Old thinking about new web stuff?

I’ve been engaged in a very productive few weeks of meetings with colleagues looking at ways that the OU can use work better, explore new markets and reach out using new tools. The good side is that there’s lots of positive work going on both inside and outside the organisation. The bad news is that there is definitely some ‘old ideas’ floating around about how best to go about leveraging web technology.

An example of this is that the OU is investing in a strategic partnership with YouTube (sounds interesting doesn’t it?) well as far as I know this actually means that we’ll be able to publish larger files sizes without restrictions and we’ll be able to create ‘areas’ for our stuff, so the OU is putting up 300 course resource videos in a section called OUcourses, there’ll also be a section called OUlife and one called OUresearch (I think I may have got that wrong). This strikes me as a very old fashioned idea of how the OU should use Youtube, it’s the old file/folder model of the world and everything gathered into an OU specific area. I far prefer the model adopted by individual academics who publish course materials directly to Youtube and who benefit by the clickback traffic and other stuff, if people really want to get 300 course resources all bunched together they can browse OpenLearn or the OU public site? – The OU is also paying out to hire a helicopter to take a video of the campus to put an official OU Youtube promotion on the web. Again this strikes me as old school thinking of a very polished advertising video when what is really needed is some low-fi stuff and no corporate bling.

I’ve been looking at the Google Maps mashups as friends of mine are working on projects which involve using the Google Maps API to create useful resources, one is an IM locator service for people using OpenLearn and it’s now out and avialable (Alex Little developed this one), the other is using Gogole Maps to create a picture of species maps (of snails) in the UK for a project called Evolution Megalab (Richard Greenwood did this one). There’s lots of potential for the Google Maps API, especially in where it’s going with dynamic re-routing for journey and travel info and with live street level mapping info. Alex pointed me to a good site that deals with this it’s the Google Maps Mania Blog – I could spend ages looking through it (and will when I get more time). The easy use API and the ability to embed the code easily in host sites makes the Google Maps stuff a real winner in my book. I think there’s much potential for it’s use in the kinds of location/discovery/exploration learning context. Now for some new thinking about how it can be used!

Talking of Star Wars…

My kids are into Star Wars (just as I was when I was nine!) and came across this Star Wars Mashup which is great fun and also an interesting way to introduce young ‘uns to the technology in a more controlled environment than say YouTube (if you get my drift).