30 August, 2006


I've had requests from several members of academic staff regarding using E-Portfolios.

To be honest I've not read much about these, and why people are using them. George Siemens wrote (in 2004) an article, with links that might help start an exploration of this.

I've heard good things from Edge Hill staff (it might have been Jo Shoba) about 'PebblePad' which is an ePortfolio system created by eLearning experts from the University of Wolverhampton and staffed by their graduates. Click on 'PebblePad Presentation Video' on the PebblePad home page for an introduction and then look at the help videos to see what the software looks like to use.

We need to look at making a decision about where we want to go with ePortfolios, as Law would like to start using them this year. It might be good to start a debate by bringing someone in to do a presentation about PebblePad, or to do some research and present it ourselves... this will get a range of people from the institution together, to talk about what we want.

23 August, 2006

Embedding Resources from Video Sharing Sites in WebCT

I've been asked about using these resources in teaching and learning. While downloading and capturing sections of these resources would break copyright law, we can link to and embed videos hosted elsewhere.

For example:


When you are on YouTube.com, look at the 'About This Video' section on the right of the screen. Select the contents of the 'Embed' text box and paste it into the WebCT Text Block on an organiser page.

The result would look like:

Other sites which you might want to use aren't demonstrated here, but if you have rights to access the Developer Community at Edge Hill University, you can see how they work. Choose 'Other Resources' > 'Incorporating Videos from Video Sharing Sites a WebCT area'.

14 August, 2006

Nikon D50 Camera Guide

We now have a Nikon D50 camera for the Learning Technology Development team to use.

If you want to know how to use it, KenRockwell.com has a created a guide to show you how it works and what all the buttons and menu options do.

10 August, 2006

Blogs and Building Online Communities

We are getting more academic staff wanting to look at use blogs in teaching and learning. In my mind, the only current reason we would want to use blogs in HE is to develop communities of learners.

Nancy White on the Full Circle Online Interaction Blog has several posts (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5) about the types of communities that can be developed around blogs. These ideas form a useful starting point for thinking about what we might want to achieve through using blogs, and how we might go about using them in collaboration with other technologies.
Nancy starts off by looking at what constitutes a community, and how that might be different from a network where people have perhaps one off interactions looking for help or assist each other completely impersonally using social bookmarking sites like del.ici.ous.

Indicators of community are looked for, such as evidence of people caring about the development of the group rather than just themselves, group identity and group language. For more about community indicators have a look at who is talking about the phrase through Technorati. This idea if developed further can help us see if the communities that we are trying to develop, are developing to any great extent.

The three types of communities identified are:
  • Communities based around one blogger, who has readers and commenters. Some of these commenters have their own blogs. If the main blog disapeared the community would too.
  • Topic centric communities which might look similar to a network. The blogs in this link to each other, and the fall of one, while taking from the community, would not damage the community a huge amount. There is no centre in this type of community and often events are organised to bring the actors and influencers together.
  • Community centric groups would be based on a single plaform meaning that links between blogs and RSS feeds are used less. The important thing is who is commenting on whose blog. MySpace would be an example, as would I guess, a community based in a VLE with discussion boards and other tools available. These have very clear boundaries as we are used to with WebCT.

Would any academics want a more open community than this third example, with links to other institutions and the students there? Would this be acceptable and could this create a synergistic relationship locally, nationally or internationally between many students studying the same subject or specific area of a subject? If we did want this WebCT would not be the tool to use. We would need something more open.