All entries for Wednesday 08 February 2006

February 08, 2006

Zoggles: Animation genius

Zoggles isometric animation I'm in awe of people who can do computer graphics. And if developing ordinary static graphics is impressive, then how much more impressive is it to be able to do animations? And if doing ordinary 2D graphics is impressive, how much more impressive is it to do isometric graphics? So you can imagine that I pretty much had to go out and buy myself a new impressed-ness meter after the existing one exploded when I visited the Zoggles web site. Funky animations rendered as animated GIFs, all hand drawn. Wow.

And as if that weren't enough, they've all been tweaked and compressed to within an inch of their lives. How big do you think the file containing this animation is? Go on, guess. It's 19K. 19K, for God's sake! I've made favicons that were bigger than that.

Captcha comedy

A while ago I wrote about a range of Captcha techniques used to try and prevent automated scripts from posting unwanted comments on your blog or web site.

This one, which I didn't see first time around, tickles me:-

Ant-spam captcha using a maze

E–learning predictions

So, two reports containing predictions about e-learning futures. Do they agree, differ or cover completely different ground?

Report one is from the New Media Consortium, an international group of about 200 colleges, universities, museums and corporations who, they say, are "dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and new technologies". What do they predict?

The New Media Consortium

  • Social computing tools and processes are becoming more widespread and accepted. As the tools have matured, the practice of online communication and collaboration has increased.

  • Mobile technology, specifically MP3 players and mobile phones, as a delivery platform for services of all kinds.

  • Consumers are increasingly expecting personalised services, tools, and experiences, and open access to media, knowledge, information, and learning.

  • Collaboration is increasingly seen as critical across the range of educational activities. As the ways in which researchers, students and teachers can collaborate with each other increase, knowledge is becoming a community property, and the construction of knowledge is becoming a community activity.
  • Peer review and other academic processes, such as promotion and tenure reviews, increasingly do not reflect the ways scholarship actually is conducted.

  • Information literacy should not be considered a given, even among "net-gen" students. The skills of critical thinking, research, and evaluation of content, not to mention creative demonstration of mastery or knowledge, are needed more than ever; yet these very skills are underdeveloped in many students.

  • Intellectual property concerns and the management of digital rights and assets continue to loom as largely unaddressed issues.

  • The typical approach of experimentally deploying new technologies on campuses does not include processes to quickly scale them up to broad usage when they work, and often creates its own obstacles to full deployment.

  • The phenomenon of technological "churn" is bringing new kinds of support challenges. Clearly support needs are increasing; each new technology comes with its own requirements for support, of course, while the support needs of established technologies also remain.

Hmm. How about report number two? The Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness (isn't an alliance to foster competition a contradiction in terms?) have produced a report called What's next in Learning Technology in Higher Education?.

What's next in Learning Technology in Higher Education?

Their predictions include:-

  • Continued growth in Course Management Systems such as Blackboard and WebCT, in distance learning platforms, and more Internet technology on campus and in classrooms. (I'm hazy as to what's meant by "internet technology" or "distance learning platforms".

  • Tools intended to help students be more productive, such as note-taking aids, course materials organisational aids, aids to interacting with academic staff, e-portfolio tools to capture student accomplishments, and search engines optimised for academic content.

  • Pedagogical tools for faculty that can be used by the majority who do not wish to be "e-learning course developers", since taking the time to acquire specialised skills to deliver e-learning makes no sense for academics given their tight time constraints, their interests, or expertise.

  • Tools which assume that classroom or lecture theatre delivery will remain at the centre of the higher educational experience, and seek to provide benefits within that context.

  • Ways to better link students, faculty, and the administration. For example, tools to help faculty to monitor student study interactions to determine which materials are most difficult and why, tools that help faculty to self-assess their teaching, tools that help determine which courses, under what conditions, are having retention or other problems, and tools that allow students' attainment of learning objectives to be better tracked within the context of a course or a curriculum.

So our two predictors are really working different sides of the street. One of them is thinking about devices and technology, the other is thinking about ways to support the educational process. Of course these two things blur into each other, but the emphasis is clearly different. If this is your area, both reports are well worth a read.

Frame crazy?

Writing about web page

Bike with S-shaped frame

Insanely great? Or just insane? I wouldn't want to be hurtling downhill when one of those bends gave up the ghost.

Marshall Oak, Starfleet Captain

Writing about web page

Marshall Oak, Starfleet Captain

Marshall Oak has used Photoshop to digitally insert himself into 184 scenes from Star Trek. Everyone needs a hobby…

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