Thursday, September 06, 2007


I use the rather wonderful Wink to create animated screen captures for my on-line learning materials.

I get a lot of feedback from people who are not allowed to install software on their institution's computers. For them I would recommend


which performs a similar job but completely on-line.

TeacherTube - Teach the World

Well, the summer's over and I'm back lecturing and the blog's back too.

My last entry was to suggest that bite sized learning could be stored in a YouTube style site, properly tagged and available to everyone.

Well gosh-darn it someone's only gone and done it:

TeacherTube - Teach the World

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


While many of us think of e-learning from a traditional academic perspective some of the more interesting implementations are actually to be found elsewhere.

SuTree is an index of free video lessons, tutorials, lectures and how-to guides covering an eclectic range of subjects. On the day I visited the most viewed video was "How to Make a Banana Split".

Now, if you need help in the preparation of fruit based desserts you may have other problems, but the principle of having categorised help videos is sound. All we need is someone to provide the necessary hosting facilities.

Even the videos could be hosted anywhere (like YouTube) and the hosting would simply be a categorised, or tagged, set of links.

Any volunteers?

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I've written before about my liberal use of Wikipedia as a background source for information. After someone asked for more information about why I started writing a post detailing my reasons, and then the fine people at Google Operating System did it instead.

Ther article "Why People Link to Wikipedia" details some of the many reasons that Wikipedia is a prime resource for unbiased and useful information.

Here's number 1:

1. Wikipedia articles have a lot of content
and people like to link to pages that consist mostly of text. There's a
lot of information structured in a consistent way and that makes most
of the articles valuable.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Friday, March 23, 2007


My favourite VLE is starting to get even more coverage in the press. This article on ZDNet shows just how far Moodle has come.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

On the Implementation of an LMS or LCMS

The eLearning Guild is an American organisation (or organization as they would have it) that promotes eLearning, its uses and applications.

As part of this they have produced, in collaboration with Adobe, a free e-book on the subject.

While it's too fragmented to read well it's still a useful resource for anyone involved in implementing these systems.

While you're there check out the other e-books they have available.

Monday, March 12, 2007

SQA and e-Learning

You can say want you want about the SQA (insert your own joke here) but they have always seen the potential of e-learning, e-assessment and e-portfolios. In fact for a small country we are remarkably advanced in introducing these things into the day-to-day learning environment.

If you're interested in the SQA's current thinking (and you should be) they've produced a new document outlining their vision for the next five years and more. You can read the PDF document at this link:

SQA E-Assessment Vision Strategy

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Veracity of On-Line Sources

When creating my various e-learning packages I frequently include links to background information. More often than not those links go to Wikipedia.

I've found that for straight technical subjects (like, picking an example purely at random, a description of the 802.11 wireless standard) Wikipedia is peerless.

Where I would be less keen to use it is on subjective subjects. Two items have come together today that remind me exactly why that is.

The first, and most though-provoking, is the news that an editor on Wikipedia faked his credentials; including awarding himself a fake doctorate in religion. I'm not concerned that the editor did not have formal academic qualifications, many of the most knowledgable people in all sorts of fields have knowledge gained from long years of study but have never been near an academic institution. Instead my concern is that people with personal axes to grind will use Wikipedia to promote their own viewpoints, rather than writing authoritatively and dispassionately.

Which brings me to the second piece of news. Some radical American right-wing neo-conservatives have started Conservapedia to present their own, uniquely twisted, view of world affairs. At heart this means that everything good is American, Christian and right-wing and everything bad is European, non-Christian and liberal.

This led to an amusing exchange on the BBC's Today programme (yes, Conservapedia, it does have an extra me at the end) between representatives from the two organisations. For Wikipedia the goal is an authoratitive, neutral representation of information. The Conservapedia spokesman on the other hand seemed unable to graps the idea of neutrality, continually complaining that pro-American and pro-Christian articles had been edited or removed altogether. Not forgetting one of the most heinous allegations against Wikipedia, it sometimes uses non-American spelling!

So, do we want Wikipedia where everyone is equal at the potential expense of articles that don't know what they're talking about, or Conservapedia where no-one is equal and no-one knows what they're talking about? Let's just say that I won't be referencing Conservapedia any time soon.

UPDATE: Looks like Conservapedia has a new, extra, URL. Welcome to Moronopedia.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Software for Virtual Teams

The bonus, and the drawback, of creating e-learning is that it is quite common to be nowhere near the other members of your team when you are working together.

Most people have an idea of the various tools that are available for virtual working but Read/Write Web has just come up with an article on software for virtual teams that covers them all.

It is comprehensive, at least for a week until the next big thing comes out.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


For those of us who seem to always have their computers go down there is help in retrieving iTunes data. bandwagon is an on-line backup for your downloaded iTunes purchases. Definitely worth checking out.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Giveaway of the Day

All of us in education know how tight money can be and so any help we can get is gratefully accepted. That's why I've added a link to Giveaway of the Day over at the right.

While the site often gives away, and let's not beat around the bush here, rubbish, some gems do come up occasionally.

On the day I've posted this, for example, it's a useful utility to convert PowerPoint presentations to video format.

Worth keeping an eye on.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wireless Access

Fon are a Spanish company that organise wireless access throughout the world. The idea is that everyone that is signed up to the network shares some of their bandwidth with other Fon users. As you travel you can use free wireless hot spots from other members in the community.

The hardware aspect of this is a wireless router that you plug into your broadband connection to allow other Fon users, and only other Fon users, to connect and user your broadband connection.

As part of their celebrations for being one year old Fon are currently giving away 2,500 of these routers free. I've signed up.

This is a great way of widening wireless access without it costing loads. And a convenient way of me sitting in a coffe shop kidding on I'm working without it costing me £30 a month for wireless access.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Show, Don't Tell

One of the central tenets of e-learning materials that I try and push to my colleagues is that, where possible, show don't tell.

This video takes that on board and shows why Web 2.0 is actually important; and not just in education.

Google Documents

After my previous less than complimentary remarks on Google documents and spreadsheets I was contacted by several people who tell me that the facility is actually very usable. In particular the collaboration features are some of the easiest to use.

As someone who has always been willing to try new technologies, particularly when it may cause a delay to work I don't want to do anyway, I decided to check and see if I agreed.

Having a new project under way that will require some light office style documents to be created I'm going to attempt to complete it using only the the on-line tools.

I think you might need to wish me luck...

And it's a new world record!

That is definitely some kind of record.

AS I posted my last entry talking about how I'd try on-line Google Docs for my new project, you guessed it, my internet connection died.

So that is now officially my trial over. Six minutes that lasted. Until there is some way to have my work available off-line as well I simply cannot trust any on-line editing tool with my work.

So, when do Google add word-processing and spreadsheets to Google desktop? Together with some way of synching the data.

I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tipsy Clock

This is absolute genius!

Ever find yourself just those few minutes late for a meeting? Missed a train because you thought you'd make just one more call? Or just congenitally always late?

The Procrastinator's Clock shows the time with up to 15 minutes error. In other words it might be on time or up to 15 minutes fast.

Result? Not knowing how fast it is you use it as the correct time ensuring that, at worst, you are on time or, at best, 15 minutes early for everything.

Now all I need is a utility to hide my watch. :-)

Truism Time

I've been deep in writing mode recently and it's not been going as quickly or easily as I'd have liked. Stupid problems crept in, the flow was poor and the overall concepts did not come through as well as they should have.

An enforced break over the weekend (looking at wardrobes if you're interested!) gave me time to reflect on the problems and devise a strategy.

As is often the case the answer is blindingly obvious. I hadn't planned.

In my efforts to just get things done I had neglected rule one and had sat down at my computer and started typing. That may be OK for a blog entry but it causes endless problems with any piece of writing over a page.

Other recent writing has followed the same path

  1. Think about the goals
  2. Mind-map the topics
  3. Research anything I am not immediately comfortable with
  4. Repeat until happy

Then, and only then, had I started writing.

The latest set of notes had followed another path entirely

  1. Sit down
  2. Write
  3. Hope

This is not as effective as the first method!

The annoying thing is that I know this. The idea of planning something beforehand is not new. I had been careful to do it every other time. The difference here was time. Under pressure to get something done I had disregarded every piece of good practise and hoped for the best. My mum would have told me "More haste, less speed". As someone who's careful to avoid cliche I wouldn't say that. But she's still right.

Monday, January 15, 2007


As you can see from the previous post I find the easiest way to update this blog is from right inside Firefox using Performancing.

This add-on allow me to compose my messages, add links, format and so on without leaving my browser environment.

If Writely (now Google Docs) ever gets a bit quicker I may never leave my browser again.

This week I have been mostly Winking.

On of the (many) difficulties with on-line teaching materials is the lack of interactivity. There is no way to immediately give feedback or explanations.

The only way around this is for two-way video links between tutors and students (meaning that the learning needs to be synchronous rather than the more desirable asynchronous mode).

A way of obviating the need for feedback is for as much demonstration material to be available on-line as possible. This requires some way of showing exactly what is happening on the screen.

The best tool I've yet found for this is Wink. Wink is a screen recorder with a built-in editor. When complete the screen grab can be augmented with sound (or text or titles or...) and the finished movie saved as a Flash format file suitable for viewing in most browsers.

This great freeware tool has saved me loads of time and is truly remarkable.

Highly recommended.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Assessment 2.0 - the future of assessment?

Bobby over at the Scottish Education blog has written a paper about the future of assessment.

I don't agree with everything written there but it's definitely worth reading the paper.

And we're back...

As is all too common for many people I've been too busy creating e-learning to write about creating e-learning.

While this has undoubtedly not bothered you too much it has not helped me. The act of writing about what I'm doing makes a big difference in my approach. The reflection required to write semi-coherently about what I'm doing and the mistakes that simply committing my words to (electronic) paper reveal are definitely more helful to me than the two people that actually read this blog.

So, I'm back and I'm committing to updating. You have been warned. :-)

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