Tag Archives: links

100 ways to use a VLE – #45 Adding an URL or a web link

I have often thought of the VLE as a portal for learners to discover new things, undertake activities, assess their learning, communication, interact, create, understand, apply analyse and evaluate.

The web, of which the VLE generally is part of and connected to has a wealth of knowledge, information and content waiting to be discovered and used.

In terms of discovery adding an URL or web link to a course on your VLE, will allow learners to make that journey to support their learning.

However one of the very advantages of the web, putting in a link, is also one of the key disadvantages. A link placed on its own lacks context and direction.

Now in some cases this may be sufficient, think of a reading list of useful websites.

However even then providing guidance to learners about not only why they should be browsing to those links but also what they should do on those web pages is important if the learners are going to get some value from them.

We sometimes think providing a reading list of books is useful for learners, but unless they have the necessary study skills to make use of those books they may find they either don’t find them useful, spend too much wasteful time looking through the books or not making the most of what could be a real valuable resource.

Likewise with a series of web links, without the digital literacy skills to deal with the content on those web pages then learners will not get the real value from those pages that they could and should.

Similarly just pasting a link into your course on the VLE without context or guidance may result in the learners not using the link or if they do browse to the web page not understand what they should do there or how to use that web page. Of course there are exceptions and sometimes it will be very self-explanatory, but generally it won’t be.

For some links, rather than adding them as they are to the VLE, it would make more sense to add them to a “page” with extra content, or maybe even more logical to put the link into a forum post with the context and suggested activity. A forum would then allow learners to ask questions about the link, or post their reflective thoughts about the link.

The VLE can be a fantastic repository of content and learning activities, sometimes though using the wealth of stuff on the web means adding links. Adding context to links is an important part to ensure that those links enhance and enrich learning and don’t just confuse the learners.

How will technology change teaching?

I really enjoyed reading Bill Thompson’s column on the BBC News website this week, where he wonders about how technology will change teaching.

If every student has a powerful network device that plugs them into the network, and work on digitising every book and other forms of knowledge has been successful, then what is the point of teaching “facts”?

He makes the very valid point.

Just as we try to encourage kids today to learn enough mental arithmetic to decide whether to believe the calculator’s answer, so we need those using tomorrow’s vast supercomputers to have a sense of what is going on that will allow them to judge the validity of the answers they get.

Overall an interesting column, well worth a read.

Personalised Learning – a challenge

The US National Academy of Engineering asked eighteen influential thinkers what they thought were the great technological challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.Personalised Learning - a challenge

Now while the press like the BBC have focussed on the nanobots and artificial intelligence papers, the one that (obviously) interested me was the challenge of personalised learning.

Some learners are highly self-motivated and self-driven, learning best by exploring a realm of knowledge on their own or at least with very little guidance. Other learners prefer some coaching and a more structured approach; they are typically self-motivated when the subject matter appeals to their interests. Still another type is more often motivated by external rewards and may learn best with step-by-step instruction. Some may resist learning altogether and have little motivation or interest in achieving goals established by others.

These general categorizations provide a base for developing personalized instruction, but truly personalized learning could be even more subtly individualized. Within the basic types of learners, some prefer to learn by example, others by finding answers to questions, and others by solving problems on their own. Under different conditions, people might even switch their preferences, preferring examples in some contexts but questions in others.

Read the full article.

“you feel that all digital resources must be universally accessible to everyone”

Do you have staff in your institution who feel that

“all digital resources must be universally accessible to everyone”

or are they a little more enlightened?

A podcast is perfectly accessible to a visually impaired learner and completely pointless for a hearing impaired learner.

Accessibility only exists at the point of delivery. There can not be a universal accessibly digital resource, can there?

Digital resources by their very nature are often more accessible than a non-digital resource. An e-book can be read out to a visually impaired learner, whilst a real book can also be read out, but this for most books requires a real person to do it, which at 2am can often be difficult for some learners to find when they have an essay deadline!

Brian Kelly on his excellent UK Web Focus Blog has a great post on how one disabled learner is using Second Life and how it is improving access for her.

Well worth a read. “you feel that all digital resources must be universally accessible to everyone”

20 Mobile Internet Applications

Mashable has posted an interesting list of twenty mobile internet applications which could be used for mobile learning.

2008 is the year of the mobile internet, right? We hear that every year. Let’s forget about predictions and focus on what’s available right now. We bring you over 20 mobile internet applications that you’ll actually use.

Gatsb.com for example allows you to publish cameraphone photos direct to the web.

Useful list. 20 Mobile Internet Applications

“it’s too flawed to be anything other than a novelty”

The Guardian has reviewed the Sony VAIO UX1XN and found that though a wonderment of design, it is somewhat fiddly to use.

But delightful though this notebook is to look at and hold, it’s too flawed to be anything other than a novelty.


The review also mentions issues with the keyboard and the tablet input, which I both agree with.

… there’s the first disappointment – the keyboard. You wouldn’t want to do much more than tap out an email on it, as the size of the keys make it no good for touch-typing. Double-thumb input is feasible, but the tiny keys make it hard to be accurate.


The touchscreen is a nightmare. Fiddly to calibrate, it failed to retain its settings and eventually refused even to acknowledge that it was in fact a touchscreen. So I resorted to the pointing device.

I still think it is useful and not as flawed as the review makes out, and the more I use it, the more uses I find for it.

A warning to all coffee lovers out there

Found this interesting article on the BBC News website.

Girl overdoses on espresso coffee – A teenager was taken to hospital after overdosing on espresso coffee.

It would appear that she had seven double espresso coffees and as a result had overdosed on caffeine!

A warning to all coffee lovers out there, I know that a lot of teachers and lecturers seem to thrive on coffee, or they can only survive through the average day in FE by drinking coffee.

It would seem that extra caution is needed where I work as we now have Starbucks coffee available in our college cafes and I quite like the off Starbucks espresso now and again .

12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally

Web Worker Daily has a nice feature on how to use Facebook for business or in a professional capacity.

Let’s look at 12 ways Facebook can benefit the web worker, particularly those who are home-based. The more connected you are to your co-workers and clients without being intrusive, the better your working relationship.

Read more

I am a relatively recent convert to Facebook (more for discovering the potential of the site then for other reasons, but I have managed to make contact with some old colleagues from at-Bristol which is nice). For me there are quite a few ways in which Facebook can be used both as e-learning professionals but also to support and enhance learning.