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Tools for Learning Design

PART ONE

This is how I develop a Creative Brief … this happens to be an MAODE exercise on Learning Design.

As a video producer this is the idea I’d sell to the client.

I’d then work with a coach and group of swimmers to set the scene and milk it.

This is the kind of thing corporate clients use to teams of 10,000 employees. This is also how I go about writing scripts, sometimes adding drawings, cut-outs from magazines and photos. Nothing hi-tech at the thinking stage … which gives people more freedom to contribute.

A whiteboard marker pen on unforgiving wallpaper backing paper (30p a roll in from the reduced bin!). Stuck to the kitchen door.

PART TWO

The Forum Thread deserves as Swim lane of its own with as much activity into it and Elluminate as I have put here into a blog/microblog.

Often I find a dedicated thread such as e-Learning Professionals is more likely to guarantee a response to something I say; the reason for this is simple, they have thousands of active members.

There are reliable statistics to say what tiny per centage of people are happy to write, read, comment and contribute. 1% to write, about 4% to comment. This has to be reflected in forum activity too, however much it is required by the course. I’ve missed out blogs other students keep, and the links back and forth to these.

You’d be surprised how much goes on in the background.

I’ve found myself working things through with people in different tutor groups, who did the module a year ago … or who have nothing to do with MAODE but have an answer. Which reminds me of the fantastic diagram drawing tool dia. How does Naughton’s journalistic point of view compare to those of an academic?

I worked through it alone, blogged about it and offered thoughts and replied in the tutor forum.

The degree or blogging I’ve put forward reflects what I consider an invaluable addition to taking part in Forum Threads. You express what you think, ‘stream of consciousness’ into your own blog, edited to140 character for Twitter than take part in a Forum where some back and forth discussion should come about.

The other invaluable form of participation is through a conference call – as Jonathan Swift said, ‘I don’t know what I mean until I have heard myself speak.’

This is akin to a treatment outline for a video. The script in our case is the ad-libs and verbatim responses of student and input from the tutor. I like the idea of swim-lines and can imagine the Tutor online as a coach, rather than a subject matter expert, as a guide and mentor.

The reality is that such rapport develops with fellow students.

It is a shame that there isn’t more continuity through your original cohort. I have used the Compendium to share projects, using the layers to attach documents and have another contribute. For a simple mind map I like bubbl.us, otherwise I’m as likely to do a sketch and photograph it to share … or draw directly into a paint/draw package such as ArtPad using a stylus and Wacom board. Like all tools you need to have a clear use for it, rather than playing in a sandpit. To be able to collaborate in a team people need to be familiar with and using the same software/platforms.

Compendium can be used as a basic mind-map or flow chart and with experience be used for much more, as an e-portfolio of sorts.

It is overly prescriptive. Tools need to be intuitive and follow common practices regarding buttons and outcomes. For a first draft I prefer marker pen on paper, followed by bubbl.us.

As Beetham’s Chapter 2 (Activity 2) points out learners will find their own way through a task regardless. We understand things differently, draw on different experiences and come up with our own metaphors.

Whilst I go with the ‘Swim Lanes’ analogy, I often think the reality is like a Catherine-wheel nailed to a post in the rain.

Should an exercise such as this be addressed in a way that has so scientific connotations? It is surprising how easy it is to share the narrative of a linear activity in a multitude of ways. A simple set of numbered bullet points, perhaps worked up as a presentation. As a board game, one step taken at a time. Or a set of activity cards. You can talk it through by counting five activities off on your fingers. I’ll do one of these in the truly, joyful, brilliant http://www.bubbl.us and post it to my ou blog and extracurricular blog’ ‘My Mind Bursts’ which in turn is fed to Twitter ‘jj27vv.’

Make one of these mind maps, then change your mind and be tickled with the way the ‘node’ or ‘bubbl’ behaves . Go see! This and a list of wonderful tools from an H808 student who is a primary school teacher in Thailand. Work should be fun, especially learning design. After all, if you don’t enjoy it, how do you expect your future students to behave?

PART THREE

Bubbl.us has gone from toy to a grown up tool with layers and the opportunity to add sound, images (stills and moving) and no doubt much more, none of which I have had time to try.

The old bubbl.us was like playing with kid’s party balloons and when you deleted a balloon (or node) it blew up and burst into flames. This new version still does some magic to the eye, fading away like a mist, also when you save melting into the background like a rainbow of ice melting.

An extraordinary delight to the senses and apparently of far more practicle use than I credited it with a few months ago.

Click on this and it takes you to Picassa Dropbox. You can then enlarge it, save the code and help yourself. I think all the images I’ve put into this OU identify album is ‘open to the public.’

Seeing this all again I am reminded of my inspiration David McCandless.

By working on this a few more times an art director or designer would turn it into a thing of beauty; it is this level of inspiration that sells ideas to committees, colleagues and others.

People buy into ideas. People like to be inspired.

The pedagogy must of course be sound, the right offering of activities, outcomes and learner flexibility and support is the OU magic mix.

P.S. Don’t imagine I was familiar with any of these tools until I started the MAODE in Feb 2010, most of everything I now use I was introduced to by someone here.

PART FOUR

Add the role of the Tutor.

Get in a designer and make it a thing of information beauty.

Sell it internally and externally.

Schedule, produce.

Watch what happens and adjust accordingly.

Can you think of organisations that have been a flash in the pan?

English: Web 2.0 services

English: Web 2.0 services (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘As soon as a new radical market emerges, hundreds of new entrants rush to colonize it. Before long, consolidation takes place and most of the early entrants disappear. A few survive. But even these early survivors usually are not the ones that end up conquering the new market. The true winners are those that undertake a series of actions that scales up the new market. How do they do that?’ Markides and Geroski (2004)

Can you think of organisations that have been a flash in the pan, that came out of the DOT COM boom and went bust? Who are the winners and losers going to be with Web 2.0?

Reference

Markides.C; Geroski, P. (2004) Strategy and Business, 35: 2-10

Creative swiping: what would you take?

Over the course of a single working day, keep an eye out for examples of good practice wherever you may find them.

During a commute, reading a newspaper, magazine or journal, observing ‘things’ (tangible products) in action or experiencing some service delivery.

How could any of these be adapted to suit your organisation?

Try and discover a good idea that could be adapted to suit your organisation from the experiences of as many of the following as you can:

A member of your family (at work or school or wherever)
A friend
A colleague
A supplier
A competitor
A customer

  • Tesco customer suggestions and response board
  • Free content on Facebook; pay for the piece of paper.
  • OMU plasticated wall for planning
  • Electronic sign in at Doctor’s Surgery
  • Barcode entry to Gamesmaker Training
  • Rotating three lanes at swimming club so each in turn gets the attention of the coach.
  • Self-service check-out at WHSmith, Victoria Yo Sushi conveyor-belt food servings
  • Social Media Marketing eLearning from MMC learning
  • Keeping a diary

What has anyone else come across?

Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality

To what extent do you think that all five of Woolgar’s themes are relevant to virtual worlds?

The answer is to look both ways and to do so with aplomb.

Read Woolgar’s five themes.

1 The uptake and use of the new technologies depend crucially on local social context Liff et al. (2002) demonstrated the importance of ‘third-place’ settings, separate from both home and work, as influential in engaging a wide range of local people in using the internet: museums, trains or jogging circuits. In all these places technology now enables people to learn using the resources of formal education. The idea of ‘place’ takes on a new form, as the boundaries of a multitude of sites are crossed.
2 The fears and risks, anticipations and enthusiasms associated with new technologies are unevenly socially distributed Woolgar cites research into surveillance equipment in support of this theme. Counter to expectation, for example, surveillance technologies in the workplace were not found to be generally resisted by workers. However, acceptance was undermined by the failures of the technology to meet design specifications. This led to extra work and sometimes the technology had to be scaled back (Mason et al., 2002). There are differences between staff and students in universities, in terms of perception and usage of ICT.
3 Virtual technologies supplement rather than substitute for real activities Electronic communication has multiplied the use of paper in offices, though we can read material online. Learners may feel less need for the printed page. Educators look to substitute electronic supports for expensive and scarce direct tutor contact.
4 The more virtual the more real One unanticipated outcome of teleworking was that travel increased. Electronic communication increased the number of clients contacted and a face-to-face meeting was then required. Computer-mediated communication is being used, partly because it offers benefits for learning and partly because students seem less able to, or to have less time available for, travel to study centres to attend tutorials. It may be, however, that mediated communication using one tool encourages a somewhat different form using other tools. Thus learners may use forums provided by their institution, but also Facebook, Skype and Twitter.
5 The more global the more local ‘The very effort to escape local context, to promote one’s transcendent global (and/or virtual) identity, actually depends on specifically local ways of managing the technology’ (Woolgar, 2002, p.19). In Singapore, for example, the Singapore Institute of Management was the base for provision, and a careful fostering of mutual understandings between the two organisations was developed over at least a decade

Educational provision is typically seen as valid and trusted only if it is located within recognised local institutions and accredited by local awarding bodies – even though the technology enables all aspects of a course to be delivered electronically from the originating institution.

Having just completed the activities about Second Life, to what extent do you think that all five of Woolgar’s themes are relevant to virtual worlds?

1 The uptake and use of the new technologies depend crucially on local social context. Not one bit, in this case any versioning is simply the English language (US).
2 The fears and risks, anticipations and enthusiasms associated with new technologies are unevenly socially distributed. The context will include access to broadband, a computer, time to indulge, family attitudes to gaming, space in the home, time to indulge, other commitments (persona, family, school and/or work).
3 Virtual technologies supplement rather than substitute for real activities. Substitute. It has become too easy to tap into a game that is, like the modem and some computing devices, on through all waking hours and readily accessible. A blended form of activity often occurs with participants playing together online, sometimes coming round to each other’s houses to do so.
4 The more virtual the more real. On the contrary, seeking out the tricks and cheats is very much the culture of gaming. Even if you don’t have wholly real-life attributes ways are found to defy gravity, walk through walls, I’ve even see a sub-culture underneath or behind the game in which you behave/exist play and muck about ‘subway’ like behind the set, as it were.
5 The more global the more local. In the context of business working at the OU Business and Law School I have first hand knowledge of how OU materials are developed for Russian partners (the 1000th MBA student celebrated this week) and are being initiated in Japan while having various other local centres globally. Though NOT in the US or France where local politics have restricted tutoring on the ground.

Select two of the five themes that you feel most strongly reflect the way in which you perceive the effects that technology is making currently in a context known to you.

Reflection Example
4

The more virtual the more real

On the one hand there is a culture of gaming that attracts escapism and engenders a rule-breaking sub-culture of hacking with cheats a supplementary and important quest and reward. On the other webcasting and conferences whilst becoming more real, speaking and seeing each other in real-time, nonetheless afford less than real behaviours. I attended a live-cast 250 miles away and did so in my PJs, not dressed for the office. When interviewed by an organisation in New York I set up an redecorated one corner of a bedroom rather than reveal that I was sitting either at the end of a bed, or at the kitchen table, or in an office the size of a walk-in cupboard and as messy as a shed-used as a dump for unwanted stuff. It is a different reality, sometimes a ‘hyper-real,’ that as we become familiar with its nuances will play to these differing attributes and so become distinct from reality … or of course, enrolled in that universe that we call ‘real’, which of course it is.
5

The more global the more local

Thinking directly of the technology, it strikes me that there is a global language: HTML. Are these codes not universal? Watch the HSBC bank ads and see how we have two distinct types: the importance of local knowledge on the one hand, followed by the current roll-out support for their ‘Key’ which is universal. i.e. there is a duality, that is Janus-like. Aptly Janus is the god of transitions. He is depicted as having two faces on his head facing opposite directions and so look simultaneously into the future and the past, back at the last year and forward to the next. What strikes me about HSBC is that whilst globally owned and operated, it works to meet not impose local cultures; while this new ‘key’ with its diddy 1970s like plastic key-ring calculator code generator and the concept of bolts, locks and vaults, feels highly retro.

REFERENCE

Liff, S., Steward, F. and Watts, P. (2002) ‘New public places for internet access: networks for practice-based learning and social inclusion’ in Woolgar, S. (ed.) Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp.78–98.

Mason, D., Button, G., Lankshear, G. and Coates, S.(2002) ‘Getting real about surveillance and privacy at work’ in Woolgar, S. (ed.) Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp.137–52.

Thorpe, M. and Godwin, S. (2006) ‘Computer-mediated interaction in context’ in Markauskaite, L., Goodyear, P. and Reimann, P. (eds) ‘Who’s Learning? Whose Technology?’, Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education, University of Sydney, Australia; also available online at http://routes.open.ac.uk/ ixbin/ hixclient.exe?_IXDB_=routes&_IXSPFX_=g&submit button=summary&%24+with+res_id+is+res20033 (last accessed 10 February 2011).

Thorpe, M. (2008) Effective online interaction: mapping course design to bridge from research to practice, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, vol.24, no.1, pp.57–72. This article provides an in-depth case study of a well-designed sequence of conferencing and online activity and introduces a particular form of concept mapping called ‘compendium’ to demonstrate the design.

Thorpe, M. (2009) ‘Technology-mediated learning contexts’ in Edwards, R., Biesta, G. and Thorpe, M. (eds) Rethinking Contexts for Learning and Teaching: Communities, Activities and Networks, Abingdon, Routledge, pp.119–32.

Woolgar, S. (1999) ‘Analytic scepticism’ in Dutton, W.D. (ed.) Society on the Line: Information Politics in the Digital Age, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Woolgar, S. (ed.) (2002) Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Does technology diminish or enhance the role of the educator?

My son might be online playing World of War craft often, but so are two or three of his best mates.

From time to time they down tools (weapons, magic wands or whatever it might be) and head into town, or meet up to kick a ball around. Ditto my daughter whose use of the internet is exclusively to talk more with her immediate circle of friends.

This is real.

A colleague who has had the ‘social media manager’ tag at the OU has gone the full loop and is a ‘Communications Manager’ despite being online all day. I see her point, we differentiate new practices with new terms, but drop them once we see them in context.

It has happened sooner that I thought but there ought to be no need to different ‘learning’ from ‘e-learning’ as it is just learning that exploits new platforms and tools.

The human element is important.

Our human nature demands that we have physical contact with others. We are sociable, which interestingly has me spending increasingly amounts of time as a ‘social media manager’ in meetings or calling up people to meet face to face over lunch or a coffee.

I appreciate that the MAODE is all online.

I wonder however if this ‘purist’ point of view is sustainable or even desirable. Or do those who can and want to meet up do so anyway?

(Meeting a fellow MAODEr for the very first time a few weeks ago was odd. We felt we knew each other, there was no ‘ice to break’ as we’d worked on group tasks together in a previous module).

Not once have I imagined the technology making the genuine educator redundant i.e. someone whose modus operandi is to help students acquire knowledge and apply it, even to instill a life long love of learning with some tools and techniques to see them through.

If on a holiday to the Dordogne you came across a person from the Paleolithic painting in a cave would you leave him to it, or offer him your oils and sable brushes, or show him how to use a digital camera? (or her of course).

You don’t change the desire for self-expression, or capturing the world around you.

I know educators in their 80s who marvel at the Internet and the opportunity it offers to inform thousands.

Just think of an academic paper that in the past (and still) may be formally presented to a group of ten in the faculty, a group of thirty at a conference, then published … and quickly forgotten, compared to an age where such papers are presented face to face as described, but live through live streaming or a webcast to several hundred, then shared, copied and commented upon by thousands, and before it is even formally published may be gathering in a large readership?

And this is done by nursery, primary and secondary school educators too.

You have an idea for a class, you share it and if it is liked, it is picked up and used in many ways by many different people.

Its no longer a case of saying, ‘I wish I had done that.’ With permission/creative commons, OER and all that, you can use the fruits of someone else’s efforts, tweaked and personalised of course.

I rather think it is an exciting time to be working in education.

Personally I hanker after contact though, to address, mentor and coach people, probably young adults.

My personal learning environment (PLE)

When something works I’ll go back and use it repeatedly. I find the way in which I seek out, exploit, share and develop ideas to do with E-Learning and Social Media is fluid. I run with new tools as I find them, the three latest: stumbleupon, Allmyfavourites and Zite, which do the same kind of thing, helping to reduce the overwhelming amount of information being generated and sent my way to stuff that may be of value and interest me.

I’ve aslo may a tentative start in Social Networking Site Xing, using Google Translation to help with my rudimentary German.

Created using iPad APP ‘MindCreator’.

Social Learn (like Open Learn but networked)


 

Isn’t ‘re-invention’ the word? (Rogers, P114 & P115, 2002)

Not wholesale repurposing, but as Rogers puts it ‘It should be acknowledged that rejection, discontinuance and re-invention frequently occur during the diffusion of an innovation and that such behaviour may be rational and appropriate from the individual’s point of view.’ (Rogers, p114 2002)

I wonder how my experience might have been with a group of colleagues or friends, signing up together … but might this too ‘spoil the party.’ And how over a longer period fellow students would be emailing and messaging and getting on the phone … let alone meeting up.

This fascinates me primarily because I am convinced that collaboration, sharing, discussion and so on is crucial to a deeper learning outcome. But does this not have to be down to the drive of the individual and permitted by the institution they belong to?

How much motivation can others really offer or be expected to offer?

If neither a carrot or stick will work with adult learners, especially in a online environment, then what do you do? ‘You can take a horse to the trough, but you can’t make it drink.’ As I’m about to take a course on the Psychology of Sport as a Senior Swimming Coach I may gain some further insights into waht motivates people to do something and how outsiders can influence this in a positive way.

And just because we’re invited to drink from this trough once, dos not mean we will do it again, or often or with enthusiasm. Our moods will wax and wane, or commitments beyond the course will impinge.

Deep learning, as I’ve learnt, benefits from, even requires a rapport with one or several others at various levels of understanding – a Subject Matter Expert (SME) or experts, a tutor, a couple of fellow students on the course, and perhaps someone more junior who can be in turn mentored or tutored by us (first years being buddied by a second year, a post-grad student supervising a fresher).

How much this mix can be set by what little the OU or other Distance Learning Provider knows about an individual is quite another matter.

Do you run a call-centre like team of facilitators/moderators … or aspire to the one-to-one relationship of tutor or governess to student mimicking some land-owning/aristocratic model of the distant past? Where is or how can that rapport that can work between student and tutor be recreated here? Or is this something for a DPhil?

A free-for-all would create imbalances, inevitably … for the institution. But whose experience are we prioritising here?

Whilst a balance must be found, if the best outcomes are to give tutors and SMEs much more time online to forge relationships then this should be – a good coach attracts the best athletes and attracts the interest of other coaches. How does she do that? (Expertise, training and personality … enthusiasm, putting the athlete at the centre of things)

Perhaps by pursuing ‘educational social networking’ institutions are shooting themselves in the financial foot?

The time put in to make a freer networking between students, tutors and SMEs, with students in different time zones and different priorities would be prohibitive. Undergraduates studying on campus, in a homophilous cohort, with fewer worries (other than debt) don’t know how fortunate they are to have this opportunity to study, probably for the only time, before the life of the wider world impinges.

Are Personal Learning Environment (PLE) a way or the way forward?

If I have this concept right, i.e. with the formal relationships and tutor relationship given equal potential, the tools in one place on the same homepage is a suitable progression from the VLE) Perhaps OU students are doing this anyway by starting at their own Blog or Home Page and simply anchoring the pages from the OU that matter most to them?

The New Scientist is running an interesting essay in its current edition which touches on all of this.

New Scientist (week 10th July 2010) has a piece called ‘Generation F’ by Richard Fisher (2010).

* 400 million worldwide … on social networking sites.
* The importance of weak ties as well as close ones.
* The time it takes to forge ‘reliable and trustworthy’ ties.
* The value of ‘acquaintances’ to provide relevant and trustworthy news/information.

The article is prone to the some hyperbole:

Social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace) the ‘harbingers of a sea change in our social evolution, in the same way that the arrival of language informed our ancestors.’ (Donarth, 2009)

Danah Boyd (2009) describes Facebook as ‘an essential utility like water or electricity.’

Academics are just as guilty of this kind of thing, there’s been plenty of it in the reading for H807 the democratising of education, ‘starting the world anew’ ala Tom Paine etc: and claims made in the last ten/twenty years regarding ICT and education, what it could do, will do … but hasn’t.

The essay is of value though for how, and if, social networking can be used short-term purposes:

‘Online social networking appears to be ‘very good for servicing relationships, but not for building them de novo.’ (Dunbar, 2010)

H807 tries to use an ‘educational social networking’ approach, or does it. Perhaps it is deliberately more self-contained than this. Though with emphasis on authors such as Salmon (2002) and her model for e-tivities, undue emphasis is put on getting people talking and working together? Is that so necessary.

Isn’t experience showing that this is wishful thinking?

The OU must have research on this. Why do more people quit a an online distance learning course (20-50%) compared to a traditional distance learning course? What are the views on conversations, synchronous or asynchronous between fellow students and students in the wide OU community and tutors?

At various times, the ‘weakest links’ to fellow OU students through the OU blog has produced some useful support and insights for H807, yet engagement through our own Cafe/General Forum can surely only be described as minimal?

Whilst deeper learning experiences do come from sharing (like this), it isn’t happening to the degree the OU would like?

Collaboration between some random people I may meet at the bus stop when the service is delayed is not the same as forging an academic bond with some one or some many who are equally engaged with the material, whether their opinions are the antithesis of mine would be immaterial – indeed, disagreement would be better, it feeds discussion. This is NOT a criticism of H807, we have a common purpose, we have elected to do H807, there is a common profile intellectually and absolutely the variety of life experiences enriches the experience. But clearly, as individuals, our approaches to learning, IT skills, time allocated to the task and for many other reasons will and does negate against certain ways of learning. Such as this.

If on the one hand the wishes of some students, maybe most, to stay at arms length aren’t the wishes or hopes of others who would like to engage with a wider circle being denied?

The sought of relationships between students that the OU is hoping for can surely only developed over a few years rather than a few months.

Jeff Hancock (2008) of Cornell University ‘… found that those with Facebook access asked questions to which they already knew the answers or raised things they had in common, and as a result were much more successful at winning people over.’ (New Scientist, 10July2010).

We experienced the ease with which we could share personal information, there was no drilling or phfishing for information, but clearly I will know more about some people than others. It relevance is another matter, the buy-in to these people could eventually result in a bond of sorts, at least as working on this platform is concerned. I would have to look back through the way we respond to each other to see if the above occurred … deliberately asking certain people certain things even though we knew the answer, as a catalyst to conversation. This does not work discussing trivia such as pets and the weather (though I’ve indulged in plenty of that too … it doesn’t lead to conversations on costing programming, what Vygotsky means about scaffolding or whether we are fed up with e-tivities, e-granaries, e-moderators … and e-jobs.

Mid-way through the unit we read Elliot (2008) and I took an interest in the way ‘lifelong learning’ functions.

I was looking at this as an adult learner environment, the merging of social, family and work through social networking sites and the communication habits and styles of all three merging into and becoming a messed up single entity. Historically it wasn’t long ago that work, family and social words were one … fifty years ago, seventy or a hundred years? No more.

Both of these points, revealing more and the merging, or coalescent, or the dropping of barriers between these spheres is changing behaviours.

‘Increased visibility also means our various social spheres – family, work and friends- are merging and so we will have to prepare for new societal norms. ‘Well have to learn how to live a more transparent life.’ (Holtzman, 2009)

The idea of ‘Exposure’ was used be Ellen Levy in 1999 (Levy, 1999) after she had spent a year keeping a blog and photojournal, then a novel activity. (Washington Post, 24th September, 1999).

What an employer, parent, friends or colleagues make of this is another matter, but then again, one day we’ll all be walking around with our DNA profile on a dog-tag (or embedded under our skin on a microchip).

The relevance of all of this?

How far can the individual be indulged within the parameters of an online course, that must retain students and prove its worth to the institution (financial, academic, members), the students (worth it financially, academically, career wise … and personally) … and the wider community (grants, knowledgeable workforce, content and informed citizens)

Je suis comme je suis
Je suis faite comme ça

(Jacques Prevert, 1946)

I am what I am, I was made this way.
….

REFERENCE

Donath, J. New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. http://www.newscientist.com, p40. From Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, vol.13, p 231)

Dunbar, R. (2009) How many friends does one person need? Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. http://www.newscientist.com.

Elliott, B. (2008) Assessment 2.0: Modernising Assessment in the Age of Web 2.0 [online], Scottish Qualifications Authority; available from http://www.scribd.com/doc/461041/Assessment-20 (Accessed 1 February 2010).

Ellison, N (2007) The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Volume 12, Issue 4, Date: July 2007, Pages: 1143-1168
Nicole B. Ellison, Charles Steinfield, Cliff Lampe. (Accessed 11 July 2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. http://www.newscientist.com.

Fisher, R (2010) New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. http://www.newscientist.com

Granoveter, M, S. (1973) The Strength of Weak Ties. The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 78, No. 6 (May, 1973), pp. 1360-1380 http://www.jstor.org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/action/exportSingleCitation?singleCitation=true&suffix=2776392
(Accessed 11 July 2010)
Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. http://www.newscientist.com. The University of Chicago Press.

Golbeck, J (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. http://www.newscientist.com.

Hancock, J. (2008) I know something you don’t: the use of asymmetric personal information for interpersonal advantage
Jeffrey T. Hancock, Catalina L. Toma, Kate Fenner. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. http://www.newscientist.com. (Accessed 11 July 2010)

Holtzman, H (2010) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. http://www.newscientist.com

Kearns, M. (2009) Behavioral experiments on biased voting in networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 106, p1347) http://www.pnas.org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/content/106/5/1347.full.pdf+html (Accessed 11 July 2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. http://www.newscientist.com.

Levy, E. (1999) Featured in article in the Washinton Post, 24 September 2010. See more at http://businessinnovationfactory.com/iss/innovators/ellen-levy
(accessed 11 July 2010)

Prevert, J, (146) Paroles.

Pentland, S (2010) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Quoted in New Scientist. 10 July 2010. Volume 207 N0 2768. http://www.newscientist.com

Rogers, E.M. (2003) Diffusion of Innovations (5th edn), New York, Simon and Schuster.

Salmon, E (2002) E-tivities the key to online learning. Kogan Page.

Tom Tong, S (2008) Too Much of a Good Thing? The Relationship Between Number of Friends and Interpersonal Impressions on Facebook. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, vol13 p531-549)

Where’s technology in education taking us? MAs like A’ Levels? MBAs and PhDs for all?

As you watch the video consider and make notes on how it relates to the more general findings from the broader research literature discussed earlier.

Also consider the following questions:

  1. Is the message being presented in this visual way any different from the primarily text-based presentation of findings used so far this week?
  2. How important is the medium and the technologies themselves in terms of conveying messages about this research area?
  3. What are the implications for your own practice?

Catchy music. Well exectued. Memorable. Viral.4.5 million views to date.

The execution is persuasive; this is how advertisers do it. You have a message, you find a director who knows how to put it over in way that works.

I’ve done this myself a few times.

The music is crucial and often not considered in the budget.

Library music might, but rarely works.

Far better to pay for a peice to be composed; I have worked with plenty of student composers who’ve created a terrifc mood, what I wanted, cued to a click track and the images on the screen. I’ve also used copyright music and begged persmission from composers, such as some Michael Nyman music I wanted to use.

As a teaser or catalyst at the start of a week (or module,or course) this kind of thing is fantastic, but it is a trailer … it is not an objective report. The music dictates how the director wants us to think.

These underviewed clips could do with a bit of TLC.

I also need to afford to have them transferred to a higher defintion.

Here’s a simply exercise to demonstrate who the music skews the mood, impact and desire outcome; turn off the sound and play the video to ‘Anarchy in the UK’ the Sex Pistols, or ‘She’s Like a Rainbow’ Rolling Stones. Do you feel so sympathetic now?

Is not this the kind of music played to claw at our heart strings when our charity is being requested to house the homeless and feed the poor?

If you think you can turn a report or piece of research into an objective and compelling piece of TV you are wrong

a) There must be a narrative

b) There is a need for conflict

c) Controversy helps

A polite debate to a live audience that gets out of hand does the trick, but this is hardly the Jeremy Kyle show.

Increasingly, though my background is the spin of advertising and stakeholder communications, I want to learn how to research and present sound, objective facts – the kind of evidence upon which people can act on the basis that the thoroughness and professionalism of the approach has isolated the problems which others can then address.

The nonsense spoken about ‘The Net Generation’ et al. implies that arming one cohort with laptops (a 1999s thing), now with tablets (preferably an iPad) will deliver.

This ain’t how it happens. Never has with technology and never will.

Were I the Headmaster of a school I’d want to see technology used to play to the strengths of the subject being taught.

In art classes and music they are going to get a pad of A3 cartridge paper, some soft pencils, putty rubber and a knife; in music they’re going to get an ‘unplugged’ music instrument to master.

In Chemistry they can have a white board that shows interactive animations of chemical processes taking place in what would otherwise be dangerous experiments.

In H807 I bemoaned the fact that I wasn’t being hit with the kind of gizmo-worlds I’d been brought up to create for corporate clients – they want to see their money on the screen. We ‘read’ for the Masters in Open and Distance Education. When faced with a video, if a transcript isn’t provided, I have to take notes verbatim ditto podcasts.

Reading and the technical demands of typing and word-processing might be as far as it needs to go.

Where any technology is less intuitive or easy that word-processing then don’t bother. Nor assume people have the ‘right’ skills – having had a Mac since the early 90s I find some Microsoft software like being presented with a unicycle with a square wheel.

I like the phrases ‘disruptive technologies’, ‘catalysts for change’ and ‘pedagogical innovation’.

The thing to remember is that one size does not fit all, indeed the technology ought to offer additional variety, not replace what has gone before.

Some ‘services’ I am so familiar with, as well all, that I wouldn’t have thought to suggest they had a role in education; mobile phones, laptops are put of the landscape in work, school and the home. Not all, but many. We must remember the notable exceptions to owning or becoming familiar with these tools.

As for PDAs and memory sticks are these not history? PDAs replaced by SmartPhones and memory sticks replaced by portable hard-drives and the ‘cloud’. And thus the demise of Pagers, floppy discs and zip drives.

I still crave a Psion.

Will an iPad fill that gap? Or a Nokia E7? I’m looking for a keyboard and screen that I can treat like a spec case with the power to put people on Mars.

Any suggestions?

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Meanwhile, but to the activity at my fingertips:

(We mustn’t call them tasks I’m told, sets the wrong tone. So why not e-tivities? Do I need to ask?! I came across someone referring to e-quality and wanted to report them to the abuse of the English Language through the prefixing of ‘e.’)

The dichotomy between students and staff is slowly disappearing – perhaps it has gone.

There never was a Net Generation in my book, often if is (as we would expect) the teacher who is the master of the technology … they should be. This is the role we adults have before our children. We teach and nurture them, not the other way around. They generally learn from us, we have to crack it, add and embellish.

Were the students of the ‘Pill’ Generation in the 1960s not more rebellious then this lot?

Taught by teachers born between two World Wars, the differences must have been extreme. There are of course some biological reasons why until the students are adults, there will be significant barriers and differences. And whose to say, person by person, when intellectually maturity sets in. I’d say that I’ve only got there in my 50th year – I’ve enjoyed being a boy too much, until recently I could only be taught like a first year A’ Level Student (spoon fed).

Sharpe et al (2005) is a must read for the Masters in Open and Distance Education.

I don’t know why it and a couple of other books are boxed up and sent out to anyone who registers early. It is reassuring to return to authors whose voices you come to trust over the 18 or so months.

We learn that students have:

  • A mixed view about technologies
  • Feel pressured to do more (there’s little faster or more efficient that simply reading a paper)
  • Have mixed experiences and expectations of their tutor (someone remind us, we are POSTGRADUATES)

Pedagogy (does it work?)

Learner differences (which can be extraordinarily diverse compared to a cohort of undergraduates terming up on campus with the same accent, same outlook, same educational background … and not that long ago in some Oxford Colleges, the same gender too).

Beetham et al (2005) should be another set book.

By reading MAODE blogs I’ve spotted in advance the books that are most often refereed to and bought them. I have around a dozen now and had I a hand in reinventing the MAODE far from spending £100k with some of the top video production companies and web agencies in the land to ‘pimp it up,’ I’d been handing out these books and e-books.

‘Distributed collaboration’ here we come.

I’ve often likened the experience of MAODE, or is it just postgraduate learning with the OU, as my head being like the chocolate shaker at Cafe Nero. I’ve had chocolate pixie dust tipped into my head and someone keeps lifting me up by the ankles like a new born baby and giving me a good shake. My ideas have been turned on their head, not least the desire and interest in sharing whatever I think. It serves a purpose not to be previous about what you think. Not quite like getting it wrong on National Radio and being correctly by a few thousand emails, but you are often set right, or put on the right path, by hearing what your fellow students think.

Find me on Linkedin. I’m forever joining groups and discussions and find the feeds from the busiest groups

Oblinger and Oblinger (2005) Educating the Net Generation sounds like a must read. What are the reviews? I couldn’t find it. Or is it a paper? There are plenty of texts written on the theme – most I’d give a wide birth.

Their points are:

  • weaving in the technology to current practice
  • kids who’ve grown up with it
  • its becoming ubiquitous
  • they use the web for homework (so what, we use it for work and pleasure too don’t we … and did from the start. The kids are copying Mum and Dad when they learn to touch type by the age of 6, NOT the other way round. They crave to get online because their parents do; it was ever thus.)
  • there is more surface level learning (right through to university … and at the BA level too often, students learn what they are told to learn, from the surface, whether from the web, a text book or print out … whatever it takes to pass the exam. Why I am told the Oxbridge BA sees itself as an MA programmer for undergraduates.
  • More visual. I would love papers to be illustrated, just a photo or apt cartoon above the abstract. Why shouldn’t academic writers hook their readers too. Randy Pausch did in a paper he wrote while at Disney working and researching the skills of an ‘imagineer’.
  • they want ‘just in time’ answers and it needs to be experiential (Conole & Dyke 2004; Gibson, 1979). We should celebrate this achievement … its what managers in business have been trying to incorporate into business practice for decades.

We are all the people we have ever been


What image should we use to portray ourselves?

Is there such as thing as best practice? Ought it to be like joining a gym, we have a snapshot taken on a webcam and this current image, no matter how it comes out, becomes who we are?


Do so few of us dislike or distrust what we see when we look at our faces in the mirror each morning?

It has been the subject of research, role play in online education; I’d like to do some of my own.

I began a year ago with this.

I liked the picture, felt it was healthy, robust and confident and confident.

I should have looked at the date on it. August 2004. Happy and sunny days. You age under stress and from the mid-40s it doesn’t take much to add ten years -all that sun in the past, being unwell.

As I write below, his spirit, like mine (I hope) remains that of an enthusiastic twenty-something.

The same occurred with the Elluminate session we had in H800 the other day, the tutor on the webcam (initially in a scratchy black and white image) is not the person who goes by in the General Forum. Are we all guilty of this. Men included? We go with something in our late thirties or early to mid-forties?


I then went with this.

An image I long ago used in my eleven year old blog. I wanted something that was indicative of the content and would last. I’m still inclined to run with this. It is indicative of what I think blogging is all about – the contents of your mind, what you think i.e. you ‘mind bursts’ as I call them on numerous blogs.

Facebook personas sees me in a number of guises

While on Skype I use a image taken with the webcam on the day of an online interview – this is a month ago, so as contemporary as it gets.


I have this image fronting Tumblr taken 21 years ago.

In moments of euphoria having just successfully negotiated a 15m pond of slush on a pair of skis in front of a crowd of early May skiers below the Tignes Glacier, France. The day I proposed to my wife. We’d be ‘going out together’ for three days … we’ve now been together, well 21 years.

In my original diary we could create banner ads to publicise what we had to say to fellow writers. One of these has a spread as long as the contents of my diaries and blog: they run from a 13 year old Head Chorister in cassock and ruffs, though gap, undergrad, to add exec, video director, with four woman I didn’t marry.


Increasingly, I am thinking of using a self-portrait, that this attempt to capture myself through my minds eye is more telling that a photograph.


I could use the drawing I did of a 14 year old

What amuses me most here is how I superimpose these attachments as if I were in a school play, the beard is clearly on the soft face of a pubescent boy – I should have looked at my grandfather for the face I’d get, with the more bulbous nose and pronounced chin.

Talking of which, I find it intriguing that I am the spitting image of my grandfather, that my own children see images of him age 20 and think it has to be me. All that changes as he ages into a 40 and 50 year old is he goes bald, whereas I am thus far limited to a thinning of the crown.

This I’m afraid, if the age of my children in the rest of the picture is something to go by, is some seven years ago 🙁

My only reason for picking it is that I haven’t renewed my contact lenses and am inclined, after twenty years wearing them to give up. Maybe laser surgery when I have the cash?
This is contemporary. It doesn’t say who I am, just ‘what’ I am. Wearing a child’s hat (he’s a dad), the headset to record notes onto a digital recorder (for a podcast), a coat he bought for honeymooning in the Alps (we went skiing) 18 years ago …


I have of course not changed much since 1977

It takes me back to the original point – who are we? how do we representative ourselves online in a single image when we are all a sum of a complex of parts?

Is it any wonder that we present multiple selves online, the more so the longer we’ve lived?

I don’t remember my father being around to take this picture. though clearly he did. I do remember the great-big wellies though and the joy of water spilling over the top if I could find a puddle or pond deep enough. And the jumpers knitted by my granny (sleeves always too long). And the trees in the garden I climbed behind. And my sister and brother …

How set in were the learning process by then?

The Dracula Spectacula, People’s Theatre, Newcastle.

The teeth were made from dentine and fitted by an orthodontist.I rather foolishly sharpened the fangs and bit through my own lip on the last night. I had to sing while gargling my own blood. The joy of memories.

  • Could a daily snap taken when looking in the bathroom mirror be used to tag memories from that ‘era’ of your life?
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