Quick hello from Innsbruck

June 21, 2007 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Blogging, Microlearning | 2 Comments
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I’m in the middle of the microlearning conference, and believe it or not: I am a convert. Twitter DOES actually work, in particular in environments like these. While the first two keynotes were presented, people commented on what was being said by the speakers – only that you couldn’t hear them. But the comments offered different views on the talk, maybe views that otherwise would not have been expressed, publicly. Of course it only works if you have a certain community of people who share interests – they have to have at least one thing in common. Obvious disadvantage: It also draws attention away from the speakers, as – even if multi-tasking – you cannot divide your attention between different things. You’re either writing or reading a twitter message or listening to the talk. That may lead to semi-attentive audiences – so as a presenter, you have to be prepared for that (and not be offended if that happens).

Microlearning 2007

Btw, when we were on the train this morning, my two colleagues and I made jokes about how we would immediately take pictures and upload them to our blogs – and that’s what I am doing right now. Harr! (Pictures taken with iSight; my MacBook stopped making those velcro noises).


Dom Krautler & Microlearning

June 20, 2007 at 6:14 pm | Posted in Microlearning | Leave a comment
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From 4 till 6 today I went to a public lecture of Dom Krautler, bishop of Xingu in Transamazonia in Brazil. Hailing from Vorarlberg, he is known as Bischof Erwin Krรคutler here in Austria. His niece is a social work student here in Dornburn, and it seems as if she helped arrange this lecture (but he’s revered wherever he goes here in Vorarlberg). There was an article in the SPIEGEL about him a while ago – he has two bodyguards now, as being a Bishop who advocates the cause of indigenous people doesn’t exactly make him a favourite of those who have economic or political power.

But his talk was interesting (unfortunately, fresh air was running out quickly), in particular the bits and pieces that he shared with us about the pope’s speeches in Brazil during his latest visit. It seems as if the media picked in particular on one of the pope’s comments about the Indians’ ‘longing to be christianized’ that’s not what the pope said, but how it was understood) – according to Dom Krautler this was another statement that would only be understood by the theologian who knows a bit about Augustinian theology. The pope’s statement was, according to Krautler, Augustinian, meaning that there is a longing within the human for the divine. Of course the only way that a catholic pope can express this longing for the divine is by saying that someone longs for christ – but given the gory history of forced christianization in Latin America, this comment wasn’t so well received.

Dom Krautler said that he himself was quite happy with the pope’s other statements – e.g. he said that we need to devote our attention and concern to Amazonia (or Transamazonia? In any case:), the vast regions where the indigenous tribes live who are still badly threatened by extinction. If Dom Erwin liked it, I suppose this means that he didn’t interpret the pope’s word as a plan to christen them all:-)

It seems the pope also said something nice about the Church of Liberation – the reason why I am unable to reproduce it is that, once again, only the theologian would have been able to identify the comment as such. The pope is a professor of theology more than anything, there’s no doubt about it.

So that’s how I got my share of do-good celebrities today:-)

Tomorrow in the early morning I am leaving to go to Innsbruck to attend the Microlearning conference – and to present my paper in repeated 7 minute ‘speed-geeking sessions’ (elsewhere this called poster-session). Hopefully I won’t have to repeat my gig more than three times. Arf.

The Twittering Conference

June 16, 2007 at 7:18 pm | Posted in Microlearning | Leave a comment

I received an invite today to join the Twitter group for the upcoming Microlearning Conference.


for the conference we set up a little live experiment in microcontent.
don’t forget to bring your wifi-enabled laptop and your mobile phone!

if you subscribe to “Twitter” (it is free), you will not only be able to
get the latest conference announcements ‘live’, in real time, but also
to share with the other “twittering” participants your thoughts &
impressions throughout the conference.
we are sure this will add to the atmosphere, and it is a quite
instructive experience in real microcontent too!

it takes only 5 minutes. just have a look at this visual micro-tutorial:


then wait for your first twitter messages to come in from the Conference
Channel at


Twitter messages will be sent to your mobile phone too (for free!), if
you choose this option on your twitter-website!
you can turn this on and off anytime …

(the few participants who are using twitter already may want to create a
new twitter-ID just for the conference.)



Sounds like fun, huh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Future Redundancy of Plagiarism

April 6, 2007 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Microlearning, Plagiarism | Leave a comment
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Before I leave I wanted to raise your interest in the already mentioned Microlearning Conference in Innsbruck towards the end of June this year. Maybe we can meet there! And I thought that one possible way of raising your interest could be by presenting bits and pieces of my paper – the conclusion (sorry, Greg, it still has one quote in it that you recommended me to get rid of, and I can see now why, but I couldn’t let go…). This also explains how the Phaedrus quote fits in:

I have argued above that the emergence of microplagiarism and of the increase of plagiarism in student assignments in general have to be assigned to the contradictions between the rules of the academic and the digital world. If the promise of the Semantic Web comes true, as was suggested in the original article from 2001, it will โ€œbetter [enable] computers and people to work in cooperation.โ€

The benefits this holds for the world of academia are indeed alluring: Individuals doing research online could harvest all metadata associated with a document using Semantic Web browsers. This information โ€“ and for our purpose: in particular bibliographic information, such as provided by Dublin Core โ€“ could be reused to generate references and reference lists.

Anybody who copies from a Semantic Web compliant website would not merely copy words, but automatically import all the information and meaning that she or he โ€“ in order to avoid plagiarism โ€“ was required to extract manually in the past. Writing essays and articles that meet the requirements of different style guides would be an easy task for everyone. If this scenario were to come true, the mere possibility of plagiarism would cease to exist.

Of course this would change the customs and traditions of the academic world fundamentally and would not be embraced by everyone. Certainly for a transitional period, and probably much longer, some educators might insist that students continue to write the reference lists manually, just as there are some today that insist that students refrain from using calculators.

The propensity of media technology to serve as an extension to human cognitive abilities has always been greeted with skepticism. One can find a great deal of the criticism that some studentsโ€™ use of web resources attracts, preempted in Platoโ€™s Phaedrusโ€™ conclusion about writing, one of the first media technologies to fundamentally transform human knowledge and discourse:

Once any account has been written down, you find it all over the place, hobnob-bing with completely inappropriate people no less than with those who under-stand it, and completely failing to know who it should and shouldnโ€™t talk to.

The opportunities for the circulation of content and for informal learning have never been greater than now, in the web-supported knowledge society. Microplagiarism draws our attention to the โ€˜Dark Side of the Forceโ€™ of microlearning, to the flip side of a socio-technological constellation in which the pragmatic opportunities for copying, using and editing someone elseโ€™s work are greater than ever.

The problem of microplagiarism will only cease to exist, if we manage to close the gap between the technological and the academic sphere and their diverging rules for the circulation and continuation of information. If โ€˜copy and pasteโ€˜ technically meant to not only copy alphanumeric characters, but also the semantic relations of a particular item of microcontent, then we would know that the gap has been closed.

The Semantic Web, the first stirrings of which are already visible in the development of ontologies and Semantic Browser extensions like Piggy-Bank, will be able to solve this problem and bridge the gap between human knowledge and computer data. Admittedly, the Semantic Web solution does not address the problem of learning and effective learning strategies, but it can help to raise student awareness of plagiarism and of ways to avoid it.

For the time being, the best strategy for dealing with the situation seems to be in setting students tasks that rule out or reduce the possibility of plagiarism in general.

P.S. I’ve got piggy bank on my browser now, it only works with Firefox, but I think it’s kinda neat. Wasn’t able to put it to any use yet, but hope to be able to do so in the future. Continuing to drop coins. Clickety-Clank, Clickety-Clank, your data go into my piggy bank.

I’m going to present at the Microlearning Conference!

March 27, 2007 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Microlearning, Plagiarism, success | 5 Comments
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Hey! This morning I got a notification that my proposal for the microlearning conference in Innsbruck has been accepted. I also got some very encouraging feedback from them – yay! yay! yay!

paper id 60: The Dark Side of the Force: The Issue of Microplagiarism in Microlearning
has been accepted.
The review comments are following, please consider them carefully when preparing the final version of your paper.

*Very well written paper and easy to read.
*Being an academic myself I have seen this problem a number of times
of the last years.
*Something missing in my opinion from the paper is how the moral
side of the problem. How does students react if you tell them not to
copy. Do they still do it but more carefully?

*Also, the semantic web is mentioned several time as the solution
but readers that are not that familiar with that name might benefit
from a discussion of how the semantic web would solve the problem!!
I strongly urge you to ad this!!!

*Some more minor things:
– Please connect the figures into the text. I.e. write in the text
“see figure 2” etc.
– It is always nice to see the heading “conclusions” at the end of
the paper. I didn’t realize I was reading the conclusions until I
reached the references ๐Ÿ™‚
– What does footnote 18 mean???
Good work!

P.S. Here is a link to the older post that contains the microplagiarism abstract

Deadline extended…

February 1, 2007 at 5:18 pm | Posted in Microlearning | Leave a comment

How annoying! The Microlearning folks have just announced on their website that they extened the deadline until the 28th of February – meaning I’ll have to wait even longer until I learn whether they’ve accepted the paper or not… ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ Time for some excessive use of evil smileys ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

The Dark Side of the Force: The Issue of Microplagiarism in Microlearning

January 31, 2007 at 7:28 pm | Posted in Austria, Friends, Learning English, Microlearning, Plagiarism, Teaching English | 1 Comment

Surprise! At the end of the day, I manage to crank out another post, as I, even more surprisingly, managed to crank out a paper before the day ended.

It’s a proposal for the Microlearning conference in Innsbruck this summer. An old school mate pointed me to it, and its going to be nice to attend the conference with him. Provided they accept us.

The last conference (no surprise) was fairly male and age-dominated, even if they managed to push the lady on the left into the frame a couple of times.

Microlearning 2006

Anyhow, here is the abstract of my proposal:

The Dark Side of the Force:
The Issue of Microplagiarism in Microlearning

Based on the analysis of authentic examples of plagiarism in student assignments, this article proposes the term ‘microplagiarism’ to describe a new kind of plagiarism which uses relatively short sections of arbitrary sources and combines them to form a bigger, seemingly unified text. The authors examine to which extent learning through plagiarizing may be an effective strategy in some areas of language learning and discuss the difficulties in separating microlearning from microplagiarism. The current gap between the digital and the academic sphere and their methods of circulating and continuing knowledge is identified as a cause for the increase of plagiarism. While the hope is expressed that the Semantic Web will take care of this issue, it is suggested for the time being to minimize the risk by setting students tasks that don’t encourage plagiarism.

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