Jeff Longland

Relax, don't worry – have a home brew!

Archive for March 2006

Sincerely Using Linux Daily

Oy. I’ve puttered with Linux for a few years, but I decided 6 or 7 months ago that I was going to cast away Windows completely – or at least at home. I’m running SuSe 10 / OpenSuSe / whatever the heck they’re calling it these days. I only use a handful of apps on any regular basis: Firefox, Thunderbird, Netbeans, BlogBridge, xterm, ssh, etc. But every once in a while I run across something I can’t do and it irks me: VPN client doesn’t support Linux, taking quizzes in WebCT Vista 4 I’m unable to save questions or complete the quiz! I could go on with the little things, but for the most part my experience has been positive, even on a PIII 750MHz. Sure, sometimes the road is a little bumpy but I think I’ve reached a point where I feel that I’m as productive in Linux as I am in Windows. So not really a frustration, just a couple of little ones.

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March 29, 2006 at 12:10 am

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Proprietary Podcasting Hype in an RSS World

The hype surrounding podcasting continues to grow. I can’t go through a day without having a conversation with someone about some aspect of podcasting. One year ago that certainly wasn’t the case. While discussing podcasting today, someone remarked that there’s as much pedagogical value as the audio cassettes that were discarded in favour of ‘e-learning’ due to a lack of engagement. Throughout the day I’ve been pondering the remark and I have to disagree. One of the benefits of podcasting is the delivery vehicle – hence the ‘casting’ suffix. The ability to easily broadcast recently created content – I suspect that updating 200 sets of audio tape lectures is considerably more time consuming than uploading a file that will be automatically pushed out through an RSS feed. iPods and MP3 players are integrated into the lives of many students, delivering educational or edutainment content over the medium seems like an ideal way to enhance the student experience. There seems to be a lot of focus on podcasting for delivery of lectures – but little focus on the uses of iPods and MP3 players in student assignments or exercises – see Michelle Lamberson‘s recent post about an audio tour of Stanley Park. See Gardner Campbell‘s There’s Something in The Air for other great examples of how podcasting can integrate into the lives of both students and instructors.

So where the heck am I going with this proprietary hype topic? Well, everytime I write, speak, or hear the word podcasting – I can’t help but cringe. It’s a great word but knowing that everytime it’s used I’m furthering Apple’s corporate mission bothers me a bit. But not as much as the credit that’s given to Apple. This is not Apple’s success – RSS deserves all the credit!  It’s only through RSS that podcasting is possible, so let’s give a little more credit where credit is due eh?

I just had to use the obligatory Canadian ‘eh

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March 14, 2006 at 11:24 pm

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iTunesU Canada Coming Soon

I just heard through the grapevine that iTunesU will be coming to Canada in the very near future. Apparently the thumbs up has been given to iTunesU Canada. I’ve taken the obligatory stroll through Google and don’t see any announcements or details, but apparently it’s true.

True?  Or simply more blogosphere hype?

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March 10, 2006 at 4:37 pm

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Good and Bad Procrastination

This doesn’t really fit under an instructional technology theme, but it’s an interesting article nonetheless:

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March 7, 2006 at 8:55 pm

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Wireless Access at Conferences

I’ve been to a handful of events in the past year where I’ve had difficulty getting Internet access and I’m getting a little loopy about it. At the podcasting conference yesterday, the speaker was talking about the transformation of education via technology. Yes. Agreed. But where’s my wireless access? We’re talking about access to content anywhere, anytime.. but I can’t! I’d like access now. I can see one laptop down front, flipping through what appears to be a stream of blogs… ahhh, presenter access. Similar to my experiences at Educating the Net Generation in the fall. Cyprien was kind enough to share his access with the audience in the morning. I know there are many reasons why one wouldn’t want participants to have access, but if we’re talking about emerging technologies I want to have a personal, interactive exploration of the topics while I’m taking in the conference. These events are about professional development and when I have a full day for reflection, I want to make the most of it. The bigger events that provide conference wide access are great, but typically lacking security. Maybe I’m just picky, but a walk around the neighbourhood reveals one wireless network after another!

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March 3, 2006 at 11:36 pm

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Podcasting in Higher Education

As I start this entry, I’m sitting on a train looking at the shores of Lake Ontario as I make my exit from Toronto. I don’t make it to Toronto often nor am I particularly drawn here. You can take Jeff out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy. Or something to that effect. I’m headed home to a less urban locale.

So what brought me to the big smoke? A conference hosted by Apple and McGraw-Hill Ryerson on podcasting in higher education. I haven’t written much here about podcasting, but don’t take this as an indicator of my interest – in fact, I’m borderline fanatical about podcasting… this from someone who doesn’t own an iPod! As with most of my obsessions, I’m more excited about the technology that makes all of this possible. So here’s my big anti-climatic announcement: I’ve been experimenting with the ROME RSS utility and the WebCT PowerLinks SDK to add podcasting support to WebCT. It’s nothing pretty yet, but I’m confident it can work – albeit in a manner that may or may not be inline with how Apple would like to see podcasting in WebCT. At the moment, my concern is to simply generate the RSS feed and the means to retrieve the enclosures. I have both of these pieces working, but as I said – it’s not pretty, nor ready for release. From the instructor perspective, the podcast is uploaded to a ‘podcasts’ directory in the WebCT section – it is from this directory that the RSS feed is generated. One item with enclosure in the RSS feed for each audio file in the podcasts directory.

Getting back to the conference, I was pretty happy with the speaker line-up. In particular, it was a great opportunity to meet Brian Lamb who came in from UBC. On our way into the city, a few of my colleagues asked me if I was familiar with any of the speakers – so I gave them my two cents and a strong recommendation for Brian. At the end of the day, they came back to me and commented about his energetic / humorous / passionate performance. And? They want to learn more! Sadly, they were unaware of my interest in this area. I think this tells me that I should probably be putting more of myself into this blog and generally promoting emerging technology more. Brian made a similar suggestion to post more regularly. I admit that I need to knock it up a notch.

The other presenters that impressed me were Robert Lyons and Bob Burke from Carleton. Having years of experience recording and processing lectures for television delivery has given them an opportunity to implement vodcasting with minimal effort. Copyright issues were briefly touched upon during the Q & A and it appears that due to the current state of Canadian copyright laws, Carleton can only vodcast original content. As a few audience members commented, Bob’s vodcasts are probably just as popular as his in-class demos because of his sense of humour.

Above and beyond everything else that was discussed today, I was most impressed with the depth of knowledge and passion displayed by the aforementioned presenters. A great day for reflection on the way home.

Edit: If you want to know more about the event, here’s a blog that will fill in the detals.

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March 2, 2006 at 11:40 pm

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