The Australian Blogging Conference

5 09 2007

This looks like a terrific opportunity to meet other edubloggers from across Australia, for an innovatively conceived and executed event. The Australian Blogging Conference will be held at the Queensland University of Technology on 28 September 2007, and will take on an informal approach, with discussions on various topics pertinent to edubloggers and edublogging.

With sufficient corporate sponsorship, the organisers are hoping to make the event free for participants – just as with blogging, a free and open sharing of ideas.

(via Learning Technologies)

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An Introduction to Moblogs in Education

3 09 2007

Here’s my introductory presentation for today’s National Networks Elluminate session on Moblogs (12:00 noon AEST).  If you’re not sure what a moblog is, or how they can be used to support and enhance learning, you can come and join the session here when I present it… otherwise, check out the slide show below. 🙂

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Could 3D GPS Enable Game-like Situated Learning?

27 08 2007

GPS (the Global Positioning System) uses satellites to help users to navigate, with accuracy as good as half a metre or so. But while most of us are happy to have a simple 2D or “tilted” fake 3D GPS display to guide us, Asia is developing GPS systems that look more like first-person video games:

Provia A1 GPS Navigator by HTMS

If this technology becomes more widely available, it could be terrific for educators. Imagine being able to create virtual “learning checkpoints” which exist in a student’s GPS/cellphone/PDA that they can visit to “collect” learning experiences. These checkpoints could show up as different hovering icons in the 3D display, rather like this screenshot from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, where an “enterable doorway” icon is shown behind the character:

A learner could physically walk around locating checkpoints, which could trigger all kinds of activities on their mobile device: for example, a video or animation (e.g. explaining a feature of their physical location), a link to an internet resource, a discussion (perhaps using video or audio), or an assessment. A learner could also simulate walking around physically – it would be just like walking around in a video game – to visit or preview some of these resources without actually being there.

Even more exciting: perhaps GPS units could also upload location data for each student involved in a particular learning stream , so that you could see the avatar of other learners physically or virtually visiting various checkpoints on your GPS simulation. If you were physically at a site with other learners, you could identify them from their avatar, and could have a real-life discussion about the location you’re visiting; if you’re visiting virtually, you could ask questions of real-life people, actually at the scene, who could upload their own images, videos, or comments from the site to help other learners.

Provia A1 GPS Navigator by HTMS

And unlike a video game, where you run around collecting fake points and accomplish made-up missions, imagine immersive, real-life games where students collect real and authentic learning towards actual qualifications… 🙂

Technabob via Gizmodo

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Mobile Blogging + GPS data = Locoblog

13 08 2007

LocoBlog Homepage

Further extending the concept of blogging beyond blogging mobile-ly (moblogging), Locoblog automatically uses embedded GPS data in uploaded images to associate each image with a location as soon as it is uploaded; these locations are then viewable on a Google Maps map embedded in a viewer’s web browser, where they can be browsed sequentially or visually (using the map).

It’s a pretty neat concept, although I’d like to see several few features added to make it a really *great* tool:

  1. The ability to add text to an uploaded image to provide commentary and context for the images
  2. The ability to add a textual description and sample image for each “journey” and display these chonologically, to allow the various journeys to be browsed like blog posts
  3. The ability to either personalise the presentation and content of each blog; or syndicate/embed the locoblog content in another, customisable blog (e.g. WordPress).
  4. RSS Syndication for each blog.

Despite having some limitations, it’s worth checking out if you have a GPS-enabled mobile or an external Bluetooth GPS receiver.

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Using a Mobile Phone as a Free, Wireless Webcam

10 08 2007

Wwigo - Preview WindowIf you own a Nokia mobile phone with a camera there’s a chance you might be carrying around a wireless webcam in your pocket. A free, newly released (beta) software bundle for Symbian 60 v.3.0 and v.2.0 mobile phones now allows you to use your mobile phone as a webcam for your laptop or personal computer.

Wwigo, from software developer Motvik, is a free application which turns your mobile phone camera into a wireless Bluetooth webcam. It installs a “receiver” application on your PC as well as a webcam application on your mobile phone, and the video captured by your mobile is wirelessly transmitted to your PC. The video that is transmitted to your PC can be used in Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, YourTube and Grouper applications for vlogging or video chat, and the quality is as good as – or better – than any off-the-shelf dedicated webcam.

However, because there’s no wires attached to your mobile phone, you can use and move it within a 10m radius of your PC while capturing video to your PC the whole time. And because the video is being recorded on your computer – not on your mobile phone – it doesn’t matter how much memory you have on your mobile phone; the length of the video capture is only limited by the size of your computer’s hard drive – not your phone’s memory.

My phone, a Nokia 6110 Navigator, isn’t listed as a compatible phone model, but it worked fine with Wwigo. Video quality was first class: as good as my $190 dedicated, top-of-the-range webcam at home.

If you’ve been looking for a way to record your lectures or presentations using your organisation’s networked computers, this could be the solution for you. You don’t even need to carry a laptop with you around campus: just your mobile phone and a Bluetooth USB dongle to plug into your organisation’s computers, to save your recorded sessions directly to your computer or your network.

Here’s a test snippet captured using Wwigo; the quality is somewhat degrated by the conversion on YouTube:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/aXU9-W5HDgs" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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Trying out Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for M-Learning

7 08 2007

Global Positioning Systems, or GPS, provide a means of determining a person’s location and altitude on earth to within a metre or so. They are commonly used in car navigation systems to allow the driver to receive instructions to a location, but they have other applications which are being pursued by other mobile device manufacturers such as camera makers (to enable photos to be tagged with location data about where the image was taken) and mobile phone manufactuers.

Nokia, in particular, has recently invested millions of dollars in GPS research as well as buying a number of companies associated with GPS technologies, and have started introducing GPS as a built-in feature in some of their handsets.

I recently acquired a Nokia 6110 Navigator – a slim slider phone with a large screen and built-in 2 megapixel digital camera – for free, when I renewed my A$49-a-month Optus contract, and having now used it for a month or so, it’s probably the best phone I’ve owned for years. This handset features a built-in GPS receiver, which allows me to get free voice directions when I’m driving, cycling, or walking around, as well as a full visual map display. It’s as good as many dedicated in-car GPS systems I’ve played with.

Nokia 6110 Navigator (slide open)___Nokia 6110 Navigator

Because the GPS is built on the Symbian Operating System used in most Nokias, the GPS can also be extended to work with third-party applications… and this is where it starts to get interesting for m-learning. Applications can be developed for this phone which utilise the GPS system for recording location data.

One application I’ve played with is Sports Tracker, a free application from Nokia Research Labs. This allows me to record my workouts – walking, cycling, skiing or jogging, for example – and analyse the data later. The application also displays real-time performance graphs, such as my speed at various points in the route, in both numerical and graphical form. This requires surprisingly little memory to accomplish; a 1-hour session takes only 45kB of data to record on my phone.

SportsTracker___Tracking my journey

An application like this would be immediately useful for learners in any field where analysing location, speed, or altitude over time would be useful; those involved in the Sports/Fitness industries, aviation, or delivery services, for example.

What makes the application even more useful, however, is that the data can be exported in various formats, including the industry-standard GPX format. This means that I can use the GPS data to accurately determine exactly where media I create has been created. For example, using the free progam GPicSync, from Google, I can determine the locations of my photos along my route, and view the context of the images using Google Earth‘s 2D and 3D views, which allow panning, zooming, and rotation.

This application makes GPS useful for many other areas of learning, including sciences such as forestry, botany, zoology, biology, environmental science and forensics; as well as some you might not immediately think of such as marketing and advertising (taking pictures of advertisements and their locations), architecture, and logistics.

2D view in Google Earth, showing my walking route and the locations of the photos I took. Other data can be superimposed such as roads, points of interest, and other locations in Google Earth:

2D view in Google Earth

3D view in Google Earth. 3D is activated using the controls visible in the top right corner of this image. You can pan, zoom, and rotate the image to see “around” 3D objects.

3D view in Google Earth___View can be Rotated and Zoomed

If a number of photos are taken in one location (or close to each other) they can overlap; Google Earth “splits” these when you click on the overlapping icons to make selecting the phto you’re interested in easy:

Handling of Overlapping Photo Icons

Clicking on a photo icon brings up a view of the photo taken at a location:

Viewing images in Google Earth

Update: You can now download a demo of a Google Earth KML file with GPS-tagged photos in my file-sharing box in the right margin: the file is called “Mogo Zoo Google Earth Demo.zip”

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Paper Blogging – more ideas!

30 04 2007

Sue Rockwood at the “No Matter, There” blog has had a go at the paper blogging activity, adding her own ideas to the activity such as a “blog board” which makes for a colourful and interactive display.  Her own insights into why paper-based simulations serve as a useful tool in demonstrating and explaining technology concepts, and her own ideas (e.g. for a paper-based “safe chat” simulation), are worth reading, and it’s great to hear her feedback on how the activity went for her classes.

Great stuff, Sue!  If anyone else is interested in having a go at a paper based simulation of social software, you might like to read Sue’s posts for some great ideas.

(Image: AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Sue Rockwood, some rights reserved)

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