Thursday, June 19, 2008

Podcasts from CBS on use of cell phones in Africa

I am not much of an audio person but have taken to accumulating a collection of podcasts that I can listen to when I take the dog out for a long walk on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Unfortunately, I have accumulated enough to keep the dog & me walking all the daylight hours of Saturday & Sunday in order to get through all of them. So I did a good review of the types of podcast that would pay dividends and the one that came up trumps was one from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The SPARK podcast is hosted by Nora Young & contains a very good coverage of various technological happenings around the world. This weeks podcast is an interview with Ken Banks, an anthropologist working in Africa who is studying the impact of the cell phone on rural and disadvantaged communities. We can all learn from Africa about how to make use of cell phones in a more intrinsically useful way. The podcast also highlights the inherent ingenuity of humans in how they are able to make use of technology that is dependent on electricity in the absence of a stable electricity supply. Ken is involved in several projects that make use of mobile technology to assist in building connections with various NGOs. All of the projects contribute to the mlearning knowledge base.

I also occasionally follow the local community radio, Plains FM podcasts. One of our chef tutors, Dave Tame, presents regularly on this with his podcast on cooking trends. It is a great way for CPIT staff to share their expertise with the general public.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

iPhone coming to NZ in July

Exciting news for m-learning enthusiasts in the local paper on the arrival of the 3G iPhone to NZ. Vodaphone will be offering these for sale on July the 11th – only about 30 sleeps away. There is no indication of the price yet but most people who are keen to get their hands on one will be hopeful that the prices will be similar to the ones in the US of A.

Thom Cochrane has been off the mark quickly with his evaluation of the iPhone. On my part, I have had a look at several ‘unofficial’ iPhones plus an iTouch and have to say that the touch screen interface is intuitive and an improvement on the one on my Treo 700wx. Roll on July when I will get my hands my own and I can try out the touch screen applications on Jane Hart’s site.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Group participation - the power of wikis

I did my daily check of bloglines to see that several blogs have been exploring the themes of group participation and the power of social networking. In contrast, I have been involved in several activities at work that revolve around the use of technology to open up the forum to a staff which have had very little interaction. Although the little that has taken place has been of a high quality.

To start with, Tony Karrer’s blog reported on these books which evangelise the possibilities for the use of technology to network. These are Surowiecki’s Wisdom of the Crowds, Tapscott’s Wikinomics, and Libert & Spector’s We Are Smarter Than Me. All good reads with a multitude of examples from industry, academia and the community of how social networks open up a myriad of opportunities for the average person to contribute, discuss, learn and disseminate ideas, information and philosophies. Derek Wenmouth’s blog provided news that the hallmark encyclopaedia Britannica is now also using the wiki concept to update the encyclopaedia. What will be next?

Last weekend, I read the book Wikipatterns by Stewart Mader which offers advise on how to set up a wiki community. A good practical book that puts into practice the ideas proposed in the other three books above. A website from which the book was constructed models the concepts described in the book. Of particular relevance to me was his analysis of ‘people and adoption’ patterns that help make a wiki community vibrant, organic and significant. On the reverse side, the ‘anti-people and anti-adoption’ patterns were also detailed. I will need to study the book more deeply this weekend to see why our staff forums (both CPIT wide & school based) have so few participants and report back next week on whether the wikipatterns proposed apply to the context at CPIT.