Thursday, July 28, 2005

Rockin Radio

Truly awesome - Cruise Box sings "I heard it on a Podcast" (some profanity). All credit to Adam Curry for highlighting this excellent bit of podsafe music. I suspect this song will become an anthem - much like "I want my MTV" was in the 80s.

You want it, you got, just download it and pod it! Tell the FCC to stick it, the revolution's on!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Zipit Messenger - Quiz Handset for Classrooms?

Zipit Messenger comes in 5 colors (this is grey)
In my relentless search for a portable handheld device that supports WiFi and can be used to deliver quizzes in the classroom, I found a real gem.

It's the Zipit Messenger, developed by Aeronix. It has a variety of Instant Messaging capabilities and runs on Linux. It includes an 802.11b WiFi radio, 16-color greyscale LCD with QVGA (320x240) resolution, and a thumb keyboard with rubber buttons. Also included is a stereo DAC (digital audio converter) connected to a speaker and headphone jack. Internal battery lasts 3+ hours, and a tiny external AC charger is provided.

Not the perfect form factor for classrooms, but it retails for only US$ 99. Just imagine how cheap they'd be in quantity. Wow!

Needless to say, I bought one. When it arrives, I'll post my review. In the meantime, a favorable review from another user of the product is available.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Always On Streams a Heady Mix

Stanford University this week hosted the Always On™ conference, a confab of technical, political and VC interests. AlwaysOn's proclaimed goal is "to keep its global members in front of the most powerful players in technology, media and entertainment in an innovative blogging and social networking environment." Live webcast with chat and polling - speaker is former California Governer Jerry Brown

The live and delayed webcasts are notable not only for their content - the speakers discuss current trends in politics, media and technology (a heady mix) - they are notable for their presentation format. The video feeds include slides, online chat, and viewer polls on each speaker's persuasiveness.

For anyone who doubts that we're in the age of Web 2.0, this is a webcast to check out.

Technical Conferences to Go Online as Podcasts, the top technical audio podcast resource worldwide, announced today a first of its kind sponsorship deal with, a leading provider of Web-based access, support and collaboration services. The result will be that many major technical conferences, initially in the US, will be available as podcasts.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Unfettered Journalism in Singapore

protesters campaigning for press freedom
We've experienced an interesting lesson on press freedom in Singapore this week. Our largest local charity, the National Kidney Foundation, brought a suit against our national news organization, Singapore Press Holdings. The issue in question was an article written by local journalist Susan Long on alleged 'gold plated' toilet fixtures in the NKF's executive toilet.

Sadly, and as is often the case in Singapore, the NKF dragged Susan Long and SPH into court on a libel charge. Twice before NKF had brought similar suits against other individuals when they alleged that the NKF CEO flew first class and stayed in luxury hotels - and won settlements both times. But this time the outcome was different. NKF withdrew its suit after 2 days of court testimony revealed that the CEO was paid US$ 1m over 3 years, that he did travel first class, and yes, the toilet fixtures were indeed gold plated.

The public outrage was such that close to 40,000 Singaporeans signed an online petition calling for the CEO's resignation, and thousands cancelled their donation pledges. The CEO, his entire Board of Directors and even the patron, wife of our former Prime Minister, were all forced to resign.

The resignation of the NKF CEO, its Board and Patron brings the current saga to an appropriate close. And our current Prime Minister has spoken of the renewal that is already underway. People seem willing to put their mistrust behind them.

But this was an unusual event in Singapore - which is often criticized for lack of press freedom. In exposing the lack of transparency at NKF, journalist Susan Long has done the public a great service. Susan stuck her neck out on an issue that landed two others into court in the past, despite being correct in their assertions. And she jeapordized her editorial management and the SPH organization. Indeed, they too were dragged into court.

Fortunately, Susan was backed by strong management including her supervising editor, and an organization willing to go to court to stand up for editorial integrity. This willingness of the SPH editorial team to defend its own independence is worthy of applause.

Yesterday, as it happens, was the 160th anniversary of the Straits Times. I would judge this week's events an appropriate 'coming out' for SPH as a national news organization.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Asiapods - Let the Podcasts Begin

My company is in the preliminary stages of introducing a regular podcast on Contemporary Issues in Asian Business. The show will be a forum moderated by my CEO Mahboob Mahmood. Here's the first podcast.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Elliot Masie Promotes 'Velocity of Learning'

Elliot Masie (a pioneer in the field of instructional technology) has begun webcasting and podcasting in the runup to his Learning2005 conference, and in his first programme he talks about the 'Velocity of Learning'.

I agree with his premise that success in learning is based on the velocity of performance improvement. His first webcast focuses on improving eLearning production & design velocity. This is good (and certainly relevant to my organization). But in a blended environment, speed to competency depends critically on the classroom experience. In my view, the missing element is meaningful metrics from the classroom experience - how can you measure velocity without metrics?

Too much of today's instructional technology budget is devoted to putting PCs on desktops in multimedia labs, serving learners. Too little is spent on technology which facilitates instruction and which aids instructors. The solution?

Classroom handsets - the folks at eInstruction are exactly right in providing classroom handsets to close the loop between the instuctor and the learner. But 1st generation classroom handset solutions like eInstruction fall short in 3 critical respects:

  • they are too primitive to do a good enough job so that consistent and accurate metrics can be accumulated
  • they do not support standards and do not interoperate with other systems
  • they offer no backend database to aggregate performance metrics across programmes, classrooms, instructors and learners

Better systems are no doubt coming to classrooms. If you have some thoughts on this, I would welcome the opportunity to exchange ideas on this topic. Send me an email.

[edited 20050716]

Open Source LMS Products Worth Reviewing

Yesterday, ATutor 1.5 began shipping. This is the first release to have full support for SCORM 1.2 LMS-RTE3, with additional SCORM 2004 support coming in a future release. Lack of SCORM runtime support has in the past been the principle objection against our using an open source LMS.

My colleague Imran points out that open source LMS products Moodle and Claroline both also support SCORM 1.3 with betas for SCORM 2004 available. For companies like ours, which focus on content, it is time to review the open source market for LMS products.

As a start, we need to take a fresh look at SCORM.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Does Life Imitate Art?

Londoners on the Tube (jamielondonboy on Flickr)
I had posted some 7/7 reflections, but I decided to take them down. I prefer to return back to my main topic - learning communications.

Sincere condolences to the victims, their families, friends and loved ones.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Learning About Africa

No matter how many times I see and hear the story about poverty, hunger and AIDS in Africa, there are still so many things to learn. So it was with Live Aid in '85, Nelson Mandela's 46644 Aids Benefit in '03, and this weekend's Live8 concert. For me the most moving moment of Geldof's megashow was when Madonna performed on stage in London with Birhan Woldu, an Ethiopian whose life was saved by Live Aid in 1985.Live8 concert crowd in Paris (photo by BBC News)

'Live8 - The Long Walk to Justice' is about the impact of ordinary people on 8 elected leaders that run the institutions of world government. It is also about how technology can fuse the voice of millions into a coherent macro message. The largest ever TV audience; The busiest website in the world; The largest ever online petition; The largest ever text petition; The largest ever response to a TV show. If you missed it, check out the video online.

And sign the petition - join Bill Gates (and 30m others) in sending a strong message to the G8 Summit.