Open Training Resources

Some disconnected thoughts about who gives a whatever about OERs, brought on in part by @liamgh’s Why remix an Open Educational Resource? (see also this 2 year old post: So What Exactly Is An OpenLearn Content Remix?). A couple of other bits of context too, to to situate HE in a wider context of educational broadcasting:

Trust partially upholds fair trading complaints against the BBC: “BESA appealed to the Trust regarding three of the BBC’s formal learning offerings on bbc.co.uk between 1997 and 2009. … the Trust considers it is necessary for the Trust to conduct an assessment of the potential competitive impacts of Bitesize, Learning Zone Broadband and the Learning Portal, covering developments to these offerings since June 2007, and the way in which they deliver against the BBC’s Public Purposes. This will enable the Trust to determine whether the BBC Executive’s failure to conduct its own competitive impact assessment since 2007 had any substantive effect. … No further increases in investment levels for Bitesize, Learning Zone Broadband and the Learning Portal will be considered until the Trust has completed its competitive impact assessment on developments since 2007

Getting nearer day by day: “We launched a BBC College of Journalism intranet site back in January 2007 … aimed at the 7,500 journalists in the BBC … A handful of us put together about 1200 pages of learning – guides, tips, advice – and about 250 bits of video; a blog, podcasts, interactive tests and quizzes and built the tools to deliver them. A lot of late nights and a lot of really satisfying work. Satisfying, too, because we put into effect some really cool ideas about informal learning and were able to find out how early and mid career journalists learn best. … The plan always was to share this content with the people who’d paid for it – UK licence fee payers. And to make it available for BBC journalists to work on at home or in parts of the world where a www connection was more reliable than an intranet link. Which is where we more or less are now.” [my emphasis; see also BBC Training and Development]

And this: Towards Vendor Certification on the Open Web? Google Training Resources

So why my jaded attitude? Because I wonder (again) what it is we actually expect to happen to these OERs (how many OER projects re-use other peoples’ bids to get funding? How many reuse each others ‘what are OERs stuff’? How many OER projects ever demonstrate a remix of their content, or a compelling reuse of it? How many publish their sites as a wiki so other people can correct errors? How many are open to public comments, ffs? How many give a worked example of any of the twenty items on Liam’s list with their content, and how many of them mix in other people’s OER content if they ever do so? How many attempt to publish running stats on how their content is being reused, and how many demonstrate showcase examples of content remix and reuse.

That said, there are signs of some sort of use: ‘Self-learners’ creating university of online; maybe the open courseware is providing a discovery context for learners looking for specific learning aids (or educators looking for specific teaching aids)? That is, while use might be most likely at the disaggregated level, discovery will be mediated through course level aggregations (the wider course context providing the SEO, or discovery metadata, that leads to particular items being discovered? Maybe Google turns up the course, and local navigation helps (expert) users browse to the resource they were hoping to discover?)

Early days yet, I know, but how much of the #ukoer content currently being produced will be remixed with, or reused alongside, content from other parts of that project as part of end-of-project demos? (Of course, if reuse/remix isn’t really what you expect, then fine… and, err, what are you claiming, exactly? Simple consumption? That’s fine, but say it; limit yourself to that…)

Ok, rant part over. Deep breath. Here comes another… as academics, we like to think we do the education thing, not the training thing. But for those of you who do learn new stuff, maybe every day, what do you find most useful to support that presumably self-motivated learning? For my own part, I tend to search for tutorials, and maybe even use How Do I?. That is, I look for training materials. A need or a question frames the search, and then being able to do something, make something, get my head round something enough to be able to make use of it, or teach it on, frames the admittedly utilitarian goal. Maybe that ability to look for those materials is a graduate level information skill, so it’s something we teach, right…? (Err… but that would be training…?!)

So here’s where I’m at – OERs are probably [possibly?] not that useful. But open training materials potentially are. (Or maybe not..?;-) Here are some more: UNESCO Training Platform

And so is open documentation.

They probably all could come under the banner of open information resources, but thy are differently useful, and differently likely to be reused/reusable, remixed/remixable, maintained/maintainable or repurposed/repurposeable. Of them all, I suspect that the opencourseware subset of OERs is the least re* of them all.

That is all…

Discuss…

If You Don’t Like REF, What Are You Gonna Do About It?

I have to admit that I’m still not totally sure that I know what digital scholarship is all about, or its relationship to celebrity blogging, so I thought I’d try to consider it in terms of what it means for ‘outreach’.

[Antescript – there are a lot of “I”s in this post… sorry about that…]

When I started out as an academic at the OU ten or so years ago, I fell into the whole schools outreach thing, delivering hands-on robotics related activities all over the place (including a trip to Japan with a group of Blue Peter competition winners, a blagged film preview, the occasional public engagement grant and so on…). This naturally led into the idea of ‘in-reach’, helping programme the first few RoboFesta-UK meetings for robotics educators and interested parties in schools, HE, and industry, running the Creative Robotics Research Network for a couple of years, and convening a couple of workshops at SGAI (one on public engagement around intelligent robotics, the other on ethical issues in intelligent robotics research).

These moves towards trying to engage peers rather than populace (for want of a much better phrase) was informed in part by one of the most rewarding programmes of activity I have ever been involved with – the NESTA Crucible. Part of the reading I did around the Crucible weekends was a Demos report on ‘upstream’ engagement (See-through Science). This report, and the related discussions we had around it, plotted the evolution of science outreach and communication activities from ideas relating to the public understanding of science, to public engagement with science, and thence ‘upstream’ engagement with policy formation. (I also learned a truism of public consultation exercises – that they are organised in order to find the best way of telling folk what you’ve already decided upon…;-)

So what has this to do with digital scholarship? Well, if the digital scholar is to trad academic, what is digital outreach as to trad outreach? Can we plot a similar evolution in the communication activities of digital academics, from telling folk what’s good for them though our blogging activities, through trying to engage them in conversation (or at least, trying to get them to spread our crude attempts at video making as viral warez), to engaging with policy makers on twitter and via gov departmental blogs?

I have no idea…

Because really this whole post is a badly contrived attempt to plug the WriteToReply republication of the Research Excellence Framework consultation document.

If the thought of reading the whole thing puts you off, we’ve published a Quick Start Guide you can find the area of the consultation that particularly appeals to you, and just comment on that: Research Excellence Framework consultation: Quick Start Guide

As with every other WriteToReply republication, each paragraph has a unique URI that you can link to from a commentary on your own website; you can also comment directly on individual paragraphs, as well as subscribe to comment feeds on a per section or per commenter basis (see here for more details, including information on how you can use the republication to formulate your own official response to the consultation).

So go on, what are you waiting for…?!

PS Hmmm, stumbling across Martin’s What would ALT-REF look like? just now, I wonder: should we set up a “Fake REF” wiki, a bit like the Fake Digital Britain Report we hosted earlier this year?!;-)

PPS it seems as if University of Leicester Library is already pre-empting part of the outcome: Job Ad: Bibliometrician (bibliometrics feature quite strongly in the consultation).

Watching YouTube Videos on Boxee via DeliTV

One of the easiest ways to get started with DeliTV is to use it to watch video feed subscription from YouTube.

With DeliTV, you can bookmark the following sorts of Youtube content and then view it in a DeliTV Channel:

Bookmarked YouTube page Resulting DeliTV subscription
User homepage/channel
e.g Teachers’ TV channel
Guardian Newspaper
Recently uploaded videos for that user
Playlist page e.g T151: 3D Geo-World Demos Playlist feed
Video page e.g The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version) Single video
[NEW] Search results page e.g Search for “formula one” Search results containing 20 most relevant videos

Here is the example channel bookmarked to a demo DeliTV channel guide: delitv_ytdemo:

(You can of course grab a copy of any of these bookmarks into your own delicious account.)

We can now bookmark this channel guide so that it appears in a DeliTV multiplex. In the following example, I’m bookmarking it to my main delitv feed, and also to the boxeetest5 multiplex.

Here’s the result in my boxeetest5 feed:

DeliTV

And here’s a view of the delitv_ytdemo channel guide:

DeliTV channel guide

This is what the bookmarked user/channel produces – the recent uploads listing for that user/channel:

DeliTV - Youtube user/channel recent upoads

And here’s the playlist guide:

DeliTV - Youtube playlist feed

Remember, with DeliTV you don’t need to bookmark the actual Youtbe feed – just bookmark the user/channel, playlist or video page to Delicious, and DeliTV will do the rest for you…

To learn how to subscribe to your own DeliTV channel, see Deli TV – Personally Programmed Social Television Channels on Boxee: Prototype

PS a new feature, currently in testing, lets you bookmark a search results page. Whilst it is possible to generate searches for playlist or users/channels as well as videos, DeliTV currently returns just the 20 most relevant Youtube videos when a Youtube search results page is bookamarked.

Implicit Analytics…

Okay, call me paranoid, but with Google buying recaptcha (e.g. Teaching computers to read: Google acquires reCAPTCHA, By Acquiring ReCaptcha, Google Acquired a Crowd Computer Along the Way ), the Goog got another way of seeing how much traffic a particular web page is getting, and potentially yet another way of tracking how identifiable people move across websites…

Now I don’t know if the various Google properties and services share traffic information, or reconcile user cookie IDs to piece to together as much as they can about where you’re visiting on the web, but if I was to have a paranoid moment, I’d start to think about how many websites don’t have one of the following associated with them:

There are other ways for Google to find out what you’re up to of course…

  • Google Reader – so the Goog can see what fed powered content you’ve been looking at – and clicking through on
  • Google search (and all the other Google search properties) – you think Google doesn’t pay attention to which links you click through to? (see Google Web History for what Google might have learned about you from that source if you you have a Google account.)
  • Google Toolbar – this can track you wherever you go…
  • Google Chrome – and presumably, so can this… ( this is a paranoid fantasy, right?!;-)
  • Google Latitude, and ‘My Location’ services on mobile phones: it’s not just your web locations the Goog is tracking; and you have all seen The bright side of sitting in traffic: Crowdsourcing road congestion data , right?;-)
  • not strictly tracking, but it still helps Google build up a picture of you: Google social graph API (See also: Time to Get Scared, People?);
  • [added] Google Calendar – so the Goog gets clues as to where you are in time and space in one fell swoop… (Doesn’t Gmail also scan emails for calendar info that it can helpfully add to Google Calendar? Which means it can glean some of this info from your email, too..?)

But then again, I suppose my ISP could record the URL of every page I visit if it wanted to…?

PS here’s another thought – ReCaptchas are often used on sign up pages… so if there’s a ReCaptcha cookie with a user identifier in it, you can see keep track of what services a particular individual is signing up to… maybe…?! (paranoiiiiaaaaaa… heh heh ;-)

Towards Vendor Certification on the Open Web? Google Training Resources

Earlier this year, Google opened up a Google Apps Authorised Reseller programme (announcement) that encourages third parties to support, and sell, Google’s online applications.

For some time, I’ve been suggesting that there may be an opportunity for HE to start innovating in the area of open web and cloud app vendor certified training schemes (e.g. Google/Yahoo/Amazon Certified Professionals…) in the guise of IT professional development courses. (We already do something similar in the OU in the form of our “Cisco course”: T216 Cisco networking (CCNA), which wraps CIsco’s training materials with an additional layer of academic support and assessment; and the course TT381 Open Source Development Tools, which focusses on how to use CVS and LAMP stack. T320 Ebusiness technologies: foundations and practice looks at web services and APIs, I think, though I’m not sure of the extent to which it actually does (or should) provide ‘training’ in how to use actual third party APIs? )

So for example, I don’t find it too hard to imagine that we might rejig our web certificate courses to include an element of formal appraisal of how to use javascript frameworks such as JQuery, or YUI, or webservices from Amazon or PayPal, finessing the creation of vendor or foundation recognised ‘vendor qualifications’ along the way…

With Google just announcing that they are going to launch a “dedicated Google cloud for government customers in the US” (Google Apps and Government) I thought it might be timely to do a quick survey of the training materials that Google already provides, to see whether there was enough already in place for us to produce a quick wrapper and get a course launched.

Here’s what I found:

There are also various API libraries that don’t (yet) have training associated with them; e.g. Google visualisation API, (see a list of all the available Google Developer “products” here: Google Code: Site Directory), as well as things like the Google Code University.

For web-based, hands-on activities, these playgrounds could be really useful:

  • Google Code Playground – an interactive playspace for tinkering with Google APIs
  • KML Interactive Sampler – mess around with KML code and see how Google Earth treats it. (I notice that the Google Earth API is also available in the Google Code Playground… so maybe this sampler is deprecated?)

Google code playground http://code.google.com/apis/ajax/playground/

For more general user interface and javascript training, I’ve always found Yahoo to be pretty good… For example, there are plenty of resources on the Yahoo User Interface libraries site, and I’ve always thought that the Yahoo Design Patterns site would be a great resource for teaching web design. (There’s also the YUI Theater, which I’ve dipped in to from time to time…)

Just by the by, on the UI design front, the flickr Design Patterns collection is worth a look, as is UI Patterns; and Product Planner is a handy resource if you want to get into the right state of mind for thinking about user flows through a website.

PS as this post has largely turned into a round-up of Google stuff, it’s probably also worth adding these in: Google Research publications and Google Talks.

PPS if you like the interactive Google code editor, you might also like:

So My Boxee “Delicious TV” Hack Gets a Trademark Infringement Warning

So it seems that the naming of my delicious/Boxee TV hack infringes a Trademark…

All Art Media, Inc.
161 Fort Road
South Portland, ME 04106


7 September 2009

OUseful.info, The Blog
http://www.programmableweb.com/mashup/delicious-tv-for-boxee

Attention: Tony Hirst

RE:	Trademark Infringement

Dear Mr. Hirst:

[All Art Media, Inc. ] (the “Company”) owns and operates [Delicious TV].
The Company also owns trademarks associated with its business - find a
sample at DeliciousTV.com - [registered with the United States Patent and
Trademark Office with the registration number “U.S. Reg. No. 3,069,320,” 
(“Trademark”) registered on March 14, 2006.

It has come to our attention that your blog and websites, OUseful.info,
The Blog and Programmableweb.com, has been using our Trademark or a very
similar mark (“Infringing Trademark”) in association with the marketing,
sale, distribution or identification of its products and/or services, and
is thus trading on the name, goodwill and reputation earned by the
Company.  It is possible that you were unaware of this conflict and we
believe it is in our mutual interest to bring it to your attention and
resolve it.

Our Trademark provides us with certain proprietary rights, including the
right to monitor and restrict the unauthorized use of our Trademark, or
confusingly similar trademarks, in association with non-Company products
or services. We must exercise this right to protect the value of both our
Trademark and of our business. Our Trademark signifies the high quality of
products and services offered by the Company and indicates to our
customers and to the consuming public that all of our goods and/or
services come from a single source. As such, it contributes substantially
to the goodwill and value of the Company. Federal law supports our
position that confusingly similar trademarks may cause undesirable
confusion in the public. This confusion may in this instance cause
material and irreparable harm to our Trademark by eroding the distinct
association among our Trademark, our products and services, and the
Company. Your actions constitute trademark infringement and unfair
competition under both state and federal law, including the Lanham Act,
(15 U.S.C. §§ 1051-1127). Remedies for such infringement can include
payment of actual and treble damages, recovery of profits, reimbursement
of attorney’s fees, and may also include injunctions against your further
use of the Infringing Trademark and the seizure of infringing materials.

We respectfully request that you immediately discontinue any and all use
of the Infringing Trademark in association with the marketing, sale,
distribution, or identification of your products or services. Please
respond to us in writing by email within fourteen (14) calendar days
indicating that you will cease and desist from any and all further use of
our Trademark, the Infringing Trademark, or any confusingly similar
trademark. We hope this issue can be resolved civilly and that we can
avoid pursuing any further legal remedies.

This letter is not intended to be a full statement of the facts in this
matter, nor is it a waiver of our rights and remedies, whether at law or
equity, all of which are expressly reserved.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Carson
President
161 Fort Road
South Portland, ME 04106
USA
207-871-8600
betsy@delicioustv.com


Executive Producer
Delicious TV's Totally Vegetarian
207-871-8600
www.delicioustv.com

Now, as far as the ProgrammablWeb goes, I don’t think I was registered/logged in when I submitted the hack, which means I can’t change any of the details there. But is it my responsiblity to now go round the web trying to clean up all mentions of Deli TV? If you have posted anything about, you know, that hack, please modify it along the lines of, I dunno, “Deli TV”.

Ho hum… Anyway – Deli TV, then? Or the “The DeliBox?”…? Which do you prefer?