edayz conference on e-learning – Day 1

edayz conference on e-learning – Day 1

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by new e-learning technologies.  The edayz conference held in South Australia last week aimed to provide practical ways for particpants to use and integrate them into their practice.

As someone who has only recently joined the education sector, I approach technology with an open mind and open arms.  After all, my job involves doing just that.  But for practitioners who take it on in addition to what they’re doing because they know it’s important for their students – wow, it could really be mind-boggling.

What I enjoyed most about the sessions I attended is that the presenters worked to show the technology in use. 

My first and second break out session were with Marcus Ragus of the Tasmanian Institute of TAFE.  He is a warm, energetic man who presented a range of emerging mobile learning tools and technologies and made them both exciting and understandable.  His justification for developing mobile technology quoting from Hirsch (not sure of first name) was that by making technology available anytime and anywhere, use of it isn’t an event – it is just part of learning. Love it!

He covered a lot of ground in 90 short minutes and suggested that anyone interested in Mobile Learning (aka m-learning) should read/subscribe to Leonard Low’s m-learning blog at edublogs.

Marcus also has a site on m-learning and plans to launch a live broadcast/podcast called “The Mob Squad” sometime this spring.

Here are some of the sites and technologies he mentioned:

http://grafedia.net/ – words written anywhere, then linked to images, video or sound files online via mobile phone.

yellowarrow.net – a global public art project, each sticker has a code.  You see an arrow, you sent a text to a phone number  with the code on the arrow and receive the information that the person who posted the sticker uploaded to the internet.  If use Internet Explorer and you have difficulty in viewing the introductory video on the web site, try FireFox.

semapedia.org Linked to Wikipedia, you can look up information about a physical object, print out a barcode and then paste it on that object.  Users with a Datamatrix reader installed on their camera phones can take a photo of the tag and receive the link to the Wikipedia article.

Zonetag  Take a photo with your camera phone, upload it to Flickr, get it automatically tagged with its geogrpahic location based on the cell tower nearest your phone.

winksite.com Social networking functionality like chat, blogs, RSS, etc. available via your mobile phone.

RFIDs tags – Radio Frequency ID tags can be attached to an object and store digital information – electronic toll collection tags for example.  The use of them in education and training is just being explored and range from being able to tag machinery with safety information to leaving messages for people who visit your office after you’ve left. Here is a web site selling the techonlogy:

mesmats Mobile Enabled Student Management and Tracking Sytems is an m-learning management tool that includes roll call and evaluation functions. Visit the edna group for this LearnScope SA project for more information.

Redoit (TM) and QTI Player  Redoit is software that converts documents to interactive files that can be played on mobile phones via the QTI player software.

Conduits Pocket Slides  View a PowerPoint on a pocket pc.

After lunch, we were given a preview of Microsoft Vista by a seasoned MS beta tester.  The feature that really stood out for me is the ability to add data tags to documents in file folders to enhance the ability to find the darned things.  As I waste time every day trying to remember why I thought a particular file structure was such a blazingly good idea, gotta say I’m excited about easier searching.

TAFE SA City Campus demonstrated their new interactive student guide that fits on a flash drive.  The front end looks and feels like a web site customised to the needs of one student.  The back end calls that student’s classes for the semester and the related readings and assignments as well as general information about the campus and all the forms necessary to perform functions such as adding and dropping classes, joining groups, etc.

The interface can be updated with new course information and, at the end of the semester, the class information is wiped. When the student registers for more classes, the information is updated.

The first day finished on a real high with the launch of Interactive Ochre and the release of E-learning Benchmarking statistics.