Monday, May 26, 2008

Interview with Veronica Inoue, Learning Review

Welcome to an interview with Veronica Inoue, managing editor and director of Learning Review, the first publication in Spanish dedicated to elearning. The interview appears here in both Spanish and English.

1. What is your name and what is your connection to e-learning?
Soy Verónica Inoue y me desempeño como Directora Editorial de Learning Review, una publicación que aborda los temas de capacitación y desarrollo con nuevas tecnologías, donde se incluye el e-Learning. Learning Review comenzó como una revista latinoamericana y ahora ya tiene una edición completamente exclusiva para España. Además, soy alumna de una Maestría por e-learning y realizo otras actividades a veces como tutora y otras como participante.

I am Verónica Inoue and I’m the Editorial Director of Learning Review, a publication that presents themes of training and development with new technologies, which incluyes e-learning. Learning Review began as a Latin American magazine, and now it has an edition that is completely exclusive for Spain (here). In addition, I have a master’s degree in elearning, and I am often involved in other activities; sometimes as instructor, and sometimes as participant.


2. How did you first become involved in the topic of e-learning?
Estudié Recursos Humanos en la Universidad y vimos este tema en la cátedra de Capacitación. Dado el interés que me causó este tema (allá por el año 2001), realicé mi tesis en este tema; investigué sobre las implementaciones que se estaban haciendo en distintos ámbitos en Argentina en ese momento.

I studied Human Resources at the university and we say this theme in the department of Training and Development. Given the interest that this topic inspired in me (back in 2001), I decided to do my thesis in this area. I investigated the way that elearning was being implemented in several different areas in Argentina at that moment in time.

3. What is the Learning Review LatinoAmerica, and how did it come into existence?
Learning Review Latinoamérica es una publicación sobre capacitación y desarrollo mediado por tecnologías (e-learning, m-learning, blended learning, educación en mundos virtuales 3D), así como sobre mejora del desempeño humano, gestión del conocimiento y capital intelectual. Produce una revista trimestral en papel para toda Latinoamérica, un newsletter mensual con noticias, eventos y adelantos de la edición en papel, y un sitio web que se actualiza diariamente. (www.learningreview.com).

Learning Review Latin America is a publication that covers technology-mediated training and development (elearning, mobile learning, blended learning, and education in 3D virtual worlds), with the goal of improving human performance, the development of knowledge and intellectual capital.


Learning Review Latinoamérica nació para cubrir la necesidad de información y actualización que demandaban los profesionales de capacitación y desarrollo de las empresas de esta región. Es la primera revista sobre esta temática específicamente, en habla hispana.

4. What is the magazine's primary mission? Who is your target audience? Why?
Our primary mission is to be the partner enables training and development professionals to demonstrate the commercial value of their skills and specialties. We would like to establish a space where training and development professionals find, in a single place, all the information they need to keep current. We also aim to share experiences, trends, research, opinions and news in the training and development sector, that boost one’s knowledge in a continuous and accessible way.

Nuestra misión principal es ser el socio que permita a los profesionales de capacitación y desarrollo rentabilizar las prácticas de su área, así como generar impacto en el negocio.
Establecer un espacio donde los profesionales de capacitación y desarrollo encuentren, en un solo lugar, toda la información para mantenerse actualizados.
Difundir las experiencias, tendencias, investigaciones, opiniones y novedades del sector de capacitación y desarrollo de personas, que permitan crear conocimiento en forma continua y accesible.

Our target audience consists of the following:

Directors of human resources
Training and development managers
Directors of consulting groups that specialize in e-learning, corporate training, continuing education
Leaders of e-learning projects
Instructional designers and instructional technologists who work in e-learning projects
Chairs and others responsable for human resources careers and those affiliated with universities that offer e-learning

El target de nuestra audiencia conforma:
· Directores de recursos humanos.
· Gerentes de capacitación y desarrollo.
· Directores de consultoras de e-learning, capacitación corporativa, educación continua.
· Lideres de proyectos de e-learning.
· Diseñadores instruccionales y tecnólogos que trabajen en proyectos de e-learning.
· Responsables de carreras de RRHH y afines de universidades con oferta presencial y por e-learning.

5. What do you see as the most exciting new directions in elearning in Latin America today?
Creo que finalmente está insertándose en la mayoría de las empresas medianas y grandes. Latinoamérica siempre se encuentra uno o dos pasos atrás de las tendencias mundiales que suelen darse inicialmente, en Estados Unidos, Europa, Japón. Entonces, si bien en las grandes empresas el e-learning es un hecho y ya están yendo en busca de integrar el m-learning o los mundos virtuales, en las empresas medianas está iniciándose el proceso de incorporación y de integración a la modalidad presencial de capacitación. Desde muchos gobiernos de países latinoamericanos, se está comenzando a incentivar estas prácticas de e-learning, principalmente desde la incorporación de esta modalidad de aprendizaje a instituciones públicas. De hecho ya hay interesantes casos de e-learning gubernamental en Latinoamérica.




I believe that elearning is finally being incorporated in the majority of mid-sized and large companies. Latin America always seems to find itself a step or two behind global trends that tend to be initiated in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Then, in large companies, if e-learning is a given and they're already looking for ways to integrate mobile learning or virtual worlds, then we'll start seeing medium-sized companies initiating the process of incorporating those modes of training. Quite a few governments of Latin American countries are starting to provide incentives to incorporate elearning, mainly in public institutions. In fact, there are already interesting cases of government elearning in Latin America.



6. What are some of the main barriers?
Lamentablemente, la conectividad sigue siendo una de las barreras más difíciles de quebrar en esta región. El problema nunca está en las capitales de los países o las grandes urbes, sino en las pequeñas poblaciones más alejadas de los centros urbanos.
También falta mucho más incentivo, capacitación, iniciativas por parte de los distintos ministerios o dependencias del gobierno (los ministerios de educación, de trabajo, deberían generar políticas y ponerlas en práctica para hacer de esto una cuestión de interés nacional).
Y por supuesto, no puedo dejar de mencionar la barrera cultural que en muchos países aún se torna como principal dificultad. En este sentido será fundamental el rol y la posición que tomen las universidades y los colegios; integrar el e-learning en la educación (en todas las etapas) es fundamental para ir rompiendo esta barrera cultural.


Sadly, connectivity continues to be one of the most difficult barriers to overcome in this region. The problem never occurs in the capitals of countries, or in the large cities, but in the small population centers more distant from the urban centers. Also lacking are incentives, training, and initiatives on the part of different ministries or branches of the government (ministries of education and of labor should generate policies and put them in practice in order to make this a question of national interest.)

Of course, I must not fail to mention a cultural barrier that in many countries still presents itself as the principle difficulty. In this sense, the role and the position that the universities and high schools take is absolutely fundamental. It is important to integrate elearning into education (at all stages) because it is vital in order to go forth breaking down cultural barriers.

7. How can more people have access to elearning?
Esta es una pregunta que es sencilla de responder; el problema es poder poner en práctica aquello que decimos (que es lo más difícil en Latinoamérica). El e-learning puede hacerse accesible a más gente si se pueden concretar iniciativas desde distintos frentes: gobierno, empresas privadas, instituciones académicas. Todos estos actores tienen una responsabilidad social; en este caso, hablando sobre e-learning, su responsabilidad es hacer del e-learning algo accesible. ¿Cómo? A través de capacitación online en cibercafés (que están muy difundidos en toda Latinoamérica); integrando esta modalidad en todas las cátedras de las universidades; promoviendo la capacitación online en centros comunitarios (ya sea tengan o no Internet); integrando el e-learning en la escuela (primaria y secundaria) y sobre todo capacitando a los maestros y profesores.

This is a question that's easy to answer, but the problem is having the power to put into practice what we're talking about (which is most difficult in Latin America). E-Learning can be made more accessible to more people if it's possible to firm up initiatives on different fronts: government, private industry, academic institutions. All the parties have a social responsibility; in this case, speaking of e-learning, the responsibility is to make elearning something that is accessible. How? Through online training in cybercafes (which are widely available throughout Latin America); integrating elearning in all university departments; promoting online training in community centers (whether or not they already have Internet); integrating elearning in primary and secondary schools, and above all, training teachers and professors.

8. What would you like to see happen in the future?
Me gustaría ver que en Latinoamérica se aprovechen todas las oportunidades y ventajas que tiene el e-learning y el blended learning, no solo en las grandes empresas sino en todos los sectores.

I'd like to see all the opportunities and advantages that e-learning and blended learning have to offer come to be taken advantage of in Latin America -- not just in large enterprises, but in all sectors.

Online Courses Directory:
www.cursosyposgrados.learningreview.com

News Blog for Human Resources
http://noticiasrecursoshumanos.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Found My Tutor In Second Life: New Ways to Get the Help You Need

One of the fastest-growing uses within the virtual world, Second Life, is in the area of one-on-one and small group education. This makes sense, given the opportunities for role-play as providing on-demand streaming video, media, and simulations. Language Labs, cervantes, avatarlanguages.com, gofluent.com and other language instruction providers have group and individual training. Learning Tree is close to debuting their island which will provide technical training, primarily in computing and management. Other islands make it easy for teachers to schedule and rent a classroom and resources for lessons.

Podcast: http://www.beyondutopia.net/podcasts/sltutor.mp3

Online tutoring has been around for a long time. In the past, long-distance help ranged from having tutors review your papers and homework via email, to text-based chat. Later it evolved into web conferencing / video conferencing. WebEx, Adobe Connect, and Elluminate are some of the programs that have been used to do video conferencing. The future is changing, though, as virtual worlds and multiplayer role playing move from entertainment, training, and information to an actual live avatar-assisted learning encounter.

While universities have been offering guides and help in their virtual worlds, often in the form of guidance counselors, admissions officers, librarians, and virtual campus tour guides, new services in Second Life are springing up to help students who need tutoring services and feel comfortable in a virtual world.

Some are still affiliated with colleges and universities and may be a part of their tutoring services. Others may be part of tutoring services, such as SmartThinking.com. Still others may be offered as a part of student organization (Clover College’s Spanish Club) or an honor society.

* Language Tutors - Language Lab (http://www.languagelab.com )
Great way to get started in SL -- has a very nice orientation, plus a friendly greeter. All are English courses, which is a bit of a disappointment for the English language speaker. Language learning environment.

http://www.languagelab.com/en/

* Language Acquisition: Group Conversations and Interactions
http://londres.cervantes.es/en/default.shtm
Online language courses for Spanish.

Cervantes in SL:
If you're studying to be a teacher of Spanish or just want to review: http://cvc.cervantes.es/aula/didactired/default.htm

* Tutors in Second Life
Ad / video clips in YouTube: http://youtube.com/watch?v=7KYlfOyWZy4



Contact information includes the name of the tutors (SL name) and the location of the island (Vorlheim coordinates)

* Places to Practice Language /
Speaking a Foreign Language in Second Life (for free)

Video clip tells you how:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=KKzkfyglJY8



http://www.avatarlanguages.com/freepractice

Learning languages in more systematic way:
http://www.avatarlanguages.com

* Learning English / Interactive
http://www.gofluent.com



http://youtube.com/watch?v=QzR3YrXH2ik&feature=related

*Place to go to find a tutor for your language course:
http://eslteacherlink.com/

English Village in Second Life --

Canadian living in Korea created the concept around 2 years ago. Since that time more than 2000 tutors and students have used the virtual classrooms

http://youtube.com/watch?v=XZHeL0TP4cc&feature=related
English Village:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=P4UuQUHvQ8A&feature=user

http://eslteacherlink.com/

* Security / Criminal Justice
Border Security - Second Life Loyalist College Canadian Border Simulation

http://youtube.com/watch?v=PCUWcpVPtMM

* Architecture Lessons / Architectural History

Bauhaus School of Design
http://youtube.com/watch?v=BxJcKQ7HRqk

* Occupational Therapy in Second Life
Jefferson Occupational Design



http://youtube.com/watch?v=TvhzHlrargU

* Fashion Design
MODA Modeling and Fashion School in SL
http://youtube.com/watch?v=9j-g5J7IkQU

* Individual Professor / Bromley College
Shimmer Island -- multi-use classroom for learning resource
Software design

http://youtube.com/watch?v=3WdCyreAsJQ

* Drama / Theatre: The Higher Education Academy (England)
Theatron 3: Building SL islands for the performing arts
http://www.english.heacademy.ac.uk/explore/projects/archive/technology/tech23.php

Understanding Renaissance Drama using Second Life
St. John University
http://www.english.heacademy.ac.uk/explore/projects/archive/technology/theatron/williams.php

Example: Outside the Theatre of Pompey - http://www.english.heacademy.ac.uk/explore/projects/archive/technology/tech23.php#

Is there anyone who can help you?
Going to King's Visualization Lab
http://www.kvl.cch.kcl.ac.uk
at King's College (UK) can give you a sense of the potential for projects. While you may not wish to spend too much time visiting this area, knowing about what is being done to make theatre, literary studies, and the dramatic arts come alive may help you in research papers for your drama and literature courses.

Many of the projects to determine just how and where Second Life is effective in online education have been funded by Eduserv (UK)
http://www.eduserv.org.uk

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Political Online Games: A Few Picks (PeaceMaker, Kriegspiel, Play the News, etc.)

It has been awhile since I've posted on serious games and online educational games. Here are a few that focus on politics, political strategy, and media.

Podcast. http://www.beyondutopia.net/podcasts/political-games.mp3

Kriegspiel (http://r-s-g.org/kriegspiel/)
This game has inspired me in ways that very few do. It's based on a board game created by Guy DeBord, the filmmaker and leader of the Situationist International (1957-1972). DeBord's book, Society of the Spectacle (1967) gives an alternative perspective to what is presented to us, the media-consuming public, and gives us new strategies for decoding the messages, largely from a consumer culture standpoint. In a time of hypermedia, DeBord's classic is more relevant than ever. While DeBord was writing seminal work in cultural theory, he was also developing a strategy game to be played by two players who seek to maneuver their armies and progress to victory.



This Kriegspiel, or war game, brings into play the operations of two armies of equal strength, each seeking, through manœuvre and battle, the destruction of its adversary. Each is at the same time obliged to protect, within the territory it occupies, the resources needed for effective campaigning, and to keep its lines of communication open." — Guy Debord

Combined with classics such as Machiavelli's The Prince and Sun Tzu's The Art of War, as well as conceptual backgrounds in dialectical materialism, playing the game against an opponent can be heady stuff. Debord intended the game to be for all individuals to learn learning strategic thought in the face of real antagonists. The game was first designed in 1977. In 1987, it was the game was mass-produced on cardboard with wood tiles. DeBord and his wife also published a companion book, Le Jeu de la Guerre : Relevé des positions successives de toutes les forces au cours d'une partie, translated into English in 2007 (http://www.atlaspress.co.uk/index.cgi?action=view_eclectic&number=5).

One can't help but think of the Jeux sans Frontieres Europe-wide television series (goofy competitions) and the Peter Gabriel song (1980). DeBord's board game is nothing like either of them. DeBord believed that his war game would, in the end, be his legacy, and more importance would be attributed to it than to his work as a filmmaker and thinker. The board game is fascinating, but it's best when combined with his ideas about strategies for manipulating belief and behavior by means of creating images and spectacles.



The game itself has fresh graphics that set it apart from other games. The board and the pieces are based on line drawings that resemble cartographers' maps from the 17th and 18th centuries. Mousing over the pieces on the gameboard gives insight into the capabilities of the pieces. It may remind one of chess, but that comparison quickly evaporates as one starts to engage in the tactics and strategies. The fact that the prompts and suggestions are given is very helpful. It would be helpful to have pointers on the art of deception and how the spectacle itself creates its own game.

Play the News (http://www.playthenewsgame.com/)
Brought to you by ImpactGames (http://www.impactgames.com/), makers of the highly publicized PeaceMaker (http://www.peacemakergame.com/), this game will satisfy aficionados of talk radio, especially those who have, in recent months, claimed to want to influence the election by asking their listeners to engage in certain behaviors (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Shannon).

The game, currently in beta, at least at this point in time, is an expanded version of the online polls that one takes after reading an article and considering various sides of the issue. The difference is that here, you get a chance to predict future outcomes and to compare your ideas with others who have predicted their own denouement to the events.



Trailer: http://youtube.com/watch?v=wJSz0tCLK0g

PeaceMaker (http://www.peacemakergame.com)
One's first reaction to the game is likely to be positive. It is a great place to practice leadership in an international relations or political science course. The graphics are well done, the scripting is smooth, and the scenarios are realistic. Becoming very engaged in the game could be a bit harrowing. After all, the idea of trying to bring peace to the Middle East and ending the Israel-Palestine conflict is pretty daunting, to say the least - a job for masochists or messiahs. On the other hand, the critical thinking skills that are developed, as well as the awareness of a very complex situation are useful.



http://youtube.com/watch?v=4f8DKQqI-YE

http://www.peacemakergame.com/game.php


Hillary vs. Obama (http://www.kewlbox.com/games/gameDetail.aspx?gameID=293)
Now for some truly mindless fun. Last time, it was Bush vs. Kerry. This election year's version is perhaps even more Web 2.0 friendly than before with links to html that one can copy and paste to place within one's website. It encourages interaction and engagement. The instructional purpose and content are, as before, pretty limited.



http://www.kewlbox.com/about/webMasterDetail.aspx?gameID=293

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Interview with Arlene Ang (New Series - Life in the E-Learning Organization)

Welcome to an interview with Arlene Ang. While not directly involved in elearning, her involvement in publishing, particularly in creative texts and online journals, makes her work very appropriate as instructional materials in online courses.

Arlene Ang is the author of The Desecration of Doves (iUniverse, 2005) and Secret Love Poems (Rubicon Press, 2007). Born in Manila, Philippines, she currently lives in Spinea, Italy with her husband. In 2006, she received the Frogmore Poetry Prize (UK). Her poetry has been published in Diagram, Georgetown Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Poetry Ireland, Poet Lore and Rattle.



1. Name, background. How have you been involved in online publishing of poetry and poetics?

Arlene Ang. I’m a poetry editor for The Pedestal Magazine (http://www.thepedestalmagazine.com/) and Press 1 (http://www.leafscape.org/press1/).
I started out in 2002 as editor for the Italian edition of Niederngasse (http://www.niederngasse.com/). In 2006, I guest-edited for the English edition and for Pedestal. It was then that I realized English poetry was more my element than Italian and so handed the keys over to someone who was more in contact with the Italian literary world than I was. Early 2007, Pedestal editor-in-chief, John Amen asked me if I wanted to become a permanent member of the staff and I said yes.
Press 1 sprouted out some months later, a labor of love for Valerie Fox, Phyllis Wat, Dennis Moritz and me. Valerie and Phyllis are, I think, the “serious” editors since they do much of the reading and scouting while I occupy myself more with the web design.


2. What do you see as some of the advantages of publishing online?

For one, with online magazines, anyone with an internet connection can access your work. There’s something liberating about reading contemporary poetry for free. Some journals actually have an “E-mail this poem to a friend” button—which helps spread readership. For another, submissions are usually sent via e-mail—when you’re living abroad, this facilitates a lot of things. I’m continually surprised and pleased by submissions to Pedestal that come from countries like Nigeria or China. I don’t think this happens much to print journals, even if only for the mundane reason of SASEs or finding IRCs. And yes, no trees are killed in the process.




3. What are some of the trends in e-journals?

A good part has begun to request audio recordings of poems. I really love how this gives a voice to the work and also to the author.
I also love the new submission system, like the one adopted by Kenyon Review—where you can be assured that your submission was received and are able to track or withdraw it online.
Some ‘zines focus on experimenting with mixed media. A prime example would be Born Magazine (http://www.bornmagazine.org/)—which never fails to astound and delight with their Flash presentations of poems.


4. What are a few of your favorite sites?

Diagram (http://thediagram.com/) remains at the top, near at hand are Tarpaulin Sky (http://www.tarpaulinsky.com/), Drunken Boat (http://www.drunkenboat.com/), Typo (http://typomag.com/) and Painted Bride Quarterly (http://pbq.drexel.edu/).
Sidebrow (http://www.sidebrow.net/) is another favorite because it’s so different—submitters are encouraged to respond creatively to the work published there. The term “incestuous” is bandied around a lot when referring to internet writers—I think this applies evocatively to the work in Sidebrow, too.


5. How can you envision using online poetry repositories and journals in online education?

The internet contains a universe of information. I’ve actually found step-by-step instructions on how to write almost anything—from ghazals to sonnenizios. Education-wise, research becomes a question on knowing what to look for because, chances are, it’s out there.
Because online journals are accessible to everyone, they make very good reading material especially when it comes to contemporary (world) poetry.

Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/) is a great resource—instead buying books like Shakespeare’s Macbeth or Joyce’s Ulysses, you can just download an electronic copy. And, funnily enough, for required reading, there are free Cliff Notes (http://www.cliffsnotes.com/) for students who have no love for literature.


6. Do you have a philosophy of creativity?

More than having one of my own, I’ve adopted my dad’s, I think—which works really well for me. He was quite a successful painter. In his life he must have done more than 1000 studies of the seated figure, among other things, using different media. As a child, I loved joining him in his studio every day and often complained about not knowing what to draw. He would tell me patiently that everything I needed was before me, all I needed to do was open my eyes. It was only decades later that I understood what he meant—that creativity is not about finding a worthy subject, but rendering that subject worthy of interest and, in the process, evoking emotional response in the viewer or reader. In many ways, it’s a lot like energy—we all have it inside, how we harness and release it depends on us.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Creating Online Courses from Recorded Webinars

An increasing number of webinars are archived and made available to individuals who could not attend the live event. The recorded and archived webinars can have very high value as instructional material for asynchronous courses, and with good instructional design, can lead to a very effective online course.

A poorly planned and executed webinar can be pretty tedious. On the other hand, well-designed and executed webinars can create an outstanding library of useful information. In some cases, it could even constitute the core content of an online or hybrid course.

Elements of Effective Archived Webinars:

1. The objectives of the webinar are clearly stated;

2. The content is organized in a clear sequence, with a logical flow;

3. Audience participation is encouraged (even when recorded, seeing audience participation is engaging) with use of polls, surveys, and interaction;

4. Audio should be spontaneous, conversational, and related to the content. Avoid reading the powerpoints;

5. Use high-impact images that reinforce the objectives of the webinar;

6. Encourage participants to respond, not just with text messages, but also with audio questions;

7. Content is of high quality and relevant to the objectives of the webinar;

8. Content is aligned with the level and needs of the participants;

9. Quizzes, questionnaires, and other interactive elements are included;

10. If the webinar is a part of a series or a sequence, the place in the sequence should be clearly marked.


Screen shot from an Elluminate webinar

A number of webinar providers have targeted the education market and have made their products effective for classroom learning. Perhaps Adobe Connect, Elluminate, and Webex are the most widely used.

Attributes of the most effective webinar programs include:

1. Interactivity with multiple participants;

2. Interactivity includes polling, questionnaires, surveys, and quick quizzes;

3. Individuals can write, draw, doodle in whiteboard area;

4. Participants can chat with the group;

5. Participants can send messages to other partipants;

6. The interface supports audio and video demos;

7. The interface allows the presenter to move graphics and slides at own pace;

8. A log of presenters with contact information can be made available;

9. The interface allows for orderly interactivity (raise hands function, mute, etc.)

10. A moderator / administrator can archive the webinar.

When utilizing the archived webinars, it is very important to not simply create a "wraparound" shell to house the content. Instead, it is important to create a lesson plan that incorporates effective flow, and has learning objectives as well as clear outcomes assessment.

Friday, May 09, 2008

SL Potential: Simulcast Shell Oil President Speech in Delaware U's Second Life Space

When Shell Oil president John Hofmeister gave what turned out to be a rather provocative speech on May 7 at the University of Delaware, watching it from the University of Delaware's virtual world in Second Life was an amazingly engaging and vital experience, and in some ways richer than attending in real life. He spoke about the US government's failure to craft an energy policy that allows the economy to grow and security to be assured. While he did not mention the fact that foreign oil companies are drilling off the coast of Cuba (and thus potentially draining the U.S. of its Gulf Coast reserves), that, and similar current events resonated with his every word.

The fact one could view via Second Life was wonderful. The ability to watch the event via streaming video on a screen within the world was perhaps not so unique; however, being able to chat with other attendees, send questions for Hofmeister to answer, move one's camera to zoom for extreme close-ups, and make one's avatar fly up to the screen and feel eye-to-eye with the presenter, gave a rare sense of freedom and automony. Instead of having to sit passively in the audience while the speech took place, and then politely raising one's hand to ask a question in the question-and-answer session, the participant in the Second Life space had mobility, the ability to fact-check the statements made, and to type notes, to ask questions, and to behave in ways that reduced the distance and the power / authority differentials between speaker and listener.


University of Delaware's stadium in Second Life. John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil (US) is speaking from a real-world location which is simulcast in Second Life.

In large part because of the design of the University of Delaware's SL stadium, where the event took place in SL, audience members had an unusual feeling of access. The experience was far better than simply logging into a podcast or streaming media on a typical website. Thanks to the design of the projection screens, the open-air feeling (the setting is an offshore platform stadium located in the ocean), and the built-in interactivity, all of which were designed and developed for the U of Delaware by the New Media Consortium (http://www.nmc.org), audience members felt empowered. The University of Delaware's onsite facilitators, SL Firery Broome and others, also helped audience members feel at ease.


Flying up to face the speaker eye-to-eye.

The sense of awe and intimidation that sometimes accompanies an event by a controversial speaker was somewhat effaced. Further, the tension caused by the fact that people who asked too many questions, raised their voices, or went on rowdy, disruptive rants would be removed by security was not present in the Second Life venue. Unfortunately, though, viewers from Second Life were not able to see it when people were disruptive or unruly in their questions, and first chided by the moderator, then removed by security. Some of the spectacle of the event was diminished, but the ability to be liberated from a situation that, by its very nature, encodes rules of behavior and levels of authority, was refreshing.


Sharing thoughts after the event.

The event, which was organized and hosted by the University of Delaware, was a part of a series entitled Global Agenda 2008 - International Politics of Climate Change (http://www.udel.edu/global/). The title of Hofmeister's speech was "Achieving Energy Security Through Sound Public Policy." The speech was a part of Hofmeister's 50-city speaking tour, which made it clear that the multinational parent of Shell Oil Company, the Shell Group, considered it to be a priority to maintain positive public relations, particularly as gasoline prices rise. As the President of Houston-based Shell Oil Company, Hofmeister is uniquely positioned to do so.


Posters announcing the event are scattered throughout the University of Delaware's island in Second Life. Teleporting to the location is simple.

Hofmeister, whose background is in political science, is not a technical expert. That point became very clear during the presentation when his descriptions of oil and gas reservoirs, exploration and production, sounded a bit odd to a person trained in petroleum geology. His discussion of international affairs, politics, and energy policy was extremely well-informed and it was delivered on a level that appealed to audiences of many different backgrounds.

Hofmeister's experience involves being the head of Human Resources in the Shell Group's headquarters in the Hague. Although he did not mention this, Hofmeister's skills must have been put to the test during Hurricane Katrine during August 2005, just five months after assuming the leadership position at Shell. With 22,000 employees, Shell Oil (US) is a relatively small branch of the Shell Group (also known as Royal Dutch Shell), a Dutch company which has 108,000 employees worldwide. Hofmeister will be retiring in June 2008. The next Shell Oil president will be 49-year-old Marvin Odum, a petroleum engineer and head of Shell's U.S. exploration and production efforts. It will be interesting to see if Odum will continue the speaking engagements.

The introduction to John Hofmeister.

Participating in Second Life gave the member a chance to look up information on the Internet, and to take notes. One felt active, and interactive, rather than passive and "lectured to." After Hofmeister finished his speech, questions were presented from the audience. One from Second Life was presented, which addressed the point that Hofmeister made that Americans aren't willing to give up their lifestyles, and thus energy efficiency and increased production must be the goal. The question provoked quite a bit of applause and comment in the real-world setting, which was deeply gratifying to SL audience members.

The University of Delaware's real world web site on the Global Agenda series is located here:
http://www.udel.edu/global/

Podcast of previous Global Agenda speakers
http://www.ums.udel.edu/podcast/

***********************************************************

Notes from and a partial transcript of John Hofmeister's speech:

Paralysis of partisanship is a political outcome in which nothing happens, and I would suggest to you that citizens of our country are victims of the paralysis of partisanships. Three realities we must live with, cope with, and deal with -- why the paralysis of partisanship is not viable.
1. Global demand for energy is accelerating. 5 percent of the world's population uses 25% of the world's energy. That's mainly the U.S. -- the rest of the world wants this. As countries industrialize... the demand goes up. Example: in china, 3 cars for every 100 people -- is that likely to continue?
2. Easy, convenient oil is peaking. We cannot keep up production to meet demand.
3. We must deal with carbon constraints as we go forward.

paralysis of partisanship
huge problem

how are we doing as a nation in energy security?
are we operating in a bipartisan fashion ?
ANWAR -- president opens idea -- democrats block
taxing oil companies (democrats) -- republican president says he'll veto

that is the paralysis of partisanship

we have domestic oil & we can produce it -- but we aren't doing it ... why not? paralysis of partisanship
(NOTE: online search while taking notes uncovered that in 2007, Shell was ordered by the courts to stop plans to drill in the Beaufort Sea off the coast of Alaska.)

I will now make a series of outrageous statements:

1. this country has not had an energy security strategy since WWII -- what was it before ? produce everything we could & ration it

2. we as americans like to believe that we operate in an energy market -- a market of different products, etc (the idea that the oil market is a free market is nonsense -- most production comes from a cartel, which comes from sovereign nations that act as a cartel) -- paralysis has resulted in a 30-year moratorium on the exploration and development in 85 percent of the outer continental shelf .... for 30 years, our congress has forbidden american companies from producing outer continental shelf & federal protected lands... (western gulf of mexico -- 100 billion barrels of oil)

3. we are not running out of oil -- there is more where it comes from -- peak oil refers to easy, conventional oil

4. we use 21 million barrels of oil per day in the U.S. - every 3 seconds.... a rr car full of coal; every minute, a backyard swimming pool of oil -- natural gas -- bridge from here to the moon 25 times over every day -- biofuels and wind energy -- the scale of displacement is enormous ... it will take a lot to replace oil and gas

5. the internal combustion engine is only 20% efficient -- 80% wasted .... burned up as heat -- jet engine 8 percent efficient -- 92 percent goes out as heat
we are using hydrocarbons in horribly ineffcient manner because we have limited technologies

Shell's 12-point plan

1. need more access to oil and gas resources (the 30-year moratorium has to end) - in clutches of cartels

2. we need to develop unconventional oil and gas resources that are available to us, otherwise we will not keep up with the demand

3. we can't stop using coal - let's consider new technology (coal gasification) - we need to pursue gasification technologies - pulverize / micronize the coal & then put it into a gasifier - turns into syngas - CO2 still in gasifier

4. must augment gas with liquified natural gas -- serious problem with infrastructure ... gas produced and stranded in gas fields (no market in west africa / australia) can ship supercold liquid -- elba island, GA, and in maryland -- no one wants the infrastructure, though.... they are blocking the building of re-gasification terminals -- a post-industrial society uses more than an industrial society

5. biofuel -- we must put more emphasis on it ... avoid corn

6. wind -- wasting a great natural resource, but it's just blowing by us --need transmission lines... where they don't exist, people do not want them... offshore windfarms / onshore windfarms -- shell at a gigawatt a day ... 7 farms in five states .... west virginia and texas wind farms by Shell

7. solar sources -- thin film (nanotechnology) -- Shell is funding

8. hydrogen -- fuel cells -- Shell is a believer ... a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will work. they have them now... they are efficient, they are quick, and fun -- where do you buy your hydrogen? need a supply and distribution system as easy as gas

9. cap on co2 emissions -- trade CO2 trading systems ... "cap and trade" -- has to be on a national level

10. must have a means by which to move forward on energy demand -- Manage Energy Demand -- Incentivize Creative Solutions (building designs / vehicles and appliances -- how management ) -- ENERGY DEMAND MANAGEMENT

11. Need Energy Education -- need to learn about energy

12. Energy solutions (nuclear, hydropower, geothermal) -- create enabling frameworks

close on following -- the future is hard to describe and explain --
2 perspectives -- its two scenarios

1. SCRAMBLE -- every country looks for its own solutions... trying to take care of its own demand... includes countries that only worry about their own energy independence, satisfy immediate needs immediately

2. BLUEPRINT -- coalitions of countries work together to find common solutions to common problems

Shell believes that only a BLUEPRINT plan will work for the future.

*** We hired Scholastic to create Energy Education etc ) ** "Energize Your Future** to pull down a curriculum of energy education... BP / Exxon / Shell are paying to create school curricula ... ***
usenergysecurity.com -- a website free to access which tells the story of Shell's 50-city visits...

we are operating with financial security (as a nation) -- but do not have an energy security policy

** End of Notes / Transcription ***

posted by susan

Monday, May 05, 2008

Practical Data Analysis and Reporting with BIRT

Although BIRT is not well known, it is worth getting acquainted with. BIRT is a collection of open-source tools for developing tools and technologies for business applications. Perhaps most helpful for Java and J2EE programmers, the book provides shortcuts for finding elegant solutions for developing reports for business.

Practical Data Analysis and Reporting with BIRT
http://www.packtpub.com/practical-data-analysis-reporting-with-birt/book
by John Ward provides information in the following topic areas:

*Install the tools
*Create the report structures
*Add format / uniform
*Using data filters to narrow data
*Share new templates and applications in libraries
*Styles sheets / themes, unique, customized report styles
*Charts / presentation

The book has very helpful screenshots and good step-by-step instructions. Although the instructions are helpful, the applications are pretty unimaginative. In reality, there are in fact, massive possibilities with respect to generating business reports applicable to LEAN production, inventories, sales, transportation, warehousing, marketing reports, and event scheduling. Further applications could be used in the area of maintenance scheduling, etc.



The book does, however, provide an overview of BIRT and the potential. A follow-up book that includes a wider index of types of reports as well as templates that can be used for the most common applications would be ideal.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Interview with Ayse Kok (New Series - Life in the E-Learning Organization)

Welcome to an interview with Ayse Kok, an e-learning and management information systems specialist who has worked with programs across Europe, including Turkey and England. Her view of distance education in Turkey and in other parts of the world is quite insightful, and her work with Camp Rumi, an organization dedicated to helping provide digital learning for primary and secondary schools is very inspiring.

1. What is your name and what is your connection to e-learning?

My name is Ayse (actually read as Ayshe since there is a special Turkish letter missing on the keyboard). I received my MSc degree in E-learning, hence my connection to this field.

During my undergraduate studies in Management Information Systems (MIS) I also had the opportunity to have an elective course in e-learning since MIS is an interdisciplinary study. Now, I work as an e-learning consultant and researcher for various educational institutions in my home country Turkey. I am also the founder of the grassroots non-profit organisation “Camp Rumi Technology Literacy Group” (http://www.camprumi.org) that provides digital learning services for primary and secondary schools. By the way, e-learning may mean different things for different people. I use it here for technology enhanced learning.


Aysa Kok, E-Learning and MIS Specialist

2. How did you first become involved in online learning?

Right after my undergrad studies I began to work as junior consultant in one of the Big 4 (one of the international audit and consulting firms)’s business advisory services department. We had to complete mandatory employee online trainings. Although the mandatory trainings for entry-levels were not very attractive- since they were related mostly to internal procedures- I tried to make as much time as possible for other online trainings that were of interest for me. We were lucky in terms of the company’s online courses since they ranged from business specific trainings to the development of soft skills such as interpersonal communication. Due to the fast-paced environment, there was an opportunity for me to participate in numerous projects for which I had to gain knowledge about several business applications (such as SAP) in advance. So, I realized at that point that e-learning offers unprecedented opportunities to develop working skills and competencies to meet demands of high-velocity business changes. This was my first experience as an online learner.

In terms of my first work experience in the field of e-learning, right after my MSc degree I worked as a short term consultant for the United Nations Systems and Staff College (UNSSC) located in Turin, Italy. I was involved in a project where we had to prepare in alignment with specific standards such as SCORM, the design templates for online courses aimed at the UN and its several agencies’ personnel in general.

3. Where have you studied?

I completed my undergrad studies in Management Information Systems in Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. After a two years work experience, I decided to get specialized in an area that I was passionate about, namely e-learning. Actually, I have always been passionate about teaching and learning. I realized that I would rather utilize my educational background in technology in an area that I am passionate about. So, I completed my Masters degree in University of Oxford, UK. Now, I look forward to continuing my PhD in the same field and university.

4. What do you see as the most significant differences between elearning in the different countries in Europe?

In my opinion, there are huge disparities with regard to general computer integration issues such as too few computers, slow Internet connections, insufficient software in the native language, and a lack of peripheral equipment at schools. To exemplify, one of the major private schools that I am working for could still not embed the latest Web 2.0 services within its teaching process due to connectivity issues within the classrooms. Besides, principals’ lack of technical knowledge, their interpretations of regulations according to his/her own will, lack of appropriate software programs for different grade levels can also be cited as other significant issues. There is resistance to change from traditional pedagogical methods to more innovative, technology-based teaching and learning methods. But, I think this issue is the same across all countries over the world.

5. When and how can elearning accommodate cultural difference?

Despite the fact that e-learning provides the opportunity to interact with people from different cultures, it also brings the issue of the cultural diversity of online content. Since English is the dominant language on the Internet, that e-learners will invariably find themselves reading mostly American materials, positioning their culture as the norm.

Smaller nations may even be more vulnerable since their educational systems in different countries and their teaching and learning styles are very different. When introducing a new phenomenon one should give careful consideration to the context they originally emerged in or are currently being used. Once thought carefully, I believe that e-learning can offer the opportunity to reduce the unit cost of education to such an extent that equal access to learning opportunities for all members of the society can be provided throughout their lives.

6. How is elearning approached in Turkey today? What are the main influences in Turkey with respect to elearning?

Since 1980s, there have been attempts to integrate the ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) within the primary and secondary education system. A more recent project is the Basic education programme carried out by a joint venture with the World Bank. On the other hand, Youtube or Wordpress were blocked until recently. So, we can’t speak of any Internet freedom within this country.

Turkey faces great educational challenges with great number of people to educate, a very large educational system, poor economic situation, inadequate technologies and mass number of students and teachers. For instance, not long ago- until 2005-, the pedagogy, curriculum, and textbooks within Turkey’s educational system were emphasizing the memorization of subject matter facts and principles. Similarly, student examinations were also based on memorization. Besides, there are high-stakes tests that determine the educational (and consequently, the economic) future of the young people in Turkey. So, the use of ICTs in schools was reinforcing the curricular and pedagogical emphasis on rote learning. Those readers interested more in this topic may read my article “Computerising Turkey’s Schools” published in one of the Oxford Symposium books. Link is http://www.amazon.co.uk/Aspects-Education-Middle-Studies-Comparative/dp/toc/1873927215 .

ICT is still merely attached to the existing teaching and learning activities without any change in the traditional curriculum or learning objectives. There is so much truth to the phase “doing old things in new ways” in our context. The learning paradigm associated with the transmission of knowledge remains the same whether the concept is taught from a text book, software or via the Internet. The paradigm shift associated with one-to-one instruction and student-centered learning are not in place yet and it seems that the students are still learning for the grade’s sake.
Apart from this material and usage access, Turkey faces a “mental access”- a term firstly used by van Dijk. It basically refers to a lack of interest, computer anxiety, and unattractiveness of the new technology.

I must admit that even in Sri Lanka- a less developed country- where I did my voluntary work as an ICT teacher last summer- both teachers and children were at least able to prepare a presentation or a newsletter about themselves in English via use of related applications. Although ICT should not be seen as a panacea for every educational issue, I believe that these less developed countries will leapfrog certain stages of development via their use of technology. Of course, one should not make a generalization based on a few cases, yet there is long way to go in e-learning in Turkey.


From the local e-learning companies’ perspective, I could not give a “rosy” picture either. I don’t want to blame any specific institution, yet the key players within the field are thinking in terms of cost reduction and there is no place for an underpinning pedagogy. They are basically providing some Powerpoint slides with animations. It is my opinion that while a few key players are trying to do their best, their offerings are not worth the huge sums of money they demand from consumers.

Moreover, within the context of workplace learning, few organisations have the capability and the insight to leverage the power of e-learning and gain competitive advantage. The upper management usually don’t believe in e-learning as a key solution for rapid and effective change. Being an EU candidate Turkey did unfortunately not realize yet that unless critical skills such as learning to learn and knowledge construction are conveyed to citizens we will be far behind within the next decade. We just can’t afford to miss the knowledge revolution!

In a nutshell, the economical conditions, technological infrastructure and the traditional mindset of teaching and learning are the major influences with respect to e-learning in Turkey.

7. Do you see any dangers or pitfalls in using virtual worlds across cultures? Where can virtual worlds be most effective?

I personally don’t see any dangers in using virtual worlds across cultures as long as the “netizens” –citizens of these virtual worlds- are equipped with the necessary critical thinking and information literacy skills. Instead of reading about other cultures and seeing pictures and movies about other countries’ cultures, virtual worlds can be used to talk and interact with people from these countries. Avatar placement within the world also enables one to get informed about the mannerisms conveyed within other cultures. Most virtual worlds are graphics based, and allow other users to observe other cultures. So, I believe that technology can be a good means for the transmisson of culture.

In general, I’d like also to mention that the promise of ICTs to enhance the basic education is a tremendously challenging area of development work today, in both poor and wealthy nations and I wish that we as professionals would find a universal truth when it comes to applying ICTs in education.

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