Thursday, 31 January 2008

EuroAfrica – ICT – 31 january 2008 – the morning

Some thoughts:
Brain drain is affecting research in Africa. (There are more African researchers in the USA then in Africa itself).

Passing information:
For Maxime: the central website of EuroAfrica will post more information on the open corporation meeting between Europe and South African companies on ICT.

Speakers roughly (with the ones I liked on top)

(this is a very new media focussed person, really into it – contact him for collaboration) Beza BelaynehBotswana (director of ICT4Dev in Botswana)

Key foundations for eCommerce are not yet established.

And focussing on eLearning and mainly the challenges

And HIV/AIDS health

Focussing on indigenous knowledge (really great!) he emphasizes the dying of old people’s knowledge => need for research.

(has a good idea of cost of fiber optics, ask info on umts)

Christine Leurquin – ISI (a technical actor to contact, mentioned telemedicine and heatlh and the importance of developing with models from Africa)

Suggests an African satelite to cover all of Africa, especially the rural areas.

Easy is broadband and telecoms services. Also wimax

Main communication needs: institutional framework,

Emphasizes need for African local actors in this field.

Major topics to tackle: health (mentions medicine and telemedicine)

Areas ISI wants to work on (connecting schools (geant), delivery through local actors (point of presence in villages), large pilot projects localised on up to 3 countries could be possible, and wants to integrate mobiles, how to make it work in the field (maintenance, how to organize it), work on low cost access. She mentions that she has strategies for all of these areas.

She mentions prices and demonstrates the need to decrease the cost of terminals and services, low cost satelite capacity. She says (does she mean it) that she wants models from Africa to develop possible services (would be great).

(Remark from a participant: cable is still half of the cost of satelite, 5 billion EUR to provide Africa with fiber optics. Answer of Christine: right on the cost, too much demand, too little offer is the cause. What ISI 200 EUR per terminal 500kbs, the lowest would be 30EUR per capacity (am I right? Not sure, need to ask again).

Another remark: difficult to talk about demand driven, because the impact of ICT is not clear to the potential user. In Burkina Faso a lot of satelites are dying, because the users can not put the money in to get them alive. Awareness on local level will improve and breach barriers for users. It is difficult to understand – as a user – that 1 EUR investment in satelite will be more efficient than 1 EUR in health of the user.

Another remark: how can Europe bring this service to Africa, because the cost is very high and all health (he is a physician) is affected by this. Mobile market is the fastest growing market in Africa.

[- because of this interaction, it immediately got the meeting more interesting - ]

Tara Dasgupta - Caribbean Academy of Sciences proposed by CARICOM. Stressing the impact of polution through computers. The developing countries risk to have a higher percentage of toxicity in the blood of people, because toxics in computers are not disposed off in a secure way.

Peter Zangl

5% of financial resources of Africa goes to R&D in ICT !?! (is this possible? Ask him)

Fiberglass investment millions of EUR’s, but why not jump directly to umts (cost?)?

Call 3 is coming up: will it include social media => can enhance development of user-generated content localy.

Santhi Kumaran delivers a presentation on KIST in Rwanda.

Johan Eksteen – Meraka institute South Africa - Focusses on benefits of FP7 for sub-Saharan Africa

Serge Ferré - Nokia

Correlation between mobile implementation and countries wealth (he says).

Says “no taxes on communication” so no benefits for the regions that give these access, but he of course still wants to make a profit on his mobile devices. It just sounds very uncomfortable.

Need for a taylored user interface that is conform culture models.

Emphasizes enabling regulatory environment.. And of course – because climat is on the world agenda – he emphasizes the need to regulate waste (of mobile devices etc) which is of course very good and necessary.

Remark from someone from the ‘digital forum project’? not only focus on mobile devices, but develop hybrids computer ó mobile.

Another remark: yes, but what if everyone has a mobile phone, then what, because the cost equals a salary at this moment, just in connecting.

Things to remember corporation wise:
Ubuntunet Alliance
Wireless Africa (Nokia driven)
Living Labs

NOT an un-meeting: attending the EuroAfrican & ICT meeting in Brussels, Belgium

At this moment I am attending a formal (very formal) meeting of the EuroAfrican & ICT group that focusses on possible collaboration for FP7 programs.

No idea of the real knowledge that is in the room. The attendees are all experienced and bring a lot of expertise, but the meeting is not constructed in such a way that all this expertise is exchanged, which is a bit of a pity.

There is a need to give an overview of the successful projects that were done, and so presentations are a part of the meeting, but... what about connecting to one another? Why not - in a second phase of the meeting or on a possible second day - take away all the table boundaries and build more informal gathering spaces. This could easily be done by putting some tables with major topics around which one could collaborate (human health, agriculture, veterinary health ... other research topics). And then let the participants just gather (not sit and become passive, but stand (if physically possible of course) and start discussing, brainstorming, building on collaboration.

Informality would increase the partnership output, would increas networking and getting to know each others knowledge and possible plans or problems.

I also have a gut-feeling that if the hierarchy would be taken out, a more eclectic cultural approach would be possible as well. Formality most of the times enforces the power of the strongest culture, thus pushing that old agenda as well.

I wonder if any of the questions that arose during the meeting will be taken up in the minutes and if the minutes will be made public?

All of these things to ask the chairperson and organisers.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

working on a paper on gender, ethnicity, religion and class

While I was developing courses, some of my colleagues wondered why I was always bugging them with 'picture ethics'. I am always asking them to get equal representation for women/men and age, and different ethnical backgrounds, just to give the ITM courses just that little more umph that learners need.

But because they kept questioning my stubberness in using pictures that depict non-stereotyp roles or use pictures from various ethnic groups, I felt it was time I could back my story up. So I started looking for a checklist and theoretical arguments that would back up what I was saying.

I did not find a checklist for instructional design, but I did find some great papers and books on the subject. So let me give you my list and feel free to add some of yours, or send me remarks on the subject.

Chorng-Shyong Ong and Jung Yu Lai. Gender differences in perceptions and relationships among dominants of e-learning acceptance. Computers in Human Behavior Volume 22, Issue 5, September 2006, Pages 816-829. Science Direct

Mary Ann Cejka and Alice H. Eagly . Gender-Stereotypic Images of Occupations Correspond to the Sex Segregation of Employment Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 25, No. 4, 413-423 (1999). Sage Journals.

Amy L. Baylor and Yanghee Kim. Pedagogical Agent Design: The Impact of Agent Realism, Gender, Ethnicity, and Instructional Role. LNCS Volume 3220/2004 Intelligent Tutoring Systems DOI10.1007/b100137. 2004. ISBN978-3-540-22948-3 CategoryPedagogical Agents. Pages592-603

Book (Globalized E-learning Cultural Challenges ) theorizing a multiple cultures instructional design model for elearning and eTeaching,M1

A review on the book:

On women and medicine Taylor C.: J Womens Health. 1994 Jun;3(3):143-53.LinkOut
Gender equity in research.

E. Melis and C. Ullrich. Gender-biased adaptations in educational adaptive hypermedia. In P. de Bra and W. Nejdl, editors, Proceedings of the third International Conference on Adaptive Hypermedia and Adaptive Web-Based Systems, pages 425-428. Springer, 2004.

I. Heemskerk, A. Brink, M. Volman, G. ten Dam. Inclusiveness and ICT in education: a focus on gender, ethnicity and social class. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Volume 21, Number 1, February 2005, pp. 1-16 (16). Blackwell Publishing. Link

A difficult one to cover is the minority ethnical groups... still trying to find how I can implement this in an overal instructional design guideline.

Chaos in my head at the moment and in my references, but the idea is getting clearer.

Friday, 25 January 2008

join my free online session on social media: benefits for researchers

With the free online tool Wiziq I have scheduled a session on the personal benefits of social media for researchers. Wiziq is hot, so try it out!

If you are interested, feel free to join me on Thursday 14th February 2008 at 14.00 PM (GMT +1 = Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin) . Language: English (with Flemish accent).

This session is based on a face to face presentation that I gave at ITM earlier this month. On the feedback I got from the attending researchers I have adjusted my presentation a bit to get it more taylored to their needs.
The reason I organised this session was because some researchers at ITM where doubtful of the benefits of social media. This doubt kept them from jumping in. After the face-to-face sessions people got talking and now social media is taking off within ITM's researchers.

What you have to do if you want to attend: register (username and password) and then you have access to all the sessions.

Wiziq is a very easy to use tool for online sessions that enables audio and video (if you want to), has a whiteboard and a content section where the speaker or the participants can draw up or scroll through information (including powerpoints etcetera). The tool is userfriendly and it seems to function well. You can add text, highlight a selection, add images, encircle words ... on the whiteboard. There is a chat available as well. Unlike Elluminate, you cannot raise hands or more of those interactive features for participants, but you can give the floor to participants.

And straight from the press: wiziq can now be added to Moodle.

It is (still) free, betaversion and ... it has potential. Just look at some of the archived sessions for cool international exchange of content.

If you like an indepth review of Wiziq I recommend the blogpost of Vance Stevens.
There is a nice review here from the Teaching college math technology blog. While at their point in time they had trouble loading up content, my content uploaded immediately. Wiziq has a blog with feedback and stories on their development.

Let me know if you want to join, I can immediately add you to the participants list. If you want to help me in moderating everything that is going on, you are more then welcome, it will also enhance the quality of interactivity.
Or if you have any questions about the forthcoming session, ask, I will be more then happy to answer.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

testing gogofrog

Gogofrog delivers easy to construct 3D-websites. So I was taking a look to investigate if I could use it as a 3D virtual classroom. Nicola Avery told me about this tool.

In the sign-up section (no protection on the password or any other data that you put in on the login page, so you better be careful), can choose between a number of options. I choose the club/association option hoping it would fit a virtual classroom environment.

You can add different features to the wall, mainly text and/or images, but also add a forum or a blog. There is a possibility to show an image gallery which works fine. The images that are posted on the wall are visible in the room.

Trying to integrate a blog from outside did not work, it took a lot of download time and it did not open. But adding a blog for the room itself worked like a charm. I did miss the visualisation of the blog, but then again by leaving it until a person looks into the blog saves bandwidth.

The forum was okay, but you had to go up to the wall and add something to make it visible. Adding an external forum did not work.

There is an opportunity to build different rooms with different topics, which is very nice. You go to a different room by adding a ‘doorway’.

The possibility to add furniture was nice, but not crucial for the use of the program itself. It did augment the design though.

There is a chat integration possibility, which works with avatars and an easy text writing feature.

Once you have activated (= published) the site, you can easily access the website with the arrow controls on your keyboard and you mouse.

Overal gogofrog is really easy to work with. If gogofrog or similar softwares improve and enable different, more active attachments, it might be really handy to get some quick virtual class together with minimal ‘how to’ guidelines. That would take the pressure of having to dive into virtual worlds and would give people with a limited experience in virtual life a taste of easy learning in an online environment. Small userfriendly virtual classrooms... I think it might be a market. The fact that the interactivity is limited could be a setback in comparison with other 2D virtual classrooms, but still it is worth keeping on top of.

Visit this Gogofrog site to get a better idea:

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Bogus research data on effectiveness of learning methods

Jay Cross got me straight on fraudulent information concerning the effectiveness of learning methods. Will Thalheimer who has a great blog with research-based commentary on learning and performance got some mails out on this topic and … those mails surely got me gasping for air.

In a previous presentation I have mentioned William Glasser and I put in statistics that I thought he used to divide learning methods. Some of those circulating statistics turn out to be myths linked to professional names like Glasser and others.

The first post in which Will Thalheimer refers to those fraudulent results dates from Monday, 1 May 2006: People remember 10%, 20%... oh really?

His central point being that learning results depend on too many variables to enable such precision. He then searched for the origins of this faulty data and he found the data was first published by an employee of Mobil Oil Company in 1967. Read the full post, it is really remarkable. Will Thalheimer’s arguments are SO simple, I could not help but hit myself over the head, because although sometimes I was thinking the right thoughts I dismissed them as being errors of my own judgement. One of his remarks is so simple and true: “Everyone who uses a citation to make a point (or draw a conclusion) ought to check the citation.”

One thing is for sure his comments are well constructed with strong arguments and data. I will get him on my blog roll, that is for sure. He also mentions experts in those particular fields, for example Michelene Chi of the University of Pittsburgh that were miss-referred regarding this data.

And a follow up post on bogus numbers mentioned in wikipedia in regard to Edgar Dale’s cone of experience.

Those posts were the best proof that thanks to social media and participation exchanging correct data is being facilitated. Like the much sited article of Kulik and Kulik on feedback which left out a big impacting factor.

At these sort of times I sigh deeply and tell myself that I will never be able to stop learning, and I definitely always should keep a questioning mind. Unfortunately there are times in which I just want to be gullible just out of sheer laziness. On the upside, these kinds of posts make me more vigilant towards myself as well.

Monday, 21 January 2008

guidelines on writing a paper: my synopsis

the last couple of weeks I have been floaded with meetings and one of the reoccuring things was: writing papers. So I jotted this post together to have a short document for future use.

Please add things I might have overlooked.

Based on two sources:
Writing a paper – by George M Hall – third edition (referenced with pages in this post)
San Francisco Edit:

Readers must be able to

  • Assess the observations you made
  • Repeat the experiment if they wish;
  • Determine whether the conclusions drawn are justified by the data.

Some pointers:

  • Search a peer review journal with best reputation in publishing for your domain. Journals of societies have a larger circulation. Is the journal referenced a lot?
  • Use active verbs and clear subjects (not ‘several’ but ‘three’, not ‘somewhere’ but ‘in the Maritime region of Canada
  • Make every sentence useful, no blabla
  • Explain abbreviations before including them
  • Help the editor by using the format (style sheet) journals prescribe
  • Write the first draft without hesitation, editing comes afterwards
  • Guidelines on figures and tables:

Step 1: references – always start with the literature/research that is already out there

The references are the backbone of your paper. They provide the scientific background that justifies the research you have undertaken and the methods you have used. They provide the context in which your research should be interpreted.

References should be limited to relevant ones with clear scientific interest (too many references shows insecurity of the author)

Whenever you find a reference, archive them in a clear bibliographical way (use Zotero for instance)

The Vancouver format is preferred for scientific references:

Journal article:

Surnames and initials of authors. Full title of paper. Title of journal Year of publication; Volume number: First and last page numbers of article.

Example: de Waard I., Writeress G. Best practices in building mobile courses. eLearning Magazine 2100;55:123-234.

Book or monograph

Surname and initials of authors. Full title of book. Number of edition. Town of publication: Publisher, Year of publication.

Example: de Waard I. Putting humour into eLearning. 3rd edition. Antwerp: Epo, 2010.

Chapter in multi-author book

Chapter author (surnames and initials). Chapter title. Book authors or editors (surnames and initials). Book title. Town of publication: Publisher, Year of publication. First and last pages.

Step 2: make an outline

This is the blue print of your paper.

Summary (from San Francisco edit: )

  • Develop a central message of the manuscript
  • Define the materials and methods
  • Summarize the question(s) and problem(s)
  • Define the principal findings and results
  • Describe the conclusions and implications
  • Organize and group related ideas together
  • Identify the references that pertain to each key point
  • Develop the introduction

The basic structure of a paper: IMRaD (p1)

Introduction: what question was asked?
Methods: how was it studied?
Results: what was found?
Discussion: what do the findings mean.

2.1 Introduction:

One sentence says it all and engages the reader. Not more than one paragraph to explicit the first sentence. Keep it short, arresting and clear, usually between 300 – 500 words.

(From San Francisco Edit: )

  • Begin the Introduction by providing a concise background account of the problem studied.
  • State the objective of the investigation. Your research objective is the most important part of the introduction.
  • Establish the significance of your work: Why was there a need to conduct the study?
  • Introduce the reader to the pertinent literature. Do not give a full history of the topic. Only quote previous work having direct bearing on the present problem.
  • Clearly state your hypothesis, the variables investigated, and concisely summarize the methods used.
  • Define any abbreviations or specialized terms.
  • Provide a concise discussion of the results and findings of other studies so the reader understands the big picture.
  • Describe some of the major findings presented in your manuscript and explain how they contribute to the larger field of research.
  • State the principal conclusions derived from your results.
  • Identify any questions left unanswered and any new questions generated by your study.

Other points to consider when writing your Introduction:

  • Be aware of who will be reading your manuscript and make sure the Introduction is directed to that audience
  • Move from general to specific: from the problem in the real world to the literature to your research
  • Write in the present tense except for what you did or found, which should be in thepast tense
  • Be concise

Or plain and simple: what is the elevator pitch

2.2 Methods:

“This section should describe, in logical sequence, how your study was designed and carried out and how you analyzed your data. “ (p16) A clear method should be described before starting a study.
“If your research aims to answer a question, you should state exactly what hypothesis was tested” (p16) Always state clearly the a priori hypotheses (p17)

When you use statistics, give the exact tests used to analyses the data statistically.

A good methods section can answer these questions (p21)

  • Does the text describe what question was being asked, what was being tested, and how trustworthy the measurements of the variable under consideration would be?
  • Were these trustworthy measurements recorded, analyzed, and interpreted correctly?
  • Would a suitably qualified reader be able to repeat the experiment in the same way?

How the study was carried out (p18)

  • Describe how the participants were recruited and chosen
  • Give reasons for excluding participants
  • Consider mentioning ethical features
  • Give accurate details of materials used
  • Give exact data
  • Give the exact use of all the instruments involved

2.3 Results

The introduction has defined the questions and the methods the means of getting the answers. Decide during the design stage of your study how the results will be presented. (p34)

Results should not be interpreted, just delivered.

Follow these rules:

  • The text should tell the story
  • The strongest results should be mentioned first
  • The text should complement figures or tables
  • The figure will show the highlights
  • Provide a heading for each table or figure
  • The statistics should support the statements
  • Use the past tense when you refer to your results (the present tense everywhere else)

2.4 Discussion

(should not take more than a third of the total size of the paper)

Try not to repeat what you have already stated in the intro to your paper.

Decide which of the references with an important message seem to have involved the strongest methods and make them the centerpiece of your historical review.

Summary (p41)

  • Three ways to start your piece: mini-seminar, main finding, or what’s different.
  • Summarise relavant important previous work
  • Put your results in context
  • Mention doubts, weaknesses, and confounders
  • Three ways of ending: problem solved, more research is needed, or uncertainty remains.

From San Francisco Edit:

  • Organize the Discussion from the specific to the general: your findings to the literature, to theory, to practice.
  • Use the same key terms, the same verb tense (present tense), and the same point of view that you used when posing the questions in the Introduction.
  • Begin by re-stating the hypothesis you were testing and answering the questions posed in the introduction.
  • Support the answers with the results. Explain how your results relate to expectations and to the literature, clearly stating why they are acceptable and how they are consistent or fit in with previously published knowledge on the topic.
  • Address all the results relating to the questions, regardless of whether or not the findings were statistically significant.
  • Describe the patterns, principles, and relationships shown by each major finding/result and put them in perspective. The sequencing of providing this information is important; first state the answer, then the relevant results, then cite the work of others. If necessary, point the reader to a figure or table to enhance the “story”.
  • Defend your answers, if necessary, by explaining both why your answer is satisfactory and why others are not. Only by giving both sides to the argument can you make your explanation convincing.
  • Discuss and evaluate conflicting explanations of the results. This is the sign of a good discussion.
  • Discuss any unexpected findings. When discussing an unexpected finding, begin the paragraph with the finding and then describe it.
  • Identify potential limitations and weaknesses and comment on the relative importance of these to your interpretation of the results and how they may affect the validity of the findings. When identifying limitations and weaknesses, avoid using an apologetic tone.
  • Summarize concisely the principal implications of the findings, regardless of statistical significance.
  • Provide recommendations (no more than two) for further research. Do not offer suggestions which could have been easily addressed within the study, as this shows there has been inadequate examination and interpretation of the data.
  • Explain how the results and conclusions of this study are important and how they influence our knowledge or understanding of the problem being examined.
  • In your writing of the Discussion, discuss everything, but be concise, brief, and specific.

Step 3. come up with a titaliting Title (p43)

  • Concise and precise
  • Informative and descriptive
  • Not misleading or unrepresentative
  • Words appropriate for classification
  • Interesting, not dull

Step 4. write a clear and interesting Abstract

Start preparing the paper by writing the abstract if you do not have a clear outline of the paper or leave the abstract till last if you already have a clear idea and you want to make sure the abstract completely covers the paper.

  • Check the maximum number of words ,(mostly between 200 – 300)
  • Keep it simple and comprehensive (p46)
  • Check for consistency: the abstract should reflect the paper and describe your message succinctly and accurately. Do the objectives described in the abstract match those in the paper?
  • State your hypothesis or method used in the first sentence.
  • Omit background information, literature review, and detailed description of methods. ( )
  • Remove extra words and phrases
  • Revise the paragraph so that the abstract conveys only the essential information.

Step 5 add Authors

First the person who wrote the paper, second and third authors: significant contributors, last one is mostly the heavy weight and guarantor. (can vary).

Monday, 7 January 2008

powering up for 2008

Two weeks without a digital connection? Yes, it is still possible and nice to get some time off. I even got my old notebooks (the paper ones) out of the closet and started rewriting some old stories.

yawning, stretching, thinking, organizing for a new 2008.

Happy New Year and a great and inspiring eLearning year!!