Archive | March 2010

How Many Americans (U.S.) Have Broadband Access?

Over the years in corporate training departments I have been a bit spoiled when it comes to having an audience with a high speed connection. With very few exceptions, staff taking my e-learning courses have accessed them via company computers with high speed connections.

Recently, I have begun making Captivate demonstrations for external customers. For these demos I do not have the security of knowing they will be accessed with a high speed connection. So, when I plop them online with a note that they are best viewed with a high speed connection I have to ask myself, “how many people do have a high speed connections?”

The U.S. Department of Commerce released a research preview last month Digital Nation: 21st Century America’s Progress Toward Universal Broadband Internet Access. Here are some of the charts included in the report, which provide insight into broadband access in the United States including demographic information. As you will also see,  the “digital divide” is also reflected in the data.

Digital Nation - Percent Households with Computers - chart

Digital Nation - Percent Using Broadband - chart

Digital Nation - Percent Broadband by Race - chart

Digital Nation - Reasons for No Broadband - chart

Source: Digital Nation: 21st Century America’s Progress Toward Universal Broadband Internet Access, February 2010.

The report also delves into statistics on households with no Internet access at all. The U.S. Department of Commerce will have a more detailed analysis and report later this year. They will be using data from the 2010 census for the full report.

“In a globalized 21st century economy, when you don’t have regular access to high-speed Internet, you don’t have access to all the educational, business and employment opportunities it provides.”  – U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

Baltimore's Bid for Google Fiber

Baltimore Bid for Google FiberBaltimore has put in a bid for Google Fiber, which is Google’s experiment to select one or more trial locations for a ultra high speed fiber network.

Here is brief description from Google of what they are planning to build:

Google is planning to build and test ultra-high speed broadband networks in one or more trial locations across the country. We’ll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We’ll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

Of course I am biased as a resident of the Baltimore area, but I truly believe Baltimore is a fantastic location for this special opportunity. It is the location of superb higher educational institutions, research facilities, science and technology industry, and highly creative and innovative residents. Baltimore has a website that supports Baltimore’s bid and it includes community support via videos and Google Maps.

You can also provide support for Baltimore’s bid, if interested. The deadline for submitting your support for Baltimore or any of the other towns’ bids is March 26, 2010.

Public Data Explorer – Google Labs

Google Labs recently released their Public Data Explorer. You can create charts and visualizations with public data sets. I created the examples below from data provided by the World Bank. The amount of data provided by the World Bank is impressive.

In my opinion, the animated map and bubble views need some work, but it is a beta so I will cut Google some slack.

In addition to data from the World Bank, they have data from the California Department of Education, U.S. Census Bureau, Eurostat and more. Researchers and teachers alike may find Public Data Explorer very useful. So, give it a test drive. FYI: You can embed your charts into a webpage or blog (like the examples above), which are updated automatically so the data is current. I will also be adding this new tool to the Cloud Apps page .

Innovative Uses of Mobile Devices in Health Sciences

Cellscope diagram from UC, Berkely

CellScope

Here are a couple of great and innovative uses of mobile devices I stumbled upon on SmartPlanet,com. Not only do these innovations increase the ability to provide better healthcare in the developing world, but also has great potential in mobile learning (m-learning).

http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/cne_flash/production/media_player/proteus/one/proteus2.swf

You can read more about the CellScope at UC Berkeley News.

http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/cne_flash/production/media_player/proteus/one/proteus2.swf

Visit Tapan Parikh’s page to learn about the social media and mobile technology projects in which he is involved.

Flash Tutorials on Screenr

As a Adobe Flash addict, I am always on the lookout for tutorials and new tips and tricks that can make Flash development easier. Every now and then I peruse Screenr.com for Flash tutorials. Because screencasts on Screenr have a five minute limit, they are usually very succinct, which is what I like. They are also easy to search if you do a site search (flash site:screenr.com). Below are a few I found. I threw in one of my own too.

FYI: If you are interested in creating screeencasts, Screenr is easy to use and free. Thank you Articulate for offering this free tool. Also, if you are looking for Articulate tuts, they have plenty of those too.

http://screenr.com/Content/assets/screenr_1116090935.swf
To see the remaining tutorials for the paddle game, visit @paulkeenan59’s Screenr page.

http://screenr.com/Content/assets/screenr_1116090935.swf

http://screenr.com/Content/assets/screenr_1116090935.swf

http://screenr.com/Content/assets/screenr_1116090935.swf

http://screenr.com/Content/assets/screenr_1116090935.swf

http://screenr.com/Content/assets/screenr_1116090935.swf
Had to throw the last one in with the release of the iPad looming (feh).

If you are creating Flash tutorials on Screenr, please feel free to add a link to it in the comments section. Thanks!

March Big Question – Open Content in Workplace Learning

This month’s Big Question is “how do we leverage open content in workplace learning?” To learn more about about some of opportunities available in open content, I visited the sites listed on the Big Question post. These were OER Commons and Open Courseware Consortium. For the first time, I perused these sites. A bit embarrassed that I have not visited these sites before, but it is never too late to find new learning opportunities. My first impression was that these are very heavy on the academic end. They certainly have many opportunities for learning and development. In fact, I found a course on e-learning accessibility, an interest of mine.

So, back to the Big Question. I am confident there are corporate trainers creating the same training content as their brethren. Wouldn’t it be great to upload those software sims, leadership or sales courses, etc. somewhere that other companies’ staff can access them. And in return, I don’t need to create those ______ software sims because XYZ, Inc. made their sims available to my staff. Oh, how great would that be?

Sorry to piss on the parade, but here are the challenges that pop into my mind that make sharing corporate training difficult:

  • Most corporate training is designed specifically to the company’s audience. For example, the training probably includes policies and procedures as they pertain to internal staff.
  • Much of the content is proprietary information not to be shared externally.
  • Often quality training is seen as one of the things that “gives us the  edge” over the competitor, why just hand it over?
  • “Do we have to talk to legal about whether we can do this?” Will they find a potential liability?

Would I like to leverage open content in the workplace? Yes. Something I will do is to keep an eye out not only for open content that will benefit my company, but also what am I producing that can be used as open content. Of course, anything shared as open content has to overcome the fore-mentioned hurdles.