Thursday, October 29, 2009

Elearn Wednesday

My presentation went well - small audience, but enthusiastic applause, and a bit of decent networking.

Joël Fisler, University of Zurich on eLML and OLAT open source tools for production of learning material; has aa demo server, which will be fun to play with if I ever get any time again.

Marius Dieperink, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa - on failing to connect. How technology can be best used in S Africa to encourage learning. Black students often alienated in class. 80% not English mother tongue. Use of computers and English learning programme positive effect on unmotivated students. The key thing that came out was the big digital divide - should they continue at their own pace or should they try and import technology and ideas from elsewhere. He mentioend specificaly importing ideas from the developed world. I felt strongly and said so, that that would be a big mistake as Africa was developing so differently, e.g. the ascendancy of the mobile phone. He pointed out that many have low tech mobiles, but we discussed the use of texting for teaching. He is currently examining bulk sms as a possible vehicle.

...Another no show - I wonder how many people got the ticket to Vancouver paid and are now enjoying a week off....

Mark Salisbury, and David Olson, Western Oregon University, USA on innovative learning organisations - organisations need to find new and innovative ways to maintain old knowledge and create new knowledge, which means building into work processes a window for new and innovative ways of doing things.

We need to move tacit knowledge into the explicit zone
metacognitive (expert advice)
procedural (examples)
conceptual (instructions)
factual (documentation)

Technologies to support this innovative learning
moodle - only works on Linux
sharepoint - has to be paid for
dotnetnuke - this looks really good
Salisbury's book on ilearning probably worth a dip into.

They're presenting very basic things but in a persuasive sort of way. I don't think they said anything I wouldn't have thought of, but they have the experience of using the three platforms mentioned above. Much food for thought for my other job.

Panel session on cross cultural design
Today's travel tip: take off your shoes before entering a Malay household. A tweet in response to mine about this suggests you can geenralise that to most of Asia. Content: make sure you represent all races, and religions. Another speaker noted Canadian literature tends not to represent Canadian aboriginals.
Research on teaching and learning as uniting tribes of students and tribes of teachers by belnding cultures. Cultural connecting point will be key to open the connecting door. One finding so far for international students is trust is very important.
The 20 Rs
Wei - female and male culture. Also across colours. Cultural barriers intertwine.
Okhwa Lee - trained in western culture. frustrated when returned to Korea. Lot of Korean instructional content is video or media rich. Western is text oriented. In portraits western are face or upper body focussed not often full body. Oriental portraits usually full body with rich background material. Asian viewers focus on background as well as foreground; wetsern focus on central object and often ignore background. Space in west as series of individual objects; in east as inter-relationships between objects. That might blow a hole in the thinking I presented. Are wildfire activities as described by Engeström culturally specific: eastern cultures are taught to learn from the master? In the west speaking develops thinking; in east truth is out there, and speaking is means to express understand - if you know more you speak less. They don't respect people who speak a lot.

Ashraf of Sussex University - his students didn't ask questions in class, so one day he suggested they text him with questions - and they did. So eloquently that he used some of the texts as assignment questions.

Bjorn Pederson - Reflectii - web based video reflection for trainee teachers with friends etc

Joanna Muukkonen - networked model of action, using Activity Theory as a framework.
The aim of the project is to promote active citizenship through open learning environments. Several factors hindering the development of Sense of Community or at least "Sense of Network" have been identified... This is very interesting - it focusses precisely on one of the nodes of the AT triangle. And the project it comes from is about promoting more active and more effective citizenship.

Luke Lecheler - Confetti, online text annotation tool. Looks very nice. Creating a place rather than a space - space is the world, place is your home. My basic question is what does this do that diigo doesn't. - integrates with sources of free texts e.g. Gutenberg. And may integrate with Adobe buzzword. So it does have advantages. But do the advantages justify the extra cost ? Perhaps they do. As this tool develops, it will come to have a great deal of functionality that Diigo doesn't have - and if that functionality enables people to learn better (big "if"), then it will have been worth it. It's a gamble, as all software development is, but this looks like quite a good punt.

And that gives rise to a second question - is there a kind of hierarchy of usability, or maybe a progression. Teachers could try using tools like diigo - public andf freely available, and if they like them could move on to harder stuff, or put a case for developing a bespoke product (is there a market niche?)

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