Google OpenSocial

Google have announced their open social networking platform will enable developers to create applications that work across different networking sites that have joined forces with OpenSocial (already including LinkedIn, Ning and Friendster). This should streamline development processes, meaning that applications are compatible across sites. See ZDNet.com for some more detailed analysis of the implications.

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New Literacies for the 21st Century Citizen

Yesterday I attended an interesting presentation by Ewan McIntosh (his edublogs site is worth checking out) run as part of the Urban Learning Space seminar series (a podcast of it will be available soon).

What I found refreshing was his discussion of how emerging technologies (social software in particular) is really just another development in a long line of 'in-things' (from sliced bread in 192x!) whose use seemed daunting, unusual or even inappropriate initially.

What I took from his talk was that maybe educators tend to take the use of emerging technolgies too seriously, treating them as an all-or-nothing. Overplanning the use of technolgy, putting so much emphasis on the need for them to be successful (or the need for it to not fail) means that the flexibility, spontaneity and innovative use of technologies is often stifled in the learning environment. And yet our learners are displaying exactly these traits in their personal use of the technologies - from using their blogs to publish creative writing, to producing videos for youtube sharing their comments on current affairs, and using some impressive technical features to showcase their talents. Maybe it is time we learned from them and see it as a creative medium rather than looking for the way to assess it and 'prove' the value of the excersie... maybe the value is it can engage the interest of learners!

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Skype and MySpace agreement

The Guardian reports that MySpace and Skype have joined forces to allow MySpace users to chat to each other for free within the social networking space using Skype VoIP technology.

The development has been hailed as 'The start of a convergence of social networking and communications applications' by Tim O'Reilly. It will afford users with another alternative communication channel, making the social networking environment an increasingly rich communicative tool.

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3.9 million pounds funding to accelerate learner-focused technology in education

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills have announced £3.9 million in funding to support the Technology Exemplar Network jointly led by Becta and LSC.

This inititative will aim to create a national support network to enable those who have successfully embedded ICT in their teaching and learning to share their experience with other practitioners and thus encourage use of learner-focused technology in education.

Read more at PublicTechnology.net

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Risks of exposure to Wi-Fi

The Health Protection Agency have announced a new strudy investigating the effects of wireless networks on our health. Although they say that they "have good scientific reasons to expect the results to be re-assuring", the empahsis of the study seems to be looking at patterns of use, and quantifying actual levels of exposure.

Read more at PublicTechnology.net .

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Open source book about Web 2.0

Terry Freedman (and others) have publised an online book about Web 2.0 from an educators point of view, called "Coming of Age: an introduction to the new worldwide web".

It includes intriguing sounding chapter titles such as:

- What Are Rss Feeds And Why Haven’T I Heard About It?(Rss Feeds From An Educator’S Perspective)

- Virtual Support Via The Blogosphere

- Diary Of A Potential Podcasting Junkie

- Video Blogging: Terry Freedman Interviews Paul Knight


The book was completed in April 2006, but Terry is working on an updated version as we speak. To download the 2006 publication you do have to complete a short questionnaire (5 or so questions) by following this link.

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From the Googleplex - Inbox Zero

Check out this very entertaining Google Tech Talk by Merlin Mann, in which he gives tips and advice for how to create a system letting you get your inbox to zero, and not let email rule your life!

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Internet access in HE

This recently published article reports on research which says that university applicants expect unrestricted access to internet. While this is unsuprising as most university applicants will already use the internet in their everyday life, it does raise questions for institutions who want to maintain a degree of control over their networks, and how to reach an acceptable compromise between learner expectations of freedom of use and safety/security of the network.

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