Commentary from Marijke Groothuis - ITMS 
Marijke responded to my email to the eLearning Group - her comments placed here with permission:

From where I am sitting I can see the future filled with "blended learning" and have noticed rumblings in the innards of the online learning community indicating that the term e-learning is at best a misnomer and in the worst case scenario something that simply does not exist. Pity that most of our students would need to have "ubiquitous" explained otherwise we could use the term "u-learning" (had a student ask me in the exam what the word "analytical" meant!) Or how about blearning? Only kidding...
Come to the point woman! Ok! Here goes...

From what I have seen and found while researching the psychology of web and multimedia design, none of e/i/u/b-learning is going to be successful UNTIL we start to accept the fact ALL teaching materials need to be adapted to the specific medium with which the materials are delivered. It is astonishing to see how much we still treat monitors as if they were the equivalent of pages in books inspite of all the research that is out there that says that computer-based (I include the Internet in that) reading IS NOT THE SAME as print-based reading. There have been enough head-tracking studies done to prove this. Yet time and time again you come across materials meant to be read on a computer screen that are:
- far too wordy
- not easily scannable (ie. first part of the paragraphs does not give an indication what the paragraphs is all about)
- with paragraphs that are too long
- with headings that are severed from the paragraphs they belong to by a blank line (useful in print only - not online)
- and the list goes on and on...

Bill Horton (considered by quite a few to be the guru of web-based training) spoke quite some time ago about "horseless carriage" thinking when it came to e-learning design - not much seems to have changed. He based the term around the thinking behind the building of the first car which was a replica of the horse and cart without the horse! Initially we base the new on what we are familiar with, until such time we actually see a better way of doing things according to him. In my opinion it is crucial that every person who is thinking about developing online learning should have a course in "How people digest information delivered via a monitor" and "There is "usability" and "GOOD usability" - the psychology behind good design of online materials".

It is quite amazing isn't it that most people think they are qualified to write for the Web but few would consider themselves good enough to write books, be they textbooks, romantic novels, journals, magazines and so on!

End of ranting...


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What about an eLearning Conference at UB early in 2007? 
The idea has been raised of running an eLearning Conference at UB early in 2007. This would be a great showcase opportunity for people to share practice, ideas, directions, dreams, fantasies (I'll stop there), to develop a better 'across the board' awareness of what people are doing, to share expertise and to develop projects collaboratively.

We see this as more than eLearning - to include iLearning (innovative learning) that may not involve technology at all.

Whaddya think? Comments please.

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Short video on Microphone Technique 
With the rapidly increasing interest in podcasting and audio recording to accompany PowerPoint presentations, people are now starting to record themselves. The process of capturing good quality audio is not as simple as it sounds (ho ho) and there are some simple techniques that can be used to help. The video available from the link below was made for RODE Microphones, an Australian company that produces world class microphones. They've agreed to us putting this video on our internal website. RODE produce a very sophisticated USB microphone, the Podcaster, that is ideal for desktop recording. It is available for about $250 if you shop around. Their website is at this link. (That's the plug I'm giving them in return for the video even though they didn't ask! I do like to support Australian products, especially when they're as good as this.)

View the video at this link.

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G'day. This blog is here to share information about what UB staff are doing in innovative teaching practice. It has come out of the eLearning Interest Group where we've discovered that lots of people are doing interesting things and lots of other people don't know about them. While it's come from the eLearning group, it's intended to be much broader than eLearning. If you're doing something you think is interesting, innovative or even old fashioned and effective send a few words about it here and I'll publish it.

Send your stuff to along with a pic or two if you have them.


What's the eLearning Interest Group?

Early in 2006 a number of UB staff participated in an international Webinar involving Diana Laurillard (UK) and over 40 tertiary education institutions in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Following that seminar a group at UB with a common interest in eLearning and innovative teaching practices decided to continue meeting to share their experiences and to continue promoting the use of ICT in learning and teaching. We have met irregularly through 2006 and hope to have a role in helping frame the new directions in flexible and online education at UB into the future.

The group is semi-formal in operation and members are self nominated. To participate simply indicate your interest to Ian Wright of Information Services and you'll be added to our email list.

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