Students using their own devices – e-learning stuff podcast

My last blog post was about changing attitudes about using learner owned devices, which then prompted an e-learning stuff podcast with James Clay, Lilian Soon, and Ron Mitchell, where we discussed this basic idea further, with James playing devils advocate, and Lilian, Ron and Myself making sense of the some of the issues (barriers) that are often presented when this issue is addressed.

Some of the key messages are about giving the learners choice, looking at the teaching activities not the technologies, and the idea is not to completely replace organisation owned computers, but allow learners to use their own instead, thus liberating other computers for students who may not be able to afford their own ipad or similar.

I made a point towards the end, about how letting learners use their own devices offers wonderful accessibility benefits for disabled learners, and I think these benefits outweigh the problems of the digital divide issues, which can be managed through sensible financial investment, good management and decision making.

A point was also made about the cultural change required to make this work, but one thing that is in our favour in this area, is we are not looking for a wholesale and sudden shift in attitude from our staff – but instead if we allow those that want to work this way to do so, once others see the benefits, and students identify which ideas they like and don’t like, it is then easier for other staff to follow suit over a period of time, and I think this shift can happen gradually over a period of time, allowing the infra-structure to upgrade sufficiently, and the cost associated can be offset against savings in not replacing as many organisation computers as they naturally reach the end of their lifetime.

Taken from http://farm5.static.flickr.com/7037/6868878321_1f659890d3_b.jpg on 2012-3-06
Original URL – http://www.flickr.com/27214509@N00/6868878321/ created on 2011-12-24 17:38:57
April RinneCC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Should we use Flash in education?

Last week I took part in an e-learning stuff podcast on the future of flash.in which we discussed in light of the fact that the Apple iPhone and Ipad doesn’t do flash, should we stop using it when creating educational content.

So should we stop using Flash when creating content – or do we keep using it, knowing that some people will have devices that won’t be able to access the content?

When I worked at a University; for the ‘e-learning courses’ – (the ones that were delivered entirely online) when a learner inquired and before they enrolled they were given a minimum specification in terms of what they would need on their computers in order to be able to do the course – and this idea I liked – it then made it easy to create content and check it against this specification, and then be safe in the knowledge that everything will work as desired.

So this could be one solution – to state what types of resources will be used, and what specifications are required to use them – then people can make a choice.

Another option would be for an organisation to stop using Flash, so that the iPad users out there, can use their devices, but how far do we go with this. I use Microsoft extensively in my teaching resources – so some of these resources become unusable on certain devices. However when I produce such resources, I do try where possible to create them in a way that they will work in older version of office and in open office. This isn’t always possible as sometimes there is a functionality in the newer versions which prevents this, in which case I have to make a judgment as to what to do, which is similar to accessibility judgments where you way up the benefits for the masses, against the disadvantages to the minority – can you make an adjustment for the minority, and then decide which technique or tool to use, and I think that this approach is valid for the use of Flash, and I follow these steps when making a decision.

  1. What is the learning outcome that I am trying to achieve?
  2. Which learners will be using the resource, and when and how?
  3. Which technologies could be used?
  4. Which one will give me the best desired output?
  5. Which one will give me the best compromise of desired output and increased accessibility?
  6. Which one will be easiest to update in the future by myself or someone else?
  7. I will then weigh up the answers to the above questions to try to make an informed decision.

The problem with this model is that it relies on me having not just a good knowledge of the different options available, but also access to lots of different tools to create them. In many organisations they will have a small number of tools to create content, and the staff will learn how to use 1 or 2, and then proceed with them only.

At some point in the future when HTML 5 is mainstream then these issues may go away, but there is such a vast array of existing materials out there, it will take time for this to happen and time for the existing resources to get converted and updated.

Podcast on Inclusion, conferences, and lesson planning

The last few months I have rather busy so have be unavailable for the e-learning stuff podcasts series, but last week could find the time to join one of these casts, which as usual took a meandering wandering through various topics, starting with the idea of an unconference, then onto do we need big name keynote speakers at events, a bit on inclusion, and then finally our views on lesson planning (which I think could be a podcast in its own right).

The podcast can be found here

Podcast – snow and e-learning

After a break of quite a few weeks, I was involved in another panel podcast, hastily arranged and recorded to discuss the topical issue of the disruption to education caused by snow, and how e-learning could paly a part (now and in the future).

The podcast can be found at http://elearningstuff.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/e-learning-stuff-podcast-012-its-snow-joke/

Snow man

Snow man

Podcast on the issue of links opening in new windows


Windows 2007

Originally uploaded by Marius!!

I recently partook in a panel podcast, this time the topic being the issue of whether links should open in a new window or open in the same window. I don’t think we came to a clear conclusion, but touched on many other aspects in passing.

Listen to the podcast here – http://elearningstuff.wordpress.com/2008/11/23/e-learning-stuff-podcast-008-forcing-the-windows-open/

Podcast on e-learning and teacher training

Again I have been involved in producing a podcast, this time on the role of teacher training and e-learning. As we recorded the podcast, a few comments were made about us being negative (and this has influenced the title of this episode) but listening to it again, I don’t think that we were as negative as we originally thought. It isn’t my style to be negative – I usually provide solutions not problems, but from the panel involved, none of us reported having a ‘positive’ teacher training experience, so statistically I think this is an area, that has room for improvement, and I hope that in the years to come the universities and colleges running teacher training, will engage with people like myself and the others involved in the podcast to help improve the courses.

The podcast can be accessed at
http://elearningstuff.wordpress.com/2008/11/16/e-learning-stuff-podcast-007-were-not-negative/

Podcast on the impact of the asus eee pc and other devices

Last week I was again involved in the recording of a podcast, on the impact that the asus eee pc has had on education since it first appeared about 1 year ago.

The podcast can be accessed here http://elearningstuff.wordpress.com/2008/11/09/e-learning-stuff-podcast-006-you-say-asus-and-i-say-asus/ but if you haven’t time to listen to it all – here are my views on the key factors:-

  1. These small PC devices are so cheap, they are now comparible to mobile phones, so it is feasible that in a few years time, learners will own them, and carry them around.
  2. With 3G services becoming cheaper and more affordable, again more learners will be using this in a few years time.
  3. So if institutions have over-rigourous blocking software, learners will just by-pass the institutions systems to access the internet through their un-restricted 3G connection and small PC device
  4. So the pragmatic approach for colleges and universities, is to invest less in providing lots of PCs for students (that sit there not used for most of the day) – instead to invest in a wireless network that people can connect to.
  5. The benefit of this is that people can then choose what works for them, some will like the small, lightweight funky asus eee type devices, some will like even smaller PDAs and people like me with broad shoulders and fat fingers, and poor eyesight, will carry a heavy laptop around – but all benefitting from the influence of the asus eee pc