How will technology change teaching?

March 3, 2008

I really enjoyed reading Bill Thompson’s column on the BBC News website this week, where he wonders about how technology will change teaching.

If every student has a powerful network device that plugs them into the network, and work on digitising every book and other forms of knowledge has been successful, then what is the point of teaching “facts”?

He makes the very valid point.

Just as we try to encourage kids today to learn enough mental arithmetic to decide whether to believe the calculator’s answer, so we need those using tomorrow’s vast supercomputers to have a sense of what is going on that will allow them to judge the validity of the answers they get.

Overall an interesting column, well worth a read.

Personalised Learning – a challenge

February 17, 2008

The US National Academy of Engineering asked eighteen influential thinkers what they thought were the great technological challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.Personalised Learning - a challenge

Now while the press like the BBC have focussed on the nanobots and artificial intelligence papers, the one that (obviously) interested me was the challenge of personalised learning.

Some learners are highly self-motivated and self-driven, learning best by exploring a realm of knowledge on their own or at least with very little guidance. Other learners prefer some coaching and a more structured approach; they are typically self-motivated when the subject matter appeals to their interests. Still another type is more often motivated by external rewards and may learn best with step-by-step instruction. Some may resist learning altogether and have little motivation or interest in achieving goals established by others.

These general categorizations provide a base for developing personalized instruction, but truly personalized learning could be even more subtly individualized. Within the basic types of learners, some prefer to learn by example, others by finding answers to questions, and others by solving problems on their own. Under different conditions, people might even switch their preferences, preferring examples in some contexts but questions in others.

Read the full article.

“you feel that all digital resources must be universally accessible to everyone”

January 14, 2008

Do you have staff in your institution who feel that

“all digital resources must be universally accessible to everyone”

or are they a little more enlightened?

A podcast is perfectly accessible to a visually impaired learner and completely pointless for a hearing impaired learner.

Accessibility only exists at the point of delivery. There can not be a universal accessibly digital resource, can there?

Digital resources by their very nature are often more accessible than a non-digital resource. An e-book can be read out to a visually impaired learner, whilst a real book can also be read out, but this for most books requires a real person to do it, which at 2am can often be difficult for some learners to find when they have an essay deadline!

Brian Kelly on his excellent UK Web Focus Blog has a great post on how one disabled learner is using Second Life and how it is improving access for her.

Well worth a read. “you feel that all digital resources must be universally accessible to everyone”

20 Mobile Internet Applications

January 2, 2008

Mashable has posted an interesting list of twenty mobile internet applications which could be used for mobile learning.

2008 is the year of the mobile internet, right? We hear that every year. Let’s forget about predictions and focus on what’s available right now. We bring you over 20 mobile internet applications that you’ll actually use. for example allows you to publish cameraphone photos direct to the web.

Useful list. 20 Mobile Internet Applications

“it’s too flawed to be anything other than a novelty”

November 25, 2007

The Guardian has reviewed the Sony VAIO UX1XN and found that though a wonderment of design, it is somewhat fiddly to use.

But delightful though this notebook is to look at and hold, it’s too flawed to be anything other than a novelty.


The review also mentions issues with the keyboard and the tablet input, which I both agree with.

… there’s the first disappointment – the keyboard. You wouldn’t want to do much more than tap out an email on it, as the size of the keys make it no good for touch-typing. Double-thumb input is feasible, but the tiny keys make it hard to be accurate.


The touchscreen is a nightmare. Fiddly to calibrate, it failed to retain its settings and eventually refused even to acknowledge that it was in fact a touchscreen. So I resorted to the pointing device.

I still think it is useful and not as flawed as the review makes out, and the more I use it, the more uses I find for it.

A warning to all coffee lovers out there

August 14, 2007

Found this interesting article on the BBC News website.

Girl overdoses on espresso coffee – A teenager was taken to hospital after overdosing on espresso coffee.

It would appear that she had seven double espresso coffees and as a result had overdosed on caffeine!

A warning to all coffee lovers out there, I know that a lot of teachers and lecturers seem to thrive on coffee, or they can only survive through the average day in FE by drinking coffee.

It would seem that extra caution is needed where I work as we now have Starbucks coffee available in our college cafes and I quite like the off Starbucks espresso now and again .

12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally

July 27, 2007

Web Worker Daily has a nice feature on how to use Facebook for business or in a professional capacity.

Let’s look at 12 ways Facebook can benefit the web worker, particularly those who are home-based. The more connected you are to your co-workers and clients without being intrusive, the better your working relationship.

Read more

I am a relatively recent convert to Facebook (more for discovering the potential of the site then for other reasons, but I have managed to make contact with some old colleagues from at-Bristol which is nice). For me there are quite a few ways in which Facebook can be used both as e-learning professionals but also to support and enhance learning.