m-learning – ‘the great accessibility enabler’

Earlier this year, I was honoured to be asked to do a keynote presentation at an m-learning event organised by JISC RSC-Eastern. Earlier in the day James Clay had opened proceedings with his keynote, and I was closing with mine – although I may be bias I think an excellent combination of presenters.

James videoed the session, which he has uploaded to his blog, which is great for me, as I can use this to reflect on my own presentation technique – for example due to the day overrunning slightly, I was slightly late starting, so was concerned that I went a bit too quick to compensate – however watching the video I realise that the pace was OK. I have also reduced the number of uhms from my presentation style (which used to be prevelant in my earlier days) and although I am constantly moving around – I  don’t fidgit as much as I used to. I haven’t seen a video of myself presenting for over 2 years now, so this has been a really useful exercise.

Skype Explained Visually

I  have been following a blog by Joe Dale, which contains some really good little gems, one of which is this YouTube video explaining the basic principles of how Skype works.

As well as explaining how Skype works, this is an example of how animation can be used for communication, and how effective it can be. I don’t know how long this took to create, or what tools they used, but very effective.


Etherpad is a really clever little web based tool, which allows you to create a pad – which is like a web based document, but where multiple people can edit it at the same time (this is diferent to a wiki, where only one person can edit at any one time).

To create an Etherpad go to their website http://etherpad.com/ and click on the orange button – this will generate a pad for you, and all you need to do is email the web address to the people you want to collaborate with, and off you go. If you want to take it a step closer and have a URL that means something, then add your own text to the end of the  http://etherpad.com address – and as long as no-one else has this then you are away.

How can this be used –

Planning activites – I have used this for planning activities with other people, as it colour codes who edits what, it is easy to see who is doing what. It doesn’t matter if you edit it at the same time or seperate times – it works well both well.

Supporting Phone or Skype calls – I was having a Skype call with someone trying to arrange a timetable for a training event we were jointly running. We created the programme in Etherpad, and then collaboratively edited it as we were talking.

Collaborative note taking – if you have a room full of learners taking notes, some of them may miss something. If they work in small groups so they all take notes but into the same Etherpad then there is less chance of things being missed, as well as the chance to get other peoples views on what it being learnt.

And there must be many many more uses, which only our imagination can limit us.

So how do they make money – you can pay to have a premium account, with this you can make your pads secure (with the free version, your pad is in the public domain, so anyone that finds that pad, can view and edit it), so I hope that they can make enough money from this mechanism to allow them to keep the free service open for us that want to use. Obviously we need to be aware that the free pads are open to the World, so not a good idea to use for sensitive information – and in certain situations, once the pad has served its purpose, I have deleted the contents.

All in all though a very neat little tool.