Friday, 13 April 2012

Weekly Learning Technology Digest... 7

Image by Jennifer 真泥佛, available under a
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license
Friday and time for the weekly learning technology digest.  Lots of tech-related stuff seemed to happen this week which means that's going to feature fairly heavily... but there were also a few articles I read on privacy, skills for educators and a couple of interesting bits about e-books too...

Here we go...
  • Facebook bought Instagram - you could hardly miss this one, especially with a price tag of $1bn.  It'll be interesting to see if it goes the way of Picnik after it was acquired by Google, integrated into Google+ and the stand-alone service killed off.  The reaction so far has been mixed, but it's another little reminder that if you use third-party tools like this - while they may be brilliant at doing what they do - you have to have an exit strategy if the service disappears / gets swallowed by another company!
  • Thinking of the issues with social media, there was an article from ZDNet which gave 'The pros and cons of social media as a learning tool' - and if you're thinking about integrating social media into your teaching, this is a good list of 'things to consider' when you're weighing up what your learners will get from its use.  
  • If you decide that social media is something you want to use - then have a look at this article from The Guardian 'Using social media as a language learning tool'.  There are five nice simple ideas at the end and they're a good place to start!
  • This leads me nicely on to 'The 21st century pedagogy teachers should be aware of' - while there are some useful links in this article, it's hard to imagine that this really is *the* definitive guide.  Can you imagine someone writing 'The 20th century pedagogy teachers should be aware of' in 1912 and it still have been relevant in 1992?  Take the '21st century' bit with a pinch of salt, but have a look at it in terms of how things are currently developing.
  • Back to the technology and Google+ had a face lift and claimed that it now had 170 million users, with 100 million active in the last month alone.  While those figures are impressive, it's not clear what they actually mean by 'active' users, and they're certainly nowhere near the 850 million users of Facebook.  I still think it's one to watch and the free Education On Air conference on the 2nd of May (also announced by Google this past week) might be a turning point moment for how it's perceived by the education sector.
  • Privacy - often mentioned as being the biggest of big issues with using third-party applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Google etc... but an interesting article, 'Selling Digital Fear', to counter some of that fear came from TechCrunch.  Critical thinking skills apply as much in the digital arena as in other walks of life... and helping people understand the risks and issues with giving out personal information in a balanced way is far more helpful than the usual hysteria!
  • The last two articles are about e-books.  One from The Chronicle of Higher Education called '3 Major Publishers Sue Open Education Text-book Start-up' - and though this is a US lawsuit the outcome will be fascinating in terms of how far open resources can be reused and remixed.  Secondly, 'The Next Time Someone Says the Internet Killed Reading Books, Show Them This Chart' - an article which does exactly what it says!  From less than a quarter of people reading books in 1947 to 47% in 2005.  While this makes no judgement about quality - it's reassuring to see that reading isn't experiencing the sad decline some may suggest!
And those, in a digest-shaped nutshell... were the highlights from the last week.  Lots to read.  Lots to think about.  All good stuff!


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