Friday, 27 August 2010

Climbing the hill of learning technology development

As I've been relatively quiet on this blog in the last month or so, I thought I would share a little insight into why. Recently I've had numerous people saying to me, "It must be a quiet time with all the students off campus...", which is probably the understatement of the year (in the nicest possible way of course!). In fact, this is the busiest time, which can sometimes seem like an uphill struggle with no view in sight, but equally the most fruitful and exciting time for developing learning technologies. There are also great opportunities to collaborate with my fellow learning technologists! You can be sure that better ideas spring up from these developments which more often than not get implemented later on in the academic year.

Why so busy you ask? Im currently juggling six main projects ranging from mobile technologies for fieldwork; e-portfolios for budding scientist; collaborative learning environments to interactive websites. Plus and not forgetting continuing professional development, writing papers, peer reviewing for TEL journals and last minute fixes, all of which covers a range of disciplines, from chemistry to ecological economics. It's just one of the few times that academic staff actually have the opportunity to think about and actually 'do' the things they have been wanting to do throughout most of the year. I will certainly be sharing all of these developments with you as soon as my workloads come to some sort of as people say, watch this space...

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Mscape now available on the HP website.

The Mscape software that many of have used is no longer available from the website as the site has been pulled down (forums and all!), users are now greeted with an error message. A particularly sad demise of a perfectly usable website and software, which had a very active user base. Fortunately the software can still be found on the Hewlett Packard Labs website, but with extremely limited information on building your own mediascape. At the time of writing this post, Create-A-Scape still provides users with their own method for creating mediascapes, though you will need to use the HP lab link to download the last version of MScape. So those of us with Windows Mobile GPS enabled PDAs can still continue to enjoy the software.

Some of the original Mscape software developers have now formed a company called Calvium. Currently the company has published a GPS Draw software for the iPhone.  There is indication that they are programming for the Android too, which is good news. I had heard through various sources that they were considering software 'similar' to Mscape, but of course due to copyrights etc, it will not be Mscape!

The main feature of Mscape which is particularly appealing, is the ability to use your own maps.  When building teaching and learning materials for remote fieldwork locations, you don't really want to be depending on your 3G networks, for two main reasons: cost and availability.  What does the future hold? There are applications coming out on the Android Market, such as MapDroyd, that allows users to down load a whole country or even the world, for free! This application of course uses the popular open source map Open Street Map, the very same map source functionality added to MScape not long before its demise. Here's looking forward to a greater wealth of mobile applications for teaching and learning!

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