25 Years of Ed Tech

In honour of the silver jubilee of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), ALT Conference 2018 Co-Chair Martin Weller has been compiling a personal history of the development of Educational Technology (Ed Tech) covering the years 1993 to the present. The final episode, 2018 Critical Ed Tech was published yesterday. Ranging from AI, through the web, eLearning, MOOCs, back to AI and on to blockchain — like Lasers in the 60s, surely a technology looking for an application — it’s an entertaining look at all the disrupting technologies that somehow failed to disrupt education. And a sobering thought that I was there to uncritically early-adopt a lot of it too!

You can read the whole lot by visiting the category¬†25yearsedtech on Martin’s Ed Techie blog.

Highly Recommended.

OneNote with Marija

This just seen on Twitter. A great resource from @teachermarija on using OneNote and OneNote Class Notebook in the classroom distributed as a OneNote notebook.

Minisurvey on VLE use

Last month I started this sequence of posts on using OneNote Class Notebook as a VLE by posting a simple 3-question survey using Microsoft forms. There have been four submissions (one was mine), so please have a go if you want to improve these results.

Here are the results.

1. Do you use a VLE?

100% of those who took the survey said yes!

2. What kinds of content do you deliver through your VLE?

Responses to Q2

No¬†surprises here I guess. For most staff (and probably students too), the VLE is primarily seen as a content management system. Everyone uses PowerPoint and notes. It’s pleasing to see videos, screencasts and pencasts being used. One respondent uses podcasts. Reading lists and announcements are used by all. The respondent who selected “other” uses Diigo feeds and embedded learning objects created in Xerte and Articulate.

The good news is that OneNote class notebook can support most of these use cases with file attachments. Office attachments will open in the native app. Some media types, audio and video, can be embedded; YouTube videos can be automatically inserted from the YouTube share link. Other media types may need to be linked to.

It’s worth noting that OneNote pages support sophisticated text markup (with excellent accessibility features and the unique learning tools), and there is¬†digital ink support (for handwritten annotations) which rivals the HTML editors provided by most VLEs.

3. What “interactive” features of your VLE do you use in your teaching?

Responses to Q3

OneNote Class notebook on its own provides support for the equivalent of wikis (collaborative documents), Blogs, and ePortfolios. You would have to combine it with Microsoft Teams to have useful discussion boards (including video discussions powered by FlipGrid) and assignment tools (including grading rubrics). You can create very simple embedded quizzes and surveys using Microsoft Forms, but you’d need to link to your VLE or a third-party tool for more fully featured quizzes.

Having set the scene, in the next article in this series, I will describe the OneNote class notebook and how I use it!

Taking back control of the web

Even though I don’t teach, nor do much development with web technologies anymore, I nevertheless try to keep an eye on the many technical conferences that take place every year so that I can keep up to date on developments in the field. I’m able to do this because many of the conference organizers record the sessions and put them online. The JavaScript EU 2018 conference¬†was held in Berlin in June, and the videos have recently been published on YouTube (playlist). I’m keeping a record of the videos I watch in my TiddlyWiki¬†Journal.

I wanted to use this post to draw attention to two presentations that I think may turn out to be significant. Both are from members of the development team for the peer-to-peer web browser, Beaker Browser.

The first presentation is from Paul Frazee (@pfrazee), who argues, in Formalizing user rights on the Web, that the problems we are currently seeing with the web are due to the original architectural decision that created thick servers and thin clients and so put all the power of publishing, moderation and civic responsibility into the hands of big web service providers. He contends that putting the power back into the client and running a peer-to-peer web (possible because the Internet itself is built so that all nodes are equal) may change things for the better. You can read more about Paul’s ideas in his essay Information Civics.

The second presentation, from Paul’s business partner Tara Vincal (@taravancil),¬†Imagine This: A Web Without Servers, gives a practical demonstration of how the peer-to-peer web works and how, with the Beaker Browser, you can experiment with a “serverless web” today. Her coup-de-gr√Ęce was a demonstration of Fritter, a peer-to-peer Twitter-like app, that uses distributed user profiles and hands complete control of identity and data to the user!

Providing that they can gain sufficient user interest and traction, I think that there could be something very transformative behind these ideas.

I am on the peer-to-peer web: I have a copy of my TiddlyWiki Journal at journal-cpjobling.hashbase.io, and my Fritter profile is crispy-fritter.hashbase.io. If you want to have a look at these as peer-to-peer web, download and install the Beaker Brower, and follow the links in this paragraph (after replacing https with dat).

Technical Note

A peer-to-peer website hosted in the Beaker Browser is only “live” while the browser is. For sites, data and apps to persist, there have to be¬†servers that keep a copy of the site alive when the local client is asleep. In the Beaker Browser world, this service is provided by other Beaker Browser peers, or by registering your local site with¬†hashbase.io. This is a hosting service that works a bit like the BitTorrent. It keeps a record of the hash¬†that represents your local data, and stores and will provide a copy to other peers (even on the standard web) when you are offline. This is how I can make my journal and Fritter profiles public.

There is nothing special or centralized about the hash base server though. It’s just a Node app called Home Base. If you do have access to a server, You can run your own copy and maintain complete control of your identity online. I may try to set-up my own Home Base server at some point during the summer.