Jeremy reminded me yesterday about Schooltool… this is something I do not want to forget about at all, ever.

“Our vision is for a common information systems platform for school administration from California to Calcutta, via Cape Town! We hope to provide a single tool that will be readily adapted to the specific regulatory requirements and practices of different countries and regions, but that retains enough common functionality to make a shared development effort worthwhile. The SchoolTool will be freely available under an Open Source licence, and commercial editions with additional functionality might also be available if 3rd party developers wish to build commercial products on top of the universal platform.”

International Journal of Web Based Communities (IJWBC)

Typical, am run off my feet, the last thing I need is a new journal full of amazing articles related to online communities such as:

Designing and evaluating online communities: research speaks to emerging practice
With regard to respect: a framework for governance of educational virtual communities
Towards mobile communities for cancer patients: the case of
Roles and knowledge management in online technology communities: an ethnography study
Online knowledge communities: future trends and research issues

And they’ve even got a bloody RSS feed, here, typical…

[update, Scott points out that the feed is for the publisher as a whole, that’s very cool from a library perspective but not for much else :o(]

Emporer’s new…

Jeremy calls it straight on podcasting, with a great link to a comment on audio blogging (and check out the music… well worth it!):

“right now it looks like everyone is simply exorcising their childhood fantasies to be radio DJs because they can.”

And I sympathise a lot with that, seriously, and well said too :o) But but but but you know, when I started ed designing at a tertiary level I felt pretty similarly about lectures, actually, come to mention it I still do, I mean what a waste of time – information transfer – egocentric – pile – of – crap. And yet, as I come across the (probably less than 5% of) people who can engage, interest and involve 100+ students through waffling on in an amphitheatre come movie theatre, there is a kind of good that comes out. It’s like some people are just good to listen to, and if I can listen to them while I’m driving or going for a walk or having a coffee then – hurrah – I probably wouldn’t wade through their 2000 word blog post in a million years (with another hundred or so in the aggie).

So keep it going I reckon, live those fantasies and I reckon we’ll get some fantastic people who probably should have been on the radio out of them… one thing though, you certainly ‘aint never getting them from me and I’m probably only ever going to subscribe to, like, 2 or 3 of them, so you’d better be good ;o)


Interesting project at Oxford, Remote Authoring of Mobile Blogs for Learning Environments (RAMBLE) :

“In this project the process of blogging has three stages:

* Blogging on a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) – where students can use handheld devices to reflect on their learning experiences, provide feedback on lectures, tutorials, practicals etc at a location, time etc. that is convenient to them.
* Upload the blog to a blog server – on return to their desktop or wherever there is access to the Internet, the students can press a button and upload the blogs to a local blog server.
* Integration in a VLE – VLEs can provide an environment in which the blog can be shared among selected groups, typically peers or tutors within a focused context as can be provided by VLEs. (Usually, blogs are made public and are not highly contextualised). The main development for this project will consist of tools to read the blogs via feeds (probably RSS and Atom) and to render them in various ways in the VLE.”

[via Simon Walton]

Oh dear

Well, it appears that the all new WebCT Vista 3.0 is taking us back to supported browsers, great to see even more forward-thinking approaches from “the world’s leading provider of e-learning systems for educational institutions”… we’re in good hands!

p.s. in this version you can also take pedagogical delight in our CONTROL AS TEACHERS dammit, for example, as if the concept of marking people based on their discussion contribution wasn’t bad enough in the first place, Vista now facilitates it with ‘Gradable Discussions’ and if you thought that being able to track a learners every move wasn’t enough… it’s now a whole lot easier with PeopleLinks:

“PeopleLinks, instructors can access student performance statistics by simply clicking on a student’s name wherever it appears. For example, while reading a discussion posting, an instructor can instantly access student grade information or tracking data.” [WebCT Vista 3.0 Highlights]

Up and running

As Stephen mentioned, I’ve found a new energy of sorts ;o) Wouldn’t be the case without the 88 (and that doesn’t include many non-trackbacked postings & emails!) amazing, insightful, supportive, thoughtful and kind comments you guys made, not a chance. Thanks again.


Here’s an interesting point, we shouldn’t do pedagogy but, instead, andragogy.

“Knowles’ theory of andragogy is an attempt to develop a theory specifically for adult learning. Knowles emphasizes that adults are self-directed and expect to take responsibility for decisions. Adult learning programs must accommodate this fundamental aspect.

Andragogy makes the following assumptions about the design of learning: (1) Adults need to know why they need to learn something (2) Adults need to learn experientially, (3) Adults approach learning as problem-solving, and (4) Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value.

In practical terms, andragogy means that instruction for adults needs to focus more on the process and less on the content being taught. Strategies such as case studies, role playing, simulations, and self-evaluation are most useful. Instructors adopt a role of facilitator or resource rather than lecturer or grader. “

Hmmmmm, not sure if I agree about the role plays / simulation / case studies though… where’s the authenticity there? Hang about, where’s the importance of authenticity in the theory as a whole (not to mention social motivations). Am not entirely convinced, problems need to be real to have any point.

Content, content, content…

This is a session on a fully online first year health & statistics unit for mostly on campus students. The course has been developed around two CDROMs for the material and an online CMS environment for ‘end of topic’ assessment (there are several topics).

The CD ROM worked well for delivering lots of content and the tests, despite some technical hitches, also went pretty well. The CMS was used for communication, basically support and Q&A (I think).

Some interesting results in the just compiled feedback results: 39% happy with current version 42% want current version and face to face. On the subject of fully online units for on campus students 8% believe they should be stopped 42% only used in appropriate areas 22% that they should be continued and 28% that they should be extended (more fully online units available).

So a (very fair) conclusion is that a blended approach would keep everyone happy (absolutely! fully online units for on-campus students are, I reckon, daft… I used to be a believer but then I talked to the students and saw the stats!).

The area I guess I’m particularly interested in though is the use of communication. Here it was for Q&A and support, and the students really liked it… but I strongly disagree, still, with the argument (and I’m sure plenty of people have heard this) “In some subjects it’s not about communication, people don’t need to talk or discuss, they just want the material and Q&A with the the lecturer”.

In this course only 9% posted & read many messages on the CMS (wouldn’t it be interesting to track those and see if they are the ones that are very happy with the course!) and be that a verdict on the tasks or the CMS itself I think it’s a bit disappointing. I do get the feeling though from the three sessions I’ve seen so far, that the increasing ease of multimedia creation, bandwidth issues in Australia, and the focus on content throughout our CMSs design (and possibly institutionally too) is leading us down the path of content, content, content and away from the most important thing, what goes on inside and between the people in the course. [adapted from Stevick].