Archive for September, 2008

Virtual Worlds 2008 – Stirling University, 29th October

I’m pleased I’ve been asked to present at Virtual Worlds 2008 at Stirling University in Scotland, on the subject: Worlds Apart: Inclusion benefits and barriers of Virtual Personae.
It’s been organised by JISC, a government financed organisation that supports and enhances the use of technology in UK education.

My pitch is below:

As well as  providing the opportunity to deliver to students social and spatial scenarios which would be impossible or extremely costly to simulate in real life, the buffer of a virtual persona produces many other benefits pertaining to social interaction. These range from combating shyness and reluctance to engage in face-to-face discussion through to autistic spectrum characteristics. But the stripping away of a lot of the established methods, protocols and habits of communication and learning approaches is not always a win-win. It is possible that there are as many inclusion barriers as benefits, and this session attempts to present the key issues in this contentious area.

September 25, 2008 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment

Global Warming vs. Nothing to worry about

give way sign

A convenient lie..?
I was chatting with an intelligent and affable colleague the other day about global warming. I tended towards the orthodox view that we’ve had it, he believes global warming isn’t man made; just one part of a long history of normal global variations.

Despite the weight of evidence, even then perhaps we cant be absolutely sure, but this apparently absurd counter argument made me realise something important and settled the issue in my mind. I said this:
The thing is, if the global warming argument is wrong then we all clean up our acts and nothing changes then so what? But if we don’t change anything and they were right then it’ll be way too late to fix the problem. You don’t gamble with the ground beneath your feet or the air you breathe so there is really only one choice. Act.
You and I know that most people would rather NOT change if confronted with a choice. So on that basis which theory would you think will be most supported for the wrong reasons?
Trouble is we are mostly still debating it (and i include myself in this category) when its really action time. I do three not particularly common significant things to cut down my CO2 usage on top of the things you’re supposed to do anyway but I dont really do enough either.

September 22, 2008 at 1:56 pm 5 comments

ALT-C 2008 – but where’s your evidence?

ALT-C 2008 is a huge 3-day conference run by the Association for Learning Technology. Due to  too little signage mixed with Leeds Universities ‘incredible’ campus led to Kafka-esq hopelessness when getting from place to place. The conference is though a treasure trove of opinion, application, theory and discussion of all things technical as applied to teaching in FE/HE. The only thing it sometimes it struggles to deliver (and the same goes for all similar endevours) measurable evidence of success in improving the student learning experience.  WE all know it helps and the students like it – but like everybody else learning technologists need to be able to prove it.

Here’s the problem: Any method of teaching has to prove deep meaningful learning has taken place. This is not better grades or exam results, happy students or more students or anything similar. Most practioners will settle for this list and i have plenty of sympathy for that view. – it is in one sense what we’re all here for.

Anyway here is some of the things i encountered: (more…)

September 10, 2008 at 10:53 pm Leave a comment


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