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Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Ignorance and Bandwidth - a Dangerous Combination

The institution I am employed by has just joined in the rush to block youtube and myspace. The group email simply read that senior management had made a decision to block both and questions should be directed to senior management. Short, sharp and simple - I am sure many just hit delete without blinking. I put them to the test and asked why this was happening. The reply more honest than expected - 'The decision was made after consultation with senior management and following complaints of misuse. In addition, these sites are using major amounts of bandwidth - ie in the top 5.' So management made the decision. Was there any consultation? Not that I know of. Are they experts in the field? No I do not think so, that is why they have relied in the past on staff such as myself. Are these the same managers that have told me directly that 'e-learning is wanky shit' and 'e-learning has no real place in the business services sector'? Well, who knows but I suggest yes. Misuse, has been reported. What misuse, by whom, what constitutes misuse? Could we not view this in another way? If misuse occurring, then why not help learners to use more productively and wisely, instead of blocking? Does not the fact that both youtube and myspace appear in the top 5 sites logged by the computer services department as using bandwidth, indicate that these sites are popular and used widely within the institute and as such, may warrant further investigation as to why? What they are used for etc? I guess not, we have no say, learners have no say, management who care little control all. A sad day for all learners at an institute that claims to be progressive, has and continues to receive a great deal of funding from the government in the e-learning arena.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Youtube and learning - Why so many questions? What is the problem?

I have been intrigued by the discussion in the AFLF Australian Flexible Learning Framework, about youtube and it's place in education. The discussion can be found here Personally I can see great scope for youtube as a component or an add on to our learning tool kit. You will find that I am using 'learning' these days, more than education or teaching, as I feel learning is more appropriate: Learning Education Teaching I know that I have learnt a great deal from watching a number of youtubes relevant to e-learning, such as a past post I made - are schools killing creativity?. So personal learning for me now does not come just from books, reading blogs or writings of others in their respective settings, it now involves checking out - or having sent to my inbox (and to my blog) youtubes, relevant to the areas I am looking at - social networking, elearning. This is much like a selection of RSS text feeds but videos instead. Videos that are interesting, informative, provide a means of connecting with others that you may not come across in other searches we conduct and a means of providing feedback to the author. As I am spending quite a bit of my time in front of a computer these days, it is refreshing to find a youtube video to watch and listen to instead of straining the eyes when they are getting tired. It is certainly more helpful and greater learning aforded as the material is current. How many of us have subjected our learners and ourselves to videos from the library, that are so outdated, all the learners do is laugh at the fashion of the day or the haircuts, finding it near impossible to take the content seriously and their lecturer, facilitator finding it hard to stay awake? I know I have been guilty of doing this, but with youtube, I can provide learners with links to youtubes that I feel are of relevance and may aid them in their learning. Within the forum discussion, their are many that can see the benefits of youtube but still those that need convincing that youtube has any place in learning or the educational context at all. I remember the same arguments and the same resistance when video's and then DVD's came into classrooms, many objectors who needed proof before they would use them - now to not use either is seen as odd. It concerns me that everytime a new technology is posed as being relevant to learning, that so many fight it, argue against it. Why not take the half glass full approach, instead of the half glass empty approach and embrace tools no matter whether ononline or not, that will enhance not only the learning but the learning experience itself. That provide all involved with greater diversity, likely ehnanced engagement as all varied and thus more interesting, increased exposure to current, new and forecast mediums/tools thus a learning experience created for today and not yesterday. Below are just a few things I thought about when comparing video/dvd to youtube: Please feel free to add as I am sure not complete: How is youtube different to video/dvd? All are visual and audio learning tools, all contain learning material? What is the problem? Youtube
  • available from anyplace you can access the internet
  • visual media
  • audio media
  • current
  • greater choice
  • can create and publish oneself
  • contains learning material
  • connects you with others
  • cost free
  • ability to comment
Video/DVD
  • visual media
  • audio media
  • often outdated in content and look
  • choice limited
  • contain learning material
  • expensive
  • viewed only in a room at insitution or home or other place if allowed to take it away from library, where you have power and all the equipment (DVD, if you own a lap top computer and has the capability to play them, more flexible here)
  • created by others
  • no ability to comment
  • no connection with others
Well for me just looking at the rough above, I can see no issue with having youtube in my toolkit.