Tuesday, October 26, 2004

ISD debates: Calling water H20

Ed reflects on a recent class discussion on the famous Clark/Kozma media and methods debate. This discussion followed similar discussions on the debates in our field about Addie vs. other models, Constructivism vs. Behaviorism vs. Cognitivism, etc. Exasperated, Ed says:
"I am still not understanding why it is that many people are still trying to divide the sea and call one side water and the other H2O and insist they cannot mix (that is the way I see this and other debates on the ID field). It is true that there are interesting points on each side, which I particularly think that together will make a powerful weapon on the learning process."

Great analogy, Ed! I often feel the same way: that we spend too much time in the Instructional Design field arguing about which is the RIGHT way of doing instruction instead of just finding as many VARIETIES of effective instructional methods or theories that simply work. The more good instructional tools that we can put in the toolbox, the better instruction will be for all learners.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The history of Social Software

This post is mostly for Charles and to anyone else interested in computer-supported collaboration (by the way, if you are going to BYU, make sure you consider taking Charles's Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning course next semester). Anyway, Christopher Allen has a nice summary of the history of the terms associated with technology-supported interaction or collaboration. He begins with Memex in the 40s and continues through to more recent terms like Groupware, CSCW, and now Social Software. Along the way, he describes key people, technologies and trends that supported this movement. It's interesting and definitely worth reading!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A good laugh

Oh, this is rich! Microsoft's Steve Ballmer said in a press conference in London that most IPod music is "stolen," and he basically tried to bill Microsoft as the good guys in corporate America and Apple as the villains trying to destroy corporate America. At least that is the way Andy McCue reported it.

Well, if for nothing else, Microsoft's always good for a laugh! :-)

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Rip, Mix, and Learn - a new way of learning

For those who are reading my blog who attended the IT Institute with me, this is old news. For others, there is a lot of chatter on the Internet now about RML: Rip, Mix, and Learn. The basic idea is that with the Internet, a good model for learning is to rip stuff that's out there (or in other words, grab it, collect, convert it so you have it, whatever it is), mix it (which means personalize it, remix it, change it so it has your spin), and then learn from the process. It's a way of synthesizing material from many sources by mixing them into one product. We've done this for a long time. Traditional English papers often meant collecting quotes from others and remixing them so it made sense to you. Now with modern technologies we can do this in many new ways and do it much easier.

The implications, as I see them, for education are that students don't need to be receivers of knowledge, or dumpsters where teachers do some information dumping. Instead, they can be creators of new knowledge, remixed from old information they glean from the Internet. They can Rip, Mix, and Learn words, audio, video, and many other things and learn through the creation of the new products.

Will Richardson refers to a presentation on this topic by Alan Levine about this topic, and then Will goes on to say how blogging and other new technologies can enable RML by our students:
" Today, Alan writes about RML with RSS as he's building combined feeds with Blogdigger. The "rip" is to take feeds from a number of different sources, "mix" them into one feed, and "learn" from the results. The easy example for students is to create a number of search feeds for the same terms from various sources (Bloglines, Feedster, Google News etc.) and then stick them all together at Blogdigger.

What I think has even more potential at some point is the mixing on all the content feeds that a particular student might have to create a virtual portfolio feed. For instance, as a teacher using all of these tools in the classroom, I would love one feed that watches what my student posts in her Weblog (either just in my class or in all of her classes,) what she saves to Furl, the pictures that she takes to supplement her work at Flickr, the e-mails she receives to her rss-able Bloglines e-mail account, and her contributions to the class wiki. I wouldn't mind that as a parent either. Anyway, it's cool to think about the possibilities. Still just a wacky vision in a few wacky brains, but you never know..."

I don't know if I would take it as far as Will (can you imagine trying to manage all of those different feeds from all of you students?), but I agree with him in previous posts that blogging is a form of RML. Maybe that's why I love to do it!

Blogs + IPods = Podcasting!

Well, if you like blogging, and if you like IPods, you'll love Podcasting. You can post audio files, which are sent by rss feeds to all your buddies' computers. They can then download your daily, or weekly, or whatever, audio file into their IPods and listen to it. If you want to read more, here's a news article, and here's Adam Curry's blog, where he posts a daily audio essay.

How cool would that be? Can you imagine getting a daily audio file from, say, lds.org? How about if your professor posted things to you every day? What if your best friend, or boyfriend/spouse, did that? Could this be better than email? What if you could record your voice into your computer, and then send it by rss to your friend's IPod, and they would hear it the next time they plugged their IPod into their computer. Fun!

Will Richardson started talking about some educational possibilities for this technology on his blog:
"..now let's take this into the classroom, huh? Foreign language students can now read their homework responses which automatically get sent via RSS feeds to their teachers who download them to their iPods or other player to listen to them. Or, the teacher creates a daily broadcast that his students download and listen to. Or, each day, one student does an oral reflection on the class that then gets sent around to kids who miss the class."

This is something I could get very excited about, maybe partly because I love audio talks and audio books. On my other blog I am carrying on a discussion with my students about possible educational applications of Podcasting. If you have ideas, please go there and post them! (or post them here, if you wish)

In closing, the article says this about Podcasting and why it might take off and get popular:
"But Podcasting -- like blogging -- seems to combine the best of the Internet with the best of traditional media. It's a way for someone to create and distribute a show to 40 people. And it also would allow a media company to distribute audio content to millions."

Friday, October 01, 2004

The need for standards

Back to a favorite soapbox of mine, an article by wired.com quotes Tim Berners-Lee as saying a major hurdle to the collaborative internet he always envisioned is standards. To quote the article,
"The inventor of the World Wide Web told a technology conference on Wednesday that making the web more useful hinges on a familiar challenge: Getting the players behind the technology to agree on standards governing how computers communicate with one another."

Standards are not always what everyone wants, but if we all kept them, what an easier time we would have collaborating if our technologies all spoke the same language!