Wednesday 28 November 2007

Microsoft Windows Live Services - Yesss Please.

My computer crashed about 7 months ago and I lost a lot of stuff I had downloaded. Well anyway, as part of this USQ MEdTech we needed some way to communicate and since Skype is banned in the UAE, I had to look at using something else. I had just started using Windows MSN prior to the crash so I said what the hell and redownloaded it.

As soon as I had, windows live messanger poped up and said that 1 of my friends was online and I had 20 something unread messages in my inbox. This got a thumbs up straight away. Anyway, I started chatting away and realised that I could send audio and cam feed. I was liking it better and better.

Later, I was working on my wife's laptop and realised I needed to print something but that it was not connected to the printer. No bothers, I opened a shared folder from her MSN on her computer to my MSN with the computer that was connected to the printer. Hey presto, file printed. That saved me buying another printer.

Now, I just find out that they do Microsoft TV (like YouTube) and give 1GB of hosted storage free so I uploaded some .pdfs. I'm wondering now how I get to search other public folders and if they'll do tags and networks like

Anyway, the point of this is that although I'm having problems navigating to the various sections of the interface at the moment (they seem to change appearance everytime I log in)and also that the various tools are in Beta, I really like the look of all these combined aspects. I can't wait to see what they do next.

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Backpack Software

So there I was rambling on about a place were we could upload our books, .pdfs, etc. and what should I find but Backpack.

Ask and you shall receive.

Now I wish I had loads of money, a big house and all the rest of that stuff. I'm waiting...

Sunday 25 November 2007

Virtual Thefts

The other day in second life I was in somebody's home and I picked up a Sherlock Holmes book and started to read it. I was going to log off but hadn't finished reading the book so I took a copy. Later I was wondering if this constituted theft!

Now, I've just come across an article about theft in the social-networking site Habbo Hotel leading to police action. And I also recall an article about a bank in Second Life,Ginko Financial, where the owner of the bank scarpered with millions of Linden dollars - which equated to $750,000 dollars but the police couldn't do anything because it wasn't a real bank.

Now, it seems that one increasingly needs to have a knowledge of law in virtual spaces.

Google Jockeying


I was at a USQ elluminate meeting the other day and was busy throwing out URLs into the backchannel as one does. (I have to try to appear clever someway since it doesn't happen in real life). Anyway, catspyjamas (people have some weird names these days. Just as well children don't get to pick their own names)said that I was a right google jockey. This passed me by at the time but I later yahooed it (I don't google!) This brought me to the educause article and some other sites.

Well I'm thinking that this could be quite useful when teaching and indeed at the CLTI2007 conference I realised that this was what was happening, through multiple jockey's.

Anyway Pros Vs Cons

Students focused
Additional material generated
Move from broadcast media to collaborative

Diversion of attention
2nd projector required
Jockey's skill
Internet connection speed.

Friday 23 November 2007

Online book repositories

I was just reading about Kindle (Google's new ebook internet connected reader). Now while my wife has bought 2 ebooks I haven't got any. (Though I did take a couple of editions of Sherlock Holmes' stories from somebody's home the last time I was in Second Life. I wonder if that classifies as breaking and entering? Hmmm?)

Whatever, I like the concept. You have phones these days that are all about listening to music, or playing games or taking pictures but reading books (if they turn it into a phone)... Problem here would be carrying it. After all it's 7.5" x 5.5", Penguin paperback size. Ruins the suit pockets and who wears a suit these days? Possibly those projection googles.

Anyway, this got me to thinking about all the downloaded .pdfs that I've got on my computers, portable hard discs, etc and I was wondering why there's not a repository for storing articles/books etc. something like

I suppose this would function like a folksbrary but you would be able to tag any article as private. They would have to have some sort of mandated fields and upload size but I'm sure they'd sort that out.

How would they pay for it?
Now, that's the question I wonder about with YouTube, ImageShack, etc. Surely advertising doesn't bring in that much money?

Thursday 22 November 2007

Learning - Then, now and in the future.

This was a post in reponse to a question on the USQ Emerging Environments Course.

Think of an episode in your life when you engaged in some significant amount of learning in some environment.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I was an 18 year old studying for my A-levels (university entrance exams for those non-British readers). I was taking 3 subjects. The classrooms consisted of either science lab benches or individual desks. The class sizes varied from 4 other students up to 20.

What do you see as the major components in this learning environment and did these components assist or support your learning?

The major components for learning then consisted of the teacher – “Sage on the stage”, chalk boards – two of which were rolling ones, the course text books (published >20 years prior), a poorly equipped school library (with a cypher for book locations) and the other students. Oh yes, one teacher had a new-fangled device called an OHP and was able to make copies of his notes with a sheet of blue carbon paper and a machine called a stencil duplicator. (Think of Cerf’s and Schutz’s (2002) 2 billion people).

All these components assisted my learning to some degree. The sages directed what they believed I needed to know to pass the exams. Having taught the course for many years they knew what hoops to jump through. The OHPs, Photostats, and chalkboards contained their knowledge to be transmitted and with the scrolling boards, we could even compare two sets of notes!!! The course books and the library held additional information and the other students helped when I couldn’t understand something.

Which of these components could be improved and how?

All of them (and indeed I now believe that we will forever be in perpetual beta)! The teachers could have moved to “a guide on the side” style of teaching. They could also have organised the learning episodes so that there was less emphasis in the transmission based domain and more on problem based learning with a development of “self functioning skills” (Siemens 2005).

As for the classrooms, any of the presentation and classroom participation tools mentioned by Brown (2005) would have helped. Access to the internet would also have meant the text books being only 1 source and “Google jockeying” (Educause, 2006) could have occurred during the teacher’s delivery ensuring not only additional information but also a fostering the ability to question and enquire. (Thanks for the reference Joyce). Libraries, well it seems that while one is now able to have access to a much wider range of material, the same problem of hunting through indexes and strange numbering systems has not been resolved (Lipponcott, 2005). Interaction with other students could have occurred at any time over a variety of social networking sites and any information found added to so as to reduce the pressure on others’ personal bandwidth.

Did some components of the learning environment have a negative impact on your learning? Why?

They did to the extent that it was much harder, less enjoyable and more limiting to achieve the tasks being set. However, at the time these were the known and accepted pedagogical methods and the technological constraints of the era. It was, after all, pre net-gen! They, and we, did the best with what was available. If Brooks’ 2002 prognostications (as found in Kurzweil) come to fruition that, in less than 20 years, we will

“…have to start banning kids with neural Internet connection implants from having them switched on while taking the S.A.Ts”

then the techniques and tools we currently use will appear as antiquated in 20 years time as those of 20 years ago do to us today. Indeed, even the situation envisioned by Neumann and Kyriakakis (2002) has students and teachers remotely placed in,
“a fully immersive aural and visual environment…”
with vast archives of all past holographic lessons at the students’ fingertips.
So, did it have, and is my current learning environment having, a negative impact on learning? I suppose it all comes down to whether one subscribes to Clark’s (1994) view or not.


Brooks, R. (2002). Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us. New York, NY: Pantheon Books. Retrieved November, 2007 from

Brown, M. (2005). Learning Spaces. In D. G. Oblinger & J. L. Oblinger (Eds.), Educating the Net Generation: EDUCAUSE. retrieved November, 2007 from

Cerf, V. & Schutz, C. (2002). Teaching in 2025: Education and Technology Transformed. In Visions 2020: Transforming Education and Training Through Advanced Technologies. Washington, DC: US Department of Commerce. Retrieved on November 2007 from

Clark, R.E. (1994). Media will never influence Learning. In Educational Technology Research and Development, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 21–9. (2007). Social bookmarking. Retrieved November, 2007 from

Educause. (2006). 7 things you should know about...Google Jockeying. In Educause Learning Initiative. Advancing Learning through IT innovation. Retrieved November, 2007 from

Lipponcott, (2005). Net Generation students and Libraries. In D. G. Oblinger & J. L. Oblinger (Eds.), Educating the Net Generation: EDUCAUSE. retrieved November, 2007 from

Neumann, U & Kyriakakis, C. (2002). 2020 Classrooms. In Visions 2020: Transforming Education and Training Through Advanced Technologies. Washington, DC: US Department of Commerce. Retrieved on November 2007 from

Siemens, G. (2005). Learning Development Cycle: Bridging Learning Design and Modern Knowledge needs. Retrieved November, 2007 from

Wikipedia. (2007). The Mimeograph machine. In Wikipedia. Retrieved November, 2007 from

Monday 19 November 2007

Dimdim - Free video conferencing

Wow, I liked the sound of this site so much that I didn't even finish the last post before I started this one.

Anyway, I was browsing racingshoes links and I came across Dimdim. It looks like a video conferencing startup company. (Subscribe $1000 before December and save $9,000. Neeed money quick).

Well, the thing about this is that it's free and they are attempting to mimic the success of Hotmail and Skype. Now, I've sent away for a trial of their free package and I'll try it out. I also have a free Elluminate room so I can compare. The benefit that dimdim has going for it is that it's been designed by people from Moodle and so ties into their system.

More later.

Corporate Learning: Trends & Innovations


Just attended the first day of the Corporate Learning: Trends & Innovations (hosted by

Tuesday 13 November 2007

ICT reshaping not only what but how we teach.

Looking back five years from now, I
suspect the apotheosis of mechanistic, e-learning ‘content
delivery’ systems will coincide with the peak of target-driven,
test-based education policy, and what follows
will be more personal and aimed towards a broader set
of personal development goals in both technology and
pedagogy. The personalisation agenda is not only about
interface options and learning styles, but the whole
experience of how, what and with whom we learn.

Bryant, L. (2007).Emerging trends in social software
for education
In Emerging Technologies for Learning Volume 2 (2007), Becta.

Friday 9 November 2007

Clipmarks software

Checking out clipmarks to see if it's any use.
clipped from
 blog it

Monday 5 November 2007

Thought activated Controls

Well came across this article on thought activated controls which I could have done finding 6 months back. Seems they were thinking along the same lines as that posting I put on the USQ board.

(I dig it out and put it here for reference as well).When I looked at this exercise, I initially thought of a large plasma touch screen at work which is used to provide guests with an overview of the college. Then I realized that I use touch screens every day, to pay my electric bills and to withdraw money at ATMs. So I thought, “If I could, what would I like to try ?”

Well the other day, frustrated on a slow computer, this
came to mind. Thought activated mouse and keyboard control. Hmm, now I’d love a go at all that new-fangledness, I thought, and input through thinking appealed to my laziness. But is it really new? Searching back, I come up with this Clint Eastwood movie - Firefox.
Thought activated plane controls - back in 1982. That’s only a gap of 24 years!

So now, after reading about implantations of electrodes into monkey’s brains , and Dobelle’s (2000)

work on brain-computer interface (BCI), connecting video cameras to the cortex of blind people, this gets me to thinking about Neo’s (in the Matrix ) downloading of information to his brain.

SURE, WHEN? Depends. If you believe Kurzweils cititation of Moore's Law and the exponential growth of computing, then sooner rather than later.

Indeed, according to Brooks, (director of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab and therefore not to be dismissed lightly),

“… in just twenty years the boundary between fantasy and reality will be rent asunder.”

He then goes on to suggest that where previously teachers had to ban calculators in exams, they may soon,

“…have to start banning kids with neural Internet connection implants from having them switched on while taking the SATs”.

That soon? Well probably depends on the The Singularity I suppose.

As for output, well I was always bad at languages so when I need to say something on holiday I could think about it in English, use the translation software I just downloaded for whatever country I’m in and then output a string of verbal utterances that the waiter will understand as “Bring me two cold beers, please”.

Now that’d be the perfect fusion of education and technology.

Edit: Breaking up the links so that it fits on a single breadth screenshot


Bostrom, N. (1998). How Long Before Superintelligence? In Int. Jour. of Future Studies, 1998, vol. 2. Retrieved May, 2007 from a

Brooks, R. (2002). Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us. New York, NY: Pantheon Books. Retrieved May, 2007 from

Dobelle, W. (2000) Artificial Vision for the Blind by Connecting a Television Camera to the Visual Cortex. In American Society for Artificial Internal Organs. Retrieved May, 2007 from

Kurzweil, K. (2003). The Human Machine Merger: Are we headed for the Matrix? In Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix. Ed Glenn Yeffeth.
Retrieved May, 2007 from

Pinto, J. (2002). The Singularity is coming. In InTech. Retrieved May, 2007 from

Wikipedia. Firefox (film). Retrieved May, 2007 from

Wikipedia. The matrix. Retrieved May, 2007 from

Wikipedia. Moore's Law.'s_law

Also this seems interesting. C3 vision, Mental image search.

Sunday 4 November 2007

Common Craft Videos

Just come across this site.

Very clear descriptions of different web 2.0 devices and an all important how to kill zombies video as well. You just have to have faith in anything they say now.

Thursday 1 November 2007

Label Cloud

Saw a nice cloud tag on one of the attendee's blogs, yahooed it and have just found a site that turns your labels into a cloud tag (link in title). How cool is that.

What is Corporate Learning: Trends and Innovations?

Well, signed up for this corporate learning conference. Will post on it later.