Notes in the Margin

On the intersection of web apps, digital content and social media

Archive for the ‘eLearning’ Category

The EduPlug – Go for it, Tonido! | Education IT |

Interesting vision of plug-and-play complete learning system. The specifics of this vision are not as important as a) the mostly implied requirements, and b) the list of applications that relate to this kind og offering, including Moodle and Joomla, but also lesser-known Koha and Centre SIS.

The EduPlug – Go for it, Tonido! | Education IT |

See also his earlier post that teed up this one: A cloud in a plug – brilliant


Written by tstaley

February 16, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Posted in eLearning

Inkling lets textbook makers embrace the iPad | VentureBeat

More on Inkling, a month-old article that appeared around the time of the iPad announcement. Of particular interest is this quote:

But for now Inkling is the only game outside the book publishers’ own much less advanced CourseSmart e-textbook format. “I think no one else did it because everyone else thought everyone else would be doing it,” he told me. “Nope, looks like it’s just us for now.”

Inkling lets textbook makers embrace the iPad | VentureBeat.

Written by tstaley

February 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Posted in eBooks, eLearning

Publishing in the 21st Century: Inkling Cuts Textbooks into Inexpensive Bite-Sized Morsels

Publishing in the 21st Century: Inkling Cuts Textbooks into Inexpensive Bite-Sized Morsels.

The Inkling offering looks interesting, though few details are available on their site. They do have impressive backers, and seem to be pretty focused on Apple and the iPad, so they are oriented in the right direction.

Their focus on publishing companies is interesting:

First, they’ll port their existing tomes onto Apple’s iPad as interactive, socialized objects. Then, they’ll create all-new learning modules — interactive, social, and mobile — that leave ink-on-paper textbooks in the dust.

They do offer things like interactivity, shared notes and syncing across devices, all of which seem like part of the checklist of capabilities for a 21st century learning solution. Definitely a solution to watch.

Written by tstaley

February 15, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Posted in eLearning

Interpersonal Learning Spaces

Below is an overview of a solution that could be called Interpersonal Learning Spaces (IPLS), an online educational application. It may sound audacious, but the technology is readily available and some examples like Coursesmart are beginning to surface.

Solution summary: The Interpersonal Learning Space would be an application that enables students and teachers to engage directly with online content, and with each other, to bring the wealth of a publisher’s educational material to a more socially connected medium and improve the effectiveness of student’s learning.

The Interpersonal Learning Space would include the following capabilities and attributes:

1. Going Online. The key challenge that this concept addresses for a publisher is how to leverage your tremendous wealth of content, yet make it relevant within current technical, social and learning contexts. With standards like EPUBs and robust XML engines to deliver this content online, moving content to the web is an obvious choice. Online reading is clearly a necessary first step, but not in itself sufficient to ensure a publisher’s profitability in the education space and beyond.

2. Making it Personal. The next step may be obvious, and others may have tackled this challenge already, but the results are hard to find in the market. It involves personalizing the reading experience. Imagine offering the ability to read books online and, with an established personal account, being able to annotate the experience. Current reading devices like the Kindle offer the ability to highlight and take notes on ebooks, though the user experience is awkward and ineffective. Instead, imagine the technical equivalent of a piece of personal acetate overlaid as a transparent layer on the book’s contents, on which the reader could type, scribble, doodle, underline, and highlight his or her own personal reflections.

The underlying book could remain unchanged, but the user would have an anthology of personal engagement with the book throughout its pages. This approach could be particularly valuable for textbooks, where students could not only highlight key sentences or examples, but could actually do some portion in their homework directly in their book-centered learning space.

3. Making it Interpersonal. Now, going the first of several steps further, imagine that the user could share their personal learning space with others. It could start with the user’s teachers or tutors, who could gain greater insight into the thought processes and learning of his/her students. But perhaps more importantly it could be extended to sharing pages with fellow students, with whom the user could work through problems, questions, inquiries and solutions. Social environments can enhance the learning experience, especially for the emerging generation, so this application would drive learning by extending student’s instinctive connectedness and shared constructivism.

Furthermore, using an approach referred to in web 2.0 circles as “crowd-sourcing,” access to the reactions of your readers will enable publishers to adapt and refine published content to address concerns and amplify key points that are unclear. This could dramatically improve the value of the content, making it more relevant, targeted and effective.

4. Making it Instructional. The teacher or tutor would also have his or her own interpersonal learning space, which means that the teacher’s notes on course content could be made available to students at the teacher’s option. This could be particularly effective for teachers who capture the SmartBoard notes they create in class. This means that the output of a class session could be available online as part of the teacher’s shared space. Using initial textbook content while extending the environment to provide additional context, notes, etc., the value of the textbook for the teacher, student, or tutor is enhanced.

5. Making it Immersive. For Internet delivered applications, there are many delivery options that go beyond plain and simple web pages (HTML). My experience for the past several years has been using Adobe’s Flash platform to deliver desktop-quality user experiences by way of a browser, or other Internet connected environments. This means that the Interpersonal Learning Space could be designed as a high-end, more immersive experience that would increase user adoption and loyalty. Both the technology and craft are constantly evolving in this area; immersive applications require intuitive user experiences and the capability to manage text, video, and interactive content. Younger generations increasingly expect this kind of user experience, just as they expect to be able to interact with their friends and content from any Internet connect device.

6. Making it Interactive. Tools now exist that allow for integrating synchronous communication into a web application, so this interpersonal learning space could include IM, chat, audio and video communication, as well as shared whiteboards. Technically, this capability is currently available, especially within the aforementioned Flash environment. Clearly, alliances with key software vendors will also facilitate the development of this solution.

7. Making it Inclusive. Finally, the Interpersonal Learning Space could extend beyond textbook content. In the same way that it could enable annotations and discussions overlaid on published content, it could offer the same capability for any web address. This means that students could easily do research and bookmark specific web pages, and also annotate those pages and share those notes with others. This last step is particularly audacious, but still completely feasible technically. It would enable research and annotation of the entire web, going beyond textbooks, and could become a much more generalized research facility, and perhaps an opportunity to cross-sell other  services by attracting the general public as users.

Here’s a use case, one of many, but the one that has been informing this vision:

Ellen, a High School junior, is propped up against pillows on her bed, iPad in her lap, reading The American Pageant for her AP US History class. Having logged in to her IPLS, she highlights relevant passages in the book using her finger. Alternately, she can touch the pen tool and scribble notes in the margin, again using her finger. For more extensive notes, she can invoke the keyboard and type at length.

Ellen reaches a section where the interpretation of the text is unclear, so she overlays onto her screen the class notes from the teacher’s SmartBoard that day. Wanting another perspective, she overlays the personal notes on the chapter from her friend Darcy to gain insight. With Darcy’s personal learning space active, she notices that Darcy is in the book at the same time, so Ellen sends her a text message and the resulting exchange (not all about school) provides useful context and perspective.

To extend her research, but staying within the learning space, Ellen browses to an Internet site for more background on the topic. Finding a passage that is particularly relevant, and one she will likely cite in an upcoming paper, she highlights the text and then copies the reference with link to her citation library, along with a comment on how and where it might be used.

This project would clearly be a significant undertaking, but based on my experience in developing solutions such as Adobe Digital Editions, the Random House Insight Widget and the Suite, this kind of application is both plausible and timely. At Adobe, we saw educators beginning to think differently about writing after their experience with Buzzword, and this application would extend the online collaboration capability even further.

Written by tstaley

February 10, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Dreaming Up Textbooks on an Apple Tablet – Digits – WSJ

Coursesmart is a consortium of textbook companies coming together to make their textbooks available on other devices:

Tablets could include the ability to look at color graphics and integrate other sources of information such as video and outside links, he said.

“The key is that with multifunction devices, you can do more than just read the textbook. You can interact with the content,” he said. “It is all about having your textbooks integrated with other tools and resources that you use for learning.”

This seems interesting, but may be  tough process. If the textbook stays at the center of the usage model, as it probably will if the solution is created by textbook publishers, then it will be unlikely to capture the interest and passion of students. It will be just a different destination for the same old content.

via Dreaming Up Textbooks on an Apple Tablet – Digits – WSJ.

Written by tstaley

January 6, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Posted in eBooks, eLearning

Do University Courses “Want to be Free”?

Interesting post – further evidence of the disruption that’s happening in education. A professor at the University of NSW in Sydney, Australia now offers his classes through YouTube – for credit.

Universities such as Duke, Stanford, MIT, and the University of California, among others, already post videos online both to YouTube and in iTunes U, a section of iTunes featuring audio and video podcasts. However, what UNSW is doing is unique – they’re providing college credit to those watching the YouTube recordings.

This must be the educational equivalent to the “content wants to be free” argument. The implications are as far-reaching as the free music downloads available on any torrent site. It begs the same sort of question: what will fund educators and artists?

Written by tstaley

March 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm