OpenSource software in labs: pilot progress

This pilot project over in the new Digital Media Centre labs at iC is going very well. Ably supported by lab support technician Glenn Alexander, research into tweaking the lab setup is underway to ensure that when students logoff in the labs their software is re-set to an appropriate “clean-slate settings” state on the shared lab machines, and their data is saved on their USB or portable hard-drives.
I visited the class yesterday in person, and saw the colour animated graphics that the students were creating in the Ubuntu/Linux operating system using the Scala programming language. Look forward to seeing how the student projects develop.

ETC and Randy Pausch (The Masters Degree I want to do!)

I was watching a TED Talk Talk by Randy Pausch. He based his talk on his childhood dreams, but by about 40mins it in turns into a discussion about ETC. A great University course he helped develop after being a Disney Imagineer. It is so great and he speaks so enthusiastically about it. The course brings together Design, arts and engineering students initially, then opens up to a broader audience.

This guys has had some amazing opportunities, but I really like that someone else has picked up the ball for the ‘Masters Degree’. I really wish we could have something similar to offer students here at UOW.
There is more information about ETC here.

Engaging and Smart whiteboards in Engineering

Saw the full potential of the NoteBook software that authors and presents lessons on the SmartBoards. Thankyou Hannah Russell for taking the time to show me how it works. I particularly liked the split screen display of 2 sources, the URL link, the on-screen touch keyboard (like iPad) and the screen capture and paste functions.

Looking forward to hearing how it goes with using Bridgit software to share those lessons in real time with remote students.

Ning Social networks in teaching

Currently there are 3 undergrad classes that I’m aware of that use Ning as an entire learning environment, after a trial use by one class last session.

Ning lets anybody create their own social network and you can have sub-networks or special interest groups inside each network, which usually has a theme. I explored one called “Classroom 2.0”

After navigating thorugh to this network from an “education” themed newtwork i clicked on a network called “Classroom 2.0” and then i clicked on a “visit” link to go there. Once inside (ie on the Classroom 2.0 homepage) it looked remarkably like a WordPress blog. I wondered if it was based on WordPress with some additional code to create a visual clustering and linking between the different sites.

Can anybody comment on what exactly the students like about this particular site/network? How do they use it to stay in touch? Is it particularly easy to link through to find friends’ contributions?

The Classroom 2.0 social network (Ning) homepage      Another part of the homepage, with the special interest group links.

It certainly was easy to set up a new network, see images below you just name and pick a url, theme and colour scheme, and drag and drop the items/features to set the layout.

Setting up a Ning network

And here is what it looked like after i’d set it up. Empty. But ready to roll.

45 seconds later, a new Ning network site.