In Week 4, the fundamental question that #ocTEL asks is “how can we take advantage of technological developments in order to create and source relevant learning resources?” Actually, the question continues “for our students”, but I’m going to ignore that bit. I’m just going to throw in here the idea of “self-organised learning” and, on the very same subject, quote Steve Wheeler in his blogpost today, when he refers to “the ability of the learners themselves to direct their own learning, and to be able to call upon the resources they need, when they need them”, before I move on to relate how I’ve engaged with the question and with this week’s activities.
The first activity was about finding and reviewing resources and, in terms of ease of use and usefulness, comparing a number of resource repositories. The repositories were split into two camps: “official” ones, such as Jorum and Merlot, and “open” ones like YouTube, TED and iTunesU. I have to say that I was disinclined to do this activity as I’ve done it before. It’s so time consuming, and never mind that it seems to smack of either desperation or wild anticipation akin to a lucky dip. However, I was interested to read Imogen Bertin‘s post in the forum “iTunesU – you need to learn how to search it…”. Interesting, as having undertaken a detailed review and comparison of the repositories, Imogen reports over all lukewarm enthusiasm for the “official” repositories both in terms of their search function and in terms of the resources found. However, the “open” repositories fare somewhat better, especially iTunesU. Imogen says,
if you know how to search it, then it’s actually very good. [...] there is a rake of useful stuff on there, lots of it free, but how to search isn’t obvious at all.
And on that score, Imogen kindly enlightens us.
She also declares that “YouTube rocks!”, and attributes this to its great search engine.
It’s an excellent post, with a great follow up conversation, but my point is this: with the likelihood of such patchy results, why bother to go looking for such content in the first place. Wouldn’t it be handier to have a filtering system in place whereby relevant resources come to you. I mean, why not harness the power of your personal learning network [PLN]?
When a member of my PLN posts a link to a potentially handy resource, I bookmark it in the hope that it’ll be useful to me at a later stage. This way I’ve started to develop my own database of searchable resources. It means I’m not starting a search from scratch as I already have a bank of resources, resources that to some degree have been vetted by my peers. This is how I’ve found a number of great resources recently. Just for the record, I searched iTunesU with the term “digital literacies”, and what do you know, it came up with the exact same resources that I already have bookmarked, plus one! So thanks, Imogen for bringing this to attention.
A further activity this week related to creating you own materials. You were asked to choose a tool with which you’re not already familiar and consider its application in your context. A number of suggestions were offered for review:
and the following questions were amongst those provided as prompts:
- How easy was it to understand how this tool worked?
- How quickly and easily would you find it to use?
In terms of context, I paddle my own canoe. I’m an individual (tutor, facilitator, guide, learner…) who simply wants to develop online learning resources that add interest and stimulate interaction with the learning experience. Consequently, I need “low-threshold, low-barrier” technologies that are easily learned and easily accomplish my teaching and/or learning objectives, and more often than not, have sharing and collaboration features built-in to them.
With this criteria in mind, I took a look over the suggested tools. Straight off, Xerte failed to grab me because it didn’t actually tell me what it did. It opened with “Welcome to the Xerte Project”, whatever that is, and went on to tell me that:
Xerte Online Toolkits is an award winning suite of browser-based tools that allow anyone with a web browser to create interactive learning materials quickly and easily. Content can be delivered to all devices using standards compliant HTML5
Err, I’m sorry, I just want to know what the tool does. Can I design a quiz, record audio, make a video or animate a scenario etc? I didn’t appreciate all the technical terminology either. Therefore, at this stage, I’m not inclined to investigate Xerte any further, despite enthusiastic recommendations in the “what people are saying…” section of the website. Glomaker and Cmap fared similar fates with me I’m afraid. However, Camtasia, Jing and Screen-o-matic were more the sort of tools I’d be looking for, and pretty much said what they did on the tin, so to speak:
Enhance Your Online Conversations With Jing.
Jing gives you the basic tools to start sharing images and short videos of your computer screen.
- Capture What You See
- Record What You Do
- Quick & Easy Sharing
The tools I require need to be intuitive and easy to take up in the first instance, maybe with the option of progressing to more advanced capabilities over time. In fact, I just recently used Screencast-o-matic to produce a presentation for another course I’ve been taking, and I found it to be very straight forward and easy to use. I can certainly recommend it. Co-incidentally, the presentation was on the topic of personal learning networks and how developing a PLN has helped me learn and make progress towards my learning goals. I’ll provide the link here, in case anyone would care to take a look.
Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/colecamplese/6003188744/
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