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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Viral Antimarketing in Politically Conservative Talk Radio

You've seen it: A YouTube video that goes viral, not only because of the content of the video itself, but because of all the reaction videos and vociferous comments in the discussion area. If the video is a clip from an upcoming movie or television show, part of you wonders how many of the comments and video reactions are real, and how many are staged in order to provoke more comments and engender some healthy "buzz."

Listen to the Podcast: mp3 file

If you're not a fan of online video, perhaps you've seen how a provocative news article or blog entry comes alive in the discussion board, where people leave virulently positive or negative posts. Viral antimarketing is a technique aggressively employed by the marketers of movies, music, cosmetics, computers, fashion labels, cell phones, and other items used by people who form opinions about a product based on information found on the Internet.

The technique is called "antimarketing" when there is deliberate misinformation, or when the buzz is negative. It is considered viral when it spreads like wildfire in the Internet. Ironically, antimarketing can often be more effective than squeaky-clean positive marketing in garnering consumer votes (purchases / hits / comments) and interest. For example, the Britney Spears "haters" who regularly posted fairly vile character-assassination commentary in discussion boards caused the fans no end of consternation. They would rise to her defense. The curious onlookers, the virtual gawkers spurred on by their prurient interest, hung on her every move.

Many say that the quintessential viral antimarketing campaign occured with the release of the movie, Cloverfield, ( Clips were leaked. Disinformation flooded cyberspace. Blogs and posts touted the film as something either special, frightening, shocking. The boundary between fantasy and reality was blurred. Identity as an essence was effaced. That is fun. Just ask the readers. The frisson of danger and immersion into a world of monsters was something new, fresh, and weirdly vampyric. Yum.

After several months of conducting an informal review of politically conservative talk radio, I have detected points of convergence between the viral antimarketing used to promote a celebrity or a celebrity-driven product (movie, television, music), and the ways in which talk show hosts drum up interest in their political topics.

What do I mean? Well, let's break it down. When I'm in the car, I love to tune in and listen to AM talk radio. I listen to snippets as I drive across town. I listen to entire slabs of programming as I drive across the short-grass prairie on 6-hour treks. I tune in on streaming audio from my laptop where I have a fast wifi connection. It's sweet. I find myself caught up in the energy. Sometimes I even call in. Let me make it clear, though, that I'm no plant. I'm not a part of the buzz-marketing machine. I'm neutral, except that I have a true love for political discourse. Even if I completely disagree with the politics, I find myself morphing myself to catch the wave and surf it, protected from virtual burn with my virtual neoprene. Yes, it helps to be anonymous in the blogosphere, or at least a name like beaglehappygirl so that no one knows who I am.

Do I post to a blog? Do I do the radio equivalent by calling in and posting audio-wise? It's a concept.

Here's a typical moment. I'm driving through central Oklahoma, lost for the moment, having taken the wrong turn in quest of a shortcut. I love the talk show I'm listening to. It's Mark Shannon, a fascinating blend of politics, folksy humor, quirky campy pop music (love the trash disco), and Thanatos-inflected abandon (you have permission to disclose the eternal verities when you're a Army veteran of the Vietnam era, and you're fighting leukemia).

Seattle SuperSonics Sold to Oklahoma City

"Hey, BeagleHappyGirl, how are you doing today?"

"I'm happy."

"What would you like to say?"

"I am happy & I want to name the new OKC NBA team."

"What name would you like to propose?"

"The Oklahoma City Happiness."

"Uhhh-Okay. Nice. Thanks, BeagleHappyGirl, for your suggestion"


Am I part of the Viral Antimarketing Underground? Not officially. But -- my absurd suggestion triggers calls. The NBA team has not even come to OKC yet. Yet, the call for names ignites real virulance ... viral energy ... so, when the team does arrive, the ground will have been broken. People will be familiar with the team. They will identify with it. They will be enthusiastic. And -- guess what? It did not cost the new team a cent!

Viral Antimarketing Moments to Remember....

Rush Limbaugh
Hillary Clinton's Laugh (first a hit in October 2007, has been repeated ever since). You can't even imagine how many people were driven to call in, motivated by the sound of her laugh... Rush's "Rush the Vote" and "Operation Chaos" combine Grassroots Activism with Viral Antimarketing. Rush is brilliant. His strategy for maintaining a listenership is a call for active participation. "Ditto-heads" and other Rush devotees are rewarded with on-air time. Flaw? Too much fawning adulation. I'd like more "chispa" (spark) from people who think he's not hot.

Sean Hannity "Hanni-tize the Vote"
Moment to remember? Interview with "Dog" about his racist comments. I will never forget this. I was just pulling out of the Dairy Queen in Shamrock, Texas, while Mark Hannity was talking to "Dog," the Bounty Hunter, as Dog begged for forgiveness for his racist rants. Hannity's going-against-the-flow approach was perfect for provoking controversy and calls. A few months later, Hannity's opening monologue called for people to release their tight hold on conservative values. It was such an about-face that shocked listeners called in for reality checks. They had been punked. Punking was a variation of viral antimarketing.

Mark Shannon vs. Perez Hilton
Oklahoma legislator's anti-gay remarks stir outrage
Perez Hilton embedded the rant by Oklahoma legislator Sally Kirk that sparked tens of thousands of hits on YouTube. Readers of the blog wrote in to protest her words and her attitude. Oklahoma City talk show host Mark Shannon did not join the bandwagon on criticizing her for her hateful words. Instead, he questioned those who would multiply the harm by making the hateful words available to millions, not just to the ten or so in attendance when her rant was recorded.

Mark Shannon: Wrestling with Thanatos
Shannon reminds the listeners of their own mortality - memento mori as he talks about taking bags of medicine in an aggressive chemotherapy treatment; discusses life with cancer and health cost issues. Shannon is keeping it real in a way that far outstrips Michael Savage's reflections on life, childhood in Brooklyn, early life as scientist. The authenticity of "carpe diem" is real -- it's life and death.

Neil Boortz: Attacks Hurricane Katrina Victims
Trying so hard to provoke, annoy, stir you up (engage the affect -- but, can backfire?) Another memorable moment occurred when a child with a speech impediment called in to complain about government policies. Boortz went on an extended diatribe against Southern accents and parents who allow their children to speak with regional accents. One could not help but wonder if this was completely orchestrated. After all, who would not want to defend the poor child with a speech impediment against the vitriol spewed by a large, successful adult male?

Michael Savage: Multiply the Viral
Claims he's about to be thrown off the air because people want to abrogate his freedom of speech privileges. Based on the angry speeches against various groups (gays, Muslims, Democrats, women, etc.), it is easy to see how and why people might consider him to be offensive. However, there is no doubt that controversy boosts ratings. It is sad to see how homophobic rants help ratings. I can't help but think of Da Ali G show (Borat is too obvious).

Glenn Beck: The Viral Underground - conspiracies, panics, outrages
I love the adrenaline surge I get when I listen to tales of global conspiracy, weird rituals by world leaders (in the Bohemian Grove), UFOs, economic apocalypse, and cases of public school policy gone awry. The viral antimarketing elements? Naysayer calls, giving voice to lunatic fringe elements.

Mark Levin: Tug on the Heartstrings - rescue dogs and the jeremiad
While Mark Levin's claim to fame is his insight into government corruption, the viral antimarketing comes in the form of dogs, dog adoptions, dog rescue, and every possible angle to tug on the pet-lover's heartstrings. Levin has claimed that Michael Savage is a liberal masquerading as a conservative, and Savage goal is to spawn disinformation. It is great fun when the talk show hosts attack each other, impugn each other's credibility.

Laura Ingraham: Power to the people - populist buzz?
It's hard to put a finger on why Laura Ingraham is so popular, except that she seems to be a master at grassroots activism. She makes one aware that viral antimarketing is, at essence, a kind of grassroots activism.

Laura Ingraham is not well-served when she looks like an echo of Anne Coulter (without the Adam's apple). I think that Laura could put the grassroots influence in overdrive if she started taking on the persona of a 21st century Mother Jones. In this picture, we see that Mother Jones was such a success -- such a "source meme" and a "buzz source" that she was able be very effective in grassroots campaigns. She even made it to the point the she hobnobbed with presidents. Here she is with U.S. President Calvin Coolidge.

Friday, March 28, 2008

YouTube Criminal Justice: Evaluating the Educational Value of Instructional Resources on YouTube

Entire courses can be found on YouTube and Google Video, some as a part of an open courseware initiative. Most videos, however, are organized by tags or by the username of the individual posting the video. Descriptions are helpful, as are the responses to the videos, which add a viral element. So, out of this seething primordial ooze of inspiration, content, and the desire to connect, how does the best instructional material manifest? How and when can it be best used in courses for e-learning, including mobile delivery?


Texas Criminal Justice System
The narrator begins with "The Texas Criminal Justice System is broken -- we will examine the reasons why." Provocative, yes. The presentation is not as dynamic as it could be. Imagine 26 minutes of blue-background powerpoints. The presenter has a very obvious agenda, and very strong biases. This could be very useful in a course that asks students to take a position or debate an issue.

Prison Interview with a GangBanger
Dr. Renford Reese, Associate Professor from Cal-Poly Pomona discusses the impact of criminal justice policies on African American males, and his books, Prison Race

General Strain Theory - Dr. Robert Agnew
Six-part series, typical "sage on stage" presentation, with Dr Agnew behind the podium. He has a powerpoint presentation, too. This is rather technical content, but could be quite interesting for learners who want to examine explanations about criminal behavior in society. Why Do Criminals Offend?: A General Theory of Crime and Delinquency

Macho Politics - Dr. Liz Elliot
Two-part series exploring current attitudes about getting tough on crime, and on attitudes expressed by newspapers with respect to gangs. Informal presentation, a kind of "fireside chat" ambience. Clear, conversational, and useful when bringing together theory, case studies, and current sociological situations and conditions. Pretty light when considered alone, but in conjunction with textbooks, she rehumanizes the elearning space.

Prison Nation -- National Geographic
Entire nation behind bars. The program addresses the notion that the gangs run the prisons. Very professional, very alarming. There is a heartening and encouraging note at the end, with a discussion of the positive impact of education on individuals. Warehousing, in contrast, creates very angry individuals. With respect to instructional value, it really depends on how / why the this video is being presented, and the learning goals. It's a supplement.

Stanford Prison Experiment
Discusses one of the most notorious experiments in human psychology. What controls human behavior? A negative environment? Inner values?

Interview with Prof. Zimbardo, who writes about the Stanford Experiments in The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. Very thought-provoking and perfect for a "taking a position" essay. Can also be used to identify thesis statement, abstract and overviews, etc. The value of this series of videos rests upon the way that the learners are asked to approach the assignment, and how they are asked to use the materials. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

This is a video in which Susan (the Corgi) discusses the future of e-learning and how videos can be used with mobile learning (hybrid, etc.).

Excellence in College Teaching and Learning: Classroom and Online Instruction

Recent Publications of Note

Learning Review:
Excellent review of elearning from Argentina. In Spanish. Very informative, first-rate articles and materials.

Flex E-News: From the Australian Flexible Learning Network.

Symposium of Note
NMC Symposium on Mashups:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Interview with Tolga Ozdemir, E-Learning Instructional Designer, Turkey

This week's interview is with Tolga Ozdemir, an e-learning instructional designer working with BilgeAdam in Turkey, where he is involved in corporate and academic e-learning solutions. His responses to the questions give a great deal of insight into the nature of e-learning across cultures, and the ways in which technical and infrastructure challenges are being overcome.

What is your name, and what is your involvement with e-learning?

My name is Tolga Özdemir and I work as an e-learning instructional designer. My first encounter with e-learning was when I was at the university. I have a BSc degree in e-learning instructional design.

How did you get interested in distance education?

It was simply a coincidence. When I first entered the university I was not aware of the scope of my department. After a few years in the program and after taking courses, I realized the capability of internet and e-learning.

Bogazici University

Then I had chance to work as an intern one of the biggest companies interested in distance education in the internet, namely IBM and enocta. It was a lovely experience for me. After that, I decided to focus more on the internet as a tool for education. Nowadays, I am interested in and research some information about internet not for only education but also for marketing and for e-business

What is your favorite new trend in distance education?

I don't know if it is a new trend but I like social learning environments. Collaborative learning seems quite interesting to me. When I was in college, I was in such a learning environment which was quite useful experience.

I prefer more human, in other words, more natural, technology in distance education.

What is your favorite technology?

Well any open source technology :) Yes I support this because it gives underdeveloped or developing countries a chance of advancement. Besides this we use Flash technology as a development tool and it's also my favorite.

How prevalent is online learning in Turkey?

Well, online learning is quite popular in corporate and academic use. There are some online college programs which have been running for almost a decade. Companies also prefer online training courses in their training programs. Although it is popular, there are still some misunderstandings. There is still a large number of people, who think of online learning as a way to deliver supplementary material or a tool, and that it is not as good as formal learning.

Are online learning management systems used? Is Moodle used at all?

Of course, LMS is an important tool delivering online learning. There are some colleges use moodle but I do not know what the number is.

Are mp3 files used very often in education in Turkey? if so, how?

Yes, we suggest our customers to use audio in the courses we produce for them. Audio includes a significant quality in materials. But we still have cases in which audio is not an option because of bandwidth capabilities.

How are textbooks used in e-learning in Turkey? Are there many e-books?

Yes this is still a virgin market, I think. Of course there are some e-books, for example, currently I work in an e-book project for Microsoft Office 2007 but we need more samples in different subjects.

What are your favorite social networks? How do you view them in e-learning?

I visit some online quite often. I am a member of EDEN which stands for European Distance Education Network. I visit our offical page,, once or twice a week. is another informative web site to me. Besides these, I take a look at the pages of learningcircuit, elearning professionals user group on facebook and elearningmag as well.

A tea break at Afyonkocatepe University LMS project

Do you have a few favorite mashups or web applications that work together in innovative ways? Please describe them.

The basic and simple one answer, google tools! With its bunch of web based tools, google helps me a lot. I am in the last year of my MBA program. For example, searching for an article in google scholar and then writing and sharing my papers with my peers quite helpful for me and it is a kind of online learning!

What is your favorite quote? or, what's a book that caught your eye recently?

I start reading an interesting book named "Land of Spies" by Grigori Petrov. (You can use this link The book is about the development process of the people of Finland. I suggest you to read that interesting book.


"The person who thinks he or she knows everything is difficult to teach."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Yahoo Pipes: My Favorite Mashup Builder

Yahoo Pipes allows the user to combine, aggregate, and filter feeds so that the resulting feed pinpoints the information you want. Instead of having to write complicated scripts, Yahoo Pipes' graphical interface lets you drag and drop the blocks in which you enter the URLs of the feeds, the names of the filters or key terms, and then to relate them, or "wire" the feeds together.


The portal page for Yahoo Pipes ( contains useful information, descriptions, and links to downloadable video demos.

The possibilities are endless. Yahoo Pipes encourages mashing together Yahoo products. They are probably the easiest to do. For example, filtering Yahoo news with the filter "pit bulls" and then wiring that feed to a Flickr feed that has been filtered with the same ("pit bull") tag will bring you stories with pit bulls in key terms, along with photos in the Flickr database that have been tagged "pit bull."

One can use non-Yahoo feeds as well.

For example, one can filter U.S. Census RSS feeds ( so that you can be alerted whenever statistics come out on unemployment in the construction industry. Using Yahoo Pipes, it is easy to "wire" the U.S. Census RSS feeds you like to U.S Dept of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis feeds (, filtered with key words, such as "housing starts."

Such a mashup will allow you to track connections between housing starts and unemployment in the construction industry.

How can you use this for educational purposes? It's easy to incorporate a feed that you enjoy, but which does not necessarily have educational merit. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Applications should align with the ultimate goals of the class, the outcomes, and the learning objectives.

2. Outcomes assessments should reflect the learning activities

3. Mashups and Web 2.0 applications should incorporate the performative aspects of the course.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stephen Downes on Web 2.0

This video presentation by Stephen Downes on how to use Web 2.0 as a part of one's continuous, ongoing learning and development process is quite good. It has been up for awhile, but I just happened upon it and wanted to draw attention to it and to share.

Stephen Downes Video

Among the things I find engaging are the points about how people interact using Web 2.0 applications, and how information flows.

Visit Learner Institute.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mobile Learning with the iTouch: AIU Breaks New Ground

American InterContinental University Online has taken mobile learning several steps forward by making it possible for students to check grades, post and read announcements, interact with elements of their learning management systems, as well as downloading instructional content.

AIU uses the iTouch to provide the new services, as well as downloadable podcasts, videos, presentations, and lectures that have been a mainstay of mobile learning. Their convenience, affordability, and the fact that they accommodate multiple learning styles has made many programs eager to provide at least some elements of 100% online, hybrid/blended, web-enabled, or even face-to-face courses.

This is an exciting breakthrough. Certainly, it is good to be able to access to the gradebook and announcements. But, there is a bigger issue at stake. AIU is using technology and tools the way that people use them in the real world, instead of trying to impose a technology on people, just because it was convenient for the institution or the service provider. So, educational products and learner needs and habits are in alignment.

Some learners have immediately embraced AIU's iTouch courses, especially if the technology fits their lifestyle. Student Chris Hawley writes:

I use AIU Mobile anytime I am away from my home computer including while I'm running at the gym, stopped at a traffic light, taking a break at work and in many more scenarios. I'll even use it when I'm at home since I generally have my phone by me more often than my laptop.

Chris did not mention what kind of phone he has, but it would not be very surprising to learn that he is used to using a phone with the ability to instant message, retrieve information from the Internet, and download information.

While the demo was for the iTouch, it is important to keep in mind that the mobile courses work on the iPhone and other data-transfer enabled cell phones.

The demo for review included three criminal justice courses, all of which allowed one to test the way in which the announcements, gradebook, and the learning objects were presented. At the same time, it was possible to test the way that the e-mail and access to iTunes worked when in a variety of settings.

Unique aspects include taking advantage of the iTouch's ability to allow individuals to have on-demand interaction (download and communication) wherever one has access to a robust wifi connection.

* View gradebook
* View and post announcements
* Access school e-mail
* Download, view and listen to podcasts, presentations, videos

The iTouch was a good choice for AIU because it has several advantages over other mobile devices:

* interactive
* larger viewing screen
* scalable texts and graphics
* can download via computer using iTunes
* do not have to have a cell phone with a dataplan

iTouch downsides:

* Can't scale all the screens, which means it's hard to read some of the text
* Limited memory and storage

Additional benefits:

*iPhone and data-transfer-enabled Cell phone compatibility
* any time, any where access

Aligning user needs and and real-world habits and patterns is what is at the heart of the success of Web 2.0, and it's gratifying to see the philosophy start to extend to mobile learning. This will not only enhance usability, but will also allow students to feel more comfortable with the process. Students will feel motivated and will be able to focus on the content instead of feeling frustrated by the technology or lack of access. iTouch-based mobile learning represents a positive integration of user needs, technology habits, and learning preferences.

Link to demo on YouTube:

American InterContinental University (AIU), established in Europe in 1970, awards Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees in a variety of disciplines. The AIU network includes seven campuses: AIU Buckhead (Atlanta, GA); AIU Dunwoody (GA); AIU South Florida (Weston, FL); AIU Los Angeles (CA), AIU Houston (TX), AIU London (England); and AIU Online (based in Illinois).

Susan talks about the AIU mobile course (warning -- video cuts off at the end):


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Interview with Michael Orey, University of Georgia

Michael Orey, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology at the University of Georgia, responded to interview questions on distance learning. Dr. Orey is a pioneer of online education, having developed multimedia learning materials since the 1980s. His insights and core philosophy of online education are valuable for all educators and administrators interested in motivating students and rehumanizing the online learning space.

What is your name, and what is your involvement with e-learning?
My name is Michael Orey and I am a professor in Instructional Technology. I teach online classes and have done so for about 10 years. I also consult with various companies who are engaged in e-learning in various ways.

BTW, the photo I have provided shows me sitting on the Veranda of the Jekyll Island Inn teaching an online class using Wimba’s live classroom. This was during a Distance Learning Administrator conference and I believe that my photo was taken at least 5 times during my class because attendees at the conference loved seeing e-learning in action!

How did you get interested in distance education?
It was a natural progression of using technology for learning. I have been in the field of Instructional Technology since the early 1980’s. I was originally interested in Intelligent Tutoring Systems, but my interests just keep evolving as new and more interesting technology becomes available. I was never interested in distance learning when the technology available was postal mail, but as the web has grown, so has my interest in distance learning.

What is your favorite new trend in distance education?
I have been involved with technology for learning for years and over those years I have come to believe that teaching and learning is a very human endeavor. I think that the trends in distance education I think are the most interesting are the ones where closer connections are made between students and between students and teachers. Some of those are live classrooms like Wimba and some of those are 3-D virtual environments like Second Life, but more tailored to the support of collaboration.

What is your favorite technology?
I am a big Wimba user. I have been using a live classroom for nearly 10 years dating back to an early version of Placeware which is now Microsoft’s NetMeeting. I am beginning to believe that some sort of hybrid between Wimba and Second Life would be the next great App for learning.

What kinds of instructional materials do you use in elearning?
I have or are in the process of writing/editing three wiki-based books in my field. I use these in my online classes and make them freely available for others to use. I also have developed things like quizzes and assignments in WebCT to support learning. I use Impatica for recording lectures with Powerpoint. I use Captivate to do software demonstrations. I use videos to support learning as well and have begun to put these on YouTube so that they are freely available.

How do you use textbooks in e-learning?
I have already answered this to some extent with my wiki books. However, I also teach classes where I have not written the text. In these classes, most frequently, I use a collection of readings. These readings I scan into PDFs and provide within a password protected site like WebCT to the students in my classes.

What are your favorite social networks? How do you view them in e-learning?
I am in LinkedIn and Facebook, but I am not a “native”. I seem to only go to these sites when someone wants me to link to them, so I do.

Do you have a few favorite mashups or web applications that work together in innovative ways? Please describe them.
Other than those I just described, no. As I learn new and interesting technologies, I try to weave them in. I did a podcast for a class once, but I did not have a great deal of success with it, so I abandoned it. I have used a wiki to run a class once, that was pretty successful.

BTW, the books I edit online are:
Emerging Perspectives on Teaching, Learning and Technology
This is the oldest book I have. It has evolved over the years to include video, animations, images, narrated powerpoints and other media to support the content of the book.

World Almanac of Educational Technologies
This book has as a goal to have a chapter from each country in the world so that we can all learn about how technology is being used everywhere. We only have a handful of chapters so far, but we are still hopeful that others will continue to contribute.

Foundations of Instructional Technology
This book is due to be ready in the fall of 2008. As such, most of the chapters are still just promises.

BTW, the wiki I used for a class can be found at:
This wiki shows some of the ideas I have about Open Resources and Global Issues.

What is your favorite quote? or, what's a book that caught your eye recently?
Unfortunately, my favorite quote is from my favorite author and not someone in the e-learning world. It is from Kurt Vonnegut:
Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

Would you like to hear an interview with Dr. Orey? click here.

Interviewed by Susan.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Web 2.0 Language Learning: Virtual Worlds, Social Networks, Mashup Assessments

Can you really learn a language in a virtual world or using Web 2.0 applications? Yes, if.... Success has to do with how the learning experience is designed, and how and where learning objectives and outcomes are defined, and how they are assessed. Developing good instructional strategies for learning languages via Web 2.0 apps will provide answers to the following quesitons, and more: What makes some Second Life language experiences effective? What makes having a virtual mentor effective? Which easy-to-use mashups can be used to develop vocabulary? How can mashups and instant messaging be use to develop learning communities? How can skills be assessed using scripted role-play games and virtual worlds?


Web 2.0 applications offer enormous promise to people who want to learn or perfect languages. The virtual worlds of Second Life and, the general social networks of facebook and myspace, and the specific needs-tailored networks built around language acquisition and practice succeed in encouraging individuals to interact in a new language and to feel a sense of affiliation and bonding.

In addition, virtual worlds and social networks can be very attractively designed places. It's easy to spend hours in a virtual world or social network, and never feel any of the pain one might normally associate with monotonous drills with an interactive CD-ROM, a set of tapes, or seat time in a language lab.

Learning Objectives.
What do you want to learn? What do you hope to take away from a virtual world experience where people interact in a different language? It is very important to identify the learning goals.

Learning Objective-based Instructional Activities.
In learning a language, the learning objectives may have clearly definable outcomes. For example, a learner may want to include increase her medical vocabulary. In that case, the instructional activities should be developed around the objective (and not the other way around).

Meaningful Interaction.
Once the learning objectives have been established it is easier to develop virtual worlds and interactions that help achieve objectives. For example, the individual who wants to expand her medical vocabulary may participate in a virtual world that simulates a medical clinic or a home health care situation. The interactions would be in the target language, and the virtual world could have mouse-overs to tag the items with the name and pronunciation.

One of the gaps in virtual worlds and virtual learning is the fact that it is hard to tell what kind of learning has taken place. Self-assessment that ties in with learning goals would be very effective. At the same time, if the goal of the student is to be able to pass the TOEFL or another standardized test, it might be very useful to be able ask questions in a virtual world and review comprehension and vocabulary, and then to follow up with a practice test.

Mashup Assessments.
Integrating Web applications to create language tests is not as far-fetched as it sounds. For example, an application could pull images tagged in Flickr, integrate a Spanish dictionary, and incorporate Instant Messaging and students could identify the name of the image.

One could even integrate a Meebo ( widget which integrates several text messaging programs. Thus, individuals could also participate via cell phone in lively, informal language assessments.

Further, this is an excellent way to develop a learning community built on people who have
- shared interests
- similar goals
- aligned competency levels
- complementary learning styles

Results-based Tutoring.
Many companies have emerged that offer language tutoring using collaborative, real-time software as well as virtual worlds. This is a very exciting possibility, particularly if the learner clearly sets out objectives and the tutors stay focused on determining the best ways to achieve the objective.

New Online Services Offer Web 2.0 Language Instruction provides social networks, language lessons, tutoring.
Question - What is the quality of the instructional material? How does one identify the outcomes assessments? focus on social networking and informal tutoring networks
Question: Can interest groups be tagged around desired outcomes? A social network that encourages developing a learning community. It is focused around creating networks of people with similar goals and objectives. The core focus is Chinese.
Question: Would the focus need to be primarily in spoken Chinese? Would the calligraphy present a problem?
- Language Learning via Skype
/: Social Network for Learning Languages

An overview of Excellence in College Teaching and Learning.

A link to purchase your own copy.Excellence in College Teaching and Learning: Classroom and Online Instruction

Don't miss this article, which provides information useful for creating innovative math mashups and web applications:

Monday, March 03, 2008

Innovative Math Mashups for Education, Commerce, and Social Networking

Integrated math-based mashups and web applications can bring together demographic information and other kinds of data sets in useful, engaging, and productive ways. Any database can be used, and sources of information could range from census bureau data, GIS repositories, satellite information, to online shopping inventories (, restaurant reviews, iTunes, video-rating social networks, and more. All involve math, and all engage learners and users in real-life information, which make the instructional activities more relevant. The applications are also interdisciplinary, which allows learners to explore real-life uses for new approaches with Web 2.0.

Podcast / downloadable audio:

In addition, learners and users can think of other integrated, interdisciplinary math-focused applications, which could include community planning, urban renewal, traffic management, retirement planning, and even vacation planning.

Further, integrating the information from demographic databases with social networking (MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn), can help pinpoint individuals who may share interests, purchase patterns, or areas of expertise. (link to social networking software)

The purpose of this blog post is to provide links to repositories of information, useful Web 2.0 applications that may help young math learners, and to posit ways to combine applications.

You may wish to employ cluster analysis, artificial neural networks, or other approaches to the data. For algorithm development, Wolfram's Mathematica 6 is highly recommended.

The key is dynamic interactivity. Here is what Wolfram Labs states:

Mathematica 6 brings a revolution in the concept of interactive computing—for the first time allowing dynamic interfaces to be created instantly as a routine part of everyday work. Based on a series of inventions at Wolfram Research, Mathematica 6 builds on Mathematica's powerful core symbolic architecture to allow sophisticated interactive interfaces to be created from single lines of input—as easily as getting answers to simple calculations. (Wolfram on dynamic interactivity).

If you last worked with SPSS in a college statistics course, you might be surprised at their array of browser-based data collection and display products, as well as the data mining, text mining, and analytical programs. SPSS focuses on predictive analytics in what they refer to as the predictive enterprise.

Basically, this blog looks at fairly simple approaches to using math-based web applications. The goal is to think about integration:

1. Foundations: Learning the basics of math by finding helpful information on the web.

2. Data: Finding sources of useful information, and learning how / where to put the information to good use.

3. Combining information: Meta-tags, tags used in folksonomies, isbns, upcs, zip codes, altitude, latitude and longitude, are some of the gatherable data that can be brought together. They can yield interesting new looks at the world around us.

4. Tools: There are numerous websites that discuss how to use igoogle and myyahoo as a foundation for combining Flickr, Picasa, and amazon information. It might be more interesting to move forward a bit and use powerful analytic tools provided by Wolfram and SPSS.

Demographic Information: Practical Math Applications, Interdisciplinary Approaches

World Facts:
CIA World FactBook Country Listings:

U.S. Census Information:

Free Demographics:

graphic from

State Demographics:

MelissaData: Free Lookups

State Demographics:

Community Tapestry
(from ESRI's website): Identify the top three neighborhood lifestyles to better serve your customers. ESRI's Community Tapestry segmentation system classifies each U.S. ZIP Code based on socioeconomic and demographic characteristics to create 65 distinct market segments. Author note: The information is very intriguing.

(graphic from ESRI's ArcGIS software information page)

ESRI: Best Data for the Best Business Decisions

Math Applications and Math Tools: Perfect for Developing Instructional Activities

Wolfram Mathematica 6: Users and uses
Examples include
Diagnostics for eye cancer prevention.
Geo-positioning for targeting accuracy (defense application).
Designing children's playground equipment. (combining multiple values)
Predicting likely degradation rates of biofuels.

SPSS: SPSS has a full array of analytic tools and programs that far exceed the limited SPSS package one uses in one's college statistics courses. SPSS's new embeddable building blocks create flexibility. It is not clear whether or not the blocks can be used in web applications, but one could, of course, use the obtained from web applications.

OEM embeddable components
SPSS 16.0
Text-Mining with Clementine (R)
Surveys and Data Collecting (web-deployed) with Dimensions
Browser-based Reporting Platform (Showcase) -- check out the various lenses

Kids Online Resources -- think of how to combine with Flickr, Google Maps, or other mashup-able databases


Famous Curves:

Number Skills:

Geometry, Fractions, Algebra:

In Spanish!

Practical Money Skills for Life:

Individual Retirement Accounts:

Differential Equation Java Generators:

Here are some text-based lessons that encourage individuals to bring in widgets, and mine different databases: - Lesson Bank // Math:

Now for something completely different

Road Sign Math
This is a rather bizarre concept that is not really a mashup, but something more akin to gematria. The goal is to find mathematical relationships within the numbers found in road signs. It's an interesting puzzle -- almost like a living brain-teaser. It's an amazingly clever idea. The site has to be visited to really appreciate the depth of the cleverness. Hashing out the algorithsm and teasing out the mathematical relationships should not be done while driving. (!) Record the signs with your camera phone or digital camera.

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