September dawns with some useful elearning goodies

This edition is being composed in the wilds of North London, as I am getting ready to enjoy what’s on offer at ALT-C 2006. The programme/ timetable is now up and there are some very good presentations to attend. I will provide an overview of the conference in the October edition of elearn Watch
Apart from ALT-C 2006, this posting includes a number of Websites that provide a wide range of resources for learning and teaching, including some on m-Learning and accessible elearning for those with disabilities.
These Websites are not just for e-learning but also for resources that complement the virtual dimension. After all e-learning in simple terms is really just learning supported and facilitated by the digital domains of the Internet and multimedia.
There is a hive of activity around Blackboard and the implication of its Patents in conjunction with a resurgence of interest in open source alternatives for learning management systems. One of the latest LMS is Croquet which is linked below. I have also included some more links to language learning resources, along with information/links to resources produced by Leigh Blackall, Curtis Bonk, collaboration and opensource offerings, pedagogy, blogs, how stuff works, museum collections and the Odd one out.
1. ALT-C 2006: The timetable with abstracts

2. Leigh Blackall produces (and creates links to others) to some very useful online resources with a focus on simplicity, ease of use and essentially ‘free’. Below are a re number of sites for you to peruse, enjoy and probably use.
2.1.A blog containing MP3 audio files with PDF screen grabs explaining how to use various applications to teach and learn online the free and easy way!

2.2 Construction Modules – Interactive video using Flash for the TAFE Connect, Horticulture Online project. The construction modules include:
a. Timber and Metal

b. Concrete and Masonry

3. The Croquet project is developing very nicely. It is an excellent example of open source courseware which provides opportunities to be creative and innovative in the construction of the student learning environment and associated resources. It could be a rival to Moodle which does have some challenges for the technophobe.

4. Bubl is a large and very comprehensive Website providing a vast range of links to numerous resources related to language learning. Well worth exploring if you are in the business of teaching languages and want to find more useful resources to help your efforts and more specifically, your students

5. Connexions is another Website aimed at fostering collaboration and sharing between a wide range of people involved in education at all levels.
An extract from the site:
‘Connexions is a rapidly growing collection of free scholarly materials and a powerful set of free software tools to help
Authors publish and collaborate
Instructors rapidly build and share custom courses
Learners explore the links among concepts, courses, and disciplines’
An excellent concept well worth supporting and using the resources

6. Tech dist: the site for helping others to create online resources to enable those with disabilities to have access, addresses some of the issues around m-learning

7. Creating accessible e-learning resources for disabled students is a useful guide to helping students with disabilities to access Web-based materials.
Produced by the University of Strathclyde this Web site is a series of ‘leaflets’.
An extract from the site:
‘Each leaflet provides information and suggestions for academic staff who are concerned to make their curriculum design and delivery as accessible as it can be to disabled students’

(of interest Chapter 6 looks at creating accessible practical classes)

8. The Castle of Learning: Curtis Bonk, the enigmatic educationalist, visionary and excellent presenter provides an insite into his thinking and doing. Includes some good audio resources.
Returning here from time to time will be worthwhile.
Not too sure if his Castle is open plan but it sure isn’t a fortress!

9. Blue Web’n: I remember visiting this site quite a few years go when it was young and vibrant, new and an exciting innovation. It still remains a very good site with excellent resources and is worth an occasional visit to find that elusive resource.
Extract from the site:
‘Blue Web’n is an online library of outstanding Internet sites categorized by subject, grade level, and format (tools, references, lessons, hotlists, resources, tutorials, activities, projects). Blue Web’n does not attempt to catalog all educational sites. Sites are hand-picked and are, in our opinion, among the most useful for classroom or instructional use’.

10.Electronic Voting Systems: a review by Vicki Simpson (University of Surrey) and Martin Oliver (UCL).
Way back in 1986 I used a primitive form of electronic voting system to reinforce concepts and principles of anatomy and physiology for nurses. Suffice to say it generated a lot of excitement and competition amongst the student teams and I believe in the context of the environment in which the activities took place, it made a big difference to their learning.
Modern systems are far more sophisticated, but do they make a difference to the learning? Read this excellent article and make up your own mind and even give the system a go. I think it’s worth it, if it is well planned, organised and managed. Assessing the value of the outcomes and acting on the feedback is mandatory.

11. Learning Technologies Blog: A forum for professional learning practitioners to share their expertise, experiences and ideas.
This is an Aussie Blog created and maintained by Anne Bartlett-Bragg at UTS (Sydney).
Like many blogs there is a raft of information, resources and links to meander through and bound to be something you are interested in. For starters, click on the Pedagogy link on the left hand side to read about beneficial aspects of Podcasting.

12. Pedagonet: A learning resource search engine.
This site has a huge range of links and information on some interesting subjects such as those in the Insectclopedia and Musiclopedia areas. Fascinating.
I particularly liked the brainteasers for a bit of a diversion. Very much aimed at the USA audience but sure to be some things to’repurpose’ elsewhere on the planet.
Extract from the site:
‘The focus of our database is to offer a wide variety of learning resources to suit your needs.
Our site contains brain teasers, word search builder, study guides, posters, lessons, math fact creator, free email, minigifs, jobs, freebies, Insectclopedia, Musiclopedia and other valuable resources.
Add your favorite learning resources to the database’.

13. Museum of Online Museums provides links to some very interesting and sometimes odd and obscure resources. Worth while spending some time exploring and bookmarking any useful resources. Should really be the odd one out but it does have some good educational material
Extract from site: ‘Here, you will find links from our archives to online collections and exhibits covering a vast array of interests and obsessions’.

14. How stuff works provides comprehensives guides and explanations as to how, well, stuff works! No too sure about the links to ‘Popular disease articles’. Who would have thought that diseases were popular? Anyway, peruse the tabs to your favourite and get the real explanations.
If you are strong enough not to get diverted, there is some excellent stuff under the Computer Stuff tab

15. The odd one out, a Comicopedia. An amazing and very comprehensive Website that identifies and displays examples of the work of hundreds of comic artists. Bound to be one of your favourites and you might even find a few more. Be prepared to spend a long time here, even venture to other parts of this remarkable site.

A special for the New Zealand practitioners
The Future of Learning in a Networked World. This project initiated by Leigh Blackall is well under way and is shaping up to be a must open space conference. Get the latest form the Blog/ Wiki. Note the increasing number of NZ Higher Ed institutions getting behind the project.
About time too!

End of story for this month. More on its way in October
Richard Elliott

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