Thursday, January 29, 2009

eLearning Links 01/29/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

eLearning Update 01/27/2009

  • The Portable Document Format (PDF) developed by Adobe can be made accessible, but it very much depends on how the original document is designed. If it is a poster created in a publishing application, scanned or saved from a Word document and locked down for copyright reasons then saved as PDF, it is liable to act in the same way as a picture. This means the text cannot be read by a screen reader or adapted for easier reading. It is appreciated that the concept of the PDF is to ensure that printed or saved versions of a document remain as the author intends, but there are ways to help the reader who uses assistive technologies or requires different formats of the text and graphics.

    tags: accessibility, lexdis, adobe, acrobat, pdf, technology, elearning, technique, advice, NTUEDU, assistivetechnology

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

ePortfolios are not just for Christmas... they're not even for that...

screenshot taken from the Open University's student home page

Screenshot taken from the OU's Student Home Page. Apparently computing are informing tutors that the link to MyStuff, the OU's ePortfolio, has been disabled due to users exceeding storage limits.

Ermmm... what?

Universities want students to use ePortfolios. They want to encourage the creation of a reflective record of a lifelong learning journey. Apart from the fact that it doesn't quite tally with the reality of providing that lifelong space. Not even in the short term (MyStuff has been around for less than three years)! This ties in beautifully with an article written by Leigh Blackall on his Learn Online blog which I read last week. Off-the-shelf products or even bespoke ePortfolio systems design behind the times. They cannot forecast how learners will really *want* to use their product or whether they actually will use it at all. And, heaven forbid a student should actually want to use it and really use it in the way which was hoped for... then they get clobbered for using too much disc space!

The educational dream of deep reflective learning does not match the IS reality of providing all that storage space and maintaining access to it over years. Leigh makes the following observation about it:

"The incredible ability of the education sector to separate itself from reality is just incredible. I guess we have to accept that it has been common practice in education for a long time. Rather than teach in the real world we taught in the classroom, and with rules and regulations to sustain that very system."
Halcyon dreams vs. sytems-centric reality. *sigh*

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Job cuts and behemoths


BBC NEWS | Business | Microsoft to cut up to 5,000 jobs:
"Microsoft has said it will cut up to 5,000 jobs over the next 18 months, including 1,400 immediately.

The firm also reported a net profit of $4.17bn (£3bn) for the three months to 31 December, down 11% on last year and less than analysts' expectations."

Other than the economic climate... ideas as to the main reason for cut backs? Change in attitudes towards software? Change in attitudes to operating systems? Lack of responsiveness to change? Let's face it, Microsoft haven't exactly jumped on the web 2.0 vibe, have they? Slowly, slowly unlocking themselves from a business model which saw them through the 80s and 90s quite happily. It's not easy to make change when you're a lumbering behemoth... :o)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

eLearning Update 01/21/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thinking visually

Just really like the simplicity of this:

Presentations as a means to escape mind numbing bullet-point laden boredom whilst actually enhancing learning. Gotta be way up there on a girl's wishlist, right? Well, I guess for the sake of conformity for producing training / staff development materials, bullet points will remain to some element... but for my own presentations, thinking visually is going to start featuring much more. Bullets are easy but dull and they do little to add to a presentation.

Blogging as way to mentally note in public something I want to change. Eeep! :o)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

eLearning Update 01/20/2009

  • LD is the world's leading web site on learning disabilities and ADHD, serving more than 200,000 parents, teachers, and other professionals each month.

    LD OnLine seeks to help children and adults reach their full potential by providing accurate and up-to-date information and advice about learning disabilities and ADHD. The site features hundreds of helpful articles, multimedia, monthly columns by noted experts, first person essays, children’s writing and artwork, a comprehensive resource guide, very active forums, and a Yellow Pages referral directory of professionals, schools, and products.

    tags: resources, learning, education, disabilities, ADHD, learningdisabilities, learningdifferences, accessibility, NTUEDU, elearning

  • " is a free, web based service that assists people with written material. We do this by using TTS Technology, or Text To Speech Technology. Users of our service can generate a clear sounding audio file from almost any written material. We generate a voice that reads the words out loud, that you request us to read."

    tags: accessibility, web2.0, tools, tool, text, technology, speech, software, reading, text-to-speech, NTUEDU, elearning, audio, mp3, words

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The baffle factor

The gap between features and usability...

BBC NEWS | Technology | New phone features 'baffle users':
"Some 61% of those questioned said they stopped using an application if they could not get it working straight away.

Mr Bancroft said setting up a new phone should take only 15 minutes but many people were spending an hour or more to get the handset to do what they wanted."
Rules for design... gotta be intuitive... gotta be easy... gotta do what the user thinks it should do... gotta be 'got' quickly. A feature's not a feature if it never gets used. Oh, and this rule for design applies equally to learning design. Activities which are pitched at the wrong level, are overly complex or contextually irrelevant ain't gonna be done by students. Simple is good, simplistic... not so much.

A not too miserable thought to start the week on what's supposed to be the most miserable day of the year!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Google Notebook lies abandoned...

Official Google Notebook Blog: Stopping development on Google Notebook:
"At Google, we're constantly working to innovate and improve our products so people can easily find and manage information. At times though, we have to decide where to focus our efforts and which technologies we expect will yield the most benefit to users in the long run.

Starting next week, we plan to stop active development on Google Notebook. This means we'll no longer be adding features or offer Notebook for new users. But don't fret, we'll continue to maintain service for those of you who've already signed up. As part of this plan, however, we will no longer support the Notebook Extension, but as always users who have already signed up will continue to have access to their data via the web interface at"

Humph! So, no more new development on Google Notebook, which is a shame as I really like its simplicity and browser-integration. Ah well, there's always others waiting in the wings - WebNotes is good (tho' still in invite-only beta) as is one of the leaders, EverNote. Shame you can't export from Google Notebook to one of those services though. Web 2.0 interoperability. Does that make me exceptionally boring to mention that?

Off to give a minute's silence to Google Notebook. We've been good friends. We need a moment. *sniffle*

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dyslexia is a myth and other such fallacious arguments...

Manchester Confidential - Dyslexia is a myth:
"There are two simple reasons for being confident about the false nature of dyslexia. International comparisons and the fact that so called dyslexic children have no more trouble learning to read than other children, if the appropriate teaching methods are used."

Joyous piece of self-confident illogic... could even be a candidate for the Fallacy Files.

Let's spend a moment to unpick this. "International comparisons" becomes a reason for being confident about the false nature of dyslexia... because, it is argued... countries such as South Korea have literacy rates of nearly 100%. Ermmm... 'kay. What does that mean though? Dyslexic people are not a generic mass - and they can still achieve literacy... so... ermmm... not following this one. Also, dyslexia does not equal illiteracy. It varies between people and its effects can be mitigated by a range of coping stragies. Why would a near 100% literacy rate prove that dyslexia is a false condition? It no more proves that than proves that there is no such thing as long-sightedness since in countries where people where glasses to assist them with reading, they can read.

Second bit - "dyslexic children have no more trouble learning to read than other children, if the appropriate teaching methods are used". The latter element confirms that there *is* indeed something which needs to be taken into account to accommodate those with dyslexia, else all teaching methods would work equally. Let's finish off that sentence shall we? "... if the appropriate teaching methods are use, if they aren't then differences will be observed".

No argument that there are teaching methods of varying quality out there. But none of them, good or bad, proves that dyslexia is a myth as is the headline of this strangely ill-informed article. Not sure of his background in education or within special needs... but... he sure seems to want to generate a bit of publicity for himself off the back off this. *sigh*


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stats from the web...

If people haven't seen the following, these are a sample of some pretty interesting stats on the current state of the web, taken from:

49 Amazing Social Media, Web 2.0 And Internet Stats:

"Blogosphere stats

133,000,000 - number of blogs indexed by Technorati since 2002

346,000,000 - number of people globally who read blogs (comScore March 2008)

900,000 - average number of blog posts in a 24 hour period

1,750,000 - number of RSS subscribers to TechCrunch, the most popular Technology blog (January 2009)

77% - percentage of active Internet users who read blogs

55% - percentage of the blogosphere that drinks more than 2 cups of coffee per day (source)

81 - number of languages represented in the blogosphere

59% - percentage of bloggers who have been blogging for at least 2 years

Twitter stats

1,111,991,000 - number of Tweets to date (see an up to the minute count here)

3,000,000 - number of Tweets/day(March 2008) (from TechCrunch)

165,414 - number of followers of the most popular Twitter user (@BarackObama) - but he’s not active

86,078 - number of followers of the most active Twitter user (@kevinrose)

63% - percentage of Twitter users that are male (from Time)"

Crikey! If you want to see the full load and check out the sources, then head to TheFutureBuzz site. Thinking about the recent reports about the environmental impact of these various services... well... ouch! "Free" web 2.0 goodness comes at a cost... and not just in terms of time either. Green web 2.0? Is that something which will start to appear in 2009?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

At the risk of sounding like a total nerd...

I've just installed another version of Linux on my little Asus eee pc... and... even for a totally inept Linux-bumpkin like me, it was strangely easy. It's the horribly named "Easy Peasy" version of Ubuntu (the last word is still nerd-speak to me but I gather it means something to someone out there *grin*) and so far, touch wood, it's great! There's been a bit of stuff in the news about the latest Windows 7 Beta and unlike previous versions of Windows, I'm not in the slightest bit inclined to see what's going on with it. It'll be the same... but slightly different... y'know... okay. Some people will love it, others will hate it... but... I think I'm at the point where I really don't care. I know what I want to do with my computer. I know how I want to use it. Who I want to communicate with it... and... it's no longer important to me that I've got any 'flavour' of Windows on it.

So, here am I. A Linux numptie who managed to reformat her netbook, partition the drive, install from a USB drive a copy of Easy Peasy... and... it works! Encouraged by Liam Green-Hughes' enthusiasm and rootling out some support bits an' bobs online I blundered into transforming my eee pc. Yeah, there were a couple of minor issues to deal with - but they took minutes to sort out. I've got Open Office 3. Skype. Firefox and easily installed GIMP in addition to the pre-loaded Picasa. Wireless connection available with no majorly techie faffing. Doesn't make my netbook look like a child's toy which the default version of Linux which came with the eee pc did... and... it rocks! And... what's mind-blowing... is that all of this groovy software is free and some kind bod pre-loaded the vast majority of it for me and made sure it would work on my eee pc.

Computers who could do what they said on the tin and not charge you an arm an' a leg for the privilege. Who saw that coming? ;o)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Making accessibility attractive?

We were discussing ways of making "accessibility" more attractive as a concept at work the other day (there's a discrepency between awareness and implementation into practice that we were trying to get our heads round)... and... also discussing how the WCAG guideliness were a bit lame as a day-to-day tool and possibly even damagaging to the image of inclusive practice. But, well, this little song's kinda nifty... no?

Challenges for 2009 - making accessibility sexy. Well, okay... not sexy... but not some looming scary beastie either!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

eLearning Bingo

Originally uploaded by The School House

I mentioned on Twitter earlier today the joy of "eLearning Bingo"... and because I said I'd share it... you can experience the joy of eLearning bingo yourself. For that 'not as good as expected' conference or dull meeting. eLearning is a joy, 24/7. :o)

Friday, January 2, 2009

The world is going mad... again!

One to go in my 'the world is going mad' pile...

Word 'school' is out for Sheffield primary | Education | "A new £4.7m primary school in Sheffield is facing criticism for dropping the word 'school' from its title after governors decided the term had 'negative connotations'.

The headteacher of Sheffield's Watercliffe Meadow, Linda Kingdon, said the south Yorkshire school, which is due to open on Monday, will instead be called a 'place for learning'."
I'm going to comment on this story... but first, I'm going to put my children in the place for sleeping and cover them with the device for keeping them snuggly at night. After that, I will use the facility for domestic descent to enter the room for relaxing in and then park my backside on the multi-person venue for sitting. (Bedroom, duvet, stairs, sitting room and sofa are have negative connotations in the brave new world of 2009)

Do the children at the 'place for learning' wear 'place for learning uniforms', eat 'place for learning dinners' and go on 'place for learning trips'? I have visions of parents, on hearing their children have got a place there going 'do they mean they're going to school then?'

2009, the year that didn't look like it was shaping up to contain much in the way of common sense by the time January 2nd rolled around... :o)