The IMS Technology Enhanced Flexible Learning project Group

Whilst at the Learning Impact 2008 conference in Austin Texas, incidentally a more pleasent place than I expected, I became more aware of the activities of the Technology Enhanced Flexible Learning (TEFL) project under formation group.

Those educatiors involved in language teaching may get confused over the acronym but essentially the TEFL project group is aiming to develop and promote an “end-to-end” methodology for introducing e-learning students to the online environment, to include best practices drawn from literature, personal accounts and workshops (LTAC and other) for each student Introduction Phase (i.e. Expectations, Preparation and Induction). It is anticipated that this methodology will provide a framework for learning technologists and e-learning faculty and administrators to address the quality and service needs of introductory adult e-learners while establishing a effective practices for recruiting, retaining and supporting student persistence.

This is undoubtedly of significant interest to those charged with the retention of students within HE and FE instituitions and signals a clear intent by members of IMS to move away form their historic areas of focus interoperability and data exchange standards and into the contested area of “qaulity standards” it will be interesting to see how this develops.

Thoughts on the Amazon “Kindle”

The Amazon Kindle is device is creating quite a storm in educational circles in the US. The device has a 6″ screen and weighs a lttle over 10 ounces.
“Utilizing a new high-resolution display technology called electronic paper, Kindle provides a crisp black-and-white screen that resembles the appearance and readability of printed paper. The screen works using ink, just like books and newspapers, but displays the ink particles electronically. It reflects light like ordinary paper and uses no backlighting, eliminating the glare associated with other electronic displays. As a result, Kindle can be read as easily in bright sunlight as in your living room.The screen never gets hot so you can comfortably read as long as you like.”

So why the storm ? well its Digital Rights Management again . Amazon have invested heavily in this technology and consequently have built in a sphisticated DRM system which prevents users form “openly sharing content”. Educators are begining to use the technology in educational settings and emerging are two distinct viewpoints, use and support the technology issue and the DRM issue will be resolved by user presssure, or boycot the technology completely and Amazon will “cave in under consumer pressure”.
It is of course a small part of a much larger discussion relating to open access and digital rights management and content publishers attempts to forge new business models in the digital age. It will be interesting to see what evolves………..

JISC CETIS User Survey 2007


Thank you to all of you who responded to the JISC CETIS user survey conducted over the summer. The executive summary of the survey findings is available to download via this link.

The survey has identified areas in which we can improve our service to the community and these will be addressed in our forthcoming activities.

One specific area identified as requiring some attention was the old web site, recommendations for the site, drawn from the survey, were incorporated into the new version you are now accessing.

What about LETSI ?

I have been asked on numerous occasions, well perhaps I’m exaggerating a little, what is happening about LETSI another acronym Learning, Education, Training, Systems Interoperability?

For the uninitiated LETSI is an international organisation that is currently being formed by several international partners , supported by ADL to, amongst a wider remit, provide governance for SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) standard and other learning technology specifications and standards.The organisation was born out of ADL’s desire for SCORM in the future to be self sustaining managed governed and developed by a community of users. JISC CETIS has monitored the development of the organisation and contributed to the intial start up meeting earlier this year.

The Organisation was officially launched last week in the United States by Wayne Hodgins at an event in Orlando Florida and without comment or endorsement the video of this launch is available at the link below.

We here at JISC CETIS will continue to monitor developments in this area, representing the needs of the UK HE and FE communities.


MUVE The Way Ahead ?

Back from leave I’ve been reflecting on Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVE) and their adoption as ‘mainstream’ educational technology, this was prompted in a large part by the book chapter for “Living Virtually” I have just completed with US academic Sarah Robbins , feedback on my personal activities and preparation for the forthcoming CETIS/Eduserve event at the IOE (link to the event)

I’m quite a fan of the Gartner Hype curve in considering the application of new technology..

(Link to Gartner Hype curve)

As far as MUVE are concerned (educational)interest seems to be primarily focussed around the use of Second Life arguably this is because Second Life does provide a fairly low entry point into examining the educational potential of MUVE it has a very established and active community of practice as in the Second Life Educators community (Sled) with support both accessible and available. It is my belief that despite some interesting projects that we (As in the broad educational community)are firmly entrenched in “The Trough of Disillusionment” having travelled through the “hype of over inflated expectation “the cynics arguing, with some justification ,that Second Life is a solution searching for a problem. This journey is not unique it is journey typical of most new technology. We have yet to reach the “plateau of productivity”

Sarah Robbins concedes that what platform technology emerges at the end of the journey may indeed not be Second Life , there are a number of alternatives emerging most of which require more developed technical skills than Second Life, in addition to Multiverse, Croquet et al I’ve just looked at Opensim, an open source project.

We are just at the beginning of this journey and whilst criticism and discussion are essential I’m concerned that the use of MUVE may be deposited in the “dustbin of good ideas that didn’t work in education” without fully exploring the potential.

(link to Opensim)

As far as JISC CETIS is concerned we are agnostic and we will continue to provide a platform where “educational technology” can be openly discussed, criticised and the event on the 20th September will allow us to do that whilst exposed to the four Eduserve projects

Back to Work after the Summer Break

Back to work after the summer break to be greated by seven thousand email, yes fifty per cent were mailing lists etc, but not too much SPAM in there. My university mailbox was rejecting mail from the 24th of August so my apologies to those who may have had mail returned. Traveling to Oxford tomorrow for the JISC marketing event and in Bolton on Thursday.

MUVE/3D Learning Object Development

With increasing interest in multi user virtual environments (MUVE) and games based learning an interesting project is underway at the University of Southern Queensland. Alive X3D is open source

To enhance distance learning, AliveX3D technology also allows the embedding of multi-user 3D immersive virtual environments within online course content. In this way students reading through study materials online can collaborate within 3D embedded windows in real-time.
2D/3D Hybrid Course Content. Existing course content can be enhanced through the inclusion of 3D immersive content. They are currently working on methods to embed 3D content into 2D online webpages.

The issue of Interoperability across MUVE, VLE and other content seems to
be an emerging issue of significant interest to Learning Technologists folowing on from the recent anouncement by Blackboard of projects exploring the integration of MUVE and building blocks.

It will be intersting to see how this space develops