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Archive for August, 2007

Mak’n Bacn

Bacn is email you want … but not right now. It’s the stuff I want to filter but feel I’ll miss something if I do. As I look at my inbox, about three quarters of it is bacn. What do we do about this stuff?

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Collaborating with Twitter

The hotspot today seems to be Nancy White’s wiki where people are sharing their stories about how they collaborate with Twitter.  (Great idea, Nancy!)  If you’ve got one, go share.  If you don’t have one, go read.  It’s a goldmine of ideas and things to try.

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Social bookmarking

I’m a rabid fan of del.icio.us.  I just can’t seem to help myself.  In the past few years I’ve collected thousands of links at the site.   Looking at the tags I imagine you can learn more about me than you’d care to.  For example, you can see that I’m interested in elearning (a no-brainer) but also that I had a passing interest in Esperanto when a friend suggested a while ago that we try learning something that we knew nothing about and maybe even write notes to each other in Esperanto during meetings. 

If you’ve heard about social bookmarking but don’t know why you should be interested or where you’d start, Lee Lefever is coming to the rescue with another of his fantastic & simple introductions to common web 2.0 tools.  The latest is about social bookmarking. 

Through the Common Craft show, Lee offers a quick way to understand the why’s and how’s of getting started with some of the sites we’re using on a daily basis to share, collaborate and create.  I find I’m starting to look forward to each episode with the same anticipation I once had for the latest episode of Survivor.  (Do you think there’s a connection?)

One more thing … if this video  has sparked an interest in social bookmarking and you want to go further, check out Jon Udell’s wonderful 5-minute screencast on using del.icio.us.

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Lawrence Lessig’s classic powerpoint on Free Culture and copyright is now up with sound on Slideshare.

Say it with me …

Creativity and innovation always build on the past.

The past always tries to control the creativity that builds on it.

Free societies enable the future by limiting the past.

Ours is less and less a free society.

If you haven’t seen this before, it’s a must.

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William Kamkwamba is a teenager in Malawi who read a book about solar energy and built a windmill based on what he learned. The windmill generated enough power for two radios and two lights in his house. What an amazing guy. Chris Anderson interviewed him at TED.

William mentions in the video that his next ambition is to build a windmill to power an irrigation system for his village, but if you read his blog, it looks like he’s reaching a whole lot higher. He’s become a one-man development agency and he wants your help.

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viva la revolucion

Virtual worlds like Second Life are fun but when I show it to faculty I often hear, “I like this but what can I do with it?”  Why go through the hassle of learning a new technology if you can’t do something with it that you can’t do already?  Good question.

Two summers ago, researchers at Pennsylvania State University offered a 5-week course to a group of high school students to explore issues of identity, culture, stereotypes and prejudice first-hand.  Their findings are in the current issue of Innovate that I mentioned yesterday.  Students were asked to change their appearance in There and Second Life (for example, a boy would become a girl) and then to discuss their experiences.  The reactions are interesting.  Boys noticed that people were more courteous to them when they were girls.  One student noticed that other avatars scattered when he approached them as an uglier version of himself.

In real life, we can’t become someone else at the flick of a switch.  In avatar-based environments like Second Life, you can.  And when you do, you have endless opportunities to see the world from another point of view.  That’s one reason why virtual worlds are worth exploring.

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The August/September issue of Innovate is up & it’s devoted to experiential e-learning, or ee-learning.  Given the preference that a lot of learners have for experiential learning, this issue is especially welcome. (You’ll need a free registration in order to see the full articles.)

Supporting experiential learning is especially tricky with technology, simply because most of us are accustomed to those long-winded didactic courses (*yawn*).  We just don’t have experience designing … er … experience.  We don’t know how it works and or what it should look like.  These articles help.  They cover a range of projects including ones where learner use games to change explore issues of identity and diversity to projects where learners engage virtually in the experiences of experts and educators who explore Nunavut by dogsled.  I love the opening paragraph of Aaron Doering’s article about Adventure Learning

It is March 5, 2004. I and my five colleagues from the Arctic Transect team have been traveling across the Canadian Arctic via dogsled since December 31, 2003. As we approach Baker Lake, Nunavut, we have not seen anyone else in 73 days. Across the horizon a jumping light can be seen as a snowmobile approaches us. I am on the front sled, so I stop the team and ski over to the individual dismounting his machine. I extend my arm and say, “My name is Aaron Doering. You have no idea how excited I am to meet you.” The Inuit Elder from Igloolik, Nunavut, replies, “I know who you are; I recognize your voice from the Internet.”

Aaron’s story is fairly dramatic but the same idea would work in connecting electrical students to journeymen working on-site or pharmacy tech students to hospital pharmacists. 

How about you?  How are you integrating experiential learning into your teaching?  Any recommendations?

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