The Media Zoo is both a dissemination forum for the projects of Beyond Distance, and a safe environment in which our University colleagues can encounter and experiment with the learning technologies researched.
Over this summer, I have been migrating the old HTML website (the Online Media Zoo) to the University’s content management system, Plone. In addition to our Media Zoo quadrant map, I’ve added a choice of five pathways into the site depending on whether a visitor is a researcher, or a teacher, and so on.
While Plone may offer less flexibility in terms of individual artistic style, it allows for much easier expansion of the site over the long term.
The URL for the Media Zoo remains the same:
With the move, I’ve taken to opportunity to beef up the second of the Zoo’s functions. Under Engaging with Learning Technologies, University colleagues will find a number of ways to draw upon the skills and experience of Beyond Distance, whether through scheduled or custom workshops in the Physical Media Zoo, or a visit from the Mobile Media Zoo.
In addition, since we moved to our new premises last year, we have been developing a number of facilities – hybrid presentation technology, online conferencing and a podcasting studio- that are now available for University colleagues to use, with or without Zookeeper involvement.
There is also a drop-in Open Zoo every Wednesday afternoon, when colleagues can engage with the Zoo without a prior appointment.
As with any website, it remains a work in progress. A new Visitor Centre will be launched soon that will keep all our visitors abreast of developments at the Media Zoo via regular Zoonews, Zoocasts and a Zooblog.
Redevelopment work also continues on Media Zoo Island in Second Life. Our avatars – Johnson, PD, Allyah and of course the tireless Media Scientist – have been busy adapting and terraforming the island in line with its Phase 2 requirements, based now around the needs of several highly successful projects, SWIFT and DUCKLING.
In terms of research dissemination (the first function), I have given increasing numbers of internal and external Zoo Tours, most recently at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and a meeting of the Network of Geotechnical Teachers at Queens University Belfast. I am also fortunate enough to be presenting a paper on The Future for Academic Conferencing at this year’s Online Educa Berlin.
As a key part of the University’s 2009-12 Learning Innovation Strategy, the Media Zoo continues to offer colleagues creativity and support in the use of learning technologies and innovative learning design.
And of course, all this is built upon the rock-solid foundation of research evidence.
Keeper of the Media Zoo