Category Archives: Learning

Conferences in April

Technology priorities for Higher Education JISC 2010 Conference 12th and 13th April

Presentations available


Sustainability LIve 20th and 21st April

Presentations from the Achieving low carbon business opportunities seminar programme are available for download

Open Knowledge Foundation conference 24th April

programme  #okcon



Site for the ‘PayItForward’ RepRap meetups shown at #okcon


#okcon notes collected here in a  piratepad


Research papers contributed to #okcon 2010 are now online Proceedings of the 5th Open Knowledge Conference





Google in higher education

Paul Canning reports

News that Portsmouth Uni has moved all of its students into the cloud with free, multi-lingual access to an advertising free version of Google Apps, including webmail with 7gb capacity, online documents, spreadsheets and calendars, chat and collaboration and site building functions.
A win-win in the cloud for UK Public Sector?

We’re going to see this played out throughout the public sector as IT budgets and performance come under close scrutiny. It raises significant data protection and privacy questions which need public policy examination.
Google say “Google is signed up to the Safe Harbour Act which commits a US company to comply with European data protection standards, even when information is stored outside Europe.” Does that answer all the questions? The potential commercial value of data about the university population is enormous. We don’t have a precedent for any company or organisation holding as much data about people as Google will.
It’s also the case that concerns about maintaining UK and european standards of data protection offer convenient protection against competition from cloud vendors for employees of UK IT departments. The other main beneficiaries of this protectionism are Microsoft and vendors of closed VLEs like Blackboard.
Google’s education and collaboration tools are already credible alternatives. Not necessarily the best, but University managers have heard of Google.
The choice between in-house IT and the cloud is going to become more acute with the release of Google Wave. The research community wants Wave. Wave could be hugely important for e-learning, distance learning and workgroup collaboration. Low-cost start-ups in education, whether commercial or open access not-for-profits, could have better tools than the incumbent providers, and they can have them for free.
Google have a fine record in supporting education: free licences, summer of code internships. They have successfully negotiated issues of openness in software licensing in ways which have earned the respect of the developer community.
Where the end-users have a choice, it’s not difficult to predict what are they going to do. Free is a difficult price to beat. Just as important, you don’t have ask permission and wait for budget approval to start using tools which allow you to work better.
What’s less clear is whether public scrutiny of the information policy issues will happen.

Serious games

Victor Keegan has a piece on why serious games matter in Technology Guardian. What are serious games? Games which have the formal intention of training and learning, rather than learning being a side effect of gameplay.

Games development is important for the UK economy and currently facing serious competition from Canada’s (successful) strategy of subsidising games development to build an industry with critical mass.

Good to see a mention for the Serious Games Institute at Coventry University. Also the TruSim interactive triage training simulation from Blitz Games Studios. I’ve seen a demo at their Leamington Spa HQ and it’s impressive.

Victor Keegan Technology Guardian

Serious Games Institute Coventry University


Openness in Higher Education

Presentation on Openness, Localization, and the Future of Learning Objects

David Wiley, Director of the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning at Utah State University.

This  36 minute presentation discusses how tags, blogs, RSS and Google have usurped much of the earlier work  done with repositories.

Much of the case he makes about the challenges and opportunities higher education faces in an increasingly digital, mobile, connected world is contained in  a statement to the US Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education.

Available as a 7 page pdf

“How, specifically, is higher education to respond to its changing environment and the changing nature of its core areas (content, research, expertise, and credentialing)? “E-learning” (at least as commonly conceived) is not the answer. The university experience must align more closely with its societal context and participant base. Higher education must continue its efforts to become digital and mobile, while working to become significantly more open, connected, personal, and participatory.”

He argues that the move to greater openness, exemplified by initiatives like OpenCourseWare at MIT rather than closed, proprietary systems, shows the way forward.

“In order to realign itself with changes in society and in its student base higher education must find the will to innovate in the areas of openness, connectedness, personalization, and participation. I believe that openness is the key to enabling other innovations and catalyzing improvements in the quality, accountability, affordability, and accessibility of higher education.”

Things You Really Need to Learn

“[W]hat should you learn? Your school will try to teach you facts, which you’ll need to pass the test but which are otherwise useless. In passing you may learn some useful skills, like literacy, which you should cultivate. But […] schools won’t teach you the things you really need to learn in order to be successful, either in business […] or in life.”

1. How to predict consequences

2. How to read

3. How to distinguish truth from fiction

4. How to empathise

5. How to be creative

6. How to communicate clearly

7. How to learn

8. How to stay healthy

9. How to value yourself

10. How to live meaningfully

Stephen Downes writes about online learning, content syndication and new media. This is a talk he gave to high school students.

1 to 7 apply directly to this course. 8,9,10 are not bad either.

Time Management

Randy Pausch on time management. Lecture at University of Virginia November 2007. Video 1hour 16 mins.

Why? Time management is vital to study, especially part-time study.

What do I get for over an hour of my time? Enough tips to save hours a week of wasted time, for the rest of your life.

Some important lessons for life. Like? To focus on the important objectives, forget the things that don’t matter. And then advice on how to put this into practice.

Available from ‘iTunes University’ as a video podcast from Carnegie Mellon University.
I’ve asked the class to try iTunes U to consider the interface and podcast subscription model. Where people face restrictions on installing software, or have objections to using iTunes, there are several alternatives.

Youtube. Search term: Randy Pausch time management. (This is quicker than looking for it on iTunes, but subscribing may offer other benefits.)

A page of links celebrating the legacy of Randy Pausch’s work, lectures and presentations is maintained by Dr. Gabriel Robins at
Read this first if you need more context. Once you have watched the video, if you wish to re-cap the lecture slides are available as a PDF (12Mb) from there.

See also