Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Portal 2.0 for setting up ePortfolios

Over the last week, I have been evaluating several ‘personal portal’ / portal 2.0 type sites and comparing them with Windows live, the original site I have been looking at using. All of the the sites look very promising, with each site providing opportunities for setting up a good collection of photos, links to blogs, RSS feeds etc.
So here is a ‘first impression’ viewpoint of them.

Pageflakes - Had a nice email from Ole Brandenburg from Pageflakes, encouraging me to set up an account and have a look. Pageflakes is similar to Windows Live, in that is is an aggregation page. It allows you to set up links to a host of other Web 2.0 applications including, flickr and metacafe & youtube video. You can also link up with Google search, Google maps and add feeds from various popular news and techie journals or put I your own feeds.

There are also ‘flakes’ for address book, a dictionary, to do list, chat, sending SMS and email. There are 110 flakes to choose from. Setting up a page with the flakes you need takes a few minutes and the process is very intuitive. Will Richardson describes an interesting way of using pageflakes RSS feed to set up a site that provides students up to date / regularly updated information about topical world issues.

Vox – a personal blogging tool from Movable type. It provides an easy to use interface to blog, store your photos, videos, music, book lists etc. For photos, you can upload from your computer or link to flickr, photobucket & iStockphoto. Videos can be linked to your computer or Amazon, youtube & ifilms. There is also an interesting tool to set up ‘collections’ which could be photos, videos, music etc based around certain topics. This makes Vox quite usable as a eportfolio site as each collection could be an eportfolio with the evidence collated from the photos, videos or blogging area.

Multiply – like Windows Live but allows imports from Flickr, Yahoo, Shutterfly, Kodak live gallery & Windows live. Photos can be emailed directly to multiply so it is possible to email photos from a mobile phone. There is a good interface but not as easy or as fast to use as the others.

Netvibes – provides many RSS feed type links plus links to your email, flickr, writely account etc. This has a more crowded look. It looks very much like my personalised Google page with a similar range of feeds.

All the above sites, are accessible on my Treo 650 using Opera Mini – a java enabled browser. However, not of them display well. I will therefore do some further work on evaluating theses and pick out 2 to 3 to use in our pilots for next year.

Friday, November 10, 2006

mlearn2006 - another perspective

Checking through my sitemeter this morning and came across Bob Harrison's report on mlearn2006 on the UK handheld learning site. He has detailed many presentations that I did not manage to get to & provides a good review of keynotes & panel discussions as well.

efest 2006 presentation now online

My presentation at efest titled 'mlearning with work place based apprentices:- trials, tribulations and triumphs now available via the conference presenter's bio page in .pdf & powerpoint formats.

It summarises the reasons I am focusing on using mobile phones and some educational applications that are currently viable on mobile phones. Findings from the various trials undertaken so far are also detailed. These include question types suitable for dissemination using SMS, evaluation of Web 2.0 applications and the things we have thus far been able to incorporate into Moodle.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More on mlearn2006

I am still catching up on paperwork etc. along with teaching various classes since getting back to work at the beginning of this week. However, I have had some time to digest many of the things that took place during mlearn 2006. So here is a summary of the ones I need to keep in mind.

Multiple uses for hand held devices. I was very taken by Tony Tin’s display of handheld devices each day at morning / afternoon tea breaks. He had tweaked the devices to display pdf files, videos etc. when the original devices were not actually configured to display these files. Hacking the devices does void one’s warranty but if the hacks are not difficult to perform, they provide students with option of using one device (their gameboy, ipod or PDA) to display content that does not normally display on their device. His current favourite is the Sony MyLo (my life online) which allows WiFi access to the net, has built in Skype and is also a MP3 music & video player. However, the Sony MyLo seems to be only available in the US of A.

Mediaboard. I had a good lunch time conversation with Jo Colley from Tribal. The main purpose of mediaboard is to act as a mlearning LMS or CMS, but the possibilities for using it as a eportfolio repository needs to be explored. There are also other mlearning tools showcased, many of them for PDAs but mobile phones are starting to make an impact with developers as well.

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). Connie Missimer from Microsoft presented an ethnographical study of students using a Tablet PC. She was interested in my use of Windows Live for forming eportfolios & will be emailing me some contacts to see how Windows Live could be made more user friendly for mobile phone users. At the moment, I am also looking at various collaboration / collation sites suggested by Derek Wenmouth PLEs. These include vox, multiply & pageflakes. All look very promising but do not have mobile options as yet. It is heartening to see more of these sites coming up as it means that sooner rather than later, a mobile option will come up.