Oct 042007

We have a discussion running on our Facebook group about Facebook versus Ning. In essence this boils down to “the use of the social networking tools for short bursts of learning, where participants are expecting [and expected] to contribute and debate” [Steve Mackenzie] This is an interesting way of getting our staff to think about synchronous and asynchronous conferencing. We would like them to think about task-driven, time-limited activities, where it is the task that shapes the use of a tool, rather than the tool becoming omnipresent.

Ning enables you to manage videos, break-out groups, photos, discussions for specific communities, as well as for oneself. Facebook has a cleaner interface and is more fun. I wonder whether we will see a growth in Ning for “task-driven, time-limited academic activities”?

Oct 042007

I decided to try to catch up with some of the JISC podcasts on new technologies,during a “quiet” moment. The Web2.0-related podcasts and their key points include:

#6 – Techwatch and Web2.0: the Techwatch Web2.0 report is a must read. This podcast is not really a must listen unless you are interested in how Techwatch works. The podcast covers the report’s identification of the difference betwen first and second-generation social software, issues around standards and the web as platform, and the 6 big ideas (user-generated content, network effects, data on an epic scale, the wisdom of crowds, open standards and participation). It talks about the lack of data on student expectations for the assumptions around Web2.0.

#7 – Web2.0 and education: this podcast covers the implications of new applications for education. Lawie Phipps highlights the characteristics of the read-write web for interaction and participation. Community is flagged by in terms of bookmarking, sharing and networking by David White. In education the impact of self-selecting, tribal social networking spaces with a shared immediacy is noted. Interestingly Lawrie figures that it is the impact of the technologies on the social, emotive side of life that engages us. The key question is do students feel that education is invading a distinctly non-academic, social space? Can teaching be interwoven in to these spaces? Do we harness Facebook or build our own? Or both?

#14 – IPR and Web2.0: the impact of repurposing original material; rights in collaborative working; how to share someone else’s digital material; the impact of the open culture of Web2.0 on IPR, and the blur between the personal and the corporate; “ticketing” material for re-use; risk assessment for HEIs and staff; publishing to Web2.0 is publishing – do you have the rights to do so; think through the question “if I were the owner of this material how would I feel about its publication?”; if you create a identity on Web2.0 who owns or controls that identity? Can Facebook tailor advertising to your interests? Do you mind?

Oct 012007

I have just released an anonymous online questionnaire on podcasting for my Yr 2 Pharmacy students (re: WP4) – prior to using podcasts in my lectures – and am surprised to learn from the 37 replies I have had to date, that 73% of them have never watched/listened to a podcast.

Sep 282007


the last post was really meant for the PGCertHE blog but you’ll see how I’m trying to set short tasks pre face-to-face sessions whereby they are using the blog to access some prior reading and, hopefully, reflecting and commenting on it.

Sep 282007
We’re well into the current era of the Web, commonly referred to as Web 2.0. Features of this phase of the Web include search, social networks, online media (music, video, etc), content aggregation and syndication (RSS), mashups (APIs), and much more. Currently the Web is still mostly accessed via a PC, but we’re starting to see more Web excitement from mobile devices (e.g. iPhone) and television sets (e.g. XBox Live 360).

What then can we expect from the next 10 or so years on the Web?


Sep 272007

So we met yesterday to let the teams catch-up on each others’ work-packages. The progress reports have now all been posted on our Blackboard-based Wiki. Team members who weren’t there should read the reports. We are also using the Wiki for conference reports and to flag relevant project outcomes and issues.

Work-package headlines from yesterday are as follows:
1. WP1: There are issues of maintaining momentum with PG Cert HE staff who are planning to teach and actually teaching. The assessment for the PG Cert students has been revamped to include e-learning. The June group are editing action plans and we need now to offer them follow-up sessions. [Action: HC and RH]

2. WP1/WP6: Steve Mackenzie is delivering some synchronous development sessions on pedagogical and technological issues with members of the PG Cert HE and Faculty of HLS. We will evaluate this approach to test its sustainability. Library front-desk staff may also benefit from this approach, as their shift-work impacts upon access to professional development. [Action: SM and AB]

3. WP3: There are issues of maintaining momentum with Library staff who are thinking about using Web 2.0 approaches in their work. We intend to offer developmental sessions, linked to staff development reviews. [Action: AB] We also intend to review the ISAS approach to using Wikis as knowledge bases [Action: RH] The team also intend to review the non-technical issues around the conversion of extant support and training materials for a Web 2.0 age. [Action: JT, MYK and AB]

4. WP4: the iTunes issue for catching and feeding Blackboard-hosted podcasts t users has been resolved, so that the podcast tool now works with iTunes. A key issue is the apparent reticence of users to be recorded for the production of webcasts. We have feedback to suggest that some users do not like hearing or seeing themselves on-line, or committing to this type of “publication”. This is a potential issue that will require intervention with specific teaching teams in order to build effective local, coping strategies. Initial evidence suggests that few students use or subscribe to podcasts, so there may be a cultural issue for staff teams. The third issue arising is the support we can offer staff in answering the question of streaming vs podcasting.

5. WP5: case studies will be produced for AAD, BAL, Hums and Library in the use of tools to support first-years in student-student communication. [Action: HC to talk to Jo Leese in DSU re: student reps’ experiences of tools like Facebook]

6. WP6: Our Second Life Island has been purchased and activated, and staff who registered an interest have been invited in. Twelve staff are registered so far, and a user group has been formed. A building party is being held on 15 October. Subsequent staff development events will be planned and delivered by the user-group. A meeting was held with Howard Rheingold in the IOCT in September to discuss ways forward with SL. We intend to use his videos to prime some of our developments. Steve Mackenzie is delivering some synchronous development sessions. We will evaluate this approach to test its sustainability. The DMU e-Learning Pathfinder team have a Facebook group. There is no protocol for its use, but its development will be mapped as a project management and dissemination tool.

7. WP7: RH has been in contact with NIACE about the publication of the project’s findings. [Action: RH to meet with JC re: conference]

See also: http://www.pageflakes.com/dmupathfinder

Matters arising:

  • headsets and webcams for all team members;
  • monies to be re-charged this week with covering letters to budget holders; and
  • access to iTunes for all team members.

Sep 272007

What an interesing article about humanity that Steve Mac has posted this morning. In particular the article picksup on theimpact of technologies on DL tutors, but it has resonance for us all in environments that are “always on” and where the expectations of those who cannot look you in the eye and connect with you may be out-of-step with what you can deliver.

The article focuses upon:
1) emotional exhaustion;
2) depersonalization; and
3) personal accomplishment.

It goes on to highlight that institutional managers must:
“1. Consult with online faculty on matters directly impacting their learning environment (i.e., curriculum development);
2. Provide adequate resources to support online instructors (i.e., technology support resources);
3. Provide detailed job descriptions and faculty expectations to reduce role ambiguity;
4. Create and maintain clear lines of communication between online faculty and administrators by providing
performance feedback;
5. Facilitate professional development activities (i.e., mentoring, advanced training using online technology); and
6. Reduce teaching load and number of students per online course.”

Given the impact of new technologies and approaches these human issues have a real resonance for staff.