Talis has announced the winners of its Talis Incubator fund set up in September last year to further the cause of Open Education through the use of technology. Interestingly, it was the small-scale nature of the funding – £1,000-£15,000 being awarded to each successful bidder – that seemed to prove most attractive to the learning technology community. Funding channels are already awarded elsewhere for larger projects, but these smaller allocations seemed to meet a need at grassroots practitioner level. The Talis Incubator has been able to attract an impressive group of individuals who together form the Talis Incubator Review Board. All six board members share a commitment to open practices within education, facilitated by technology, and see the Talis Incubator as an important way of helping get the best innovative ideas off the ground.
Following a lightweight open peer review of submissions, we’re proud to announce the three winners of the first round of awards:
To date it has been difficult if not impossible to make changes to educational images – for example to introduce explanatory animation or enable interactivity with students – due to the underlying complexity of digital images and lack of interoperability between different image authoring software tools. Webducate’s Drawtivity interface will make it easier to reuse educational images, and enable students to interact with those images, offering considerable potential for assessment activities. Andy Lane, one of the Review Board members, was particularly impressed with the potential for open assessment – remarking that tools in this area are badly needed. On receiving the award, Tony Lowe from Webducate said, “I am extremely excited about bringing this idea to life and also about getting to work more closely with the OpenEd community. I feel a bit daunted too considering the high standard of the competition and the interest this is likely to generate.”
Moodle Course Repository
Joseph Thibault and his team plan to build a repository of every course ever created on Moodle, as most of the valuable content is currently locked up behind individual installations. The Moodle Course Repository would make it easier to share resources, activities or even entire courses, without compromising the security of users’ personal data. Steve Ryan echoed many thoughts on the Review Board when he remarked that “if it achieves only a small part of what it sets out to do, it will be worth funding”. Joseph said it was an honour to have the chance to advance Moodle and open educational resources worldwide through the Talis Incubator, and his team was “really excited to be giving users an easier way to share their content and find new course templates, resources and Creative Commons licensed materials”. He added that “Teachers everywhere will be enabled to share. Students everywhere stand to reap the benefits.”
The TwHistory project looks at the potential of Twitter to deliver exciting new ways to study history. Tweets are sent out at an appropriate day and time, as if a historical event were happening at that exact time. Using a group of volunteers, for example, the Battle of Gettysburg was tweeted using journals and letters from fifteen soldiers present at the battle. The project aims to simplify this process, enabling more educators, students and volunteers to create their own TwHistory events. David Wiley loved the idea, and noted that “it does seem to be gaining ground with educators. Making it significantly easier to do, as with the tools they’re proposing, would fuel the fire.” The Review Board was also excited about the potential of this idea beyond the field of history.
As Marion Jensen, TwHistory’s creator and project manager explained, “We’ve spoken with many teachers and historians about TwHistory, and the idea has really generated a lot of excitement. But we see that excitement dim when we explain the rather difficult process involved. The generous grant from Talis will provide a simple way for students and teachers to create their own Twitter re-enactments, as well as find and follow other re-enactments on the web. We are very grateful to Talis for their support.”
For Chris Clarke, Programme Manager of Talis Education Division, the high standard of all the bids received was impressive, and everyone at Talis looks forward to following the progress of the winners, and working with them to evaluate what the outcomes mean for learning and teaching in education.