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Steve Wheeler

Steve Wheeler is a Learning Innovations Consultant and former Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at the Plymouth Institute of Education where he chaired the Learning Futures group and led the Computing and science education teams. He continues to research into technology supported learning and distance education, with particular emphasis on the pedagogy underlying the use of social media and Web 2.0 technologies, and also has research interests in mobile learning and cybercultures. He has given keynotes to audiences in more than 35 countries and is author of more than 150 scholarly articles, with over 6000 academic citations. An active and prolific edublogger, his blog Learning with ‘e’s is a regular online commentary on the social and cultural impact of disruptive technologies, and the application of digital media in education, learning and development. In the last few years it has attracted in excess of seven million unique visitors.

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Publications by Steve Wheeler

Learning with ‘e’s

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Author Blog

Technical requirements

October 05 2020

It's often the case that educators are put off from creating their own digital content due to lack of familiarity with technology. Recently, for a new book I published, I created a promotional video and posted it to YouTube. The book is called Urban Voices and the video was a three-minute sequence featuring my reading of the opening poem in the book, titled Metro Cityscape Panorama. The poem takes a commuter's view of working every day in a large city. Check it out at the link at the foot of this post, and then read on:

The soundscape and my vocals were recorded using a fairly inexpensive set of recording equipment I purchased online during the lockdown. It consists of an Audient iD4 digital 2-in 2-out interface (this connects by USB cable to my laptop computer to the microphone, headphones and other inputs/outputs), a pair of ATH-M40X professional monitor headphones and an AT2035 cardioid condenser microphone (both made by Audio-Technica). The bundle comes packaged as the AT2035 Studio complete with several cables and a microphone stand attachment. I purchased a boom microphone stand at the same time.

The soundscape behind my vocals was created using Garage Band - it hosts a vast range of audio samples for drums, keyboards and other instruments and a few hours spent exploring how this desktop multi-track recording system works is time well spent. 

The video footage was created on iMovie on my Apple Macbook Air, but there are other similar software tools such as Movie Maker that can be used on pc. I added the MP3 soundtrack I had created on Garage Band first, and then built the video clips in around it on a separate channel. The video clips were all found fairly quickly on Vivedo and are copyright free with attribution. Once I had created the MP4 file via iMovie, it was a simple matter of uploading it to YouTube. 

Here's the video. 

Creative Commons License
Technical requirements by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

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Desire paths

September 10 2020

Image from Wikimedia Commons 
I have argued for a while that the success of digital learning environments such as the LMS (Learning Management System) is based on a fine balance. This is the homeostasis between user experience and institutional design.

You probably know the story of the architect who was asked to design a university.

He created the blueprints for the buildings; the design was approved and then the construction commenced. As the buildings were nearing completion, the authorities asked the architect about the pathways between the buildings. He told them he was going to wait until the staff (faculty) and students had arrived. He wanted to see the user experience effects and how they played out. He wanted to watch the desire paths evolving. Like all the best architects, he was people centred.

The staff and students arrived, and after several weeks of walking between the buildings, several thousands feet had created pathways across the grass. He then sent in the builders and they paved over the pathways to make them safer. The desire paths had been established and were now bing supported.

The story illustrates the balance between what users desire and what the institution believes they need. It's quite a difficult balance to achieve. When an institution invests in an organisation-wide platform for learning, they need to decide on a number of issues. Most important is what the learners will be doing on the platform. Will they require just access to content, or will they need discussion groups, access to other resources, and other tools.  The answer to all of the preceding, is usually yes.

But what kinds of tools do they need? And will these be used inside or outside of the 'walled garden' of the Learning Management System? Often LMS are designed to keep people out, because the content and activities are in need of protection. But in today's learning climate, is this still necessary? Should we be imposing restrictions on what can be learnt and how it can be learnt? Or should we simply be supporting students as they create their own desire paths? Are we people centred, or are we more interested in how the systems will work?

My conclusion: A lot of money has been spent by universities on tools they think students need, but often, students will choose their own tools, and only use university provision when they absolutely have to.

Creative Commons License
Desire paths by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's

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