Signal Hill Fire in Cape Town

Picture of the fire by 2oceansvibe (http://yfrog.com/h2hgszj)

Driving back into the city today from Rondebosch I noticed a bush fire burning on the east side of Signal Hill just above the Bokaap.  This was at about 3pm, and by the time I got into town the eastern tip of Signal Hill was almost fully ablaze.  The city of Cape Town was buzzing and emergency services were very visibly dealing with the situation.  I counted a total of four helicopters plus the spotter dowsing the fire with water from above.  These bush fires are so dangerous because of the dry conditions this time of year plus the fierce winds that have been blowing all week.   Just when the situation seems under control the wind changes direction and the fire takes off.

Just peeked up at Signal Hill and things are still smoldering but seem under control.  I can still see fire trucks patrolling from Lions head to the Signal Hill lockout.

Strolling in Sea Point

Kim and I enjoyed the lovely December weather strolling in Sea Point today.

Christmas Day

Happy Christmas everyone!  We have enjoyed a lovely day together. My best to you all!  ! !

Pictures from Amy’s Wedding

In October I flew home to attend my sisters wedding in Toronto.  It was a grand affair held at the historic Old Mill Hotel and Spa in Etobicoke.  Unfortunately during the wedding I was so busy I was not able to snap any photos, and many of my friends and colleagues began to question whether there was even a wedding at all!  Well I am pleased to announce that the photographer’s photos have been released and are temporarily available online here.   I snatched just a couple of my favorites which really sum up my experience of the evening.

All photo credit goes to the professional photographers at The Art of Weddings, please contact them if you desire prints.

New Devices for Accessing, New Formats for Sharing

I’ve just finished publishing our latest open educational resource here at UCT, a DVD that was created in the Centre for Intercultural and Diversity Studies (iNCUDISA).  The DVD contains a short 8 minute trailer for the upcoming film Black Adam: End of the White Guy?  In addition to the video trailer the DVD is meant to serve as an interactive teaching resource by providing short clips which address themes drawn from the movie.  In fact the DVD is used as a teaching tool as part of the Diversity Studies Honours and Masters programmes here at UCT.  It is envisioned that this resource can be used to generate discussion around whiteness in the post-colonial world.

So when iNCUDISA brought us the DVD to share on OpenContent I was more than happy to help out!  But how do you share a DVD online when it includes interactive features like a DVD menu with textual links to certain clips according to their theme?  Since I could not replicate a DVD menu on a video streaming service such as YouTube, I decided that I would create an HTML start page for the individual videos which would serve as the DVD menu providing links to the clips.  With a little work we had the source clips converted to a web friendly format (SWF) and hosted on our video streaming server.  I created a simple HTML page to link to each theme and we had the video online along with the resources that support it!  

Most often when we create DVD’s we intend for them to be watched on mass, unless the DVD is being sold for profit of course :)  But if you have a DVD that you want to distribute widely and freely, there are still costs involved in with creating physical DVD’s and handing them out.  I know that iNCUDISA wanted to share all of the hard work that they put into this project and designing the learning activities that support it.   So in fact, the DVD format was not the best way to get it ‘out there’ since they would have to phyically distribute the DVD.  I am hoping the web version will get a lot more use by educators who find it useful in their context.  It also provides a resource which students can refer back to anytime, anyplace as long as they have a connection to the web.  

I have often heard the statement “if it’s not online it doesn’t it exist?”  While this is a bit binary, there are other questions to ask around sharing educational content; will students have a chance to (or choose to) look at it more than once?  How usable is it?  What format it is in?  What is required to access it?  How much does it cost?  

Designating educational material free (as in the case of this DVD resource) is one way of making it more accessible but we also need to keep in mind the formats we use for sharing.  Unfortunately there are no easy answers around formats, but its good practice to try to keep in mind maximum exposure, reuse, and accessibility when sharing materials.