Archive for December, 2013

Here’s what you missed on YouTube in 2013 (in 5 minutes)

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

I obviously didn’t spend enough time trolling through YouTube in 2013 because I recognized very little.  Apparently it was a big year for goats.


Weekend Funny- Waiting in line game

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

A little game to prepare you for the last minute Christmas Shopping queues

wait in line game


2013 Review – Tony Bates – Look Back in Anger

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Tony Bates is a respected eLearning and Distance Ed professional, and like most people with actual experience and qualifications in the field, MOOCs annoyed him.

Look back in anger? A review of online learning in 2013

“Another interesting year, but also a frustrating one, mainly due to the MOOC phenomenon. There are far more important developments going on in online learning than MOOCs, and the continuous hype, arrogance, and ignorance particularly of the MOOC computer scientists in elite universities has made me more angry than I have been since the dot com bust in 2000, when the media and elite universities were bragging about turning online learning into a huge money-making machine – and we know how that ended.

Nevertheless, MOOCs have been important in getting online learning noticed, even if for the wrong reasons. Let’s hope 2014 will see a more focused approach on improving productivity while maintaining or increasing the quality of post-secondary education. It is clear that the system cannot go on in the way it has been going, and online learning can play an important role, as much in improving quality as in reducing costs.

However, it is important to set realistic expectations. There is no single, simple solution to improving a vast complex, higher education system. There is no silver bullet.”

2013 Review – Top Ed Tech Trends according to Audrey Watters

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Audrey Watters is one of the very few informed and aware Ed Tech Journalists in the field.  Here is her 2013 round up

  1. Zombie Ideas
    “Despite all the hype and hoopla about “disruptive innovation,” all the cheering for the “end of college as we know it” all the excitement about the coming flipped classroom revolution, what we’ve seen instead is more of the same: many technologies that continue to prop up old practices, and notably this year many entrepreneurs who continue to pile onto popular but pre-existing trends (a sizable number of new “learn to code” startups this year, for example).

    Indeed to a great extent, two of the most significant trends this year – MOOCs (at the university level) and the Common Core State Standards (in the US at the K–12 level) – sucked all the oxygen out of the room. There seemed little else to talk about in ed-tech – in policy, products, investing, or otherwise. This year’s “top trends” reflect that.

    But by selecting “zombie ideas” as the first trend I’m covering, I want to point to more than just the stagnancy of ed-tech innovation this year. I want to highlight too the ways in which 2013 seemed a reprise of many older trends that just keep coming back, even though research and analysis have refuted them.”

  1. The politics of Ed Tech –
    Mainly a U.S issue – “education is broken.” (And technology will sell you a fix…)   Worth a read.”
  2. Standards
    Mainly a  U.S. issue
  3. MOOCs and Anti MOOCs
    “2013 might be described as the year of the anti-MOOC as we slid down that Gartner Hype Cycle from the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” and into the “Trough of Disillusionment.” For what it’s worth, Gartner pegged MOOCs at the peak back in July, while the Horizon Report says they’re still on the horizon. Nevertheless the head of edX appeared on the Colbert Report this year, and the word “MOOC” entered the Oxford Online Dictionary – so whether you think those are indications of peak or trough or both or neither, it seems the idea of free online university education has hit the mainstream.”
  4. Coding and Making
  5. Hardware
    “Apple’s continued dominance in the tablet market is just one feature of the educational hardware market in 2013 – one that was fairly lively in part because of several headling-grabbing hardware rollouts. Hardware was interesting this year too because of rival tablet makers that are still trying to unseat the Cupertino giant, because of other education hardware makers that are still trying to sell their wares to schools (interactive whiteboards, for example, just won’t die), and because of a number of small and cheap computing devices that are part of the burgeoning “learn-to-code” and “maker” movements.”
  6. Data vs Privacy
    “This is the third year in a row that I’ve chosen “data” as one of the “top trends” in ed-tech. (See 2011, 2012) If you’re looking for a sunnier view of data in education, read those. 2013, in my opinion, was pretty grim.”
  7. The Battle for Open
    “In some ways the two –“data” and “open” – represent opposite directions in ed-tech: the former towards a consolidation of power; the latter towards its distribution. The former towards an extraction of value from the learning community, from the public; the latter towards the cultivation of a commons.”

9 and 10 are still to come

#FiveWordEdTechHorrors – In-jokes for eLearning Experts

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Instructional Technologist Bud Hunt put a tweet with the hash tag #FiveWordEdTechHorrors.

Jim Bloom jumped on board.  Here’s his take on it


Here is the Hash tag

Block that mobile phone

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Putting Your Phone in This Pouch Supposedly Makes You Untrackable

“Level 2″ Blackout Pocket will prevent you from being tracked and constantly distracted by your mobile device. The pouch, which is lined with a RFID-blocking material, supposedly prevents your phone’s cellular and GPS antennas from interacting with the outside world.  It basically blankets your mobile device in an invisibility cloak.

phone blackout

I don’t really care about the tracking aspect but maybe it could be a useful transitional training tool for kids who are psychologically unable to turn off their phones.   Maybe we could the material to line cinemas.

YouTube micro scale live streaming

Monday, December 16th, 2013

“Google has begun rolling out live streaming capabilities to all of its verified users that are in good standing (hopefully that includes you!). Since releasing the feature more widely less than a year ago, the video giant has now given the option to all, putting even the lowliest accounts on equal footing with the site’s heavy hitters.”

I have been looking a live streaming options for a conference next year and Ustream seems like the best fit.

For small scale stuff my issues have been around controlling access, and convenience.  Hangouts and Ustream aren’t quite right.  I already have a YouTube channel, it would be handy if I could stream from there.

video presentation

YouTube streaming may be the solution.  Maybe not.  When it comes online I’ll have a play and let you know.

Weekend funny – get off the phone

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

get off the phone

Big Data – what is it, where’s it going, and why it can be a bit crap.

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Educational or Learning anaylitics have been predicted to become a big factor in education over the next few years and there are some good  pedagogical reasons for it There are also some good reasons against it (e.g.privacy).

With the movement of publishers into the eLearning and platform business (e.g Pearson) and the coming of commercial xMOOCs, the ability to collect massive amounts of data has become a commercial selling point, and it has gathered it’s own wave of hype.  The term bandied about in the headlines is “Big Data”

(Actual nearly all the analysis of the MOOC “Big Data” has revealed exactly what we already knew from research in the 90s – yes, I’m still banging that old drum)

This paper provide a pretty good summary of what it is.

Penetrating the Fog: Analytics in Learning and Education

“Higher education, a field that gathers an astonishing array of data about its “customers,” has traditionally been inefficient in its data use, often operating with substantial delays in analyzing readily evident data and feedback. Evaluating student dropouts on an annual basis leaves gaping holes of delayed action and opportunities for intervention. Organizational processes—such as planning and resource allocation—often fail to utilize large amounts of data on effective learning practices, student profiles, and needed interventions.”

“Learning analytics is essential for penetrating the fog that has settled over much of higher education. Educators, students, and administrators need a foundation on which to enact change. For educators, the availability of real-time insight into the performance of learners—including students who are at-risk—can be a significant help in the planning of teaching activities. For students, receiving information about their performance in relation to their peers or about their progress in relation to their personal goals can be motivating and encouraging.”

But there is an emerging problem.

Short Notes on the Absence of Theory and Why the Why Matters

(or why educational Big Data is potentially dodgy)

Milke Caulfield uses this statement to illustrate the problem


The students were doing an online course provided by Udacity, an educational organisation that Thrun co-founded in 2011. Thrun and his colleagues split the online students into two groups. One group saw the lesson’s presentation slides in colour, and another got the same material in black and white. Thrun and Udacity then monitored their performance. The outcome? “Test results were much better for the black-and-white version,” Thrun told Technology Review. “That surprised me.”
Why was a black-and-white lesson better than colour? It’s not clear. But what matters is that the data was unequivocal – and crucially it challenged conventional assumptions about teaching, providing the possibility that lessons can be tweaked and improved for students.

Here’s Mike’s analysis

“Note that last bit — “What matters is that the data was unequivocal”. This is how the End of Theory position appears in print. We don’t know *why* the students did better, but they did better, and the data was so “big” that that’s all that matters.

But the why does matter. Because without the why you can’t generalize from one situation to the next, and you keep repeating the same mistakes. In this case, we could hypothesize three alternate explanations of the phenomenon:

  1. The lack of colors leads to a lack of distraction. Students watching the colored slides were processing the colors as meaningful (when they weren’t) and this was subtly hindering their comprehension and recall.
  2. Students had a harder time reading the black and white slides. There’s recent research that indicates slight disfluencies in presentation can be desirable (jokingly dubbed “The Comic Sans Effect”), and these disfluencies aid in recall.
  3. The cause was not that the slides were black and white, but that the black and whiteness was novel. We know from previous psychological research that the mind attends to novelty, the greater attentiveness led to greater retention.

So which one is it? Udacity doesn’t care. But they should. Because if it’s the second one, then writing slides in black and white is not exactly what you should be focused on. And if it’s the third — the novelty effect — then the impact of this is going to be very limited. This isn’t even getting into variable context, pedagogical aims, or path-dependence.

So What can we expect going forward.

Predicting Big Data’s 2014

“The overarching themes in most of the predictions are: Big Data technologies going mainstream; highly specialized areas of analytics becoming more accessible; an increased influence from cloud and mobile; the continued explosion of data volumes, driven by device- and machine-borne data; and disruption to the incumbent megavendors’ hold on the database market.”

Big-Data Visualization Is Worth A Thousand Spreadsheets

Is this the moment Visualisations jump the shark?

While I like visualisations and think they are very useful, like all things (Powerpoint for example) in the wrong hands they can be a disaster.

Given Mike Caulfield’s assessment, Big Data is already at risk of being in the wrong hands – visualisation could just compound the problem.  Is this the new face of the political three word slogan?

“People are drowning in data—on the Web, on spreadsheets, and in databases on tablets and devices,” says Elissa Fink, CMO of Tableau Software, a Seattle data-visualization company that went public in May. “We try to help people by seeing it in real time and interacting with it.”

“The only way people can understand data is to visualize it. That’s how our brain works,” says Roman Stanek founder and CEO of GoodData, another company that provides data-visualization services.

The Top 6 Animated Video Software in the eLearning Market

Monday, December 9th, 2013

I’m undecided about cookie cutter animation software.  Even though they are fairly simple to use, I’m not sure there is enough pedagogical pay off to make them more than novelties.

If they are flexible enough to allow you to create your own convincing scenarios then the time might be worthwhile.

Here’s a list of 6.   Make up your own mind.