like Facebook and YouTube. How they are all digital natives (I know), are part of the Google generation; so the VLE is old, clunky and not for today’s learners…

This view is not that unusual.

The thing is don’t compare the VLE with what you would like it to be, compare it to not having a VLE. The VLE isn’t trying to be perfect, it’s about providing an online or virtual environment that can be used for learning. Yes it can be better, and VLEs have improved over the years, but it isn’t perfection and in life nothing is perfect.

So how do I respond to negativity?

I sometimes use the following…

Educational text books are “rubbish”, students are accustomed to high quality Dorling Kindersley books full of colour pictures.

Educational journals are “a waste of time”, students are accustomed to high quality magazine like FHM, Maxim, Bliss, Closer and Heat; they’re full of colour photographs and bright text.

Educational spaces (ie colleges) are “horrible”, students are accustomed to smelly dark dank rooms that are never tidy… oh wait…


Improved VLE resources at Weston College

June 28, 2010

Last week I reflected on the JISC RSC SW Annual Conference and discussed Vicky Weavers’ session on VLE standards. As part of her presentation she showed a video clip showing interviews with staff and learners on the impact the improved use of the VLE was having.

Here is the whole video which has interviews with the A’Level History lecturer and learners on the impact of the improved VLE resources.


e-Learning Stuff Podcast #052: Universal Design for Learning

June 27, 2010

What is universal design for learning? Designing your learning so that it is accessible for everyone. In a nutshell, good teaching.

We also talk (at the end during the credits) about my Skype problems…

James Clay, Lisa Valentine, Lilian Soon and Ron Mitchell.

This is the fifty second e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Universal Design for Learning

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Universal Design for Learning

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes

Shownotes

Photo source.


Why didn’t you buy an iPhone 4 ?

June 26, 2010

I seriously did consider buying the new iPhone 4 on the day of release.

However when I was faced with this…

I couldn’t face the idea of queuing. I also had to be somewhere else too…

I am still in two minds about buying the new iPhone now, or waiting until my contract ends.

Yes it has some great new features that I would like to see and try like the new camera; however part of me is thinking is this just because it is shiny or something new and different!

What about the reception left hander issues?

Personally I think, yes there may well be an issue, but is it really worth all the column inches that have covered this? There may be a design flaw, but all devices have design flaws, doesn’t mean they don’t work most of the time. My Google Nexus One for example, if it gets too hot (from being on for too long and doing stuff) the touchscreen stops working! My old LG Viewty kept turning itself off and the only way to turn it back on again was by removing the battery! Where was the Guardian and BBC on that issue?

Of course the iPhone is selling really really well. Some estimates say 1.5million of them have been sold. So that any flaw in the design is going to impact on a lot of people, a lot more people than the flaw in the LG Viewty! That’s probably the reason behind the column inches.

I do like that even though we have moved from analogue newspapers to online news sites, the term “column inches” still works. Thought I suspect a lot of people might think “inches” what are “inches”? Wonder what the metric or European term is for “column inches”.

Anyhow even with the reception issue, I don’t think that would stop me buying one.

I have already installed iOS4  on my iPhone 3GS and am finding it useful. I like the rotation lock. I like the quick App switching. Folders I am less keen on, but they do mean I can now see all the Apps on my iPhone, whereas before some were off the screen at the end! I like the spell checking (this is also on the iPad) and as someone who can’t spall it’s grteat! Not at all impressed with the digital zoom, but then I have never been impressed with any digital zoom. Less impressed with the home screen wallpaper, the first one I tried made the whole phone look cluttered… The Nexus One does seem to do this much better. Keyboard support may be useful in some instances, I do do a lot of writing.

So what will the iPhone 4 hardware provide that is so “essential”?

Facetime sounds great, but really we have been here before. My old Nokia N73 had a front facing camera and could do video calls over 3G. Well actually I never did do video calls, the main reason was that no one I knew did video calls, so I never had one. Also when I got the N95, I tried to call myself to just see how it worked, and it never worked! Facetime only works over wifi, if I have wifi I probably have a laptop or my iMac so I would be more likely to use Skype. Another big reason I wouldn’t use Facetime, is that very few people I would call in this way would have an iPhone 4. Like the idea, but can’t how it would benefit me at this time. Should I be buying two iPhone 4s then? No I think not.

I do like the concept of the retina display. I really like the display on the Nexus One which is sharp and looks great. The 3GS has a 480×320 resolution, the Nexus One has 800×480. The iPhone 4 has 960×640 which is to be honest incredible for the size of screen, but is not that far off the Nexus One. It would be interesting to compare all three.

I do like doing video, and though many phones I have had, can do video, none have really got there. The Nokia N95 which took great images had an okay video camera, but not fantastic.

This video was taken with the iPhone 3GS and is actually not bad, certainly much better than the N95.

If the video on the iPhone 4 is as good as the video that is been shown on the web, then I would be impressed. I also like the idea of the iMovie App. I must remember though I have ReelDirector on my iPhone, I have only used it once or twice in anger!

I do like the idea of a 5MP camera, as I do use my camera a lot on the iPhone 3GS for taking images (in the main for uploading to TwitPic). Of course 5MP is nothing new, I did the same for many years with the Nokia N95.

Of course the front facing camera on the iPhone 4 is only a 0.3MP camera like most other phones that have front facing cameras. Two 5MP cameras would have been nice…

No idea if the battery life is any better, the stats indicate it is, but I suspect that this may not reflect actual usage. 6 hours on 3G doesn’t really cut it for a full day in London at a conference and for the train home.

So at this time, I am in two minds about the iPhone 4. I think I would like one, but whether I would really like one right now, I don’t know.


RSC SW 5th Annual Conference

June 26, 2010

Last Thursday saw me venture down to the University of Exeter for the JISC RSC SW Annual Conference. I have been to all of the conferences and presented at many of them, keynoting at last year’s with David Sugden.

This year I was just a normal delegate, which was nice and different. I rarely go to conferences as just a delegate these days.

I also took the chance to try out just using my iPad as my main note taking, blogging and twittering device. It worked out just fine as you can read here and here. Following on from my earlier blog post on using the iPad at a conference I can see the iPad now replacing my laptop at these kinds of events. For longer events such as ALT-C or Handheld Learning I will take my laptop with me, but leave it in the hotel room so that I have use of it in the evening for video editing or audio editing.

Well back to the content of the conference…

I didn’t get much from the two opening keynotes, they were interesting, but didn’t in my mind inspire me to change my practice. Others though did find them more inspiring.

The opening keynote talked about the enterprise culture at the University of Plymouth and how it was changing what they did.

The second keynote was on Business and Community Engagement, which was by JISC.

The first session I attended was on Social Enterprise and how many business organisations now have a social motive over a profit motive. 

The second session was from JISC TechDis on engaging with SMEs. Gloucestershire has a large number of SMEs compared to somewhere like Bristol and often they can not “afford” to send their staff on training and staff development. In an interesting discussion we looked at the issues and challenges facing SMEs in the South-West and how FE providers (and others learning providers) can engage them and use technology to meet these challenges and break down invalid assumptions. One of the key conclusions was that there are cultural barriers both in the SMEs and in learning providers that need to be broken down before we can really provide solutions.

After a good lunch and lots of networking, it was time for the afternoon sessions.

I (with a little reservation) attended the session on Second Life by Bex Ferriday from Cornwall College.

She gave a very entertaining and informative trip through Second Life, lessons learned and some really good ideas on how to use Second Life for teaching and learning. I liked the idea of how it can be used with some groups to break down barriers and enhance communication – and once Second Life goes browser based I think this could see much more use being made of Second Life.

I also liked the idea of the underwater art gallery that contains student art that couldn’t exist in real life.

After more tea, it was Vicky Weavers from Weston College and their VLE Bronze, Silver and Gold standards. In many ways their standards are similar in concept to the five stage VLE model I put forward in an earlier blog post. One aspect of their model I did like, was that you only gained the standard if learners actually used the VLE.

What I was also interested in was the implementation, the carrot and stick approach. Weston College like most had tried the softly softly approach with limited sucess. The enthusiasts had certainly used the VLE effectively, but the use was sporadic and whole areas were not using the VLE. The college did feel, from student feedback, that access to online resources and learning was a “student entitlement” and that provision of such was patchy and lacked consistency.

By using a combination of clear standards, senior management, quality, other college processes and importantly middle management; the college was able to increase use of the VLE by staff and to increase use of the VLE by learners.

Some good ideas to take away.

I then popped to see the Futurelab demonstrations, some nice new technology there.

The final keynotes were on cloud computing, specifically Google Apps. I can see many FE Colleges moving over to Google Apps as a way of both enhancing student provision and saving money.

Overall a very information and interesting conference with lots of useful stuff to take away.


100 ways to use a VLE – #24 Course handbook

June 25, 2010

One of the things that Ofsted often look for when inspecting courses is a course handbook for the course. The idea behind the handbook is to provide students with all the information they are going to need for the course and to provide help and guidance while on the course.

In the past this may have (and may still well be) a physical handbook. Today much more likely to be an electronic Word document that may well be uploaded to the VLE. This will probably be referenced once by the learners and possibly ignored for the rest of the course, which is a pity.

By using something like the Book module on Moodle, it would be possible for the student to have much more accessible course handbook, one that has live links and could also use audio and video to enhance and enrich the information. Why have a written overview of the course, why not create an audio recording? Instead of pen pictures of where students go after the course, why not video recordings of past students? Making it real and more relevant to the learners.

Handbooks often are “ignored” by learners, by making reference to the online version on the VLE, tutors can ensure that the help and advice is referred to on a more regular basis.

Photo source.