What am I?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Finding virtual 'actors'?

In the context of another project it emerged that it might be quite a challenge to venture into virtual filming in health and social care. It will be very difficult to find the right kind of virtual actors when you don't have a graphics designer working for you full time. The free stuff is so limited that scenarios could easily end up in some kind of farce, or they move so far away from being authentic that there's no point in pursuing to make do with them. Also, there seems to be a matter of personal tastes involved. While conceding we can't please them all, there needs to be a certain consensus. On the other hand, when the re-creation in virtual worlds becomes serious, the dimensions of a project become huge - just found a report on a Virtual World Case Study called 'Second Health':

How can this kind of things be scaled into 'trigger' dimensions?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

About moodling, and not being in Berlin

Yesterday we had our first 'official' moodle training session here at Brookes. Even though my 'Teaching and Learning with Moodle' course at Greenwich University is now 3 years ago, working with Moodle still feels a bit like 'when working with a VLE it should be Moodle!'. In simple words: I felt pretty much at home. And Moodle has developed quite a bit, so there's a challenge to learn new things! That's - unfortunately - not the only challenge we are facing as Learning Technologists. Some things that went through my head during the session yesterday: it won’t help when I learn how to make best use of moodle. I need to start working on the question how I get it out of my head into other people’s heads. That’s the really tricky bit. Even though moodle isn’t yet integrated with all the different Brookes systems, we need to start with “shifting the paradigm” right now.

Moodling away on the Brookes Moodle installation

It’s not about pressing the right buttons on a computer screen. It’s about starting with a task, and defining it. Understanding a task in all its fine detail, and especially knowing what you want to achieve with it, or better: what students might be able to do with it. Important starting point: writing it down in an electronic text format. Next: matching it to the potential of task building Moodle has to offer. (Which seems quite extensive!)

On another note, I'm seeing all these messages in my Twitter feed of fellow LTs starting their journey to Online Educa Berlin from various cities in Europe ... which makes me feel rather jealous. I really could do with some inspiration at the moment. Not necessarily this one, though:

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Short rhyme

Not even half way through (the working week) and already pretty exhausted.

This is me
in week three:

With apologies to:
whoever created this
little green czill
I hope he or she
won't send me a bill

(I found him in this extraterrestrial space:

Thursday, 6 October 2011

How to live before you die

On TED (Ideas worth spreading) is a recording of Steve Jobs, talking about 'How to live before you die':


He died today. This talk is part of a great legacy. I chose to start my working day with listening to it. Some quotes: "the only way to do great work is to love what you do" and "stay hungry, stay foolish". While I can't pretend that I always love the day-to-day proceedings of working with Learning Technologies, at least I know it's something I find genuinely interesting, and it constantly changes, so it'll never get too boring. One day  - perhaps - I will have an iMac in my office to work with ...

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Okay - week 1 - nearly done!

Starting on a positive note: The VLE did its duty throughout the week, mostly fast, sometimes slowing down. (Today I had a message that it wasn't accessible off-campus - does this mean it's not available on a slower connection?)

Am literally run down by constant requests, lots of bits and pieces, sometimes easy and quick to resolve, but on occasions I'm wondering how many things can be done at extremely short notice in an instant. Judging by recent days: quite a lot! What I completely missed out on so far this week is: accessing my MOOC and learning new things (this week's topic: Digital Scholarship - Martin Weller). That makes me rather sad. But even worse - I haven't found the time to write some important documents, in pole position a statement expressing my concerns about the audio/digital media capacity within Brookes. I need to get started with this, in a joint effort with Digital Media and E-learning Developers from other faculties, and with Media Workshop.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Week 0

Somewhat predictable, this week so far has proved to be challenging. On day 2 of week 0 the VLE started to collapse from overload, and despite rescue attempts from 'Ops' and a quick fix it did continue collapsing on day 3 (today!) of week 0.

Insight of the day: Some of the VLE sites might need the attention of a Digital Media and E-learning Developer rather urgently. But when they are not accessible, the DMED (not my favourite Acronym, I confess) can have a decent lunch break. Hence I made use of the sunshine and cycled to the market. Coming back, the VLE was back in working order ... and now I have some catching up to do with my fixing, and some new tasks have been added to my list, too. No matter what, it seems all easier after a decent break. I'll be trying to shake off the two words that apparently will kill the heart fastest: 'ought to'.

Image taken from http://school.discoveryeducation.com/clipart/clip/thinkingcapwhoa.html

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Weekend technology

Listening to my favourite German radio station with ooTunes. Excellent discovery. Portable is the way to go. Could be used for language learning, i suppose. Although, when searching stations I ended up with a Chinese one, but I can't be so sure it was Chinese, it could have been any other language as well. Perhaps I can at least learn how different languages sound :-)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Digital Scholar

Thanks to Twitter I just found out that the book 'The Digital Scholar: How Technology Is Transforming Scholarly Practice' by Martin Weller is now available in an 'open access' version via Bloomsbury Academic:


I like open access! All I need now is finding the time to browse through this book ...

Monday, 12 September 2011

Twitter stress (?)

Trying to be more on Twitter, because recently some links which were really helpful for my work turned up, thanks to people I'm following. But then it suddenly seems far more than I can cope with, and I can't figure out any longer how to keep working on several little tasks while following interesting links like this one:

How Twitter will revolutionise academic research and teaching http://gu.com/p/3xy6q/tw via @guardian

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Listening remotely

#altc2011 - it's possible to listen remotely to some of the ALT-C sessions, and I'm actually now listening while writing ... Seems to work well. 'Bring engagement back into education' just caught my attention. It's coming from a Blackboard Collaborate representative, Rajeev Arora, who is talking about 'the ROI of Online Collaboration: Doing More With Less'. Not sure that the Blackboard technology is utterly central to bringing more engagement into education ... For me it's the individuals who inventively use social media. Just realised that I'm getting lost in my own thoughts about engagement, and wasn't listening any longer to Rajeev. Pleased to see that the chat area is now well used (by the way - ALT is using Adobe Connect rather than Blackboard - irony here?) and that thoughts like this one come up: "Jonathan Kearney (UK): BB dangerous monopoly model? 'we wanted to get into collaborative space - so we bought all the businesses out there' - big danger of squashing innovation"

Monday, 5 September 2011

Thinking about video

Thinking a lot about video making these days. About to loose some expertise in my office soon. Just found a Patti Smith video which has been put together in a great way:

This is the kind of video I believe must be fascinating to make. Or do I perhaps think this because I'm fascinated by Patti Smith? I would have much liked to visit this year's ALT conference, which started today in Leeds. Too much else to do, unfortunately. Maybe me not being able to be there is in fact a sign of the 'colder and more challenging climate' we find ourselves in?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A hot day in the office

So, it's finally fairly quiet, not many requests, and the plan was to devote time to the Virtual Family Project. Currently still trying to make the temporary VLE site look a bit better, realising all over again how limited the design possibilities in our Blackboard cum CE8 VLE are. In the process of finding ways to improve it I got to work with photoshop more extensively than usual, and I re-discovered how to set up and action and perform a batch job. Easy, and I've done it, but it's so long ago that a refresher was unavoidable.

But - and I'm aware of that - it's now time to get into the learning activities. Much harder than playing with photoshop!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Testing ... testing ... testing

I'm testing Google+. Is it here to stay? Or will it go away, gently rolling out like Google Wave? The circles connect you quicker than you think. Though that could be a could thing when used to stimulate discussion, I noticed. And perhaps getting more different views than you've bargained for. Good thing or bad thing?

How best to keep up with all these new things? Should I transfer my pictures from Facebook to Google+ for example? There's an app for Chrome to do just this, apparently, and then my lovely photos are stored in yet another place - unlimited and for free. Hooray. Is there any point in trying to keep track? Any thoughts to be wasted on something like 'ownership'? Will all this ownership in the future still make sense? How many other people have taken similar pictures like this one - thousands? Millions? Who knows, and who wants to know ...

Friday, 1 July 2011


I'm currently contemplating a bit of feedback I received yesterday from our Head of eLearning. Apparently, I occasionally 'try to walk through doors which aren't quite open yet'. This can be interpreted in different ways, of course. It may mean I'm attempting to force my way into something I'm not supposed to be in yet. However, it can also mean that I'm trying to move on into areas which I strongly believe we should do more about? And it is well possible that in some cases I'm right - and in others I could be wrong, of course. So it needs to be decided in a case by case approach. My resolution is to seek more feedback from others before attacking the not quite open doors.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A vision in a different dimension

News from Prof Wesch (Anthropology Program at Kansas State University):

The 'Digital Ethnography' blog announces the release of a Video Collage (created using HTML5):


A great exploration!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Our online life ...

Just watched this on youtube, nicely demonstrating that our online life with the likes of Facebook and Twitter is slightly odd:

However, guess how I found it? A friend posted it on ... Facebook!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Making movies - day 1

Explored 'Making movies with Xtranormal', see for example:

So you want to learn Tango?

so you want to be a clinical psychologist

So you want to be a social worker

First impression: possibly unsuitable for more serious movie making, because the characters come in sets, and there's a limited selection, of course. Also, there's costs involved - each character costs 'points' with  have to be bought with dollars.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Back to Business

I'm back at work now, albeit my current office presence is 'virtual', because I'm working from home. Quite appropriate, really, when considering that one of my future projects is called 'Virtual Family Project', or VFP.

Exploring the concept of 'triggers' will be a focal point in this project, rather than creating hoards of virtual people living in virtual towns. That can be done elsewhere. Triggers are supposed to make things happen in your mind, and it's an uncertain process. Hence I'm expecting that it won't be easy to be successful when using triggers, because: who likes uncertainty? But once you've gone through uncertain grounds and come out of it with the feeling you've successfully faced a challenge it should be good, and therefore a valuable experience.

Producing triggers I consider as part of my job, but I've also got to find colleagues who are willing to share their ideas with me, because I'm not the content specialist with regard to a new curriculum for nursing programmes. So team work will be another big challenge along the lines of the project.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

At a distance

I'm on holiday at the North Sea. Hence I should perhaps not even be thinking of learning technologies, right? Oh, well, but I do find it amazing how easy it is to get connected these days. It has its downsides, like not being able to completely distance yourself from work related matters but on the other hand it's just a matter of making decisions, so I'm switching off now to explore a Dutch harbour with lots of sailing boats :-)

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Digital versus analogue?

It's not really the all important question. But I've just re-discovered my vinyl record selection. Luckily my rather ancient turntable is still working. And it's a very strange feeling, having to admit that vinyls somehow sound rounder (pardon the pun)! Never mind the crackling noises. Maybe this should remind me that digital has its place, but its not for everything? Maybe there's a quality to things that needs different kinds of appreciation. Like this guy, who lives in the Ashmolean (mind you, it's a digital photo):

Monday, 23 May 2011

Exploring virtual film sets

Hello - I'm Kyramaya

There's a chance I may find my way back into Second Life again, because Immersive Virtual Worlds (IVWs) are perceived to potentially deliver very useful scenarios, and avatars can be the actors in virtual film sets. Unlike real actors in a real film set, they would be perfectly controllable by the avatar creators, BUT: would they be really appealing? How much time would it take to customise scenarios in Second Life to make them suitable for specific purposes? How much effort would I have to put into dressing the avatars according to purpose, and get 'the looks' right? Aaaargh. Lots of questions. Other alternatives need parallel exploration: virtual stage systems, and authoring software for 3D virtual worlds.

Are lots of other learning technologists out there already exploring this agenda?

Friday, 6 May 2011

Learning Technologist - to be or not to be?

Today I received my 'at risk' letter as part of the Brookes re-structuring process. The new job title for what used to be called 'Learning Technologist' seems to be 'Digital media and e-learning developer'. The new job description is not published yet. No room for improvement re career from my humble perspective, but I better wait and see if there's a future at all for my job, never mind the career.

Contemplating to put up this 'Keep calm and carry on' poster, which seems to be everywhere anyway, so why ever not in my office as well? Carrying on calmly is difficult under these circumstances. After 7 years of having done my best as a 'Learning Technologist' (and it was pretty good, if I may say so myself) it feels very odd not be called that any longer, even if I manage to keep my job ...

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

What's the question?

Which question am I talking about? Good question. I found an article in the ETC Journal:
A journal for education technology & change. The title is:

What a Learning Technologist Needs to be Good At.

Very neat summaries under 4 headings:
  1. Good communication/good teaching
  2. Finding opportunities to spread the word
  3. Adapting your message to the audience
  4. Initiating and taking control of your own learning
Very helpful indeed for reflecting on my own practice. The author (Tom Preskett) claims the last point is possibly the hardest of them all. It is in fact by far the most difficult one for me, too. Setting aside enough time to not only stay on top of the constantly emerging new tools and how to use them, but also to find some space in my diary to find out and think about what colleagues are doing in the field is really hard. For example following all the microblogging of our trade: Of course I'm on Twitter, but I only use it perhaps once or twice a week. Once I'm on there, it's difficult to find a balance between following interesting threads and simply getting distracted ...

Monday, 18 April 2011

'Russian Doll' posting

Today I'm linking from this blog to a posting on another blog, which is all about 'Writing Better Blog Posts':

For some reason this reminds me of Russian Dolls:

Anyway, the first tip you get on 'better blog posts' is a fetching title, and hopefully I've achieved this?
Another tip is not to use copyrighted images - the image above is from a site selling such things, and therefore needs to be replaced as quick as  possible with my own image of Russian Dolls.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

An insight into 'data protection'

A German Green Party politician got hold of six months of his phone data from Deutsche Telekom. The magazin 'Zeit Online' combined these geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician. It's now freely available on the internet.

You can push a button to follow Malte Spitz through six months of his life (includes speed controller!):

Sounds like the latest news about 'Big Brother' ...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Lots of little things

 Time's running fast, and I've discovered that recent working days have been filled with loads of 'little' support requests, which make my days in the office feel rather 'bitty'. Oh well, what can I do? Have to keep track of what my role as learning technologist is about. Am on a quest to find out more about it. In fact, ever since I started my job as learning technologist six and a half years ago - what have I been doing? I've been putting this job in place, defining it with needs arising, new people and influences arriving, technological developments, new pedagogical insights and so on ... It's all about the INTERNET. INTER-what? NET-who? Are we all captured in a huge big net, or are we swimming freely through new digital worlds, happily interacting with each other?

Google image on 8 Feb 2010 - Jules Verne's birthday

Monday, 17 January 2011

Jelly bear and Survey Monkey

Originally I wanted to call this blog 'What about a jelly bear?' Of course this blog is not about jelly bears, it'll be my musings about learning technologies. I had to find a name for this blog, and I decided this name would always remind me of the days before I ventured into learning technologies. I had two 1-year old boys in the back of my Morris Minor, and one of them asked this question, out of the blue, very clear and articulated. Ever since then I remember this clear question whenever I try hard to keep matters in focus.

So what about learning technologies for today? I'm trying to design an online questionnaire using the free version of Survey Monkey. Using Survey Monkey is very straight forward, finding and formulating the right questions is hellishly difficult. I've already 'wasted' a whole set of questions just on the demographics, so how am I supposed to keep it short and simple?