Invitation: Ned-Moove Organises a Moodle Meetup

 

Nederlandstalige Moodle Vereniging

Ned-Moove

On Wednesday, the 25th of November, Ned-Moove organises another Moodle Meetup. A selection of service providers in the open source educational technology space will be presenting their products.

The programme starts at 15:30 and finishes at 18:30. Topics include Edurep, Teleblik, Zimbra, Wintoets, and Mahara (and the presentations will be in Dutch).

 

The location is the Open Schoolgemeenschap Bijlmer on Gulden Kruis 5, 1103 BE in Amsterdam. Attendance (and parking!) is free, although we do require a registration: click here to register.

I do hope to see you there!

New Paradigms for Course Delivery

The Ministry of Instructional Design

The Ministry of Instructional Design

As I write this I am participating in two exciting courses. Each course is an example of how new paradigms for course delivery are coming to the fore in this online world. I will probably write more about both of them in the near future, but will kick off today with just a simple explanation of both courses.

Rapid eLearning Development
LearningAge Solutions has developed an online course about Rapid eLearning Development. I am a participant in the pilot group: I don’t have a course fee to pay, but have committed myself to giving weekly feedback so that the course can be fine-tuned.

The “Ministry of Instructional Design” (LearningAge Solutions)

Part 3D computer game, part social network, part collaborative learning, the ReD course will teach you how to build effective elearning and informal media using leading elearning author tools.

Designed by Rob Hubbard of LearningAge Solutions with input from some of the smartest people in the elearning industry including Clive Shepherd, Jane Hart and Patrick Dunn. This is a course unlike any other,  designed to show how great elearning can be and built using tools that you too can master.

The way that this course is created/structured is smart and inspiring (regardless of the content which is good too). The course is made from a loosely coupled set of (mostly) free online web applications.

The core of the course is a private Ning network which has links to all the other parts of the course. This is the place where participants do reflective blogging and where people hand in their assignments and comment on other people’s assignments.

Mindmeister is used for mindmaps that contain the learning objectives for each module, ClassMarker contains a couple of knowledge checks/assessments, Dimdim delivers the web conferencing functionality and there is a 3D game made with the gaming technology from Thinking Worlds.

To me this type of course design shows that it is not necessary to assume that one single tool should deliver the full learner experience. It is perfectly viable to use a collection of tools and use each for its strengths. Once I have finished the course I will post a bit more about my experiences.

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge

This is the second year that George Siemens and Stephen Downes (actually my two favourite learning gurus) organise the  “rather large open online course” Connectivism and Connective Knowledge. It is their attempt to destabilise the concept of a course.

The course is open to anyone. You attend freely if you do not need any university course credits, or you pay if you do. The course is decentralised (or maybe “loosely federated” is a better word): the two facilitators set out reading materials and organise a couple of webcasts every week, but the meat of the course is to be found in the discussions that participants have (online in Moodle forums) and the reflections that participants post on their blogs.

A single tag, CCK09, is used by all participants for their posts. This pulls the all the course activity together and makes it easy to find course related postings (e.g. on Twitter or in the blogosphere). By connecting to people with similar interests, it is possible to go on a tangent and explore the things that you want to work on in relation to connectivism and connective knowledge.

A daily newsletter is sent out. This is an edited version of the aggregated posts and discussions and includes commentary by Stephen Downes. Just reading the newsletter is already incredibly valuable.

I tried to actively participate in this course last year, but was not able to keep up with it. It requires a lot of discipline to study this way: there is no passive consumption of information. Instead it requires a lot of effort to select what you want to read and post your reflections. I hope I will be able to do better this year (although things are already not looking good right for that to be the case)!

My Top 10 Tools for Learning

Number 10 by Flickr user Downing Street, CC licensed

Number 10 by Flickr user Downing Street, CC licensed

Jane Hart does the educational technology community a big favour by compiling top 10 lists of learning tools which are send to her by educational professionals from around the world. She creates a top 100 list that is an interesting reflection of current (and past) popular technology in education and learning.

Each year you get a chance to update your own list. I haven’t done that this year, so here goes:

Moodle – This open source course management system is my bread and butter and has led me into the free software world. Its community of teachers and its enlightened leadership is second to none.
Google Reader – The only way that I am able to keep up with the things that I want to read. Outsourcing my subscriptions and read/unread statusses to Google makes it possible for me to use my laptop, my cellphone or any random computer and see the same information. I just wish there was an open source project that would do the same and could run on my own server.
  1. Moodle – This open source course management system is still very much my bread and butter and has led me into the free software world. Its community of teachers and its enlightened leadership is second to none.
  2. Google Reader – The only way that I am able to keep up with the things that I want to read. Outsourcing my subscriptions and read/unread statusses to Google makes it possible for me to use my laptop, my cellphone or any random computer and see the same information.
  3. Ubuntu – My operating system of choice. Not only does it give me the freedom to use it how I want, it is also the source of much learning about how computers work. I see it as a critical enabler.
  4. Google Search – Still the best search technology around. I have a couple of stock queries that I do all the time like “better than x” if I want to find an alternative to x and I can usually find what I need in one or two queries.
  5. Wikipedia – More and more the easiest way to find a piece of factual information. I use a lot of materials from the Wikimedia Commons in most things that I create. Wikipedia has been decisive in many kitchen table arguments.
  6. WordPress – I have been blogging for over a year now and the process of writing for an audience has forced me to think deeper about my profession. Writing blogs could a central part of many courses. It really is a heavily underutilised pedagogical tool. I have to admit I don’t run my own installation, but trust the excellent WordPress.com service.
  7. Chromium – Most of the work that on do on my computer is done in a browser window. Google’s open source effort is now my default browser. This is mainly because of it’s amazing speed and the Omnibox. Read this blog post for more of my reasons.
  8. LAMP = Apache, MySQL, PHP – This technology makes it trivial for a non-programmer like me to create my own tools that do what I need them do. Using the APIs of the different web services I can create my own mashups.
  9. Youtube – This has become an indispensable resource. Stuck in a level on a Nintendo DS game? Type the games name and a level to see a walk through. There are endless tutorials on anything that you might want to learn.
  10. Delicious – The social bookmarking site not only remembers all I have seen that is interesting on the net, but it is also an excellent way of finding many good sites on a topic. My slowly expanding network of del.icio.us friend tag interesting pages for me to look at.

It wasn’t intentional, but I now notice that the only things that are not web applications are an operating and a browser (the bare essentials). That must be of some significance!

10 Things to Like About Moodle

It was always my intention to write a post summarising last April’s Moodlemoot in Loughborough in the UK. It was a highly enjoyable event with many Moodle luminaries present and there was much to write about.

However, I doubt I will ever write that post, so I have decided to share the presentation that I did titled 10 Things to Like About Moodle. It tries to describe the factors that have contributed to making Moodle such a success in the seven years of its existence. The audio is sometimes a bit hard to understand (too much hand-waving on my part), but overall it should still be valuable to many people.

Download the slides as a 3.5MB PDF file.

Dutch Moodlemoot in Amsterdam 27-05-2009

The Dutch Moodle users group (Ned-Moove) organised the fifth Dutch language Moodlemoot in Amsterdam last Wednesday. It was a successful event with nearly a hundred people attending and two excellent keynote speakers: Helen Foster and Martín Langhoff. Helen is Moodle’s community manager and Martín is an important core Moodle developer and currently architect of the school server in the OLPC project.

The programme of speakers was better than in any earlier Dutch moot, with tracks about education, business, digital pedagogy and sysadmin/development tracks. Nowadays events like this leave digital tracks and can be relived in a way through the Twitter messages, blog posts and shared slides. My ex-colleague and friend Marcel de Leeuwe wrote an interesting (Dutch) blog post about his experiences at the moot that includes his slides and my co-Ned-moove-board-member and friend Arjen Vrielink did a conceptual talk about Moodle networking. Many of the other speakers have put their slides online at the Moodlemoot 2009 website.

Moodle in the Netherlands finally seems to be taking of outside of secondary education. About half of the visitors did not come from the educational sector:

Sectors/Visitors at the Dutch Moodlemoot

Sectors/Visitors at the Dutch Moodlemoot

My own presentation was less about Moodle and more about learning this time. I talked about instructional principles that can be used to make sure you deliver top quality blended learning. The slides and audio are in Dutch and can be downloaded as a 5.3MB PDF file or viewed here:

All in all a great event. I am looking forward to next year, it will most probably be in Belgium.