Monthly Archives: May 2008

Spam on my blog

Sorry if it takes a while for me to approve your comments, guys.

I’ve been getting so much spam that it takes a while to go through them and sort out the good comments you guys leave. I love them all.

It feels great to be able to contribute to some sort of open discussion about tools and subjects that affect learning.

Social Media Assessment and Learner Progress Tracking

Something that has bothered me is that, while the adoption of social media (Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, social networks and so on) depends on a paradigm shift and require a new way of thinking “learning”, how can we assess learner progress in a modality of tools in which user-generated content can be so scattered throughout different tools? I know you might be thinking as you read: “But these are new tools, they require a new way for evaluation, progress tracking and certification…” just like I said above. But the problem is that the adoption of the tools seems to happen at a faster speed than the attitude change toward learning assessment and certification!

Instructional Designers, instructors, learners are using social media more and more to enrich learning experiences and more research is needed concerning assessment and progress tracking in this context.

Gliffy – an Online Alternative to Microsoft Visio for Flowcharting

Well, everyone is talking about Gliffy and I don;t want to be redundant, but I have to give my opinion about it as well. The program lets users collaborate on flowcharts and diagrams online. This is a very good and free (for public documents) alternative to desktop diagramming tools such as Microsoft Visio, OmniGraffle, FreeMind and many others, but with an advantage: besides being online with no extra plugin required, it also allows users to collaborate and co-author flowcharts and diagrams, which comes in handy when participating in some sort of creative process while geographically distant.

Even though the web application is an innovative technology that can not only compare but also outdo desktop applications and is definitely is ahead of everyone else in the online diagramming arena as far as professional look and feel is concerned, Gliffy is still a little glitchy (no pun intended) if not missing features. (I’m sure they will work on this soon.

One of the major flaws in it is the lack of immediate update without attaching a “version number to the file”. There are to bad outcomes of this:

1- If you and a colleague are collaborating AT THE SAME TIME on the same document you won’t immediately see the changes they’ve made to a document. I haven’t tested this on complex flowcharts but I wonder if there will be any conflicts between versions if both save their version simultaneously.

2- If you make any minor change to the document and decide to hit the “save” button, a new version number is attached to the document… So, a freak about saving stuff like me will have a v178 of a document after 20 minutes of editing and saving. ;)

Another catchy thing about Gliffy (and it is part of their business plan) is how they only allow free accounts to create public documents and require users to purchase their premium account for unlimitted documents and the option of making them private.

Competitors can be:

  • Bubbl.us
  • MindMeister – more focused on “mind mapping”.
  • Mindomo – same as above.
  • Mind42 – Another collaborative mind mapping tool that stands out for the array of features ranging from keywords to speed up the process of creation to assigning icons to process and creating image nodes that import images from URLs.
  • Comapping – not free but cost-effective and feature-rich collaborative diagramming solution.

WiiMote and World of Warcraft

Innovation is the key. Take a look at how these guys innovate with the Wiimote to use gestures to control World of Warcraft. The future of learning is definitely more “interactive”, more “immersive”…. :)

I don’t know if this was his idea, but this guy (I don’t know his name) gives a good explanation of how to to use your Wiimote to play WoW:

Free Online Website Builders (WYSIWYG)

New technologies have made it easy for anyone to be a content author. The webmaster no longer has to be a highly specialized HTML coder. So, if you don’t have much experience in creating websites and need a What You See Is What You Get website creator, here is a list that might help:

 

Jimdo – great designs – no, this is not a martial art related website, it is a website builder that offers you  500MB of storage. Pretty reasonable space.        

Synthasite – you can even save your website to a folder on your computer to then upload to your student server for example.

Weebly – amazing looks!

Sampa – very easy to use.

Wix

New: SnapPages – Lets you build rich web applications.

New: Edicy

New: Websketch

New: BlinkWeb

 

and, of course, Google Pages.

Web 2.0 in Education

There is so much controversy over the term Web 2.0. Some people state that the digits “2.0″ determine a version, and that the Web is continuously evolving without need for a “label”. They claim that the assertion that Web 2.0 is more user-centered and interactive than Web 1.0 is not true. While new technologies (e.g. AJAX, a group of technologies that make possible for so-called Web 2.0 tools to be created) do mke teh Web more interactive, this interction and user-centered content generation was envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee since the beginning of the Wolrd Wide Web, not being a standard for this phaseof the Web only. https://lists.thing.net/pipermail/idc/2006-May/000399.html 

I do believe that the interaction made easy, the collaborative tools and the (normally) cleaner user interface of tools (visual literacy) make it possible for a more learner-centered learning approach mediate by these new tools. 
Vygotsky’s, Piage’s and other contructivist learning frameworks can be easily implemented online by means of the Read/Write Web. 

Resources such as “social bookmarking”, “social networks”, “group blogging”, “video/image/audio sharing”, wikis, tagging, and many other emerging tools enhance interaction on the Web. 

This interaction can bring more meaningful learning into place, learning that happens through social interaction, sharing of knowledge, etc. 

Web 2.0 tools you can try right now: 

create a social network on www.ning.com 
create a blog on www.wordpress.com 
create and share slideshows on www.slideshare.net 
create and share videos on www.youtube.com 
create and share a wiki on www.wetpaint.com 
create a microblog on www.twitter.com 
create microblogs for your classes on www.edmodo.com 
join Second Life on www.secondlife.com 

my blog on http://tweaklearning.wordpress.com 

If you don’t want to join anythign right now, just visit websites like these and you will see how much fun and interactive they can be… 

Educators should care about everything that helps their learners learn in meaningful ways… most teachers agree (or am I wrong) that learnign can be improved with social interaction (or am I wrong?). Research talks about informal learning being the means for most of our learning. Why not give it a try? These new Web tools matter to us because they matter to the learners. 

VirtuED – Using Wonderland to Promote Learning

This is a great project and here is a post on their efforts to establish Wonderland as a learning tool.

Keep up the good work guys!

How NOT to teach in Second Life

An interesting interview with Milosun Czervik on the use of Second Life for teaching and how most people just replicate flawed real-life environments and approaches when using MUVEs for learning.
Interview conducted by Kevin Lim.

Oui, Wii…

I finally found at Wii at Target today. I had visited both a Target and a BestBuy yesterday (Saturday) and they said they’d have it this morning, which  I thought was weird for them to get new shipment on a Sunday. Anyway, I don’t know how shipping really works in these retail stores but apparently many Targets got a new set of Wiis since I called another Target closer to where I live and they had it this morning. So, I asked them to reserve it for me as I would be there later this afternoon, they did so. No need for it: apparently no-one was aware of the fact since I only saw one couple buying a console and they seemed to have plenty left to sell. The Wiimotes even came with silicone cases around them, nice!

My wife and I played a bowling match (we got home late and needed to go to bed).

This gaming system is so motivating and fun! Many people are experimenting with new things using the Wii and its accessories (as you could see in a previous post of mine). And here are a couple more examples:

Wii in hospitals.

Wii as a Platform for Learning (Brandon Hall).

Bike Flying over the Golden Gate Bridge

Mike shows us an interesting way of making exercising more fun and interactive. He created a bike that communicates to Google Earth by using the Sun SPOT device created by Sun Microsystems.

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