Colin’s still going strong!

The first guest post I accepted on this site (nearly a decade ago!) was from Colin Latchem, a friend and colleague I’ve known for longer than either of us care to remember. So it was a pleasant surprise to see his name pop up in a Facebook posting as Editor of a new publication from the Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO, Using ICTs and Blended Learning in Transforming TVET.

Specifically, the freely-available book focusses on “a series of case studies from around the world showcasing the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and novel forms of open, flexible and technology-enhanced learning in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).”

As explained by Colin, the book is a response to the calls for transformation, the needs of youth, the needs in the informal sector, gender issues, and the issue of sustainable development.

One of the strengths of the publication is the range of countries that are represented: Germany, Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Jamaica, Finland, Africa, Cambodia and Canada. Interested readers will likely focus on the countries of most relevance to their needs and circumstances, though universally applicable ideas are found in most cases. Summaries of the nine cases are found on pages 57 and 58.

Colin does a lot more than simply edit the publication. He provides additional chapters that add substantially to its usefulness and applicability. For example, after the cases are presented, he not only presents ‘Conclusions and Recommendations’, but also contributes two excellent chapters, ‘Considerations in Costing ODL and ICTs in TVET’ and ‘Planning for the Use of ICTs at the National and Institutional Levels’ (yes, the good old ADDIE and SECTIONS models turn up again in this context).

In the final chapter (p. 221), Colin explains that:

The Qingdao Declaration (UNESCO, 2015) declares that to achieve the goals of inclusive, equitable and quality education and lifelong learning by 2030, ICT-based teaching and learning needs to be integrated in all sectors of education. However, it also observes that on their own, ICTs will not bring about the required transformation and that there is a need for well-informed, long-term policies and strategies, professional development and well-researched and innovative methodologies for educational technology to play a central role in building inclusive and sustainable knowledge societies.

This book is a worthy response that admonition.

Sebastian Thrun, an ‘oily charlatan’?

I’ve written a couple of times about Sebastian Thrun, and not always in complimentary fashion. In the first piece from 2012 I could be accused of calling him a ‘knucklehead’. The second in 2013 was more a tracking of his change of heart and mind, from messianic mission to hard-headed business. Continue reading

So you want to undertake research in ODL? Start with PREST!

Whenever I’m asked how to get started with research in open and distance learning, I have a one-word answer: PREST. Practitioner Research and Evaluation Skills Training (PREST) is a comprehensive set of resources produced by the Commonwealth of Learning and the International Research Foundation in Open Learning, and it is simply the best there is. Continue reading

More on WikiEducator

A couple of posts ago, when rabbiting on about Wikis, I mentioned WikiEducator, which has rapidly grown to become a leader among Wikis with an educational focus. In particular, its strong refrain is a call to arms to support the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement.

Continuing on this theme, and if you’d like to know more, have a look at one of the latest CIDER sessions (emanating from Athabasca University), titled WikiEducator: A return to the traditions of the academy? Continue reading


Since my last post on contributing to Wikipedia (and I worry that no-one has yet had a go at fixing ‘Open Learning‘), matters Wiki have again crossed my path. In fact it’s hard to ignore the Wiki explosion, with Wikiquote (Who wrote “The hotel shop only had two decent books, and I’d written both of them.”?), Wikispecies (Did you know you are a heterotroph?), Wikinews (yes, it’s been proved that there are six degrees of separation), Wikibooks (contributors are known as Wikibookians), Continue reading

Öryggi um bord

In contemplating a title for a post about my trip to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to attend the PNG Association of Distance Education Conference, I recalled my surprise when first glimpsing the safety card on the flight from Brisbane to Port Moresby. The heading ‘Öryggi um bord’ caught my attention, Continue reading