Design Project

For my design project I’m planning on evaluating a training package I’m currently working on which is a mash-up of Google Maps and Flash to be deployed via a Smartboard and integrated within our Moodle LMS.

The project allows trainers and/or students to place icons representing policing units onto an interactive Google map, the purpose being so ‘operational orders’ and simulated situations can be set up and explored rather than using a table top map with counters or a plan scribbled on a whiteboard. The finished maps can be saved for future sessions or assessment and shared through a users Moodle account.

The units are graphical in nature and can be rotated or scaled to fit the mapping. The units are dragged and dropped into position from a palette, can be rotated and automatically scale and geo-locate depending upon the maps scale and location.

Wordle gets universally challenged

Wordle made a suprise appearance on University Challenge yesterday in what was a great use of the tool as a quiz/test.

The contestants were shown “Word Clouds” of documents with historical and political significance and then asked to identify them. The works were, 2010 Coalition Agreement Magna Carta, Beveridge Report and The Communist Manifesto. The students got all but the Beveridge report… it wasn’t the Beverage I studied at Uni either.

iPlayer Link (7:38 minutes)

VLEs, PLEs and PLNs

VLE’s allow institutions to have control over the delivery of content and maintain a consistent approach to the delivery of documents. This allows users who are not computer confident to quickly learn how to access resources without having to learn many different systems.

PLEs allows much more freedom to use new and emerging technology which often takes time to be integrated into VLEs but means the resources can become disparate, fragmented, scattered across many sites and hard to follow.

PLNs allow for the greater sharing of information through social media but suffer from the same problem of PLEs regarding the spread of your information.

Institutional policy affects what resources we can use, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook are not allowed in our establishment.

Blogging, clogging and flogging

I have for some time held mixed views about blogging and web2.0 content.

On the one hand I think the opportunity for communities of practice and enthusiasts to share information, experience and knowledge has never been paralleled and represents Tim Berners-Lee’s original academic vision when he ‘invented’ the Web. However the egalitarian nature of the internet presents its own problems as good information, can become lost in an ocean (the clogging) of irrelevant, spurious, product/service/self promotion (the flogging bit), or down-right false views with no form of moderation, the only gate keeper or librarian to the internet’s content is the search engines and the vast algorithms they employ. Before you get the wrong idea I’m not a conspiracy nut but I think we are only just beginning to realise the power Google and it’s like hold. I have often lazily ‘Googled’ a coding method/function and found a real mix of quality from the returned results.

In terms of my own blogging experience I often find it difficult to judge what would be a relevant and interesting entry and not just another rehash of information that is found elsewhere. I often wonder how many times the same piece of information has appeared across the internet and how much data is simply replication of the same idea or comment. But is this really a problem or is it better to have good messages re-tweeted, posted and linked to in a way that forms more routes into that information to improve its visibility and availability and does this in-turn help to sort the good from the bad: peer review?

Your own colleagues, peers and community of practice are important when choosing your blogfeed which is why having our own course bubble within the bloggersphere is a great place to start when looking for interesting and advocated blogs. When writing a post I find it had to imagine an audience and who would be interested in my posts so having our bubble helps me to do this but even then I don’t find it easy. I tend to start with an unintelligible ‘splat’ or start ranting when I set pen to paper and have started several blog posts and not finished them or simply ‘got it out of my system’ and decided not to publish.

Time is another consideration, I tend to jump in and then not finish a post. My writing style is to write, review, rewrite, review, amend…. etc etc and unless I have a deadline won’t finish the post and by then I’ve probably lost the original impetus to put pen to paper or feel satiated.

I would like to have an informal style as my posts often ramble from one thing to another without proper structure but my tendency to review and amend losses this informality; I just find it hard to publicly voice something without thinking it through and giving it careful consideration. I’m sure there are many bloggers who can throw down a post and hit publish without giving a thought, I’m not one of those. This reserve extends to the use of images. As a graphic artist and illustrator I am used to paying particular interest to how things look and what image to use to convey a particular message or idea so in order to use an image in my post I would have to consider it properly. I’m more inclined not to use an image unless it’s necessary to convey a message and I’m sure it is apt.

I suppose I need to let my hair down, experiment and try not to be too precious about what I write or how I write but at the back of my mind I can’t help worrying that without spending proper time reviewing and honing my post I could be just adding more poor content to the exabytes of information washing around the internet.

I have tried to use blogs in my professional practice and found that when specifically directed or cajoled by a trainer students (and trainers) will post but after that it’s difficult to get them to blog of their own free will. I have incidentally noticed an uptick in access to my blog today which is likely to mean others like me are completing the blog activity as the deadline approaches.

B-Learning

Progress on my blog is a little slow at the moment.

Baby Sam was born on 7-10-11 at 3:16am, weighting 7lb 15oz and is understandably taking up much of me and my partners time as we discover Baby-learning and everything it brings. Hopefully things will settle down as Saturday approaches and I’ll get a chance to read through some of the MSc work.

Sleepy Sam …you won’t like me when I’m angry… turns into… Angry Elf!!!

My Skills

My core skills are technical and come from my graphics and multimedia industry background. I completed my PCGE last year to compliment my technical skills with some pedagogical theory and teaching practice to give me a better more rounded understanding of the education sector.

Core Technical skills:

  • HTML4
  • CSS
  • Javascript
  • ActionScript 3
  • PHP
  • MySQL
  • Adobe Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver
  • Moodle
  • SCORM 1.2

I also have limited experience with:

  • Adobe Conect Pro, Audition, Soundbooth
  • 3D Studio Max
  • C++
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Cubase

Hoping to develop the following in future with an eye on m-learning, (any advice appreciated)

  • HTML5 + CSS3 (specifically the new multimedia tags)
  • Objective C (Mac, Iphone & Ipad)
  • Java (Android)
Most of my work is hosted on secure servers. I will try and post examples or screenshots later.