Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The most inspiring conference presentation I have ever seen

I'm currently at the Blended Learning Unit conference in Hatfield, with Heather and Malcolm from DMU. We are presenting on the impact of new tools on our PGCertHE and M-level Pharmacists. I've discussed formal and informal education, participation and association with some great guys from Ravensbourne, who have a lovely model for understanding the connections between tools, users and spaces. I'll be following that one up.

However, I also attended a session on vlogging by Myles Dyer, a second-year Psychologist at Herts who uses YouTube to "have the chance to inspire". The man is a real inspiration and the kind of student and social leader who should be cherished. He made me realise how fortunate I am to be involved in a business where we get to engage with the energy and drive of young people.

Myles uses YouTube to speak to the world and to connect with, and crucially to understand, networks of others on a range of issues that are personal to him. His channel focuses upon acceptance, investigation, discussion and adaptation of concepts, views, knowledge and values. Myles highlighted two important, political statements for me:
  • "this type of work helps us to develop as people";
  • "[I work and collaborate] in the hope that people will be true to themselves".
In this view Myles is opening up spaces for people [him] to becomes themselves [himself] and relate to others and take meaningful action. This is powerful stuff, beyond the banalities of "me and my learning environment", towards a progressive, hopeful pedagogy, to which Friere, Barnett, Illich and Sachs could all sign up.

Both Myles and Ruth/Roger from Ravensbourne made me think that we desperately need to rethink our curriculum, in order to move away from a nineteenth century factory model towards an engagement with those Web2.0 mindsets and approaches that are afforded by a raft of personal as social tools, notably:
  • an extended, critical user-focus;
  • meaningful, active participation;
  • democratisation;
  • networking; and
  • hope.
Myles highlighted how his creation of videos had made him thoughtful about his relationship with others, and how he presented himself, and how he evaluated academic and non-academic knowledge. It had enabled him to make better decisions and take meaningful actions. Myles' talk reinforced to me the powerful impact of Web 2.0, or the read/write web, on learner agency in educational environments that are at once connected and networked and informal and formal. Grasping these affordances is a crucial part of education as a democratic, political project, and in empowering our students' through facilitating their development of personal literacies.


Suki said...

It does make you think that Web 2.0has made the delivery and accessibility of expression viable for many in ways which would have not been thought possible before - it's allowed people to connect and looking at Myles video outputs his 'life journey' and views on things personal to him its done just that. The impact for his self-development and others that interact in this way could be serving a need which they can voucher for. I do like the way that he’s being ‘real’ to himself and ‘others’ get to see that, by doing that he’s taking away the rigidness of hierarchy. By being ‘real’ one can critically assess – see where they are and take the steps to where they want to go (improve). E-portfolio springs to mind! This delivery of expression may not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’; however what the web 2.0 has to offer certainly should make you think how at this level of higher education these mechanisms can provide a enriching environment which will allow them to be more dynamic about their learning and the world around them at the time. The great thing about it though – it does not end there when your academic journey ends as ‘we’ see it but it can continue and build on established and new networks whatever they be. It certainly does make you think about our current format and structure.

Myles (Blade376) said...

Hey - thank you for the kind words, really means a lot, because I wasn't sure where I stood in the conference in terms of REAL ideas and PROFFESIONALISM - as I presented something that is based on an entertainment mechanism, and with no real academic research, but pure experience.

Being a part of the conference I have managed to grasp a much better understanding of what blended learning is - and I want to do whatever I can to contribute to improve the system.

As you said I believe it is so important to move away from old fashioned way of teaching, and step it up into a modern form, before it becomes forced with no thought by government.

Thanks for the words again, and it was really great chatting! And hopefully we can continue these discussions in the future!


Mohamed said...

Very interesting stuff Myles!

Julie H said...

I completely agree, - i was also very fortunate to see Myles this afternoon and he was inspirational. THis was the highlight of the conference for me and it made me really excited about the possibilites for other students - we just need our institutions to wise up and try to catch up (any ideas Myles?)
I'm surprised that Myles' institution haven't really cottoned onto what a powerful ambassador he could be in all sorts of ways.

Jocy said...

I've been watching Myles' YouTube videos for about a year now and he is one of my favourite vloggers. He is funny, intelligent and extremely aware of what is going on around him. On top of that, he wants to make a difference. I'm really glad that his talents have been brought to light because I think that people beyond the YouTube community should know about what he has to offer.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind comments guys. Myles put a lot of work into this.

Julie you mention 'I'm surprised that Myles' institution haven't really cottoned onto what a powerful ambassador he could be in all sorts of ways.'

So far Myles has presented for a variety of audiences including student classes, staff workshops, professional development sessions, and the learning and teaching institute. Each time there has a been a different audience make up with differing expectations. The overriding element is that Myles has been able to put his case to audiences with increasing complex expectations and questions.

But it's still early days and BLU wish to take things further both in recognising what Myles has achieved but also in terms of developing the message further. Any ideas or suggestions for future direction would be well gratefully appreciated.

Wayne Saliba said...

Just like the rest that have posted comment i have also watch quite a few of Myles videos on youtube and i have commented on a few as well,

Its not just Vlogging for myles he puts his heart and soul into his videos and you can see that just the way he brings out the words

Myles has grow so much over the last year and we have been lucky to be able to catch that on film i just hope that he contiunes to do his videos and i hope he gets some get videos why on his American tour which start next weekend i think

Anonymous said...

Myles has made a documentary about the event. It includes highlights from his presentations place interviews. It can be viewed below:

superholly said...

I think this is great - I found it from a link on Myle's YouTube account, and I have to say that since merely watching these YouTube videos by really great guys who want more than to get internet fame - because, let's face it, before now, internet fame wouldn't get you a lot of money, unless you got interviewed or featured by people willing to pay you - I have become a better person and more aware of my place in society. This really helped as, being just 14, I'm still exploring who I really am, and what I believe and care about.
All I can really say is, thanks Myles :D

Helen Miller said...

Hi Richard
Bit of a cheeky request. I'm the Blended Learning Unit's marketing executive. Would you mind if I quoted you - “The most inspiring conference presentation I have ever seen” - in an article for our university newspaper about the student voice at the BL conference? I may also send a press release to the national education media but I would email you the press release for your official consent again before sending it out. If you could let me know if you consent to the internal article by email I would be very grateful. Helen Miller