Archive | December 2009

Pecha-Kucha

Perhaps I have been living under a rock, but until today I have not heard of Pecha-Kucha. I am not a big fan of PowerPoint mostly because of the abusive use of the tool itself. After all, PowerPoint does not bore people to death, presenters (or e-Learning designers) WITH PowerPoint do. Upon being introduced to the term Pecha-Kucha, I Googled it and was intrigued by the concept.

In a nutshell, it is a presentation that contains 20 images each displayed for 20 seconds (20×20). It was originally designed to reign in presenters who needed to be more concise in their presentation. Here are some examples. The first explains the concept further. You can also learn more about it at http://www.pecha-kucha.org.

Another good example of Pecha-Kucha is Failure by Bob Berkebile.

Oh, Pecha-Kucha is a Japanese term meaning chatter. It is pronounced “peh-CHAK-cha,” here is a video that helps with the pronunciation.

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A Peek at Astronaut Training

Here is a video that gives us a glance at astronaut training including NASA’s use of virtual reality.
http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=tech/2009/12/21/zarrella.counting.down.cady.cnn

To read more about Cady’s training, read the CNN article “Training Day for Astronaut-mom Cady Coleman.”

What Makes Yammer Different?

Yammer Logo

I have started test driving Yammer. For the last six months, I have been using Twitter and getting great rewards from using it. So naturally a similar application that is tailored more for use in a corporate environment would spark my interest. Thus, I have created an account and convinced a few of my teammates to do the same.

It is a microblogging application like Twitter and is a fantastic app for collaboration and knowledge sharing. So, what makes it different?

  • It is a social network for only members of your organization. Only staff within your organization can sign into your network (i.e. they must have company email address to sign in).
  • Groups can be set-up (e.g. the training and development department can have its own separate group within the organization’s Yammer network).
  • You can go beyond the 140 character limit.
  • You can attach files (e.g. docs, presentations, etc.).
  • Detailed profiles for each member. This brings an important networking element. Like LinkedIn, it allows one to view a member’s employment and educational background, skills, interests, contact information, etc. So much of networking is the ability to know who you are interacting with and what they bring to the table.

What Yammer does not have:

  • There is no search feature for member profiles. At least not yet that I can see. Hopefully they will develop that ability. Being able to search for staff with a specific expertise would add a great deal of efficiency in using it for networking.
  • It does not have a TweetChat or TweetGrid type app that allows using hashtags to have a synchronous chat among numerous members. I have searched for such an app and have had no luck. Maybe Yammer or a third party will create one soon. If you do know of one, please let me know.

I am not promoting Yammer over Twitter, quite the contrary. Twitter is one of my most cherished apps and Yammer is quickly winning me over too. However, I will use Yammer to network and collaborate within my organization because it is tailored for the corporate environment. When it comes to networking with the greater e-learning world and then some, Twitter is my app for that.

If there is anything I missed in regards to what makes Yammer different, good or bad, please add a comment and let me know. Thanks.

Green Screen Video Studio at CDPE

I have written about building my low budget video studio in the past, but today I was really amazed at what the Center for Professional and Distance Education at the University of Central Oklahoma (CPDE) has built for less than $2,000. Today they presented for the e-Learning Guild’s DemoFest. They are doing a fantastic job using video to personalize their online courses, but in addition to that they shared the details of their amazing feat of building a green screen video studio.

green screen studio

Here is the final budget of the studio, which as you can see they really got bang for their buck.

Sanyo High Definition Camcorder – $349.95
Botero Chroma Key Green Background – $129.95
Smith-Victor: 4 Photo Flood Lighting Kit – $459.00
Shure Lavalier Microphone System – $299.00
Premiere Pro CS4 – Educational Price $190.00
Boris FX Chroma Key Software – $299.00
SanDisk 16GB Video HD SDHC Memory Card – $67.50
Slik 700DX Pro Tripod Legs –$99.95
Room Rental – $70.00
Cables – $50.00 – $80.00
Laptop Computer – $800.00
TOTAL: $2844.35
TOTAL (without laptop or CS4): $1854.35

Finer details of the studio set-up can be found in the PDF they were nice enough to provide, which you can download here.

In addition to CPDE’s presentation, DemoFest included 4 other great demos. In case you missed it, a recording is available at the eLearning Guild.

m-Learning e-Book "New Technologies, New Pedagogies: Mobile Learning in Higher Education"

SmartphoneA free e-book, New Technologies, New Pedagogies: Mobile Learning in Higher Education, is available for free download through the University of Wollongong’s Research Online. This book provides examples of m-learning implementation and concludes with some recommended design principles for m-learning. For anyone involved in m-learning, this is a worthwhile read.

You can also download the e-book (PDF file) directly via this link.

Cloud Apps Page Added

While  recently reviewing my “best of” posts, I also looked at its top keywords. Seeing cloud computing ranked as the highest keyword inspired me to add a bit more about the Cloud. So I have decided to add a cloud application page.

Cloud App Page

The Cloud App page is a compilation of free cloud applications. Many of these are useful online learning tools. So far, I have listed 20 apps, but there are many more out there which I hope to add as I encounter them. Please feel free to recommend your favorite free cloud app and I will add it to the list.

Flash Player 10 on Mobile Devices

Here is a video from Adobe Max 2009 with Adobe’s CTO demonstrating Flash Player 10 on numerous mobile devices including Nokia, Palm and Android. Plus, he runs Connect Pro on a mobile phone. I am happy to see more advances with Flash Players on mobile devices. After all, more Flash on mobile devices, more opportunities to use Flash in m-learning.

FYI: Flash Player 10.1 is available as a prerelease for PCs and netbooks at Adobe Labs.