Sunday, April 24, 2005

NUS to embrace podcasting; IVLE a success

It must be admitted that the technological prowess of the NUS is impressive. Before I went up to Oxford I had the opportunity to use their IVLE; and this capability was sorely missed afterward. While punting down the river Isis during a tutorial is a delightful luxury accorded to few (I recommend this boathouse for those who plan to go punting alone), I missed the ability to instantaneously access lecture slides and handouts online. The oxonian way is to distribute handouts before lectures, and while I had no problems, being horribly hardworking, some of my colleagues were often unable to receive these handouts; either because an insufficient number had been printed or because they had drank rather too much at Park End the night before. It was only in trinity 2004 that Oxford introduced a roughly equivalent system to the IVLE of yesteryear, called weblearn.

NUS has moved on and now apparently records lectures for transmission as webcasts. My friends would have been pleased. I thank Mc Dermott for highlighting this:
The threat of the evil-doers is now being used to invade schools and remove civil liberties from Singaporeans. Cameras in lecture halls, sounds like someone is frightened of what may be said in those rooms. The threat from 'terrorism' is the fear of an idea. When will the cameras be removed? Is there a timeline for installation and 'removal'?
Do forgive his blatant bias; while it is possible that the cameras are indeed being used for recording what is said, surely if the purpose was to weed out dissidents a hidden microphone would be more apropos. A camera may conceivably be used to deter upcoming dissident lecturers, but surely the application of occam's razor demands that their primary purpose must be to record lectures for the benefit of the students.

In any case, it has been brought to my attention that the NUS now has further plans to facilitate the distribution of knowledge, this time through the use of podcasting, a phenomenon which only started in October 2004. Taking steps towards implementing technology within a year is surely a record for what is usually an ossified institution.
CIT will provide students with an auditory avenue to access their lectures. Webcast lectures will be made available as audio clips for listening on their personal portable music players. Eventually, these audio files will be available via podcasts, as this push technology for audio content is popularly known.
I also note that NUS students seem to agree with me, in a 2004 survey 98% said IVLE was necessary. Of course, if my tax dollars go towards providing those in NUS with iPods as well as discounted laptops, I might have to stop being such a happy bunny.