Thursday, September 15, 2005

Learning Trends and the Learning Imperative.

Learning Trends and the Learning Imperative: "To be involved in learning today is to be involved in the process of change". Elliot Masie captures the heart of learning: it's a change task...intended to react to change in the world around. He also touches on a point I've set as central to connectivism: " The reality is, in a world of high velocity, we have to create content that is occasionally evaporative."

4:14:31 PM    
 Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Constructivism, Cognitivism, and Behaviorism.

Constructivism, Cognitivism, and Behaviorism: "When do you employ each of these philosophies in your instructional designs? What I like about the question is its pragmatism. It suggests that constructivism, cognitivism, and behaviorism are all perspectives that you try on to achieve specific goals rather than fundamentally correct or incorrect positions about how human beings learn."

2:03:00 PM    

Learning Styles.

Should we be Using Learning Styles: (.pdf file)...this document evaluates the most popular learning style models, looking at reliability, validity, and impact on pedagogy. Most complete overview of learning styles I've come across...

2:01:29 PM    
 Thursday, June 24, 2004

Nice... Timeline Creator Tool.

Just saw this at the NMC 2004 5 minutes of Fame- a nifty app for creation of interactive timelines- presentation is via Flash (of course), but data driven by XML. Created by the Center for Educational Resources at Johns Hopkins, the Timeline Creator is a freebie for downloading and provides what looks like a simple interface for buildling timelines.

Might the timelines be consider Learning Objects? What the heck not?

10:30:44 PM    

ACollab - accessible, open source, multi-group, Web-based collaborative work environment.

If you weren't already impressed enough with Atutor, the accessible, open source LMS from U of Toronto's Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, along comes the second piece in their ever-growing suite of accessible learning technologies. With shared document authoring, calendering, chat, threaded discussion and extensive group support, ACollab is WCAG 1.0, Section 508 US-compliant software that can be easily integrated with Atutor to provide a powerful open source learning environment. Caution: use of this product may actually enable learning amongst an entire class of people who are otherwise discriminated against by badly designed, inaccessible technologies. - SWL

10:29:38 PM    

A special request. With thanks to my colleague Stephen Downes for writing most of the following, and licensing it in such a way that I may repurpose it:

As you may know, the work I do is funded by the Government of Canada through its support for the National Research Council's Atlantic E-Business Initiative in the Institute for Information Technology. The National Research Council has given me a great deal of freedom to offer a wide range of offerings for the Web community, including Seb's Open Research, the Seb's OpenMind wiki, weblog deployments at educational institutions, the Internet Topic Exchange (in collaboration with Phil Pearson), various publications, presentations, outreach and involvement in various innovation and knowledge sharing networks and more.

From time to time, funding for such initiatives is reviewed, and our office is no exception. Quite reasonably, the auditors would like to be able to show that some value was received for the money spent, that the work performed here had a positive impact on the wider community.

The impact of my work, and the work of our group as a whole, is hard to measure. Sure, there are the usual things - number of publications, number of talks, agreements signed, and so on, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Not even close. My weblog does not really show up on the tally sheet, for example. flies below the radar for most established metrics.

So they have asked me, "Do you have recorded bits where people say 'how great you are', 'you have had a great impact ...', 'we couldn't have done this without you...', either of a personal or NRC nature?" Such stories "have a tendency to really impact write-ups for funding cases."

Well, I suppose I do, but I don't know what they are. So I need your help.

If you could, please take a couple of minutes and send me an email documenting the impact I've had and that the NRC E-learning Group has had on your work and your projects. You don't need to go into detail (though you can if you want); just let us know what we did that helped you with what you're doing. We want stories from across Canada and from around the world.

Send it to me by email at Sebastien -dot- Paquet -at- nrc -dot- ca.

Your help here would really be appreciated. Even a couple of sentences would give us information we did not have. So, please take a couple of minutes, and let us know how we've helped. This will allow us to continue providing our research and services for free for a long time to come.

Many thanks.

Sébastien Paquet

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. [Seb's Open Research]
6:27:42 PM    

DrupalEd / Classroom Weblog Tools. Charlie Lowe has been working hard to create a Weblog set up for writing classes using Drupal.
Drupal, at its base installation, is a blank slate, a content management system that can be used to create a large variety of different websites. Thus, DrupalEd is preconfigured for creating a community site suitable for the online writing classroom, a highly configurable platform that better facilitates community interaction and collaboration than is possible with proprietary course management systems. Educators will find that this distribution, once installed, eliminates 95% of the work involved in setting up a Drupal site for a writing class, as well as containing some documentation materials which will reduce the learning curve for site administration.
Here at NECC, there has been lots of talk about the "best" tool for classroom Weblog application, and frankly, there haven't been a lot of good answers. One of the ironies is that as I walked around the exhibit hall yesterday, I must have seen over a dozen booths that were pitching various products that blogs can already do for a fraction of the cost (i.e online portfolio, course management software.) And then there were those few things that I found myself wishing were included in the current choices (i.e. calendaring.)

The killer app for edublogging isn't anywhere out there right now, and the general consensus among those of us who actually spend time thinking about these things is that the tools are changing so fast anyway that in a couple of years whatever works now will probably be obsolete. That being said, we need to put together a comparison of current software from an educator's perspective, i.e. how much, how hosted, security, preview posting, ease of setup, etc. I think Anne may have started on this, but is there any reason why we the community shouldn't start wiki-ing this stuff into an edublogpedia? [Weblogg-ed News]

6:26:21 PM    

Production for Use.

A reflective look at the forces affecting design -- style vs. usability. Many designers have been exploring the balance of these forces -- some vouch for usability and others vouch for style, but there's magic when a balance of both fits the real purpose of design. And to really know the balance, designers have to be holistic. This holistic approach is now widely referred to as experience design. Jesse James Garrett's map (PDF file) is a good reference point to experience design and makes me wonder if there could be a similar map for the elements for learning experience design or LXD.

6:25:20 PM    

User Experience Design.

Peter Morville takes on the task of defining user experience design using his honeycomb diagram, which presents the various facets of experience design: Useful, Usable, Desirable, Findable, Accessible, Credible and Valuable.

6:24:25 PM    

More on the e/merge 2004 - Blended Collaborative Learning Conference.

This virtual conference starts on the 28th of June. Among several other interesting presentations I'm particularly looking forward to one by Derrick Cogburn on "Going Global, Locally: Geographically Distributed Collaborative Learning Environments for Studies of Globalisation and the Information Society". The full announcement (recieved by e-mail from Tony Carr) below:

e/merge 2004 - Blended Collaborative Learning in Southern Africa ( is the first virtual conference on educational technology in the SADC region. e/merge 2004 will take place online from 28 June to 10 July 2004 and will include associated face to face events in some Southern African cities. Our 2004 conference focuses on collaborative learning involving a blend of online and face to face interaction in our regional context of unequal access to technology. e/merge 2004 is hosted by the Multimedia Education Group (MEG) of the University of Cape Town in partnership with the Tertiary Education Network (TENET).

Our virtual keynotes are from Professor Derrick Cogburn of Michigan University on "Going Global, Locally: Geographically Distributed Collaborative Learning Environments for Studies of Globalisation and the Information Society" and from Dr Gilly Salmon of the Open University on "Scenarios for the Future of e-learning". Come and learn about blended, collaborative learning with experts presenting from Australia, Botswana,
Mozambique, Norway, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States and participants from around the world.

Other highlights include presentations by Maria Beebe from the Centre for Bridging the Digital Divide, Dick N'gambi from University of Cape Town, Bronwyn Stuckey from University of Wollongong in Australia, Xavier Muianga from Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, Hentie Wilson from UNISA and Dr Andrew Morrison from Intermedia at University of Oslo.
There will also be workshops on online facilitation (Nancy White of Full Circle Associates) and Learning Objects (Brenda Mallinson and Greig Krull of Rhodes University) as well as a tour of synchronous environments (Robin Good of

There is something for everyone with an interest in educational technologies. The conference is scheduled in four phases starting with the Big Picture (digital divide, theoretically oriented and institutional papers) and Case Studies from Across the Region during the first week. During the second week we have the Learning Communities (Educator and Student communities) and Learning Environments phases. You can focus on specific phases of discussion or choose just the presentations that most interest you.

You can register online at There is a nominal registration fee that ranges from R100 for SADC based students and school teachers to R200 for other SADC participants and R320 (approx 50 USA Dollars ) for participants from outside the SADC.

e/merge 2004 is funded by TENET and MEG and sponsored by All Things in Moderation, Light Edge Technologies and Macromedia. e/merge 2004 is also supported by the Southern African Network for Educational Technology and eLearning (SANTEC) and the Western Cape Schools Network, Schoolnet SA and Schoolnet Africa.

By Martin Terre Blanche 18 June 2004 [Collaborative Learning]
6:23:05 PM    

BlogMatrix Jäger v1.2. BlogMatrix Jäger is now in it’s 1.2 release. Jäger is a “one-panel” RSS / blog reader that is designed to be “browser-centric”. The 1.2 release adds significant functionality about the 1.0 release, including RSS 2 enclosure support (which works very well with BitTorrents), “Watch Lists” to automatically mark interesting posts, “Filters” to automatically remove uninteresting entries or create feeds restricted to a few keywords, and a “Favorites” list, for users who have a LOT of sites to follow. By (Chris Pirillo). [Lockergnome's RSS & Atom Tips]
6:21:58 PM    

90% of all usability testing is useless. Lane Becker has written an article that suggests that 90% of all usability testing is useless. To quote: Ninety percent of all usability testing performed on Web sites is useless. This is not to say that it doesn't have a... [Column Two]
6:20:18 PM    

User experience honeycomb. Peter Morville has published his new user experience honeycomb, which provides a new perspective on the facets of user experience. To quote: When I broadened my interest from IA to UX, I found the need for a new diagram to... [Column Two]
6:19:14 PM    

Storytelling for leaders. Evelyn Clark has written an article on storytelling for leaders. To quote: Storytelling is a powerful communication tool that marketing and advertising professionals use very skillfully to promote their companies' products or services. But did you know that stories are... [Column Two]
6:17:49 PM    

DrupalEd and DrupalBlog Downloads and Demos. The DrupalEd and DrupalBlog distributions previously mentioned on cyberdash are now ready for download. Each is tar gzipped and contains a copy of the Configuration Guide as a pdf and text file.

Get the DrupalEd distribution. Visit the demo site (feel free to use the admin username and password listed in the installation section of the guide). Get the DrupalEd Configuration Guide pdf.

Get the DrupalBlog distribution. Visit the demo site (feel free to use the admin username and password listed in the installation section of the guide). Get the DrupalBlog Configuration Guide pdf. [cyberdash - cyberteacher cyberculture cyberlearner]
6:16:39 PM    

Introduction to Blackboard 6.1 Enterprise. This manual has step-by-step instructions to use the features of the Enterprise version of course management system Blackboard 6.1. [Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX) Newest]
6:15:18 PM    

Shortage of Instructional Designers Hits Off-Shore Vendors. The booming off-shore eLearning industry in India has a few unique problems of its own to grapple with. An acute shortage of trained Instructional Designers is one. Unlike the United States, there are no institutions offering courses in Instructional Technology... [The Learned Man!]
6:13:56 PM    
 Monday, June 14, 2004

Pick and choose might be key.

An important message lies in this Australian experiment -- mixing both information and instruction are essential for public use of e-learning material. I wrote about this strategy in 2001 under the title of Blending Information and Instruction. What I did then, and guess what is still relevant today, is to look at companies that were providing exemplar online support. I chose Macromedia, Adobe and Apple back then and analyzed their online support strategy. These companies offered both information in the form of knowledge bases and instruction in the form of small modules and full-blown courses. This is the same strategy the Austrade pilot has implemented with success.

10:55:29 PM    

More Wikis.

Heh... this had to happen... and good that it has...  looks like I totally missed SnipSnap, JSPWiki, Instiki, Socialtext (although looks like it could be pricey) and a whole heap of stuff that Oliver ruminated on yesterday including Zwiki (& version Personal Wiki), VoodooPad (& Vpwiki) and even something along the lines of SubEthaEdit... will have to develop this more I think.

[incorporated subversion]
10:51:49 AM    

What do I want in a wiki?.

Keeping on the wiki theme, I've had a 'mini' crack at this before but, um, I've changed my mind :o) and lordy, it's probably only fair to draw up some kind of 'criteria' for wiki-selection... before I do though can I make clear that I'm looking at Wikis for a specific purpose here:

-To use in a higher education context with groups ranging from 20 to 1000 students
-To use for tasks ranging from short collaborative projects to developing social dynamics to ongoing collaboration & communication
-To use with specific courses on an 'amateur' basis... no real $ floating around here, and no institutional objectives (as yet)

And that like it as I don't I have to play by the technical rules in place... i.e. if you don't run on PHP / MySQL then you don't run... so what we end up using may not be the best option, it may just be the best option that fits.

Oh yeah, and I'm prone to getting confused about technical stuff, making huge omissions and getting things plain wrong :o)

So, taken that things like simultaneous editing and version control are a given, what do we want in a wiki, in no particular order:

-Free / Affordable & PHP & MySQL based

-Something we can host ourselves (while having a service hosted by someone else is a great plus for the non-techie individual teacher - whom I would probably encourage to use a service hosted by someone else -, these projects will undoubtedly involve multiple tutors who will only really be happy if we have 'control' (in terms of backing up & supporting) the system)

-WYSIWYG editor or suitable formatting help (fact is, students and teachers unfamiliar with wikis will need this in order to feel that they can use the system effectively... this is not to say that you can't have good formatting help though, for example and ever present guide to how to format with wiki styles)

-Obvious page creator (WikiWords, while beautifully simple, just won't do it... there needs to be an icon or a 'Create New Page' link)

-Email / RSS enabled (People need to be able to subscribe to pages (not whole wikis!) and 'watch them' - as I'm not doing this with a bunch o' bloggers this needs to be available primarily as email updates when things are changed... additionally RSS would be good, but please not instead of!)

-Easy Attachments, Images & File Sharing (This has got to be as easy as attaching a document to an email or putting an image in a Word document)

-Security Settings (Need to be able to lock some pages and allow different types of access)

-Comments Feature (Need to be able to comment on these pages... email updates on these are a must too!)

-That Personal Touch (At its most simple users need to be able to log in, have their own page and give themselves a 'signature' so that when they edit people can see who they are and they can easily track what the have done)

-Flexibility of Design (It needs to be able to be easily adaptable to it's environment... for example to be able to be CSSed as appropriate)

Does anybody think I'm being unreasonable here or have missed anything key? I'm going to ponder it for a while and then try to draw up a kinda comparison chart (with comments) for all the wikis that've come up.

[incorporated subversion]
10:48:24 AM    

Back to patterns. Denham Grey has written an blog entry on using patterns as part of knowledge management. To quote: Need to capture experience and expertise?, introduce new ideas into your organization?, want a template to document rationale and good practice?, wish to... [Column Two]
8:57:14 AM    

The educated blogger: Using weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom - David Huffaker, First Monday. This paper explores the role of weblogs or "blogs" in classroom settings. Blogs, which resemble personal journals or diaries and provide an online venue where self–expression and creativity is encouraged and online communities are built, provide an exc [Online Learning Update]
8:56:19 AM    
 Sunday, June 13, 2004

Employers jumping on e-learning bandwagon - VIRGINIA GALT, Globe and Mail. For software company president Mike Gardner, one of the most enjoyable aspects of e-learning is the informal brainstorming that goes on around the virtual water cooler. "All of us religiously read the water cooler," said Mr. Gardner, who is earning his [Online Learning Update]
12:52:23 PM    

Minor Updates to DrupalEd/Drupal Blog Configuration Guides. HubLog gave me a little feedback on installing DrupalEd after having a positive experience with the installation and configuration. The DrupalEd/DrupalBlog Configuration Guides have been updated to reflect HubLog's suggestions. [cyberdash - cyberteacher cyberculture cyberlearner]
12:51:01 PM    

Coworking Institute.

Coworking Institute...a site on collaboration, tools, best practices, and social processes. The links section offers detailed exploration of elearning, virtual communities, coworking, etc. Good resource site.

12:50:19 PM    


James Farmer is on a wiki run: What do I want in a wiki?, choosing a wiki, and more wikis. Good resources to bookmark.

12:49:34 PM    

Bloglines Citations Tool. I love this! Sebastien Paquet has created a toolbar link that when you click on it brings up all of the Bloglines citations about that particular page. As Lilia has shown, it seems to work better than Technorati links and other such tools. Now, if there was just a way to add that functionality to the end of each post, right next to the Trackback link... [Weblogg-ed News]
12:48:48 PM    

Weblog networks as social ecosystems.

Images explaning weblog ecosystem: weblogs as identities, networking, peer-filtering and recommendation, distributed conversations and community participationComing Sunday I'm joining CPsquare open house meeting in Amsterdam. Next to an opportunity of meeting great people and learning about CPsquare I'm bringing my interests in communities (see posts on communities to get an impression :) Of course, my main interest is on social ecosystems that emerge around weblogs and their dynamics.

My experience shows that it's difficult to explain to people new to weblogs that (in some cases :) weblogs are more than a bunch of linked egocentric websites. This time I'll try to use pictures. I know this is powerfull: my collaboration with Aldo de Moor on weblog conversations has started from one of these images ;)

My main points:

1. Weblogs are online identities of their authors: by reading a weblog we learn about and connect with another person

2. Networking. By reading a weblog a reader gets introduced to a blog author network

3. Weblog networkds serve as peer-filtering and recommendation engines: they help interesting ideas travel faster

4. Distributed conversations. Weblog conversations do exist, but they are distributed, difficult to track and different from other technology-mediated conversations

5. Connecting with community. By connecting with several weblogs belonging to a dense weblog network new blogger connects with a community.

Further reading:

Earlier ideas of 1-4 are described in section 2.2 of Learning webs: Learning in weblog networks (more)

A bit more elaboration on weblogs for relation building - in section 4.3 of Discovering the iceberg of knowledge work: A weblog case (more)

More on weblog conversations: An argumentation analysis of weblog conversations and posts on weblog conversations

My thinking about weblog networks as communities is still in progress, so Communities, shared spaces and weblog reading is the closest explanation so far. For a background start from Blogs and CoPs: Can blogging replace communities of practice? by Martin Dugage

And some other posts on weblog ecosystem :)

Disclaimer: I haven't invented all of it myself; these ideas have grown from discussions in my weblog ecosystem and work of other weblog researchers. Check links in posts and references in papers :)

This post also appears on channel weblog research

12:47:02 PM    

Following weblog conversations.

Some ideas for the paper: on how people follow weblog conversations.

There is a substantial difference between abilities to follow a conversation between its participants and outsiders, as well as between following unfolding, real-time conversation and returning to it back after a period of time.

When the conversation unfolds its participants can use numerous tools to find out who commented to their weblog. Comments in weblog itself could be send by e-mail and/or shown in "recent comments" section on weblog homepage. Links from other weblogs could be found via trackbacks, referrer logs, Technorati (or other tracking services), which most of weblog authors will check regularly. In many cases participants of a conversation are connected via their own subscriptions, (e.g. they are likely to read weblogs of other participants), so they just find posts in their RSS readers. (Sidenote: I guess that weblog conversations are more frequent in existing network of weblogs connected via regular reading. Would be nice to check...)

Outsiders have fewer opportunities to follow a conversation: usually they cannot see referrer logs or receive e-mail notifications about comments on someone else's weblog (even if it will be possible there are not many people who want to follow all links/comments to a weblog, and tools for selecting specific posts to follow are not there yet). They can follow links to earlier posts and trackbacks and use tracking services as well, but the latter requires extra clicks. They can also observe the conversation in their news aggregators, but they are likely to miss comments and trackbacks, as those are not part of RSS feeds in most cases (and most of "local" conversations in comments develop after regular reader was there).

Following a real-time weblog conversation is a challenge by itself: one needs to combine several tools to find out all the leads. Following a conversation after some time is even more difficult. Usually referrer logs and many tracking services provide only newer links and do not keep archives. News aggregators do not help much as well as they show recent updates. So the only thing that is left for someone who wants to trace a conversation which is a few month old is to rely on trackbacks or hope that posts were indexed by Bloglines or Blogdex.

See also: Weblog conversations are flows in a river delta (thinking aloud about different degrees of visibility of arguments in a weblog conversation) 

12:45:02 PM    

Weblogs as a conversational tool.

Another piece of thinking aloud for the paper (triggered by Denham's comment:)

Weblogs make a very funny conversational tool:

Bloggers say they write for themselves, but they also care about their audience. Or, they write for an audience without really knowing for sure if there someone reading. In other words, they write for a change to be read.

Weblogs can provide immediacy of instant messaging (e.g. sometimes people comment on your post within minutes), but usually communication is asynchronous. (Sidenote. Would be interesting to study the timeframe of links/comments to a post: earliest comment time, longest comment time, average. Something like: "most of comments to a post are written within 1-15 days interval, so if you really want a feedback to your idea and waiting for a two weeks already, rephrase it and post again" ;)

Weblog conversations can be very intensive and develop fast much like mailing list or forum discussion (see the paper for an example).

Unlike mailing lists or forums, which require membership for participation, weblogs are open for everyone to comment. But not all commenters are equal: those with their own weblogs can make "global" contribution and engage their own audience in a discussion, but "blogless" people have to comment in the original weblog, where comments are secondary. (Of course, everyone can use e-mail to comment, but it's another story :)

Weblog conversations are public, but they are still hidden in a sense: it's too difficult to find all the pieces and it's even more difficult to get an overview (e.g. comparing to forum discussion). I would say that weblog conversations are like books in the library: only well-trained people can find them ;)

(One more sidenote: Don't know why I'm getting into writing mode when I should be sleeping. Hope I will not be sleepy in the morning ;)

12:44:02 PM    

The Big Picture on ROI. Capitalworks' Jeff Kelley addressed this morning's meeting of the Learning Economics Group on the topic of Dimensions, Dynamics and Drivers of Learning: Optimizing Learning Value for Capital Effects. If you really want to get to Level 4 at the highest level, Jeff's your man. Lucky... [Internet Time Blog]
12:42:36 PM    

Cognitive Mapping. Bob Horn, inventor of Information Mapping, visualized and described hypertext long before the Web was invented. His "maps" of connections and thoughts explain concepts better than any 10,000 words, often nearly instantaneously. Many a workshop or conference on strategy or a reorganization or a new... [Internet Time Blog]
12:30:39 PM    

Ur-blogging. Here's a baker's dozen of interesting things. I offer them up in hopes that you'll reciprocate. eCornell Reference Blog IBM Research Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp Chris Allen's Life with Alacrity, home of the awesome EditThisPagePHP AllLearn Positive Psychology Center Time... [Internet Time Blog]
12:29:19 PM    

Who Knows?. Effectiveness CLO magazine June 2004 - Jay Cross What would you think of an assembly line where workers didn’t know where to find the parts they were supposed to attach? Absurd, you say. Heads would roll. Yet for knowledge workers, this is routine. Consider... [Internet Time Blog]
12:24:44 PM    

Embracing Best Practice.

D. Keith Robinson is Sick of Web Standards, and to a certain extent, so am I. Like Keith, I'm not sick of standards themselves; I've been using them for over two years now and couldn't conceive of developing without them. Unlike Keith, I'm not tired of advocating them - but I thoroughly believe that it's time to extend the discussion.

As web developers and designers, we face an abundance of challenges. Sites must be fast, accessible, usable, well designed, findable and search engine friendly, with smart URLs, well managed communities and maybe even a sense of humour. Most of us find ourselves taking on the role of copy editors, programmers, designers, information architects, and much, much more. In addition, we frequently run in to problems that have no correct answer (font sizing is a classic example). Trade-offs have become a way of life.

It's time to extend the discussion. Web standards are a small but vital part of a larger solution, something I like to think of as web development best practice. Let's face it: web standards are boring! Focusing discussions on them is like taking cooking lessons from a chef who only ever talks about food safety; sure they're important, but there's so much more involved in creating a decent meal.

There are plenty of benefits of re-framing web standards in the larger context of best practice. Firstly, discussions get a lot more interesting - as I've just demonstrated, there are enough facets to creating effective sites to keep us talking for years to come. Secondly, wrapping web standards in the larger context of industry best practices makes them a much easier pill to swallow. "Our site doesn't validate" is a turn-off. "Let's follow industry best practice" is far more appealing.

As a community, we need to work together to discover the best ways of doing things. We've discovered web standards: let's move forward to the other pieces of the puzzle.

[Simon Willison's Weblog]
12:16:41 PM    

The link to the Contemporary Practice site is not working as of 6/13. Gives me an error message as if the URL is wrong. This happens whether going from Michelle's links or from Jim's. Try again Monday.

Showcasing Effective practices. I ran across this again via Jim Farmers weblog (while on a wiki chase) Stories of Contemporary Practice at Deakin - 2003 Online Teaching & Learning Fellows. I really like the format of these case studies.. they provide a synopsis of the work, showcase the faculty member, and link to asssociated resources. This is close to the model we're looking... [Michelle's Online Learning Freakout Party Zone]

12:12:47 PM    
 Thursday, June 10, 2004

Reusable Learning site from NSDL/Eduworks.

Based on a reference in a recent intro to learning objects I went back to a site I thought I new, but instead found this newly developed resource that the Eduworks folks produced for the NSDL. It is really worth spending some time on, for both newbies and old hands alike. The section on "Fostering Reusability in the NSDL" is very helpful, and the Reusability Framework is, I think, top notch and I would be surprised if I didn't start to see it show up more as a canonical reference. - SWL

8:22:30 AM    

Journals Update.

I'm having afew issues with my new Wiki system, TikiWiki, but here's where the list of freely available scholarly (I think) higher-ed ed tech journals will go.

Big thanks to Martin and Chris for the pointers :o)

Here's the updated list:

[incorporated subversion]
8:21:28 AM    

The Wide World of Wiki: Choosing a wiki for an element of a fully online undergraduate course.

Following up on my recent wiki investigations I thought I'd do a run down of the wikis I've looked at, thought about and played with and my 'conclusions' at this stage. Probably worth noting before starting is that there really is no 'best' solution... my thoughts are very much influenced by my personal preferences and pedagogy, I have no rubric (nor would I like any ;o) and I will probably change my mind down the track... so that said, here goes:

Task: Choose a wiki system to use with a large, fully-online, undergraduate cohort studying computer science. The group is already supported by a fully featured CMS (WebCT Vista), however, this does not include the functionality for collaborative editing and creation of documents or, as a longer term project, the development of an organic 'virtual-organization' which can be used as a context for project management and IT Practice related tasks and which can develop with use.

The Contenders: I figured there needs to be some sort of structure here so I'm adopting what I used before in the 'Hosted by someone else / Hosted by us' approach. I've also not featured CourseForum, Confluence or any other major vendors as, well, nobody will give us the money... also given that we are working with a current CMS it doesn't make a whole heap of sense to get another one (however much it needles you ;o)

Hosted by someone else: appears too good to be true, it's got all the funky stuff from locking pages to email notification of changes of pages, to different levels of security for pages, user maintenance (extending invitations, changing accesses) and easy upload. It even conveys these by an icon system. will even host a ton of different projects for you giving you 50MB to play around with! The only problem is that it is too good to be true I cannot emphasize enough the fact that I was unable to access material for up to a week and that since then I have heard other stories of this. Whatever you do... don' risk it! However, Swiki does have an 'install yourself' version... which is probably worth a shot as it has all of the above but presumably no hosting issues.

editme editme is ace... it gets round the problems with 'Wiki meets everyday person... everyday person looks confused, shakes head and walks away' problem by providing a snappy WYSIWYG editor and a menu button called 'New' for a new page (you don't know how cool that is!) It has a nice facility for email notification (although not as simple and Swiki... and it'll send notification for the entire site rather than a particular page). The only teeny-weeny issue is that it costs (although $5 a month isn't something you should fret about too much) and, as they host it, you have limited 'control'. I'd recommend this to teachers with small classes wanting to use a Wiki though, not fir us but full of potential!

TeachingWiki TeachingWiki is a lovely idea (along the same lines of School Blogs) and full kudos to the people behind this project which aims to provide teachers with Wiki facilities to support their teaching. It's powered by OpenWiki (see comments below for this).. the problem with using this hosted service is that, well, there's no individual accounts, no 'privacy' or 'unity' of space and no real 'control'. This is a great place to play around, and if you're looking for something that doesn't on you for something small then this is a good place to start!

Hosted by us:

MediaWiki MediaWiki is the Wiki used for Wikipedia which is a good start! It's got a nice text editor thingy with a good insert image tool, no email or xml :o(, but does allow users to 'watch this page' through MediaWiki. Especially neat is the way it encourages logging in (but doesn't require it) and adds extra stuff (signatures, page watches, preferences, 'user talk page' [which is nice!] for your keystrokes]. It doesn't allow for any 'administrative' control (in terms of locking pages etc.) but you could argue that if you had that is kinda against the nature of it all... and it's easy enough to 'rollback' to previous versions if things go wrong. This has the added advantage of a. being current and in development b. having worked well with large groups of people before. Installation is just MySQL and PHP... so that's a breeze too.

MoinMoin MoinMoin is 'nice an easy' (to quote them!) It doesn't have a text editor (or much clear formatting help) but it does have some neat user options...not least being the ability to subscribe to a particular page for email updates (with accompanying little email icon :o) It doesn't have a 'comment on this page' facility (which quite a few of the others have) but does have a nice 'n easy attach file thingy. I like MoinMoin... but it feels a bit 'wiki raw' and doesn't have the things (like xml) which makes me excited about OpenWiki. It's also 'Python Powered' which means that, again, my hosting service and the University won't support it... sigh.

PHPWiki PHPWiki is a simple, straightforward wiki... not a bad place to start.. especially if you're interested in what wikis are, how they work or are a wiki purist.

WakkaWiki This is probably because I can't get my head around a lot of the admin in other wikis but the nice things about WakaWiki is that it looks and feels very very very customizable! It's also got a nice comments feature and a lovely way of tracking users by IP addy if you don't sign in. Nothing on the editing front though and not a hint of email but it does have xml :o)  It's got access controls which are pretty cool and is PHP / MySQL which is also good. Apparently it will also "Support multiple sites running off the same Wakka installation". As the page says it's still a baba and would need a lot of things on the text editing / uploads / explanation / icon / user features front before I'd take it on with a bunch of undergrads but it's got a heck of a lot of potential!

TikiWiki Now... Tiki is something special, very special, you can have your wiki, some blogs, a discussion forum, a chat room, a shoutbox... oh and there's also content management, polling, multiple stylesheet options as they say "Your quest for a full-featured CMS/Groupware has ended!" You pay for it in MB (my installation is about 37MB... to start with) but wow... it does everything and stuff you didn't know you wanted to do. It's also got a strong community... is very current... is PHP / MySQL based and ... well, it's rather good. There is a drawback though... it's too good. You couldn't just sit down a bunch of teachers and say 'hey, use this'... they'd be very scared.... you could give them simple wiki spaces to use but the extra functionality is just around the corner waiting to scare them (and if they can't play / change / explore then they can't without, well, getting scared). Getting people to use Tiki, I imagine, is like getting people to use WebCT or Blackboard... it's a cultural thing... a developing thing... a 'commitment' thing. I want to use it but don't know if I'd inflict it on others until I was going to say 'hey.... here's your new 'everything'... if you know what I mean... but I am tempted (an could well be wrong!)

PMWiki PMWiki is nice but there's no simple 'User Preferces'... it says it has email notifications, page protection and alike but I'm confused as to where these are or how I could set them up. I guess it's a bit like PHPWiki but a bit more dressed up (keeping to WikiPhilosophy)... but from my perspective suffers from the same problems. It's got a nice cookbook thing for stuff you can do with it though... not for the non-geek like me though :o(

Friki is nice, it's especially nice that it's being developed by Frank Carver who feels like he's just round the corner :O) It's pure wiki simple and, more excitingly "a pure-Java web application which can be installed as simply as dropping "friki.war" into any modern servlet container or Java application server." Which appeals to me! Not really in the feature game though... which will make some people happy... and some people less so.

OpenWiki Has the instant appeal of XML feeds, which, together with a some nifty 'help' pop-ups for formatting etc. at the top of an edit page make this a serious contender. It doesn't have an email update facility (which is a problem as, let's face it, 0.001% of the world knows how to aggregate XML / RSS etc.) and it's 'page controls' are, well, not there. The feel I get about this is that it's a bit of a geeks / group-of-geeks dream but wouldn't work that well with a wider audience / bunch of newbies. It's also Windows installation which means that it's a no-go for my web-host, organization and... well, basically I'll need to become a geek before I can use it :o)

So... what's the final conclusion?

Well, first up, because this is an 'institutional thing' and people want control... all of the ones hosted by other people are out of the window, so byebye editme,, editme and Teaching Wiki... and also Friki (I think).

Secondly, we can only do PHP & MySQL so ta ra Swiki (install yourself), MoinMoin and OpenWiki.

I'm a feature-feeder... not junkie, just needer :o) So ta ra PHPWiki and WakaWiki for the moment.

Which leaves MediaWiki, TikiWiki & PMWiki. Personally, I'm going to use TikiWiki as my online CMS... much as I'd like the 'simplicity' of OpenWiki or PMWiki I find myself just carving features and functionality. I think Tiki will meet many of my needs... we shall see. However, I wouldn't, at this stage, force it on anyone else who wasn't ready to go the whole hog... certainly not x tutors and 500 undergrads. If I could find a working good example of PMWiki doing email updates then I'd be tempted towards it but even then... if it's going to be used in specific projects over short spaces of time (no 'ad hoc' stuff... just a one or two week exercise) I think the features that MediaWiki offers in terms of text editing and clarity of use (to a non-technical user) seem to keep it up there. Also, MediaWiki is being used by a very large group of not necessarily tech-savvy users in Wikipedia, and in that used very successfully... and so, for this trial, MediaWiki it is... I'll report back :o)

[incorporated subversion]
8:19:20 AM    

Coming to a Wiki Near You....

No, it is not Potted Meat Food Product, just down the shelf...

Wikis: The Next Frontier for Spammers? Wiki maintainers can expect an increase in spam after a webmaster newsletter highlighted the effectiveness of Wiki spam in raising a site's Google ranking. WebProNews described how a webmaster improved his rank in a search engine optimization (SEO) contest using links in Wiki "sandboxes" - pages where users are urged to test drive the format and learn how to use it.

All kinds of body enhancement products, hormones, elongation devices, chemicals, mortgage deals, ebay tips-- all now veering for your wikis!

Head for the hills!

8:17:31 AM    

With open systems, comes -- "gasp" -- process. The Small Pieces free-for-all is slowly taking shape. So far, much of the discussion has been framed around process issues (as noted by Alan and D’Arcy, among others), but that’s cool — participants are feeling their way in an open structure, one that we intentionally left ill-defined. I’ve gotten emails from a couple of very sophisticated web-types requesting clarification, so... [Object Learning]
8:16:22 AM    

The vanishing IT department. Karl Nelson commented on my recent column and follow-up blog post about outsourcing basic IT services. Karl pointed to "The Vanishing IT Department," an interesting read from Jerry Gregoire, the former CIO of Dell and Pepsico. (Some of Jerry Gregoire's other writing is here and there's an older piece about him here.) A brief excerpt:

There are three immutable and unpleasant truths about information technology staffing and retention that make outsourcing the dodge of choice for the incompetent and lazy: 1. Turnover is expensive; 2. Retention rate is the most accurate indicator of leadership quality; and 3. Recruiting is the hardest job an IT manager has.

Gregoire closes by saying:

So, what kind of IT organization do you aspire to have? If you yearn for adequate results on vanilla systems in pursuit of dial-tone regularity, forget about talent shortages and go find yourself a good contract lawyer. If, on the other hand, you still believe IT can make a competitive difference and that even the more mundane tasks can be a channel of competitive advantage given a little creative effort, then developing and retaining a professional organization should be your number-one goal. If it is, I thank you and wish you the very best.

I think this is too strongly worded. In my opinion, the job of the CTO or CIO is more generally to recognize top talent and try to leverage it for the benefit of their organizations. Sometimes that talent sits outside of your own organization within an outsourcer (and without a doubt, turnover with outsourcers is expensive just like people turnover). No IT organization of any size can maintain the highest level of expertise in everything. I also think that some "mundane tasks" will never make a competitive difference no matter how much "creative effort" is put behind them. Why would you ever want to do the IT behind payroll, for example, when you can outsource to companies like ADP? In the end, I think it's all about picking your outsourcing vs. insourcing battles. Outsourcing nothing seems as much an ill-informed strategy as outsourcing everything. There's a balance somewhere in between. [Chad Dickerson]

8:14:55 AM    

This notice went out to our faculty today:After a ....

This notice went out to our faculty today:

After a year and a half of extensive review and evaluation of course management systems, the project's Executive Sponsors unanimously approved the move from WebCT to Desire2Learn, pending budget approval. Dozens of faculty and staff, representing most colleges and campuses of The Ohio State University, were involved in the rigorous selection process. Evaluators were impressed with Desire2Learn's ease of use, intuitive interface, and the functionality and features it provides. Among these is a learning object repository that will allow faculty to import and export educational content to be shared across course sections or even departments. In addition, Desire2Learn will enable more seamless integration with other campus systems, including those of the library and Registrar's office so that students and faculty can access a wide array of resources and tools.

The new system will be introduced gradually to minimize inconvenience to faculty. We are working to assure that:
1) most of the material in current class web sites will be converted into the new system for faculty;
2) faculty and staff will be provided ample training opportunities, robust documentation, and extensive support to ease the transition;
3) WebCT will continue to be an option for existing users through at least the end of Spring 2005. Almost everyone will still be using WebCT for Autumn 2004.

More details and definitive timelines for implementation, training, system availability and conversion of current sites into the new system will be announced in the months ahead. Once funding is approved, we will initiate a weekly update to keep the campuses informed.

So the big asterisk is that it all hinges on $$$. Funding could still fall through and we would be "up a creek" so to speak. But otherwise, we're starting a major, major project of converting over 2000 faculty to a new system.

It's a fantastic opportunity, but with such opportunities for failure as well as success. We are a small central unit in a decentralized environment. I am excited. I am wary. Good fun.

8:13:15 AM    
 Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Turning the Tide on Ugly Wikis.

Wikis are the buzz. Like Amy Gahran (Learning with (and from) Wiki), I have been quietly 'intrigued" by wikis, while trying to get past the mind-bending thought of creating a web site that anyone, anywhere can change on you. And I agree completely with Amy's issue:

In my opinion , the biggest stumbling block with wikis is that most of them have absolutely terrible user interfaces. They expose the user to far too much of the software's inner workings. (For example, see this wiki's category list.) They're not very intuitive or usable. And they're almost exclusively text-based, not very visual. Yes, you can get used to them without too much difficulty, but most non-geeks would have to push past considerable initial revulsion and awkwardness to get to that point. That's a tall order.

Yup, wikis work great, but they are generally U-G-L-Y and outside of us geeks, hard to navigate (raise your hand if you know what "diff" means). It is no great mystery- the software is generally written to be as small as possible, usually in obfuscated perl, and by folks like actually enjoying curling up to read a good Unix manual.

read on...

5:13:54 PM    

List of Enterprise Content Management Systems. Erik M. Hartman has put out a call to vendors to add themselves on the Hartman Communicatie list of Enterprise Content Management Systems. To quote: Hartman Communicatie has improved its overview of content management systems. At this overview visitors can... [Column Two]
12:06:42 PM    

New KM blog: Dubbings and Diversions by Jeremy Aarons.

One more addition to your KM bloggers list: Jeremy Aarons with Dubbings and Diversions

Jeremy is a philosopher in KM land, traveller, juggler and he is likely to take you for an adventure (I met him at OKLC in Innsbruck and we shared not only fun of talking about knowledge work research, but also the thrill of paragliding from 2000m :)

You can start from Jeremy's thinking on KM research (for example, a series on task-based KM: one, two and three).

12:05:44 PM    

Communities, shared spaces and weblog reading.

To start with - a piece from my comments to Blogs and CoPs: Can blogging replace communities of practice? (scroll to find)

For me (please forgive simplification) the essence of a community is in a sense of belonging and practices that its members share. I can understand that it's hard to believe looking at loosely-coupled weblogs "out there" that their authors belong to a community, but I can not discard my own feeling of "belonging" as well as indications of many other bloggers saying that weblogs help to build relations and shared understanding and to engage into reflective conversations.

I've been thinking on it for a while and trying to articulate my ideas about community clue in case of weblogs to a few people in Nürnberg and Lisbon... One more attempt.

Elmine Wijnia talks about weblogs as communication hub (also here) to find others and connect with them. I think weblogs do a bit more - they provide shared thinking space. I know that it's hard to believe that many individual weblogs, even linked, can provide a shared space, but it feels like that (and I tend to trust my feelings :)))

For me the closest metaphor is a city, a shared living space. Usually we don't know many others in our neighbourhood, but we walk on the same streets every day, see the same familiar strangers, get wet under the same rain, miss the same bus... We have a lot of context to share and meeting each other abroad we will connect easily. Living in a same city creates a sense of belonging and a sense of community...

Weblogs do as well. Of course, not for everyone (as in a city, you may not feel it). I was thinking what creates such shared context in case of weblogs. I guess it's weblog reading.

I'm thinking about my own weblog ecosystem. We don't read same weblogs, but they are interconnected, so at the end we get exposed to similar names, events, ideas, books. For example, once you get into KM blogging, you will quickly learn about wikis, join Orkut or find out who Dave Pollard is. Our experiences of blogging are never the same, like experiences of living on different streets, but in some cases they overlap enough to create a feeling of sharing the same space.

I think that those "some cases" of overlapping weblog experiences have to do with several things: density of a network, speed of ideas travelling around and time that one devotes to reading weblogs of others. The last one is important: getting to know your community takes time and you will never connect with a city when you jump in and out of a tourist bus.

I'm getting more and more convinced that when introducing someone to blogging the most important thing is to help newcomer to start feeling rhythms of blogging cities: getting a map for an orientation, learning basic terms to find a way around, finding good guides (blogs to start reading), taking time to explore and soak...

I'm playing with a "city" metaphor to explain blogging... I'm thinking of RSS as public transport lines - they take you faster where you have to be, but you miss little secrets on a way. And about risks of generalising in weblog research when one studies only specific communities (think of aliens making their opinions about humans based on their study of New York ;)

I guess it's time to dive a bit deeper into research on cities (thinking of Emergence on self-organisation of cities, William H. Whyte’s theory of triangulation, and may be even connecting with A city is not a tree).

So, may be at the end we can find out if and when weblogs can turn into a knowledge spaces...

This post also appears on channel BlogWalk

12:04:28 PM    

New search service creates 'Google for scholars' - Cara Branigan, eSchool News. Internet searches might become faster and more fruitful for students, scholars, and other academics as early as this year, thanks to a pilot program being developed as a free service spearheaded by Google, the world's leading internet search engine. T [Online Learning Update]
12:02:54 PM    

Reed Elsevier allows academics free web access - Richard Wray, the Guardian. Reed Elsevier is allowing academics to put papers that have been accepted for publication in its print and online journals on to the internet, breaking with years of tradition and reigniting the debate over open access to academic thinking. Until now t [Online Learning Update]
12:01:26 PM    

Concept Maps Discover Digital Repositories: A Look at Tufts VUE - Phillip D. Long, Syllabus. Teaching in a digital environment has brought the traditional hierarchical classroom structure to the online world. A range of tools has emerged to help faculty transfer not only their course materials, but also their course structure for teaching onto [Online Learning Update]
11:58:22 AM    

Knowledge Flow.

For all the effort given to the transportation of physical things...we really don't have much of a clue on how knowledge flows in an apparent knowledge economy. Knowledge flow analysis (or some derivative of the concept) is quickly becoming a strategic consideration for corporations. Knowledge flows much like water - not where you want it to...but rather where the conditions are right for natural flow and dispersion (how can you tell I'm trying to grow a $!?# lawn?). As this article states, organization charts do not accurately reveal how information flows. "Whether as a manager presiding over a department or as a member embedded within one, we are all dramatically affected by information flow and webs of relationships within social networks. These networks often are not depicted on any formal chart..."

11:57:09 AM    

elearning dashboard.

Kevin Kruse has put together an elearning dashboard. He lists elearning news, stock prices, upcoming events and blogs. Stop by and have a look...

11:56:10 AM    

RSS: Grassroots Support Leads to Mass Appeal.

Stephen Downes is repositioning himself from edu-tech guru to RSS missionary :)...RSS: Grassroots Support Leads to Mass Appeal: "To be sure, RSS will evolve rapidly over the next few years. It’s poised to be exposed to a great deal of rhetoric, and is on the verge of being widely commercialized, with the inevitable cycle of hype and disappointment that will follow. That said, RSS is a technology with a strong future, strong because of its simplicity, flexibility, and utility."

11:54:53 AM    

How to use weblogs to create engaging learning experiences.

How to use weblogs to create engaging learning experiences: "Apart from being very easy to use, I feel that there are three key attributes that have contributed to its success: 1) personal point of view, 2) chronological nature and 3) byte-sized posts. Together, these three attributes help create experiences that are both engaging and memorable."

11:53:40 AM    

SVG WikiWhiteboard - new code. I finally made a start on emptying my spam folder, unfortunately there were quite a few false positives. These included a mail from a Chinese developer, Xia Wei, who had done some work on the code for Wiki Whiteboard. I’ve not had chance to have a proper look (it does ... [Raw]
11:52:21 AM