Thursday, June 3, 2010

Motivators in Learning - Great Youtube Video

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Curatr Review

Curatr - Review

I have had sometime (maybe 1 hour) to play with much talked about Curatr ..... first impressions:

1. The so called Gaming Aspect of Curatr. 

It works by collating scores whenever you view a resource and either you like or dislike it (Yes, it's mandatory, you can't move to the next lesson unless you have done this!). I was quite disappointed to find out how scoring worked (I could be wrong).

2. No place for feed on an activity

I have been through a few resources on the account I was given and I couldn't see any place to leave a feedback or to comment on existing content.

3. Content driven - driven both by the teacher and students

Curatr is unfortunately content driven and is limited to Websites, Youtube, Text box (it didn't work for me), Pictures and Audio. This of course assumes that you have created the content before hand and uploaded it to appropriate platform for use. Curatr however allows peers to create or lets say collate contents to help others in class.

4. Difficult user interface

I initially found the user interface difficult to use. I couldn't make out where I was going and what I was meant to be doing or looking at first.

Where's the Pedagogy?

The burning question, what was the pedagogical underpinning for Curatr? You couldn't really say social constructivist .... maybe a beginnings of something bigger to come? The only bit I would say that would very least be called social was creating or collating resources that you found useful for others in class to use. Curatr allows you to create a profile but again it is very basic and you can't see the profiles of others in class. There is very little opportunity to network with other learners in class to discuss collectively and create new meaning and knowledge.

I was left asking .... it is a portal? Is it a basic social bookmarking tool .... I am still a bit confused. It seems the only thing you can do is create a portable (works on iPhone) collection of different digital artifacts that may help you in your learning or peers in some way.

Mobile Front - Comparing to Evernote

Yes Curatr has an iPhone app, so does Evernote. If I was to compare these two applications and it's suitability in learning and teaching, I'd say Evernote would be my choice. The difference I am talking about is huge.

  1. Teacher vs Student content (Curatr allows students to collect content not necessarily their own)
  2. Networking opportunities between the two apps is again a problem. Curatr - hardly any evidence. Evernote - and online profile viewable by others.
  3. mLearning - even though Curatr has an iPhone app, it hardly uses the powerful features the iPhone is equipped with. Evernote on the other hand allows - on spot - audio capture, picture, video and text. Evernote empowers the students, enables them to create content and hence their own meaning from it. It enables students to share with each other what they have done and build collective understanding at the same time supporting each other.
I was expecting more from Curatr. The promotion video and hype that surrounded Curatr before launch of beta painted a totally different picture in my head to what was delivered. The claims around game based learning and the inclusion of what makes games so appealing didn't really work for me. It is not still about scores when playing a game but the challenge that comes your way, constant feedback and helpful hints that pop-up every now and then, creating that safe competitive environment where you can do a single player or a team play, having the ability to choose the level of difficulty to begin playing, the audio, visuals and constant connectedness with your team members (audio and chat if playing multiplayer online game), strategising, immersive environment and finally clever scoring.

Automotive CoP - eLcc's running the show

Today I was invited to a CoP get together that my eLcc's (eLearning Community Coordinators) had organised.

I in a prior conversation I had told my eLcc's that I will come and sit somewhere in the corner and would only observe the session. I wanted the eLcc's to take control and to drive the community. I am not a member of the Automotive department hence I didn't want to intrude on the staff in the department.

I have to say I found it very difficult not to get involved in the discussions. I however had to get involved in some discussions and when some questions where directed at me. For example, I was put on spot when someone asked me what the acronym URL stood for ....... to buy sometime while I Googled the answer .... I yelled out let me Google it. I guess it played to the moment and to say that none of us were experts. (URL - Uniform Resource Locator)

I am slowly getting to know the staff in the department and understanding what their believes are. The session the eLcc's facilitated yesterday was to get the members in the room and to talk about issues and fears around eLearning. Chris had put a Fear Wall in the room and he started by putting his own: Too quick ... things were just moving very fast and Chris feared that he may not be able to cope with it. Scott on the other hand was showing the DTT (Department of Transport technology) online Community space and explaining the purpose. Scott tried to demo the forum and it wasn't working properly. Someone in the room suggested that Scott try Firefox. This person also shared with all in the room his experience with FF and Internet Explorer. I guess one thing we achieved yesterday for certain was the move away from IE and into FF. I really enjoyed this discussion because it had true characteristics of a CoP.

One member in this department shared the Moodle resource he had created for his students. The teaching staff are now interested in having a look at it and evaluating if it will help them with using Moodle.

Chris shared how his students were using the Flip Camera in Boat  Building. It was surprising to see how many staff were interested in knowing more about it while few in the room where clearly wondering how or what difference it would make for their students.

Youtube was a major topic .... mainly the copyright issues. I had to sum it up "If it's yours, upload. If you are not the creator/owner, don't." The discussion moved to eLearning. Many in the room were suggesting Moodle was eLearning and that uploading documents and videos was enough. I was hoping someone would just yell out, eLearning is NOT Moodle and just uploading content is not enough, luckily Chris did. He corrected that eLearning not just Moodle and most innovative/creative learning and teaching actually happens out of Moodle in the Cloud (Web 2). Chris showed them what you had done with his students and the use of portfolios - Blogging.

Google came up and the information available if you searched for something, some questions: how do you make out if the information is correct? How to do know if its authentic, Too much information, information overload. I had to chip in: Google is a great place to start looking and for gathering opinion. If you are looking for authentic data that is verified and critiqued then our Library offers Online Journal databases. The information available on these DB's are peer review and verified. If you require your students to present correct, up-to-date information, you would probably direct them to seek information from these DB's. This itself could be a huge topic of discussion, academic skills and writing.

Something that came through explicitly in the gather together yesterday was the different needs staff in the department have mainly learning styles. The 'Little Book' came up -  a notebook (book and pen not the Netbook PC) most staff curry with them to note important details and they frequently refer to the information they would have written down. Some comments: 1) workshops are organised and the presenters come in and show them how and what but don't provide any hard copy resources they can keep for later use (problem remembering things) and 2) they present too fast. I was dragged into this discussion, I and few others in the room suggested that you have to speak up and let the presenter know that he/she was going too fast. I suggested that if they don't provide you with the printouts, you can create your own by simply noting down the important points in your notebook. You can then circulate this between other staff members and expand it. I could have gone on to suggest doing it online but this I felt wasn't the right time .... maybe at a later stage when people have come to grips with Moodle, some Web 2 tools and the Internet.

The session concluded with a challenge for the staff present: create a Google Account and have a play for our next meet.

Another update soon.