Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Very Own XO Laptop Video/ OLPC

This is my first attempt at creating a video. I was inspired by my little green and white machine. My XO and the One Laptop Per Child Education Project really is wonderful and well worth learning some new technologies to promote! Please take a moment to view my one minute video on the XO laptop. Let me know what you think about the XO or if you have any questions about it at all. I will be posting a video review of my XO later this week.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The XO Laptop, Higher Education & Mesh

My XO continues to amaze me. I haven't had as much time as I would like to spend on it, but I am continually impressed each time I use it. One thing I have learned for sure- my little green machine has an incredible wireless range (approx. 3 times that of most laptops). I was in a Peet's Coffee shop two days ago, which had no wireless connection for their customers, along with two others who were working on their laptops, but not online. It took me two minutes to connect to an open wireless network a couple of blocks away. Others looked perplexed when they saw what appeared to be a green and white toy machine connected to the Internet, which they could not access. I told them that the next time they were able to get online they should google "One Laptop Per Child" and learn how to get the most advanced technology available. And that's what I want to discuss in this post.

I plan to meet up with a couple other XO laptop owners soon so we can all mesh. What is mesh? Well, here's my earlier post on the mesh network to check out if you are unfamiliar with the term. Be sure to watch the short video.

Now I'm not a techie by any means so keep that in mind, but I'm trying to understand some things. Why don't our expensive computers contain mesh networks? Doesn't this make perfect sense, especially in the context of higher education? Isn't collaboration more important than ever when it comes to research? Once I saw how the mesh network worked, I imagined the students at my university using this technology for course projects (with profs and librarians meshing right in the middle of them and assisting as they work), and then I imagined university students from all over the country being able to mesh, and then I thought of the global community. It blows my mind that a computer that cost under $200. to build contains these advanced open source technologies. Is open source the answer? If so, why isn't higher ed totally embracing the open source community? Maybe even leading in the open source movement? Perhaps this is already happening and I'm simply unaware? Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, December 21, 2007

My XO Laptop Has Arrived!

My new XO laptop in Powell's Books, Portland, Oregon, USA on Dec. 20, 2007. It is amazing. Beyond what I had hoped for. It works wonderfully. It cost under $200 to build and includes cutting edge technology (Mesh!) which doesn't exist in our most expensive laptops. It runs on Linux, a free and open-source operating system. And it's revolutionary interface, Sugar, promotes collaborative learning. I paid $399. for this machine as part of the OLPC Give One Get One program, in which I receive one machine and a second machine is donated to a child in a developing country. That feels pretty good as well. I can't imagine an educator who would not be excited about this. If you want to know more, here is a link to my YouTube playlist of videos on the XO Laptop and OLPC. It's not too late to order one, the deadline has been extended through Dec. 31, 2007.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Virtual Worlds-Immersive Education

This Chronicle article "'Immersive Education' Submerges Students in Online Worlds Made for Learning" was informative and led me to the Immersive Education site which contains valuable information for anyone wanting to investigate further.
I have been a believer of virtual worlds and their potential in higher education for some time. Most of my experience has been in Second Life. I have looked at and posted on Croquet. I believe virtual worlds are here to stay and their use in higher education will grow. It makes sense economically and as distance education continues to grow I think more universities will take advantage of the rich experiences that can be made available to their students. I'm glad to see that more folks in higher education are working to make better use of this technology for educational purposes. I will definitely continue to follow this trend. It will be important for academic librarians to have a role in these spaces.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Google's Knol - Good/Bad Idea?

When Google introduced Knol this last week, I was perplexed. I could not figure out why Google would want to compete in this way with Wikipedia or Citizendium. I wasn't going to even post on this, but something I saw in this Chronicle's Wired campus blog post "Can Google's New Open Encyclopedia Best Wikipedia?" caught my eye and I began to think Google's Knol could have a chance. The key factor in Google's favor is that Knol authors stand to make money for their efforts. But I still do not think this Google project will succeed.
Now I love most all things Google, but I would personally rather see Google focus on more innovative endeavors of its own rather than looking at ways it can add revenue by tweaking successful Web 2.0 products like Wikipedia and calling it their own.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Better Virtual Worlds

Recipients of 2007 Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration Announced - $100,000 went to Duke University for leadership and development work on the OpenCroquet open source 3-D virtual worlds environment. From About the Technology: "Croquet is a powerful new open source software development environment for creating and deploying deeply collaborative multi-user online applications on multiple operating systems and devices."
In 2007, HP and Duke University announced the formation of the Croquet Consortium, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the continued development and refinement of the Croquet open source platform. The work behind this project started several years ago and continues to develop. I'm optimistic about this virtual world and its potential in higher education. There appears to be more of a focus on educational applications than Second Life and other virtual worlds. It also seems much easier to use. I'll continue to investigate.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Thought This Was a Joke

In Japan, half of the top ten selling works of fiction in the first six months of 2007 were composed on mobile phones. That is composed as in written, not read, on cell phones! And all along I've thought we need better keyboards or plugin portable keyboards for handheld devices before people will do much work on them. But then I'm a baby boomer.
From the Sydney Morning Herald: "In just a few years, mobile phone novels - or keitai shousetsu - have become a publishing phenomenon in Japan, turning middle-of-the-road publishing houses into major concerns and making their authors a small fortune in the process." We know that Japan is far beyond the U.S. when it comes to mobile phones, but this one caught me by surprise. TechCrunch also picked up this article and I enjoyed reading the 56 comments where I learned more about this phenomena.
I will continue to think mobile, I don't think we're that different from Japan (though I understand the long commutes and cultural differences) the UK, etc. I think it's only a matter of time for the U.S. And my post on Cell Phone College Class in Japan makes even more sense now.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Google, OLPC, and Unicef Collaborate - Primary Sources

From the FAQ Page:Our Stories™ is a new project that encourages people to interview friends and loved ones, and to share these oral histories with others. Our three founding partners, UNICEF, One Laptop per Child (OLPC), and Google, have come together to help create, share, and grow a global collection of personal stories collected through recorded audio interviews.
Last night I tried this site and listened to the short stories of three young boys from Tanzania. It worked wonderfully and was interesting and inspiring. This will be a hit with the young and old from all corners of the world. Great collaborative project.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Academic Libraries As Place

The librarians at my university will be meeting this week to discuss what is often referred to as "library as place." We will look at this from a couple of perspectives. We have all read and will discuss the third of a five part strategy in this article: Lewis, David W. “A Strategy for Academic Libraries in the First Quarter of the 21st Century.” May 2007. Freely available at the IUPUI Digital Archive(Revised version of “A Model for Academic Libraries 2005 to 2025.”) We will also discuss a report written by our library director on the library as place that addresses general trends and space use implications for our university.
Some of what I expect our group will discuss:
What should the academic library of the future look like? How will the needs of our students, faculty and staff be changing? How can we begin to address those needs (with limited funding) now? How should we prioritize the needs for now and in the future-what is most important? (And how will the role of the academic librarian fit into these new spaces? But that's probably another meeting.)
Ideally academic libraries will begin to incorporate technologies which address the changing needs of our students. As mobile learning continues to be developed in the U.S. students will need and appreciate spaces where they can come together to collaborate on projects or just to socialize. The video below gives us a taste of some of what I'm sure academic libraries of the future will include. I also think we can learn a great deal from watching how businesses are currently using new collaborative technologies such as this bar/lounge (scroll to photos of computer tables in lounge at the bottom of the page).
So if I was given a $25K donation right now to bring important future technologies into my academic library, I would begin by adding a wall size touch screen computer as shown in the video below along with at least one interactive digital table and a 4D Globe. My guess is these would be a hit with both students and faculty and the library would become a more desired and popular place on campus.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mobile Learning-The Next Big Thing in U.S. Higher Education

The award winning Learning2Go partnership is currently the largest collaborative mobile learning project for pupils in the UK. Below is a quote from "21st Century Mobile learning becomes reality for learners in the City of Wolverhampton":
Put quite simply, if learners are to use the power of the internet and all of the content and authoring tools that are now available, they need access to a device at a time of their choosing and driven by their learning needs.
Some may say this is a ways off still for the U.S. Others will argue it's already here as some of our colleges and universities (and schools) have been moving in this direction. But I believe that soon mobile learning in colleges and universities will become ubiquitous in the U.S. The devices are finally becoming inexpensive enough, with increasingly high quality screen resolution and longer battery life. And with Google's Android and other open source programs there will be more Web based applications available than ever before. Also consider the increasing amount of digitized materials being made freely available along with ebook reader like capabilities on these devices. The handheld device makes sense for many reasons now including providing better pedagogical opportunities. Soon I can see students paying a little more than they currently pay for their cell phone text messaging machines for a machine that allows them to also take a class on their device or supplement their in-class coursework.
Of course librarians need to consider this as we continue to develop ways to best serve students and faculty. And academic libraries in some ways could become more important as a place where students gather to work and collaborate using larger touch screen computers and other technology to facilitate learning in groups. There's much to think about still but this is going to happen, it really is time.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Google, iPhone and Mobile Computing

From today's Google Alert - Google picks iPhone for launch of new mobile app A great step forward for the iPhone. And once this device is 3G capable in 2008, it will be a great mobile machine. The ability to plug in a portlable keyboard would help for those planning to create serious Google docs.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Work in Higher Ed? Librarian? Give/Get an XO Laptop and Let's Mesh!

The OLPC Give One Get One program has been extended to December 31st. Mine will be arriving very soon and since there has been an extension I thought I would put in a plug to others, especially librarians and those in higher education. Invest in this product if you possibly can! Not only will it benefit a needy child in another country, the XO laptop you receive will benefit you and/or the child in your life as well. And best of all, we can mesh! Oh, and if you haven't heard of the wireless mesh network, which connects all other XO laptops within range together, which in turn connect others, and so forth on these machines then please watch the video below. And Sugar, "the interface that graphically captures fellow learners and teachers as collaborators, emphasizing the connections within the community, among people, and their activities," is amazing - check out this demo. Librarians regularly seek and discuss new collaborative technologies. This is the sort of thing that those of us in higher ed will want to take serious notice of for a number of reasons. See my other posts on this topic, including a short NYtimes video review of the XO.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Univ of Birmingham Wins JISC Award for Innovation, Excellence & Imagination

The e-course team at the School of Dentistry, University of Birmingham, won the JISC-sponsored ‘Outstanding ICT (Information and Communications Technology) Initiative of the Year’ award. The e-course they developed is wiki-based (so that anyone can create a new page, and set varying editing permissions), with a full range of social networking features, unrestricted file storage and sharing, podcasts, videos, wish lists, and anonymous feedback options, amongst others.
If you're interested in why they won, and quality innovative work, take a look at their welcome to the ecourse at birmingham uk page.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Google Ready to Bid

Google ready to bid on mobile airwaves
"Google announced on Friday that it will bid on coveted airwaves to launch a U.S. wireless network, in a move that could pit the Web search leader against U.S. wireless service providers."
I will continue to follow this. Google's success in this area is important to the future of mobile computing and higher education. And that makes it relevant to academic librarians.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Online Courses Growing, Next is Mobile Learning

Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning
from the Sloan Consortium.
From NPR: Online Courses Catch On in U.S. Colleges. And from NPR on the University of Illinois online education. And the last sentence from the NPR article above:"If any of this seems strange, get over it. Because the next wave in e-learning about to crash on our shores is m-learning, as in mobile learning, delivered to your cell phone."