Category Archives: eResources

Scan a books barcode and get a fully formatted reference? #UKedchat

You probably know how keen I am on QR Codes, and how good useful I think they could be in a library environment (place the code on a shelf or book cover to indicate, and link to, the eBook version, that kind of thing).

However, I came across this little idea that brings together the scanning properties of smart phones (iPhone, Blackberry, Android phones, etc) and an online database of book titles and publisher details. Bring them together and you get the ability to produce a fully formatted reference for your academic piece of work.

Do you get it?

The idea is not new (it is to me, but not to these guys from the University of Waterloo) and this post “Smartphone App Makes Book Citations a Snap” goes some way to what I was thinking. The above project has it’s downsides, namely;

  • It only produces a fully formatted reference / citation for a limited reference style (at Bournemouth and a fair few other UK HEIs we use the Harvard style to format references)
  • It does not produce, as advertised, a fully-formatted citation, but a slightly concatenated version (“Cambridge Univ Pr” instead of “Cambridge University Press”)
  • It relies on books having a barcode. Not all books are young enough to have a barcode so students using that still rely and use older books (medicine, law, etc) will suffer here

If you could link this together with online sources like Amazon, Google Books, the (huge list of) publishers and journals, and get the citation/reference exact each and every time then this could indeed be quite a powerful little tool.

Oh, and you’d need an app that would have an edition for phones on the many different platforms to be truly useful. Just look around your campus and you’ll see a plethora or iPhones, Blackberrys and phones running Android OS.

Many thanks to Brian Knotts (@BrianKnotss) for this story.

Presentation: “Creative Commons: What every Educator needs to know”

From my observations of some student presentations I invigilated recently I know there are clearly issues with students knowing and understanding what is legal and what is not when you use and re-use content or images you find on the Internet.

Many of us already know about Creative Commons content and how it works, but I found this presentation, with audio slidecast, that I have also made available to staff and students alike, in the vain hope it’ll make a difference. It is well worth listening to the 20 minute slidecast that accompanies this presentation, it brings the static pages to life.

If you want some background on what Creative Commons is, please see my previous post and video on “What is creative Commons?“.

Creative Commons: What every Educator needs to know. View more webinars from Rodd Lucier.

Benefits of Collaborative Learning

What are the benefits of collaborative learning, for the students? Well, here are my selection from the 40 or so listed on the Global Development Research Centre’s website which I had not considered before;

1. Develops higher level thinking skills

4. Builds self esteem in students

9. Promotes positive race relations

14. Involves students in developing curriculum and class procedures

22. Encourages alternate student assessment techniques

25. Students are taught how to criticize ideas, not people

34. Classroom anxiety is significantly reduced

These are good, but not aspects of collaboration I had considered. The more ‘normal’ (for want of a better word) are, for me;

5. Enhances student satisfaction with the learning experience

6. Promotes a positive attitude toward the subject matter

7. Develops oral communication skills

10. Creates an environment of active, involved, exploratory learning

15. Students explore alternate problem solutions in a safe environment

20. Students develop responsibility for each other

29. Greater ability of students to view situations from others’ perspectives (development of empathy

33. Promotes innovation in teaching and classroom techniques

36. Classroom resembles real life social and employment situations

What would you add to this list (or the original list; link above)?

eResearch: what’s the buzz?

From my previous post on eResearch “Reading: “The Role of LTs in supporting e-research (eResearch)” I have continued to read around the topic and find that the JISC’s strategic theme is one we all (Learning Technologists) could get involved in. Yes?

So, why aren’t we then? Is it that academic staff don’t know we could help, or that they don’t want our help or don’t think we have anything to offer? I think it is even more basic than this … I think it is all down to the time that is available.

I know that my working day is stuffed full of emails, training, workshops, fault-finding, meetings, reporting, design, liaising, etc. I also know that academics have a full diary that often does not have the ability, even in time dedicated to their research, to sit and explain what they are doing.

So, what can a Learning Technologist (LT) / Instructional Designer (ID) offer eResearch? from the JISC strategic page on what is eResearch (or e-Research as they use):

“It’s concerned with technologies that support all the processes involved in research including (but not limited to) creating and sustaining research collaborations and discovering, analysing, processing, publishing, storing and sharing research data and information. Typical technologies in this domain include: Virtual Research Environments, Grid computing, visualisation services, and text and data mining services.”

Great, just the kind of activities that us LTs can help with, in fact are already participating in but not necessarily under the name of ‘eResearch’. From my previous post I quoted that:

“It is suggested that many learning technologists could extend their roles, transferring their knowledge to include supporting e-research. A more inclusive model of the learning technologist’s role in academia could help address the potential polarisation of the profession into researchers and practitioners.”

If I could get involved in this kind of activity, this could go towards my work and evidence for CMALT membership.

Are there any LTs out there active in eResearch that are willing to talk about how they are doing it (not necessarily what they are doing if the subject is sensitive for publications, PhDs, etc)? Please get in contact, it would be good to get the conversation going.

How do you encourage student participation online?

Whether you’re studying online, or facilitating online study, the issue of student participation is always going to dog you. This is a very important area that all tutors or online facilitators should be very knowledgeable about, as just one person ‘lurking’ or not joining in has a very marked effect on the whole online discussion.

So, what are the skills and techniques that can be used to ‘encourage’ the few who are reluctant to join in?

Draw all students into the discussion. You can involve more students by asking whether they agree with what has just been said or whether someone can provide another example to support or contradict a point: “How do the rest of you feel about that?” or “Does anyone who hasn’t spoken care to comment on XYZ?” Moreover, if you move away from – rather than toward – a student who makes a comment, the student will speak up and outward, drawing everyone into the conversation. The comment will be “on the floor,” open for students to respond to.

Give quiet students special encouragement. Quiet students are not necessarily uninvolved, so avoid excessive efforts to draw them out. Some quiet students, though, are just waiting for a non-threatening opportunity to speak.”

Active facilitation – A variety of strategies were grouped in this category, including challenging students to answer more in depth, not letting people dominate the discussion, and stopping folks who are just participating for the sake of participating.

Asking effective questions – This is related to the old adage about the quality of the questions being predictive of the quality of the answers. But there was also this student observation about a response that decreases discussion: “when a facilitator is looking for specific answers and does not consider alternative concepts.

Affirm contributions and provide constructive feedback – Recommendations here ranged from stressing how the class benefits from wrong answers to making reference subsequently to student answers or writing good student responses on the board.”

“You can improve student participation in your course by devoting time and thought to shaping the environment and planning each class session. Furthermore, the way in which you interact, both verbally and non-verbally, communicates to students your attitude about participation.”

“The instructor’s goal is to create conditions that enable students of various learning styles and personalities to contribute. To reach this goal, you will need to take extra steps to encourage quiet students to speak up and, occasionally, ask the more verbose students to hold back from commenting in order to give others a chance.”

Blog Content – do you want someone else to do it for you?

Again, it’s a Twitter based story (sorry), and I need to write this before I forget. I was contacted on Twitter by eLearning 3.0 and replied. Then I stayed on his (?) profile and had a look back over the previous posts and questions / replies.

Then I decided to visit the blog and read about him (I’ll refer to him as a ‘him’ for the sake of making it more personal, but am happy to be corrected if I’m wrong!) and found that he’s now listed on the eLearning Learning website. Now this is where the story jumps a bit as I’m not sure where I went next but I ended up on the post on Jane’s blog, where she mentioned something called Apture.

You heard of it before? No, me neither. As it said “Add multimedia to your site with one click” it sounded interesting so I thought I’d take a peek.

Wow, not bad! Reading through the blurb it integrates seamlessly into WordPress (nice) and enables me to quickly embed pictures, video, news, etc from other websites including YouTube, CNN, BBC, Yahoo, and many more. By downloading the Apture file from their website, including it the ‘wp-plugins’ directory in mine, I can now easily add content to my posts without going through the hassle of searching and logging in.

I’m still not convinced the security and other settings work, and the ability to somehow edit my post without logging in to WordPress doesn’t fill me with much faith, but I’ll trial it for a while and let you know how I get on. I’ll somehow put a list together later to let you know what content has come from Apture in my posts.

If you already use it, or are going to start, then please let me know, post a reply / comment here and we’ll try it out together?


100 eLearning Articles & White Papers

I know it’s cheap of me to do it, but here’s a link to someone else’s hard work.

Tony Karrer’s list covers all the basics, and provides an extremely insightful list of the different aspects of eLearning (I especially like the one he found to ‘We Learning’).

University 2.0

Someone else has decided to jump on the band-wagon and use the ‘2.0’ name for something else .. this time it’s ‘University 2.0’. So, what’s it all about then?

As I see it it’s just another way of talking about Web 2.0 or eLearning, but this time it’s more specific to the use of these tools in a University environment.

Aditya writes, in her (?) blog, that Universities makes “use of several Web 2.0 technologies” in an educational environment. Listing the usual suspects of Wikis and Blogs, as well as LinkedIn and other Social Networking systems, but has missed out on introducing such tools as Second Life.

However, Terence Armentano goes further to explore University 2.0 and correctly identifies that “we are part of a global human network in which we can now harness the collective intelligence of people from all walks of life to come up with solutions to problems that could have never been possible in the past” … isn’t this the whole point of eLearning? Well, it is for me.

It isn’t necessary to list the tips and tricks of University 2.0 as I’ve already mentioned them in my previous posts about Web 2.0 (see below) but it is worth mentioning that we have arrived at the point in development of Web 2.0 where “the online learning environment is the ideal space for communication and learning to occur”.

It is worth saying, however, that we can still get it so very wrong if we don’t pay attention and develop the resources correctly. A well designed online course uses technology to offer an interactive, communicative, and collaborative environment, and is able to “equip students to become the leaders of the future”.

eLearning, where do we go from here?

Using the tools of Web 2.0 (wiki, blog, podcast, etc) learners are starting at younger and younger ages. The technology is appearing at home when they are younger and so their expectations of when and where to use it are changing (“Generation Y”)

When they get to further and higher education they ‘expect’ that they will use a wiki, use a blog or be given a podcast (or be asked to produce their own). So we, the teachers and Learning Technologists, need to be able to offer this so we can match, and even exceed, their expectations.

Steve O’Hear noted that Web 2.0 is ” … not designed specifically for use in education” but went on to say that “these tools are helping to make e-learning far more personal, social, and flexible.”

However, Steve has now coined a term I thought, or hoped, I wouldn’t hear: “eLearning 2.0“. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the phrase, but it is obviously based on the term Web 2.0 which itself is not really a real term (we have not had a major shift from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 as the name suggests).

“The traditional approach to e-learning”, he says, “has been to employ the use of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), software that is often cumbersome and expensive – and which tends to be structured around courses, timetables, and testing.” This is often based around the needs of the institution rather than the learner. The contrast between the VLE approach and the eLearning 2.0 approach is that the latter “combines the use of discrete but complementary tools and web services – such as blogs, wikis, and other social software – to support the creation of ad-hoc learning communities.”

Collaborative eLearning Systems

Traditional Learning Management Systems (LMS)

The development of the new suite of eLearning tools is going on outside the ‘traditional’ places .. it’s happening in the (virtual) classrooms, born of the need of the learners, not the educators. The Internet is now about the two-way communication and collaboration, and the classroom has become the ideal, if not natural, location for this to happen. The ‘old school’ systems (VLE, LMS) don’t have the direction and ability to enable the learners to focus on the community aspects of learning. “They are expensive”, writes Steve O’Hear, “and are generally seen as clunky and difficult to use – not unlike traditional Content Management Systems in enterprises. They also have a lot of features that most teachers and students don’t want or need.”