Thursday, December 18, 2008

Demise of an Email Discussion List?

Just sent to TALO members


Hi everyone.

I have been a member of TALO (Teach and Learn Online) for about 2 years now. When I first signed up I was amazed and invigorated by the level of healthy debate about elearning issues. It was a great place to learn. Since then I have seen the gradual decrease of any stimulating debate, and the number of postings reduced to a trickle.

Some of the people who created this group, and who drove the wonderful discussions of the past, have either moved on from this list or no longer engage with it. It has left a void that no one seems willing to fill. This list has currently 1272 members, and increases by about 15 new registrations each week, and yet the email traffic is minimal.

This may be because there is a range of new tools that many are using to communicate – especially Twitter, but also includes blogs and Second Life. But I suspect too that many newcomers to this list are not sure of the ‘culture’ here; not sure whether to initiate discussion because they are waiting for others to lead the way.

But I think right now there are no leaders in this group. There is no culture. It is up to people who are still here, and the many others who have joined in recent months to make this group live.

So how about it? Why not post what you’re thinking about? Say what you feel? Ask questions about things you want to learn about. This list is YOURS.

If we keep on getting new members and nothing is happening I do wonder whether there’s any point in staying here. Maybe it would be better to close the group and we all move on to other spaces?

But this space, if it is to survive, needs reinvigorating.

Over to you!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Moodle Moot AU 2008

Some thoughts on the recent Moodle conference in Brisbane, Australia. Audio (7 mins 37 secs) provided from Utterli, and images from the conference provided by Slideflickr

Friday, September 26, 2008

Slidecast - Voice Tools for Language and Literacy

I have just managed to synch the audio with the slides from a recent presentation on Online Voice Tools for Language and Literacy. The original session was held in Skype. I recorded both sides of the conversation (me and online participants) and uploaded the audio to the Internet archive.

I uploaded the slides into Slideshare and used their synching audio and slides tool to create a slidecast. I'm really happy with the result and now I know how to do this I'll be doing it again. Here is the final product.

(It's 45 minutes long.)

The Internet archive also provides the embedding code so you can listen to the audio only right here:

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Good Will Bonking :)

The following are a few notes from the recent interview that Will Richardson conducted with Curtis Bonk. It’s about an hour long and the audio is a bit of a struggle initially but it does improve in the second half.

Curt has just released a new book called Empowering online learning The interview touches on issues raised in the book but is not about the book.

CB: George Siemens' Theory of Connectivism is more a description of what’s happening rather than a theory.

WR: How does knowledge construction change in online communities?

CB: Learning is more informal than formal. People share stories

WR/CB: Books like Seymour Papert’s Mind-Storms (published 1993) feel like they were written today! It has taken this long for ideas of people like Papert to gain respectability and currency. Technology has made possible theories that have been around a long time.

WR: How do we unlearn traditional assessment approaches?

CB: Peer/extended network assessment. But there is still a place for traditional teacher-centred approaches

Reference: Darren Draper – have you been paying attention?

There was some discussion of new models of publishing. Curt himself is trying to decide how to publish his new book. Options include:

* Wiki + html (web) pages + book
* Pdf + comments facility
* Hypothetical: Blog daily for a year and compile into a book

Question left unanswered: will mainstream publishers accept these models? (Curt is conscious of the fact that he will be seen as a hypocrite if his next book is not an ‘open book.’, and is investigating new models with different publishers.)

Other Publishing Models:

Flat World Knowledge
Scribd - a ‘YouTube for text.’ (CB)

Other Titbits

Jay Cross and his work on Informal Learning has been pivotal in the move towards understanding new models of education.

* Manila is the chat capital of the world (SMS)
* Wikipedia is built in to mobile devices (Africa)
* You don’t need Internet access to benefit from the Internet (phones, download to CD, etc)
* “Googlization of knowledge” (CB)
* Students in Michigan have to take an online course to graduate.

Learning Object Repositories (LORs)

Curt not convinced of their usefulness. Prefers sites with peer reviewed resources like Merlot.

Second Life/Virtual Worlds

Curt thinks they’re too hard for a lot of people and is watching Google’s Lively

Online Language Learning

CB: Is exploding across the Internet; arrangements where learners of Chinese are matched up with teachers of Chinese who want to learn English and swap services are becoming more common; predicts even further growth

WR: Where will be 20 years from now?

* Jack Cummings, Indiana Uni Dean, dropped in briefly and said that now Harvard had joined those institutions adopting an open content policy others will follow suit. (There are 57 mirror sites of MIT’s open courseware initiative in sub-Saharan Africa.)
* As networks of personalized learning become more widespread there will be 24/7 access to subject mentors around the world, who won’t be aligned to a single institution.
* Cell phones will become more to central to provision of educational content.
* The move to synchronous education approaches will increase
* More and more visualization tools – of thought, networks. (MC: some of these already exist.)

(image at top courtesy of Oliver Ding's Freesouls slide show)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Anthropology of YouTube

Michael Wesch at the Library of Congress. Brilliant. Inspiring. Insightful. Important.

"Media mediates human relationships."
"loss of community"
"networked individualism" > "cultural tension"
"context collapse"
Cognition and recognition. (McLuhan)
"We live lives constantly against the law in an age of prohibition." (Lessig)

55 minutes. Find the time and watch it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What is the Internet Doing to Our Brains?

Picked this up from Will Richardson’s blog. This article from Nicholas Carr needs to be read and contemplated by all Internet educators.

I know exactly what Nicholas Carr means. More and more I find myself engaged in what I call horizontal learning (skimming multiple resources, multitasking), and have to force myself to engage in vertical learning (prolonged focus on a single topic or resource.) There is indeed a change afoot.

Implications? Identify, make explicit, and teach both approaches. See slides 13- 16 of this presentation for more on horizontal v vertical learning.

Addendum to this post

On a related note I just came across this article today - Society Hard-wired for a fall. More on what computer use may be doing to our brains.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Digital Education Revolution (DER)

The Digital Education Revolution (DER) is an Australian Federal Government initiative worth $1.2 billion to advance ICT in Australian schools. Education au is currently sponsoring a series of symposia in Australian capital cities to get feedback from practitioners about what is being done, and what they want to see happen.

I was present for the first part of the symposium in Adelaide today. Sheila Willaston outlined some of the key policy elements:

  • Online curriculum content (I hope this doesn’t gobble up too much of the money)
  • Professional development for teachers (I hope this includes new teachers to be in training programs)
  • Web portals for parental participation (great idea)
  • Fibre connections to schools piggy-backing on the much talked about broadband rollout (if it ever happens)

Targets of the program include

  • Reducing the computer to student ratio to 1:2 in the next 2 years
  • 100 MB connections to all schools

Mark Pesce was next on the podium. Some highlights of Mark’s presentation:

About four years ago YouTube, RSS, BitTorrent, and Wikipedia did not exist. In previous eras any one of these applications would have been considered seminal changes of the generation. These days an equally powerful application appears at least once a year. (eg Google Earth). This is the world generation Y have grown up in – where “the only constant is change.”

Referring to data gleaned from Mobile Phones in Japanese Life, he mentioned the notion of co-presence, where people use communication tools to connect and communicate constantly. Pesce argues that this practice is nothing new – only the tools are new. [David Attenborough refers to humankind as the ‘compulsive communicators.’]

The hidden curriculum of banning and blocking the use of these connection tools in schools is “denying kids the connectivity they experience in their daily lives.” There is an “invisible argument going on between school and life.” “The classroom has lost respect for their lives and (so) kids have lost respect for the classroom.”


Pesce then confessed to being one of the pushers of a tool that mahy educators and parents just see as something that promotes cyber-bullying and MySpace suicide pacts. :)


Twitter is now being used for purposes way beyond what it was designed for. For example, the recent earthquake in China was announced 30 minutes before the major news networks got hold of the story. “The street finds its own use for things” [A recent perspective I heard about ethics: “Ethics should not judge what is good or bad, but rather observe what people are doing.]

[“People no longer subscribe to magazines; they subscribe to people.” (The Human Network) ]

Mark did say that he thought he was probably preaching to the converted, and it did have that feeling, but his presentation was intended as a springboard for further discussion by symposium delegates for the rest of the day to come up with ideas for implementation as part of the DER . @theother66 twittered towards the end of the day that Gerry White was doing a great job of gathering all the ideas together in the final session. I look forward to seeing them.

Many thanks to education au for another great symposium.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

eBeam Smartboard Thing

eBeam Smartboard Thing
Originally uploaded by mikecogh
This really is quite neat. Place the gizmo (see top of pic) on a table top and the tabletop (or any flat surface in theory) effectively becomes a whiteboard. Anything written on the table will appear on the pc it's connected to. And therefore remote users could see it while it was happening. The thing is - can anyone think of a useful application for this?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I am not a blogger

I am definitely not a blogger! Five weeks away in Japan (Nagoya, Tokyo), New York, Scotland, York, Cambridge, London and Scotland and not a note. Hundreds of photos though and I guess that’s how I prefer to blog – visually, or by incorporating widgets like Apture, the software that’s allowing me to add all these media links (are they hyperlinks?). Paralinks maybe?

So that’s what’s prompted me to write now. Highlights were meeting many Webheads f2f for the first time, spending time with Jonathan Finkelstein of LearningTimes fame, enjoying the space and grandeur of the Scottish highlands around Oban, the classic heritage of the built environment in York and Cambridge, and a wonderful spring day in London enjoying the sunshine with thousands of others in St James Pk.

And yes, as Will Richardson wrote, I did think in advance about what I wrote here. I chose words and items that were likely to have existing web content about them!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Dipity - a nifty Timeline Tool

This is a really smart tool (though the limitations of Blogger's display don't do it justice here. Create events with dates and pictures, state the location of an event and Dipity locates it for you using Google Maps. You can view it as a straight timeline, series of images, or on a map. Very cool. See a quick trip through some of my life:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Remembering Marie Jasinski

On Thursday last week about 70 friends and colleagues gathered at the Port Adelaide TAFE campus to bid farewell to Marie Jasinski. Marie had lived the last 20 years of her life living and working in Adelaide and there were a number of people who were not able to attend her funeral in Hobart and needed the opportunity to share memories and acknowledge her significant role in our lives.

Former MindMedia colleague Jeff Catchlove mc’d the event and appropriately used a Thiagi whistle to call us to order and introduce some levity into the occasion. We watched a video of Marie and Marty’s wedding, and Adrian Marron, TAFE Adelaide North Director, spoke on behalf of the institute, the wider department of DFEEST, and the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. He told of being 'ambushed' by Marie at 8 o’clock one morning when he was compelled to listen to her tales of a recent overseas trip and all the exciting iniatives TAFE SA could implement based on her discoveries and new contacts. The last director of the now defunct Douglas Mawson Institute of TAFE, Mike Mulvihill, then spoke with eloquence and simplicity about how Marie had changed all our lives, and inspired a love of learning in us all. Mike also mentioned how he used to try and avoid sharing the stage with Marie because you were always upstaged - whenever Marie stood in front of a group of people she turned it an event of laughter and learning!

We then played a spoken tribute that Robby Weatherley, Marie’s long time friend and colleague from early LearnScope days, had sent down from NSW. This was followed by an opportunity for all present to share anything they wanted about Marie – a colleague from 1989 mentioned that even then Marie had shown by example and encouragement that one should always try and improve what you did.

Marie’s legacy to her colleagues in SA and beyond is clear. She was a living example of how one can be dedicated to teaching and learning, and her willingness to take risks and innovate to improve the lot of teachers and students was unremitting.

Marie’s husband Marty closed proceedings with a touching account of how Marie had added to his life – even if it had meant embracing chaos and complexity in the home! Marty added that Marie was one of those people who realized how much love had to be put into life to get it back. He then played a Photostory of Marie’s last months in Hobart. Marty – thank you so much from all of us for being part of this day. Though it was important that you were there to share an important event with yours and Marie’s colleagues, it could not have been easy.

After the ‘official’ business we all retired to the staff lounge for drinks and eats and more memories of wonderful Marie. Many took the opportunity of dropping some petals into the Port River as a final mark of remembrance to a remarkable person.

There is talk of a small mosaic being installed on the dock outside the Port Adelaide campus as a more permanent reminder of someone we don’t want to forget.

A sincere thank you all to those who attended. I think many of us now can move on – as Marty said – with any of Marie’s dreams that we care to take with us in our pocket. Marie had asked Marty to pass this message on to her colleagues. I think we can rightfully say that Marie would have approved of this event, and that is no mean feat. As Mike Mulvihill said, she was a class act.

Vale Marie. And from all of us who worked with you, thank you for your inspiration, support, guidance, and friendship. I don’t think any of those present last Thursday, and countless others around the country and the planet, will ever forget you.

There are a number of photos of this event posted at If there are any images there that you would rather not be public please let me know and I’ll remove them.

(pic at top courtesy of Nancy White. Taken when Nancy was in Adelaide in 2006)

Others remember Marie

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mile High

It's Festival time in Adelaide and I've been reviewing some of the shows on offer so I'll drop some of them here. Here's the first one:

Holden St Theatres (The Arches), Sat Feb 24

Dan and Daisy set out for New York with the usual feelings of anticipation and trepidation as any couple might at the prospect of a two week dream holiday preceded by an 18 hour flight in economy class. Dan (Sebastian Goldspink), the nervy but experienced flyer, and Daisy (Megan Alston) the excited and excitable newbie, begin as normal – discussing the food, the cabin staff, past memories, Americans, plans for New York – and then the alcohol kicks in. After an eventful high talk drifts inevitably towards the relationship, and stuck like battery hens in the middle of the night they have to face the storm. Directed by Byron Kaye, this racy little play is very engaging. Despite their differences the chemistry between the characters is palpable. It’s as if you’re a fellow passenger observing them slyly without being seen – a kind of sneaky privilege. I’m tempted to down a few Bloody Marys and regale the person next to me the next time I’m on a long flight to see what happens. Really enjoyable.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Leo Kottke

Tonight I went to see one of my musical heroes – Leo Kottke. I fell in love with his music when I was in my 20’s and the love affair has never ended. This clip shows Leo as a very young man but he plays even better now. No one plays like this guy. Thanks Leo. (There are lots more Leo clips on YouTube if you look around.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

PLE - process not product

PLEs and their companions, ePortfolios, are back on people’s radars at the moment. I had a go at spotting the difference between the two some months ago, and Leigh Blackall and Mark van Harmelen have being describing PLEs on the TALO list this week.

Leigh wrote:

"First and originally there is the software development line largely coming out of the UK and Europe that is looking to develop a single solution in terms of software that captures the intent of a Personalised Learning Environment. Things like ELGG. Through both the name PLE and the software developmental approach it is easy to see the influence of the Virtual Learning Environment or Learning Management System. It is this association that critics use against this approach.

The second, more recent, and deeper line of thinking with regard to the PLE ……is more interested in the PLE as a process. A process of establishing an online presence (with what ever is readily available), expressing yourself, and collecting tools, information, finding channels.... and in the process building relationships and networks around your expressed interests so as to develop a personalised learning environment.

To me, the second line of thinking is near enough the same to Networked Learning: Networked learning is a process of developing and maintaining connections with people and information, and communicating in such a way so as to support one another's learning. Wikipedia Feb 2008."

Mark adds:

"The integrated systems approach to PLEs (eg ELGG) is not at odds with the view of assembling resources, and the two co-exist well. In fact jumping over to wikipedia you'll find a definition (of mine) that captures the conjunction of the two 'views':
"Personal Learning Environments are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to
• set their own learning goals
• manage their learning; managing both content and process
• communicate with others in the process of learning
and thereby achieve learning goals.
A PLE may be composed of one or more subsystems: As such it may be a desktop application, or composed of one or more web-based services."

What I'd particularly like to point out is that the PLE movement, whatever its 'guise', has settled on an approach that stresses independent learning (ie self motivated, often self directed) learning rather than teacher controlled learning. Teachers can assist and facilitate, but not control. Peers can assist and facilitate. This to me is the real nub of a PLE, as a tool / set of tools that enables this approach. So I'm not hung up on precise system characteristics, and I'd suggest that a system classification sidesteps the real and deeper and more meaningful and enduring value of the PLE movement." (my italics)

I’m not hung up on system characteristics either – a single all encompassing tool or a collection of web applications are both fine – but we all know that the organizations we work for are going to push option 1. They will want their staff/students to use the tool they have paid for or developed so they can control security, standards, etc. I guess in the spirit of PLEs as expressed by Leigh and Mark, students should be free to choose the endorsed tool or their own collection of scattered personal artefacts, and be supported in whatever choice they make. It is about process after all, not end product. Though I find that hard to accept sometimes. I love the process, but I also get a lot of satisfaction from looking at end-product I have created. For example, I’m gonna love proof reading this post and seeing it as a end-product that represents people’s thoughts on this topic right now, but also feel excited at knowing that it will be superseded within days. Such is our ‘habitus of learning’. (Norbert Pachler) But I’d hate to see Blogger fall over and never be able to find this post ever again!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Classroom of the Future

Over at is a wonderful example of how Voicethread can capture multiple voices on a topic, and a great selection of opinions on mobile learning and the role of the teacher/classroom in a digital world. Courtesy of webhead Dave Winet the founder of EFI (

Thursday, February 07, 2008

My Facebook Friendwheel

Originally uploaded by mikecogh
Ever wanted to be at the centre of the universe? Facebook has made it possible.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Future of Learning in a Networked World #2

Well for the first two days the Future of Learning in a Networked World (FLNW)participants in Bangkok face a challenge similar to that faced by FLNW participants last year in NZ – exorbitant charges for Internet use at the hotel. About $3 per hour. Wireless. And can only be bought in lots of 3 hours. Seems like the less developed the country (India, Vietnam) the more likely b/band or wireless will be cheap or free. If you take your laptop into the mega shopping malls here you can enjoy free access, and Internet cafes are everywhere and cheap. But documenting discussions in and around hotel over the next 48 hours may be a bit skimpy…. We’ll see. It’s good to be here and I'm looking forward to it. Tag everything FLNW08. Some pix already up on Flickr.


  I recently created a book of this blog. I must confess part of my desire to do this was based on the assumption that it might be of intere...