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Sunday, December 4th  
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Presentation on the new podcasting server by Apple
I have just attended a promotional activity on the podcasting server which is now almost available from Apple. It was a very interesting concept, there are a number of things I do have to think about though, certainly as we are considering using the technology for straightforward recording of lectures.
The output generated is based around podcasting, you can easily create a number of different format outputs (audio, iPod ready video, streaming video). This is flexible enough to meet most demands. You can turn recordings on and off from a distance. In fact, you can even plan these in advance through a link with iCal. This is attractive from the perspective of the audiovisual department who do not have to be present to start and stop every recording. You do need a system administrator who is used to Apple or Unix servers.

The recording sets are extremely simple and cheap: a Mac Mini with a video ca... more

September 26th, 2006 - 10:07 pm | permalink

Testing SAKAI 2.2.0
I had a go at the new version of SAKAI (2.2.0) which was so kindly provided by Wytze Koopal. It was very interesting to give it a go and I learnt a number of new things. So here a quick resume:

What I liked best in SAKAI:
+ It looks smart and sophisticated
+ There are several places were you can set all sorts of permissions. This allows you to change the impact different people have on different places in the course. You can let students add or remove resources or announcements...
+ You are not confined to your course space but can use materials or announcements from other course spaces or workspaces.
+ Students can work together in groupspaces, this gives you other opportunities than a course.
+ Students can sign up for sections, although I could not figure out what this could offer the student or the teacher... Is this a place where you can offer specific materials or communication?

However, there were also a few points I was not so happy about:<... more

September 25th, 2006 - 05:01 pm | permalink

Blackboard Building Blocks at Utrecht University
I sadly couldn't make it to the Blackboard usergroup meeting on the Building Blocks in use in The Netherlands. So in case others are interested, these are the Building Blocks we have in use at present at Utrecht University. (We are running Bb 6.3.1 and have no homegrown Building Blocks.)

September 12th, 2006 - 09:16 pm | permalink

Creating your own Scorm packaged course ware
I ran into a reference to the Open Source eXe software. With this software you can easily create an IMS/Scorm/IEEE package which you then should be able to read into a compliant content delivery system, i.e. a VLE.
I gave it a go: Dead easy to install
You can pick it up at: http://exelearning.org/ and it worked straight out of the box. In a quarter of an hour I created a lesson on open standards (although not quite pedagogically sound ;-). And here it is as an IMS/Scorm compliant ZIP file....
I will see if I can import it into VLE's that should accept these packages. I wonder. Any experiences are welcome... Do leave a comment.

September 11th, 2006 - 10:30 pm | permalink

Interactive lecture at Psychology
The psychology department has just started their first series of lectures using a Personal Response System. Today was the first lecture (Introduction in Psychology) and they decided to try it out on all 500 first year students....
I simply had to go and have a look. And it worked! Students were able to respond to questions and the answers streamed in and were immediately presented on screen. It really works amazingly well. The next challenge is to use it in a meaningful manner. I wonder if they will start using it for quick intermediate tests in the lecture hall.
For all those interested: They have chosen to use the Interwrite system made by GTCO Calcomp. This decision was strongly based on the large number of students and the large size of the lecture hall that needs to be covered.
For all those interested in a broader perspective visit the website of Steve Draper at the Univer... more

September 11th, 2006 - 09:38 pm | permalink

1200 students have now been trained....
Last week was an exciting week. All 1200 first year undergraduates arrived at the faculty of Social Sciences and a number of graduates also appeared. All of them received a workshop on the ICT facilities at University in the course of one and a half day. It was quite an organisation but I must say the teaching assistants did a great job. I now have a lot less manuals in my room and very few questions to answer. Everything seems to be working, it's about time to start on other projects...

September 11th, 2006 - 09:07 pm | permalink

The patent ....
It was big news, I find it a shame I missed it by being on holiday, although I dare say the mountains where worth it. The great advantage is that I now can look back and see what has turned up in the huge discussion which ensued. I have definitely not read everything written on this matter though, everybody seems to have been up in arms.
In short: Blackboard registered a patent claiming they were the first to have developed an e-learning system. It turned out that their claim is specifically that they developed:

' 1. A course-based system for providing to an educational community of users access to a plurality of online courses, comprising:
a) a plurality of user computers, with each user computer being associated with a user of the system and with each user being capable of having predefined characteristics indicative of multiple predetermined roles in the system, each role providing a level of access to a plurality of data files associated with a particular course a... more

September 3rd, 2006 - 10:01 pm | permalink

Sharepoint moving into the education market
I have been on holiday for a while and occupied preparing for the new year. As everything is starting to settle down now I am working away the backlog... Some of this may well be old news for many of you, but I will mention it anyway.
It was not a big surprise, but Microsoft is now edging into the e-learning market. They are giving away a learner kit and community developer kit with Sharepoint. In their words:
'schools can readily build a standards-based education portal for administrators, educators and students to share information, collaborate on projects, and access rich learning resources from a single point of access.'
As I do not have an installation at my disposal I cannot judge exactly what this facility has to offer. As could be expected it appears to be very strongly based on file management and workflow. This is certainly practical for group based work and setting out and collecting assignments. I am not sure this covers the wide realm of e-learning possibilitie... more

September 3rd, 2006 - 09:19 pm | permalink

Wireless festival between the canals
Yesterday was the start of a two week wireless festival here in Utrecht, so drag out your laptop, mobile phone or pda and for the oldies, even a radio will do. Find one of the hotspots and you can surf about on one of the ´notspots´ or share your digital input in the shape of voicemail messages or bluetooth transmitted photo´s. I simply must give this a go. It is an interesting mix of using a wireless technology to link up to a physical environment near at hand. This is not about connecting to a global system, but about sharing digital input in a physical location...
» Visit the organisers (volunteers) website

September 3rd, 2006 - 09:10 pm | permalink

A great climbing course in very mixed conditions
I have just returned from the C2 course of the NKBV (Dutch climbing association) in the Stubia Alps in Austria. We had a great week, I passed the course and we managed to reach the top of the Zuckerhutl on the way. What struck me most though, was the extreme conditions we encountered. We went from blazing sunshine to steady snowfall. Of course you can read all about these conditions, but it is quite something else to hear your ice axe humming on your rucksack.

Sadly there was no snow left on the Zuckerhutl and I would love to go back in May or June to try the north face of this mountain when it is in a climable condition. Austria is a long way away though.

All in all a great week and lots of respect for our guide Stephan.

August 5th, 2006 - 11:18 pm | permalink

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