Latest Entries »

Photo story

Photo Story originally was based on a Microsoft research project in photo sharing.  The chief finding of that research was that people narrated better stories when they moved their hands, made gestures and pointed at their images. Early Photo Story prototype versions encouraged people to point at their images using the mouse, as the pointing would affect the algorithm that generated the pans and zooms.The same research showed that users did not like the sound of their voice ( I can relate to this) and tended to record their narration over and over again.  This made the narration less spontaneous and the resulting stories less interesting if people were unable to express themselves clearly. Therefore, the early prototype had only one button, called the “Oops!” button. The research showed that if there was an OOPS! button available to undo their actions, people would be assured by its presence but would not use it unless they truly made a mistake during narration.Photo Story was not included with Windows XP itself, however was (and is) made available as a free download to authenticated users.Vista and Windows 7 both include Photo Story type applications (Windows Movie Maker and Windows DVD Maker), however some users still prefer the flexibility offered by the original. I have found this of particular value when displaying practical models in a stage by stage  phased construction. This favours the psychomotive learning styles of the majority of vocational learners.

Cite U Like or Diigo

I have to be honest and say that I have only started to use Cite u like in the last six months; previously adding citations to my favorites then copy and pasting into my finished draft. Not very organised, I’m afraid to say.The basic functionality of  Citeulike  is simple; when a researcher comes across a paper of interest or specificity, they can click a button and  a link is  added to their personal library. When a user posts a paper, Citeulike automatically extracts the citation details and stores a link to the paper, along with a set of user-defined tags. The user is then returned to the original Web page, where they can continue reading.Citeulike has a flexible filing system, based on the tags. Tags provide an open, quick and user-defined classification model. This process allows the lecturer to share their reference sources and in doing so create a collaborative unity amongst a group that can also be tracked.

the beauty of tagging is that it taps into an existing cognitive process without adding  much cognitive cost. At the cognitive level, people already make local, conceptual observations. Tagging decouples these conceptual observations from concerns about the overall categorical scheme. ‘ Rahshmi Sinha

Enamy and Cameron (2007) claim that in tagging papers they post, users are building a domain-specific ‘folksonomy’ that describes the paper they are bookmarking in terms that are meaningful to themselves and usually other specialist researchers. Would I class my learners as specialist researchers? Unfortunately , no. The levels required to gain an NVQ in a vocational subject do not require the student to delve into the complex world of theorist and academic writing .

Diigo (will come back to this)


Enamy K, Cameron ,R”Citeulike (2007): A Researcher’s Social Bookmarking Service”
Publication Date: 30-April-2007 Publication: Ariadne Issue 51

Rashmi Sinha blog post ‘A cognitive analysis of tagging’


Twitter is a social networking site that allows anyone with access to a pc or mobile learning device the ability to ask a question or pose a problem  that will provoke a response. I have to admit that whilst setting up a Twitter account I had a slight feeling of trepidation. I have always refused to join the ranks of Facebook and have reserved feelings on Twitter. As of April 2010 , 100 million people worldwide were using twitter , so id hazard a guess there must be someone on there that has something to say that’s relevant to me?

Twitter is undoubtedly a fast communicating tool, especially when it comes people with shared interests. Hence, Twitter is a very interesting tool to use in education, where people have common understanding and a common goal; to learn specific topics. Twitter is about instant feedback that limits the not only the sender but the recipients responses to no more than 140 characters. In a classroom, the teacher can get feedback within seconds on questions, and will get the feedback in 140 characters or less from each student, and  can then track and group all the answers and the discussions by using hashtags. This is all well and good if the technology is available within the classroom environment . From my perspective unless a student has their own mobile device , twitter would not work within my working environment. As a teacher various methods of adopting Twitter into the learning environment could either be , the story approach whereby each student contributes ; the quiz approach whereby  the teacher poses a question and the student answers using their designated 140 characters ( I find most of my students can do this in far less detail); the collaborative approach, were students can also pose questions receiving feedback from the teacher and other students . Finally a competitive edge can be introduced with the fastest to tweet the correct answer gaining a point.

Google docs

Google docs allows collaboration in real-time enabling numerous people to work on the same document at the same time. It also allows interaction and instant discussion between people who may be working on the same document.It is a simple to use online word processor, spreadsheet and presentation editor that enables the teacher and the students  to create, store and share instantly and securely, and collaborate online in real-time. Both parties can create new documents from scratch or upload existing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. There’s no software to download, and all your work is stored safely online and can be accessed from any computer.

Google Docs’ sharing features enable you and your students to decide exactly who can access and edit documents. Google Docs can help promote group work and collaboration. Teachers are using Google Docs both to publish announcements about upcoming assignments and to monitor student progress via an interactive process which allows you to give guidance when it might be of maximum benefit – while your student is still working on an assignment. Through the revisions history, you can see clearly who contributed to what assignment and when; if a student says he or she worked on a given project over the last two weeks, it will be documented.

Students will find that Google Docs can help them stay organized and keep on top of their assignments. However there has to be a willingness on the part of the student to embrace the technology. They never have to remember to save their work; it happens automatically. It’s easy to collaborate online with fellow students, even when they aren’t in the same place, and they can get feedback easily from teachers, parents, relatives and tutors, and enter updates anytime from anywhere. Learners can also go back to the revisions history to see how their assignment has evolved, and who has helped. Yacci (2000), claims interactivity can be likened to a message loop with interactivity only being complete when the learner has received and acted upon useful feedback. In using Google docs it could be argued the message loop can be speeded up instantly.

In my opinion Google docs if used within one specific environment , say a group of work based Bricklayers , who are by their very vocation , formed and bonded into a community of practice; can be transferred to an online community through this medium and managed efficiently , from a distance. In using this communication medium  It would be possible to create not only a social domain that my learners can visit in order to develop resources, experiences, stories and ways of addressing recurring problems in their respective shared practice; but also provide a student centred community outside of the traditional structured boundaries.

Learners inevitably participate in communities of practitioners and… the mastery of knowledge and skill requires newcomers to move toward full participation in the socio-cultural practices of a community.”Legitimate peripheral participation” provides a way to speak about the relations between newcomers and old-timers, and about activities, identities, artefacts, and communities of knowledge and practice. A person’s intentions to learn are engaged and the meaning of learning is configured through the process of becoming a full participant in a socio-cultural practice. This social process, includes, indeed it subsumes, the learning of knowledgeable skills. (Lave and Wenger 1991: 29)


I recently undertook a project to create a glossary of terms within my Construction department. I hoped that by involving the learners in this process and by giving them ownership of their entries , motivation would be inspired. Each student was asked to contribute at least twenty construction related phrases throughout the year . This not only aided the learner with their literacy skills it also created online participation with the college owned Moodle system.  The initial stages of the project were a success with all students contributing on a regular basis. Participation has since lost momentum and with hindsight Google docs would probably have been a more suitable medium to have piloted this project. This is an aspect I will be looking into with the powers that be , within our IT department.


Lave,J. & Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning : legitimate peripheral participation, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, p29.

Yacci, M. (2000) Interactivity Demystified, a structural definition for distance education and instructional CBT, Educational Technology, XL (4), 5-16



Youtube is undoubtedly a powerful mobilising piece of technology. It enables the masses to have a voice, adding impetus to causes, giving people the power to unite and be heard. Global conversation can make a massive difference to the success or indeed failure of an idea or concept. Andy Warhol  said everyone will be famous for 15 minutes of their lifetime. I somehow feel that when he made that comment he did not or couldn’t have contemplated just how easy in this day and age that fame could be achieved through a medium such as the World Wide Web. I have not had much cause to use Youtube within the classroom environment. What I have found with my learners is  when directed to a specific piece of technology or learning tool online , they are often sidetracked by the wonderful and sometimes weird exhibitionist world of Youtube. Undoubtedly this phenomenon is bringing education to the masses . Wesch’s ideas highlight the need to consider the sociocultural context of education today,  yet from a socioeconomic context is this possible? Wesch’s outlook seems to be founded upon the premis  that all students are able to gain access to a range of technologies and have an understanding on how to use them. I have found this not to be the case in my classroom. Many of my 16-19 years old students do not have computers or internet access at home, furthermore I can identify six out of  twenty of my full time learners that do not own a mobile phone claiming their Educational Maintenance Allowance does not stretch to the running of such luxuries.  Of course there is a shift in the use of technologies and their involvement in the learning environment , but in my opinion it is not as quick and widespread as  the theorists and innovators would lead us to believe. Web sites like let educators post instructional videos and share thoughts and lesson plans with colleagues across the globe in a format similar to YouTube. Other Web communities — is one dedicated to K-12 education — let teachers correspond with students and teachers, keep track of coursework and create class Web sites. Some let students e-mail assignments to their teachers from off-campus locations and let parents log in to check on grades and download extra-curricular activities.Similar to YouTube, TeacherTube is a video file-sharing site where educators are encouraged to share lesson plans, tips and other instruction-based films. The most useful, intriguing or — yes — entertaining clips are chosen by user votes to be featured prominently on the page.
Professionals can build a digital portfolio to share with peers across the world. As they do this, the lessons they teach reach a wider audience, including areas that may not have equal access to updated content and materials, and foster a sense of community among those in education.


Creative Commons and Tagging

 Here in the information age, virtually all intellectual creations can be protected by some form of intellectual property law. This law splits intellectual creations into three domains: copyrights, trademarks and patents. Basically, copyright protects expression, trademark protects names, and patents. Creative Commons is  a free site that has released several various forms of copyright licence , allowing the creators to specify and communicate to the end-user which rights they reserve. The Internet has been characterized as the largest threat to copyright since its inception. The Internet is awash with information, a lot of it with varying degrees of copyright protection. Copyrighted works on the Net include new s stories, software, novels, screenplays, graphics, pictures, Usenet messages and even email. In fact, the frightening reality is that almost everything on the Net is protected by copyright law. That can pose problems for the hapless surfer, ME. I have to say copyright and ownership is a topic I hadn’t given much thought to. If it was there and in the public domain , I’ve used it. I have found that within my department and the colleagues I work with, all are happy to share materials that we have produced. The majority of resources ending up in that online melting pot we call Moodle. Any work that I have produced has  gone onto the VLE with no regard for copyright. Wether I would feel the same if my respective colleagues were less inclined to share  remains to be seen .

I found the Creative Commons easy to follow up to the point of adding to my blog as a text widget . Can anyone help with this ? Maybe a step by step “idiots” guide would suffice.

Tagging is yet more new terminology to me . Previously I have heard the phrase meta tagging in connection with web design, whereby key words are either encrypted into the design of a web site (ghosting) or the sample words are used to highlight the site to search engines . In the past and whether this still happens; tagging with key words has been abused. It is often the case that a specific key word search  would throw up some totally random and irrelevant web site. However used correctly and within say an online community of practise, I do feel a strong feeling of identity and indeed ownership could be developed with the use of relevant tags. Lovell (1989) claims  the personal involvement and commitment that students often feel towards their project may considerably increase their motivation. With my students motivation is often lacking when asked to collaborate with anything college owned. Meyer and Land (2005) go on to say that an extension of language might be acquired, for example, from that in use within a specific discipline, language community or community of practice, or it might of course, be self-generated. Tagging is personal to the individual this can also be a problem within a community if tags are somewhat random.

Whilst I firmly believe in protecting ones own inspirations, I am led to believe that any educational material or resources I produce while contracted to my present employment are owned by the College . Does this mean that in essence I am not within my rights to licence my work under Creative Commons? A grey area in my opinion?


Lovell,R.B  (1989) Adult learning. Billing & Sons Limited, Worcester, Great Britain, p134

Meyer, J.H.F. and Land, R. (2005). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge(2).Epistemological considerations and a conceptual framework for teaching and learning. Higher Education journal, Vol 49/no3/ April,2005, p374.


Originally uploaded by Nationaal Archief
 This was my first venture to Flickr, and after scouring and perusing the mutitude of photo choice , I decided on this!
Well the chap reading the paper in my opinion  represents puzzlement. Whereas the bird, Im assuming an Ostrich looks far more informed. This relates to the way I am feeling presently ; struggling to come to terms with all the various technologies and feeling slightly inferior. The bird represents everyone else in the group.. (No reprisals please)
Will this photo have any impact on others . Well possibly ! It may highlight or instigate similar feelings within other members of a community  thereby creating response and interaction.
The value of Flickr within my department would be well suited to work based learners. Apprentices attend on a block release and at the end of each block they are action planned by the Assessor and informed what photographic evidence they need to bring to the next block. Invariably time is wasted with students collecting the wrong evidence. If all students had a Flickr account  they create at the start of their Apprenticeship  evidence could be uploaded  and  informative feedback on the validity and authenticity of the evidence  could be provided almost immediately by the Assessor.

Can RSS encourage interactivity?

My initial thoughts on the value of  RSS in relation to interactivity, were , What is RSS? So after some delving and following step by step guidelines to setting this up in Google, I now feel more qualified to air my views on such. We are all aware of the benefits interactivity has on the success of an online learning environment. So any applications that can encourage interactivity and simplify the process of creating networking spaces (Rice, 2006) would obviously be beneficial. Rogers (2005) claimed the complexity of an innovation, as perceived by members of a social system, is negatively related to its rate of adoption. While I found the setting up of RSS relatively simple, I would question the ability or to be   politically correct “the desire” of my particular learners to adopt a tool such as Google reader. Rogers also goes on to say that individuals tend to expose themselves to ideas that are in accordance with their interests, needs, and existing attitudes. Whilst I would agree with this in principle, the average 16 to 19 year old tends to find prioritising problematic; with coursework often falling into the category of” needs must “ rather than an interest. He also goes on to identify a five stage model of  innovation that each user or student will partake in order to decide whether or not a particular idea is suitable for their purpose  ; knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation and confirmation. I have found that students can and are able to receive the knowledge but quite often the activity breaks down at the decision process. Is this a failing on the tutor as the persuader? id be intrigued as to any feedback on this.

Whilst I can envisage certain benefits with RSS and the simplification it provides in collating all the relevant information into one easily accessible area, I would have to question the systems value in connection with interactivity. Yes of course I felt connected to my fellow bloggers and in turn I have responded with  my own posts and blogs. However  Wenger (1998) expresses the belief that within a community, individuals must feel a sense of belonging (pp 227 – 228) this is corroborated by Gunawardena and McIsaac (2003) who place importance on the use of community as a place for learning in distance education and learning with technology, yet if anything I felt a sense of detachment from the actual community we were trying to inspire.


Gunawardena, C. N. & McIsaac, M. S. (2003). Distance Education. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology (2nd ed; pp113-142). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Rice J. (2006), Networks and new media. College English. 69:127-133.

Rogers, E. M (2005) Diffusion Of Innovation. The Free Press, New York. 5 th ed (p, 169-171)

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (p 227-228)

Reflections on Interactivity

What is clear and evident from the three papers associated with Interactivity is the common belief that for any distance learning course to be successful a high level of interaction need to take place. What also becomes apparent is the ever increasing rate at which new  technologies are made available for the delivery of teaching and learning.These were highlighted by Muirhead and Juwah (2004) in their article, which focuses on the benefits of these opportunities, ‘the internet has contributed significantly to the phenomenal growth of distance learning and online education‘. Taylor and Maor (2000) carried out a research study on constructivism and interactivity involving a graduate online class, which led to some interesting results, mainly that student dialogue and online remarks were one-dimensional commentaries that failed to address comments made by their colleague’s. I can relate this to my learners who seemingly display indifference when it comes to online forums or any form of technology requiring an autonomous approach to interaction. It is clear from the three papers I have reflected upon there are many variables that are directly or indirectly linked to the levels of interaction displayed by learners.

Sabry etal (2009) go on to say that an effective  Dynamic Interactive learning System (DILS) should take into account different learners and their changing needs , technological advances to accommodate different needs, different and suitable methods of teaching /learning to accommodate students different needs and develop required skills. Whilst I would agree with this in principle I have found that the complexity by which a technology is perceived and the degree of ownership displayed by the learner is often crucial to the uptake  and participation involving learning technologies.


Muirhead, B., & Juwah, C. (2004). Interactivity in computer-mediated college and university education: A recent review of the literature. Educational Technology & Society, 7 (1), 12-20.

Sabry, K. & Barker, J. (2009) Dynamic interactive learning systems. Innovations in Education and Teaching International46:185-197.

Yacci, M. (2000) Interactivity Demystified, a structural definition for distance education and instructional CBT, Educational Technology, XL (4), 5-16

Hello world!

This is my first attempt at Blogging and inflicting myself on the big wide world or perhaps just the participants of the Msc studies course I am a student on over at Huddersfield University.

My name is Paul , and yes I am currently studying on the final year of my MSc in Multimedia and E Learning. As part of the Theory and Evaluation of elearning module I have been asked to break the ice , so to speak with this introductory Blog. After 25 years of working within the construction industry and gaining my first degree in Construction Management some twenty years ago, I had the opportunity five years ago of taking up a lecturing post at a local college in the construction department. After completing my PGCE and fortunate enough to be offered funding by my current employers; I find myself here and still studying. The transition from industry to teaching has not been an easy one. When asked about my profession I still refer to myself as in the industry of construction. I suppose mainly due to a Directorship I have retained with a company I am involved in.  I still uphold industry interests , by running a property portfolio that has steadily increased over the years.  I enjoy attending property auctions and I’m always on the look out for a bargain.

I currently live out on the edge of the Pennines in a farmhouse that I bought as derelict from the auctions some 8 years ago . This has been a labour of love . There always seems like there is something new to be done around the place , or should I say my girlfriend “finds” me stuff to do constantly.

I live there with my daughter , my partners daughter , two mastiff type dogs and three cats that think they’re dogs. I have many interests , mainly the gym , which I attend every morning at 6.30. This sets me up for the day. I am hoping that once I have completed my Masters I may get to devote more time to my long-suffering partner and of course the gym.