I have been neglecting the ‘Canuck’ lately and wanted to take a few minutes on this last day of 2009, to share a few odds and ends that I’ve been meaning to write about.

Earlier this month I had a great time in Second Life doing a guest appearance with Ross McKerlich in a  Danish Education Masters Class with Mariane Riss blogged by her SecondLife Avatar Mariis Mills at http://milmariis.wordpress.com/2009/12/24/case-mil09-didactic-design-discussion-4/. I was presenting on Community of Inquiry Model and our work on identifying COI indicators of social, cognitive and social presence in immersive environments. Technically the presentation went well, slides and audio was clear and then we had fund answering questions by positioning our avatars on a large wheel – with 5 point Likert like scale inscribed (see Mariis blog for a picture). Having to move and see where others clustered (and changed our locations) gave a more real expression of individual and collective ideas and gave opportunity to talk or whisper to others with same answer. A simple but engaging illustration of the value add of immersive contexts.

This month also marked the release of another distance education related book from AUPress. Dietmar Kennepohl edited Accessible Elements: Teaching Science Online and at a Distance that focuses on the unique challenges of teaching science (including labs) at a distance. I haven’t read all the chapters, (OK, I skimmed through my own :-)) but thought the book has both theoretical and practical insights into the special challenges of teaching science when physical labs and face-to-face interaction are not possible. Like other AUPress books, the full text is available online and paper copy can be purchased for $40 (Canadian).

I also noticed this week a new online journal (published by the E-learning Network of Australasia, using the Open Journal System) Impact: Journal of Applied Research in Workplace E-learning.  I have often thought that we focus too much of our time and energy as DE researchers on formal education, ignoring the value and impact of Net based learning in the workplace and informal learning. The first issue features articles on Connectivism, Heutogogy (the study of self-determined learning), a good lit review of e-learning the workplace and a couple of good articles on evaluation. I look forward to following this journal into the future and congratulate the editors on offering a quality, open access journal in an important area of study.

Finally, I see that Gilly Slamon and her colleagues in the Beyond Distance Research Alliance at the University of Leichester are offering their 5th online/F2F learning and research festival. Positively Disruptive: Learning Futures Festival Online The week long affair features Elluminate keynote sessions, break outs and lots of blog and twitter action. Seems like good value and likely good learning for 70 pound registration fee

Well, Best of the season and New Year to all!