Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Good news! I managed to register for next fall's section of CTL 1000. Finally. The fall would have been the third time in a row that I had missed a spot. Learning indeed.

Last year I learned that one needs to register far in advance -- Selia, our prof in CTL 1799 -- told us that she's already been contacted by students seeking Winter/Spring 2004 seats in the course.

For the course I enrolled in last night, the calendar instructs students to contact professors by e-mail prior to Aug. 15, 2003 for September classes. After my registration last night, there are two spots remaining. This course is prerequisite for the M.Ed and I was starting to get a little worried about going another year without the course.

Had that been the case, I'd have definitely had to get in touch with the gang at the KMDI and begged to have been their first "Computer Conferencing Course" on-line participant.

Here's a gem of a PDF I found while in looking at the lectures from this year's offering of KMD 1000 Y.

Monday, April 14, 2003

It's been a while since I've posted about my friends at the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) in Toronto.

My wonky -- pretty well every Thursday dans le road (i.e., flying somewhere) work schedule -- has meant that I've missed nearly all this year's 'casts. In fact, I've only been able to join a couple of the live 'casts.

The good news is that the 'casts are archived. Each lecture from the last two seasons -- in your choice of WM QT or Real format, an extremely nice and very rare example of "accessibility" -- to be viewed at your leisure.

In fact the only downside is that the archives don't allow for synchronous chats with the moderator. Chat -- along with slides and audio and video of the speaker all in one interface -- provide a perfect environment for "computer-based" learning.

The fact that they've done it all on an architecture which allows 'casting to audiences connected at 56 kbps makes it all the more valuable.

This semester as a Computer Conferencing Course student at OISE/UT has taught me the value of "synchronous" in the conferencing equation. Synchronous communication approximates verbal communication and lends a human element to proceedings that's otherwise not there.

I've also learned that ensuring all can access the technology being used (e.g., some might not be able to connect at 56 kbps) is equally as important when using "computer conferencing" for education. Of course it's all about "trade-offs" -- where are you prepared to drawing the line when it comes to "system requirements"?

I suggest the KMDI has done a nice job in this regard. Granted not all will be able to connect at 56 k, but it's pretty much a requirement for streaming media. The interface has continued to improve and grow more "user friendly" in the years (a couple preceeding the archives) I've been attending 'casts. ePresence walks you through a wizard-based "system check" once you register. This ensures that you'll know you can "get connected" come game time. You'll be ready to login and join the discussion.

I know I get a charge out of asking questions of the speaker and chatting with the moderator from "x" thousands miles on the other side of the continent.

Drs. Baecker and Moore et al. continue a fantastic job. Well done.