The second day of the ECOO conference went well. I enjoyed all my sessions yesterday and especially liked sitting down and chatting with other edubloggers.
The first session I attended was "Interactive Videoconferencing: Making I.T. Work" Obadiah George, Steve Smallwood from York University and York Region DSB.
Their session was about the ABLE Project (Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning) and the tools that they were using for videoconferencing. The goal of the project is to improve student achievement and transform teacher professional practice. To participate in the project there is a sliding scale that depends on the size of the school district. George and Steve were very knowledgeable, and shared one of the resources they used VSEE Labs for some of their videoconferences. VSEE allows you to videoconfernce through VSEE for a monthly fee and works well with firewalls as it can tunnel.
(As a side note, the day before Shawn pointed me in the direction of Isabel a linux application that can be purchased through Agora 2000 at a $2000 for a unit, which is a lot cheaper than the standard videoconference units. You can then leverage your PBX on other videoconfernce units that you have for full functionality.)
The second session that I attended was "Why Reading Matters Even More in the Digital Age" by Clare Brett from OISE/UT.
This was an excellent presentation on focus on preparing students effectively for learning from and with the Internet. I was so glad that she was exploring blogs and wikis with such a large audience. Clare's presentation can be found on her blog posting . Her weblog as well as the GRAIL project (Graduate Researcher's Academic Identity onLine) pages can be found here .
The third presentation that I attended was "e-Learning Ontario – Learning Object Repository."
I can't remember the names of the three presenters, one was Urs, I think (Carolijn MacNeil-Verbakel, Rob Policicchio, and Urs Bill)
I was very impressed with the K-12 LOR from what I have seen, and I have been very critical of the OKNL/eLearning Ontario's LOR in the past, so that is a big compliment. I wish I could explore it more and give them some more feedback. I really like what OISE/UT has been doing on the front end of the LOR. The LOR can take any filetype that you can throw at it. It seems to be well though out and has included different levels of collaboration from submission, tagging, reviewing, as well as a service level agreement that is very similar to the Creative Commons license. The LOR, which might be available in September 2006, includes peer review by educators with similar interests. The meta-data for the LO's are quite extensive and they are exploring feeds and the ability to subscribe to channels of LO content.
Here are my suggestions:
- To remove an LO for the repository means contacting someone by email, perhaps a more automated process should be included.
- The meta-data is too extensive and discouraging, although there might by only 8 mandatory fields this is not clear. There are asterisked fields with blue highlights that seem to divide up the page rather than indicate required fields. Maybe include a simple and advanced form, to avoid scrolling through all that meta-data.
- Home page – Go with big buttons rather than explanations under each of the main sections. With an explanation on a mouse over of the image.
- Try to minimize the text throughout the application.
- Continue the review process outside of the approval of the LO.
- The whole OEN for student access by user name and passwords scares me. The more levels of security you put in the less likely it is going to be used.
Although I have a few suggestions, I still think that the LOR looks great. It will be a great tool for all educators in the province.
The last session that I attended was "Learning in Context" by George Siemen.
It was the kind of session that I wished I was back doing my Masters of Education and he was supervising me. It was just amazing listening to his ideas. My summary would not do the presentation justice, but George has posted a screencast of the presentation on his blog . So you can get the real thing, instead of a poor attempt at summarizing.