Friday, September 28

Giving Knowledge for Free & OER Stories!

"Learning resources are often considered key intellectual property in a competitive higher education world. However, more and more institutions and individuals are sharing their digital learning resources over the Internet, openly and for free, as Open Educational Resources (OER). This study, building on previous OECD work on e-learning, asks why this is happening, who is involved and what the most important implications of this development are.

The report offers a comprehensive overview of the rapidly changing phenomenon of Open Educational Resources and the challenges it poses for higher education. It examines reasons for individuals and institutions to share resources for free, and looks at copyright issues, sustainability and business models as well as policy implications. It will be of particular interest to those involved in e-learning or strategic decision making within higher education, to researchers and to students of new technologies ...more "

"Case studies/stories of how institutions and individuals have developed or used OER would be a useful resource for awareness raising activities. Telling stories is a very powerful means of transmitting information. As one Community member (Zaid Ali Alsagoff) expressed it, "Stories inspire people and bring movements to life."

If you have developed or used OER and would be willing to share your experience with others then they would like to hear from you ...more"

Here are the inspirational OER stories shared until now:

I do suspect that many more OER stories will be shared in the near future, so please visit the OER stories site often to get the latest update.

For starters we could for example join the OER Community. Remember, OER is not only about consuming free knowledge, but also about participating, contributing, sharing, collaborating, networking, promoting, and enhancing the global OER movement. If one cannot contribute knowledge, one can always be active in promoting and creating awareness to colleagues, institutions and communities. For example, I am using this free blogging tool to also promote OER.

In short, come and join the OER revolution :)

Thursday, September 27

Warren Buffett's MBA Talk Vs Evolution of Dance

Warren Edward Buffett (b. August 30, 1930, Omaha, Nebraska), often called the "Sage of Omaha" or the "Oracle of Omaha", is an American investor, businessperson and philanthropist ($30 billion donation to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation!). Buffett has amassed an enormous fortune from astute investments managed through the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, of which he is the largest shareholder and CEO. With an estimated current net worth of around US$52 billion, he was ranked by Forbes as the second-richest person in the world as of September 2007, behind Bill Gates ...more

This (FREE) Google Video Warren Buffett MBA Talk (made before a graduating MBA class at University of Florida), is simply a must for anyone studying, doing, or planning to do business. You might hate him or love him, but certainly you can spare 1 1/2 hours of your life to learn from his amazing razor sharp wisdom and advice in investment, finance, business and life in general. If you want a more instructionally chunked version (6-12 minute parts) you can always enjoy the 10 part series on YouTube. Here is the Google Video version, if you missed it:

Amazingly, Warren Buffett's MBA Talk on Google Video has only been viewed +98,000 times (since September 04, 2006). I suppose it sounds a lot, but if you compare it to the most viewed video on YouTube (at the moment), it has roughly 600 times less views. Believe it or not, the six minute Evolution of Dance has until now got more than 59 MILLION views (since April 06, 2006). Alright, I got to admt it is really funny, and even I have used it during a few workshops and classes to loosen up the participants with a bit of laughter! One might also argue that the Google Video version is too long (88 minutes) to get so many views, but the chunked version on YouTube has even got fewer views. The Buffett MBA Talk Part 1 has until now only got +38,000 views (since May 23, 2007), and that is more than any of the other 9 parts.

Let's look at it from another angle. The Worldwide MBA registration figures for the council’s Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), used by 1,700 business schools worldwide in the admission process, were 241,662 in December 2006, up from 238,706 a year earlier and 227,490 in December 2004. For example, if we assume that there are approximately 1 million MBA students around the world today, only 1 out of 10 would have watched this video on Google Video. Hmm, let's hope that this video has been watched in crowds or been downloaded and shared using other tools. Also, I wouldn't be surprised that most of those that have viewed it are not even MBA students (including me!).

To sum up, this is only one example (of many) excellent free online learning resources out there that are not being fully utilized by the global intelligence learning network. The world of the Internet has an unbelievable amount of learning treasures, but we often get distracted by all the other fun and junk.

It is alright to have a bit of fun, but we should also spare some time for great learning adventures like the Warren Buffett MBA Talk. Actually, ALL educational programs should make it a requirement in their curriculum to watch, listen and collaboratively reflect such talks or resources.

We should focus more on the people behind the theories and practices than simply learning what their outputs are made of, and how they are being used or practiced. In other words, it is very important to reflect the masterminds or geniuses' life stories, and their struggles and trials leading them to their theories, practices, inventions and innovations. By doing so, we will also appreciate their efforts and lessons learned more.

Warren Buffett is one of those geniuses worth reading about, watching, listening and learning from :)

Wednesday, September 26

E-Learning 2.0 in Development (Stephen Downes)

OLDaily Post:
Downes's Slidespace:
Conference Blog:

"The theme of Brandon Hall Innovations conference is “Doing, Playing, Sharing, and Understanding.” They've designed this exciting event to maximize the participants hands-on experience with innovative tools and technologies and to provide them with a glimpse into the future of learning. You’ll leave the conference with actual skills they can apply to advance innovative learning within your organization.....They also abandoned the traditional ‘speakers-with-PowerPoint-slides’ model at the Brandon Hall Innovations in Learning Conference ... "

Well, that didn't stop Stephen Downes from using PowerPoint slides to share his ideas and reflections, which we now can enjoy and reflect. Yes, also all those participants that were connected online during the actual session (I suppose everyone there!), could access the slides from Slideshare. Again, it just shows that having fixed rules (or barriers) for learning are not very effective with today's disruptive technologies (The only fixed rule should be: Connect and Engage!). Anyway, whatever rules set, here is his presentation slides. Also, watch out for his audio recording (podcast) of this presentation, because you might get confused if you are new to e-learning. I will post it here when available, or perhaps he will pop by to do so (Dreaming?).

According to Stephen Downes "the idea is that learning is not based on objects and contents that are stored, as though in a library...Rather the idea is that learning is like a utility - like water or electricity - that flows in a network or a grip, that we tap into when we want...The way NETWORK learns is the way PEOPLE learn...they are both complex systems, and the organization of each depends on connections (Connectivism - George Siemens) ."

Then he goes on to talk about being learning centred (learning is owned by the learner), immersive learning, connect learning, game-based learning, workflow learning, mobile learning, and finally explores Personal Learning Environments (PLE) in details. I especially, like his simple description of PLE involving four (4) steps or pieces (again and again): Demonstrate-Model-Practice-Reflect, and he ends up discussing the Choice-Identity-Creativity issue, where learners are provided with simulated or actual learning events to facilitate their learning and creativity (If you are lost check slide 71 and onwards). Yes, he puts it nicely by emphasizing on learning ownership, "People talk about 'motivation' - but the real issue is OWNERSHIP.

Since my reflections is based only on the slides shared by Stephen, I might have gotten it creatively wrong, though! However, to sum up I believe we need to empower learners (and educators) with more dynamic and easy-to-use tools to share/discuss/collaborate/reflect learning experiences, and engage in learning networks to nurture new ideas, contents, products, services, and things. In short, we all need to take ownership of our own learning :)

Tuesday, September 25

Creativity & Innovation (Mycoted Thinking Repository!)

Tools (184):
Puzzles (58):

Mycoted is dedicated to improving Creativity and Innovation for solving problems worldwide, with that in mind, they provide a central repository for Creativity and Innovation on the Internet as a summary of tools, techniques, mind exercises, puzzles, book reviews etc, that is open to all - and can be written by all (Yes, Wikis rules!).

(Mycoted is a small UK company which offers a range of services to assist in creativity and innovation.)

If you find this repository insufficient, you could also explore the Mindtools site, which is perhaps more comprehensive and known (+4.2 Million visitors a year). But to be honest, I find this repository simpler to find juicy thinking tools (Not so cluttered! It also gives you a bit of white space to think.). Mindtools gets you excited first, but then you often have to pay for the real juice. It is simply a big turn-off! Also, they could be a bit more creative like using a Wiki to invite others to share (or co-create) new thinking tools.

Though, it is worth subscribing to the free Mindtools newsletter by the always dynamic James Manktelow. Overall, I recommend that (or challenge) James and Mindtools explore the creative challenge to share all their resources (or thinking tools) for free, and at the same time make 10 times more money. Think Blue Ocean :)

The Mycoted creativity techniques (tools) repository consists of more than 180 different (Currently, 184 to be precise!), which are listed in alphabetical order (A-Z). In addition, you can access the tools according to categories (still under construction!). Below is a list of a few thinking tools that I have tried, and would recommend:

Of course, there are many more wonderful and complex tools (e.g. TRIZ) in the repository, but the above mentioned ones do not require much learning (as far as I know), before you can facilitate some juicy creative and critical thinking out of yourself or your team.

Also, you can find many interesting thinking puzzles (58) to exercise the brain muscle and have fun (mainly lateral thinking!) . How many faces can you see in the image?

If that is not enough, you could always check out the nutty quotes by famous people in the past. Here are a few that gives us hope!

  • "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." - Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
  • "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
  • "Everything that can be invented has been invented." - Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
  • "640K ought to be enough for anybody." - Bill Gates, 1981

Yes, if you have said or done something stupid you need not worry, because you might be the next Bill Gates! In other words, don't be afraid to think-out-loud, explore, learn, reflect, and ask for feedback. Failure provides us with great opportunities to really succeed (if we keep on trying creatively). So, celebrate noble failure (Motorola does, if I am not mistaken).

As we are increasingly moving into the global innovation driven economy, we have no choice but to beef up our creative, critical and innovative thinking skills. We all have tremendous ability, and by using some of the thinking tools we can perhaps get a little upper-hand (at least against those that don't) were possible.

However, thinking tools is not enough, and the greatest thinkers throughout time can testify to this. You also need to continuously explore, digest, learn, and individually/collaboratively reflect new (and old) information and knowledge, as this is the fuel to great new ideas, inventions, products and services. The thinking tools can speed up the output process, but you still need a lot of knowledge fuel as input (if you want to produce really wonderful ideas!). No, Google is not enough! Our brain works in funny ways when we understand and digest knowledge. Our sometimes amazing practical intelligence or gut feeling ability is often a result of all the knowledge (and wisdom) we have learned in the past.

Finally, I will end this post (or it will go on and on!), by sharing a few more excellent quotes to think about:

  • "If you can dream it, you can do it." - Walt Disney.
  • "Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which the problems were created." -- Albert Einstein.
  • "Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist." - Thomas Disch
  • None of us are as smart as all of us." - Japanese proverb
  • "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves." - Carl Jung.
  • "Without problems there would be no reason to improve." - Benjamin C Jones.

"Seek Knowledge from the Cradle to the Grave."
- Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)


Monday, September 24

Clive's 33 Columns (Dummies Guide to e-Learning!)

Clive's Columns (pdf):
Clive's Blog:

This excellent free resource is "A compendium of 33 of Clive Shepherd’s columns on e-learning and blended learning, originally published between 2003 and 2007 in IT Training and Learning & Development magazines."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works License. You are free to share - to copy, distribute and transmit the work, under the following conditions:
  1. Attribution: You must attribute the work to Clive Shepherd, Fastrak Consulting Ltd, accompanied by a link to .
  2. No derivative works: You may not alter, transform or build upon this work.

If you have never heard of Creative Commons, I suppose it is about time to acquaint yourself with it, because it is the future of publications in the education sector (Trust me! At least for Higher Education!).

After spending much of the weekend reading and reflecting most of the 33 columns, I felt that this resource is especially great for people that are new to e-learning, or using technology to facilitate effective learning. I would call it the free "Dummies Guide to e-Learning!".

Why? Firstly, I really enjoyed Clive's exceptional ability to simplify complexity (or simple stuff!). It is joy to read through the columns without needing to refer to some jargon dictionary to figure out what this and that is. In a nutshell, instructional design is really about simplifying (information, knowledge or skills) and engaging the learner, and Clive has managed both without a single graphic or illustration (Splendid!). Now, that reflects a bit his amazing ability to simplify and engage using just words and stories (Hmm, I got to test this properly with someone new to e-learning! Proof of concept!).

Secondly, these 33 columns cover all sorts of areas related to getting started with e-learning, including rapid e-learning, blended learning, podcasting, Flash, open source learning tools, fourth paradigm (Learning is doing it for yourself), interactivity, learners, instructional design, story-telling, standards, and change management.

Thirdly, he has more than twenty five years of experience in the e-learning (and blended learning) field, and has won numerous of awards, including the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Training Industry at the World of Learning conference (2004). His experience alone is worth some attention, because he can relate the different e-learning areas discussed to real stories (no need to refer to a book!).

Finally, I love the fact that the columns (or articles) are chunked, concise, relevant and engaging. Each column can be read and digested over a 5-15 minute period (excluding the reflection time!). Coming to think of it, these columns are 33 chunks of learning wisdom.

However, I suppose e-learning beginners would like to see some visual examples and illustrations, and perhaps a more progressive content structure (outline). But then again, Clive is simply sharing 33 of his articles, and probably never thought that someone might see it as a Dummies Guide. As for me, I am simply trying to find ways to suck out the juice and utilize this resource to the maximum.

If you really like what Clive has shared in these 33 columns, you might want to check out some of his e-learning related books, too (They are not free, though!)

Hopefully, these four books will use Creative Commons in the future, too. But then again, I suppose we all need to be rewarded financially for our hard work sometimes :)

Thursday, September 20

In Defense of Lecturing (Mary Burgan)



  • “In the past dozen years or so, pedagogical reformers in higher education have registered their sense of the faculty's teacherly flaws by proclaiming that the effective teacher should be "a guide by the side" rather than "a sage on the stage." Many practicing faculty members find this jingle insulting; it embeds an implication that they are self-enchanted blowhards who don't understand that teaching involves more than shoveling information and interpretation into their students' heads....
  • ...Major appeals of lecturing—the passionate display of erudition as valuable in itself—regardless of the rewards of approval or popularity.
  • ...Rarely do students have the chance to observe intellectual mastery and excitement in their daily world. When they find it on a campus, it validates the life—the liveliness—of the mind.
  • …Excellent lecture sessions raise questions in ways that inspire students to seek answers together.”
  • Finally, then, lecturing should be defended because a narrow view of learning as mainly self-generated misses the fact that the vitality of the educational exchange in college often derives from the engagement of the student with a professor who is himself involved in a lifetime of discovery.
  • "We teach in order to learn...Organizing a course, preparing a lesson, we become acutely aware of what we need to know to do that job properly—and of the gap between that blessed state of perfect knowledge and our actual situations. Teaching drives us to learning—and to the learned who can help us join their company" - Robert Scholes.
  • I suspect that Scholes's definition of college teaching best matches the understanding that drives many teachers in American higher education—whether they lecture or conduct discussions. They believe that it takes a knowledgeable, trained, passionate professional who has committed to a career in real classrooms to instigate and direct what students do there."


  • "...research shows us that lectures actually work against the human brain. After four to eight minutes of listening to a talk the brightest brains in the room seek other adventures … It’s not necessarily you that bores listeners, but more the fact that brains were not made to be talked at.
  • ... why have they survived without much challenge by lecturers? The answer may surprise you.... Lectures are actually a huge asset to the person talking at you...? While it is futile for passive learners who retain less than 5%, lecturers brains spike on every topic they teach, since teachers retain 90% more through the process of lecturing and teaching, according to National Training Institute in 1999.
  • Compounding the problem are the off-the-shelf products like Adobe Breeze that promise quick elearning development. All they accomplish is to capture the tedium of PowerPoint presentions with the boredom of a lecture.

The problem might not lay with the lecture itself, but the way we conduct our lectures (Effective Lecturing!). The same goes for e-learning, blended learning, quizzes, games, role-play, virtual worlds, etc.! If the quality is poor, our students will simply get bored and think somewhere else. It is easy to blame it on this method or that, but the real problem might actually be with our own ability (or inability!) to teach, facilitate, engage and inspire students to learn.

In addition, the lecture method's value should be appreciated beyond the content retention measure. It also encourages students to develop note-taking and active listening skills (Yeah, we could also add patience, role-modeling, story-telling, etc.) . Actually, "lectures delivered by talented speakers can be highly stimulating; at the very least, lectures have survived in academia as a quick, cheap and efficient way of introducing large numbers of students to a particular field of study (Source)."

One might argue that we can simply record our lectures (podcast, Breeze, Articulate, etc.) and let them watch/listen at their own sweet time, and then we can focus on discussion and activities during class (Well, it would be great if all students were that disciplined! It is possible if you are creative enough, though!). Of course, it is nice to listen to the intellectual mastery (or disaster!) in recorded form (again and again!), but you can't beat the live show. Yes, it is nice to watch Obama on TV (or YouTube!), but if I had the choice I would prefer attending his inspiring lectures or speeches live. Then again, if you do not have a choice, his YouTube videos is also tremendously useful (Excellent resource to pattern excellence in public speaking!) :)

The key is to find a balance, using different appropriate methods to engage and inspire the students to learn, which could include a lecture, discussion, group activities (problem-based or case-study), student presentations (their own little lectures!), and collaborative reflection. By doing so, you will be able to engage or enrage (Marc Prensky) all the students' learning preferences, expectations and needs. A typical lecturer might argue, "I will not have time to cover the syllabus if I engage my students with a lot of activities and fun. My answer would be: Focus on the Juice, Key Outcomes, and Learning! (Who said you have to cover every inch of the syllabus!)! At the end of day, we don't just want the students to score for the final exam, but we want them to develop the knowledge, skills and competencies to survive and succeed in a increasingly competitive 'Flat World' :)

Wednesday, September 19

Google Docs Presentation Vs Paperworks!

Google Docs Tour:


  • Create Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations online
  • Share and collaborate in real time
  • Upload your existing files - DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV, PPT, etc.
  • Easily save and export copies. - You can save your documents and spreadsheets to your own computer in DOC, XLS, CSV, ODS, ODT, PDF, RTF and HTML formats. What about your Google presentations? Can you export them to PPT format?
  • Edit and access from anywhere.
  • Control who can see your documents
  • Publish your work as a web page, or post it to your blog.


  • Import existing presentations in .ppt and .pps file types.
  • Export your presentations using the Save as Zip feature from the File menu.
  • Edit your presentations using their simple WYSIWYG editor.
  • Insert images, and format your slides to fit your preferences.
  • Share and edit presentations with your friends and coworkers.
  • Allow real-time viewing of presentations, online, from separate remote locations.
  • Publish your presentations on the web, allowing access to a wide audience.

I suppose by now more than 10,000 bloggers have posted their reviews and opinions about this new Google tool, so there is no point in adding to that list as well (Just did! Google must be laughing in terms of free marketing and promotion. That is, if it is positive!). However, if you want an in-depth quality review, I strongly recommend that you read Robin Good's excellent reflections. If not, please keep on reading :)

Am I going to get rid off PowerPoint? Nope, because this tool is nowhere near yet, especially in the areas of developing dynamic presentations (Perhaps in a year or two)! However, this tool could be useful for sharing, one-place storage/access, and collaborating with others in conceptualizing and finalizing presentations (As for the dirty work, I would rather do it offline in PowerPoint!).

In short, if you can't afford PowerPoint, then perhaps Google Docs Presentation is your new baby presenter (Oops, or OpenOffice)! On the other hand, these two tools compliment one another more than they actually compete (for now at least!). Robin Good says it perfectly, "While PowerPoint fits perfectly the role of the feature rich creator and editor, Google Presentations provides all of the collaborative, sharing and publishing opportunities not available in the original product."

Interestingly, while everyone is getting so excited (or scared! Microsoft?) with Google Presentation, I got kind of caught up with another dynamic presentation format known as 'Paperworks'. Or more specifically, I was really impressed by some of the masterpieces constructed by Common Craft, which mostly create short videos in the format called 'Paperworks'. Their Instructional design strategy is to take a fresh look at a situation, problem, product or service and create a video that explains the issue in plain English so that a maximum number of people can understand it (using hands and customized paper!) . Alright, you might be wondering if this is the 70's show, so I better show you one example here entitled "Google Docs in Plain English".

Wasn't that Cool, Engaging and Easy-to-Understand! Also, now you know what Google Docs is all about in a nutshell. Here are three (3) more 'Paperworks' presentations by Common Craft, you might find useful:

In other words, sometimes neither Google Presentation nor PowerPoint is the appropriate solution. :)

Tuesday, September 18

Google Book Search Camtasia Tutorial (Rich Hoeg)

Tutorial (PDF Version):
Google Book Search:
Google Book Advanced Search:

Search the full text of books to find ones that interest you and learn where to buy or borrow them.

Book Search works just like web search: Try a search on Google Book Search or on When they find a book whose content contains a match for your search terms, They'll link to it in your search results. Clicking on a book result, you'll be able to see everything from a few short excerpts to the entire book, depending on a few different factors.

  • Full view: If we've determined that a book is out of copyright, or the publisher or rightsholder has given us permission, you'll be able to page through the entire book from start to finish, as many times as you like. If the book is in the public domain, you'll also be able download, save and print a PDF version to read at your own pace.
  • Limited preview: If a publisher or author has joined our Partner Program, you'll be able to see a few full pages from the book as a preview. You can conduct multiple searches within the book, or browse through the available pages (there's a limit to the amount of the book you can view online).
  • Snippet view: Clicking on the book result, you'll be taken to the 'About this book' page. If you choose to search within the book, for each search term we'll display up to three snippets of text from the book, showing your search term in context. You can enter additional searches to help you decide whether you've found the right book. As always in Book Search, you'll see links to places where you can buy or borrow the book.
  • No preview available: For books where we're unable to show you snippets, you'll see an 'About this book' page displaying bibliographic information about the book, plus links to help you find it in a bookstore or library.

Look out for the new yummy "My Library" option discussed in the juicy screencast tutorial below. This option allows the user to save books to one's own personal bookshelf, and also share those books via RSS.

Actually, I just wanted to share with you a great screencast by Rich Hoeg on how to use Google Book Search effectively. I suppose most of us have tried it, but then again how many of us know how to use it effectively to facilitate our learning?

Although, it is not as funny as the 5-minute University, I am pretty sure that this 5-minute Camtasia tutorial might have a greater impact on the way we access and learn from books :)

Monday, September 17

Edu2.0 - Free Hosted LMS (or VLE)


edu 2.0, meaning 'Next Generation Education'. This is a Free web-based education site with a comprehensive set of features for teachers, students and parents. Now, anyone can teach and/or learn using the system, whether it's at school (College or University), at home, or on the move.

Will edu 2.0 remain FREE? Yes. In addition, they will not add advertising.

There are several important differences (from tools such as Moodle and Blackboard). First of all, their system is web-hosted and free; you don't have to download any software or manage your own servers. Second, their Resources section allows you to graphically browse thousands of community-contributed resources by topic; you can even upload your own resources and they will host them for you. Third, their unique personalized learning system allows students to study at their own pace and track their progress against a chosen curriculum. Finally, their Community section allows teachers and students to network and collaborate with other members that share the same educational interests.

Make teaching and learning more efficient and enjoyable.

A selection of the juiciest ones (Features List):
  • Comprehensive, easy to use learning management system.
  • Teach traditional classes or public classes on the Internet.
  • Integrated calendar shows class times and assignments.
  • Close or open enrollment at any time.
  • Attendance tracking.
  • Several assignment types - online quiz, online freeform and offline.
  • Quiz each topic in the curriculum and track your progress.
  • Advance to the next level in each topic as you master it.
  • Use secure forums and chat rooms to network and collaborate with members with similar educational interests.
  • Subscribe for notification when new resources are added for a particular subject.
  • Easy-to-use grade book with graphical reports.


edu 2.0's library has currently 10,000+ educational resources contributed by its existing community. Interestingly, it targets to add at least 50,000 more resources by 2007 year end.

If it targets more intensively Higher education and links up/communicates with all the existing open educational resources (or painfully adds manually to its resource repository), I am sure this target could perhaps even reach 500,000 by year end (a few OCW/OER repositories can be accessed from this blog. Explore again!). Yes, if it embeds the future open education search initiated by Hewlett Foundation with the assistance of Google, it would simply be dizzyingly juicy.

Juicy ones (Full List):
  • Surveys for quick online polls
  • Webconferencing
  • Integration with mobile phones
  • SCORM 2004 3rd edition support
  • Ability to brand your home page according to your organization/preferences
  • Supercool features they don't want to reveal yet

Founded in 2006 by Graham Glass. Graham is a serial entrepreneur and winner of the 1996 Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Even if you do not want to sign-up (and explore), you can still enjoy the resource collection (available to public). Currently, there are close to 1800 members in the community (surely to grow), so you won't feel lonely here. I suppose it does not have the growth pattern of FaceBook, but then again it is not always about big numbers (Quality counts, too!). Interestingly, you get points for every resource you share, so that might also boost or trigger members to share more (Yeah, I have already got 5 points for linking the community to this blog!). Though, edu 2.0 seems a bit confusing to manage and learn (with all those juicy tools), especially for users that are not so IT-savvy (They might prefer a tool like LectureShare, which would be easier to learn). Also, I felt that you are perhaps required to click more than necessary sometimes to get what you want (Simple navigation rule: Less clicks, more joy!).

I would have thought that Google, Yahoo or MSN would get the ball rolling first, with a free hosted LMS. Yes, I did predict in my mumblings (December 2005) that Google would perhaps buy Moodle (or host it for free) and enable anyone in the world to conduct online courses for free. But then again, sometimes you need an Entrepreneur like Graham Glass to facilitate or lead the Free Hosted LMS (VLE, LCMS, or whatever!) revolution (Please do not forget LectureShare, too!).

In the final (surface) analysis, I believe that this is simply the beginning of a new era (much thanks to initiatives like edu 2.0), where in the future Google, Yahoo and MSN will join the bandwagon, battling out to show to the world that they care about providing everyone with online teaching and learning tools to educate the world (it would certainly boost their image and branding, too!). Of course, these three giants are already providing users with whole list of dynamic learning tools (such as this blogging tool!), but a comprehensive, integrated, and easy-to-use Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) or LMS would not hurt either!

As for those Schools, Colleges or Universities (or Educators) that can't afford an LMS, hardware infrastructure, hosting services, and IT expertise, it will simply be liberating (Hmm, on the condition that their students (or staff) have easy access to a computer device and the Internet).

Finally, let's for one moment celebrate, promote and engage in great initiatives like edu 2.0, which can make a major contribution to the world of free online education.

If we look into the future (say 5 years!), what do you think the online learning environment for 'Higher Education' would look like? Anyone got any ideas or thoughts to share? (e.g. Will Virtual worlds take over?) :)

Friday, September 14

25 Engaging Interactions for eLearning (BJ Schone)


" The interactions presented in this FREE ebook (35 pages) are designed to be used within eLearning courses or in any other training scenarios where you see fit. The interactions are designed to wake up learners and get their brains into gear. We want them to be interested, inquisitive, challenged, and engaged. We want to throw puzzles and problems at them, and push them to stretch their brains. Who knows - they may even enjoy themselves along the way."

  • Challenge!
  • Decision Making!
  • Problem Solving!
  • Exploration!
  • Allowed Failure!
  • Adventure!
  • Mystery!
  • Puzzles!
  • Games!
  • Fun!
  • Etc.
Only when it is beneficial to the learning experience! Yes, who wants to waste time saving 'Olive Oyl', if it will not facilitate in achieving our learning goal(s) or outcomes.

Examples (25 in all):
  • Scatter Steps
  • Myth or Fact (this one is great! Opinion Vs Fact!)
  • Order of Importance
  • Find the Mismatch
  • Incomplete Stories
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • A Customer's Perspective
  • Branching Stories
I discovered this free ebook with 25 interactions to make learning more fun and engaging, while scuba diving in Tony Karrer's great eLearning Technology blog. As the ebook is only 35 pages, BJ Schone has managed to chunk it just nicely to one interaction per page (Description, Example, Interaction Level and Knowledge Type). Actually, this ebook reminds me of other books that provide you tips on how to facilitate more effective training sessions with activities.

I remember there was one book I saw in the bookstore a while back that had +100 learning activities. Gooooogling! Yeah, here it is 101 Ways to Make Training Active (Author: Mel Silberman). My memory is coming back! Gooooogling! Yeah, here is 75 e-Learning Activities: Making Online Learning Interactive (Author: Ryan Watkins). Coming to think of it, I bought that book last year (Expensive, too!). I better go home and explore it again, because I can't remember a single activity it discussed. The trick is to engage the learners with activities, but not let the activity outshine the learning goal (or objective). In other words, don't let 'Barney' outshine Gagne's 9 events of instruction (unless Barney is the learning goal) :)

Free Video Lectures From The World's Top Scientists!

"The mission of Videolectures.NET is to offer everybody a free access to high-quality scientific video lectures thus expanding educational opportunities, promoting scientific achievements, and facilitating the creation, use, and re-use of Videolectures.Net materials."

If you have broadband access and you are passionate to learn from some of the World's leading and prominent scientist (according to the site), this is certainly a stimulating place to watch them share their ideas, experiences and knowledge (+1800 lectures). Yes, you can even find Noam Chomsky discussing Force, law and the prospects of survival. As for me, I prefer the Interviews section, where I can even enjoy watching an interview with Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web (WWW).

If you are hungry for lectures in the field of Computer Science (+500), you are going to love this site, though if your passion is in the areas of Environment, Science, Society , Arts, Business, Computers you might be disappointed (for now), as the lecture collections are quite limited.

Then again, I suppose the collections will continue to grow, so you never know :)

Thursday, September 13

Harun Yahya - An Invitation To The Truth


"This web site has been developed with the aim of promoting and publicizing the works of Harun Yahya (is a pen name used by Mr. Adnan Oktar), a prominent Turkish thinker and author. His books have attracted great attention both in Turkey and worldwide. In the 90's especially, the works of Harun Yahya have been a means of intellectual awakening for many Muslims, and non-Muslims alike, in the face of the illusions of the modern age...this web site gives free access to all the books written by Harun Yahya and other materials inspired by his works... This web site calls everyone from every corner of the world, from whatever cultural, racial, ethnic or social background to realize this basic fact and think of his duties to his Creator. In this message lies the real redemption and happiness of mankind. "


(Everything from 'The Miracle in the Leafcutter Ant' to 'Islam Denounces Terrorisim')

I would like to wish all Muslims a Ramadan Mubarak! Insha-Allah, we all have a great month of Ibadah (All acts of worship to obey Allah. E.g. fasting, prayer and doing good deeds) and Learning (also Ibadah). And I also wish my fellow non-Muslim friends and visitors a prosperous month of happiness, productivity, fun and learning.

As you might know by now, today is the first day of fasting (during Ramadan) for us Muslims. This fact got me thinking about how can I also facilitate a better understanding of Islam and Muslims to the Non-Muslims, using this blog as a channel. After a bit of reflection, I thought that linking you to the Harun Yahya site would be a good start to open your mind about what Islam is about and its views on Science, Technology, Terrorism, Nature, etc. As all the materials (as far as I know) are free, you will have a lot to explore (without access barriers except perhaps the need for broadband to download or view the videos). I believe it is a great open educational resource site for both Muslims and Non-Muslims alike.


Here are a few typical questions I have gotten throughout my life from curious learning individuals:

  • Are you a Muslim? (This one I get from both Muslims and Non-Muslims)
  • You are joking right? Seriously? (This one I get because of my looks. Suspiciously white-looking!)
  • Alright, but you are different? (If we all mix more, I suppose we will realize that we have more in common than we realize! )
  • Do you drink? (If so, you are one of us!)
  • Do you party? (Beginning to really like you!)
  • Do you eat pig? (What's wrong with the pig!)
  • Do you pray? (Getting serious! Especially, if you got a long beard!)
  • Have you studied at a Religious school (or Madrasah)? (Red Alert!)
  • Have you been (or studied in) to Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq? (Confirmed!)
  • Etc.

If I answer all these questions correctly, I will probably be on someone's most wanted list. I am only joking, but I suppose others might feel uncomfortable with all these questions, especially if they are new to it. But since I have always been the odd one out, I have gotten used to it (Actually, these experiences are great for story-telling and a good laugh!). Yes, I am also left-handed! A Genius! Well, when I joined a chocolate factory (Freia) sometime in the past, I was informed that left-handed workers were more prone to accidents (A right-handed world!). It made me feel very comfortable when I was assigned to manage a monstrous chocolate packing machine. Though, my colleague coached me well, and Al-Hamdulilla I had no major accidents!

I thought I had experienced it all! But, then again I had never visited 'Down Under'. When I travelled to Australia recently (holiday) with my wife and two kids (below 6), I had a tough time (a good laugh I mean!) getting through custom (or security) at Brisbane Airport with our stroller, baby bottles, baby oil, milk powder, nappies, etc. (You never know!). Then came the moment of truth! The Aussie mate told me that I have been randomly selected to check for explosives (My younger brother was also chosen once, too!). I suddenly felt that I was more than famous (Infamous!). I have never really been lucky in terms of selection, but this time I was the chosen one (Neo watch out!). Hopefully, next time it is Harvard University offering me a free PhD scholarship for researching the future masterpiece 'The Lecture". Yes, then they took me to a tent like construction with curtains (a few meters away). Luckily there was both a man and a woman going to check me out, meaning I used my intellect to figure out that I did not need to strip down naked. The body shirt was quick with the electronic stick (No 'Crocodile Dundee' style private part check! Or 'That is not a knife...'), and I thought well I am through. But then the Aussie pointed to my hand luggage, and I invited them to check it out. Then I was instructed to open it myself. I was thinking should I open it slowly showing a bit nerves to get them more excited (not really!), but then again I got my wife and kids waiting outside. Luckily, I had no explosives (this time around. CIA alert! Just joking! Are you sure?)! What can I say, except I admire the Australians for their professionalism and friendliness (Seriously!). Let's face it, they were doing their job, which was strategized by someone higher. Overall, Brisbane and Gold Coast was simply great, especially for the kids. So, what more can we ask for?

Life goes on, but I feel sorry for others that are randomly selected for the first time (Perhaps 'Google' search could be used as one of the filtering tools). One might argue "We can never know, right?". How can we argue against that argument (which can also be applied to any human, race, culture and religion)! Then, the statistics argument will come up (Yeah, divide that with one billion or more, and tell me what you get?) Anyway, I suppose now that there are more than one Billion Muslims around the world here and there, we must find ways together to co-exist. We Muslims also need to remember that we need to do more efforts to co-exist, even after a few bad incidents (No weed incident is going to stop me from trying!)!

Coming to think of it, we are also facing another major battle in the coming decades commonly known today as the Inconvenient Truth (Ask my environmentalist Brother 'Gore', and he will tell you!), which will probably in a strange way bring us increasingly closer (due to necessity at least!), as we struggle to save our planet, and give our future generations a chance to enjoy and appreciate fresh air, clean water, delicious food, waterfalls, fjords, animals, bugs, fish, whales, trees, nature, and so on.

According to Islam, our main purpose is to worship Allah and to realise our responsibility towards Him as Khalifat-Allah (the vicegerent of Allah) on earth.

“Behold, Thy Lord said to the angels: `I will create a vicegerent on earth.’ They said: `Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? - Whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy name?’ He said: `I know what you know not.”(2:30).

Yes, we have the ability to do a lot of mischief (especially with all our nuclear toys), but then again we have been given the ability to do good and change for the better. So, it is really up to us to make a difference! Can we do it? Of course we can! We just got to keep on trying and never give up (Then Insha-Allah or God Willing the fruits will come)! Finally, the real joy in this worldly life is not only our success, but the struggle itself. Interestingly, the more we struggle, the more we learn to appreciate those little things... :)

Wednesday, September 12

Transfer BIG Files (Virtual Headache Cure!)


"File Sharing the Easy Way: Upload and Send Large Files for Free"

TransferBigFiles is the easiest way to share a bunch of files with (your Students), friends, family or everybody in the world. There's no registration required to use the website. You can just go to the home page and start uploading some files. But to make the process even easier, we've created a Windows System Tray tool that allows users to drag-and-drop files to the site...

TransferBigFiles does not limit the amount of space your account can use on our servers, the only storage limit we have is that your files may not be larger then two (2) gigabytes.

For a minimum of 5 days or up to 30-days if you upload through a registered DropZone account. DropZone users can also manage there files and expire them prior to 30-days.

As the site grows in popularity, they expect to make money from advertising to cover the costs and then some. In the meantime, Axosoft LLC is covering all the costs.

If you are a lecturer (or teacher) that often gets headaches when you need to send large files (e.g. videos, podcasts, PowerPoint slides, PDFs, etc.) to your students, this tool might just be the virtual headache cure (unless the file is above 2 GB for now). In other words, your University's L(C)MS an E-mail sending/storage limitations is no longer a barrier to your online knowledge sharing ability. Also, I like the fact that you can add a message and set a password to protect the access to your uploaded file(s).

For example, instead of actually entering the e-mail addresses to all your students on the TransferBigFiles site, you should perhaps send the file (or message with the URL to the file) to yourself, and then copy/paste the URL (to the file) to your course announcement page (hopefully with automated e-mail notification), personal blog, group e-mail message, forum or wherever the student can easily access/find it. If the tool could actually provide us directly the URL to the file (as an option), it would simply be wonderful. Area for improvement!

On the negative side, I don't like the unpredictable storage period (5 to 30 days), and the fact you need to register and download the DropZone tool to ensure that the file(s) is/are stored a bit longer (marketing strategy!). I hope when they get a bit more funding (I am sure they will!), we can have our files stored for a longer period. When we can store our files for a longer period, then I believe this tool can transform the way we share files in the teaching (or faciliting) and learning world. Hmm, unless some whiz kid out there comes up with an easier and more efficient method! :)

Tuesday, September 11

30-Minute Masters in Instructional Design (Clive Shepherd)


"The 30-minute masters originated from a discussion between Cammy Bean and myself (Clive Shepherd) at the Boston eLearning Guild Annual Gathering earlier this year. We set out to develop a curriculum that could teach subject experts and generalist trainers the essentials of instructional design in just 30 minutes (The 30-minute masters will be presented at DevLearn 2007) ...more "

The goal of this exercise is to develop a curriculum to train subject-matter experts in the design of rapid e-learning materials for use in the workplace.

  • Module I: Prepare
    1. Set a realistic goal.
    2. Consider the content from the learner's point of view.
  • Module II: Inform
    3. Hook learners in emotionally.
    4. Present your material clearly, simply and in a logical order.
    5. Illuminate your material with imagery.
    6. Consider using audio.
  • Module III: Consolidate
    7. Put your material into context with examples, cases and stories.
    8. Engage users with challenging interactions.
    9. End with a call to action.

(Click here to view the full course curriculum. Still under construction using a Wiki!)

If you have time, please check out Father Guido Sarducci's Five Minute University, too. A great laugh with some great points! Anyone that has been through formal education would probably be able to relate to it. Interestingly and seriously, according to the authors anyone can build their own 30-minute masters course based in whole or in part on these materials provided on this site. If you wish you can even sell this course to others, but you should give KUDOS and recognition to the masterminds. Though, keep in mind it is still under construction.

One might be able to go through the Masters curriculum in 30-minutes, but I suppose it would take a longer time to be able to apply the lessons learned effectively (Process + Knowledge = Skills?). But overall it is a great idea and with such experts constructing or nurturing the curriculum it will be interesting to follow the progress. Since they are using a Wiki, we can also contribute.

Yes, I remember when I got my first job in the area of e-learning (2001). I was entitled Instructional Designer without any training. They asked me to read a few books, and get my hands dirty with a huge project. I struggled and suffered, but looking back at it, I realized that Learning-by-Doing (with guidance) is simply the best (at least for skills development, if possible) :)

Webometrics Ranking (South-East Asia Strikes Back?)

Methodology used:
Best Practices:

After yesterday's shocking Webometrics Ranking results findings for South-East Asia (with the exception of NUS and perhaps NTU), what should we do? Blame it on the rain? Blame it on the methodology used? Blame it on the English language preference? Take a 'Who cares!' attitude? We could actually blame it on a million things, but let's for one minute blame it on ourselves and do something about it. If not do something about it, we should at least understand a bit about the methodology used and explore the best practices provided. Here it comes:

Methodology Used?
The Webometrics Ranking (WR) formally and explicitly adheres to the Berlin Principles of Higher Education Institutions. The ultimate aim is the continuous improvement and refinement of the methodologies according to a set of agreed principles of good practices (Meaning that although the methodology is perhaps flawed or weak now, it will improve as they learn)... The unit for analysis is the institutional domain, so only universities and research centres with an independent web domain are considered...University activity is multi-dimensional and this is reflected in its web presence. So the best way to build the ranking is combining a group of indicators that measures these different aspects... the four indicators were obtained from the quantitative results provided by the main search engines as follows:
  • Size (S) - Number of pages recovered from four engines: Google, Yahoo, Live Search and Exalead. For each engine, results are log-normalised to 1 for the highest value. Then for each domain, maximum and minimum results are excluded and every institution is assigned a rank according to the combined sum.
  • Visibility (V) - The total number of unique external links received (inlinks) by a site can be only confidently obtained from Yahoo Search, Live Search and Exalead. For each engine, results are log-normalised to 1 for the highest value and then combined to generate the rank.
  • Rich Files (R) - After evaluation of their relevance to academic and publication activities and considering the volume of the different file formats, the following were selected: Adobe Acrobat (.pdf), Adobe PostScript (.ps), Microsoft Word (.doc) and Microsoft Powerpoint (.ppt). These data were extracted using Google and merging the results for each filetype after log-normalising in the same way as described before.
  • Scholar (Sc) - Google Scholar provides the number of papers and citations for each academic domain. These results from the Scholar database represent papers, reports and other academic items.

The four ranks were combined according to a formula where each one has a different weight:

WR (position)= 4*RankV + 2*RankS + 1*RankR+ 1*RankSc

Alright, that was easy, but what can we do to improve our ranking? Let's explore some Best Practices we could take, which is discussed on the WR site (This is the extracted juice version. Please read the full version, too) .

Best Practices?

  1. URL naming - Each institution should choose a unique institutional domain that can be used by all the websites of the institution.
  2. Contents: Create - A large web presence is made possible only with the effort of a large group of authors. The best way to do that is allowing a large proportion of staff, researchers or graduate students to be potential authors.
  3. Contents: Convert - Make them all available on the Web (if possible), including past activities reports or pictures collections.
  4. Interlinking - If your contents are not known (bad design, limited information, or minority language), the size is scarce or they have low quality, the site probably will receive few links from other sites.
  5. Language, especially English - Language versions, especially in English, are mandatory not only for the main pages, but for selected sections and specially from scientific documents.
  6. Rich and media files - Bandwidth is growing exponentially, so it is a good investment to archive all media materials produced in web repositories. Collections of videos, interviews, presentations, animated graphs, and even digital pictures could be very useful in the long term.
  7. Search engine friendly designs - Use directories or static pages, and avoid cumbersome navigation menus based on Flash, Java or JavaScript that can block the robot access...
  8. Popularity and statistics - Number of visits is important, but it as much as important to monitor their origin, distribution and the causes why they reach your web sites.
  9. Archiving and persistence - To maintain a copy of old or outdated material in the site should be mandatory.
  10. Standards for enriching sites - The use of meaningful titles and descriptive metatags can increase the visibility of the pages (e.g. Dublin Core).

They reject the use of abusive positioning techniques that can generate misleading indicators (How they monitor this aspect would be interesting to know).

Reflection Time!
Coming to think of it, whether we rank high or not on the WR is not really important. The real importance to me is our passion and desire to learn, reflect and share/discuss our ideas, knowledge, expertise, and experiences beyond our University borders (or even between faculties avoiding the 'faculty clan knowledge only' phenomena), and participate/collaborate in the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement (or any meaningful knowledge sharing movement). The Internet provides us with an amazing channel(s) to connect and contribute to the world of learning (well, at least to more than one billion people). In general, we can only gain by sharing our knowledge and expertise to the world (marketing, awareness, social responsibility, networking, collaboration, rewards, appreciation, recognition, etc.), and by doing so interestingly our WR rank will improve, too.

We might be thinking now, if we share our ideas, knowledge, expertise and experiences to others, we might look stupid or loose our power (Hoarding knowledge is power!). If we are thinking like that, I suppose we are ... :)