Hans Rosling inspires ALT-C with educational animations

I’ve just listened to the opening keynote from ALT-C 2008 via Eluminate. Hans Rosling Professor of International Health from the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm gave an inspiring talk about the work his company Gapminder.org has done to animate and present world health data in order to increase our understanding of world trends in health and economic growth.

One of the animated graphs Hans presented plotted the number of children per woman against life expectancy. Looking over the last 50 years he demonstrated how countries like China and India had now caught up with OECD countries in terms of life expectancy. With lots of other examples Hans showed just how engaging, educational and entertaining learning through animation can be. He discussed the huge possibilities for using statistical data to create educational mash-ups.

The Eluminate experience was pretty good, although it took a few minutes to set up – the video and audio were clear – and it certainly gave a flavour of actually being in the lecture theatre.

Keynotes like this are (in my opinion) what ALT-C does best. Access to Hans’s talk is available via Eluminate http://conference-weblog.alt.ac.uk/alt_conference_weblog/remote-access-to-altc-200.html. The other conference keynotes by Itiel Dror (Cognitive neuroscience at Southampton) on Wednesday (1400-1500) and David Cavallo (One laptop per child) on Thursday (1210-1310) are also being broadcast via Eluminate, tune in if you can.

Jim Farmer: Faculty and publishers advance e-learning

Writing in the ALT newsletter Jim Farmer charts the rise in the popularity of textbooks and accompanying supplementary material (e-learning content) amongst Faculty in the US.

Publishers are investing billions of dollars in developing these materials, an investment colleges and universities will not able to match – even if they work collectively.

Jim concludes:

Publishers have developed a business model to support a large investment in the development of course materials, have created a direct and productive relationship with faculty, and have focused on learning how students learn. This seems to be model where faculty, students, and publishers all benefit at least in the short term and in the absence of any more creative approach within higher education.

As always Jim illustrates his arguments with lots of thought provoking statistics. Well worth a read.