Saturday, January 28, 2006

Making Connections

I'm here with a recap of some of the online interaction I had yesterday using conferencing applications on the 'net. Via Skype I was able to interact with colleagues across town, across the continent and on the other side of the world. Jeff used Skype to let me know that he'd made an archive of the 'cast from Thursday night (I have some post-production work to do, but many thanks to "Jeff from Ann Arbor" for capturing and posting a MP3 of Thursday night's brainstorming session).

Although more "technical difficulties" prevented a stream of yesterday's "Literacy" show, I was able to use Skype to get participants "up to speed" and look forward to a webcast on Fridays at 1800 hrs GMT.

Due to some problems with the audio on Skype I also revisited a conferencing application that's been produced by a former employer of mine, SMART Technologies Inc.

Bridgit supports VoIP, webcam and desktop sharing amongst conference participants. Yesterday afternoon I used it to have a conference with colleagues at a lounge in the airport in Ottawa, at a residence in Calgary and me here on Vancouver Island. Furthermore, the "share desktop" feature meant that Brian, in Calgary, could show us the web page which had pictures of the car he was thinking of buying this weekend.

We didn't get a chance to test the streaming capabilities of Bridgit, but it does support full duplex audio and I look forward to experimenting with it to see if it might be something we can use going forward as a webcasting medium. As always, watch this space for details.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Last night's 'cast

Notwithstanding some issues in getting the stream started at the beginning of the 'cast, and the fact that I don't have an archive file of proceedings, last night's show was a blast.

I was joined online by Clarence Fisher and Brian Mull and had the chance to hear about the work that they're doing with their students and how they've come to work together in a web-based project with their students and others on the web. It was especially cool to be able to meet Jesse, one of Brian's students, during the webcast.

As I said in this post to the forum at edtechtalk, congratulations to Jesse for being the first "student" to join the discussion and I look forward to hearing more from Clarence and Brian's students.

Thanks to all who participated in the conversation--via VoIP or the chat room--and I look forward to seeing you online again soon.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

More Webcasting

In a little less than 1 hour (0200 GMT Friday), I'll be hosting my 4th webcast for edtechtalk.

Tonight I'll be hosting EdTechTalk Brainstorming Session 19A. I'm a late fill-in for Jeff, but I'm really looking forward to a discussion with Brian and his students.

I'll also be hosting a webcast at 1800 hrs (GMT) on Friday about literacy. I'll be joined by colleagues from Project Literacy Victoria as well as from the GRAIL project at OISE/UT.

I'm especially interested in discussing new and emerging technologies and the role they have to play in literacy and I hope tomorrow will be the start of regular meetings to get together and share ideas and "best practices" when it comes to using technology for learning and community building.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Blogging and wikis

Brain Lamb has recently posted a call for submissions in support of a talk he's doing next week in Vancouver, BC.

I recommend that you visit the link above for the complete list of Brian's questions, but I thought I'd respond to a couple here:

In your mind, what is most misunderstood (or little understood) about these tools?

The most "misunderstood" aspect of these tools is the whole notion of public/private and walled gardens and the need to "protect" those in online environments. While I agree that certain age groups, and perhaps new and beginning users, need to be sheltered from the "black hats" that one finds on the 'net -- it's also imperative that we teach individuals how to conduct themselves in online environments from the outset.

Call it 'net-proofing if you like (although this may engender a false sense of security), but I think it's important to turn the responsibility for one's "online persona" back to the individual.

Those participating in the "read/write web" need to be responsible for both deciphering the semiotics of the web, but, just as importantly, have an appreciation of the fact that what one is posting is indeed accessible by anyone with a connection to the 'net.

Of course this means that the potential--good and bad--of posts to impact one's life is huge. Rather than be intimidated by this fact, I think we can do a lot to educate and encourage the effective use of blogs and wikis as a tool for sharing and building knowledge and communities of practice.

Are blogs and wikis evolving into something else?

I think that blogs and wikis are definitely evolving. I believe that audio and video will continue to play an increasingly important role in online environments. I think this is true for all kinds of 'casts -- be they audio, video, or screen, "canned" or streaming. I think that interfaces like elgg are examples of how blogs and wikis are evolving.

Elgg is "open source, learner centred, community building platform" that allows for the incorporation of "media" files into the interface and also provides for the tagging of objects and syndicated feeds with publishing details. This is one example, but I think that "sky's the limit" in terms of what we might see in terms of open source "mashups" and hosted web services applications.

I also think that "services" companies who provide "solutions" based on open source platforms will continue to drive "the open source movement" and make it viable and sustainable.