Friday, January 19, 2007

Seven sites in seven days 8-14 Jan 07

Some silence has ensued, mostly because I've had my head in strategy and tactics for online community development. One of the slides I produced (with a small modification suggested by my friend and colleague Tom Franklin) appears above. Because of this community focus, I'm devoting almost all of this week's seven sites to Communities of Practice (CoP) material.

  1. CPsquare is the CoP for CoP facilitators, theorists, and practitioners. One of the useful pages is "The reification of our practice: our resource base", with links to various articles on practice. Some of the remaining links on this page come from this resource base.

  2. Weaving Together Online and Face-To-Face Learning: A Design From A Communities Of Practice Perspective describes heuristics (here meaning common experiences) of particpants in mixed mode online and F2F learning communities / CoPs.

    The abstract reads "Weaving together online and face-to-face learning improves the quality of working in both media. Based on the observations of nine different experiments that went through a similar process of weaving together these two media we share our observations of outcomes and an evolving design framework from a community of practice perspective. Arguing that weaving participation using different media in succession is different from blended or hybrid learning, we suggest that careful design of an online ramp-up can make a face-to-face event more potent, and the subsequent online collaboration more productive. Key elements of this design process are inclusion, interaction, and social structure designed for the negotiation of meaning. We offer heuristics that help trace the threads from first online contact to the development of productive relationships at later phases in an emerging community of practice."

  3. Continuing the on-lin off-line theme, phase change occurs in the transition between on-line and off-line meetings by CoP members. One group of CoP practitioners made notes of various kinds (text, including a poem, drawings, images) on the phase change they experienced, and the growth that is enabled by the phase change. Chapter 3 deals with the synergistic effect of phase change.

  4. The Foundations of Community of Practice Workshop Final Handbook (from 2004). A participant course handbook for the training supplied by Etienne Wenger and CPsquare colleagues. A good start for anyone thinking of doing some CoP training themselves.

  5. I like the how to guide provided by Teasing "readers" of an online forum to communicate.

  6. Anyone interested in cross cultural CoPs might turn to Cultural Crossings: Using Stories to Inform Your Learning Journey. As a taster, the authors provide ten strategies useful (or, perhaps, essential) for building cross-cultural CoPs. They are:
    • Common goals and commitment
    • Communication protocols
    • Learning about self
    • Importance of emotions
    • Cultural brokers
    • Feedback
    • Resolving conflicts and misunderstandings
    • Surfacing and owning assumptions
    • Respect and openness
    • Importance of trust
    The authors recommend that "Successfully applying these strategies ... will help people build trust, which is the bedrock of deep, sustained relationships."

  7. So I've dried up on the CoP bookmarks. "That's only six links" you say. True, so how about a quick link to Applied Empathy: A Design Framework for Meeting Human Needs and Desires. Sounds good, huh? And it generally is an interesting take on a Maslow-like hierarchy of needs (Participation /Engagement /Productivity /Happiness /Well-Being) that might be fulfilled in product design. I can't say that I fully mesh with the vacuum cleaner as exemplar in a hierarchy of fulfilled needs, which makes me think that, as applied, the hierarchy is not a hierarchy per se, but rather a list of categories where a product may be ranked as to how it contributes to particular categories. If we were dealing with a hierarchy, I think that there may be rather different products that hit my well-being spot. How about a fully functioning National Health Service that runs with BUPA-like efficiency? Ahh, dream on...
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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Seven sites in seven days 1-7 Jan 07

Best of my week's bookmarking on e-learning, social networking, web, and techie stuff. This week I focus on ICT for the developing world; the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D).

Actually, I bookmarked some of these links at other times, but hey, you're not paying for this service are you?
  1. May as well kick off with a biggie, The United Nations development Programme's Information and Communications Technology For Development.

  2.'s "Real Access criteria are used to frame the analysis of all issues surrounding ICT access and use, including the 'soft' aspects that are often overlooked. They are designed to anticipate or detect the reasons that ICT development initiatives, government e-strategies, or grassroots projects fail to achieve their goals or highlight how and why these projects succeed.

    There are twelve inter-related Real Access criteria that can be used to improve the way that ICT-based development policies and initiatives are planned, researched, monitored and evaluated. Each criterion is set out below, with a short description and a set of example questions that can help frame thinking about how to apply it to ICT projects and policies."

    These criteria are:

    • Appropriateness of technology
    • Affordability of technology and technology use
    • Human capacity and training
    • Locally relevant content, applications, and services
    • Integration into daily routines
    • Socio-cultural factors
    • Trust in technology
    • Local economic environment
    • Macro-economic environment
    • Legal and regulatory framework
    • Political will and public support

    Besides looking in depth at these criteria, I also recommend checking out the 12 Habits of Highly Effective ICT-Enabled Development Initiatives.

  3. I notice that here and here that has also done some consultancy for my home city, Cape Town. In fact, further browsing reveals that they are based in Cape Town and Kampala.

    Indicative of some of the scale of the South African problem: Shanty town on fire, Langa, Cape Town. Image Victor Geere, CC licence here.

  4. Still on the Cape Town connection, the University of the Western Cape is well set on open source software for technological infrastructure UWC has developed KEWL.NextGen, an open source LMS. I look forward to the UWC moving to brower based PLEs to complement KEWL!

    appears to be the umbrella FOSS site at UWC, and there is a related FOSS product kGroups as indicated here:
    "This collaborative workspace (also known as KGroups) is an implementation of the KINKY application framework that was developed to build KEWL.NextGen. KINKY, kGroups and KEWL.NextGen are Free Software (Open Source) and available under the GNU General Public License."

  5. Anyone interested in ICT4D will ponder the role of communications in ICT solutions. UWC's Centre of Excellence for IP and Internet Computing has a Broadband Applications and Networks Group (see via the sidebar menu) that takes an interesting approach of semi-synchronous communications. They write:

    "We work with multi-modal semi-synchronous communications. Multi-modal means that communication consists of multiple modalities, e.g. text, voice and video. Semi-synchronous means that communication occurs in real-time (synchronous), store-and-forward (asynchronous) or anywhere in between (semi-synchronous). Instant Messaging is a good example of an application that has many of these features. |

    We are interested in all these forms of communication because they appear ideally suited to bridging digital divide gaps where there is a large variation amongst power provision, networks, end-user equipment, communication and temporal modalities, and human computer interfaces BANG research explores how to build communication infrastructure that enables, and even automates, communication across such a wide variety of issues." has done some work with students in BANG, here.

  6. I found an interesting tool for those interested in Africa here, one that uses a novel user interface to access large amounts of information. Choose a country in the right-hand sidebar, and a theme such as national ICT strategies, or telecommunications in the left-hand sidebar, and be presented with a well selected list of links and short descriptions sorted by area, e.g. analysis, legislation, presentations. The link above is for Kenyan telecommunications.

  7. I'm not sure about the One Laptop Per Child initiative, considering the infrastructural issues, or the amount of work needed to remove infrastructural issues. Nonetheless, I think that the project will at the very least push forward the boundaries considerably, and I hope that Negroponte and colleagues succeed in every way. Here's a piece on the current state of the prototype. Interesting hardware. I want to see a similar One Handheld Per Child initiative one of these days.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Another year, another PLE page

As we roll into 2007 (duh, wake up Mark, we are in 2007 already), I've made a new page for a new year in my PLE wiki pages. The first person to feature on the 2007 page is.... (hey, click the link to find out, I'm not doing it all for you :-D )

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Free online connectivism conference

I see that there is a free online connectivism conference organised by the University of Manitoba's Institute of Learning Technologies, with confirmed speakers Terry Anderson, Stephen Downes, Bill Kerr, Will Richardson, and George Siemens. The conference is on 2-9 February 2007.

The description here reads:

"The evolution of teaching and learning is accelerated with technology. After several decades of duplicating classroom functionality with technology, new opportunities now exist to alter the spaces and structures of knowledge to align with both needs of learners today, and affordances of new tools and processes.

Yet our understanding of the impact on teaching and learning trails behind rapidly forming trends. What are critical trends? How does technology influence learning? Is learning fundamentally different today than when most prominent views of learning were first formulated (under the broad umbrellas of cognitivism, behaviourism, and constructivsm)? Have the last 15 years of web, technology, and social trends altered the act of learning? How is knowledge itself, in a digital era, related to learning?

Connectivism Online Conference is an open online forum exploring how learning has been impacted by ongoing changes."

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Seven sites in seven days: 25-31 Dec 06

Ahh, I'm lagging. A break for Xmas and then too much New Year cheer. Let me quickly hammer out a few sites and pages I have seen during that time.... and let's divide this up into three sections, e-learning (1-2), social networks (3-4), techie stuff (5-7)


1. I was chatting to a colleague recently on the possibilities of using e-learning to educate student nurses on how to interact with patients. Somewhat relatedly, I chanced across an interesting 'game' via Jennie Rothenberg in Altlantic online. The game, Façade, presents an emotional scenario, you play someone interacting with a couple with a failing marriage. However, the piece is about more than Façade; Rothenberg interviews Jonathan Rauch, author of "Sex, Lies, and Video Games," about "innovative and emotionally complex video games".

As an aside, Altlantic Magazine published Vannevar Bush's futuristic "As We May Think" in July 1945, predicting the invention of a personal computing machine, the Memex. This article influenced me heavily in earlier years, when I spent a significant amount of time thinking about hypertext and personal information systems.

2. Maybe, like me, you are interested in tools to support e-learning. A few which have been grabbing my attention for various reasons at the moment are Elgg, Drupal, and Confluence. Elgg is a combination of personal and group spaces, coupled with blogging facilities. To call it an e-portfolio system is perhaps a misnomer, although it started out as such. Drupal is a content management system that friends use in their web business, and that I have written about before, here. An interesting article from IBM on Drupal (and other open source systems) is here. (On the left, an Xmas greeting from Finally (for now), Confluence is an enterprise wiki that uses wysiwyg editing, and is free to open source projects. I installed Confluence over the recent holidays; full of promise for those needing a wysiwig editor and their own wiki installation, Confluence only has a rudimentary blogging facility, and for now I need a blogging facility rather than a wiki. Back to Elgg... or perhaps Drupal with the blogging module installed. Or perhaps you might like a combination of facilities, as here: Elgg, Drupal and Moodle, from Bill Fitzgerald. Incidentally, the Open Academic project seeks to unify these three systems together with Mediawiki.

Social networks

3. What's out there in social network land? The Mashable! Social Networking Awards identify a bunch of interesting social networks in eleven categories under three different headings, "our choice", "the people's' choice" and "hot for 2007". MySpace picks up Mashable!'s number one mainstream place with "We see MySpace as the new MTV, with one crucial difference: the users are the stars." Just pick up on the user centric zeitgeist there guys (see a previous post here about Time magazine's article Time's Person of the Year: You).

Incidentally, Mashable! doesn't do so well on the choice of MySpace Xmas pages, or maybe there's not much out there. On being msg'd a URL to Mashable!'s choice of Xmas pages on MySpace, my 14 year old reviewer dismissed them as "lame", claiming she could do better in ten minutes. Hmmm, better set her a challenge then.... OK, OK, Xmas is over, I'll shut up on this and move on swiftly:

4. Not a social network post per se, but a tool to leverage the power of social networks, in this case Peter Shank's flickrCC finds photos on flickr with a Creative Commons licence. On the left is an image from Leigh Blackall, found using flickrCC and the tag elearning, with the attribution added using flickrCC's web-based editor. To get a better view of the image, open it in a new tab/window, and, if need be, click on the displayed image to enlarge it.

Techie stuff

5. You hack Javascript but don't use a Javascript debugger? Ease over to the Venkman debugger for Mozilla and ease your life.... Well, Venkman certainly eased my life recently. If you are still using FireFox 1.5 then you need to install Venkman from here.

6. I've been ignorant about Feedburner, and so I started researching what it is. Here are some links: here and here, together with an interview with two of the Feedburner team here. I'm still after Feedburner related material, if you have any good Feedburner related URL's then please pass them on to me.

7. Ohh, its a dry season here at markzspace, too many holidays and I'm running out of bookmarks I want to share. How about a recentish quality review of several 20" to flat panel displays? Being a fussy type I like to see discusrions on panel technology and its inerent quality, so never mind that this review is six months old. Or being techie in a different style, how about a guide to beef cuts, and the recipe I used to cook a hunk of beef to rare perfection on Xmas day? Different cut, but the timings worked perfectly for me. Just for the record here:

"3. Put a heavy-based roasting tray on the hob and when hot, add the beef.
4. Sear the beef quickly on all sides to colour and crisp the outside.
5. Transfer the beef immediately to the oven and leave the oven on its highest setting (about 240C/460F/Gas 8) for 20 minutes.
6. Reduce the heat to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and roast for half an hour per kilo for rare, adding another ten minutes per kilo for medium rare, 20 minutes per kilo for medium, and 30 minutes per kilo for well done."

Catch you next week.

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