Friday, April 20, 2007

Interconnected learning

I've had a breakthrough recently which I realise I haven't commented on in my blog so far, so here goes...

I'm involved in a learning module at Otago Polytechnic which is called Designing for Flexible Learning Practice. As part of the process we're all supposed to be blogging our thoughts related to our process of discovery in the field of flexible learning practice. One of the exercises that we've been given is to make comment on the blogs of other participants (which I haven't done yet)

I was talking to Leigh recently about how I couldn't really see the point of this exercise. To me the process of visiting other peoples blogs on a regular basis to keep up with what they are doing seemed fairly artificial (disjointed?) as it's not something I do naturally as part of my online experience. Leigh said that he agreed, introduced the idea of RSS feeds to me and a whole new world opened up before me.

In a nutshell RSS feeds allow you to keep a track of posts to any websites that you are interested in without having to visit them. I've been using Internet Explorer 7. IE7 has an orange button on the tool bar which allows you to subscribe to any feeds which exist on the page you are on currently (the button is greyed out if there are no feeds). Once you've subscribed to the feed, it is stored within IE7 in your feed list. From time to time I scroll through my feed list, and I can see if there have been any updates (e.g. I can see that Rachel has made two posts to her blog recently). If I click on the feed I can see a summary of recent postings, and can get an idea of if they look interesting enough to visit the site & read them in depth. RSS feeds are now my primary source of news. I'm also adding sites to my list that are relevant to my subject area (massage), online education & rock climbing (my sport).

Leigh did comment that he felt IE7 was inferior as a source of RSS feeds, as the feed list was stored locally on your computer. He suggested an online server which I can't remember the name of off-hand (Leigh when you read this post can you please link to this in your reply?). After using IE7 for a while I can definately understand his point. While it is fairly convenient (short-term) to use an application that I typically always have open, when I go to work I no longer have access to my feed list. I can store the same feeds on my work computer, but if I update the list I'll have to remember to do this in both places (always a recipe for disaster). <>

With this all stated, I think it's time to get onto commenting on the blogs of a few others in the class.

Rachel - I've been really enjoying your fairly prolific postings.
In your recent post (Some Flexible Learning News from Scotland), I loved your thoughts on students downloading podcasts to their MP3 players

Matt - Thanks for your suggestion re: placing assignments in the discussion board section of Blackboard. I'm sure I'll use that.

Lynn - I was pretty excited about the potential for recording what you're doing on the computer so that students can view it at a later date after reading your posting on the topic. The only problem I have is that you have to pay to use Snagit, and I don't really want to purchase another piece of software just to do this. There must be some open-source/freeware that enables the same type of process. Does anyone know of something?

Lastly, I've just been reading an interesting article on Education 3.0. The article is an exploration of the future of learning. It predicts a greater shift towards inter-provider education amongst other things. Interesting timing - I've just been considering the potential of working collaboratively with other massage education providers within New Zealand (see my last post).

We're all taking our first steps into this new area. How much of what this article predicts will come about? I don't know, but it will be interesting to see how the field develops over time.


Leigh said...

Hey Dave,

Sorry for the delay. Haven't been reading my newsreader as often as I should ;)

The web based news reader I'd recomend is

Like, bloglines has a subscribe button that you add to your browser. WHen you find a site that you suspect has a feed (look for the little orange RSS icon), then you just click your subscribe button and away she goes. Also similar to Delicious is that bloglines is socially networked, so that when you subscribe to a feed you can see who else is subscribed and take a look at their feeds! You can also publish all or some of your news reader - here's mine:

Your suspicions that there is a free and open source screenrecorder out there... yes there is. Its a good'n too:

I use it a lot:

Here's my recording about blogllines and RSS.

And here's how to set up camstudio

My recordings are pretty... well... lack luster. A youtube search on nay software you are trying to master usually always turns up a bunch of screencasts.

Rachel Gillies said...

Hi Dave - thanks for the comments. I use bloglines too (Leigh told me about it last year) and although it was a slow start getting used to using it - as long as I open it up when i get on my computer it is easy to fit into my working environment. My partner however has discovered google reader, which is part of google's takeover bid. If you are a gmail user you can set up your gmail account to show both your e-mails and rss feeds in one screen, which cuts down an all your open tabs. He also uses the google toolbar to keep a track of his favourites which works more like your browser toolbar for availability than say which requires that you have to visit another website everytime you want to bookmark something. Its plus is that it is available anywhere you sign in to your gmail account if your browser allows it. I'm planning on giving it a try myself if time allows...Anyway, I should blog this info myself, but i thought i would say Hi.
Cheers, Rachel (

Leigh said...

I dunno why Jacquie didn't let you know she has offered a comment and idea for you Dave :)

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