Trying out Zeega for an #OpenEd12 Recap

A few days ago a new storytelling/mashup/presentation tool named Zeega came across my RSS reader. It is still in private alpha (not even beta!) but I was intrigued and so submitted a request for an account, and to my pleasant surprise the next day had an account.

Zeega is slightly more complicated than your standard presentation tool – not a lot more, but it uses the idea of different “sequences” that can branch, and so a quick view of some short video tutorials was very helpful to get going with the software. I can see how one could use this as a start forward presentation tool quite easily, but they also included a series of examples of other projects people had made to show how this can be much more than a linear presentation tool (I quite liked the one on Geodesic Domes and drew some inspiration from it for my own.)

Another thing that makes Zeega stand out is its media harvesting mechanism – you can link zeega up with your dropbox account, but more interesting is the bookmarklet, which lets you add media from flickr, youtube and soundcloud (or indeed any regular media asset) to your “library” and once inserted into a resulting animation, includes a reference back to the original (a nice-to-have feature I could see in the future would be to choose only CC licensed materials, and also to allow users to specify how attributions should be made, but for now the current way works great.) Once you’ve gathered materials into your library, it’s a simple thing to drag and drop them on any frame of your show, where they can then act as links, back-ground soundtracks, etc. Zeega also has maps integrated with it, a feature I didn’t explore in the first story I created but which I can see adding a useful element at times.

Zeega is definitely still in alpha, but is another great example of how far web-based applications have come. It wasn’t that long ago that the same sort of functionality could only be found in a thick desktop client, and one that was no doubt web unawares. But even in its early stages, zeega is another example of a new bread of mashup storytelling tool that I believe any instructor with a bit of gumption could use to create much more engaging materials, or any student for that matter. It gets both the authoring and workflow pieces mostly right. Check out the example I created as my test drive, my own recap of #opened12 using sounds and images from all over the web.

Who will be the 3rd OpenEd 2012 keynote? You decide!

This being #openeducationweek, as organizers of this year’s Open Ed conference, we decided it made sense to speed up our process a bit so that we could announce the conference themes and keynotes during this auspicious week.

And yesterday we quietly did; this year’s theme is “Beyond Content” and the first two of three keynotes were announced too – we are very pleased that both Carolina Rossini and John Willinsky have agreed to speak in Vancouver in October.

But in a twist, we have reserved the final spot for you, potential attendees and supporters of open education in general, to vote on. Below is the poll (also listed in a few spots on the conference site) which is seeded with some of our dream speakers (there are no guarantees we can actually get any of them, but we can ask) and space for “write-in” candidates too


But while I’ve got your attention…the complaints about conference proceedings, keynote choices, etc., seem to have gotten even louder lately, though they are hardly new.

The challenge we’re always met with, though, is the perception, rightly or wrongly, that for academics (and people in academic institutions) to be able to travel to these events, they often need to be able to list a publication or presentation that has been accepted into the conference proceedings in order to get funding, thus precipitating the classic “stand and deliver” lecture format conference presentation.

All of us at OpenEd 2012 are brainstorming ways to accomodate this real need and yet break out of that mould, but we could use your help too – what suggestions do you have for Open Ed 2012 on ways that we can innovate the programme and yet still help people meet some of the requirements they have to travel? What would YOU like to see at the conference this year that you haven’t seen before? Let us know! – SWL