The month in Learning Technology: January 2015

Following on from my suggestion that a ‘news’ podcast for learning technology could be both informative and entertaining, I thought I would start a new series of blog posts where articles and links I find useful get a home on this site.  The posts will be updated as a month progresses and include a certain amount of aggregation from my shared items on the Old Reader and Twitter.  I will try to add some thoughts alongside the links as a form of reflection and maybe, one day, I’ll extend that out to audio.

  1. The UK press have started 2015 as they mean to go on, by being obsessed with the general election.  The education discussion continues to center around money and the provision of places, rather than quality of learning: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30981137
  2. Learning difficult processes fun through play and gamification: Wikipedia’s gamification orientation – sounds like a great idea to an on-boarding that was really always overly complicated in my opinion.
  3. The Learning Technologies 2015 conference was my first LT winter conference, rather than just attending the exhibition.  Backchannel links are here.  Lots to think about and longer posts to follow.
  4. One theme for me at LT15 was the move to bigger talent issues than simply learning, as talked about in this NetDimensions press release.
  5. The other big event in January is always BETT, although I did not make it this year there were some good headlines coming out.  Items catching my attention included MUV Interactive’s ‘Bird’ (great name too) which is a new approach to interaction in the classroom.
  6. Another consistent factor for early in the year is the Blue Eskimo survey of learning professionals, no real surprises this year:
  7. A challenge for the LMS/VLE has always been finding a position within the organization as a tool people actually want/need to use.  One problem often articulated, especially in Higher Ed, is that the VLE becomes a file store as people still live/produce content in Office.  A new integration between Moodle and Office365 might offer a way forward.
  8. Citrix and the Internet Time Alliance recently published Jay Cross’ latest views on “Why Corporate Training is Broke and How to Fix it“.  Hard to disagree with a lot of the article – not least that the terms L&D/trainers use don’t help and make the business see L&D as out of touch and out of date.  The stress on “getting things done in the collaborative organization” is really centric to my views on trying to work learning into the wider aspect of having the organization develop in a way people actually want to work within (Cross identifies culture, infrastructure and motivation alongside learning in this).
  9. Personalization (including via big data).  Various developments in this space are continuing along, INSEAD’s YouTube covers some developments (in the below video).
  10. Global Edtech Investment Swells to a Record $2.3 Billion in 2014 – pretty crazy when you can argue if learning/ed tech is needed at all.  Fears of a bubble, especially around China, seem fairly valid.

Thoughts on Google Maps changes and use in MOOCs

A few years back, I was a big fan of using custom Google maps.  I made a few, including ones for my employer at the time and to record things such as walks and day-trips:

Paris day trip map

Recently, if you made such maps in the past, you will have seen them appear in your Google Drive (obviously that is if you use Google Drive as well).  This makes sense in that the custom maps tool was one of those Google hid away a bit and it was not obvious from the standard Google Maps that they were possible.  Indeed I had probably presumed that my custom ones had died/been retired in one of Google’s purges of services, possibly when the Google Maps UI changed.

The latest MOOC I have signed up for are making use of the Google Tool to compile a map of participants.  This is a nice idea but immediately raises a number of issues with the use of Google/public tools in communities/courses:

  1. Something as important as personal address is, at best, riskily shared on a public site – I would be happy to put the town centre of where I live but probably not the exact Google Map location.  Sure, someone can probably get this information easily enough but for personal ID fraud I wouldn’t want to post my exact location.  I would be more willing to do this in a traditional online course when you get to know the majority of your cohort and faculty (as I did with my MSc).
  2. The instructions given for populating the map don’t actually appear to work for me.  It looks like they have been compiled for ‘classic’ maps and the new UI doesn’t work the same.  If I cant work out how to do it in the new model I doubt many others can (although the map is well populated).  I did try adding the classic maps suffix to the URL but that has not helped.  Potentially an example of the risks of using non institutional tools that may change out of your control and no longer be suitable.
  3. Predictably, there seems to be a certain amount of spam listings for shops and the like, although this might be participants putting up less open posts (due to concerns such as mine in point 1).

Overall, I remain a huge advocate of open and free tools over building in house or over engineering.  However, in this case it doesn’t not seem like Google Maps was the best option.