Mahara & Social Learning

Last week Domi Renault and Roger Emery from the LTU team spoke at a national conference hosted by JISC RSC and entitled “Social media for teaching and learning: new directions, new pedagogies?” The conference was streamed live between three UK-based universities; Southampton Solent University, Plymouth University and Birmingham City University, the keynote was streamed live from the USA.

The Twitter hashtag for the conference was #rscsm, if you wish to see some of the comments that were made head over to Twitter and search for that hashtag.

You can also see Domi and Rogers presentation slides below, they include quotes from a student interview.

Mahara & social learning



Entertainment Industry Follow-Up

Just a tiny bit of follow-up on Wednesday’s post about piracy and legacy business models in the entertainment industry:

Techdirt have a post about indie film-making and the problems with a film industry that wants to protect the ability to keep making $200 million movies in the current climate:

It makes no sense at all to start from a cost, and then derive back how to make that profitable. I could just as easily ask how can we possibly make $1 trillion movies in the future? The only thing that should concern Hollywood is how it can make profitable movies in the future. That could mean figuring out ways to make a profit on a movie that costs $200 million (and, certainly big blockbuster movies like Avatar sure seem to still be able to make plenty of money, despite being widely downloaded via unauthorized means). However, it might also mean making really good movies for a lot less money.

Movie Industry by Mike Masnick


Craig Davis, EMI’s VP of Urban Promotions, in a Q & A on Reddit, suggests that not everyone within the music industry feels the best way to respond to filesharing is reactive legislation:

Gabe Newell is correct, it’s a service issue not an issue of money. Sales have gone up from sales concerts and merchandise, it’s obvious that our fans still love music. We’re just not giving them their music in an easier way.

Craig Davis, quoted at Techdirt


Students to get a taste of Raspberry Pi

British developers have  begun manufacturing on a Linux computer that costs just $25.

It is hoped that the uncased, credit-card sized, 700MHz machines will revitilise computer science and coding in schools by making computing avaialable to everyone at a very affordable price.

For more information here is the Raspberry Pi website:

Internet Piracy and Legacy Business Models in Entertainment

With the recent failure to make SOPA & PIPA stick in the US, and the MegaUpload shutdown and arrests, it’s an interesting time for online culture in the west, and discussions of intellectual property and online piracy, especially in terms of the entertainment industry.

A lot of UK and US government discussion branches out from a central assumption – that online file-sharing is the one great threat to the various entertainment industries, with each artifact shared translating into lost sales – but that assertion hasn’t tested in any objective way, and the claims made for how that transaction works are largely anecdotal, and can seem excessive.

As such, most discussions of the subjects aren’t particularly informed, and can break down into supposition, anecdote, and righteous idealistic rhetoric from all sides, ultimately making the discussion pretty dumb. Amid this, any smart and halfway objective voice shines out, and many are hungry for actual, factual research to be done.

Following the MegaUpload closure, musician Jonathan Coulton, who has found his own audience and career amid a changing cultural and technological landscape, posted on the subject over at his blog. It’s an interesting read, with Coulton tempering a liberal viewpoint with the desire to make a living, but the soundbite that has found its way onto Twitter, and I want to share here is this:

Make good stuff, then make it easy for people to buy it. There’s your anti-piracy plan.

It sounds like it should go without saying, but evidence suggests that the music and film industries have been opting to attack consumers and chase quick profit rather than curate and create desirable content. With Further and Higher Education providing ever increasing numbers of courses in creative fields, and with an ongoing shift in focus onto graduate employability, Coulton’s words seem to be a good core ideal to infuse students with.

Perhaps more interestingly, though, from a sociological and cultural standpoint, is that Coulton mentions that one government actually has done an objective – and not funded by entertainment lobbyists – study on whether unauthorised downloading creates any loss of revenue. Like their counterparts in the US and UK, the Swiss government, third of whose citizens download content that they haven’t paid for, determined that this was a threat to the economy that needed addressing. Their approach differed, in that they decided to research the problem, using their own and a Dutch study to reach their conclusions.

Their findings were interesting, if not definitive:

“Every time a new media technology has been made available, it has always been ‘abused’. This is the price we pay for progress. Winners will be those who are able to use the new technology to their advantages and losers those who missed this development and continue to follow old business models,” the report notes.

The report states that around a third of Swiss citizens over 15 years old download pirated music, movies and games from the Internet. However, these people don’t spend less money as a result because the budgets they reserve for entertainment are fairly constant. This means that downloading is mostly complementary.

The other side of piracy, based on the Dutch study, is that downloaders are reported to be more frequent visitors to concerts, and game downloaders actually bought more games than those who didn’t. And in the music industry, lesser-know bands profit most from the sampling effect of file-sharing.

Swiss Govt: Downloading Movies and Music Will Stay Legal – via TorrentFreak

This is a fascinating conversation, and one that merits real consideration. It’s also one where reactionary responses from governments and industries can potentially affect everyone in our society, not just those interested in technology. Watching this with interest.

iBook to reinvent the textbook?

Apple has lauched it’s second version of iBooks, which it claims will revinvent the text book. They have also released iBook Author, a free program which allows educators to create interactive books for the iPad.

Of course these program will only work with Apple devices, and they are not entirely unique products. Competition includes Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Nobles’ Nook. Users are able to download digital versions of books from a range of top publishers.

The advantages of these devices and programs is that they allow users to store multiple books in a light and compact device, highlight and bookmark key pages/ sections easily and enlarge or shrink text.

You can read more about the iBook in this BBC News article, or on the Apple website.

For more information about eReaders in general you can see a list of reviews on T3’s website.

RSA Animate – The Divided Brain

Here in LTU we are big fans of the RSA Animate videos, they are always so educational, entertaining and interesting. The latest offering is no exception! As RSA put it on the YouTube channel:

In this new RSAnimate, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our ‘divided brain’ has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society. Taken from a lecture given by Iain McGilchrist as part of the RSA’s free public events programme. To view the full lecture, go to

We highly recommend you check this video out.

Welcome to the iZone

There is a project taking place in New York which encourages teachers to re-think and challenge the existing education model. It is giving them the chance to experiement with traditional classroom hours and work at different times using a combination of classroom and online learning.

You can read more on the BBC News Education page: