IdeaPaint – makes a wall into a whiteboard

IdeaPaint is an interesting concept. If you’re thinking about putting a whiteboard up on your wall; think again, think IdeaPaint. Lay down a primer and then roller on IdeaPaint and instantly you’ve got a surface to directly use your wipemarkers on. There’s a range of different colours.

The different situations where IdeaPaint might be of use to you:

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Kahn Academy – DIY OER to Educate the World

Last Friday was an interesting day. I was tipped off by a colleague, Paul Leman, about the Kahn Academy when he sent me a link to Glen Moody’s blog post. At first sight the Kahn Academy looked like a fantastic resource, with 1000+ videos on various topic for students of all ages. But being one who never takes things on face value, I wanted to check things out and see what others were saying about this resource. That’s when I found David Wiley’s post which explained how there was no Creative Commons license attached to the content. I had a look and he seemed to be right. David had written to Sal Kahn the creator of the Kahn Academy previously, but he decided to drop him a further email. Then, as is evident from the comments David received on his post, everyone was immensely pleased to see that by the end of that day Sal had acted on David’s call and prominently displayed the CC license on the Kahn Academy homepage making it an OER for reuse, remixing, sharing, etc. I immediately embedded this video in my Daily Interests blog under the title Education for the World until I had time to write in more detail.

Now I have to take my hat off to Sal Kahn for a truly immense resource. What he has achieved with the Kahn Academy is nothing short of incredible. Single handedly generating instructional videos covering subjects including:

What a wealth of information. This has to be place in the category alongside Academic Earth and Udemy.

This story excites me on a number of levels. Perhaps one of the most significant is the difference anyone can make by openly publishing knowledge online to freely educate others. It’s an approach I’m trying to take myself to make a difference, however small; it is something that I passionately believe in. More power to anyone and everyone doing the same.

Bring in the expert

I’ve previously written about and vlogged about copyright, the remix manifesto, and Larry Lessig. I’m also very interested in the concept of stretching the boundaries of learning beyond what is commonly accepted. So it was a delight for me to come across a school media studies class (mrmayo’s blog), which is heavily influenced by Creative Commons, working creatively with digital media.  And not only that, but participating in a Q+A session with Larry Lessig over Skype.

Q+A Part 1

Q+A Part 2

That Larry, a Professor or Law at Stanford Law School, is willing to participate in such an interaction is simply brilliant! It also serves to encourage us all to ask and interact with noted experts across the globe. More and more the barriers of institutions are breaking down and enabling the potential for greater access to education for all.

Web 2.0 to Web Squared – the next phase of web evolution

The term Web 2.0 is about five years old now. It was coined by Tim O’Reilly at a conference and was intended to indicate the second coming of the web; that it wasn’t dead following the bursting of the “dotcom bubble”. But it has taken on this kind of folklore meaning, with many seeing it as an incremental version roll-out as with a software update. And Tim says he has been continually asked what the next big thing will be.

Is it:

  • The Semantic Web,
  • Virtual reality,
  • The social web,
  • the mobile web?

And what’s it called, Web 3.0?

The short answer from Tim seems to be that it’s all those things listed, and more; and it’s not Web 3.0.

The next phase of web development is Web meets World and to achieve this doesn’t need an incremental step, but an exponential one.

Hence, the term we can expect to see moving into folklore following next week’s Web 2.0 Summit 2009 Conference is Web Squared or Web².

Back on June 25, Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle presented a webinar setting out their view of Web².

I’ve Tubechopped the initial 17min section of the video and a 1min15sec answer to questions about the impact on Higher Education. Please note: this was recorded from a webinar over a phone line so the audio isn’t great quality.

They also produced a special report on the topic; available as a pdf.

The remainder or this post is concerned with what I think is most pertinent from this report and my comments.

The fundamental premiss of Web 2.0 is that the Web is becoming an application platform reliant on data subsystems that get better the more people use them, rather than just an information platform.

The question that then arises is, “Is the web getting smarter?

Looking at the current generation of apps is where we see the web getting smarter. An example Tim gives is Google Mobile Application for the iPhone. The speech recognition in the cloud is aligned with the search in the cloud, so Google knows what you’re likely to say – Pizza rather than Pisa – then the location information from the phone indicates that you want to know where the nearest three pizza places are located, rather than a Wikipedia entry on the history and origins of pizza. That seems to be much smarter. Speech recognition, search and location information all working seamlessly together.

And boiling down the essence of good web apps is that they harness collective intelligence. Collective intelligence is a collective working that acts more intelligently and leads to greater value than can be achieved by the individual components, be they people, groups or computers.

Key takeaway: A key competency of the Web 2.0 era is discovering implied metadata, and then building a database to capture that metadata and/or foster an ecosystem around it.

Web²  Special Report, p.4

Examples of what appear at first to be unstructured data that have subsequently been identified and utilized include Facebook where online relationships with friends are used to form a social graph, Bit.ly where a URL shortening service realised the potential of realtime analytics, the fact that every web link is a vote and every link from a person deemed to have greater standing in a group (as measured by their contributions to that group) has a greater weighting.

The report considers the influences that moving sensory and input devices away from the fixed keyboard and into our hands will have. These devices (e.g. smart phones) have eyes (cameras), ears (mics), position and direction locators. All of this will enable increasing amounts of metadata and tags to be automatically and more accurately assigned to vast amounts of data stored in cloud databases. And, interestingly, when the amount of data reaches a critical point, the addition of extra data actually reduces the size of the database because the linkages become stronger and the need for explicit metadata reduces.

This will give rise to a number of new applications, leveraging these affordances. Already we are seeing interesting augmented reality applications, including Layar on Android phones;

and the potential use of location specific images with Adobe’s Infinite Images to create 3D experiences of real and imaginary worlds (video filmed at conference).

An article appeared a couple of days ago in computing.co.uk entitled Moving beyond Web 2.0. It too was looking at Tim O’Reilly’s Web Squared concept. I’d like to highlight some points from this article, because it not only talks about the advances in technology and the concepts that encapsulates, but it also focusses on the (for me) important philosophies underpinning Web 2.0.

There is, however, more to Web Squared than new types of application that will process the immense data shadows soon to be cast by the emerging internet of things. More broadly, Web Squared is also about recognising that Web 2.0 has been as concerned with embracing new philosophies as new technologies. And in championing Web Squared, O’Reilly is signalling that the Web 2.0 ideologies of openness, transparency and rapid, collaborative value creation may have significant value well beyond the internet.

A big idea of Web Squared is that this may be achieved by applying the philosophies of Web 2.0 to mainstream politics and business thinking.

The CIOs who are embracing the cloud and not trying to build barricades around their datacentres are the ones who understand the philosophies as well as the technologies of Web 2.0, and who will also very much grasp Web Squared.

Some time ago I expressed my take on the importance of the philosophy of web 2.0 rather than just the software, services and mechanics in a presentation I gave (full text available).

The relevant specific audio section about the philosophy is reproduced here:

My Diigo links for Web Squared.

Internet Safety

It is important for parents, carers and teachers to ensure that children are safe when using the Internet. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is part of the authorities in Britain dedicated to child protect. Part of their work is about disseminating the message of Internet safety. I just wanted to take the opportunity to highlight their work and to draw out some significant areas of their website.

A new intelligence report (pdf) has been published that parents will find useful in protecting their children whilst online, and an accompanying video:

Linked in with the CEOP site is the Think u know site.

THINK

This has advice split into age specific sections of 5-7, 8-10, 11-16, along with Parent or Carer and Teacher or Trainer.

The 5-7 year olds section, for example, has a set of non-threatening, age appropriate cartoons about using computers safely on the Internet.

The Parent or Carer section has some simple and informative advice about  how children use technology; important uses and concerns. The different areas covered in the faq section include grooming, mobiles, gaming, social networking and chat. There’s a quiz for parents to take to test their knowledge of how children use technology and the Internet. And what about this video as a warning:

Their YouTube video channel is linked here.

Additional (30/10/09): This video is used by police in schools to highlight the issues to school children. It’s very powerful, and the user feedback about it is very encouraging.