Tim Wang’s eLearning Blog – Ancient Spaces – Ready for the Fall

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/08/16

Tim Wang is working on some cool learning projects via 3D environments. This AM he posted an update on the Ancient Spaces project that is using 3D to teach on cultural history via immersive sets.

August is a critical month for the Ancient Spaces project where the modelers are busy porting the precisely designed 3D models into the Ancient Spaces editor and rendering engine. Check out these wonderful pictures, the lighting and shadows really make a difference!

Ancient Spaces Nisga village Nisga Village



Teens self organize a learning experience in Second Life

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/08/09

Just heard about via the Second Life Education Mailing List –– teens have self organized a learning experience on creating awareness about Child Sex Trafficking. Happened in an area of second life called the Teen Grid.

Looks like they created a maze that users would move through, digest facts, answer questions in exchange for Second Life stuff, and were given the opportunity to donate Second Life dollars at the end.

Pretty inventive and striking in it’s informality and self organization.

Here’s some details from the Global Kids blog entry.

On the effectiveness of the design ––

The thing I found interesting about this was how, by trying to address teenagers from a route which many are more comfortable in, and spend quite a bit of time in, they’re also managing to educate them, quite willingly in most places. As I went round the maze I saw many people stopping at each of the case studies and fact cards and reading them.

On the self organizing nature of it ––

Also evident throughout second life are members educating themselves or each other. For example, a lot of items are created by the members, who have had to learn how to build them, then learn programming for more interactive elements. Many of the kids on Teen grid didn’t know how to programme when they first arrived, however, through tutorials and people willing to help each other, they have learnt enough to complete items they are building, or have learnt where to go to find out more so they can continue to educate themselves.

On the inventiveness of their methodology ––

Raising money was also another part of the event that seemed to be working quite well. It can often be hard to get teenagers to donate money, however, within the virtual world they were a lot more willing. The one donation box had raised about L$6500 within a few hours, which is about $22. Although it does not seem that much, If the same people had passed a donation box in the street for the same cause, would so much have been donated?

 



Article: ‘e-learning 2.0 – How Web technologies are shaping education’

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/08/09

Great article this AM from the folks over at Read/Write Web on emerging Web 2.0 (yeah, I know, but we gotta call it something) trends in eLearning.

Article is titled ‘e-learning 2.0 – how Web technologies are shaping education’. Here’s an excerpt –– 

The traditional approach to e-learning 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. That is an approach that is too often driven by the needs of the institution rather than the individual learner.

In contrast, e-learning 2.0 (as coined by Stephen Downes) takes a ‘small pieces, loosely joined’ approach that 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.

This is the heart of what I will be going into detail on in ‘Blogs and Screencasts in the Quest for Training Attention’ for my Cerner Health Conference 2006 presentation in Orlando this October.



Blackboard adopts a ‘Patent the Obvious and Sue’ Revenue Model

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/08/02

Seems that eLearning vendor Blackboard is the latest tech company to switch to a “patent the obvious and sue” revenue model.

According to this post by Harold Jarche they’ve ––

  1. Been granted a far-reaching patent for “Internet-based education support system and methods”
  2. Already filed a lawsuit against its main competitor Desire2Learn

My understanding at this point is that their patent covers all rudimentary LMS functionality and seems to overlap with a lot of standard content management system (CMS) functionality as well. (Excerpt from the patent is below –– text of full patent is available here).

For instance, seems the patent guarantees a lock on ––

  1. Role based user functionality that defines some users as “administrator”, some as “instructors”, and some as “students”. (Patent claim, point 1)
  2. Grouping content into “courses” (Patent claim, point 1)
  3. Creation and editing of content that can be grouped into courses (Patent claim, point 2)
  4. Role based access to said courses (Patent claim, point 1)

I could go on, but you probably get the gist –– friendster has patented friend relationships reflected in technology –– and now blackboard has patented teacher/student relationships reflected in technology.

Can we take a moment and acknowledge how immoral this kind of corporate action is? Especially at the heart of emerging educational systems?

The thing that kills me is that we have to use up valuable brain cycles to discuss/combat this kind of dumb patent (can you say $$ lost via time spent on dumb stuff?)

Even with prior art (which there is tons of), combating it in legal/political channels is very expensive with no guarantee of “equitableconclusion being reached (depending on what the definition of Tubes is, of course).

So many resources that would be better spent building cool stuff -– not very often that you see this kind of “cost” calculated into these sorts of “revenue models”.

From my perspective, any company that tries to do this “patent the obvious and sue” tactic deserves to be called to account by the blogosphere — we’ve got small voices, but when you add them together they can get pretty loud.

––

From the patent ––

  1. A course-based system for providing to an educational community of users access to a plurality of online courses, comprising: a) a plurality of user computers, with each user computer being associated with a user of the system and with each user being capable of having predefined characteristics indicative of multiple predetermined roles in the system, each role providing a level of access to a plurality of data files associated with a particular course and a level of control over the data files associated with the course with the multiple predetermined user roles comprising at least two user’s predetermined roles selected from the group consisting of a student role in one or more course associated with a student user, an instructor role in one or more courses associated with an instructor user and an administrator role associated with an administrator user, and b) a server computer in communication with each of the user computers over a network, the server computer comprising: means for storing a plurality of data files associated with a course, means for assigning a level of access to and control of each data file based on a user of the system’s predetermined role in a course; means for determining whether access to a data file associated with the course is authorized; means for allowing access to and control of the data file associated with the course if authorization is granted based on the access level of the user of the system.


Interviewed on blogs and podcasting in the corporate environment

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/06/14

Caught up with Stuart Maxwell of the Seattle Podcasting Network (SPN) a few weeks ago at the Seattle TechCrunch party.

We talked about the challenges of using blogs, podcasting and new media tools in the corporate environment — great chat.

I cover some of the ins and outs of spreading the vision for these types of projects in healthcare (and other non-tech-industry) organizations (like the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford where I currently work).

Stuart recorded our conversation and has posted it to the as ‘SPN Podcast – TechCrunch Party Interviews: Part Two’.

Part 1 is also available from the SPN site.



Drupal Camp Seattle June 28-29

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/06/13

Two independent notes came in the other day noting that Drupal Camp will be here in Seattle on June 28-29. Sign-up is here are the bottom of the page (kinda hard to find, but it’s there).

May swing by for a bit if I have time before Gnomedex.

Thanks for the alerts go to Nancy White and Samantha Moscheck (whose DigitalAid design firm did the Drupal powered site for the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center where Mind Camp 2.0 was hosted).



University of Calgary chooses Drupal as CMS

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/06/12

The University of Calgary chose Drupal last week as their CMS. Details are on D’Arcy Norman’s blog.

One reason?? —

The longer term goal is to take advantage of some of the more social/community-oriented features, and open it up to individuals on campus.

I think we’re going to continue to see decisions like this as folks from all sorts of enterprise organizations realize the economic and productivity benefits that social and community features bring.



IT dept as experimentation agent: Podcasting at MIT

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/05/18

Came across this MIT podcasting site via Dave Winer this AM.

What I find interesting is how their “Information Services & Technology” group is actively encouraging the intentional and informal exploration and experimentation of emerging learning technologies like podcasts. From the site —

IS&T encourages members of the MIT community to contribute podcasts and other audio downloads of content of value to the MIT community. We are pleased to collect these contributions and to promote understanding and use of this emerging communications mode. … Submissions from members of the MIT community that are more informal, ad hoc, and open. These submissions can be directly added via the IS&T Podcast Wiki.

Until our IT and Web groups see themselves as agents of exploration, we’re not going to see much of the exciting and promising informal learning technology take of “inside the firewall” of organizations.

It’s only through trying stuff on that we can find things that work.

Until our IT depts are not skittish around words like “blog-podcast-tags-wiki-opensource-wordpress-php-mysql-yada-whatever-amen”, we’re gonna have a hard time trying stuff like this on to see what works.

Kudos to MIT’s IT dept for showing us a different way to go about things.



Captivate 2.0 Beta is underway!

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/05/17

Great news for those of us who are Captivate fans — Captivate 2.0 is in Beta 2 (closed beta) — those of you who were worried about the future of our beloved sim tool post Adobe/Macromedia merger, fear no more.

I’m part of the beta group and have to say that it is very nice. Some fantastic enhancements are on the way with usability, productivity, and architecture.

Can’t say more, but would suggest you keep an eye on Silke Fleischer’s new Adobe blog.



Avoiding corruption with blank default dialogue text in Firefly

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/05/11

Here’s a helpful addition to the info from yesterday’s post on customizing UI text in Knowledge Planet’s Firefly (v 4.1.19).

Don’t make any text under “Simulation >> Customize Interface >> Customize Text (tab)” blank — ever.

My best understanding at this point is that this is what will corrupt your custom text settings and make them un-editable.

Work around is that I put some blank HTML font formatting in when I want to make some of the systems messages blank (no time to explain why you would want to do this — just trust me that there are some compelling reasons to do it). Code I’ve used is —

*CONTINUE_INSTRUCTIONS = <font size="0"></font>

This seems to be enough of a placeholder that the Firefly edit routines for these setting will not choke and corrupt them.

Will post more info if I come across anything to the contrary.