Wednesday, 30 April 2008
However, I can certainly remember writing my first unwitting spam message; as I have the vivid memory of a lecturer (at the Univeristy I attended) scolding me - by reply of the email - for abusing my email priviliges for being an I.T. Support assistant. I didn't know what the big deal was about, and didn't quite understand his indignation for me trying to find buyers for my previous semesters course-books. I thought new students would appreciate a new method of advertisinfg second-hand books, away from the dreary looking A4 notices outside the I.T. Lab. It was soon after being bombarded by vulgar messages from various 'friendly' foriegn pharmascists that I realised that unsolicited mail was generally a bad thing, especially to those who don't really know you.
Time has moved on since my days at Uni, but things haven't changed much only that instead of emails offering a cut-price cocktail of organ enhancing drugs, I'm repeatedly offered to re-enter my log-in and password to 'my bank's website'; thanks to these emails I'll probably contract RSI in my forefinger for pressing the delete key umteenth times a day!
Anyway here's a great article from New Scientist packed with info and history of Spam email messages - Mohamed:
Thirty years ago next week, Gary Thuerk, a marketer at the now-defunct computer firm Digital Equipment Corporation, sent an email to 393 users of Arpanet, the US government-run computer network that eventually became the internet. It was the first spam email ever.
That commercial message, sent on 3 May 1978
A blog won’t fix a company that makes bad products or has terrible customer service; but having a way to hear what customers are saying and respond to it can - if the company is actually able to change. “Going Web 2.0″ for the sake of looking up to date is pointless; using technology to build a relationship with customers is valuable.
The web has gone worldwide but what does the future hold?
Exactly 15 years ago the directors at the lab where the web was first developed signed a document which said the technology could be used by anyone free of charge.
- emergent technologies are connecting and generating more users and data, and are building capacity for informal learning. This is changing the interface between informal and formal learning. How do we support this development? How do we empower staff to accept these changes? How do we empower students to use them effectively in their learning and assessment?
- how do we help staff and students make best use of emergent technologies?
- should we help them? How do we restructure professional development to meet this need and build opportunities?
- does it matter if individuals opt-out of formal learning through social networks?
- do technologies have affordances for people with different learning styles? Are they used in different ways by different "types" of people? What of social anxiety?
- can we use the informal nature of Web2.0 tools to enhance feedback?
- how do we enable students to capture their informal learning formally?
- is email a formal technology and Facebook more human? How does that impact educational relationships?
- How does the raft of commucation channels impact upon our "contractual" relationship with our learners? If something cannot be tracked do we leave ourselves open in student grievance procedures?
- If Web2.0 tools generate identities that flatten hierarchies and breed familiarity, is staff-student relationships in them a problem?
- How do we build tasks that help students to enhance literacies using Web2.0 tools in informal contexts?
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
- Enable contexts with clear sightlines between tutor and learners, and learners and tasks/content.
- Enable learners to model systems.
- Enable connectedness - open pathways up.
- Enable personalisation, to avoid alienation.
- Enable generative and creative thinking and acting. Is this play?
- Enable self-regulating, individual competency.
- Enable fluid learning contexts, that allow learners to switch environments, to switch between solitude and association, to switch between virtual and real, where they n examine and become objects of enquiry.
- Enable interactional bandwidth, where there is an increased capacity and capability for interaction.
Some of these issues were again raised by Dave White from the OpenHabitat project. In discussing the use of MMPOGs, VR and SecondLife, he made me think about environments that are structured for tasks and task-oriented play. The nature of informal, social interaction, immersion and frameworks/tasks that legtimise action-as-play or play-as-action needs more evaluation. As does its impact on self-efficacy and critical literacies.
Monday, 28 April 2008
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Monday, 21 April 2008
A group of students at Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley have turned their attention towards a unique course that blends popular culture with the more time-worn principles of psychology.
Friday, 18 April 2008
The keynote speakers were Graham Brown-Martin (GB-M) from Handheld Learning Ltd and David Cavallo (DC) from the MIT Media Lab, USA.
The thrust of the first keynote by GB-M was exploring the idea of using gaming consoles, such as Nintendo-DS, for e-learning since such devices were all pervasive. With the plethora of devices he feels we are transfixed by the technology, rather than the learning.
The second keynote concerned the “one laptop per child” project and DC gave examples of how it has transformed the education of children in a number of countries, including Ecuador and Rwanda. He showed the $100 laptops being used, with their adjustable brightness screens to cater for children learning in very bright conditions, such as outdoors.
Mobile phone technology was much in evidence with suggestions for using them (and PDAs) for creating interactive lectures (whereby the students text questions to the lecturer during the lecture; Oulu University, Finland) to using them for exam preparation (University of Cape Town) and for supporting student nurses in the clinical setting (University of Massachusetts).
Several papers concerned various uses of podcasts, including use for augmenting lectures and producing city guides for students and tourists. My own presentation on the use of podcasts to augment lectures in pharmaceutical microbiology was well attended, well received and attracted a number of questions and comments afterwards. My findings that few students watched my podcasts on mobile devices, preferring to use PCs/laptops, were replicated by work of another presenter from André Caron (University of Montreal, Canada). When commenting on the high quality of my own podcasts (a demo of which I showed in my presentation) he referred to one of his colleagues who had won “Best professor” award three years running and had produced podcasts in Pharmacology which were not liked by his students. When asked why, the students said that whilst he was truly dynamic in the lecture room, this did not come across in his bland podcasts and so they did not listen to them! This reinforced my own stance of trying to aim for high quality video podcasts. Other members of the audience from the Royal Veterinary College, London commented that they liked my voice which, because I had attempted to make it BBC-ish added authority to the material. I found this interesting because I have often debated whether to adopt this kind of performance or whether to try for a more chatty approach (which I think I would find more difficult to do). These people also said the lesser quality of the sound recordings of students that I played in my PowerPoint presentation gave the student comments more authenticity. Andrew Litchfield (University of Technology, Sydney, Australia) complimented me on the quality of my podcasts and suggested that I might add some interactive tasks at the end of each podcast, which I shall certainly consider doing.
I have been encouraged by all the positive feedback I received from delegates at this conference on my presentation. It has helped to convince me that I am on the right podcasting track and near the forefront of using this technology.
[An article on Time magazine by Anita Hamilton]
It started innocently enough: last month a friend sent me a virtual lily plant on Facebook and invited me to create a (Lil) Green Patch, a digital garden that would grow on my profile page, and that any of my friends could help water, weed and plant. Sounds cute, right? Not if you've recently suffered through an overwhelming slew of requests to give a grain of rice, send good karma and rate your friends on everything including their hotness, creativity, fashion sense and intelligence. I wasn't merely skeptical — I was annoyed. But I didn't want to be a killjoy — and I love plants — so I went ahead and clicked "Accept."
I also highly recommend that you subscribe to Jane Hart's blog site - she too has her finger on the e-pulse http://janeknight.typepad.com/
Whilst I'm here I'd just mention the guys over at CommonCraft have done another great video explaining Twitter http://www.commoncraft.com/.
Thursday, 17 April 2008
So, it appears this concept is more at the forefront now that we are all scurrying to see what on earth our learners are up to in this age of emergent technologies. It does make you wonder who is in the driving seat! (technology! did you say). Now, are we just interested because informal learning is taking place using e-tools? If we are, we need to be, what can we learn and what do we need to be aware of. Users of these technologies are getting younger and younger and we need to be switched on (which is my way of saying aware of the trends, this does not mean we always need to follow, but our duty is to analyse and evaluate). These emergent technologies used in informal learning settings do instigate a need to look into this deeper and the ripples that they make.
Going back to the concept of informal learning , now this is nothing new here, even without these technologies learners would collaborate informally using other methods. It does come down to a matter of choice for the learner (learner styles) in how they go about studying ‘informally’ – in that sense the learner makes inferred choices as to how they go about doing these activities and thus is in charge of their own learning (PLE (personal learning environment)). To me, learning is an internal process that we do. We do need to define what attributes of informal learning that we are interested in. Personally when I was on my degree course (before VLE's), my study habits were my own whatever methods I used to achieve understanding and learning; where group work was required I worked with the group. That's my learning style. We need to be aware that we don't intrude where we are not wanted!
I’d be interested in how we go about measuring if/when informal learning (assumed non-assessed) is taking place in our setting and do we really need to if the outcome of informal learning is assessed through formal learning? Or do we need to identify which forms of informal learning can be assessed or those forms which make the learning experience more enjoyable and suitable to different learning styles? Could Wiki’s/Blogs used in online learning be defined as informal learning? Lots and lots of questions.
The role of perception of these formal/informal settings may influence the usage of which web 2.0 tools are deployed. These SNS may be perceived as more appealing for setting up the environment for informal learning as opposed to an institutional owned social setting. Who knows? Does our current platform take ‘control’ away from the learner; do we need an environment where the learner can have some control and direction? I’m interested to see to what degree we have a role in the students informal learning taking place using ‘e’ tools, as well as the characteristics of an institutional setting for promoting informal learning – what’s in it for ‘us’ and the students? By providing such a ‘environment’ are we just giving students another space or can we learn from the ‘informal learning environment’ to feed back into our ‘formal learning environment’. There has been lots of work carried out in this field and some good papers floating around.
No doubt we will be delving more into this area…what is your take?
Friday, 11 April 2008
So what should our strategy be for developing e-learning? It seems to me that's rather difficult – and has problems in common with developing a strategy for IT generally. When developing a strategy, you can normally do an audit to find out where you are now, then you take some advice (or not) and decide where you want to be. You then plot a route from the former to the latter. However, the problem with the e-area is that everything keeps changing. So half-way through your well-thought-out journey, you can find that you're going the wrong way.
Thursday, 10 April 2008
"This sounds chaotic, but most of the time the "unhelpful" or "inappropriate" changes are quickly fixed by human stompers and algorithmicised helper bots. Without the kooks and the insulters and the spray-can taggers, Wikipedia would just be the most useful encyclopedia ever made. Instead, it is a fast-paced game of paintball.
"When, last year, some computer scientists at the University of Minnesota studied millions of Wikipedia edits, they found that most of the good ones - those whose words persisted intact through many later viewings - were made by a tiny percentage of contributors. Enormous numbers of users have added the occasional enriching morsel to Wikipedia, but relatively few know how to frame their contribution in a form that lasts."
Wednesday, 9 April 2008
- the University of Staffordshire, have just validated a Technology-Supported Learning strategy. I'm not sure that we are yet at the position where institutional maturity for embedding e-Learning (and I mean across the institution, not just in the heads of our e-Learning Co-ordinators and champions) is a position where we can ditch the term "e-Learning".
- Mark Stiles from Staffordshire also pointed us to their resources on communities of practice, which might be worth further investigation.
- Mark's keynote focused upon how we embed e-Learning without moving to a process of regulation. My take on this is that mature and devolved quality assurance processes, enable programme seems to innovate, within a structure whereby local faculty mechanisms help those teams enhance their work. I think Mark is right, however, to flag the need for joined-up policies in estates, information services, learning and teaching, library services, etc, in particular, where lifelong learning, employer engagement, flexible working, work-based learning and foundation degrees impact upon our perception of the "University".
- I was taken with Neil Witt's presentation about Plymouth's HELP CETL. in particular, I like what they have called USPACE - their iGoogle aggregator, which acts as a personal learning environment to support transitions into higher education and work-based learning. There is lots to learn from this implementation about the development and implementation of PLEs, to form a context for learning within which students are comfortable. I liked Neil's argument that this is a sustainable solution, precisely because Google is a sustainable solution, with guaranteed services. What also struck me about his presentation, in the mix of technologies including eLGG, del.icio.us, googledocs and Ning presented via iGoogle, was his commitment to rapid prototyping. This is based on quick, clear, user focused evaluation. Within this approach engaging the staff, and developing their capability, strikes me as critical.
- Mark Lyndon and Graeme Horton presented a really interesting lunchtime session on building an interactive whiteboard for under £40, simply using a Nintendo Wii remote, hooked up both to a laptop (using a Bluetooth driver and whiteboard open source software) and a data projector, with a home and made infrared pointing and drawing device. They based their work on that of Johnny Chung Lee, and showed us how to utilise the whiteboard in under five minutes. The home-made infrared pointing and drawing device is a wonder of modern technology, consisting of an LED, switch and AAA battery, fitted inside a whiteboard marker pen (with nib and cartridge removed). What I loved about this demonstration was the fact that as a user I got some instructions for engineering my own pointing device, and that they developed a mobile, wireless, classroom solution. As the guys from Plymouth noted the critical development would be how it was used in the classroom, or how it freed-up staff and students to do work in a variety of contexts.
- I was a bit disappointed to miss Steve Wheeler's presentation on social anxiety, given my interest in issues around agency and participation in on-line environments. There is a tendency to look at Web 2.0 and other e-Learning tools as a panacea for participation, and I think this type of research is a much needed balance. I'll be hunting Steve down for a copy of his presentation, and I hope to do some more work in this area.
- Oh, and I thought my presentation on "the impact of the read/write web on learner agency" went pretty well. I seem to have the central tenets of this paper pretty well mapped out, in terms of theories around deliberative democracy, association and decision-making, and the practical impact of the read/write web upon our students' perceptions of on-line access and participation, decision-making, environmental control and critical literacy.
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
I particularly like "The MacArthur Series on Digital Media and Learning", which explores "core issues facing young people in the digital world." The material on Civic Engagement and Games appeals to me. I'm also very taken with some of the 20 minute [max] presentations from the LIFT conference that "to inspire and connect an open community of doers and thinkers exploring the social impact of new technologies".
This area of the social impact of new media is under-represented in traditional e-learning research, especially within HE. I'm looking to extend my own thinking on agency and self-efficacy on-line, and issues around participation to an exploration of social anxiety and inclusion. Email me if you want to chat about this area of research, or collar me at Northampton, SoTL, PRHE, BLU or SOLSTICE.
They have edited some of their meeting outputs as videos. Check them out at via AxisCentre on YouTube.
Sunday, 6 April 2008
Saturday, 5 April 2008
Anyway, in her post on the subject of tagging, Jess discusses some ways that tag clouds can be used to attract readers to your blog, - but also something of particular interest to me, which has surfaced on a pretty regular basis, both in the day-to-day and more generally on this pathfinder: How can we use Web 2.0 for innovative activities and possibly assessment with students? And this is often for courses that aren’t focused on new media issues or learning how the technology works. What Jess suggests is using tag clouds for two-way interaction between teachers and students and also for enabling students to analyse and compare the use of specific topics within texts…
We could generate tag clouds (of work that is handed in electronically) of the student's most-used words. Wouldn't that be a good way of showing students why it's necessary to avoid repetition if they can actually *see* the repetition? We could also use tag clouds for our lecture notes or powerpoint presentations etc...to help students get an overview of the key points we're trying to share with them. What about generating tag clouds of 18th C. lit. and current lit. to see how vocabulary changes?
This would definitely be worth investigating…and could easily create a basis for discussion in seminars. It could potentially be used in any subject area.. in Humanities for instance the idea could be adapted for almost any subject we teach. Interestingly, Jess also predicts that we’ll start seeing visual tags and maybe sonic tags. I can only imagine!
In 2008 NLab is exploring the power of social networks in business and there’s an impressive line up of presenters on many aspects of networking
Andrea Saveri, Institute for the Future, Palo Alto and Steve Clayton, Microsoft UK plus David Asch, De Montfort University - Jim Benson, Modus Cooperandi - Roland Harwood, NESTA - Shani Lee, NLab - Chris Meade, Institute for the Future of the Book - Toby Moores, Sleepydog - Vijay Riyait, iQubed - Sue Thomas, De Montfort University - Ken Thompson, and more to be announced...
Also see the range of subsidies (including for DMU students and staff) and some bursaries available for Businesses in the East Midlands.