20 October 2010

Where do the bright shiny things live?

It’s a lot easier to create content for the Web than it used to be. Only a couple of years ago, it was pretty difficult to make beautiful things to add to a website without sophisticated authoring tools and skills well beyond anything I could possibly be bothered to acquire. Now, just keeping track of the tools is almost impossible.

I rely almost exclusively on a fantastic site called Paul’s e-learning resources. Paul, whoever he is, has gathered together an amazing list of free, easy-to-use tools that can be used to produce “high quality resources that can be used on any web-enabled platform”. Teachers around the world need to bookmark this site. You’ll find this treasure trove at http://sites.google.com/site/technologyenhancedlearning/.

The variety of the materials on the site, and the speed with which it grows, will help to prevent you from becoming victim to Baby Duck Syndrome (BDS) … a truly delightful concept. According to wisegeek.com (via Stephen Downes):

Baby Duck Syndrome is a term used to refer to the tendency of computer users to prefer the systems that they learn on, and to reject the unfamiliar. In addition to applying to operating systems, Baby Duck Syndrome applies to software programs, keyboard layouts, and other electronics. This concept has a firm basis in psychology, as many humans have a known preference for maintaining the status quo, rather than exploring new possibilities ... This technical term is a reference to the work of Konrad Lorenz, a psychologist who actually studied geese, not ducks, although his work could be generalized to ducks. He learned that when baby birds hatch, they "imprint" on whatever moving thing they first see, whether or not that thing is a parent. Lorenz famously got several clutches of goslings to imprint on him, and there are some charming photographs of Lorenz teaching the young geese how to swim, eat, and perform other tasks.
(Well, that explains the LMS cults.)

However … back to Paul. This week, Paul introduces us to Voisse (a free tool that can be used to create audio journals, among other things), Markup.io (“a neat little bookmarklet … that you can click on anytime to start annotating whatever webpage you are on at the time … your annotated page is then given a unique URL which can be shared”), Muvizu (a tool for making 3D animated movies), and Spicynodes (helps you to make mind maps of the content you’ve put into your LMS site). … and that’s just the beginning of the tools he has tested and reviewed, and to which he has provided links.

So, if you are looking for new and interesting ways to present content, or to engage students in authentic learning activities, or to avoid BDS, go and visit Paul.