Ilse's weblog of random thoughts


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the E-learning category.

Will Google Wave kill learning management systems?

Lately, everyone is buzzing with excitement about Google Wave. Some are enjoying testing it, others are desperately hoping that someone tosses them an invite (including me *waves her arms at anyone who can invite*). Google Wave is said to be a mail killer, but these last days, people are even suggesting it could also replace learning management systems.

Google Wave combines instant messaging with wiki and document sharing functionalities.And since many institutions are already using Google mail and docs on campus, it’s not hard to imagine seeing them take an extra step by using Google Wave in their classrooms. However, The Wired Campus’ journalist Jeff Young still thinks most institutions will continue to use Blackboard or some other LMS as a core system.

Other bloggers are also hesitant about the immediate integration of Goog Wave on campuses. David Middleton writes: ‘From my experience working with Faculty on online course development, as well as with technology for its purposeful uses in the classroom and for hybrid and online learning, it seems to me that this is a few years off. Strategies for best practices, management, support, training and then managing the culture shift for faculty and students alike will need to be planned, piloted and investigated before we dub Google Wave a “Course Management System” killer.

I agree with Cole Camplese, who argues that although Google Wave sure has some potentials, it seems to lack many features teachers rely upon in an LMS, like roster management, group pages, assignment tool or dropbox functionality. On the other hand, our current course management systems are not the strongest in the field of real time collaboration and open publishing space, unlike Google and other web 2.0 tools.

Want to make up your own mind about Google Wave but haven’t got an invite (yet)? Have a look at this one-hour demo!


Spore to the rescue

Darwin is a hot topic this year in education, but how do you interest children for his evolution theory? Jeroen Venderickx, from the Natural History Museum in Brussels, uses the free Creature Creator part of the game ‘Spore‘ to make student groups who visit the museum experience first hand how evolution works. His method proves to be very succesful, as classes are currently on a waiting list for this interactive museum visit.

In ‘Spore’, one can create and guide a creature through different steps of evolution.  In the museum, children are asked to create a creature that can keep safe against flying predatures. It’s inteersting to see how they each use different solutions, like putting spikes on the back of their creature, or giving it eyes that look up to the sky. This way, they actively think about evolution.

Another fine example of how (commercial) games can be very educational!


Change or adapt – the VLE dilemma in an economic crisis

The last months, numerous messages have circulated on the Blackboard mailing lists, posted by educational staff, mostly from the United States, whose funding have been seriously declined due to the economic crisis, and who desperately need to save money.  One of the first things that management often tries to cut down on are the huge software license bills, and the Blackboard licence fee is certainly no exception to that. It seems there are two ways to react to these funding issues. Continue reading this entry »


When Microsoft met Yahoo

Today, Microsoft and Yahoo announced a new partnership, which will allow Microsoft to integrate Yahoo’s search technology. Together, they hope to compete with Google as main search engine.

Ah yes, where are the times that I used all kinds of search engines? I used to be a fan of Yahoo for more categorical searches, Ask Jeeves (now simply Ask, although people seemed to miss Jeeves so much they brought him back in the UK version) for specific questions, and Copernicus when I needed lots of results, but somehow, I stopped using all these others and automatically open Google when I need to find something. I wasn’t sure why, but after going back for a brief visit to some of the other search engines and doing some tests, I must admit that I like Google’s results the best. I did a quick test looking for info on our virtual learning environment Toledo and it took me a long time before i finally found something with Yahoo. Ask and Bing (Microsoft’s own beta search engine) did better. And I really don’t like Yahoo’s portal with its fancy cruise advertisements and clip-art pics, I prefer the clean, polished start page of Google any day! In that respective, I rather like Bing, which has more or less stolen Google’s lay-out, but with a fancy background that makes me long for vacation.

If you think about it, it’s really funny that Microsoft now partners up with Yahoo, after they first tried to buy the company. If you can’t beat them, join them? It’s a relief to realise that money can’t buy everything, and that even Microsoft sometimes has to bite the dust. Maybe they can have a chat with Blackboard, to get some tips. Although they are probably not celebrating either at the moment, since two days ago, the U.S. Court of Appeal re-affirmed the invalidation of their patent claim against Desire2Learn. You can’t win them all, as they say…


I want to study at Stanford (and I want an iPhone)

Students at Stanford university are getting pampered. Through iStanford 2.0, an application for their iPhones, they can look up anyone in the uni’s directory, locate themselves and/or a building on a map, and look for specifics regarding a certain course or event.

But of course, since it was created by an American university, there is also the option ‘Athletics’. Want to know the latest news about a basketball team, or even better, the current score of a game? Than get out your iPhone and have a look. The application proved a big hit at Stanford. They ran a commercial during a football game and within the span of that game, got 5000 extra downloads.

I must admit that all these iPhone apps are sure looking good, now we only need cheaper iPhones and connection rates here in Belgium, so our students (and I) can actually buy and use one without facing huge bills!


Teachers, leave my Facebook alone!

Lately, I have seen various blogposts and suggestions by teachers to use Facebook as a learning platform. At the CLT, the Centre of Languages where I studied Spanish, staff members are wondering if they could bypass the fact that they don’t have a proper learning platform by using Facebook with their students. From one of the teachers’ comments on Facebook itself, it seems that the students are not so keen on this idea. For them, Facebook is personal, and shouldn’t be used in the classroom. Continue reading this entry »