This time it’s personal

November 1st, 2009

merged world eye stampedThinking of social e-learning instantly brings a community and interaction to mind. But … learning always starts at a personal level. And how exactly does my personal learning look like?

How is it that I’m not motivated at all to learn some cheap formulas for a cryptography exam but I’m highly motivated to learn a foreign language like Chinese, which by the way is slightly harder. My english professor always said: “The fastest way to learn a language is to have a girlfriend who just speaks this language.” I think in this case the motivation is kind of raised.
Why do we have different motivations for different things? How is it that my motivation is higher if I learn self-initiated and when I am passionate about the outcome as it is when somebody tells me to learn?

A personal learning includes intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and it includes formal and informal learning. Mostly it starts with informal learning during the days you try to stand up and walk, then it is more formal learning going through school, college or university and after that it becomes informal again. For instance if you learn a foreign language just for the fun of it or to stay active or if you discover a new sport or game.

The reason for the differentiation of informal and formal learning could be the same as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, at least in most cases. So it would be fantastic to be able to transfer formal to informal learning or sometimes vice versa. Is there a chance to convert from one into the other? How could students be engaged to disregard the boundaries of formal learning and go beyond these boundaries? Could social learning be an approach to facilitate learners to simply forget about the boundaries of formal learning and just learn as it would be informal?

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Visualize your network

June 7th, 2009
The friend graph

The friend graph

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been reading a lot of papers and still do, to acquire a broad knowledge about social software and how it can be used within learning management systems.

Reading this ACM article I came across a awesome piece of software. The Nexus friend grapher is able not only to visualize the network of all your friends within, it can find out similarities between your friends. Once you marked a friend, you can see who of your friends are friend with him and with who of your friends he has similarities like in music or hobbies.

Interesting to see is also the form. In clouds you can easily determine your “circle of friends”. There is a bunch of people i know from a specific company, which all are in the same cloud. People I know from the university are in a different cloud.

If you want to take a look at it without installing the facebook application or if you don’t have a facebook account, there is an anonymized demo you can play around with.

The Nexus friend grapher is definitly worth a look and a must-have for everyone researching in this field. A fine piece of software to visualize and explore your friends in a different way.

Plymouth E-Learning Conference

April 23rd, 2009

conferenceAs I mentioned a long time ago, the Plymouth E-Learning Conference has succsessfully started today. After an enlightning key note from Mike Balmires, our Atlantis Project will have its own track. The track will contain 14 presentations during thursday and friday. If you are around stop by at one of our presentation to get an impression of our project. The first presentation is already running in Room 11.

A Managed project

March 17th, 2009

basecamp_teamworkpmIn order to keep track of my upcoming project, my master thesis, and to get all involved parties up to date, I thought about a collaboration platform. During my diploma thesis I had to work with offices in Germany, New York and Florida which worked fine despite the distance. One success factor was a web application called Basecamp . Since I made good experience with basecamp I decided to use it in order to keep track of milestones, to-dos and manage contact details of involved people. There is even a collaborative writeboard inside allowing you to write a text together with a bunch of people, able to compare versions and keeping track of the changes.
I know there are different or similar solutions like Teamwork which offer the same functionality and even some file space for free, but when I noticed, the account was already set up. But for the next project I will check it out.

What are you working with? Any other good experiences or hints?

Social networks @ CeBIT

March 5th, 2009


After a walk through several halls, I spotted some more interessting stands offering quite innovative services in the field of social networking and eLearning.

Social online networks are not just a personal fun pages any more but very interesting for enterprises to use internally to improve collaboration within the enterprise or externally to cooperate with customers and suppliers. Blogtronix, a company located in Bulgaria, Canada and USA, offers social online networks especially tailored to enterprise needs.

André Ulrich and his company kontextwork offers Wikis, adapted to special needs of enterprises. Needs like online social networks, knowledge management, news, blogging and project-based collaboration can be served with wikis. Applicated Wikis are based on OpenSource projects and can be developed further to any kind of

Commetrix is a project of the Technical University of Berlin. It provides various ways to visualize social networks with a lot of input. Email traffic or online social networks can be analyzed and displayed. The results of the analysis can be tweaked and shaped in different ways like narrow it down by keyword. Taken its almost real-time character it is really useful for monitoring or getting snapshots of any kind of network.

A different approach of capture information about social networks is VennMaker. It doesn’t automatically import data from networks but offers the possibility of enter information manually as you talk to an individual. It focuses the subjective character of information provided by persons. Social networks can be drawn and exported in an easy way.

social virtPresenter
social virtPresenter developed by the University of Osnabrueck is an Facebook application that offers a lot of funktions for eLearning for the existing online social network. Videos of lectures can be watched online together with friends. Questions can be asked, according to specific points in the video. The watch behaviour is recorded and is visualized in the form of how often was a particular point watched.

eLearning @ CeBIT

March 4th, 2009

After a good start, featuring a presentation of Prof. Dr. Udo Bleimann live on stage, talking about the Atlantis University Project, I took a brief look across projects about eLearning.

I had a very nice chat with a feller from Komuniki at our Stand. Komuniki is a young vibrant company based in Cyprus and Germany. They created a eLearning comunity featuring intercultural communication and collaboration. Attend an online class learning also about your virtual neighbor from India, China or wherever in the world.

Prof. Dr.-ing Krämer from Fern-Universität Hagen is creating a repository for eLearning media content called CampusContent. Why produce every little bit of media content yourself when there is already a bunch of content available. The repository will feature crontribution of new content and copy or reference things. It will also feature a licencing model in order to protect content from ilegal copying.

Kalmann Graffi a PhD candidate from TU Darmstadt is currently developing LiveSocial, a social network offering features similar to StudiVZ but with a peer-to-peer network model.

A company not directly involved in eLearning but still worth mentioning is an Liquiverse, founded by of a very innovative friend of mine. With Liquifile and Liquibase, Carsten Waldeck, is storming the field of browsing in a innovative manor. Even the official CeBIT website is featuring his liquid browsing to find exhibitors.

Atlantis @ CeBIT

March 1st, 2009

Schwarzenegger and MerkelOn March 2nd, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Angela Merkel will open the CeBIT fair in Hannover Germany and our eLearning project “Atlantis University Portal” will be present. Together with the Technical Transfer Network of the State Hessen, we will present our eLearning project. We will be located in the Hall 9 where eGovernment will be the main topic. Come and visit us at Hall 9 Stand C22.

Tidy papers this time

February 25th, 2009


Facing my master thesis in the field of eLearning and social networks and with my experience from my diploma thesis two years ago, I defenetly want to be more organized than during my diploma thesis.

The most difficult thing in my experience was and will be, to get hold of the huge amount of information, notes, papers and links. I decided to be better prepared and willing to get help by a tool this time.

Since I am a dedicated Mac User, hints and suggestions from other students weren’t very helpful because most students still use Windows systems. So I started to look around and poking some websites offering different tools.  I got a first clue on this website talking about a paperless office.

Tools of different flavors came along my search, like note-taking tools, citation tools and personal knowledge management. I want to present some tools I found very interessting and that I use now.

Sente is a free tool to collect and sort all your papers documents and notes. It also offers a way to export to BibTeX, which is kind of important if you are writing a document like a master thesis.


This browser plugin offers you a nice and easy way to keep track of links and notes while browsing the web.


This extensive collection of tools enables you to take notes and keep every thought in almost every situation. It offers services like browser plugins, an iPhone application and a standalone tool. Evernote comes for Macs and Windows.


This tool is actually my favorite! Similar to Sente, Papers is able to manage and order your papers and documents. Additionally it is able to connect to a bunch of online libraries such as ACM, PubMED, Google Books, Google Scholar .. , and automatically gets information about the paper like author, journal and so on. Papers even offers you an iPhone application to take your paper database on the road. The downside is a price of about 30 Euro, but I think It is totally worth it.


Let me know what tools you use or know. Mac or Win doesn’t matter. I guess a lot of people will appreciate a nice collection of tools they can use or check out.

Plymouth e-Learning Conference

February 25th, 2009

conferenceI would like to advise you of the Plymouth e-Learning Conference on April 23rd – 24th. Go on their website and see for yourself what amazing program Steve and Mark have assembled. Hope to see you in Plymouth in April.


February 24th, 2009

I finally did it and established this blog. My goal is to report about my researches and milestones I reach on my way towards a better eLearning.

I hope some of you out there are interessted in the same topics and are joining me with comments and suggestions, maybe even collaborations. I’m really looking forward to your comments.