Tag Archives: news

Bill Gates on education

Bill Gates said at the recent Techonomy conference:

Five years from now on the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world

His view is that young people will no longer go to university, but will get their “education” from the web.

He also blames BIG text books for many of the failings in the current US college system.

Read more on TechCrunch.

The problem with any kind of system that requires students to find the relevant content on the web is that it makes certain assumptions about learners and institutions:

  1. They are self-motivated individuals who know what is best for them.
  2. They have the necessary information literacy skills to understand not only the information they find on the web, but also to make the judgement calls about the validity of such information.
  3. That institutions will be willing to place their best content for free on the web.
  4. That employers will not be concerned about how and where students have got their qualifications.

I do like the concepts behind open education, free learning, openware, open educational resources, and all that is currently vogue in education and learning. However the real key is much more not about whether educational institutions are ready for these kinds of initiatives, but whether learners are ready, willing and able to take advantage of the opportunities on offer.

Behind the scenes

A few days ago I posted a blog entry with an embedded YouTube video parodying the Old Spice viral video about how cool the Library is.

I found today a video of the behind the scenes, sure took a lot of work and takes.

Read more about how they made their film.

e-Learning Tech Stuff #003 – BBC News App

This week’s e-Learning Tech Stuff is looking at the BBC News App.

Download the iPhone version in M4V format.

Get the latest, breaking news from the BBC and our global network of journalists.

By downloading the BBC News app you can view:

News stories by geographical region

News by category including business, technology, entertainment and sport

News in other languages including Spanish, Russian and Arabic

Video including one minute news summaries to keep you informed on the go

You can also personalise the app to suit your interests and download content for offline browsing

The BBC News website is a wonderful resource and place for news on the web. The mobile version is okay too. Both versions do work on the iPhone and the iPad.

However the BBC News website does rely on Flash for video. The obvious solution would be, as other news providers have, build an App.

So the BBC did build a BBC News App…

UK media companies complained, so the BBC Trust said that the BBC News App would not be available in the UK, but they could make it available overseas!

However today the BBC Trust having delayed the UK launch has now said that the App would be available in the UK.

The UK launch was delayed while the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governing body, assessed the proposals and their impact on the rest of the industry.

The apps do not “represent a significant change to the BBC’s existing public services,” ruled the BBC Trust, meaning that further scrutiny was not required.

So what about the App itself?

Basically it is similar to the website, the news is divided into sections.

The advantage over the website is that any video is in h.264 format so it plays!

The user interface is much more iPhone like than the website so making it much quicker and easier to use.

More cuts

It was interesting reading a press release from BIS yesterday about closing more quangos.

The Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property policy (SABIP), SITPRO (Simplifying International Trade) and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Advisory Body (WAB) will all close in the next year. The British Shipbuilders Corporation will be abolished next year.

What was more interesting were the footnotes.

Within the main body of the press release it said:

The announcement comes as part of the Government’s commitment to reducing the number and cost of quangos and builds on the 13 Public Bodies closures that have already been announced.

In the footnotes it said and my emphasis.

The abolition, merger or termination of BIS funding of 13 Public Bodies was announced on 24 May 2010. Those bodies are: seven Regional Industrial Development Boards: UfI/Learndirect; Learning & Skills Improvement Service; Institute for Learning; Standards and Verification UK; IiP UK; and Hearing Aid Council.

There were three press releases on the 24th May relating to the cuts in funding:

None of these went into any detail about which Quangos would be cut, one of them said:

£80m from closing the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) and other savings in Department for Education quangos.

I have searched previous press releases from BIS and there is no detail on any of the savings to be made.

There is nothing (that I can find) on the LSIS or IfL websites about the cuts in funding.

Thanks to Bob and Seb for the noticing the footnote.

Edit: Screengrab in  case it disappears…

…also frozen the page using FreezePage.

Blackboard buys stuff

Blackboard announced today they have bought two similar companies, Wimba and Elluminate. With an aim to integrate into their Blackboard LMS, Blackboard have also stated that they want to retain both Wimba and Elluminate as standalone products.

An interesting move in many ways, there has been a growing interest and increase in use of synchronous tools such as Wimba and Elluminate, as though asynchronous tools that you could use are too “difficult” or “challenging” to use.

Both Wimba and Elluminate reinforce the use of the lecture as a way of delivering learning. Whereas VLE tools such as discussion forums and blogs are much more about learners “delivering” the learning through collaboration and discussion.

However I do wonder of the growth of tools like Wimba and Elluminate is less of a move away from asynchronous tools, but more as a result of an increase in practitioners embracing new technologies. These new users of technology are more comfortable with a technology that replicates what they are use to, rather than try the new pedagogies and ways of working that unknown technologies require.

So what of the Blackboard acquisition? Well technologies come and go, we will have to see what happens! Where is WebCT now?