Monday, 22 December 2008

The Christmas wave out: adding audio to blogposts

Just before I am zooming off into my (much longed for) Christmas holiday, just a post about an easy to install widget I added to my blog.

It is just a small addition, but it makes all the blogposts more accessible. I have added the free (you have to sign in though) audio widget from odiogo. This widget allows visitors to click on the audio version of any blogpost. Odiogo uses text-to-speech software to convert your posts into an audio format. It was amazingly easy to install (click on the URL, go down in the window and click on 'free sign up' in the blogger part of the window, enter your blog and email, and here you go).

For next year I have a plan, so hope is born. Yes! I will be working on the realization of this eLearning plan during the Christmas holiday (ooohh, the pleasure and inspiration!).

I hope you all have a GREAT end of the year and that you will have inspiring ideas, eLearning inspiration and A LOT of FUN! A quick image of my hometown (Gent) and happy wishes to all.

Monday, 15 December 2008

WiZiQ session about three mobile cases

Last Friday 12 December 2008 at 4:00 PM (GMT + 1) I gave a presentation in collaboration with the renowned International Training Centre (ITC) in Turin, Italy. If you are interested the online session I gave on three mobile cases in development and developed at ITM can be viewed here.

In order to view it, you need to make yourself a member of WiZiQ (= free) and you need to sign in to WiZiQ in order to get permission to view the session. The session allows you to hear what was said and which questions were raised.

After you have registered (or if you are already a member) surf to this link and click on 'view recording'.

If you are interested in the powerpoint, but you do not feel like going through the session (60 minutes), then you can just look at the powerpoint I used for this presentation. If you want to you can also download it and test out all the links that are mentioned on it. The presentation is an updated version of a previous one with more relevant links.

During the session I mention other mobile resources that I blogged about in the past, you can find all the posts here.

The session went well, but I always find it a pity that I cannot immediately show the things I talk about. Sometimes the questions are related to not having seen the mobile methods that I describe or not having felt the accessibility (or lack of) of mobile courses. I should think about bridging this gap in a future session.

Mobile ways to teach business and medical skills, plus a look at the changing face of e-learning…

During the last Online Educa Berlin, podcasts were recorded all through the conference. In one of them you can hear a bit of what we (= the eLearning team) does at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium. But what is really interesting to hear is the podcast part of Michael Wesch.

This is the link to the mp3-version (19 min in total). For the complete podcast with time, click here.

The podcast is the third and final part of Thursday’s coverage from ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2008 where we meet with more of the contributors to the conference and discuss their topics in more detail.

1 - Mathew Constantine, IE Business School (0m.30s) talks about using mobile phones to deliver market simulations and learning nuggets to students on business courses.

2 - Inge de Waard, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium (6m.01) shows us how mobiles are being used to spread health information as part of a blended offering in the developing world.

3 - Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Social Anthropology at Kansas State University, US (10m.02s) shares his insights and thoughts on the future of education, particularly focussing on a global perspective.

Friday, 12 December 2008

a quicky post: MIT mobile web

The Open Course ware that MIT has been delivering for years is renowned. Last month they launched there mobile web.

If you have not tried it yet, visit the mobile site.

For some background information on their framework:
Developing the MIT Mobile Web
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: source open)

Thursday, 11 December 2008

a Dutch audio learning innovation that blew my mind: Vociz

(no longer) Try out Vociz!

This is one great invention coming from Erwin De Vries, put to my attention by the ever great blogger Willem Karssenberg, aka trendmatcher (in Dutch). Erwin teaches German at the Willem Lodewijk Gymnasium in Groningen. He has developed a Voicemailboard which allows everyone with flash enabled computers to post mp3-messages in a really easy fashion (= no installation, just push record, play back to ensure and send to yourself and the voicerecord keeper to add it to all of the recordings).

Although the layout of this embeded feature is in Dutch, I heard that Erwin has offered Vociz to students in Denmark and Greece also. So if you are interested, do not hesitate and contact him.

Yes, you do have voicethread, but just give this application a try. It is really incredibly user-friendly and immediate. You can feel it is developed by a teacher. It enables students to exchange audio comments asynchronously without the hassle of downloading, installing, registering. Really great.

Just imagine a couple of students that need to do some language exercises (oral exercises). Then you simply implement this in their learning environment and off they go. I should send this to the Basque learning innovator Antoine Bidegain in France... he is always looking for easy access language tools.

At this moment Vociz is still in Dutch, but you can try it out by recording something right now (please do, the ease will astound you I am sure).

How to use it:
  • click on Vociz embed;
  • (it might be that a java pop-up appears);
  • click on the upper tab 'recorder';
  • start recording with a microphone;
  • fill in your email address;
  • click the 'vociz it!' button.
But be aware, you only have 30 seconds!

I was thrilled by this :-)

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Join the live Wiziq session on 3 mobile cases in low resource settings with discussion

This Friday 12 December 2008 at 4:00 PM (GMT + 1) I will be giving a presentation in collaboration with the International Training Centre (ITC) in Turin, Italy.

This virtual classroom session
is part of the Lifelong eLearning session that the International Training Centre of Turin, Italy organises. The session will focus on three mobile cases that were developed (or are in development) at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp, Belgium.

I will try to keep the presentation of the cases to a minimum of 15 - 20 minutes, allowing the international participants to ask questions and thus all of us can collaborate in this session of 60 minutes.
If possible, please use a head-set with microphone. This will enable us all to enhance interactivity and collaboration.

Joining this session is free, but you need to follow a couple of steps:
Do these steps before the start of the session (that way you can make sure you can follow without a problem).

  • First you need to 'join for free', by clicking that button on the WiZiQ website ;
  • After joining you will receive a mail in which the confirmation code is send (it is send immediately, so if you do not see it pop-up immediately, look at your junk-mail folder):
  • login to the wiziq site using your Wiziq username and password;
  • click on the link session below to enter the session;
  • after checking your audio/video settings, accept the settings;
  • log-in to the session a couple of minutes in advance. This will allow you to check your microphone and headset.
Looking forward to seeing you!

Session link:

You can also use this embedded code, but you need to register with Wiziq just the same:

Friday, 5 December 2008

BlogPhilosophy: what if all the learning in the world, does not save it from itself?

This will be more of a grim post. The biggest aha-moment on eLearning I got this year came when I talked to Nicola Avery last week. We both attended Online Educa Berlin and started venting our frustrations afterwards.

The same old, same old... that is what the internet is becoming
Social media would make a difference! It would give people the power to gather knowledge, not only that but they would construct knowledge and it would be taken up. That knowledge would build a new world ... and I strongly believed that.

I vaguely remembered a previous believe in the internet with a book called the Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway (a great feminist book). It all looked so positive then, and I was willing to believe it. The internet would change the world. And yes, it did change the world, but not the way I had imagined it... because it turned into the some old thing all over again.

The more people that get on to the internet, the more mainstream it will get and gets, the more it will become a mirror image of society, and society is all about consumerism/big capital/reality shows that don't get you anywhere... so suddenly I see my favorite medium turning into the media I tried to avoid.

Social media picked up immensely this year, so the content put out there was immense as well. So companies and corporate people (after not envisioning the possibilities before) started picking up on it as well. Suddenly you see strange phenomena arising in learning and on the internet at large. What about Learning Town from Masie (I refuse to link, just google if you must)? All of a sudden people get asked to come in and join a learning environment that is rather paternalistic in approach and ... it has a much bigger following then the more knowledge critical forums. On top of this Masie is into defense and army stuff... and yes, that bothers me. You do not improve the world by learning soldiers to double their chance of survival by all sorts of simulations! You improve the world by talking, by getting conflicts solved. So do I like big corporations that finance warrior stuff under a learning flag? NO! I am with Mahatma Gandhi and others. So do I like learning corporations that build army oriented lessons? NO. And strangely the OEB conference had a 'security and defense learning workshop', which made me wonder about all the good eLearning can provide.

Additionally, do I like learning professionals that follow so called guru's of learning blindly? NO. The internet and social media were to be used critically. Do I use it critically... well no I confess I do not always do it (human), but I try to be somewhat critical (says she failingly more then she wishes).

So will social media make a societal difference? I do not think so (but there is still hope). The undercurrent of society will be able to stay in touch with these new media, but I recall that they did before any new media was accessible. But apart from this underground movement, the mainstream will once again result in the same ol' same ol'... or will it?

The eLearning guru's hopefully stay open minded and will not fall into the pit (or should I say airy bubble) of their ego
At Online Educa Berlin there was something else happening. The conference always gives me a lot of ideas and inspires, but ... there are other thoughts that have popped into my mind while I was there.
First of all it is a conference were everything is sponsored, this has an effect, because this brings sponsors to the conference as well. So procentwise the salespeople grow. Sponsors enable you to have things, but it can take the mind of the essence. The essence is learning, and learning - in my view - is something you do to better the world and I follow Jean Jacques Rousseau in that respect that education is crucial for personal and societal development and that it can keep us from corruption by society.

In this respect I liked the mLearn08 conference very much because it was all about the learning, the organisational element was not that big, but the content was truly amazing and the keynotes were baffling (and reachable because the crowd was small).

And at Online Educa Berlin I (and Nicola and I guess others, had a feeling John Traxler was feeling it to but did not go into this at that point with him) some of the learning explorers suddenly manifested Ego. Which is ok in an eccentric kind of way, but which is not very nice if it makes that same person less critical of one's self.
And yes I have an ego from time to time, but it is my duty to talk to it, dare it, question it... and that will put it back in a healthy place without all the unnecessary gaz. And if that does not work, my friends, my colleagues, you, life will put everything back into perspective.

During OEB some of the Ego's started to become apparent, people that felt they were the knowledgeable ones, the people to know started emerge, and so their pioneering, critical spirit looked fading. Their knowledge suddenly became to be set in stone, they were no longer as open to it. And they got a following of people that were not critical also (which scares me more then any ego).

So here we are. People into eLearning, into making minds critically aware that suddenly become less critical themselves. Mind you, there are critical learning professionals that are just amazing and they keep being critical and experimental (Stephen Downes, Shafika Isaacs, Wilfred Rubens, Diana Laurillard, Adele Botha, Yrjö Engeström, Steven Verjans, Tony Karrer, Jay Cross ... and admittedly they all have their own personality, but they are open to criticism, discussion and so on... Some of them are fearce discussers, but that helps in building arguments for eLearning cases), but I was just amazed by some of the others.

So if I put these two together, I see a world that I believed in, fade and becoming absorbed in a too well known human trend. Remember the revolution of 68? There is a common saying that the followers of that revolution became the corporate leaders of the last decades. And it resulted in a crisis from bad financial governing (being too crued, a lot of good stayed of course, luckily). It seems to me that the social media revolution might result in the same thing: starting out promising, leading towards a knowledge revolution, but then...

(If you have any links to direct me to the eLearning undertow full of experiment and into democratic change, please send it to me, I am in need of an antidote).

Big Question: What did I learn about learning in 2008?

The Learning Circuits blog from Tony Karrer has posted a new question of the month: 'what did you learn about learning in 2008'.

The biggest aha-moment seemed to have come from an informal learning moment with Nicola Avery at OEB over dinner and one with Luk De Clerck on the plain back home. Maybe the biggest aha-moments are always the one's you have had last. (as Tony Karrer commented, I did not mention that I was going to write a specific blogpost about the aha-moments... you can find it here).

Here is my two cents of positive learning results of this year:

Basically been busy the whole year with learning... so that is a good thing. And I have felt that I like the academic and the informal approach to learning the most but maybe that is a strange and unexpected combination?

The effect of the economic crisis on (e)Learning - a lunch discussion started by Jay Cross

At OEB there are several things happening, one of the initiatives I like a lot are the Special Interest Group lunches (SIG). This noon I joined Jay Cross at his lunch initiative: what can the learning world expect/tackle in these times of crisis?

All of us agreed that the economic crisis will be here for a couple of years, resulting in job losses. Seeing that in the past the learning department was one of the first departments to be cut in companies, estimates are that nearly 70 to 80 % of the learning budgets will be cut in the next couple of years. So we all better gear ourselves to overcome this crisis, both on a personal and on an institutional level.

It was a round table, so I jott down the main topics that were raised:
  • more emphasis on open source/open resources;
  • shift in company ethics, durable (energy) solutions;
  • the world is in an economic shift going gom the industrial age towards a knowledge age => so investing in knowledge = learning will be crucial if you want your company/organisation to stay financially valid.
  • the world is in an economic shift going gom the industrial age towards a knowledge age.
  • CEO's need to be included in defining strategy for eLearning (training, coaching, awakening management will be crucial if the learning departments want to keep alive);
  • equiping people to manage the recession => that would be a business worth investing in.
  • it is time to invest in more bottom-up, informal learning;
  • dare to invest time to seize the day the opportunity to be prepared for the long-term future.
  • in times of crisis you go in search of the essence of what you have and what you need => a personal process;
  • learning is personal.
  • being confronted with dire straights inspires, the ones that dare in these times florish.
  • some companies (Volkswagen, Google) dare to incorporate learning on personal interest in the workers time.
  • personal knowledge/learning techniques will benefit the whole or the communities to which the learners belongs.
  • personal learning is essential in addition to managemental learning change.
  • learning touches all societal issues.
  • outsourcing the learning department to some extent might be a possibility.
  • increase the consciousness that learning has a definite positive impact on the complete organisation or/and person (if you cut a department, it will effect the whole; if you cut knowledge, everyone will be challenged).
  • knowledge on new learning techniques should be increased.
  • more really tailored content has to be provided. In many cases we now buy a complete package from which we only use a small percentage, because only this content is of interest to us. So focus on small content tailored for the user and standardized so it can be build on.
  • learning touches all the society.

#OEB08 the elearning in Africa session

Some random notes, hoping that you can make sense of them.

Moderated by Shafika Isaacs from South Africa. Shafika is a very energetic and knowledgeable person with an amazing humor (yes, I love humoristic people its seems, because I keep filtering those out of the crowd). And very engaged in elevating global poverty.

In Africa the main revolution is a mobile revolution. Unfortunately we underestimated the use of mobile phone. 95% of mobile cell phone use is for social reasons, so it would be interesting to put out much more useful content with evidence of developmental impact. Reaching the bottom billion in Africa is crucial in lifting the world from poverty and degridation.

E-Learning Experiences in Africa

Jan Beniest, World Agroforestry Centre, Kenya

A man with a yellow ‘debardeur’ (Flemish word I keep in because he is Flemish speaking and such a word brings it home for me).
Web-Based Courses for Capacity Strengthening in the Agricultural Sector in Developing Countries

CGIAR and eLearnikng

In Africa there is a lot of pressure to put all of the content online.

Knowledge banks, but these are resources that people need to access individually.

(eradic notes, but they give an idea on what is said)

With this project they wanted to use standards to make these resources accessible. So they use open standards (yeah!).

Ariadne in Leuven, you can search for CGIAR and at the same time you can search on other resources (international). This way agricultural learning can be improved for all interested. They host it under a Moodle site.

Agricultural: 6 week preparitory period which was face-to-face (expensive course) 1 week problem solving workshop. To get everyone on the same wave length and afterwards the online content came in.

‘Contextualizing agroforestry’ from within

These courses become relevant because mathematics, language topics were mixed into agroforestry making everything much more contextualized, much more comprehensible to all the learners.

No accreditation, no certificate so the course was intrinsically motivational. From the 40 starters 30 finished all the courses (so purely on personal interest: IMPRESSIVE)

Learners got into the subject matter much quicker.

Because of the previous online contacts, it was much easier to work with them during the face-to-face part.

Access and and navigation was NOT an issue (in regard to the common understanding of low resource areas).

A network was build an was seen as a positive surplus.

Future: looking at mobile possibilities, other locations to distribute these courses.


Dr Herbert Thomas, University of the Free State, South Africa
The E-Learning Manager as Prophet: The Curious Case of a Developing Country

Emphasizes the need for internationally acceptable quality standards from government side.

96% of students own a cell phone ó 57% own pc at home. So you can easily see the potential of mobile learning.

Management needs to drive the change within eLearning.

Paul Landers, Ericsson, Sweden
Mobile Learning for Africa. The Millennium Village, Rwanda, Case Study

Mobile course on one of the millenium goals that Ericsson was involved in.

80 million in Africa 2007

+46 million in first half of 2008

What is the benefit of having a 3G network if you do not provide interesting content.

So they started looking at village clusters.

Child mortality issues were used to construct a mobile course. SCORM compliant and distributable.

The latest evolutions in mobile use:
Presence ·
Geo positioning ·
Mobile tv ·
Whiteboarding (sharing applications) ·
Blogging ·
Instant messaging

Daniel Richard Stern, Uconnect, Uganda
Rural Community and Family-Oriented Education by Mobile Computing with Portable Solar

Daniel is kind of a paternal figure. He has done amazing things in his life (lived and aided junkies in Geneva, lived in a cabin amidst a wooded reserve without many facilitations (together with his family), lived on one of the highest mountain tops in Switzerland together with his six sons and surviving from the earth…and now living in Uganda). He has a big grey beard and likes to talk.

One of the main problems in Africa is access to electricity. So new energy techniques can be beneficial.

Solar power is one of them.

He suggests that if you understand the meaning of life, you will be a secure learner and you will find what interests you.

Self-directed learning is the future and will keep on inspiring learners.

Self-reliance is important for learners and facilities.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Michael Wesch at #OEB08

Michael Wesch has been social mediated innumerous times because he pushes the learning agenda forward. He was keynoting at OEB08 and it was a blast. He managed to mix humor, storytelling, self-relativation and content. The topics he raised were not that new if you follow the learning sphere, but he put everything in an inspiring framework.

Michael Wesch works at Kansas University and he mixes anthropology, ethnology and culture into the new learning equation. He does not only talk about it, he immediately uses it. For a quick intro, visit his youtube channel. His most famous video is probably the 'Web2.0... the machine is using us'.

He talked about the future of education in which he stated that there is currently a 'crisis of significance' in which he states 'How can we create students who can create meaningful connections'. He linked his subject to Papua New Guinea where he lived for an extended time.

For this statement on the 'crisis of significance' he referred to YouTube which has enabled a real shift both in the media world and in the educational realm. Learners no longer are passive, but they create content, distribute, comment, organize, filter ... learners have become active learners and they are becoming more and more connected.
Web2.0 has created a revolution of which the complete impact is becoming clearer everyday. Learners are connecting to their taste in music, culture, content and they are no longer passively taking over the toplists that big media multinationals propose.

This revolution affects learners on many levels. Unfortunately our schools have not adapted to this revolution, they are still very traditional in approach. So many learners are in dubio, they love learning and creating, discussing content... but they do not like the rigid traditional educational ways that fill a lot of our school's curriculum.

Michael Wesch is all over the web, if you are interested this is the link to a paper he wrote about antiteaching.

mobile learning and QRcodes: my session and the audience's ideas

The OEB08 session in which I spoke was amazingly rich in content (talking about the other participants). They all had great applications making use of language technology, sms, multimedia and all combining it in mobile examples. Because I was the last one to speak, I was too nervous to take notes while they were giving it. I looked up links to them:

Gavin Cooney, Learnosity, Ireland on 'Voice: The Killer Application of Mobile Learning';

Mathew James Constantine, IE Business School, Spain on 'Mind the Gap – Narrowing the Distance to the Learner'

Sarah Cornelius, University of Aberdeen, UK on 'Real-Time Simulation on the Move: The Learner Context'

The audience that was present was amazing. They gave idea after idea on how the QRcodes could be used in a learning or broader setting, it was mindblowing. I tried to jott down all of the ideas mentioned:
  • Adding it to a business card;
  • Using QRcodes to promote an article or thing on the go (in the street, open space);
  • using it inside buildings (flour plans);
  • using it in tours by linking it to audio that give background information on the sights;
  • using it in (newspaper) articles to link to extra/background information;
  • putting it on geocaching games and articles;
  • using it to guide people directly to a map to go to a hotel, university... (from bus stops, train stations...);
  • linking it to audio samples to construct a bigger sound landscape;
  • using it to guide learners to sights and learning spaces;
  • making a mobile tour and in that tour linking certain spots to the Basque language (or any other language, but I liked the idea of linking it to a language that is not mainstream yet very rich).
So I was very thankful to everyone that attended with all their great ideas.
I also uploaded my presentation for anyone who is interested.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

OEB08 informal learning and social media workshop by Jay Cross and guides

Jay is a wise man using humor to spice up any workshop and at this occasion he was wearing a yellow tie and suspenders. The audience was very diverse but all with an eLearning perspective and their social media background as well.

The workshop is taken a complete day, but unfortunately I had a deadline to meet in the afternoon, so what follows is only on the first part of the day (before lunch). Jay Cross had asked me to be one of the 'guides' during the workshop. A guide is someone who is into informal learning and/or using social media and willing to share information on it. I am always willing to share, so I rushed to the occasion! Thanks for asking Jay!

Where can you find all of what Jay Cross is talking about:
internet time page;
Jay Cross homepage;

Interesting links:
The cluetrain manifesto: for handling intellectual property in the open internet age.
Web2.0 framework by Ross Dawson;
as a conference format;
as an example of an unconference.

fish bowl format in conferences
idea: for people to be able to have a conversation in a little group but which is aired to the complete group (concentric circles for interaction).
sometimes it works, other times it falls flat. It is important to have a common purpose and to have a format that supports that, otherwise participants might not be that pleased with the issues that will be raised.

Jay mentions he is a bit dubious towards books: a publisher takes a year before publishing it. A book freezes the content for always. The author does not need to get into conversation with the readers. So how do we go about in opening books and make them updateable? He tries it:
Un-book from Jay Cross: Learnscaping

The workshop flow:
We started to know each other (= the participants) by introducing the person on each of our right, building some connections in our heads. And after the intro the workshop was a mix of informal information giving by 'guides' and more didactical as well as informal parts given by Jay.

My two cents that I shared during the workshop:
  • kids learn naturally and by doing.... there is no framework, no structure, they just do it: Web2.0 allows this kind of learning. It enables you to explore the knowledge that is out there and to connect with people with similar or related interests.
  • Informal learning allows you to connect with people you might otherwise not know off, or in different fields, but by connecting you can see other ways of working to come to the same results and maybe ... these new ways are more (cost)-effective.
  • Informal learning is about making choices: you know which knowledge you need, you select, you connect and you put it out there the way you want it for other people to find.
  • Informal learning is about forgetting pride: you will never know it all, so be humble and open for learning each day. Titles no longer matter, it is what you effectively know and exchange and collaborate on (what you are really doing) that matters.
  • Informal learning makes you critical: you just do not swallow everything that is send to you, you choose, decipher and take what you need because it seems a better fit.
  • Social media allows you to let go of rules and explore new possibilities.
  • Social media is global, it is everywhere, also in low resource areas: they are using it: mobile journalism, farmers learn through blogging, the whole world is exchanging and discussing knowledge.
  • Social media is personal: you make it to fit your interests, yet building on all of our knowledge and insights.

What I jotted down in the course of the workshop:
The world is in an economical crisis, but this is happening at any major cultural/socio-economic shift the industrial age is ending, the knowledge age is here. Informal learning is all about knowledge.

How people learn:
  • natural learning
  • spontaneous
  • informal
  • unbounded
  • adaptive
  • fun
  • self-service
what is natural learning?
You learn from mistakes (because it is discussed, because you get a first hand experience of what works and what is not = practical experience),
conversation results in learning (because it is all about communication, argumenting why yes or why not, critical thinking...)
collaboration is learning (one person never again will know it all, not even the largest chunk of anything, the world is a rhizome = everyone is connected and the connections are not always visible).

informal learning is typically
  • no curriculum;
  • no constraint time frame;
  • push (formal which pushes the content to you) versus pull (informal and what you need you can and do find - or build);
  • openness and curiosity.

the world is changing at warp speed
some management and supervision have not taken account these changes: firewall restrictions, company rules... But as we look at new learners (not necessarily young but the learner explorers) we find that control is out of date. So it is time to give workers trust and giving them credit for their own way of knowledge gathering.
Discussing on ROI are no longer completely valid as it comes to the growing amount of intangibles that companies have, because ROI focuses on tangibles only. In the business world virtuality is a fact, intangibles are a fact, think of google and its assets.

But social media is about sharing, and openness sometimes gives a strange feeling
openness is a starting point, semantic web which tells you all about private things, but who do you want to give access to what of your private life).
Openness is a starting off point, but which will demand more access rules.
So how can we share things? And to what extend are we willing to change? And to what extend does management allow us to change?

One of the reasons for not opening up is because you want to keep out the people that want to burn the house down. This is something we want to get pinned down.

Questions that were raised (will go into these in later blogposts):
  • how do you measure informal learning outcomes?
  • how do we cope with intellectual property in an open access environment?
  • how do you convince people of using new technologies within an institute or company?

A slideshow on the future of books:
The unbook
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: books book)

Friday, 28 November 2008

When an economic crisis hits eLearning, what do managers have to say about it?

I really need your help here, if you are a conscientious eLearn provider, please add to the discussion (on your blog, forum, here,… anywhere). I came across some old school thinking and solutions regarding eLearning (see below).

There is an old economic tendency that in times of crisis the training department budgets get cut. For more then one reason I tend to disagree with this tendency. When a crisis hits your organisation or company, that is the right moment to rethink training and boost it. The same with R&D (research and development), because it is by rethinking you can outrun your competitors. If something did not keep you from a crisis, something is amiss and new methods can help you overcome them. You need training to get people thinking out of the box (or broaden their box) and you need training to implement new methods that will counter the crisis within the company quickly.

Last week I read an article on the subject in the sciencedaily, which was also listed in and prlog and in innovationsreport (it is a press release issued by Online Educa Berlin - OEB): “The present world’s economic woes are opening up new opportunities for innovative forms of education and training such as informal learning, e-learning and blended learning. Faced with shrinking budgets, the use of learning technologies is becoming increasingly attractive for businesses: This was the appraisal articulated by the consultants and training professionals who responded to an impromptu survey undertaken by the international e-learning conference Online Educa Berlin.”

In the press release there are some nuanced quotes and then a very scary one. A nuanced one from Sue Martin from Global Certification Portfolio Manager at SAP: "In times of tight or zero travel budgets and increasing environmental awareness, the importance of learning technologies has to be given a second look.”
Yes, I agree. A second and in-depth look at training (face-to-face and eLearning) is the way to go. But will eLearning cost less than face-to-face? Well, not sure, certainly not in the beginning of the development. And the myths of eLearning could pop-up again too.

With this in mind I predict a growing need for more qualified eLearning evaluators. They will enable management to get a good idea of what works most efficiently (yes, I am also an eLearning evaluator) and it will result in solid eLearning.

But then the article lists a very scary quote!

Christophe Binot, E-Learning Manager at the French oil firm Total, adds: "The newest solutions make it possible to turn a PowerPoint presentation into a course for a thousand employees within two hours. The ROI outperfoms training in a classroom."

What the HUH!!! eLearning is NOT about turning some kind of stupid non-descriptive, non-assessing powerpoint into a course! Can you imagine the non-interactivity of these powerpoints?! I mean in TWO HOURS! Oh my lord and goddess! How can OEB keep this quote in a press release? They know better than that. Okay he will be a keynote speaker at their conference, but looking at what is quoted here, I can almost imagine what his speech will be about (but I give him the benefit of the doubt, miss quotations have been made before).

Maybe winter is getting to me... darn dark clouded days...

CALL FOR mobile learning PAPERS - Deadline for submissions (2nd call): 19 December 2008

For the mobile enthusiasts out there (and if you have not put in a paper) look below. I am part of the review committee and the conference and speakers looks promising. All submissions are subject to a blind refereeing process:

IADIS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE MOBILE LEARNING 2009 Barcelona, Spain, 26 to 28 February 2009

* Keynote Speakers (confirmed):
Professor Angela McFarlane, Director of Content and Learning at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK Professor Hiroaki Ogata, Dept. of Information Science and Intelligent Systems, University of Tokushima, Japan

* Conference background and goals

User Created Content & Mobile Technologies: From Consumers to Creators bypassing the Learning opportunity?

Over the pass three years Mobile and Social technologies have featured strongly in the Horizon Report series which examines emerging technologies likely to have an impact on teaching, learning. Mobile devices have progressed from an adoption projection of two to three years in 2006, to a much more imminent adoption prediction trajectory of a year or less in 2008.
Whether earlier the educational value of mobile technologies was thought to be delivery of content to people's devices, the emphasis now has clearing changed to focus on their capabilities that enable users creating and sharing content.

The 'former audience' combines traditional activities such as searching, reading, watching and listening, with producing, commenting, sharing, and classifying its own content. New genres of filmmaking and photography where the message gains ground over the form are developing. The proliferation of user-created content is fuelled by the wide availability of at-hand mundane technology such as mobile telephones, and the wider broadcasting outlets. These are mainly web-based however increasingly user-created content such as videos of breaking news stories feature in traditional broadcasting channels as for instance television.
The increasing range of web 2.0 and mundane technology choices, facilitating the development of user-created content and providing opportunities to meet and collaborate, offers immense potential for teaching and learning. However, the danger remains that the transition from consumer to creator might miss the learning opportunity.

The IADIS Mobile Learning 2009 International Conference seeks to provide a forum for the discussion and presentation of mobile learning research. In particular, but not exclusively, we aim to explore the transition from content consumer to content creator in experiences that take advantage of the learning opportunities this provides.
* Format of the Conference
The conference will comprise of invited talks and oral presentations. The proceedings of the conference will be published in the form of a book and CD-ROM with ISBN, and will be available also in the IADIS Digital Library (accessible on-line).
The best paper authors will be invited to publish extended versions of their papers in the IADIS Journal on Computer Science and Information Systems (ISSN: 1646-3692) and also in other selected Journals.

* Types of submissions
Full and Short Papers, Reflection Papers, Posters/Demonstrations, Tutorials, Panels and Doctoral Consortium. All submissions are subject to a blind refereeing process.

* Topics
We invite researchers, practitioners, developers and all those working in the mobile learning arena to submit work under the following topics:
- Pedagogical approaches and theories for mLearning
- Collaborative, cooperative, and Contextual mLearning
- Creativity and mLearning
- Gaming and simulations in mLearning
- mLearning in educational institutions: primary, secondary and third level
- Informal and Lifelong mLearning
- New tools, technologies, and platforms for mLearning
- User Studies in mLearning
- The social phenomenon of mobile devices and mLearning
- mLearning in developing countries
- Speculative ideas in mLearning: where next?

* Important Dates:
- Submission deadline (2nd call): 19 December 2008
- Notification to Authors (2nd call): 19 January 2009
- Final Camera-Ready Submission and Early Registration (2nd call): Until 2 February 2009
- Late Registration (2nd call): After 2 February 2009
- Conference: Barcelona, Spain, 26 to 28 February 2009

* Conference Location
The conference will be held in Barcelona, Spain.

* Secretariat
IADIS Secretariat - IADIS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE MOBILE LEARNING 2009 Rua Sao Sebastiao da Pedreira, 100, 3
1050-209 Lisbon, Portugal
Web site:

* Program Committee

Mobile Learning 2009 Program Chair
Inmaculada Arnedillo Sánchez, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Mobile Learning 2009 Conference Chair
Pedro Isaías, Universidade Aberta (Portuguese Open University), Portugal

Steering Committee
Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Open University, UK
David Parsons, Massey University, New Zealand
John Traxler, University of Wolverhampton, UK
Mike Sharples
, University of Nottingham, UK

Committee Members: *
* for committee list see here

* Co-located events
Please also check the co-located events:
e-Society 2009 - 25-28 February 2009
Information Systems 2009 - 25-27 February 2009

* Registered participants in the Mobile Learning' conference may attend e-Society and Information Systems conferences' sessions free of charge.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Low resource areas and mobiles: get into online forums for global knowledge dissemination:

Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas’ is the latest virtual forum that is organised by e-agriculture.
The forum has been running for a few days now and it is worth a visit and/or additional discussions. You must register for the forum first. Mobile phones are the success story of bridging the rural digital divide, bringing tangible economic benefits and acting as agents of social mobilization through improved communication. But what are the real challenges that face reaching rural areas, and what are some of today’s most beneficial applications that can help these rural communities, specifically regarding agriculture development?

This Forum examines the challenges that rural communities face in enhancing the benefits of mobile telephony, and looks at some examples of interesting initiatives and good outcomes from around the globe.
There are a couple of experts attending the discussion amongst which Christian Kreutz, who I know always delivers great content and ideas.
The forum is part of a global initiative to enhance sustainable agricultural development and food security by improving the use of information, communication, and associated technologies in the sector. This is your chance to interact with subject matter specialists on the topics of your choice. If you would like to suggest a Featured Forum topic, please send an email to
For more information on online events, we recommend the CGIAR document 'No Travel required', which can be downloaded in PDF format here.

What they write about themselves: E-Agriculture is an emerging field focusing on the enhancement of agricultural and rural development through improved information and communication processes. More specifically, e-Agriculture involves the conceptualization, design, development, evaluation and application of innovative ways to use information and communication technologies (ICT) in the rural domain, with a primary focus on agriculture.
E-Agriculture is a relatively new term and we fully expect its scope to change and evolve as our understanding of the area grows.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Facebook in case of divorce

Just a suggestion for sociological research in social networking software's.

In a divorce you want to do two things: split up everything of value and leave the past behind while moving on without too much of a hassle. Facebook and other social networking sites make this virtually impossible.

You know how it goes. You split up, you divide books, cd's, movies... and in the next few months you get frustrated because you keep searching for the books, cd's, dvd's you once bought yet no longer can find anywhere. But hey, after a couple of months and some therapeutic talks with friends, you let go of those once treasured items and you go on.

With facebook this is no longer possible! Ex-partners can now suddenly pop-up and start facebooking as well. They - of course - add shelfari in which they mention the books they have read ... and lookie here, some of those titles look really familiar.
They add a profile mentioning what type of people they really don't like (characteristics that look amazingly familiar when you read them). Other also familiar objects suddenly get sold on eBay (this was a gift from my nana!). And to top it off, you suddenly see them linking themselves to people that are 'your' friends. And because your friends are polite, they add your ex-partner to their network. By now you are clicking like mad on your ex-partners profile because you cannot belief your eyes... and as a result you see your ex-life passing in front of your eyes yet once again. By now - if you are a bit of a nervous type - you might be wondering if there is something like a constraining order for social networks?

I am lucky, my ex-partners and I get along just fine. We frequently look each other up (during which time we swiftly take one of 'our' books from the partner's shelves and push it underneath our sweater or coat while exiting quitely). But some of my friends are having facebook-divorce-shivers, inspiring though, I never looked at facebook this way.

Anyone interested in researching the subject? Anyone have other examples?

‘Cartoon by Nick D Kim, Used by permission.'

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

QRcodes in eLearning

While QRcodes do break through in the marketing world, it is only slowly trickling into the eLearning world. This is quite understandeable as QRcodes are mainly used with mobile devices (small segment of learning) and within mLearning only a few people explore QRcode possibilities.

“QR Code is a two-dimensional barcode, used widely in Japan. The advantage of QR Code from well-known barcode is larger data capacity (more than 100 bytes, typically) and error correction.” (from: I have been writing on the topic in previous blogposts, but as Online Educa Berlin is approaching, I want to share the presentation I will give at OEB2008 (if you follow the slideshare link, you can also download this presentation).

If you are interested and around Berlin on 3 - 5 December 2008, join me in the MOB21 session on Thursday, December 4, 2008 from 14:15 - 15:45 and it is called 'Extending the Range of the Mobile Phone' in room Tiergarten together with other eLearning colleagues:

Gavin Cooney, Learnosity, Ireland
Voice: The Killer Application of Mobile Learning

Mathew James Constantine, IE Business School, Spain
Mind the Gap – Narrowing the Distance to the Learner

Sarah Cornelius, University of Aberdeen, UK
Real-Time Simulation on the Move: The Learner Context

The overall description of this session: What do you use your mobile phone for? Checking information? Taking photos? Playing games? Presenters in this session will describe all sorts of different applications of the mobile phone in teaching and learning – join them to see just how far you can stretch mobile devices. This session is chaired by prof Herman J. Van der Merwe, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa.

Feel free to add your QRcode links and hope to see you in Berlin next week!

Friday, 21 November 2008

eSCART 2008: the demo of the international online course

I know, I know, it is obvious I like this course. I did write about the final report of eSCART2008, but know we have just launched our demo of the course.

It is a short demo and admittedly it can ask you to download the latest plugins of both Flash and Quicktime, but we are working on the low bandwidth option as I write this.

In the meantime, if you are interested, take a look at the course demo (made with Articulate engage). If anyone is interested in the software we used to develop the whole course, I will gladly send the list.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

finding eLearning information through a community

Yes, a critical mind is necessary in this knowledge world.
Yes, knowing how to find stuff is increasingly important.
Yes, there are a lot of us eLearning people floating around the web.

And Yes, a redesigned resource is out there for you to find and stroll through. I use RSS, but frankly it takes time to keep it relevant and up-to-date. And RSS has one thing lacking... it does not tell you what you might be interested in or what topic you need to get into. So now, for those times I don't have a feed (or not yet) on a specific relevant topic, I surf to the eLearning Learning community pushed by non other then Tony Karrer.

Tony has a great eLearning blog called eLearning technology on which he posts his great eLearning (focusing on corporate) insights and challenges his readers regularly through the 'Big Question'. His blog was awarded the best eLearning blog in 2007 by Edublog. Yes, he is an inspiring eLearning pioneer.

So, if you are looking for something eLearning related, surf to the eLearningLearning community, choose a keyword, tool and ... find it.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

eSCART2008: an online course for low resource settings - the final report

Today I proudly post our (= ITM's) final report on the pilot course of our newly build full online course: eSCART2008.

I did write about the subject while the course was under construction, in that post I focused on the pre-survey we gave the learners.

For those interested, you can look at the the full report on the pilot in which you will find our modus of operandi, the changes we have made during the course, etcetera.

In a couple of weeks ITM starts another eLearning course for health care workers in the field specializing in ART (AntiRetroviral Therapy). The response for this course was overwhelming and we were booked immediately. This course was presented in a pilot phase (from IT perspective, the content is already full prove from years of experience but not in an eLearning fashion). We redesigned the face-2-face content so it meets eLearning Quality standards, but we also added specific eLearning features (more interactivity, (limited) social media). The coordinator of this medical eLearning course (and main tutor) is Verena Renggli she will go and work for the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Basel beginning 2009 (she returns to her home country: Switzerland).

We started with a big learner group (over 40) because we wanted to make sure our finishing group would still be relevant... it turned out that 84% of the learners finished the complete course because they were so enthusiastic about the delivered material! We had learners from all over the world (the Tropical world): South-Africa, Myanmar, Cambodia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria... so that made it quite a unique experience as well. An institute is lucky if it has such strong learners.

The pilot phase of eSCART, offered over 3 months, was a full success. Although the course was offered for free, the retention rate was very high (84%) and the course was highly appreciated by the participants. Through offering the course content not only online but also on a CD Rom, problems with connectivity could be limited. The 22% increase in the average score of the posttest compared to the pretest reflects the increase in knowledge of the participants. It is interesting to see that the increase in the score of the pre- and posttest during the face-to-face SCART is similar to that of eSCART (19% increase).
To offer an eLearning course is very work intense. Not only the development and constant updating of the course content required a lot of time, but also the tutoring of the course. The presence of the course and expert tutors was shown to be of high importance for the ongoing learning process and motivation of the students. In future, the group of participants should be limited to a maximum of 25-30 participants per course to maintain a good communication between course and expert tutor and the participants.
However, it can be stated that not only the participants did learn during the course, but also the course and expert tutors, through all the postings (comments, questions and answers to questions of colleagues) in the DF by the participants.

I am proud to be working in such a great, creative and strong eLearning team.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Online Educa Berlin 2008: Jay Cross for a whole day of informal learning

Online Educa Berlin in nearing and as such I am building my agenda. I have a couple of sessions in which I will be (partly) active, but for this post I would like to focus on the session Jay Cross is guiding.

On Wednesday 3 December 2008 Jay Cross will be guiding all the participants through a whole day workshop on informal learning (10.00h - 18.00h). During which a couple of volunteers (Graham Attwell, Nicola Avery, Stephen Citron, Peter Isackson, Charles Jennings, Nick Shackleton-Jones, Steve Wheeler and I) will drop in and add their two cents to the topic. The voluntering guides are asked to listen in for five or ten minutes and then tell all the participants who they are and hop into the conversation. Share your thoughts for five minutes or so (nice concept of building a network with outsiders and insiders during the workshop).

Description of the full day event:
An action-packed, informative, hands-on experience of informal learning, Web 2.0, and Learnscape Architecture. The metaphor for the workshop: a high-speed journey over the
Grossglockner Alpine road..
Topics include:
  • how to design and nurture learnscapes, the ecosystems of informal and web-based learning;
  • the explosive convergence of informal learning, the read/write web, internet culture, and new business models;
  • how network effects impact organisations, changing the nature of learning and human performance;
  • case studies of a dozen organisations that are accelerating informal learning with wikis, social networks, collaboration, podcasts, tagging, graphics, and online teams;
  • how internet cultural values such as transparency, rapid prototyping, giving everyone a voice, peer-based decision-making, and openness impact learning and development;
  • how to apply an informal-learning maturity model to successfully bring on-demand learning experiments into an organisation;
  • preparing to deal with the conservative forces of “paradigm drag” by understanding “the state of the art” in Europe, Silicon Valley and worldwide;
  • using learnscapes to increase innovation, improve productivity, become more responsive, serve customers better, and help people grow professionally;
  • what organisational leaders can do to nurture productive learnscapes;
  • reinvent learning as active, collaborative, need-driven adaptation to change.

Each participant will receive a copy of Informal Learning, Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance and of Jay’s new un-book, Learnscape Architecture, Getting Things Done in Organizations, a six-month visa to the Internet Time online repository of learning resources, and membership in an ongoing community of practice.

One remark: you will need to register for this workshop and it costs 390 EUR, but you will get a lot out of it. For more information surf to this link.

If you are free and in Berlin during that period, join this workshop, it will be fun!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

mLearn08: MiLK: students building mobile learning games in higher education by Debra Polson

Debra Polson is a very enthusiastic speaker.

She showed showcases of custom mobile games. Debra motivates students to develop mobile games and they love it!

All of the examples are about Fun first, then Educational. Examples mentioned: Scape (an urban sustainability education tool), Scoot and Milk (the mobile learning kit), I will focus on this last one.

MILK: explore, research, design, publish, play, reflect. (the mobile learning kit)
It is written in php scripting + database technology.

It is all about connecting students, curriculum and everyday environments using simple web and mobile technologies. In half a day they learn all about botanical gardens, creating their own activities and playing it with each other. While testing Milk at Trinity Bay State High (with more reluctant students), the students came up with activities and learned more then they bargained for. One conclusion was that peer assessment is a HIGH motivator. Students wanted to create GREAT games, because their peers would play the game and give feedback on it.

Another example:
MiLK has been used to deliver course curriculum for Master of Fine Arts, Design and Technology students from Parsons, The New School for Design. The collaboration studio course, ‘PLAYLab’ was delivered by leading game design experts Katie Salen and Melanie Crean.

The course was delivered through exploration of three related domains: Game Design, Psychogeography, and Microfictions. The students were asked to develop new gaming concepts for MiLK for play by both students and teachers, propose and develop supplementary platforms or content, and prototype, playtest, and document their research findings.

It is a scaffolding tool for narratives, which makes it really student-centered.

From Milk's website: the MiLK system is custom made for schools. MiLK is basically a set of simple web interfaces that enable individuals (teachers and students) to design and populate there very own mobile games. The milk-building interfaces are designed to work like a simple series of storyboards with areas to upload images and write SMS text. Once the game designers have submitted their final designs, the storyboard content is dynamically sent to registered users mobile phones in a sequence and style the designers have planned. All communications are then stored and displayed on the students milk-journal for later reflection. The milk-journal is a web page generated by the Milk system and password protected. Students can add comments, upload images, send it SMS and MMS messages and share it with other group members. The teachers are also able to track these activities and set some specific assessment tasks.
We have a number of Primary and Secondary schools in both Adelaide and Brisbane currently trialling the system.

Long live Australian creativity!

mLearn08: mobile ePortfolio's by Selena Chan

It was a chaotic couple of weeks in which I learned a lot, and now it is time to send it in to cyberspace.

During mLearn08 there were a lot of inspiring speakers and because of the parallel sessions I could not see all of them, but I would like to share the one's I found inspiring.

Selena Chan (photo by Alexander Hayes) who works at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology in New Zealand gave a presentation entitled "evaluation of a m-Learning pilot - narratives of workplace skill acquisition using mobile phones". This session was inspiring because her learners were bakery apprentices (so not your average mobile learning crowd, yet a very eager set of learners).

Selena is an energetic, but in non-verbal attitude a bit shy speaker. Working on a phd on tracking identity formation.

What really blew my mind was the fact that her apprentices choose their own mobile social media AND that they were not eager to learn in a classical style before they took up this apprentice role at the workplace. So this mobile learning really went into the real student-centered learning cycle as the learners choose what software apps to use and what to put on them and the learners learned without being the enthusiastic classical learners (yes, respect).

Why did they use mobiles as learning devices: they did not have access to computers (the apprentices), but all of them had mobile phones. Ten units standards are used.
Allow students to collect evidence for their work and put this in their m-portfolio.

This educational institute really got into social mobile media as well! An amazing set of tools, that are screened for their usefulness by the institute.
The great thing is also that the apprentice could suggest their own mobile apps. For example:

Multiply for audio (remark for myself: get into this a bit closer)
COMIQ is the favorite of the apprentices for this specific application (just take a look it is GREAT for k12 students... and I :-)

evaluation of the project
  • familiar tools to learn unfamiliar processes: it works
  • extensive support required
  • different ict skills in apprentices are addressed
  • use students' existing social networks so they immediately get into the program
  • cost of web access limits mportofolio concept
  • web2.0 sites usability issues need to be taken into account
  • make no assumptions: let them (apprentices) guide you and really listen to them

An apprentice got 50 dollars if they participated in a trial.
They followed the activity theory framework.

future directions
  • meshing mobile with desktop
  • customisable portfolio platforms
  • peer feedback loop - using mobile phones (at this time this was not the case)
  • richer narratives of lifelong learning.

At the end the apprentices got a challenge test in which the apprentices needed to demonstrate that what they claimed they did was actually real.

Selena is also a blogger, if you are interested in a presentation she gave on this topic as a keynote speaker in 2007, look at this pdf.

How she came to this project is explained in this video in which Stephen Parker interviewed Selena.