Archive for the ‘Blog Beat’ Category

Hands-free Online (Learning) Possibilities: EYCIN

October 3, 2006

Today I read another thought-provoking post from the futureismic blog

EYCIN is the abbreviation for Eye-Controlled Interaction system that was developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Research in Stuttgart, Germany.  As reported in the Engineer Online, EYCIN “could lead to software applications for disabled people, or professionals, such as maintenance technicians or chefs, who need both hands free to carry out their work while accessing information (online).”  The Fraunhofer Institute also reported on EYCIN in their Research News

How often have you thought it would be great to have an extra pair of hands when working or learning online to click forward and back browser buttons while scanning pages of information and also trying to click on links to jump from one page (or web site) to another?  Now, try to imagine doing the same tasks if you are physically impaired without the use of arms or hands, or need to keep your hands firmly on tools or implements while accessing and reviewing critical information online. 

The EYCIN project has uncovered limitations with standard Windows interfaces and GUI design, problems with miniature jerk-like movements made by the eye, and a lack of available hardware that will delay a marketable version of EYCIN for one to two years.  However, let’s hope that the project continues to be funded as the potential applications and benefits are limitless as we continue to expand online learning and performance possibilities in the Participation Age.


Take a Break to Open and Relax the Mind

September 28, 2006

How often do we all get so focused on daily work and achieving endless tasks in the 24 x7 information age that we fail to see and/or experience the “little” things in life that uplift our spirits and connect us to one another?   Unfortunately (if you are reading this blog) you can definitely identify with this question as you are probably multi-tasking in between doing other things. 

Today when reading the Presentation Zen blog, I was pleasantly surprised and uploifted by the entry: “Life as art practice (A glimpse of urban life in Kyoto)”.  The author references a friend and Kyoto-based Swiss designer and artist Markuz Saito who is implementing a project “based on the idea of slowing down, taking time, and being in the moment”. 

Markuz’s seven “meaningful encounters and fresh discoveries” were simple yet profound and definitely inspired me to daydream for a few minutes before I launched into my work day. 

Take a break to read this blog and to look at the links.  We all need regular sanity breaks to replenish our energy and to stir our creative juices!

Visual Literacy: Learning Through Comics

September 19, 2006

I have recently started to read the Presentation Zen blog written by Garr Reynolds.  The post on September 13 was titled: Learning from the art of comics. 

Even before reading any of the text I thought: What can a simplistic comic book teach anyone about design and content of presentations (aka PowerPoint presentations)?  This showed my bias towards the value of comics but the truth of the matter is actually 180 degrees in the opposite direction. 

In conjunction with the 10/20/30 rule of PowerPoint from Guy Kawasaki’s blog, this article is definitely an eye opener and will challenge any preconceived notions you may have had about learning anything of value from comics. 

Reynolds references the book written by Scott McCloud titled: Understanding Comics: The invisible Art which is reviewed on  Reynolds states: “Believe it or not, many of the principles and ideas discussed in this wonderful and highly visual book parallel the art of presentation. Now, comics are not the same as a presentation enhanced by slideware, but if you read McCloud’s book with an eye toward presentations or any other form of storytelling and graphic design, you will find many fundamental concepts and techniques that will surely help you think differently about the power of visual communication and the art of combining words and images. This book is not just for fans of comics — not by a long shot.” 

It’s always refreshing and invigorating to learn something of value from what could initially be considered a highly unlikely source.  The humble comic has been redeemed! 

Visit Scott McCloud’s web site here and read more about Scott on Wikipedia.

Pre- and Post-Experience (Post-Service) Interaction: Learning from online reviews

September 6, 2006

Today Guy’ Kawasaki’s blog reported on an article written by Ilana DeBare of the the San Francisco Chronicle titled: “Amateur reviews changing approach of small businesses.” 

Guy highlights the fact that anyone can be a critic online and he references a number of sites where people can rate businesses.  Once again, the power of the internet in the Participation Age is being leveraged in ways that are only limited by our imagination. 

The article itself is well worth the read.  However, I wish to extend the discussion by reflecting on how this online participation can be applied to the broader area of learning. 

I extensively use sites such as to read reviews on hotels before I book a trip.  The individual entries from travelers and the overall reviewer rating is far more important to me that the star rating (read price) provided by the hotel.  In this situation my pre-travel learning has been worth the effort as I have always been pleased with the hotels I chose.  To date I have not completed my post-travel learning by actually writing and submitting a review on the hotels.  Thank goodness other travelers have taken the time to record their views and recommendations. 

Online reviews are extensively used for restaurants, hairdressers, and a wide range of consumer products.  However, I wonder if this trend will continue to gain momentum into other service areas such as buying cars, taking online courses, etc.  Pre- and post-experience (or post-service) interactions will continue to enrich our lives, providing we take the time to participate.

Learning Content with Context: Geotagging

August 30, 2006

In my post dated August 29, I mentioned my broadening interest in regularly reading blogs.   I’d like to recommend Futurismic written by the Armchair Anarchist who recently wrote about a new Flickr service called Geotagging.  

The Armchair Anarchist described Geotagging as a “convergence phenomenon” which is important as “the world is gaining the ability to communicate in meaningful ways”. 

While I agree with the Armchair Anarchist, I wish to broaden the discussion into the realm of learning.  In this case, a piece or nugget of visual learning content (a photo defined by tag, time, text, and group) is being placed into a contextual setting (the location on a map where the photo was taken).  This may be done for a number or reasons including:

Ø      To communicate and enhance a  broader story

Ø      To help answer questions such as “Why?”, “How?”, “Where?” etc.

Ø      To inform and deepen understanding

 Top marks to Flickr for enhancing our blended learning experiences!

Learning and Relearning (or is it Unlearning?)

August 29, 2006

I have made a personal commitment to expand the scope of my learning by reviewing a number of RSS feeds each day.  One feed that was recently recommended to me is Dave Taylor’s Intuitive Life Business Blog. 

Dave’s post on August 28 was titled: “Why Bloggers Must be Historical Revisionists”.  In reflecting on an article he recently wrote on the JonBenet murder case, Dave asked the question: “…when you have a blog entry — or any online information — that is shown post-publication to be wrong, should you leave it, update it without notice, or update it and indicate what you’ve changed?” 

Suffice to say that at the time of my writing this blog entry, Dave had elicited a number of strong views from bloggers regarding his choice to add an update regarding the fact that John Mark Karr is no longer a suspect. 

The comments are definitely interesting in their own right.  However, I’m always seeking to look beyond the actual content that is being written to uncover any possible learning issues and/or implications around the context.  In this case, I believe that adding an update to a previous blog entry (or any published article in a magazine, newspaper, etc.) is contributing to our ability to either:

Ø      reshape our opinions, and/or

Ø      relearn something of interest, and/or

Ø      unlearn something to reshape or relearn something else

 Learning is always in a perpetual flux as we grapple with the plethora of data and information that abounds as we interact 24×7 in the Participation Age.  This is a good thing, provided we do not become despondent by the sheer volume and/or by the opinions of others. 

What’s your opinion about relearning or unlearning in relation to updates that are made to previous blog entries?

Keywords: learning, relearning, unlearning, context, Participation Age

To book or not to book an airfare: Another learning opportunity

August 23, 2006

Recently I am reading a wider range of RSS feeds on Bloglines.  One blog that always catches my attention is Tom Peters

On September 21, Eric Hansen posted a comment on Tom’s blog titled: Fare Hunting.  Eric references a Wired article describing two web sites that search and aggregate airfares: Flyspy and Farecast

Quoting the Wired article: “..Farecast not only displays the lowest current fares, but uses predictive technology to determine what direction those fares will move in over the next seven days.” 

How may times have you looked on numerous web sites to find the best fare for a particular destination only to find out that someone else on you flight got a cheaper fare? 

When I explored the Farecast site it reminded me of a brokerage site where you can trend and track various stocks over different time period.   I then wondered how this type of predictive technology could assist learning in other fields that impact our daily lives such as gas prices in a local area, new and used car prices within a specific geography, etc.    The potential applications to help us sift and filter comparative data are almost endless.