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One of the most enjoyable and inspiring books I have read this year has been Sir Ken Robinson's "Out of our Minds"  and my ref...

Sunday, 9 August 2015

of eggs and baskets #blimage

This #blimage challenge was posted by Steve Wheeler here

I know it's a bowl in the picture but with a little poetic licence it is easily connected to the proverb:

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket"

and for those learning English here's a quick test of your understanding of the meaning of this advice. 

I'm looking at this advice in the context of educational technology and change. Ubiquitous technology means that we are all becoming increasingly dependant upon tools to support learning. I would argue that this is, by and large, a good development overall as education needs to capitalise on the learning potential offered by digital tools and help inform their use so that we are able to influence the users. We do not need more passive consumers of an ever increasing wave of expensive gadgets, we need critical thinkers who understand the relative advantages and affordances offered and can make informed choices. They in turn can then influence the evolution of the markets and use their democratic power to regulate when necessary. 

One of the risks we need to ensure that users of technology understand is that of "lock-in". You can read more about it here. Some technical tools for creation that may be very enticing insist on producing file types that require ongoing commitment to a particular technology, tool or licence. This brings an inherent reduction in future proofing for your creation. At a time when the pact of technical change continues to accelerate you could very soon find that your well thought-out digital package of content is no longer usable. Remember Betamax or Sony mini disc cameras? Think of the time and money wasted and the potential for wheels being reinvented endlessly. 

Fortunately there are folk out there who are working to convince the technology industry of the importance of open formats and interoperability. Look at the work of IMS on Learning Technology Interoperability here. Also the open source media streaming company Kaltura campaigns for open video formats.  As users of technology for education we should ensure that we know how to preserve our educational resources so that they can be repurposed, accessed by anyone. That way educators' great ideas do not become obsolete overnight. Here are a few practical tips:

  • if you are making something using a browser based tool (a video, screen cast, audio recording) make sure that you can download the finished file so that you have a copy. Websites disappear regularly.
  • find good file conversion facilities (e.g. Format Factory, Freemake) so that you can save your file in a range of formats.
  • go open - use Creative Commons licences (CC BY) on your work so that others can remix, repurpose and develop your ideas. Sharing to a wider community increases the longevity of your work but you should get acknowledged as the originator.