Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Give Away of the Day website

This is an interesting site. Everyday, they give away a software tool or utility that you can download install and try out. Check out at http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/

All the offers I have seen so far are for Windows computers and it appears that you have to download and install on the "give away" day in order for the license keys to activate.


Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Theory and Practice of Online Learning 2nd Edition

Terry Anderson's second edition of his book on the Theory and Practice of Online Learning is now out. This is an excellent resource for learning about online learning. And it is available as a free e-book.

If you are teaching a course about online learning, you may want to consider using this as your textbook. Students can buy the hard-copy if they wish or they can save the dollars and download it.

Terry Anderson is a Professor in the Centre of Distance Education at Athabasca University and he holds a Canadian Research Chair in Distance Education. Click here to go to his online portfolio. Terry also posts to a blog or two. Check out his Virtual Canuck Blog at http://terrya.edublogs.org/


Saturday, May 24, 2008

10 Trends to Watch

10 Trends in e-Learning that are worth watching.

  1. Cloud Computing

    1. Sub Notebooks based on Linux that are primarily designed for cloud computing. http://eeepc.asus.com/global/

    2. Cloudo where your desktop is online. http://www.cloudo.com/

    3. Storage on Websites is cheaper. You can get 125 GB for $10 a month

      1. www.CanadianWebHosting.com

    4. Google, Yahoo and MSN for online computing

      1. 6.7 GB of email space in Gmail.com

      2. Online Offices

        1. http://docs.google.com/

        2. www.thinkfree.com/ or

        3. www.zoho.com/

      3. Notebook and sharing

        1. www.google.com/notebook

      4. Calendars

        1. http://www.google.com/calendar

  2. Communications -

    1. Email effectiveness is decreasing. As a communication channel it is clogging up with volume and spam.

    2. The server load to filter spam is becoming enormous.

    3. RSS Feeds and readers could become a second channel of communicating but it still have low acceptance. www.google.com/reader

    4. Instant Messaging is not taking over yet. www.pidgin.im/

  3. Social Networking is growing.

    1. Using social networking to enhance learning is emerging with significant potential – www.facebook.com

    2. The central principles are very interesting.

      1. The learning is in control of their postings and how has access to them. Personal Learning Networks.

      2. Centralizing on lifelong learning journals

      3. Wiki like technologies are maturing into full power collaboration tools for

        1. Writing

        2. Calendaring

        3. project management and coordination

        4. Content Repositories and Knowledge Management system.

    3. Second Life and simulated learning environments. Www.secondlife.com/

        1. Symposium on virtual environments in biology, medicine and history.

  4. FOSS

    1. Technologies that are developed and maintained by large communities of users and not vendors.

      1. Open Office is becoming a real alternative. - www.openoffice.org

    2. Tools like Drupal and Joomla that allow for very powerful online learning environments to be developed and used. - www.drupal.org or www.joomla.org

      1. Based on Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP platforms.

    3. First emergence of Linux based commercially availability personal computers with only free software on them. http://eeepc.asus.com/global/

      1. Expansion of the One Laptop per Child initiatives. http://laptop.org/

      2. Royal Bank giving them away.

    4. Older and more mature systems are becoming too large and unwieldy and difficult to maintain and keep nimble.

      1. Blackboard is one and Windows is another example.

      2. $500 laptops where Windows license is about half of that. and MS Office is about the same.

      3. Windows is bogging down with Virus, spyware and firewall security

  5. Open Content movements

    1. More and more expertise is being shared for free.

    2. Creative Commons Movement http://creativecommons.org/

    3. MIT, OU UK and my other PS institutions are sharing their course content with the public. http://www.opencontentalliance.org/

    4. Electronic libraries and books being available to public for free. http://books.google.com/

  6. Portable Apps and PC

    1. USB Memory flash drives now 8 GB and affordable.

    2. USB Hard Drives pocket up to 250 GB – Put your whole life on it and carry it in your pocket.

    3. USB Not pocket size 1 TB and affordable.

    4. Open Office and other apps that can run from a USB drive and

      1. Portable Apps Linux coming soon. http://portableapps.com/ or http://www.portablefreeware.com/

  7. Smart Phones

    1. Personal Media Players, Cameras, PDA and merging with Cell Phones

      1. Dell stopped making their pocket computers.

      2. Smart phones are emerging as significant players


  8. e-Learning authoring tools are more sophisticated and affordable.

    1. Authorware 12 years about was $3000 now there is eXe for free and Captivate for $500.

    2. eXe request less time in training and free http://exelearning.org/

    3. MS giving one away. http://www.microsoft.com/learning/tools/lcds/default.mspx

  9. Generation of learners that have grown up with computers, computer games, the Internet.

    1. My 6 year old is already using Webkins. http://www.webkinz.com/us_en/

    2. Other online metaverses like

      1. Second Life http://secondlife.com/

      2. World of War Craft and many more. http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/index.xml

      3. The Sims http://thesims.ea.com/

      4. What are they learning in these environment?

      5. How do they find learning in school?

  10. Time shortage

    1. Everyone is so busy

    2. 5 Minute presentations

    3. Little time for reflections

    4. Greater demands on instructors and learners.

      1. Multitasking

      2. Scope of knowledge required is growing.

    5. Connectivity to knowledge is becoming more important than knowing the knowledge.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Royal Bank Giving Away Free Computers

I have blogged about the new ASUS Eee PC computers before on this blog site and I am still really enjoying the one I purchased. I am watching for the arrival of the new model with the 9 inch screen and 20 GB hard drive, due any month now.

But this week I discovered that the Royal Bank is giving the 2G Surf models away for free is you switch over to one of their accounts. Click here to check it out. So now you can get one for free and try it out.

I recommend that you get one of these low end models and if you do like it, buy the 8G or 900 models as they have the memory you will need. Then give the 2G Surf to a child as they make great computers for children.


Monday, May 05, 2008

26 Learning Games to Change the World

Check this out. 26 learning games that are designed to change the world. And most of them are free to use.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Classic Menus for MS Office 2007

For all of you who are struggling with getting used to the new menus, or lack of, in MS Office 2007, there is an interesting solution. Addintools (http://addintools.com/)has a plug in for MS Office 2007 that restores your familiar office 2003 like menus. It is not free but may be worth the purchase, if you are frustrated with the new menu system.

Click here to learn more.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Blackboard's new Grade Center

Check out this short Flash movie that high lights the cool new features of Blackboard's new Grade Center. This is an overhauled grade book that is coming out in Blackboard 8.0. Click here to play the clip.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Adobe Photoshop for Free?

Adobe has released a free online version of Adobe Photoshop. It is called Adobe Photoshop Express. Sure, it doesn't have all of the power of the original version but it is free and online so you can use it without having to install anything, if you have Flash Player already installed.

I have taken it for a quick test drive and it looks great. Check it out at http://www.photoshop.com/express/


Friday, March 21, 2008

Free Synchronous Webconferencing

While organizing the Canadian E-Learning Conference for June of this year, you are all going to come, right? http://conference.adeta.org

... I have run across a free web conferencing system that we are exploring using at the conference to provide live access to the presentations by the online participants. It is call WiZiQ and the URL is at http://wiziq.com

Besides being free it has the following features that I like:
  • It only requires you to have Flash Player installed to use it and most everyone has that already, how else would you watch your YouTube.com programs. This also eliminates the majority of the problems that users have using other systems that require propriety software to be downloaded and installed.
  • It records the sessions in Flash format so they can be viewed afterwards with just Flash Player.
  • It appears to have all of the functionality of the other systems and it very simple to learn to use.
  • There are also features for sharing content files and having tests online.
  • it is Free, did I mention that already?

We have been doing some testing and it seems to work very well, is there anyone reading this that is using it? Please let us know how it is working for you.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

ASUS Eee PC Sub Notebook

I now have one of the new ASUS Eee PC units to try out and I really like it. They can purchased from Memory Express or from The Source by Circuit City starting as low as $299. I now have the 8GB model for $499. A student pointed out that I can double the RAM from 512 MB on the 4GB model to 1GB by replacing the RAM chip for a $25 1GB chip.

I have also found a couple of interesting sites that help you to learn more about this unit:
This is the machine I have been waiting for, because:
  • It is small, light weight and inexpensive.
  • It is Linux based and liberates me from MS.
  • It comes with Open Office installed which I am getting to like much better than MS Office.
  • It is designed to be a portable Web browser. I now use more Web-based apps than installed and this would work great for me.
  • It is flexible, you can change the software on it, add SD Memory and it comes with 3 USB 2 ports.
  • This also would be a great computer for my daughter, who is in grade one. It is easy to use, durable and comes loaded with lots of software.
I find this unit is a lot easier to pack around then my laptop and so I tend to take it to more meetings for note taking and access the Net. I have also hooked it up to my 17" LCD monitor and it works great set at 1280x1024 with an external mouse and keyboard.

Earlier in March, Asus announced that they are coming out with a 9" screen version in June (the current version has a 7" screen) that will come with 1GB or RAM and 8 GB or 12 GB of SST Hard Drives. Not only is the screen better but the resolution on it will be 1024x600, while the current one is 800x480. As best that I can tell, the size the unit is only slightly larger.

If you have one, let us know by posting a comment.

Quick Media Converter

I have been hunting for a free video converter for a long time now and have finally found one.

Quick Media Converter, is a free very powerful video and audio conversion tool. Converts to and from most formats including : FLV, AVI, DIVX, XVID, MPEG, MPEG2, MP3, Real Media, TS, Quick Time, PSP, Ipod, Iphone, WMV, VCD, 3GP, 3G2, M4A, AMR, H264, and H263. It also allows you to record videos or take pictures from your Web cam or DV Cam flux, in avi format and convert it to any format you want.

Included are two users mode - Batch Conversions Mode 1 for all users: Easy intuitive includes standard conversion settings to allow users to convert without having particular skills. Mode 2 Advanced: For skilled users allows more flexibility and more specialized conversions. Access to
www.cocoonvideos.com where if registered for free you can upload and share your converted videos and pictures (free 2 Gigabytes). Converts to and from mobile phones. Converts all FLV files or Youtube Daily motion Break. Captures and records Web cam and DV Cam flux (video and sound).

Works with Windows 98/NT/2000/XP/Vista

Thanks for Dave Flynn for passing this along to me.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Blackboard Next Generation

From the Canadian Blackboard Users Group online conference yesterday, I learned some interesting announcements coming out of Blackboard. Of course this is after the court case ruling in Blackboard's favour in the patent suit against Desire 2 Learn.
  • Blackboard classic version 8.0 was released last Fall and this Spring Vista and Campus Edition (former WebCT products) version 8.0 will be released. These editions are not much different then proceeding versions but this action will synchronize the version numbers of the three products.
  • The real interest part of this is that Bb is promising the release of Blackboard 9.0 before the end of 2008. This is the Next Generation edition that will have significant differences from previous version AND this is the version that finally merges the two former WebCT products with the classic Blackboard product. From the little they showed of the mockups, this product will have a whole new look, feel and new features. The timing of this release means that many schools will be testing this release out in the first half of 2009 and considering upgrading to it in the Summer of 2009, or not.
  • My jury is still out if this is good and bad news. The new is good in that now we know what is planned. But could be bad because most schools may not be able to afford the new product. It promises to deliver all of the Web2.0 functionality that we are looking for but it seems to me that most of these features will be distributed in the suite of modules that Bb offers. At most schools, they just run the one core module and can't afford the extra modules.
  • I have a meeting with a Bb representative this coming week so I will raise these concerns to him and report back here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats

Here is the downloadable utility from Microsoft that will allow you to open Office 2007 formatted documents, with the x on the end of the file extension, in Office 2000, XP or 2003. This is a nice band-aid to a huge problem that occurred when MS released a non compatible file format for the Office 2007 suite of apps. I have heard that there is more compression in these new file formats, so a PowerPoint file would be significantly smaller but I haven't tested that myself yet.

I assume that there was a great reason for introducing this new set of formats that would off-set the pain it is causing, but I can't think of any.

Anyway, you can download the Compatibility Pack from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=941B3470-3AE9-4AEE-8F43-C6BB74CD1466&displaylang=en

or you can use http://www.zamzar.com to convert your files.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Richard Baraniuk: Goodbye, textbooks; hello, open-source learning

Here is a very interesting TED Talks from Richard Baraniuk who gives us his vision of the future of textbooks, and open-source learning.

It is 19 minutes long but worth a view and thinking about. Go to http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/25 to see it.


Get a First Life

If you haven't seen this before, you need to check this site out. It is simply and parody on Second Life, which is getting a lot attention from the e-learning community lately. Go to http://www.getafirstlife.com/ to check it out.

It is kind of like the www.dhmo.org that is a parody of many sites about toxic substances. BTW, if you can't see the humour in this site, ask a chemistry student.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

bFree - Blackboard Export Extractor

Here is a very interesting and useful tool if you are working with Blackboard version 6.3 and higher. This tool is freely available from the UNC website. Essentially, this tool will allow you or your students to view and extract any content for a Blackboard Archive or Export zip file. It also can be used to do the following:
  • If you need to extract a document from an old course that you have an archive file, you can use bFree an avoid having to mount the file back into a Blackboard course shell.
  • You can convert your course into a web site with the same structure, that can be shared outside of Blackboard either on a disk or website.
  • This would be a very useful tool if you needed to move your course from Blackboard to a different LMS.
Rod Corbett

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Jane Hart's E-Learning Handbook

Here is an very useful online handbook all about E-Learning from Jane Hart. This e-book is free and will serve as an excellent PD source and reference. Jane promises to keep the handbook current with continuous revisions.

Useful topics covered include:
  • Virtual worlds like Second Life
  • Blogs and wikis
  • Podcasts, videocasts and screencasts
  • What is Web 2.0 and E-Learning 2.0?
  • RSS Feeds
  • Mobile E-Learning
  • Social Bookmarking
  • And many more

Click here to check it out.