Thursday, May 29, 2008

Google Sites for Everyone

My dear friend Vitali emailed me that Google Sites, which was initially available only as part of Google Apps for companies and organizations, is now open for everyone. This has also been announced at the Official Google Blog.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

eLearning Africa

A short interview with George Siemens at the eLearning Africa conference where he talked about the future of learning, and opportunities and challenges for education/e-Learning in africa.

My vision of the future is one where learners are a part of – not only recipients of – information, knowledge, learning and teaching. It makes little sense for someone outside of Africa to promote their vision for the Continent. What is most important, in my eyes, is that Africa is able to define its own vision and future direction. As stated, the importance of considering a narrative of “being a part of” involves more than Africa participating in the information economy as defined by other countries or continents. Being a part of involves the creation of a personal identity, preserving existing cultures and being a contributor.

I hope to be able one day to take part in the eLearning Africa conference series and contribute to the development of e-Learning in Africa.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Stephen's gRSShopper

Stephen Downes publishes information about a first release of his RSS aggregation and personal content management software, gRSShopper.

gRSShopper is a personal web environment that combines resource aggregation, a personal dataspace, and personal publishing. It allows you to organize your online content any way you want to, to import content - your own or others' - from remote sites, to remix and repurpose it, and to distribute it as RSS, web pages, JSON data, or RSS feeds.
Great work Stephen!

Informal Learning Survey

Jay Cross is conducting a survey on Informal and Web 2.0 Learning Practices until June 5th.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Knowledge Ecology vs. Community of Practice

As a special type of community, Wenger (1998) introduces the concept of communities of practice (CoP). Wenger et al. (2002) defines CoP as "groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis". Wenger (1998) discusses three dimensions of communities of practice: mutual engagement, a joint enterprise, and a shared repertoire. Knowledge ecologies differ from CoP on all these dimensions.

According to Wenger, the first characteristic of practice as the source of coherence of a community is the mutual engagement of participants. He stresses that the kind of coherence that transforms mutual engagement into a community of practice requires work and asserts that the work of "community maintenance" is an intrinsic part of any practice. Knowledge ecologies, by contrast, are characterized by independence and diversity coming from lack of mutual engagement. Rather than being forced to interact intensely with other members of a CoP, within knowledge ecology, everyone can rely on her personal knowledge network. Often, people turn to their personal relationships in order to learn and get their work done, rather than trying to get access to a well established community of mutual engagement. Consequently, people focus on forming, maintaining, and sustaining their personal knowledge networks rather than maintaining the community of practice to which they belong.

Wenger states that the second characteristic of practice as a source of community coherence is the negotiation of a joint enterprise. He notes that communities of practice are not self-contained entities. They develop in larger contexts - historical, social, cultural, and institutional - with specific resources and constraints. Consequently, the practice of a community is profoundly shaped by conditions outside the control of its members due to external efforts to maintain influence and control over the practice. In contrast to CoP, knowledge ecologies are not positioned within a broader system and are not bound to the control of any external force. They emerge naturally without strong predetermined rules or institutional authority. Knowledge ecologies are thus self-controlled and self-contained entities.

Wenger notes that the third characteristic of practice as a source of community coherence is the development of a shared repertoire. He points out that the repertoire of a community of practice includes routines, words, tools, ways of doing things, stories, gestures, symbols, genres, actions, or concepts that the community has produced or adopted in the course of its existence, and which have become part of its practice. In contrast to CoP, knowledge ecologies lack a shared repertoire and are thus open and distributed domains. The knowledge resources are distributed over all personal knowledge networks within knowledge ecology.


Chatti, M. A., Jarke, M. & Quix, C. (submitted). Connectivism: The Network Metaphor of Learning.


Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Wenger, E., McDermott, R. & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice. Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

MUPPLE'08: Workshop on Mash-Up Personal Learning at EC-TEL'08

I have the pleasure to be member of the program committee of the Workshop on Mash-Up Personal Learning Environments (MUPPLE’08) at the 3rd European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (EC-TEL08), Maastricht, The Netherlands, September 17-19, 2008.

A change in perspective can be certified in the recent years to technology-enhanced learning research and development: More and more learning applications on the web are putting the learner centre stage, not the organisation. They empower learners with capabilities to customize and even construct their own personal learning environments (PLEs). These PLEs typically consist of distributed web-applications and services that support system-spanning collaborative and individual learning activities in formal as well as informal settings. This workshop serves as a forum to bring together researchers and developers from these projects and an open public that have an interest in understanding and engineering mash-up personal learning environments (MUPPLEs).

More information about the workshop can be found here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Top 100 Tools for Learning Spring 2008

A list of Top 100 tools for learning compiled from the top 10 learning tools by 155 learning professionals.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

CAMA 2008 - Workshop on Contextualized Attention Metadata

Thanks to the Erik Duval, Jehad Najjar, and Martin Wolpers, I have the pleasure to be member of the program committee of the Workshop on Contextualized Attention Metadata (CAMA 2008), to be held in conjunction with the Intrnational Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications (DC 2008)

The workshop intends to bring together researchers and practitioners from relevant communities (information systems, personalization, ubiquitous computing, activity-driven computing, context-driven computing, information retrieval, database systems, digital libraries, metadata, data mining, user modelling, social networks, psychology and cognitive science, etc.) to share their knowledge, results and expertise about their research on attention metadata. In general, the workshop aims to foster and improve collaboration between communities, e.g. by discussing relevant cross-disciplinary research approaches for attention metadata. In more detail, the workshop aims to discuss suitable models, algorithms, techniques, technologies, architectures and designs to collect, merge and process attention metadata. And finally, the workshop aims to evaluate the current status and progress of work on attention metadata.

More information about the workshop can be found here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Google Friend Connect at Google Campfire One

Yesterday, Google announced the preview release of Google Friend Connect at Campfire One. "Google Friend Connect enables webmasters to quickly and easily enhance their site with community features; what's more, these features leverage visitors' existing social ties. By simply copying and pasting a few lines of JavaScript, you can implement the social functionality you want, and visitors can connect with their Facebook, orkut and other friends directly on your website."
Here's a video from Campfire One introducing Friend Connect.

From a press release on May 12:

Websites that are not social networks may still want to be social -- and now they can be, easily. With Google Friend Connect (see following this evening's Campfire One), any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running immediately without programming -- picking and choosing from built-in functionality like user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community.

Visitors to any site using Google Friend Connect will be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends, or, using secure authorization APIs, with existing friends from social sites on the web, including Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, orkut, Plaxo, and more.

"Google Friend Connect is about helping the 'long tail' of sites become more social," said David Glazer, a director of engineering at Google. "Many sites aren't explicitly social and don't necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other. That used to be hard. Fortunately, there's an emerging wave of social standards -- OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, and the data access APIs published by Facebook, Google, MySpace, and others. Google Friend Connect builds on these standards to let people easily connect with their friends, wherever they are on the web, making 'any app, any site, any friends' a reality."

Here’s also a video provided by Google that explains how developers can add Friend Connect to their websites:

Last week, in the same direction, Myspace and Facebook announced two competing products MySpace Data Availability and Facebook Connect.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Madeira is ... Nature

At the WEBIST conference, I enjoyed some of the keynote speeches and session presentations, but I enjoyed more the terrific landscape in Madeira. Here are some pictures from my stay there...


This week I attended the 4th International Conference on Web Informations Systems and Technologies (WEBIST 2008) in Beautiful Funchal, Madeira. I presented there our paper "Towards Web 2.0 Driven Learning Environments". The paper can be downloaded here (.pdf).


Over the last decade, it has been widely argued that technology-enhanced learning could respond to the needs of the new knowledge society and transform the way we learn. However, despite isolated achievements, technology-enhanced learning has not really succeeded yet in revolutionizing our education and learning processes. In fact, most current initiatives do not focus on the social aspect of learning and learning content is still pushed to a pre-defined group of learners in closed environments. Recently, Web 2.0 concepts have started to open new doors for more effective learning and have the potential to overcome many of the limitations of traditional learning models. In this paper we show in which way the community-driven platform Learnr, under development at the University of M√ľnster, puts crucial success factors for future technology enhanced learning into practice, applying well known concepts like networking and social tagging. As a consequence, a Web 2.0 perspective on learners, learning content and learning communities can be derived.


M.A. Chatti, D. Dahl, M. Jarke, G. Vossen: Towards Web 2.0-Driven Learning Environments. Proc. 4th International Conference on Web Information Systems and Technolgies (WEBIST 2008), May 4-7, Funchal, Madeira.