AI AR/VR/XR Metaverse Twine

Ed tech must reads: Column #38

First published in Campus Morning Mail 7th June 2022

Is information power? Exploring the potential of data and analytics for student representatives from International Journal for Students as Partners

The Students as Partners movement seeks to engage learners in meaningful ways as co-creators of their learning experience. Academics like Kelly Matthews and Mollie Dollinger (among others) have worked tirelessly in support of these more equitable approaches. This paper from Rates and Gašević makes a strong case that giving student representatives in this process access to the rapidly expanding pool of learning analytic data in universities offers great opportunities for even more meaningful contributions.  

The problematic metaphor of the environment in online learning from Jon Dron

The upcoming paper stood out because it relates directly to a piece of work that I am currently engaged in. How exactly do we conceptualise the entangled network of technologies, systems and processes that sit behind learning and teaching to best understand it? The environment or ecosystem metaphor (Ellis & Goodyear, 2019) has been popular but Dron argues here that this way of thinking may lead to simply replicating the problems of the physical world in the online. I don’t necessarily agree but it is a thoughtful piece.

Understanding Group Behavior in Virtual Reality: A Large-Scale, Longitudinal Study in the Metaverse from 72nd International Communication Association Conference

This paper from ICAC (not that ICAC) explores some of the practical aspects of teaching in Virtual Reality environments over a period of time in terms of presence and engagement. Interestingly, providing learners with the ability to customise their avatars increased their sense of self-presence in the space but decreased their enjoyment.

Having fun with Twine from Laura Gibbs

Twine is a delightful open-source tool for creating branching stories – think Choose your own adventure books. This slide deck from Laura Gibbs provides a basic overview of the tool and then a rich set of exemplars of creative ways that Twine has been used to create interactive fiction.

All these images were generated by Google’s latest text-to-image AI from The Verge

The AI-based text-to-image goldrush continues as Google plants its stake in the ground. They have announced (but not yet made available) their tool for creating images from simple text prompts called Imagen. Clearly, they have cherry-picked the most outstanding results but this quirky selection shared in The Verge sends a clear message that the days of believing what we can see are long behind us.

AI ed tech

Ed tech must reads: Column #36

First published in Campus Morning Mail 24th May 2022

Why is my lecturer a robot now? Using AI-assisted technology to teach from Teaching@Sydney

Some of my recent must reads about the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education might have painted a picture of a looming academic integrity quagmire. There is a far brighter side though to be seen in this post from Anna Boucher, a politics lecturer at USyd. AI-assisted voice technology is helping to mitigate a voice disability that makes it painful for her to speak for prolonged periods. The possibilities for greater equity for both staff and students are exciting.

So you want to create an online class independent of a school from Bryan Alexander

There can be any number of reasons to want to create opportunities for online learning away from organisational systems. Ed tech futurist Bryan Alexander recently posed the question of how to DIY this and this post summarises the wide range of suggestions that he received from the community.

The market fall of EdTech will have non-financial impacts from Phil on EdTech

Noam Chomsky once said that the best way to understand the world was to read the business pages. This post from Phil On EdTech describes the notable downward trend in many EdTech companies over the last year. I’m far from a financial analyst but I would have to wonder whether there was an artificial spike in valuations during the pandemic when online learning was everywhere. What we need to think about is what impact potential sell-offs and mergers of the companies behind the tools we use might have.

Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation from Western University Canada

The diversity of education technologies in the market and wild claims that some vendors make can make it challenging to know which tools to adopt in your institution. There are many factors to be considered in an evaluation process and this guide from Western University offers some straightforward ways to consider some of the most significant from a learning and teaching perspective. It doesn’t cover everything that your IT dept will need but it makes a strong start.

Preparing proposals for ASCILITE 2022 – Webinar Thursday 26/5 The call for papers for ASCILITE 2022 has been made and all around Australasia people with an interest in Technology Enhanced Learning are starting to consider what to work on. This webinar from ASCILITE’s TELedvisors Network brings together conference organisers and the authors of the best paper award winner last year to offer some insights and inspiration. There will also be time for people to discuss ideas and find collaborators.

academic integrity AI engagement Uncategorized

Ed tech must reads: Column #34

First published in Campus Morning Mail 10th May 2022

An online engagement framework for Higher Education from Online Learning

One of the most commonly expressed concerns about teaching online – particularly from educators more comfortable in a classroom – is that it can be much harder to engage learners. In 2018 Redmond et al. explored the research literature around this and identify five key themes – social, cognitive, emotional, behavioural and collaborative engagement. (Perhaps echoing and building on ideas of teacher/social/cognitive presence). They go on to propose a framework of strategies to bolster online engagement in this invaluable paper.

An Entangled Pedagogy: Looking Beyond the Pedagogy—Technology Dichotomy from Postdigital Science and Education

Another common issue raised in discussion around technology enhanced learning and teaching is about how we find the balance between pedagogy and technology when it comes to institutional decision making. Tim Fawns makes the worthwhile point that it isn’t an either/or conundrum. Technology and pedagogy are inextricably entangled and it is virtually impossible to discuss one without factoring in the other in practical terms.

Ouriginal chief defends Turnitin takeover against monopoly jibes from Times Higher Education

Something for the “Well he would (say that), wouldn’t he” files – Andreas Ohlson, former Ouriginal CEO, now Turnitin Senior VP downplayed suggestions that the recent merger of the two anti-plagiarism giants would be bad for competition while speaking at the European Conference on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism. Of perhaps more interest is the tidbit he dropped about the future focus for the company being on ongoing assessment – presumably in recognition of a need for support of wider assessment modes with the rapid growth of AI based services.

Why haven’t the students who complained about missing f2f lectures returned to them from Twitter

At the peak of the pandemic lockdowns, some students were highly vocal about feeling ripped off by their institutions in being denied face to face lectures, even calling for partial refunds. Anecdotal evidence is suggesting that, now that universities have largely returned to face to face delivery, many students aren’t turning up or engaging. This tweet thread from @Dr_Paul_Penn explores some possible causes and the extended discussion is well worth a read.

Wordtune – (A great) Artificial Intelligence based writing assistant from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning Coming back to the growth of AI based writing tools – Wordtune is freemium browser extension that offers suggestions for alternate wording for any writing done in the Google Chrome browser. It claims to support contextual rewriting, tone switching and shortening/expanding text. I maintain a healthy skepticism but it is important to stay abreast of what the students might be looking at.

AI digital literacy Wordpress

Ed Tech must reads – column 17

First published in Campus Morning Mail Tuesday 7th Dec, 2021

Three Lenses on Lurking: Making Sense of Digital Silence from International Perspectives in Online Instruction (paywall)

The practice of reading the discussion in an online forum without engaging with it is sometimes referred to as ‘lurking’. I’ve never been a fan of this term as it casts a shadow on what can be perfectly reasonable behaviour. Kuhn et al essentially agree in this thoughtful chapter which examines lurking in online learning spaces – where ideally there is a greater need for students to be active participants. They offer some valuable nuance to the types of ‘lurker’ behaviour that offer opportunities to rethink how we create welcoming spaces for students.

Aussie gov takes on trolls from Vertical Hold: Behind the Tech news podcast

Given the current government’s track record in the technology/defamation space, it’s unsurprising that the recent announcement of plans to hold social media platforms more accountable for defamation on social media platforms have a few people wondering what the end game is. Monash Uni’s Emily van der Nagel shares her thoughts on these proposed changes relating to privacy, power and moves toward ‘banning anonymity’ (2:38 – 18:22)

Open/Technology in Education, Society and Scholarship Association Journal from OTESSA (open access)

This shiny new Canadian Open Access journal comes from OTESSA, an organisation formed “with the goal to provide an inviting community to drive innovation, research, and practice in areas where either technology or openness intersect with education, research, and, more broadly, within society.” The first edition covers topics ranging across video-conferencing technologies, online faculty development for effective graduate supervision, and Open Educational Resources in mathematics and learning communities.

50 Most Common WordPress Errors and How to Fix Them from Beginner’s guide for WordPress

WordPress has quickly become a ubiquitous platform for blogging and web publishing and it often fills the gaps when officially sanctioned institutional education technologies can’t quite do what educators want. Skimming through this handy list for troubleshooting WordPress for beginners, I recognised at least a dozen things that I could/should do to quickly fix my own site.

Dream app for easy AI art from Wombo

A few months ago, I shared some information about VQGAN+CLIP tools that let you use AI to generate art from basic text prompts. These are great but can be complicated, so it is little surprise that there are now simple apps that let you do this in a couple of clicks. The outputs don’t go through as many iterations as the full tools do and there is speculation that the company sells the ‘artworks’ as NFTs (the 21st century Tulip mania) but if that doesn’t bother you, it’s a fun tool that lets you download your images in seconds.