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.

AR/VR/XR mooc video

Ed tech must reads: Column #37

First published in Campus Morning Mail 31st May 2022

2021 to 2022: The Decade of the MOOC from Journal of Interactive Media in Education

Remember when MOOCs were going to be the comet that wiped out the dinosaurs of Higher Education? As with most predictions about the future of learning and teaching, that wasn’t the case but MOOCs have found an important niche in the ecosystem nonetheless. This review article from JIME looks over 25 MOOC related articles published in the journal, finding four key themes: situating MOOCs; learning design and roles; MOOCs and languages; and accessibility and inclusion. It’s an enlightening read.

What role will MOOC platforms play in UK universities online futures? From Neil Mosley

Having looked backwards, this post from Neil Mosley offers some valuable insights into the plausible future of the use of MOOCs in British Higher Ed in terms of university partnerships with key external providers as they gradually reposition their commercial purpose. Some of the big picture ideas that Mosley addresses include how the use of MOOCs might be used to further teaching and research agendas and how universities might expand access to lifelong learning.

The fine art of teaching with a ‘Light Board’ from Video Teaching

A major challenge in filming teachers teaching has long been the question of how to capture them writing on the board as they explain and work through concepts. Clearly, a recording in which someone has their back to the camera half the time is far from ideal and options like writing on a tablet can require messing around with multiple inputs that take the educator out of the moment. Lightboards put the lecturer on the other side of a ‘glass’ whiteboard, letting them write normally (the video is reversed) as they speak directly to the camera. This post offers some handy tips.

Combining Augmented Reality with Peer Learning Pedagogy: iPEAR Theoretical Framework from AACE Review

Much has been made of the potential of Augmented Reality (AR) in Higher Education, the use of mobile devices to add graphical overlays on reality to add meaning and context. There has been far less discussion of the pedagogical approaches needed to support it. This ambitious post in the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education explores some possible options for integrating AR technologies with peer learning

Webinar – Wednesday 1st June, 5pm (AEST) – Student perspectives on Audio Feedback from the ASCILITE Transforming Assessment SIG Feedback is widely recognised as one of the most important parts of learning yet often one of the most overlooked. There is a growing body of work around new ways to provide students with meaning, personalised feedback that will enhance their engagement in the process. This webinar on Wednesday features two presenters discussing their work in using audio feedback. While the results are mixed, there are some useful lessons to take away.

AR/VR/XR CMM education education design professional development

Ed Tech must reads – Column 14

First published in Campus Morning Mail on Tuesday 16th November 2021

Professional Development Opportunities in Educational Technology and Education via Stephen Downes

Stephen Downes has been a go-to source for information and opinion about online learning for decades. He is also one of the originators of the idea of the MOOC. In this post, he shares a comprehensive Word doc list (147 pages) from Clayton R Wright of Ed Tech/Education conferences, seminars and workshops of note between now and 2024. (I did still manage to find one that isn’t on the list – that’s at the end of this column – but you had better believe it is comprehensive)

Teaching like a Master(Chef) – Using MasterChef as a model for effective and ineffective lesson design from Medium

Reality TV shows provide us with hours of content every week of ‘real’ people engaging in challenging practices right at the edge of their capability for our viewing pleasure. In some cases they are thrown into a task cold but more commonly they are supported in different ways that can offer us insights into wider learning and teaching practices. James Bullous explores (UK) Masterchef in this engaging post, ranging over Discovery learning, Cognitive Load Theory, feedback, modelling, motivation and more.

25 more real-world examples of Virtual Reality from E-Learning Provocateur

This post is a couple of years old now but given recent buzz about Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR), it’s worth revisiting as a handy source of exemplars of innovative uses of the technology in education/training, healthcare, marketing, gameplay, ‘travel’ and storytelling.

Brain Implant Translates Paralyzed Man’s Thoughts Into Text With 94% Accuracy from Science Alert

Something that is a little further down the road from practical application in the classroom but nonetheless fascinating is this story that draws on an article from Nature. Researchers have been able to capture thought-to-text at a rate of ~18 words per minute with high accuracy. The mind boggles.

EdTechPosium 2021 – Canberra, Friday December 10th

EdTechPosium is a one-day conference with a practical bent covering innovative uses of educational technologies in ACT universities, TAFE and schools. Once known as MoodlePosium back when Canberra education institutions were collectively a Moodle shop, it is a great opportunity to connect with the dynamic local Technology Enhanced Learning community. Keynote speakers include chief Moodler Martin Dougiamas, ANU PVC Education & Digital Prof. Maryanne Dever, Ed Tech guru Natalie Denmeade and Astrophysicist Brad Tucker. For $90 including dinner, it’s hard to go wrong.

AR/VR/XR audio Metaverse SAMR Twitter

Ed Tech must reads – Column 13

First published in Campus Morning Mail on Tuesday 9th November 2021

Examination of the SAMR model for effective technology integration through an adaptive leadership approach from i-Managers Journal of Educational Technology (Paywall)

The SAMR (Substitute – Augment – Modify – Redefine) model offers a framework for increasingly sophisticated uses of a given technology in learning and teaching. It is underused in education and particularly in areas responsible for planning educational transformation, but Heatherton and Trespalacios (Boise State University) offer some useful suggestions for its application. While the article does focus on the K-12 sector, their suggestions are easily applicable to Tertiary education as well. Their discussion of the need for flexibility in a space where change has become a constant is equally valuable.

About Twitter Spaces from Twitter

Spaces is new, relatively unheralded functionality on Twitter that enables live audio conversations. It seems to be Twitter’s response to the mobile app Clubhouse, extending some functionality natively to desktop and laptop users. (It is possible to listen to the audio there but not speak). I stumbled across a Spaces session hosted by medical researcher @upulie while idly browsing Twitter one evening and was struck by the tool’s potential for innovative use in teaching and educational CoPs.

Using head mounted display virtual reality simulations in large engineering classes: Operating vs observing from Australasian Journal of Educational Technology

The recent palaver about Facebook’s ambitions in the Mixed/Virtual Reality (XR) ‘Metaverse’ prompted some discussion about one of the biggest practical issues faced by institutions, access to and management of sufficient hardware. Seven scholars from Engineering at UWA explore whether everyone actually needs to have a go to benefit in this handy AJET article from earlier this year.

Microsoft Teams enters the metaverse race with 3D avatars and immersive meetings from The Verge

While we are talking about XR and the metaverse, it’s worth noting that Microsoft announced last week that they plan to bring their own toys (Mesh and HoloLens) into their communication and collaboration platform Teams next year. The most notable functionality in this would seem to be the ability to be represented by an animated avatar in Teams meetings. Given that one of the struggles of Zoom classrooms in the COVID era has been the cameras-on/cameras-off debate, with students feeling over exposed but teachers wanting connection and non-verbal feedback, avatars may offer a middle ground if they work well enough.

Simulating a university Twitter thread from @BryanAlexander

Bryan Alexander is an ‘education futurist’ and one of the more engaging speakers I have seen in recent years. He recently posted on Twitter that he was planning a seminar for his students which would involve a game simulating a university over the next decade. He called for suggestions of random events for them to grapple with. The responses were wide-ranging and at times hilarious.