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Plymouth eLearning Conference – Post 2

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Dave White – 2nd Keynote

Dave considers whether we should we be thinking about learning first then adding the tools to facilitate. However he thinks we as humans are good at talking about tools, so he doesn’t mind starting with the tools. He makes the point that technology is owned by all not just geeks.

He questioned the notion about students as consumers, and considered this quite a dangerous idea as we have never done what students what they want, they just want to pass the assessment. What they need is collaboration, group work, ‘messy things’. Do we pander do them or challenge them? Students demand content, so they can just pass but if you just provide this they drop out (e.g. online courses with no interaction). They need to collaborative even if they don’t recognise this. If you are being innovative, of course it is going to be messy and disruptive. We don’t understand people’s motivation to engage. Students and tutors have all sorts of reasons not to engage with activities.

Dave says that we end up with 2 camps (1) What we need is quality and consistency, we need to embed v (2) no we need to innovate, we need to do new stuff and not stuff that reinforces old pedagogies. We actually need a combination of both of these, we spend too long arguing between the two rather than talking to find some common ground. Innovators and pragmatists have to talk to one another if we want to move this forward. ‘Good’ stress and anxiety motivates you, so we shouldn’t avoid putting students under a bit of good stress – as it pushes their comfort zone and helps their learning. They used to say ‘content is king’ but that is when content wasn’t freely available everywhere, now it is not necessary. Small talk is all part of being human, look at the conference attendees talking and networking in the breaks, and this is why twitter works so well – it isn’t the content that it is important – it is the connections. We therefore need to teach students how to build these networks and create a personal learning network to take forward after their time at University.

Other points made from parallel sessions and discussion:

Video Lecture Capture:  Video lecture capture was popular when used for revision and not as a substitute for live events. However this gives students a choice – as some will prefer the live experience and others will like having a recording that they can view in smaller sections and stop and rewind as necessary. It was found that a side effect of videoing lectures was that tutors can review and improve performance, as many had never seen themselves teach before, so it became a source of professional development. In this particular study they found that students would rather watch them than download (i.e. did not put the lectures onto their mobile devices). They also found the live lectures helped students to concentrate on live lectures rather than having to take notes. The disadvantage to the lecture capture as that it inhibited risk-taking (and excellence) in lecturers.

Twitter used in Education:  The session on the use of twitter in education found that staff liked twitter but students a bit less so. Students are not all ‘digital natives’ as often assumed, and some students did not want to engage with social networking sites. Twitter is not yet widespread and Facebook is dominating social networking so they found that most students did not check it often enough and were not in the habit of checking it. Some students used twitter to follow celebs but Facebook offers greater functionality. A possible solution for this is making use of twitter feeds into either a Facebook page or to the VLE so that those not checking twitter or not using twitter do not miss out.

Breakout session – debate : This breakout session was run by James Clay and Bex …. The point they made was that snow caused many HEIs to close in January this year, and that closure of educational establishments had also happened recently due to flooding, no water and swine flu, and that we should be doing something about it. It is no longer an excuse that if the physical sites are closed that all educational activity should stop, we should prepare for it and make a lot more use of e-learning. The message that came out in January when we got the bad snow was they were closing the University not just the site. Everyone (well most staff and students) just took the day off. The attitude was that because physical site shut down that everything stopped – this does not need to be the case.

The question was raised as to how we engage all staff in the use of learning technologies. It was observed that the only people interested in technology attend technology training sessions and visit Learning Technology websites, so how do we reach the ones that we really want to convert? Most people seem to take the softly, softly approach working with those who are interested first then gradually drawing others in.

One of the main points made was that people easily blame the technology when something goes wrong with it but how many blamed face to face teaching when the snow comes or fire alarms go off? No one – it is just accepted as one of those things. People will easily find excused not to engage.

It was  that we must set boundaries about responses to emails etc, as some tutors respond very quickly and at all hours of the night, this then sets up an expectation for other tutors to do the same, this does not always happen then students are disappointed.

More information about the Plymouth E-Learning Conference.

Plymouth eLearning Conference – Post 1

November 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Plymouth Elearning Conference  – Post 1

The conference started on a very positive note with three main messages:

  • E-learning has now moved from margins to mainstream
  • Students leading very digital lifestyles, so let us harness this
  • Technology enhanced learning now has a very high priority in the University Sector.

 

Josie Fraser was the first keynote speaker talking about social media:

Josie talked firstly about the ungoogleable man, raising a few questions, firstly does he exist – as even though he may not have an online presence many of his friends and family may have and they maybe tagging photos of him on Facebook or flikr or mentioning his name in their blogs. If he is not online he may not be aware of the digital identity that others are creating from him. The second question is – is this a good thing he can’t be found on Google? It may protect his privacy a bit not able to being found or followed, and make him less vulnerable. However do the advantages of being online outweigh the disadvantages?

Why is digital participation important? Well the functions and processes of an institution are often organised round networks rather than physical spaces, it is not what you know it is who you are connected to that is important so you can ask experts in your network. Participation in online activity provides both escape from social isolation and other people and somewhere to escape to.

Josie provides a few interesting statistics:

  • In December 2009 there were 3500 million users on Facebook  
  • Within Facebook there are 69M active Farmville users,  compared to 18M users of Twitter
  • In October 2009 1 in 7 page views on internet were to Facebook.
  • In 2010 half people on their mobiles were using Facebook.
  • People are being creative online 40% people upload things online

Online identities are an interesting concept: it is a process of creation – not just reflection of what we are like. The act of representation is a powerful tool – not fixed but not as fluid as some may think. We tend to re-inscribe social norms into cyber space, for example we do not abandon our physical bodies in social space, people talk about food, coffee and use things like four-square to let people know where they are. Digital Literacy is very important keeping safe and protecting your privacy online. Online identity (described by Danah Boyd) is:

  • persistent
  • replicable (can be taken out of context)
  • searchable
  • scaleable (not confined to people f2f)
  • delocateable (lack of relevance as to where you are)

Communities are very positive and powerful things. Many of us benefit from being in education technology communities, reading and commenting on blogs, contributing to wikis and engaging with twitter. However they are not all positive – e.g. those around anorexia, people post photos of themselves, and there are discussions based around how not to be discovered losing weight, how to lose weight, etc.  Would closing the community sort out the problem? Probably not as it is a very complex situation.

Post 2 on the rest of the conference to follow