Thursday, 26 July 2007

Conference proceedings for ISAGA2007

Chris (Goldsmith) and I have been working on a small project looking at the potential of using video simulation games in some of our teaching in Humanities. Anyway, a week ago (or so..... I'm a little tardy with the post) we attended the ISAGA conference in Nijmegen, Netherlands, to gain some insight into developments. Apart from being a great place it was also an excellent conference, with 200plus delegates and a wide range of presentations and workshops, covering all aspects of simulation design, use and evaluation. Those of you who are interested in the learning aspects of both online and offline simulations – and learning by doing - will find plenty of ideas, inspiration and a flavour of the diverse research in the area at the Isaga2007 conference Website.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

First Project Board meeting

Our first Project Board meeting was held yesterday, and left me feeling confortable with what we are attempting to scope and develop in this project, and its relevance to both internal an external agendas. I have a list of things to do, which is always a bonus:
  1. a few edits to key documents, like adding some stuff on CAMELs to the Project Plan for the Steering Group;
  2. chasing-up our invite to the DSU to sit on the Project Board;
  3. collating a document that sets out our communication plan [i.e. the differences between our various blogs, the role of the wiki and the CAMEL]. On this, I'll be meeting with Alan Brine and Steve Mackenzie about Pageflakes;
  4. work with Tina Barnes-Powell in Art and Design about developing a case study for WP2;
  5. contact the University of Chester Pathfinder team about WP3 [Malcolm, this one's for you!!]; and
  6. pop over to see Sally Smith, Team Leader in ISAS, about WP4 [with Alan Brine], to explain what Web 2.0 work we are planning with Library Services and that we might mirror in ISAS.
Our external friend, Terry Mayes, mentioned that the scope of our project is quite broad for one year. We discussed that the project would need to work in a focussed way [with specific teams or technologies] across a broad front. We noted the need for each WP team to base-line current practice, so that we can look at impact for each WP area. We also highlighted the possibilities for scholarly outputs from the project: articles; conference papers; and books.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Pathfinder Team meeting 2: sharing work-packages

We met on Friday over lunch with a good turn-out to discuss our 7 work-packages. We intended to get-to-grips with the technologies, approaches, time-scales and tasks, and then discuss the logistics of managing project capital and revenue resources. I think we came away confident that the project is taking shape.

Anyway, a synopsis of each work-package is appended herewith.

WP1: Academic staff development in use of Web 2.0 technologies

To investigate perceptions, and actual usage, of Web 2.0 technologies by new staff on the PGCert HE programme to enable new staff to consider the pedagogic implications and possibilities of using Web 2.0 technologies for teaching, learning and assessment. The aim is then to reinforce this within the faculties and monitor developments for the duration of the PGCert HE programme.

Deliverables: Web 2.0 resources for PGCert HE and curriculum delivery; Pathfinder blog and wiki; evaluation report.

WP2: Web 2.0: leaders and managers

In order to deliver the University’s new people-centred e-Learning Strategy, this work-package intends to engage leaders and managers with Web 2.0 technologies and approaches that their teams are using, or which might benefit their teams. This will be achieved though the HR leaders and managers training that is offered and will seek to help these staff innovate their practice.

Deliverables: implementation evaluation report; Pathfinder blog and wiki; process map.

WP3: Creating and using audio and video podcasts to enhance learning

The production of a guide for staff on producing and using podcasts in their module delivery, including an informed discussion of benefits and drawbacks, with examples of podcasts and their reception by students. The creation a user-group of advocates/users of this technology will be explored.

Deliverables: user guides; user group; library of podcasts; implementation evaluation; Pathfinder blog and wiki.

WP4: Web 2.0 and DMU Support Services

For academic staff to use Web 2.0 effectively it is crucial that the support departments also understand the use and appreciate Web 2.0, and furthermore, know how to maintain them. Support departments therefore have an important role to play but are generally reluctant to do so because they are not yet sufficiently capable, or moreover, simply not confident. In order to catalyse responsible adoption of Web 2.0, this work package will investigate, inform, and expose a variety of appropriate Web 2.0 technologies which can be easily harnessed and utilised by support staff.

Deliverables: Pathfinder blog and wiki; recipe-book/guide.

WP5: Retention and progression (learner support/support services)

An investigation of the extent of the gap (or perceived gap) in current provision of communication and information resources for students, focused upon on level- one students. Based on the outcomes of this investigation, we will pilot student peer-to-peer and student-staff networks. The aim is to empower students and to raise awareness and encourage the utilization of channels of communication and sources of information for students, which include Web 2.0 technologies.

Deliverables: Web 2.0 scenarios and an implementation evaluation report; Pathfinder blog and wiki; lessons-learned report.

WP6: Web 2.0 professional development

Traditionally professional development has been structured around face-to-face interventions and innovations. However, there is a range of social networking software that facilitates the sharing of content and processes, alongside interaction and discussion about approaches with subsequent adaptation. These can focus upon both formal and informal learning situations and involve multiple types of media. In evaluating these approaches this work-package will investigate:

· users’ perceptions of e-based professional development strategies and tasks to see the weaknesses and strengths of extant approaches; and

· innovations in delivery, in order to enhance retention and progression amongst users.

Deliverables: implementation evaluation report; Pathfinder blog and wiki; process map for embedding professional development; report on the impact of professional development workshops hosted in Second Life.

WP7: Dissemination and capability-building

This work-package will:

· work with the sector and the “We are D!” CAMEL community to develop shared professional development strategies and tasks, in order to evaluate the weaknesses and strengths of extant approaches; and

· map the use of dissemination strategies, in order to enhance the “stickiness” of specific solutions.

Deliverables: Pathfinder blog and wiki; recipe-book/guide.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Things you might have missed

There are some people who are great at prompting you to look at things you'd otherwise miss and Steve Mackenzie is currently [*no resting on laurels Steve!] one of those guys. Steve's blog, which supports his MA, has a few nice postings on connectivism, alongside Becta's report on emerging technologies, by Stephen Downes.

Now I tend to lose track of time and miss stuff that I shouldn't, so it's good that some emergent and contentious issues are being flagged by others in our Pathfinder team. In particular, I like this quote in the Becta report to which Steve draws our attention:

"Learning occurs in communities, where the practice of learning is the participation in the community. A learning activity is, in essence, a conversation undertaken between the learner and other members of the community. This conversation, in the web 2.0 era, consists not only of words but of images, video, multimedia and more. This conversation forms a rich tapestry of resources, dynamic and interconnected, created not only by experts but by all members of the community, including learners." (Network Pedagogy section, 6)

I also like Steve's single sentence Web 2.0 definition: "Web 2.0 is connectivity - through self expression and technological simplicity." I used that one on my old, history, special subject tutor who set up a group on Facebook and invited me in, but had no idea what Web 2.0 was. He liked the notions of self- and community-expression and loved the notion of simplicity.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Are my online friends for real?

Are my online friends for real? As Facebook continues its explosive growth here's one question troubling me. Are my friends for real?

This week I received this intriguing message from a man who moves in London's new media circles.