Thursday, November 23, 2006

PFP Blog Survey

Please contribute to the survey on the PFP Blog:

Why are we doing this survey?

The PfP Blog is currently funded by the Australian
Flexible Learning Framework, Queensland. It was
previously funded by LearnScope and the Department
of Education and Training.

In order for the Blog to continue into 2007, we
need to assess its value for you as a VET
practitioner. We are interested in how it has
contributed to your professional development
(and that of others) and how it has assisted you
in your work.

We really appreciate your time and effort in
completing this survey at this very busy time
of the year:

Ron Passfield

Indigenous Engagement - national forum

WHEN: 9am - 4:30pm, 5th December 2006

WHERE: Mecure Hotel, Brisbane

COST: $99 (including GST)

REGISTRATION: To register online click here.

To download the registration form click here.

PROGRAM: To view the program click here.


If you cannot attend, you may be interested in the reports
and mp3 summaries of the four cases being showcased:

Jobs for our mob: Indigenous e-learning for mining and construction skills
Top End Groove: e-learning for cultural tourism
E-governance in Indigenous Communities
Homeland micro e-business: e-learning on very remote Indigenous communities

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Survey - Social Software for Learning


The Australian Flexible Learning Framework is funding
a research project focusing on the use of social
software for learning.

The current research investigates how social software can
best support teaching and learning in VTE and the learning
and development of VTE practitioners.

It’s being funded by the Research and Policy Advice and
Knowledge Sharing Services projects of the Framework.

The researcher is Val Evans Consulting and work is well
underway. You can monitor progress through the Social
Software Research Wiki and Blog.

The current phase of the research is the launch of the
Social Software for Learning Survey which aims to target
a broad audience - those who are less familiar with the
concepts as well as those who use social software frequently.

We’d appreciate your support by -
1. participating in the survey yourself
2. referring your networks to the Flex e-news story

You are also strongly encouraged to contibute to the
SocialSoftware Research Wiki and Blog.

Contributions, insights, responses to specific research
questions or just general musings, related to this contemporary
subject are welcomed.

The research team is particularly interested in
your stories - share your stories, musings and/or your
visions , and add your links to the research wiki or contact
the researcher, Val Evans:

Alternatively, you can contact Paula Johnson:

Knowledge Sharing Services and Research and Policy Advice

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The Power of MySpace and the "MySpace" Generation

One of the EdNA network groups has been discussing the power of
MySpace and the MySpace Generation.

At one stage, this question was asked:
How many of you in the community, have a myspace, facebook or
Xanga [site]?

Stephen Downes' response to this question throws some light
on the possible future online environment and the challenges
it presents for educators. Stephen is happy for this information
to be shared in the PfP blog:

"I do, have had for a couple of years now. I have accounts on
LiveJournal, Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, Bebo, Orkut,
Tribe and a bunch of others. The technology isn't that complex,
and they all work more or less the same, only the marketing is

Most of these sites are blocked in school divisions and even at
the TAFE level. This of course in no way prevents students
from accessing them, even during school hours (as contact
may be maintained by mobile) but it does prevent them
from being used to support learning.

I would not invest heavily in any of these spaces, as they are
a transition phenomenon. A transition to what is less clear
- YouTube overtook MySpace as the most popular website a
few months ago, but growth flattened after the Google
acquisition, as you can see on Alexa:

I would also not bother taking the time to block them - such
action is in my view merely a pandering to fearmongers, and
not an effective tactic - but that is another story.

My own view is that we are moving toward permanent
personal presences on the net. That is, a person's online
presence would not be site-based, as it is with any of these social
networking services, but would be access based. It would either
be a part of their web client (ie., a part of their browser, the way
Flock does it) or a shell or webtop through which they access
other resources.

The reason for this is that it produces a single identity that
can be used across a number of different sites. This means that,
once the access point is created, users no longer need to log
on (contrast this to 'single signon' systems that are being
developed for the education sector, that work only at schools
or universities).

It also means that a person's network of connections can
extend across the internet, not mattering at all on which
service they use. Hence, if a person uses service A as a webtop,
they can still include their friend in their network, even if that
friend uses service B.

It also allows identities to be (semantically) attached to content.
It may be surprising, but there is no widespread usage of an
'author' field in metadata today; although RSS and Atom support
this, most content editors don't fill it in, because there's no point
- either the author information is not available, or it can't be
used by the aggregator (there is not enough use of formats other
than RSS or Atom to make their use of the author field relevant).

Moreover, there is no 'place' to link to, nothing that constitutes
an authors presence online (even where author fields are used,
as in Dublin Core, only base strings are used (foolishly) and not
web addresses).

It is taking longer than it should to develop such a system -
and meanwhile, the number of site-specific Web 2.0 applications
begins to proliferate - because there is no good business model.
These sites thrive by locking in traffic into their own services,
and hence, are not interested in infrastructure that allows travel
between sites (this is also what motivates the education sector
systems, such as Shibboleth, but nobody will admit it).

Preliminary work is being done toward this sort of infratructure
in the development of the Person al Learning Environment (PLE):

... although it still continues to be a bit application (and education
focused). In the wider world, there is some hope OpenID, will take hold, although its functionality is
severly constrained.

Yadis, , represents a nascent attempt to create
a common standard. PeopleAggregator, , is attempting to develop the
network, but is again too site-heavy.

What these trends mean for the education sector is
that in a few years we can expect students to arrive in our
classes with an already established web identity.

What this means is not only that they will have their own email,
instant messaging, voip and other addresses (which they will
much prefer to use over any school system) they will also
have their own tools for creating content (significantly -
they will have these tools, they won't need to have them

They will use a variety of services - for video, for example,
some may use Premiere to create video while others may use
Bender, and some may post to Google Video and others to

It will be increasingly difficult for education systems
to continue blocking these sites - I read on a discussion
board yesterday the recommendation to "take your students
out of class" in order to allow them to upload their video

Some schools may consider creating their own versions of all
the services (and will pay Blackboard (who will claim to have
invented it) a fortune for the software). But this approach will be
seen as barren and sterile - you cannot create an internet out of
a classroom population; even with today's mega-classes, the
population is just too small (reseach the 'one percent
phenomenon' of people commenting to listservs, posts and

On the other hand, opening learning to the students' web
environment opens up numerous possibilities for the
educational system. Because their work is now being
performed in public, rather than in the hothouse of the
classroom, students are much more motivated (this is
a most commonly documented result of the use of
blogs in the classroom). (Though it should be noted that
this increases stress, and that some students may not
want their work displayed - this is why they need to have
personal control over their environment).

It also opens up many more networking possibilities.
The obvious is that conversations with students around the
world may be encouraged. But more importantly, students in a
given field will begin to interact with practitioners in the same

We already see this happening on discussion lists (such as this
one (or would, if it were more open)). This allows practitioners
to take on the role of (informal) teachers through the process
of performing their work.

In the long run, what we will find is that this capacity leads
to much more continuity of community than today.

With students and workers increasingly mobile, following an
increasingly fickle employment market, it has been difficult to
maintain family and community ties. Permanent web presences
and communities offers an obvious counter to this trend.

Sites like Flickr, especially, allow people to maintain family
connections, instantly sharing photos. Skype and other
communications tools allow them to converse in real time,
bridging time and distance.

A lot of people focus on the 'MySpace generation', as though use
of this technology were an age-related phenomenon. Empirically,
it is - the bulk of users tend to be from a certain age group. But
age is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for use. A major
secondary group of users is the elderly, who have seized on the
internet as a means of breaking through isolation and boredom,
and to restore tenuous family connections.

Nothing in principle prevents adults from becoming as adept as the
younger generation. It requires, though, adapting to what might
be called net values. It requires being able to adapt to the
coexistence of multiple points of view, with no real mechanism for
determining 'the truth'. It requires giving up the capacity for
management and control, giving up the idea that you can enforce
compliance (how could you, when they can simply log off?)
and make people do things, even if it's good for them.

It requires that you become less inclined to create walls and borders
around your life, that you do things (like take notes and conduct
meetings) online and in public, rather than privately, as used to
be the case.

This is what makes the new online environment such a
challenge to teachers and administrators. What the
internet brings to the new generation is a set of affordances not
previously available, and with these affordances comes a new
attitude and behaviour, one which embraces autonomy,
diversity, openness and interaction."

(Emphasis added and paragraph structure changed to increase
readability on the blog.)

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Showcasing E-Learning in Practice

November Online Event: Showcasing
in Practice

20 - 22 November 2006

Registration now open

Focus of the event is on showcasing:

* latest developments in Australian e-learning, including
new ideas and approaches
* practical implementation of e-learning for different
client groups
* engaging newly interested people (the 'second wave')
in using e-learning in easy and exciting ways.

Keynote speakers:

Avril Henry
Tuesday 21 November
1:00 - 2:00pm AEST

Dr Elizabeth Hartnell-Young
Wednesday 22 November
9:00 - 10:00am AEST

The event is FREE and open to those new to e-learning,
along with those of you with some experience.

Everyone needs to register (even if you registered for the
last two online events).

To register go to:

Induction sessions: These workshops are really useful
in getting to know the features of Elluminate to enable
you to fully participate in the live synchronous sessions.

Thursday 9 November at 11:00am – 12:00noon AEST
To access the first Induction Session go to:

Thursday 9 November at 3:00pm – 4:00pm AEST
To access the Induction Session go to:

More information:
For any enquiries regarding registration and participation
for this online event and also for assistance with
Elluminate, contact the E-learning Networks project

Phone: + 61 2 6207 4832

The Knowledge Tree - Going Communal (Edition 11)

The Knowledge Tree - an E-Learning Journal

Edition II - Going Communal

This edition’s main focus is looking at what it means to be in
community on the Web, that is, examining what is community
or communion, the structures being used to create Web
communities, the types of communites that are emerging,
the processes used to facilitate online communities, the
elationships being formed within Web communities and
the uses of Web communities in education.

Key content:

Blogs and Community - launching a new paradigm
for online community?

Nancy White

Blogging at the Chalkface
Alison Gotts

Moodling while mobile: an interview with Leo Gaggl

Thinking beyond pen and paper:
an interview with Jenny Ashby

Book review: Mobile Learning: A handbook for educators
and trainers

Ian Robertson

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