Thursday, May 08, 2008

OER temporarily unavailable

Hello OERers
I have a little work left to do on the course, mostly the last week and a half's stuff but just now I'm on holiday i Sicily, enjoying some sun. I get back on the 15th and will get down to work on the last bit's and pieces of this very interesting course.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

OER week 8 - late!

I been on the road for a few days and time and a lack of fast connections has slowed me down a little, not to mention the disgusting cold I have! However I finally got my film loaded up to dot.sub, transcribed and then translated into English.

I learned several things from this process...
I learned that if you are going to have written text accompanying the pictures then the pictures and the text need to be coordinated. Having pictures change and the text stay the same, and then suddenly the text changes but the picture doesn't.... all too confusing, and now I've seen it fairly obvious, but then that is how we learn things when we learn by doing. Strangely that wasn't a problem (was it?) when I was listening to the text and looking at the pictures
I need fewer pictures on for a longer time.
I need to choose the pictures more carefully. One of my blurred pictures was followed by a sharp image to give contrast. Unfortunately the compression process rendered them BOTH fairly blurred - better examples next time!
That's it for now, I'll be back later!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

OER week 8 - film

Creating a film - this turned into a very tricky task as I fumbled around between a Mac, a PC and several programs. I've done this before but this time the technical gods were not with me! This took me back to the earlier days of computing when you expected things not to work; it seems like it can be still be like that today!
Anyway, here is a short film on using the macro function in your camera. I made it because I am involved with a study circle in digital photography and it seemed logical to create something I could use. Unfortunately this means it is in Swedish but there will be an English language version available soon, and hopefully a dot.sub English translation available late tomorrow (Monday).

This creation showed me just how frustrating the combination of creation and technique could be. This is always a useful reminder of how it often is for our less technically interested colleagues and students as we try to persuade them of the joys of Internet materials!

But in the end it was satisfying to get this (definitely less than perfect) material out there on Youtube.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Weinberger, Leonardo and TED - oer week 8 (a)

There is a lot of interesting material around on Internet. Amongst the material are many conference presentations and lectures which are interesting to listen to but which really gain very little by being filmed because the camera (usually only one) and the speaker never actually move! This makes for boring viewing, especially if the lecture is long.

When we are physically present at a lecture we (like the single camera I mentioned) are usually stationary but we can let our attention move around the room. We can at least switch between the lecturer and the slides and if things get boring we can check out all the other things in the hall!

So a good presentation switches our attention back and forth. Of course it really does help if the speaker speaks in an interesting way too! Here is an example from and in this presentation you get to see the speaker, the slides, and even both at once.

Everything is Miscellaneous

David Weinberger

This is a Google lecture (copyright Google!) so we can be fairly sure there were plenty of resources available. In a similar way the embedded TED talk below also uses a lot of resources to make sure the talk is interesting.


This talk has the added advantage that it is only 4 minutes long, and it's CC licenced!

Having written about a well filmed resource I am afraid my offering is not going to be of wonderfully high quality - but with practice I will improve, and my film is omly going to be around 4 minutes long, about the only thing it will share with the TED film!

Friday, April 18, 2008

OER - week 7

Let's start with Bötsle.
If you want to know exactly where Bötsle is then click on the photo on the right to link to the original in Flickr. From there you can fly to Bötsle if you have Google Earth installed, via the first comment. Once you've seen Bötsle's general location (from a hight of 21 km!) you can zoom in. If I'd lived 200 meters south of where I do you could have seen my house on Google Earth but the high definition area around Härnösand stops just short of Bötsle!

I already had audacity and LAME installed because I've used sound in my work sometimes so there was no complication there. Figuring out how to load up a podcast to Switchpod was not the easiest task in the world so I went looking for another site and found the site that now hosts part two of my description - PodOmatic. This service seems to provide you with an audio blog. You can take a look at my page if you want to see how it looks. Naturally they would love you to sign up for a paid subscription but they do give you 500 MB of storage and 15 GB of download per month in the free version. My only criticism of PodOmatic is that there player is nowhere near as nice as the Switchpod one. (You can see them both further down this posting.)

The question of mp3 versus Vorbis Ogg is interesting. Mp3 has become a world standard and for normal users is both free and convenient, which makes it problematic to persuade people to use an alternative open source program. Using Vorbis Ogg requires the user to take extra steps, for example downloading an extra plug-in to enable Windows media player to play Ogg files. It isn't much extra effort or technical knowledge that is required but people are lazy! Why take the extra effort when you don't need to? Anyway, having written that I took the extra effort mentioned and went looking for Ogg music. I found some music I really liked and a recording studio with an interesting idea - sponsored music - but all the music I found was also offered as mp3! Can Ogg survive in an mp3 world? I guess time will tell.

What role does RSS play in podcasting. Well, first it does exactly the same as it does in the blog world and tells you when something new has come along. The additional factor is that the podcast can then be downloaded to your player and becomes portable. If I want to read your blog I have to have to use my computer but I can listen to your podcast as I train in the gym.

Originally I had part 1 of the podcast embedded here but as soon as the page loaded it started playing, which was irritating, especially when it was no longer the latest posting! So now there is a link to the podcast. Click on the link and then return to the picture above while you listen.

and when you've listened to that one you could try part 2...

Click here to get your own player.

By the way, read Barbara's comment - she makes the point that the switchpod player is more useful for the user/listener as you can move around in the podcast, something you can't do with the embedded PodOmatic player, although you can do that from my PodOmatic blog.

Friday, April 11, 2008

OER week 6b- Creating, Sharing and Using Images

This is really part two of the weeks post. Take a look at part one too.
Well, it was a little difficult to take good images this week as the snow kept falling. What I really mean was it was difficult to take educational images; it was no problem getting interesting pictures. Here is a view from my house on the first day of snow, the next day it was even deeper but fortunately I'd moved the car by then!
However, I did what all good students/teachers do; I cheated and checked through the pictures I'd taken a little earlier.
As outlined in my previous posting I was not so impressed with getting pictures out of the Commons and into my blog. Now I tried uploading images to the Commons and again I found it a rather complicated process, if I compare with loading images up to Flickr for example. But in the end my
"Sandö Bridge" image was part of the Commons.
However, the second picture (Härnösand Harbour) went a lot quicker. Of course, it's not just uploading the pictures it's also getting them into categories and adding them to galleries. Immodest as I am I even nominated "Sandö Bridge" image as a "quality image". That added another another hour to my work as I learned how to promote and decline other nominations. I find the whole wikimedia thing very addictive and hard to let go off once I get into it! :-)
I am interested in photography and have had my own Flickr page for a couple of years now. I also use Picasa as my photo album and to carry out certain editing tasks. I tried Adobe's new Photoshop Express and was reasonably impressed but it seemed to take a long time working with 4 and 5 MB images. Perhaps it will become faster as the service develops. However, for most editing tasks I prefer to work within my computer with Photoshop. I see immediate results and can do much more than with the other tools I have tried. I haven't tried Gimp but several of my friends have used it and are very happy with it It is open-source and cost-free so if I had to buy photoshop myself I would definitely give Gimp a trial first.
As always it has been an interesting OER week. I thought I could quickly get through this weeks tasks as I am already used to working with images on Internet but as usual there were new items to learn, new tricks to try out and even more of that addictive Wikipedia coding to learn!

Monday, April 07, 2008

OER week 6a - Sharing and Using Images

Why 6a? Well, when this posting
was almost complete the
week 6 instructions suddenly
expanded. 6b follows shortly.

A Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus).
Originally uploaded to
Wikimedia Commons by Thermos.

Sin título
Originally uploaded by mekatharra.

The two pictures of Griffon Vultures above this text are both licensed as Creative Commons. They can be used freely for non-commercial purposes as long as the photographers are credited. The picture on the left was found on Wikimedia Commons, the one on the right on Flickr. Both sites have a large number of high quality images available to use.

As a comparison I can say that when I searched for "Griffon Vulture" I found 34 images on the Commons and 97 CC images on Flickr. (In total there were 997 images in Flickr of which about 850 actually were Griffon Vultures.) When I decided to load these chosen pictures onto my blog, complete with links to the originals and attribution, it took me about 1 minute to do this from Flickr and about an hour to do the same from the Commons. Most of the hour was spent wrestling with HTML code within my blog and with more expertise I could probably have reduced that time considerably but it is clear to me that Flickr wins on usability.

However, the only item I got from Flickr was the image, whereas searching within the Wikimedia community I found the image, an article about
Griffon Vultures, an extra link to information about vultures and even a link to some lovely videos of these birds of prey (yet another link!). Another consideration is that Flickr is a commercial site and the Commons is non-commercial although I'm not sure if this makes a practical difference or if it gives one site or the other an advantage.

I haven't yet found a photo-school on Flickr but there were some excellent guidelines to creating quality images on the Commons. and more useful information inside Wikipedia.

The two sites seem to complement each other. For downloading to a blog I think I would always look first on Flickr due to the ease of use, but for other purposes the two sites are more evenly matched. Basically I think it is wonderful that there are so many quality images available and so many talented people who use CC licenses.

A few numbers - Flickr has passed 2,3 billion images whereas
Wikimedia Commons has over 2 million images
If no suitable cc can be found use Flickr to find a suitable but copyrighted image and then ask the photographer for permission to use it. I have done this three times and got permission twice. (The third person never replied.)

OER week 5 – Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation

Children in Birao 18
Originally uploaded by hdptcar
Today's featured image on Wikipedia Commons...

I must start by explaining how much I learned this week through the suggested reading! Like many others I have used Wikipedia without really thinking about how it works or the structure and organisation that lie behind it. I was vaguely aware that there were other wiki-projects but had no idea which were part of the Wikipedia Foundation and which were not. Now I feel much more knowledgeable!

Here is a list of some of the points I found to be most impressive...

  • The sheer audacity of the concept – that given the opportunity Internet users would collectively create an encyclopaedia to rival the classic encyclopaedias such as the Britannica
  • The amounts of time people are willing to give freely to create, maintain and improve these commons projects. The principle described by Benkler(2) of the breaking down of tasks into small units must be helpful here – If a lot of people feel able to give just a few minutes or an hour of their time that adds up to a lot of hours! However, there still seems to be a number of people who donate a considerable quantity of their time, perhaps because the system offers non-financial rewards such as status and promotion within an (unpaid) structure. Various technical tools, such as templates, also help users to utilise their time efficiently.
  • The emergence of “a sophisticated set of processes” (2) that have developed to increase the quality of the material and the fact that these arose through self-organising (collective choice) arrangements. This seems to be a very open and democratic process and even the discussions that lead to these rules and principles are (mostly) also still accessible on the “talk” pages.
  • The ongoing nature of the projects. Development continues and as it does so the quality threshold is raised and what was acceptable earlier is no longer of a sufficiently high standard. Examples of this are the evolution of Featured articles in Wikipedia and Featured Pictures in Wikimedia Commons. Logically this means that if the English Wikipedia was almost comparable to Encyclopaedia Britannica in 2005 (See Nature magazine's blog) then in the future (now?) it will be superior to Britannica, assuming that does not also improve.
  • The local nature of the Wikimedia Foundation’s projects. Each language can have its own version of each project and it was interesting to read in Dirk Riehle’s interview with “three leading practitioners of three different Wikipedias how the practices vary from country to country. This reflects Ostrom’s first organisational principle(2); congruence between rules and local conditions. Different languages and cultures have different needs and perhaps require different structures to fulfil those needs. I was at first surprised for example that the Italian Wikiversity’s front page did not have the same layout as the English Wikiversity. After a little reflection I felt pleased that there was room for diversity within these projects and that the English language/culture was not dictating to the rest of the world! Another surprise for me was that several smaller languages were well represented in some of these projects. For example the third largest Wiktionary language is Vietnamese!

Part of the joy of Wikipedia is that it feels to be part of our common property, something we can contribute to, something we all have a stake in. As the quality of Wikipedia and the other projects improves this increases the benefits to all users. However, at the same time the very increase in quality and the level of expert knowledge among contributors may reduce this feeling of common ownership. When it is no longer possible to contribute, unless you are a real expert in something, will we still feel Wikipedia to be common property? This is perhaps another of the challenges of the future for Wikipedia.

  1. How and Why Wikipedia Works: An Interview with Angela Beesley, Elisabeth Bauer, and Kizu Naoko by Dirk Riehle.
  2. The Hidden Order of Wikipedia by Fernanda B. Viégas, Martin Wattenberg and Matthew M. McKeon.
  3. Wikimedia projects

Friday, March 28, 2008

oer - copyright discussion - week 4

This week we are looking at the history of copyright, how it is being expanded in modern times, and how the use of creative commons and similar licences can help in the creation of an alternative to copyright, a “commons” of material available for use. This commons can include free and open educational resources.

An argument that is often heard in favour of copyright is that without copyright artists, authors and similar would not be rewarded for creating their works. Like all good arguments there is an element of truth in this but it was interesting to read in the history of copyright that the first common-law forms of protection actually protected publishers and not authors. In some ways the wheel seems to have turned full circle, again protecting the corporate owners rather than the authors of works. As Lawrence Lessig points out, modern copyright in the USA protects a work for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. It is hard to see what interest a dead creator of a work has in continuing to own copyright!

It is not in itself problematic to grant certain rights to the creator and owner of a “work”. That they are able to benefit from their work is only fair, but if that protection becomes too comprehensive then it hinders the creation of new works. Our previous reading (Standing on the Shoulders of Giants) and Lawrence Lessig's presentation points out that all new “works” are built upon what went before them. If creators are denied the right to use what went before then this hinders them in their act of creation. The difference between “copying” and “creative derivation” is not always obvious. Lessig’s example of the Disney Corporation’s careful guarding of their creations from any form of copying or derivative use shows how copyright can be used to frustrate development. That many of Disney’s creations were built upon material in the public domain, and that Disney has effectively removed aspects of this material from the public domain makes matters even more frustrating!

The creation of open resources, with creative commons licences, bypasses this copyright problem. It gives the author/owner certain rights, ensures that the material cannot be destructively copyrighted and at the same time allows for the creative cycle to continue, building upon the work in question. Bissell and Boyle in "Towards a Global Learning Commons: ccLearn" point out in the importance of licences being compatible if the work is to be reused. I have already come across this problem. I moved some of my photographs from Flickr to Wikiversity and found that not all levels of CC licences used in Flickr were accepted in Wikiversity.

Bissell and Boyle also divided OER into levels – their lowest level, minus one(!) is interestingly numbered. The use of “minus” shows that this level of openness is not really very useful, even if it is better than nothing! The problems of incompatibility that they raise have also appeared in the work of CFL in Sweden. CFL’s materials repository has been created over the last five years and ensuring compatibility with other repositories and with learning platforms has been an ongoing work!

Rose has already written about Swedish copyright laws in her posting so I won't repeat that. However, I will mention a couple of other points. Swedish law allows for the limited non-commercial copying of CD’s and DVD’s under a “personal use” definition. If I wish to make a copy of a CD and give it to a friend I can do that legally. This right is rather restricted and a special duty on copying mediums (blank CD’s and DVD’s) pays for this right.

Sweden also has a rather well-developed sense of the value of the commons, traditionally rooted in the right of free access to the countryside, laws restricting the privatisation of water-side land and a sense that culture in all its forms should be available, freely or at an affordable price. Perhaps this is why it is estimated that between 10 and 15% of the Swedish population downloads copyrighted material via internet (voting with their feet for affordable culture!). The Swedish government has been reluctant to pass a law effectively criminalising this large section of the population and most people in Sweden see little point in trying to prevent the unpreventable. This perhaps explains the existence of the Pirate Bay in this otherwise very law-abiding country!

Friday, March 21, 2008

OER week 3 - Philosophical Background

ATC: The World is Flat 1
Originally uploaded by kellypuffs
I work mostly with Swedish folkbildning, part of the Popular education movement that we read about in the introductory material to this part of the course. As I read the different articles (listed at the end of this post) I saw a number of tensions between different elements of society.

One of these tensions is between popular education and formal education. That there is a popular education system in many countries shows a belief that the formal education system is lacking in some ways. The Swedish parliament funds folkbildning because:

The Swedish parliament sees that the formal education system, for whatever reasons, does not fulfil all the needs of society. That this is so can clearly be seen in present developments within adult education. Formal adult education is seen more and more as a tool for economic development, with the cultural and democratic development of adults being left to popular education.

Within the library system there is a tension between public libraries and other more specialised forms of library, such as the university library. In some parts of the world the public library system is being questioned with regard to “value for money”. Do “the public” need to be able to borrow whatever books they want to? Should the system be restricted to “Good and worthy Books”? These arguments are reflected in the debate typified by Andrew Keen’s “The Cult of the Amateur” and James Surowiecki’s “The Wisdom of Crowds”. These ongoing questions are reflections of debates within the Enlightenment. Is knowledge something to be restricted to a certain group or can “the crowds” be trusted with knowledge? (Or even with the creation of knowledge!)

Open educational resources are also a part of that debate. Are educational resources best left to experts, or can the crowds also provide high quality resources

Although it is not mentioned in the article on public libraries one of the forces behind the development of the public lending library was the falling cost of books. While books were very expensive to produce it was not possible to lend them out but once the cost came down to a level where the loss of a book was not a disaster the lending library became a possibility. With the development of digital materials the cost of “owning” or providing books and other materials has sunk dramatically. This offers an alternative to the lending library which is excellent news in parts of the world where such things are not on offer, although the downside of that equation is that questioning of the need for libraries even in the developed world!

This worldwide access to information has led us nearer to the global village, or as Thomas Friedman writes in "The World is Flat", nearer to a level playing field.

What my reading has shown me is that there is a broad philosophical background to the OER movement, which is not to say that it is universally accepted or universally popular. I have mentioned one philosophical ongoing debate about the wisdom of OER and there are other forces in the world, economic and political, who are not in favour of free access to information for all, but that is perhaps the subject of another posting!


Friday, March 14, 2008

OER - Deep in Wikiversity

Longleat Hedge Maze
Originally uploaded by Howard Gees
Well, the start the journey, the process, of getting my hands dirty, working in the field, went well. I arrived at Wikiversity, registered and created my user-profile page. This was a useful way of getting started with editing a page - I found the "Editing help" page quite useful here, except for when I tried to add an image. On this point it failed to tell me I had to load up my image first (obvious?). I thought about editing the "Help:editing" page but lost my nerve at the last minute!

Then I moved on, deeper into Wikiversity to find some projects (and/or people) to work with. I had read in the introduction to learning projects that Ten introductions to knitting are just as valid and acceptable as one but when I looked for a photography project to work with I got very confused and seemed to be lost in a maze of half-finished pages and empty stubs! I did rewrite one short lesson however. So I retreated from photography, and moved on to education. Things were a little better there and I signed myself up to work in that area, providing a link and a few words to fill a more-or-less empty topic page on Distance Education.

I must admit I have not yet started my own project. Boldness is not usually a problem for me but I seemed to be lacking in inspiration. This week has been very heavy at work so perhaps next week I'll take a look at Le Mill and start a project there. Wikiversity is a big place to explore, and despite the helpful advice from Erkan I spent a lot of time getting lost among the categories, topics, lessons and projects. I felt I had to explore enough to get a feel for the structure and that took time but I would like to experience Le Mill too.

Changing the subject slightly - one of the "joys" of living out in the country is the lack of reliable Internet connections. I'm using mobile Internet and the signal is very weak just now. I'm reconnecting about once every 45 seconds so I'll do a final reconnect, publish this post and finish for the night!

Friday, March 07, 2008

OER - different OER projects

Originally uploaded by leighblackall

Now I have checked out the open education projects suggested.

Warning - Each of them seems to contain a lot of information, modules, functions and so on. Any impressions that I mention here are formed after this first short glimpse of these sites and are not really to be trusted!!

The projects I looked at were OU (UK) Open Content Initiative, MIT OpenCourseWare, Rice Connexions, and Wikiversity. Here are those first impressions!

The projects can be split into two groups. The MIT and OU projects seem to mostly offer ready made educational materials. I felt there was something of a take-it-or-leave-it attitude but the OU does offer a Getting Started section with a very user-friendly area to help you as a student use the materials offered.

Rice Connexions, Le Mill and Wikiversity are all communities where you can both use the material on offer and also contribute to the material – in fact you are strongly encouraged to get started with your contributions! Rice Connexions definitely wins the prize for the easiest site to search for materials! I had problems finding my way around Le Mill, partly because a lot of titles are not in English so you have to open an object to see what it is about. Of course, this disadvantage could well be seen as an advantage if Estonian is your first language.

As I browsed I found that these different projects can be linked together. The Le Mill Atmospheric Processes unit used a module from the OU’s OpenLearn site as reference material.

Another way to divide these projects would be by language. If you need materials in English there is something for you in all of these projects but if you are looking for materials in other languages then the different sites have hugely varying amounts.

Terminology – modules, learning resources, media pieces, collections – each project uses its own terms. In practice I suppose most users stick with one or two projects and quickly learn the associated terminology.

These five projects contain a huge amount of educational material and there are many other projects, including CFL:s own Course hub. Perhaps the next stage is to find a way to search the Internet for OER, or perhaps a specialised search engine already exists. If you know of one please get in touch!

PS I found the photo illustrating this entry by searching for "open educational resource" in Flickr. There were plenty of images to choose from and most of them were free to use under the CC licence!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

OER - Tuomi's report

The discussion continues
Originally uploaded by keibr

Tuomi has written a very interesting report which provides me with a structure to better understand the field of Open Educational Resources (OER); not just what OER ­are but also where they come from, how they can be defined, how they fit into our economic system and how they may affect the future of learning environments.

I work with the professional development of teachers and if I can start with a slight criticism it is of Tuomi’s view of future learning environments. He seems to be very sure of the future. In the final paragraph on page 5 we find that; “…educational systems will be redesigned…Education and learning will be integrated…will shift the focus towards adult education…” All this is possible and there are already educational organisations and networks moving towards this future. However, I feel that all this will only happen if governments encourage the redesign of educational systems in this direction, change the direction of teacher education and the professional development of working teachers. Otherwise the result will be islands of development in a sea of traditional (outmoded?) education models. Of course, this report, prepared for the OECD and this course are a part of that encouragement!

I found the “Open resources” section particularly interesting. (pages 25 -28). However, Tuomi describes three hierarchical levels of openess (P26) but I am not sure these levels are entirely hierarchical. As I see it a resource can fulfil the requirements of openness 1 and 3, but not the requirements of 2. The resource is accessible (level 1) and available for modification, repackaging etc (level 3), but the user still cannot “access all the services generated” (level 2). Rosemarie discussed this point with a slightly different focus.

I found the concepts of rival/non-rival and the four different types of resources (private, common pool, public good and open fountain) useful in explaining certain tensions within the media world today. Tuomi writes (p 33) “Traditional goods are rival… Public goods, in contrast, are non-rival…Digital products and knowledge are in many cases such non-rival goods.” The music recording industry has seen music as rival but now music is rapidly becoming digital, non-rival and (often illegally) public goods. The concept of the open fountain is new for me but it usefully explains why resources such as Flickr or Wikipedia have grown and gained in value so quickly.

For me the position of non-commercial activities with regard to the market is interesting and I feel Tuomi does not really take up this question beyond mentioning that it is;

“…a tricky one. As non-commercial typically means either that no commercial players have current interest in the activities, or that society has structured the markets so that some things are not provided by commercial actors.” (p 32).

In some cases this feels correct. For example the creative commons section of Flickr makes millions of images available to non-commercial users, but it is unlikely that these users would have purchased pictures commercially if Flickr did not exist. However, in other cases I feel certain that the “new” non-commercial activities have an effect upon the market. As JLH writes in OER Chatter; “OER savings could allow financially challenged districts to cut educational material expenditures so that money could be allocated elsewhere in the system.” The publishers of text books will not be happy if they are replaced by OERs! Another (Swedish) example is that educational organisations are ceasing to subscribe to the “National Encyclopedia” often citing increasing cost as their reason. Could it be that the free availability of Wikipedia enables these organisations to save money?

As this report made clear tomorrow's educational world will look very different to today's. I hope the predictions made in the report are fulfilled and it will be interesting to help in making that future.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

OER - Who am I

This post is part of the “Composing Free and Open Educational Resources” course which started on Monday.

Who/where am I?

You can find out where I am from reading “About me”. The photograph you see there also says something about me. I like being active and outdoors and that picture was taken last summer in the Swedish mountains. A picture always has a context and so I'll finish this posting with three more pictures of me in different contexts. (I'm also interested in photography.)

I work for the Swedish Agency for Flexible Learning, which is responsible for encouraging distance and blended courses within the adult education sector. Mostly I work with teachers’ professional development and “folkbildning”, the non-formal sector in adult education.

The development of Internet led to a radical change in distance and blended learning methods and the continuing development (web 2.0 etc) may well lead to a further paradigm shift. Wikiversity and this course are examples of a new form of non-formal learning and as such are perhaps part of this new paradigm.

In my work I am involved in many discussions about how education is evolving and one reason for taking this course is to go beyond theoretical discussion and to experience how it feels to be a participant in this type of course. I feel that those of us who work with flexible learning need to be participants in such a course now and again.

Of course, I want to learn more about how free and open resources can be created and used in education. Finally, I am also hoping for inspiration and insight from you other course participants, particularly as we come from so many backgrounds.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The first blogger?

"And though nobody should read me, have I wasted time in entertaining myself so many idle hours in so pleasing and useful thoughts?"
Michel de Montaigne

According to The Writer's Almanac (28 feb 08) the art of essay writing was born in the 16th century through a need to write letters but a lack of people to write to; instead of writing to one person Michel de Montaigne wrote to a public audience.
For me this resonates with the popularity of blogs; we write blogs to an (at least partly) unknown audience because we need to write/reflect but either lack a critical person to write to or wish to write to a larger audience. In the same way once essay writing became an established form essayists wrote essays replying to, and commenting on, other essays. The "conversation" between bloggers is perhaps today's speeded up version of those leisurly times and habits!

From The Writer's Almanac (28 feb 08)

It's the birthday of the great essayist Michel de Montaigne, (books by this author) born in Périgueux, France (1533). ....

Michel went off to college and became a lawyer. His father died when Michel was 38 years old, and so he retired to the family estate and took over managing the property. More than anything, he loved to write letters, but after a few years in retirement, his best friend died and he suddenly had no one to write to. So he started writing letters to an imaginary reader, and those letters became an entirely new literary genre: the essay.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Flickr - diagrams, painting and charts.

Surfing flickr - Flickr is so much more than "just" photos. Try using a search term + the word "diagram", or "chart", or "painting. This picture was found using the terms "fire" and "diagram".