Animated learning

I have had great fun creating a simple dialogue using different animation tools. I think they provide engaging, accessible and entertaining clips of learning that can have a helpful impact on an ongoing plan for any level of learning.

Here is an example I have created using a simple web-based tool called xtranormal. I have decided to take a simple story of two robots trying to make sense and understand the learning styles of humans.

I was given a series of options with either one or two characters, a backdrop with a background sound. I could edit in the camera angles, expressions, gestures and pace into my dialogue using drag and drop.  This is the result from my first published experiment!

What would be your weekly message? Have a go at creating your own animation.

 As I discover more free animation tools I will add them to this page.


#edcmooc: Today’s metaphors for future reference

This is the second assignment in my #edcmooc. This time I have been invited to comment on some possible perspectives of Utopia and Dystopia in the future presented in a series of short videos and films.  I plan to experiment with some metaphors and explore the following questions. Who is set to benefit from the personal, constant attentions of information technology, and who might lose out?

Now, I leap into this inquiry with a Utopian view.  I have trained both digital natives and digital immigrants and, while they ask me for a completely different approach to the way I support them, they have a common intention. They are looking for THEIR new innovative solution. This could be to find a way to build a roller-coaster in Minecraft in 30 seconds or it could be to figure out how to send a simple message on a smart phone. In their quests I think they are equal and, in a learning context, they bring the importance of diversity in how we learn.

In the following two videos, Microsoft and Corning are selling the Utopian view of life being much easier (and rather clean!). Everybody is at ease with the technology. Both digital natives and immigrants could be present.   Here the information is accessed with a simple swipe of the hand within the zone of a sensor. It follows that all those with good spacial awareness and can ask for the right data will be winners. (Note to self: I really should take a course in sign language. Addendum: will I have to live through an age of sitting completely still? Addendum II: remind me to take out shares in massage chairs).  Are there any losers in the frame? Well, there those who will not have the physical dexterity to take exams in fly-swatting or commanding visually dominant data, there are those who will not have the financial collateral and there are those who will choose to opt out of the omnipresence of data control. The digital anti-heroes who want to win a different battle for human-ness.

Where was I? Oh yes, metaphors. In both videos you are invited to imagine the accessibility of information in learning and working. A sort of white hole that is continually providing data. In the Corning video “A Day Made of Glass 2”, The glass is a window into anything you would wish to know or need – in an instant. As observers we see people being at ease, perhaps not even noticing the technology. It is transparent with intelligent augmented reality to enhance our environment.

In the second video, “Productivity Future Vision (2011)”, Microsoft is keen to how much easier life can be where people integrate their life into the digi-sphere. Fascinatingly it shows us that the keyboard and the Size 0 phone is a resilient tool for facilitating this. is this the story of the perfect future?

Furthermore is this future Utopian or Dystopian? I find the idea of all my dull tasks being managed by intelligent online systems VERY seductive. And, conveniently clean. I enjoy the positive messages in the two promotional videos. If the participants of this world trust their world, why not see this image as Utopian.

BUT is it all rather too clean? Why do I decide to conjure up a dramatic picture with passionate people rejecting this perfect life style and living in derelict factories wearing dirty, badly knitted  jumpers? Because popular media finds the Dystopian view irresistible. Our myths, stories, films and newspapers are filled with examples. Heroes (with imaginative disadvantages) are relentlessly fighting the corrupt, all-powerful authorities. Yes, the evidence is overwhelming. The dull fact is that the Dystopian plot buys more interest than the relaxing clean Utopia.

It follows that with the current huge wall of distrust in the managers of these magical digital interfaces together with the blooming ‘live’ examples of cyber-crime, I am inclined to shed my neatly fitting Utopian suit and vote with my badly knitted woolly jumper.

Other blogs I have enjoyed include:

Ary Aranguiz

David Hopkins


How do you get collaboration, reflection and feedback in a learning network

Recently I was facilitating an on-line learning network and I was curious to find out how learners responded to this space, i.e. a place to collaboratively learn. On-line learning is where the learner can complete, at their own pace, a series of steps. But it is often perceived as an isolating experience However, not all learning can follow a defined process. There are many topics where the diversity of thinking will create agile and highly relevant answers to a conversation thread. An exciting move forward is the use of social networks in the learning process, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These environments have created a culture of unconditional sharing. Through this voluntary collaboration, the breath of knowledge is multiplied exponentially (2010, Clay Shirkey).

The question is how do you create a focused learning conversation in a learning network that can benefit a smaller group?

Perhaps we need to take a closer look at what we are seeking to achieve.  A leading thinker in experiential learning, David Kolb, sets out four stages in his cycle of learning that help to explain human learning behaviour and how we might get a better understanding of supporting others to learn (1984, D Kolb). The four stages are:

  1. Concrete Experience
  2. Reflective Observation
  3. Abstract Conceptualisation
  4. Active Experimentation

It is worth observing that ‘Reflective Observation’ builds on the first ‘Concrete Experience’ that then allows us to build new intelligence in stages 3 and 4. Equally, we can apply this to an on-line network where an individual describes their new experience in a discussion thread and then invites comment. It is arguably much easier to add observations and comments when the new experience is described clearly. So my next question needs to be, where do you start your learning process in this model for learning? For example, when faced with the assembling a new gadget do you prefer to read the instructions thoroughly first (Step 1.) or just plug it in and play with the buttons intuitively (Step 4.)?

Knowing where you start this learning cycle will inform you on how you will choose to approach a new process and, in turn, observe other’s learning. In participating in an on-line course there are likely to be many invitations to try new tools and techniques so there will be plenty of opportunities to talk about your experiences and to notice everyone’s learning preferences. Consider inviting feedback from the group on your learning preferences as well as how you are encouraging learning in others in the group. This will give you important information when do your assignments.

Feed back can make or break a learning thread. So here are a few pointers for both those asking for feedback and those giving feedback.

  1. Good feedback is information-specific, content-focused, and based on observations. It is helpful, in this case, that we are informed by the assignment descriptions set out in the E-learning Studios Learning Management System (LMS).
  2. Do pay attention to the feedback the learner has asked for before you broaden your observations to areas they might have missed.
  3. Consider asking open questions that invite new reflections such as: What is it about this on-line tool that will appeal to your primary audience?
  4. Apply positive feedback to any specific strong points in an assignment. It will add valuable information on ideas that have worked well.
  5. If something does not work well for you give solid evidence explaining why.
  6. Consider that your feedback may well be relevant to you. It is often said that we notice, in others, what we need to learn ourselves.
  7. Ensure you are clear when making your point. Check through the meaning of your feedback before you send it off as you might not have explained the real point!
  8. Remember your feedback may well be a personal opinion and bring important diversity to the conversation thread. Illustrate, where possible with examples, to show them what you mean as you may be offering something completely new to their world of understanding.
  9. Follow up when they respond to you.

In summary, if I am going to create a learning network I need to share my experiences, however small and respond to any feedback I receive. To do this productively I need to understand my own learning preferences that will, in turn, indicate my bias when giving feedback to others. That way I can ensure that the dialogue is rich with the diversity of the group and reveal that unexpected gem of new learning and collaboration.

What do you think? What is your experience of creating collaborative thinking on-line?


2010, Shirkey C., Cognitive Surplus, Pub. Allen Lane

1984 Kolb, David A., Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Pub. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.