Sunday, April 13, 2008

6 different digital stories

Stories can be powerful vehicles for information. It can motivate and touch you and can activate you. For learners it seems to be a very natural way to learn.

Pinguin Publishers are presenting 6 online stories. I wrote about the first one on my Dutch blog. This story was created with Google maps. You are following a guy through the city. It is a new way to experience a detective story.

The second story used blogs and Twitter to tell the story and to interact with the audience.

The third story asks questions and in this way you can influence the storyline. Not new but a nice way to involve the reader and make reading a participating activity.

This week Nicci French is publishing a story and it is written live!

It is a nice idea of Pinguin to explore the way you can tell stories by using internet tools. Every story is from a very different writer, in a very different format and in a very different style.

You can get some inspiration about how to involve your audience!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

OLPC for the Dutch?

We Dutch also want our OLPC laptop! While everybody in the world who is slightly involved with e-Learning in a professional way, is playing around with their 100$ laptop, I'm still waiting for mine.

Also in The Netherlands there is a huge potential for the famous laptop. It ships with a robust OS, a lot of educational content and unique and refreshing networking capabilities. In Dutch schools the penetration of computers in classrooms (especially within primary education) is still not that impressive. In primary and secondary schools, there is one computer for every seven pupils. See a report (867 kB, PDF) about the Dutch IT-situation within primary education.

And I wrote before about the great initiative to buy two computers: one for yourself and one unknown kid. Simple and efficient system.

Although we ordered 3 (or six as you like) OLPC's back in 2007, we are still waiting. First they messed up with the credit card transaction (to many laptops on the bill). Later it turned out that we didn't order them. After that we received an e-mail that our computers were shipped in December and since that moment we keep trying to contact the organization in various ways, without success.

So if anybody knows how to order them in a successful way: please tell me so we can start creating powerful learning experience, both for our and for other children. As an e-Learning consultant I cannot wait use the OLPC and to develop content for it!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Open source Storyboard tool

When you are writing scenarios for your educational video or your digital storytelling project I found a nice tool to support you.

The tool, that can be used for Windows, Linux and Mac OS, is available in 20 languages including Chinese, Russian and Dutch. It is free to download.

On the website they say about it:

Celtx is the world's first fully integrated solution for media pre-production and collaboration. It replaces old fashioned 'paper, pen & binder' media creation with a digital approach to writing and organizing that's more complete, simpler to work with, and easier to share.

I'm not sure if they are the first but I know for sure that this application works intuitive and it is a very complete environment. You can even add functionality if you are using the (paid) webservices.

But even without the webservice you get a complete set of useful functionalities. You can use Celtx in the different production phases, the main areas where you can use it:

- WRITING TOOLS (scripting, index cards, etc.)
- PRE-VISUALIZATION TOOLS (storyboarding, etc.)
- ORGANIZATION TOOLS (scheduling, back up, etc.)

So far I used mainly the storyboarding tool and that one is enough reason to download the package.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mindmapping rules!

For a long time I'm using mindmapping techniques for professional tasks. When I have to design a course, do a training or presentation or many other things.

Sometimes I'm using MindManager, other times FreeMind but also online tools like MindMeister.

If you are new to mindmapping, do yourself a favor and watch this video with a 28 minute explanation from Chuck Frey (see also his blog). It is a bit surprising that not the format of a mindmap is used, but's free and holds good information!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Want to be a cartoon master?

If you have the wish to become a 'Cartoon Master', you can start with this funny and interesting e-Learning module.

You can walk through this tutorial for free and will learn all the basic principles on how to create cartoon like animations. It is a clear explanation with a great use of animations to explain the concepts. The style of this tutorial is fun but it also holds sound information.

So if you are using cartoon animations for e.g. you digital storytelling, this one is for you. If you are interested in the use of animations to explain concepts, this is also an example for you.

They also promise a new tutorial on how to create animations on the computer, I can't wait! Beep beep, here I come!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Visible Body!

Thanks to the blog of Jane Hart, I discovered the rich world of the website The Visible Body. The creators saying it "is the most comprehensive human anatomy visualization tool available today."

After registering for free and downloading some Active X controls, the draw back is that it only works with Internet Explorer. For me this is a problem because I cannot get IE stable since I installed 7.0.

But what a rich model of the human body! Especially for students and teachers of biology this is a great resource. It would even be better if you could add some interactivity as a teacher but the creators are promising a lot of more features; one example is the use of quality animations. So who knows what is next.

This site hold a lot of promises. So let's combine it with the ideas within the BBC page about the human body and another powerful learning experience is there!

Friday, January 11, 2008

WBTs on e-Learning for free!

During the European project Fe-ConE, we developed 6 WBTs about e-Learning. This was not the goal of the project but a way to do research. The 6-week course on e-Learning Fundamentals hold a lot of didactical activities and one of them was a kind of old fashioned WBT.

I host 3 of the 6 WBTs (in English) on my own Dutch Blog, please feel free to look at them. These are not the best I could do (due to extreme time constraints) but maybe you will find it useful.

BTW: all the learning materials are published under Creative Commons licenses so let me know if you want to re-use it. I have the files in native eXe format.

> WBT “e-Learning Basics”

> WBT “e-Learning Tools”

> WBT “e-Learning Trends”


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Number of physicians per 1000 people?

Data are hard to understand for a lot of people. Above a certain number it is hard to realize what it means exactly. Enormous list and endless graphs clarify it a bit but still…

The website Gapminder presents lots of information in a very attractive and effective way. You will find things like lectures but one of the parts I like the most is the Gapminder World 2006. This website, powered by Trendalyzer, enables you to explore the changing world from your own computer. Moving graphics show how the development of all countries by the indicators you choose.

It is a very flexible and interactive way to explore data. You can compare different countries (look for your own!), you can compare population, number of internet users, physicians per 1000 people etc. And you see these parameters evolve over the years. Great!

Click here to see an example.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Dutch blog!

I know there are too many blogs to keep up and still I felt the urge to start another one. Again it is about 'powerlearning' and the main difference between my new blog and the one you are reading now is the language.

My new blog is in Dutch and will also differ a bit because I will also write about specific Dutch issues and news. For the rest I would like to have the same approach as with Powerlearning: I will post on a regular base but not daily and only when I have something interesting to write about. Not because I 'have to'.

For me there are some more differences: I start having my own webspace again. With also another open source application: Wordpress. So far I like it but it is not as user-friendly as Blogger. For the first time of my life I'm into PHP and that's not what I want to learn. HTML and XML is enough for me. I used one of the many themes and designed it a bit further. Only one problem with the language because my installation was an English version and some text is still in English but I don't feel like re-installing again…

So for the Dutch readers: please add to your RSS reader. Enjoy!

I want to thank you for reading this blog in 2007 and I would like to see you all back in 2008. Have a nice party and all the best for 2008!

Friday, December 21, 2007

GPS game with runners and surfers

Yes, it is pretty exiting to walk around with a GPS receiver, towards waypoints to collect some new clues. This week we went with a big group of Stoas to a very nice town called Deventer.

The game was a nice mix of activities. In total we had 4 timeslots of 30 minutes. In the 30 minutes we divided our team in two sub team: 'Runners' walked through the city with a GPS receiver to search for predefined 'waypoints' At certain coordinates there was an object we needed. Via the mobile phone we stayed in contact with our team mates who played the role 'surfers'. The surfers sat behind a laptop and had different assignments. The surfers needed to solve online puzzles and had to answer certain questions. They could use internet to solve things. If they answered a question not correctly, the pages were blocked for a minute. The surfers had to provide the runners with questions that were related to the certain spots in the city. This way the tasks were involving and not boring at all. The runners needed to be back at the base (a warm and nice café of course) on time.


I could imagine that you can turn this quite easily into an educational game e.g. for new hires to explore the company (at least from the outside). You only would like to do a bit more at certain locations so I would prefer to use a GPS enables PDA or iPhone. With that you can do different assignments and use the web for additional info and to enter the answers. But the way we did it (with a collaborative task and a simple receiver) was also challenging and fun. It is motivating to team up with people at a different location and to put together the pieces of the puzzle.

The Surfers are working very hard!

If you want to set up games like this you can use free available software tools, one example: