Teaching and Learning in a networked world

Monday, September 25, 2006

Apple's vision for connected learning

Attended a workshop hosted by Apple Australia last friday titled “NSW TAFE Digital eLearning Workshop” @ the Apple Executive Briefing here in Sydney.

This was organised by the TAFE Online II, “Access to New Technologies” project to further our knowledge about what Apple has to offer in terms of networked learning and technology assisted education in general. As part of the ANT project many TAFE institutes have purchased ipods to trial podcasting & vblogging so this was of particular interest to attendees.

While this session was always going to be a marketing opportunity for Apple to promote their products & services to the education sector it was a good opportunity for us to see their vision for networked education and play with Tiger (their latest OS), Garage Band (their podcasting software) & iTunes (their podcasting aggregator).

image by sridgway

First up was Steve Doyle, National Professional Development Manager who delivered a most interesting and passionate presentation titled “Innovation in Education”. Steve outlined some of the challenges faced by educators in reaching and engaging a connected generation of learners and their unique learning styles. He showcased some great examples of how Apple technologies have been enabling students to form dynamic networked learning communities including a Year 4/5 student podcast Podkids Australia from the Orange Grove Primary School in Western Australia.

Listening to Steve one got the distinct impression that Apple understands the implications of the contemporary shift towards networked collaboration, knowledge sharing & user driven content underlying web2.0 and has sought to position itself strategically in the market to appeal to users who want a user friendly, integrated suite of networked tools to build networked learning communities.

image by sridgway

Next up was Stuart Harris, Software Product Marketing Manager who gave us a very quick tour of “Tiger” Apples latest iteration of their OSX operating system. He then showed us iLife which basically integrates and networks Apples line of software for everyday life online. iPhoto managing and sharing ones photo’s, iWeb for creating an online presence, blogs, wiki etc., iMove for managing and sharing digital video & offcourse Garage band for audio and podcasting.

Apple is definitely tapping in to the Zeitgeist with these tools especially with the social networking dimension and it all looks very good on screen. My only concern is that they are creating closed communities within the iLife network which is essentially a subscription based service aimed @ facilitating networking and content sharing amongst other iLife subscribers. While the support for rss means outside users can subscribe to member feeds it seems to me it is not a truly open & public network when it is so tied to proprietary software and hardware.

This leads me to the other concern; the tendency towards locking users into a total solution which is so tied to a platform and associated technologies. A case in point is the ipod, the speakers were keen to promote the use of “enhanced” podcasting with the AAC file format, Garage Band, iTunes & ipods. Many of these enhanced AAC features such as file markers which trigger web links or image changes are not features of AAC standard itself, but of the Apple proprietary file-format that wraps the AAC bitstream.

This is yet another example of a large company extending on open standard but tying it to their platform and products in this case iTunes and ipods. Microsoft tried thus with java and internet explorer, the resulting in the browser wars of the late 90’s. Ultimately this back fired with the developer community favouring open standard css and some would argue the decline of IE itself.

As impressive as the presentations and the technologies on display were I could not help thinking that Apple has jumped on the web2.0 phenomenon to market it’s products and image as a hip connected company. A case in point was that I asked if the presentations could be recorded and podcast, this was a day for “knowledge sharing and collaboration” after all, the public relations manager flatly refused on the grounds of “commercial in confidence”. The Apple notebooks we were all using to train on the “connected software” were not connected to the network for “security reasons”. This sounds like a company paranoid about free and open networks rather than embracing the connected communities. Still in all fairness to the speakers, they work for a large organisation whose management is grappling with how to position themselves for the future in a networked world.

Those of us who work in DET share their situation!!


flickr stream from the day

Podkids Australia podcast

Apple iLife

TAFE Online 2 - Access to New Technologies

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

mLearing in Education

Team Workshop 6 - 15 Sept. 2006
"mLearning in Education" – Paula Williams (Teaching & Learning Development Unit, OTEN) & Phil Lantry (Head Teacher, OTEN)

Alison & George
image by sridgway

In last friday's session Paula Williams & Phil Lantry from OTEN presented to the team on mLearing in education. We had a great turn out with attendees from the numerous LearnScope teams across the institute and staff members from the BAIT Curriculum centre.

Paula and Phil delivered an engaging overview of web2.0 and the mobile network and how as educators we might use networked mobile devices to facilitate student centred learning.

It was a very hands on session with Paula getting us to participate in a simulated workplace assessment using a moblog to submit audio and images.

Phil demonstrated the concept of a personal area network (PAN) using bluetooh, a wireless protocol built into most mobile phones. Learners had to connect to Phil's laptop using bluetooth and submit a video of their colleuge tying a knot in a piece of rope.
Just goes to show, mLearning does not have to be expensive or use the telco's network to submit work for assessment.

Interesting to note that Microsoft is endeavoring to harness the power of social networking in it's upcoming Zune mp3 player. Users will be able to share full length sample tracks - your favorite songs, theirown recordings, playlists, or pictures with friends wirelessly - device to device.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

TALO Swap and Meet 2006: The journey begins ..

The annual TALO (Teaching & Learning Online) Swap and Meet 2006 convenes today in Dunedin. For those on the team not familiar with TALO, it's a networked learning community engaged in all things eLearning, flexible delivery, online education, networked learning, and web 2.0.

Each year we hold a f2f event where community members meet for an open source conference.
The 2005 Swap and Meet was held in the Blue Mountains in Sydney.

This year the event is being held in New Zealand with the theme of “The Future of Learning in a Networked World” It’s somewhat of a travelling road show this year beginning in Dunedin on September 18 to 20, then traversing to participating institutions to continue open space meetings with local audiences.
You can see a very cool Google Maps based web2.0 service which will chart their journey using Community Walks @

If you have a spare moment or 2 over the next over the next 12 days I highly recommend you pop in and check out the progress of the conference and participate in the online conversations.

Hey with so many web2.0 gurus and devotes in one place there is bound to be lots of interesting online social network working activity happening in the form of blogs, podcasting, vblogging, moblogging etc.

Good entry points to the network are

TALO wiki

The Future of Learning in a Networked World conference wiki

The Future of Learning in a Networked World conference blog

Flickr tag

Community Walks Map

Friday, September 08, 2006

Introduction to Adobe Breeze

Team Workshop 5 - 1 Sept. 2006
"Introduction to Adobe Breeze" – Stephan Ridgway, TAFE NSW, SI, Learning & Innovation

Last Friday Stephan Ridgway presented to the team on the synchronous communication platform "Adobe Breeze meeting" which is being rolled out to TAFE NSW institutes across the state.

The roll out is part of a trial being run by the Tafe Online II sub project Access to New Technologies. The aim of the Access to New Technologies project is to implement a range of new technologies and conduct trials in Institute learning environments across TAFE NSW to evaluate breeze and a range of other tools to support online teaching & learning.

Sydney Institute has set up a steering committe which will oversee the project implementation and the evaluation process.

Stephan demonstrated the following features
  • Overview of Breeze and platform functionality
  • Logging in
  • understanding the host, presenter and participant profiles
  • Using the Camera and Voice Pod
  • pods, layouts and their functions
  • Using the attendees pod
  • Using the text chat & Q & A pods
  • Using the note pod
  • Using the share pod
  • Using the File Sharing Pod
  • Using the Poll Pod
  • Using the Web Links Pod
  • Presenting using the Share Pod
Don't worry if you missed the workshop you can access the information on the workshop 5 wiki page including an audio recording of Stephan's presentation and links to his wiki etc.

Workshop wiki page

Check out the session flickr stream here

There will be lots of upcoming PD opportunities for staff across the institute to receive professinal development on breeze in the near future.

The next session for TLNW is "mLearning in education" by guest presenters
Paula Williams (Teaching & Learning Development Unit, OTEN) & Phil Lantry (Head Teacher, OTEN)
Friday 15th Sept from 11am to 1.30pm at Ultimo College, Library Building D, Ground floor, Room 45

Email Nicola or Stephan if you are coming along, we have also sent out an invitation to all SI LearnScope teams to share the learning.

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