Learning Camp – A New Kind of Conference

Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed an increasing dissatisfaction with the kind of technology conferences being run in the UK, or at least in the way they’re run. Some of this has been virtual, such as these blog posts by Donald Clark, Clive Shepherd and Mark Betherlemy, but this has also come up in conversations with a lot of people.

It’s not my reading of any of these conversations that they want to see the current conferences replaced (although I may be wrong), but rather that they want another option (something ‘alternative’ rather than ‘an alternative to’).

Of course it’s easy to be critical of the status quo, and much harder to change it. This quotation from Terry Pratchett says it very nicely.

“So many people tut and say “Someone should do something”, but so few step forward and say “…and that someone is me”

With that very much in my mind, it happened that a couple of weeks ago I was talking with Jane Hart when the topic moved on to conferences and the usual ‘someone needs to do something’ conversation followed. What was different was that we decided we would be the ‘someone’ who did something; and so Learning Camp was born.

We’ve started the ball rolling over at http://learningcamp.org and if you have any desire to take part in or attend the first event, or help shape what it could become in the future, please complete the survey and follow the Twitter account for updates – more information on both can be found on the Learning Camp website. There’s not much on the site at the moment, but I can promise you that more will be happening in the next few weeks.

And finally, if you’re one of those people who has ever suggested that ‘something should be done’ you can expect to hear from us soon. Together we have an opportunity to do something, so now’s the time for all of us to either put up or shut up.

Elearning Awards adds Social Media Category

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Elearning Awards dinner in London, having been a judge in a couple of the categories.

During the after awards drinks, Jane Hart and I were discussing the lack of any awards that encouraged the use of social learning tools.

Well, earlier this week I was a participant in a meeting between the eLN and Bizmedia, and I’m pleased to be able to say that as a result of that there will be a new category introduced for the 2010 Awards – “The best use of social media for learning”.

The official launch will take place at Learning Technologies in January.

The Advance of Social Media

Advance_28_BarrySampson_online.png

Back in the summer I wrote an article for Saffron Interactive titled ‘The Advance of Social Media’. Its key message is that social media is now a mainstream activity and that organisations that attempt to ignore it, do so at their own risk.

If you’d like to read the full article, it is available to download here in PDF format, along with a number of other great articles in Saffron’s Advance series.

21st Century LMS

On the 25th September, the eLearning Network held its Next Generation Learning Management event at Holborn Bars in London.

As part of the event, Matt Brewer of Chubb Insurance and I ran a collaborative session to identify what eLN members wanted to see in an LMS that was fit for use in 21st Century organisations. I’m really pleased to say that we have taken the output of that session and produced a report that can be freely downloaded from the eLearning Network website.

Download: 21st Century LMS

It’s released under a Creative Commons licence, so please do share and remix it.

9 Free Tools That Help Mac Users Build Better E-Learning

Over on the Rapid E-Learning Blog, Tom Kuhlman has come up with a list of his 9 Free Tools That Help Me Build Better E-Learning. Bearing in mind that Articulate is a Windows based tool, it’s not surprising that the tool listed are for that platform. So here is my list of 9 equivalent tools for Mac users.

1. DigitalColor Meter

This hand little app is installed on all Macs, and can be found in the Utilities folder.

2. ColourLovers

As this is web based, it’s not strictly Mac only, but then Tom’s choices were web based too. I really like ColourLovers for its community contributed colour schemes. There’s a nice post here about using DigitalColor Meter together with ColourLovers.

3. Paintbrush

If you want a simple bitmap editor for the Mac, you need look no further than the open source Paintbrush.

4. Preview

One of the little known tricks in OSX is that you can use the built in Preview app for resizing individual images or batch resizing multiple images. Just head for the Tools/Adjust Size option.

5. Garageband

All new macs come with iLife installed, which include GarageBand, an incredibly easy to use audio editing app. Of course, you could go with Tom’s choice of Audacity, as that also runs on Macs.

6. iMovie

Another great tool in the iLife suite is iMovie, which gives you simple drag and drop movie making.

7. Prism

Prism is a commercial tool that offers a free version, which will convert between the most common file formats.

8 and 9. SWF and FLV Player

Another great free tool, as its name suggests you can use it with both SWF and FLV. Alternatively, for FLV support you can do a lot worse that VLC, which is a good general purpose replacement for QuickTime player and supports many video formats.