Assembling the heterogeneous elements for (digital) learning

Lectures and the LMS: Alternatives and experiments

This post stores information about an experiment/presentation seeking to examine alternatives for both the lecture and the LMS. Information available below includes:


The video of the talk is available on ustream. Slides are below.


The following experiment/presentation will take place on Tuesday the 10th of November from 1pm-3pm. The time is based in the “Australia – Queensland – Brisbane” timezone, you can use this converter to make it meaningful for you or the following table might help.

Where When (start time)
London Nov 10, 3am
Washington DC Oct 9, 11pm
New Delhi Nov 10, 8:30am


The experiment/presentation will occur in two forms:

  1. Physically on a number of rooms on the campus of CQUniversity; and
    Rockhampton – 33/G.14. Bundaberg – 1/1.12. Gladstone – MHB 1.09. Mackay – 1/1.01.

    IMPORTANT: Originally the Mackay room was not going to be available. Due to the change in time the Mackay room is now available.

  2. Virtually through ustream, twitter and Votapedia.
    The ustream will probably be through this channel. More details on the twitter and votapedia usage will be given during the presentation.

The current session structure will be

  • Introduction and background – no more than 30 minutes.
    Explain the rationale for the experiment and get people using Votapedia and twitter.
  • Presentation – 50 minutes.
    A dry run of the EDCAUSE’09 conference presentation
  • Discussion and questions.
    Whatever time left will be for discussion amongst the participants.


Postman’s (1998) fifth of five things to know about technological change is that media or technology tends to become mythic. That is, some technologies come to be thought of as part of the natural order of things. It becomes difficult to imagine life without the technology. Postman suggests that this is dangerous because such technology becomes accepted as is and is consequently not easily modified or changed. Such difficulty is a contributing factor to what Truex et al (1998) label as stable systems drag, where an organisation battles against its constraining technologies as it seeks to adapt to an ever-changing environment. There can be no doubt that universities operate in a continuously changing environment (CQU, 2005)

This session consists of a talk and an experiment. Both aim to explore and open up for modification two mythic technologies within higher education: the lecture and the learning management system. The talk will argue for the need for alternatives to learning management systems and describe the implementation and results of such an alternative. The experiment will use various technologies (ustream, Votapedia and Twitter) to demonstrate methods to significantly modify the mythic attributes of lectures and presentations.

You will be able to participate in the talk and the experiment either by coming to one of the ISL rooms on campus or by your web browser. If you do participate, please be sure to bring your mobile phone. If you’re really keen, you may also wish to create yourself an account on Twitter for use during the presentation.

Additional Background

The talk will be a trial run of a presentation to be given at EDUCAUSE’09 in early November. The title is “Alternatives for the institutional implementation of e-learning: Lessons from 12 years of Webfuse”. The abstract for the talk follows.

The practice of e-learning in universities suffers from a number of unquestioned perspectives that limit outcomes. This presentation describes a framework for understanding the full diversity of alternate perspectives and examines one successful set of perspectives arising out of 12+ years of designing, supporting and competing with the Webfuse system.

An extended abstract of the talk is also available.

The talk will be used as the test bed for an experiment with a range of different technologies that seek to question many of the mythic attributes of the lecture or presentation. The technologies being experimented with include:

  • ustream – a live interactive video broadcast platform.
    ustream provides a free, simple to implement and easy to use approach that allows anyone with a web browser to watch the presentation live.
  • Votapedia – a web and SMS audience response system (clickers)
    Votapedia allows the presenter to pose questions and poll participants answers during a presentation. Votapedia will allow anyone with a mobile phone of web access to participate in these questions and answers.
  • A back channel.
    Using a combination of Twitter and features of ustream participants will be able to share a conversation about the presentation while it is happening.


CQU. (2005). “CQU Strategic Plan: 2006-2011 – Creating an opening to a different future.” Retrieved 31 October, 2005, from;policyid=607.

Postman, N. (1998). Five things we need to know about technological change. NewTech, Denver, CO.

Truex, D., R. Baskerville, et al. (1999). “Growing systems in emergent organizations.” Communications of the ACM 42(8): 117-123.


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