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We’re no longer trying to sell magic potions out the back of a tub-trap

Photo

Fig.1. We’re no longer trying to sell magic potions out the back of a tub-trap. 

Still playing catch-up after the Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA)

Through week six writing and most activities (a few hours left to wrap)

I’m on my seventh Open University Postgraduate module – six on e-learning, one from the MBA programme.

I’m familiar with week 7 as we begin week 8.

I’ll catch up over the weekend.

Perhaps.

If it rains a good deal and my son’s football is off (again). This will come back to haunt me – with all the bad weather they are moving to two matches a week. The Daddy Taxi might be busy.

For H809 conjured up the ‘Perfect Storm of Online Research’

  • Young people, including minors
  • Online – gamified if not virtual worlds, with social aspects (whether wanted or not)
  • Medical – not a medical market research but ostensibly an ‘intervention’ of sorts that would require expertise, training and sign off for everyone involved.
  • Global – what isn’t if it is accessible online?

The good news?

  • They haven’t found life on Mars yet so I can keep it contained to Earth.

My plan

  • Set further parameters.

I’m looking at use of e-learning to improve uptake of preventer medication by young people with severe moderate asthma (i.e. they are supposed to take a daily preventer inhaler, like me, I do – they don’t).

I may ‘contain’ the research to a group where in some cases a step has already been taken to ameliorate the situation – swimming. I’ll talk to the ASA (hypothetical) and have participants as UK swimmers with asthma

This on ethics and permissions relating to research will be of value. 

University of Oxford Research Integrity

By entering medical research I have entered a minefield!

There are pages of protocols and procedures, training and checks with personnel and so on from the universities, the NHS and UK Government legislation.

Photo

Fig.2 A foothill just turned into climbing Olympus Mons, the 21000m largest mountain on Mars.

A picnic just turned into a medieval banquet for Henry VIII and all his six wives … (I’m off to walk the dog).

If I’m burying my head in sand then it is the red sand of Mars.  In any case, why climb Olympus Mons when I can land on it in a Twitter / PayPal sponsored Mars Rocket.

In truth I am reassured by the scope and comprehensive nature of the guidelines, protocols and legislation.

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Blogging breached the guidelines a bunch of us followed in 2002 – now anything comes and goes on e-folded origami paper we call a blog

Fig. 1 Blogging brings like minds together – through their fingertips

I did a search in my own blog knowing that somewhere I cited an academic who described blogging as ‘whatever you can do on electronic paper’.

Chatting about this at dinner my 14 year old son trumped my conversation with his mother as I tried to define a blog and what can go into one with one word ‘anything’.

For me there has been a slow shift from text (the weblog-cum-dairy journal thingey), to adding pictures (which have become photo / image galleries, photostreams of Flickr and concept boards of Pinterest), to adding video … to adding ‘anything’ – apps, interactivity, grabs, mashups, music …

My starting place is here.

This ‘eportofolio, writers journal, aggregating, dumping ground, place for reflection and course work’.

You see, is it a blog at all? This platform, I’m glad, has its design roots in a Bulletin board.

The limitations of our OU Student Blog platform works in its favour.

I can only put in two search terms. In Google I might write a sentence and get a million links, in my wordpress blog it might offer have the contents.

Less is more.

Here I search ‘blog paper’ and get 112 posts that contain both words.

I’ll spin through these an add a unique tag. My starting place.

But to study blogging would be like researching the flotsam and jetsam that floats across our oceans – after a tsunami.

RESEARCH

Starting with a book published in 2006 ‘Use of Blogs’ I want to read a paper ‘Bloggers vs. Journalists’ published in 2005. A search finds richer, more up to date content. Do I even bother with this first paper? (ironic that we even call them papers).

I can’t read everything so how do I select?

  • Toggle through the abstract, check out the authors, see where else such and such a paper has been cited.
  • Prioritize.
  • Use RefWorks rather than my habit to date of downloading papers that MIGHT be of interest.

Whilst storage space is so inexpensive it is virtually free there is no need to clutter my hard drive, Dropbox or Google Docs space.

Which makes me think of one of my other favourite metaphors – kicking autumn leaves into the breeze. That or drowning in info overload, or as the Robert de Nero character in Brazil, Archibald ‘Harry’ Tuttle, who vanishes in a pile of discarded paper … my mind wanders. We do. It does.

I stumble in the OU Library as I find I am offered everything under the sun. I am used to being offered academic papers only. So far all I’m getting are scanned images of articles in newspapers on blogging. All feels very inside out.

Where’s the ‘turn off the printed stuff’ button?

I fear that just as I have never desired to be a journalist, preferring the free form of your own diary, letters, and of course blogging and forums online, I will struggle to write within the parameters of an academic paper. I’m managing assignment here, so I guess I’m learning to split the two. A useful lesson to have learnt.

Serendipity

Is this a research methodology?

I am looking at a book on blogging, ‘Use of Blogs’ (Bruns & Jacobs, 2006). I have it open on p.31 Notes (i.e. references) for the chapter Journalists and News Bloggers.

As I pick through these articles, papers and reviews written between 2002 and 2005 I find several of the authors, a decade on, are big names in the Journalism/Blogger debate. It’s as if I am looking at a tray of seedlings.

It strikes me as easier to start in 2006 with 27 starting points when the field of debate was narrow, rather than coming in from 2013 and finding myself parachuting into a mature Amazonian jungle of mixed up printed and digital, journalism and blog content.

Courtesy of the OU Library and RefWorks I have nailed this article after a decade of searching:

Druckerman, P (1999) Ellen Levy Has Got The Write Project For the Internet Age — It’s a Year of Scribbling Down Almost Everything; Ah, Yes, It Was a Raisin Bagel, New York, N.Y., United States, New York, N.Y.

Reading this around 23rd /24th September 1999 prompted me to start blogging

Then I’d been reading blogs for a few months but had a mental block with uploading HTML files and then along came the first ‘ready made’ DIY blogging platforms.

The last 12 years makes amusing reading – particularly the battle between journalists and bloggers. And who has won? Is there a difference anymore? Journalists blog and bloggers are journalists and entire newspapers are more blog-like from The Huffington Post to the FT … which within three years will close all its print operations.

To be used in learning and to be a genre to study blogging needs to be part of formative assessment

A blog therefore becomes ‘an active demonstration of learning’ with cumulative feedback. I’ve only received ONE Tutor comment in my OU blog and that was to say why was I blogging and not getting on with my TMA. This person had their head so stuffed inside primary school education of the 1960s it made me feel like tossing my cap in the air.

Why MAODE students blog (Kerawella et al, 2009) depends on their perceptions of, and for:

  1. an audience
  2. community
  3. the utility of and need for comments
  4. presentational style of the blog content
  5. overarching factors related to the technological context
  6. the pedagogical context of the course

Cited x30

REFERENCES

‘Bloggers vs. journalist: The next 100 year War?’ 2011, Public Relations Tactics, 18, 4, p. 17, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.

Bruns, A. Jacobs, J. (2006) Use of Blogs.

Kerawalla, L, Minocha, S, Kirkup, G, & Conole, G (2009) ‘An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging in higher education’, Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 25, 1, pp. 31-42, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.

Rosen, J. (2007) ‘Web Users Open the Gates’, Washington Post, The, n.d., UK & Ireland Reference Centre, EBSCOhost, viewed 18 February 2013.

Blogging for knowledge management in the workplace

‘As with writing, blogging is not simply formulating in words an idea already developed in one’s mind. It is also about connecting, developing and redefining half-baked ideas. When writing, I often go through the weblog archives to explore connections with what is already there. Reading and rereading what I wrote before shapes and changes what I’m about to write: I often find something unexpected or see patterns only in retrospect’.Efimova (2009. p 70)

Fig. 1. Dr Lilia Efimova – her Phd thesis is on blogging to support knowledge management in the workplace.

  1. Somewhere to “park” emerging insights until the moment they are needed. Efimova (2009. p 75)
  2. Doesn’t require much effort
  3. Somewhere to park ideas
  4. Reading and engaging with others to become aware of issues and themes
  5. Topics accumulate and connections grew and things become clearer.
  6. A set of sense-making practices
  7. “Everyday grounded theory” Efimova (2009. p. 75)
  8. Connecting multiple fragments
  9. Getting into the writing flow
  10. Strengthened by readers’ feedback
  11. A channel for distribution
  12. Publication additional motivation to document emergent ideas
  13. A legitimate place to share thinking in progress
  14. -ve when the need is to be extremely selective and focused. Efimova (2009. p. 80)
  15. To collect in one place the fragmented bits relevant to my thinking Efimova (2009. 3.5.4)
  16. Clusters of conversations
  17. Conversations unfolding
  18. A personal space and a community space simultaneously.
  19. A personal narrative used to articulate and to organise one’s own thinking. (conversation with self. p 90?) around 4.3
  20. An example of hypertext conversation. Efimova (2009. p. 129)
  21. Weblogs provide a space that helps both to develop one’s own point of view and discuss it with others.
  22. Bloggers present their ideas to the world, readers learn from them. Efimova (2009. p. getting things done. staying in touch)
  • low-threshold creation of entries
  • a flexible and personally meaningful way to organise and maintain them
  • opportunities to retrieve, reuse and analyse blog content
  • opportunities to engage with others.
  • fitted in while working on something else
  • providing a way to keep abreast of others ideas
  • capturing ones’ own emergent insights
  • clarifying matters for a public
  • over time ideas on a topic accumulate and connections between them become clearer.
  • feedback from readers turns blogging into a sense-making practice
  • eventually an ideas is ‘ripe’ and ready to become part of a specific task.

Efimova (2008. p. 208)

Autoenthnography Or, how to write something of substance.

From Richardson (2000) via Lilia Efimova (2009. p. 39)

I’ve taken the view, with a lifetime of keeping a diary and 14 years blogging that I write whatever comes to mind as I put pen to paper or fingertips to the keyboard. There is a better way:

Substantive Contribution

Does this piece contribute to our understand of social life? Does the writer demonstrate a deeply grounded (if embedded) human world understanding and perspective?

Aesthetic Merit

Does this piece succeed aesthetically? Does the use of creative analytical practices open up the text, invite interpretive responses? Is the text artistically shaped, satisfying, complex, and not boring?

Reflexivity

How did the author come to write this? How was the information gathered? Ethical issues? How has the author’s subjectivity been both a producer and a product of this text?

Is there an adequate self-awareness and self-exposure for the reader to make judgements about the point of view? Do authors hold themselves accountable to the stands of knowing and telling of the people they have studied?

Impact

Does this affect me? Emotionally? Intellectually? Generate new questions? Move me to write? Move me to try new research practices? Move me to actions?

Lived Experience

Does this text embody a fleshed out sense of lived-experience? Does it seem “true” – a credible account of a cultural, social, or communal sense of the “real”?

 

REFERENCE

Efimova.L (2009) Passion At Work : Blogging practices of knowledge workers. Novay PhD Research Series, No. 24 (Novay/PRS/024)

Richardson, L. (2000). Evaluating ethnography. Qualitative Inquiry, 6 (2), 253-255

 

 

Date stamps on digitized photos are an irrelevance

Fig. 1. Current reading 

Throughout Bell and Gemmel (2009)  say there will be a revolution then on p.172 says ‘we will gradually adapt’. The shape of things is evolving, in different places at different rates.

The Arab Spring was a technology enabled revolution, the uptake of smartphone and tablets is not, it is a well defined diffusion of innovation (Rogers, 2005). The progress of lifelogging, if it can even be tracked as it is an ill-defined hotchpotch of concepts, kit and technology may already have come and gone, already surpassed by a myriad of services and behaviours related to these smartphones snd tablet and hundreds of thousands of Apps.

That a digital camera stamps the date and time – these for recall are the least important factors. What, where and who is far more important. What were you up to, where were you and who were you with?

Digitizing memorabilia is what this so called ‘revolution’ is all about, a kind of recycling with digitization in between. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 pp. 180)

I have emptied some shelves by chucking printed books and replaces those I read with eBooks.

The next step, courtesy of a Fujitsu ScanSnap will be to start to empty a lockup garage of books and papers – having a dozen unsold have written novels, screenplays and TV series will do my head in just to see them again, but ‘better out than in’ these unpublished and unsold pieces of work, certainly completed manuscripts, may even find a buyer. I’ve done one swoop through the garage with a digital camera just to see what is there – the hard back books will be tricky as ownership of shelves of books is something of a way of life in parts of our family.

I have bought eBooks so as not to be encumbered with some of my favourites and I find as a result I refer to them far more often.

This isn’t total recall or life-bits though, just a fraction, of the tiniest fraction. Enough to make a difference, but hardly innovative. What have law firms, management firms and accountancy firms sent the last 15 years doing? digitizing all their records and all their client’s  records. Big time digital repositories already exist on a massive, professional, industrial and institutional level, with museums and libraries following. And if not already, someone like Barrack Obama perhaps, will have his life celebrated in a library or foundation which could very well contain more in digital form than in print.

Five seconds is all it takes to capture the ambiance of the moment, writes Bell   some four years before Twitter launch their six second video service. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 p.188)

Like needles in a hay bale, I used to think, a decade ago, naively as it turns out, that the best place to loose important content was in an untagged webpage.

I saw readership figures, but spoke only ever to a tiny number of people – only years later did I figure that of course plenty of the hundreds had read about a friend, or themselves. And out of the blue, 33 years after a the event, a girl I met on a French exchange trip found me and asked if I would delete a scan of a drawing I had done of her – I did so, but know that various archiving packages grabbed this and at the last count some 100 out of 1500+pages which will in all likelihood be somewhere forever.

We know now too that indiscrete idiots who Tweet or something that may be terrorist related, criminal or libelous will be identified, arrested and potentially fined or jailed. Putting content online is publishing, just as it was in the past to get over a dozen barriers to have yourself appear in print.

I have this bizarre image of a lifelog that actually records the where the molecules that are you are and how they will always have filled those places at a particular time throughout your life – tracking these molecules after life is perhaps a duller and less savoury affair.

Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer at Microsoft, founder Intellectual Ventures, believes that only the software creator’s imagination limits what hardware can provide. (Bell and Gemmel, 2009 p. 215)

 

My personal learning environment (PLE)

 

Fig.1. Learning online with the Open University – 6 Dec 2012

This has changed somewhat over 2 1/2 years I have been working towards an MA in Open and Distance Education.

  • I rarely print off.
  • I do most work on an iPad.
  • I use Google Docs not Word.
  • My blog is an e-portfolio
  • EVERYTHING is online.

Webinars are a frequent external indulgence usually with the Learning Skills Group as are industry specific e-learning and creative forums on Linkedin.

Related articles

Who are you talking to ? Currently in conversation around the globe

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Fig. 1. My iPad world clock – all I need now is a Pin and a clickable face of the people in a threaded conversation

As I blog I have always been a sucker for analytics – they impact, for better or for worse. Currently I am intrigued by the coverage of the blog, read in 50 different countries spanning four continents every day. What about conversations though? Synchronous and asynchronous group talk, webinars and hangouts have me starting or contributing to discussions from New Zealand and Australia, west to Singapore and Hong Kong then on to United Arab Emirates and South Africa, picking up Turkey, Germany, France and the UK before crossing the pond to New York, Boston and on the west coast San Diago and San Francisco.

What amazes me here, as I have found in tutor groups with the Open University postgraduate course I am completing, is that when a topic goes hot it comes alive and is kept alive over 24 hours as it is picked up by others getting up or coming in from work. We live in extraordinary times.

The current hot topics in relation to e-learning are:

  • Curation
  • Augmented Learning
  • Virtual Worlds
  • Video Tagging
  • Accessibility
  • Open and Free Learning

Join me on Linkedin (various e-learning groups) for more.

Web 2.0 Tools for Learning – what I recommend


It isn’t for lack of overwhelming, immersive and engaging content online, especially ‘how to’ movies and ‘clips’ in YouTube, its how you as an individual cope with this inexhaustible choice.

Armed with an 3G tablet and sim card will we find we are learning more on the fly, taking it with us, much of it free, some of it guided and paid for?

Taking advantage of participation (John Seely-Brown), learning on the periphery (John Seely-Brown), vicarious learning (Cox) and if you can get your tongue around it ‘serendipitous learning.’ (me I think).

I’m finding that 18 months in, and having really started this gig in 1998 when from the agency end we were migrating interactive DVD based learning to the Web, that I of necessity must balance the tools I can play (musical instrument metaphor), compared to those I play with (sandpit, training pool metaphor) … and I suppose those ones I am obliged to master whether I like it or not (prescriptive tools for work and study – in at the deep end metaphor?!).

Conole (2011) invites us to use ‘metaphors for meaning making’.

I always have, often visualising these metaphors. Just search this diary on ‘Metaphor’ to see what comes up. Also try words or phrases such as ‘traffic light’, ‘nurture’, ‘gardening’, ‘swimming’, ‘spheres of influence’, ‘hub’, ‘serendipity’ as well as ‘water’ and ‘water-cycle’.

I therefore offer the following:

Linkedin (For Forums, like this, in groups and networks)

WordPress (for blogging, sharing, wiki like affordances, training, updates)

iPad (or Tablet) (Whilst PCs and Laptops have considerable power and versatility

Twitter (only for niche/target live discussions or quasi-synchronous conversations.

The rest of it is ‘Twitter Twaddle’

Spam of the worst kind being pumped out by pre-assigned links as CoTweets or random disconnected thoughts. This is killing some forums where RSS feeds of this stuff overwhelms any chance of a conversation).

I’ve seen two Forums killed, temporarily I hope, by this stuff, the largest victim being the Oxford University Alumni group.

I believe it is simply the case of a new moderator niavely permitting Twitter feeds in on a discussion, ie. having the conversations between 30 disrupted by the disconnected chattering of 300.

REFERENCE

Cox, R. (2006) Vicarious Learning and Case-based Teaching of Clinical Reasoning Skills (2004–2006) [online], http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk/ esrcinfocentre/ viewawardpage.aspx?awardnumber=RES-139-25-0127 [(last accessed 10 March 2011).

Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications – the Blog

It’ll not come from one book, or two or many. Having blogged for 11 years and six months I should know some things. I share some ideas here alongside some thoughts from Argenti and Barnes’s 2009 book ‘Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications‘ that I have read cover to cover these last few days courtesy of Kindle.

Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications

Blogs and social communities have sparked ‘a complete overhaul of the business environment, especially in the context of communication.’ Agenti and Barnes (2009:K168)

K = Kindle … they don’t give a page number. How could you in a e-Book?

Education is changing too, blurring the lines between school and the workplace, and encouraging workplace learning with distance learning specialists and online courses from members of the Association of Business Schools surely set to grow

The difference between web 1.0 and web 2.0 – observation versus participation, status versus dynamic, monologue versus conversation. Agenti and Barnes (2009)

What is most relevant to corporate communications managers is as relevant to other institutions, whether government, education or charity.

You need to be using:

• Blogs (such as WordPress. Edublogs, Diaryland)

• Microblogs (Twitter)

• Social Networks (such as Facebook, MySpace)

• Video-sharing platforms (YouTube, Vimeo)

Search engine marketing and optimization

• Corporate web sites/ online newsrooms

• Wikis • Mash-ups • Viral/word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing.

The trick is to find ‘a middle ground between a completely centralised and a wholly decentralised structure is the best way to maintain an effective communications strategy in today’s environment.’ K593

My take on this is that to succeed organisations need to be:

• Informed

• Engaged

• Responsive

• Frequent

• Authentic

• Relevant

• Appropriate

• Pithy

• Real (neither journalistic, corporate or academic in style)

• Understanding

• Passionate but not obsessive

• Media Savvy

• Connected

• Tooled up

• With a give, take, try anything and receive mentality.

• Tag it all

• Optimise out of habit

• Have fun, be playful with surveys, questionnaires and polls.

The view Sir Martin Sorrell takes is ‘The more control you keep over the message, the less credible it is. And Vice Versa.’ Martin Sorrell (2008: K1520)

There are three skills sets required to take advantage of this:

1. Identifying influential bloggers 2. Building relationships with them 3. Engaging with them with the intent of receiving positive coverage

Points 1 and 2 was the experience I had in Diaryland.

Here from 1999 bloggers teamed up with designers, where the two functions were recognised as different, like the copywriter and art director in advertising. Here you could form groups and join groups, link to friends for a myriad of reasons, but best of, in the list limited to 70 friends you were/are updated constantly on the status – it helps to know that you’re in a group where people update regularly. It is largely from the community of those who write, that you find people who also read and comment, they are various consumers and emitters of content.

So much that I experienced here has migrated to other blogsites.

Things that work, as well as buddies and buddy updates, are the surveys and groups, creating engaging or fund questionnaires to share with others and forming groups too, where for example I set up lists for those to be the first to make 500, then 1000 and then 2000 entries … Fun too are the banner ads you can make and use to promote interest within the Diaryland community. Perhaps Andrew’s (its creator’s0refusal to allow advertising is what is causing a Diaryland demise.

‘Metaphorically speaking, RSS is the gateway drug of experiential online monitoring’. Agenti and Barnes (2009:K1183)

My view is GoogleAlerts does this better, it spread the net for you, whereas with RSS you need to have found the feed first. What is more GoogleAlerts feeds you snacks of information that are easy to consume, note, reference, keep, pass on or over.

In emails the authors interviewed Courtney Barnes and Shabbir Imber Safdar.

‘You need to understand that it’s not a cut-and-paste job. You need to participate in the conversation and adapt the content for the environment. ‘ Thus said (Agenti and Barnes (2009:K1159)

Look, listen and learn … engage

To do this engagement is the first things, so blogs and Twitter, social networking and video, photographs … even some family history and reuniting with school and college friends. Then you tools like Technorati and Goole Alerts.

Technorati

Google Alerts

Search out appropriate keywords

Joined Linked In too.

Having been engaged with four/five groups I made the mistake of joining and dozen and will have to drop most of these. Some post several times and hour 24/7 and I have ceased to see the worth of reading that much from one group, especially if the same question is being answered a thousand times. Managing this maelstrom is a task in itself, being alert to the new, dropping the redundant, buying into and out of the right people and places as their influence and quality of comment waxes and wanes.

Forrester Research on 90 blogs of Fortune 500 companies. June 2008.

Most company blogs are ‘dull, drab and don’t stimulate discussion’. • 66% rarely get comments • 70% only contain comment on business topics • 56% republish press releases or summarise news that is already public.

REFERENCE

Argenti P.A. and Barnes M.C. 2009 ‘Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications’ McGrawHill.

Sorrell. M (2008) ‘Public Relations: The Story behind a Remarkable Renaissance,@ Institute for Public Relations Annual Distinguished Lecture, New York, November 5, 2008.

Meanwhile I’ve got these two to read.

And why books cover to cover?

I’m sick of snacking from a smorgasbord. I want a consistent voice, something up to date, that leaves an impression. A book does this for me, an article never does.

Reflections on e-learning – September 2010 to September 2012

New Software

Things I was starting to get my head around in 2010:

  • Skype (a phone call for free)
  • Delicious (don’t get it, yet … or need it?)
  • Outlook (Never used it ’til last week not being a PC person)
  • Google Docs (Up there and loading docs. Hear good things from all)
  • Compendium (Created a map for an e-tivity based on my H807 ECA. Populating this to share content with a producer).
  • Zoho (signed in but not sure)
  • Mahara (But Google does it for free and has seamless interplay with all your other favourite Google tools)
  • Pebblepad (Mixed reviews)
  • Adobe Share (Been using Adobe products forever so this should get my attention)
  • Internet Explorer (new to this Mac user!)
  • Dropbox (I’ve always been a box person)

Where I stand in 2012:

  • Skype (use often to friends globally, notably for a job interview with Getty Images, conducting an interview about Spaced Education and on an iPad passing my brother and my nephews around a room of cousins between the UK and South Africa at Christmas)
  • Delicious (Still struggle, not least as I have more than one account and because I don’t see the need to bookmark anything as to Google is quicker and with cookies enabled takes me into my choices)
  • Outlook (formerly trained at the OU on Outlook – training on a 2010 version while we had a 2011 in our office. Still hate it having been raised on all things Mac. Outlook has the look, feel and functionality of Microsoft DOS c 1992)
  • Google Docs (Use as a store to aggregate content, sometimes to share, wiki-like with fellow OU students who are more up to date with the technology than I am)
  • Compendium (Can’t stand it – prefer a variety of free iPad Apps, including SimpleMinds, Bubl.us and several others).
  • Zoho (signed in and gave up)
  • Mahara (signed in a gave up)
  • Pebblepad (signed in and gave up – initially making do with the OU’s MyStuff, which has been discontinued. Find it easier to aggregate content, while I’m an OU Student in my OU Blog, then cut and paste into one or more WordPress blogs – I had 16 at the last count)
  • Adobe Share (Don’t have the budgets, may be of interest once back in a commercial office)
  • Internet Explorer (Never. Over the period have slowly migrated away from Firefox, like family, use Google Chrome almost exclusively)
  • Dropbox (Not really)
  • PicasaWeb – download for all images from camera, iPhone and iPad. Fix then post to some 50 albums, some with over 1000 images (the Picasa limit), pay for extra space. Uncertain or lack confidence though in degree of privacy, especially if screen grabs and other images are automatically uploaded to Google + images (same PicasaWeb account in a different format)

Where I stood in 2010 compared to 2012:

Old Software

  • Word (Yes, but far less often. I write far more often on the iPad using the AI Writer APP, emailing this to a PC to edit, or uploading into a blog to edit there)
  • Filemaker Pro (No longer. I ran it on Macs and iBooks from its inception but others don’t preferring of all things the ghastly Excel). Have Bento, baby FileMaker, on the iPad.
  • AOL (still with AOL, but prefer Gmail and still thinking about changing supplier to BT or Sky)
  • Power Structure (Didn’t upgrade, my iBook died and the software is on an rescued hard drive though I doubt it will work with a new operating system)
  • Final Draft (An excellent script writing tool though created for linear output)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Haven’t upgraded, making do with Picasa)
  • Dreamweaver (haven’t been near it, I never was a programmer type anyway, though cut my teeth in this in 2000)
  • Excell (A very reluctant user – just cannot see how this is used by some to create posters, or run a database that required large quantities of content in a cell. Filemaker Pro is better)

Blogs

  • Diaryland (Quite the thing in 1999). Locked forever. Up forever. Sometimes cut and paste. Always amusing to read posts on developments in web-based learning c. 1999
  • LiveJournal (Preferred by 2002). A stepping stone out of Diaryland.
  • WordPress (Expert) Over a dozen blogs, most notably Mymindbursts, though no longer a diary or journal, but a niche journal largely about e-learning, with subject interests including creative writing, philosophy, tertiary education, history (First War), online and distance education, theories of education. Also blogs on swim coaching and teaching, on the Machine Gun Corps, on the trials and tribulations of a househusband (from old diaries and blogs), on various fiction themes – but also a number of Books of Condolences, in 2011 for colleagues, but very sadly in 2012 for my mother too.
  • EduBlogs (No more)
  • Blogger (No longer)
  • OuBlog (Extensively for all Masters in Open and Distance Education modules, now on my fifth and final module. Daily reflection, updates, aggregating resources, screen clips, diagrams, images, snips from forums, links to other blogs, tagging to assemble content for assignment, re-blog with re-writes to external blogs. Use it like an e-portfolio with CVs and job descriptions here too.)
  • Blipfoto (A picture a day for four or five months – until I have my iPhone to my son. I make do with an iPad and prefer a cheap phone to have kicking around in my pocket or bag … and to avoid being online when out on the South Downs walking the dog!)

Social Networking

  • Facebook (Love hate. Great to be in touch with immediate family and trusted friends only. Got some groups going with boys I knew age 8-13 at boarding prep school. Got out of hand when a relation fell very ill and died as to the appropriateness of sharing our concerns and grief online. Inclined to disengage – do so only to find I am still there?)
  • MySpace (Never, though I am there)
  • Friends Reunited (Never since they started to charge, or since they came back)
  • Linkedin (extensive, professional use with several hundred contacts and activity in many groups. Feed blog content into Linkedin automatically, tailor some content for specific groups, particularly relating to e-learning for corporates and tertiary education)
  • Twitter (extensive, professional use. Did use TweetReach and various other tools. URLs shortened from WordPress, will use Bitl.y)

Other

  • Flickr (Used to use extensively – migrated all content to Picasa as Flickr tried to socialize the space and I found my pictures being offered for sale!)
  • Kodak Easyshare (Rescued 500 of 700 uploaded photos and migrated to Picasa before Kodak closed)
  • YouTube (Should be making extensive use of YouTube. Starting to digitise 40 hours of Oxford Undergraduate life 1982-1984. With permissions will migrate clips to the web in due course.)
  • Picasa (my favourite now, the teenagers are on Instagram and Tumnblr)
  • Ancestry.com (Covered every conceivable ancestor as far back as is possible online. Could make use of the 2011 census to track down a great aunt but not inclined to fork out anymore or to deal with spurious requests from people so off the map in terms of the family tree it is verging on trainspotting.)
  • Genes Reunited (as above. Not been near it) Of minor interest at a family funeral to figure out who were the common ancestors – both gentleman born in the 1870s it turned out!

Browsers

  • Firefox (very rarely, probably in erro)
  • AOL (winding up here for the last 18 months, should have got out long ago.)
  • GoogleChrome (Almost exclusively)
  • Internet Explorer (avoided at all costs)

What’s new?

For the last 18 months extensive use of an iPad and associated Apps, so much so that it is the replacement laptop and even covers as a mobile phone as people know to email me.

Trying to do my final MAODE module on the iPad.

Proving remarkably easy to do so.

Very versatile, especially where resources can be downloaded as PDFs, even to read in Kindle version. Read from the Kindle, note take on the iPad and post online.

Books. We no longer buy them. Is a garage full of wonderful hardbacks worth anything? Glad I never bothered to put up shelves.

Magazines and newspapers. All redundant. Only kept the Guardian on Saturday to have something to line the guinea-pig hutch, when they went so did the newspaper!

TV. Rarely ever watched live. Prefer BBC iPlayer. Exception being the Olympics and Paralympics.

Pen and paper. I do. An A5 notebook and pen. Though prefer to type up notes as I go along.

Twitter Share. Reading an eBook and sharing a line or two with a note directly into Twitter. This aggregates content in an editable format and alerts ‘followers’ to a good read – usually on learning, education, e-learning, also on social media, story writing and the First World War. Sometimes some great out of copyright literature.

What’s your ‘personal learning environment’ or PLE? Is it like Facebook? Will it change with fashion?

Fig 1. MY PLE

First Half 2012 (earlier PLEs in the blog here)

The blogs, Picasa, increasingly eBooks from Kindle on a Kindle and the iPad. Tweeted. This locates like-minds but also provides my notes in my Twitter feed. Google as ubiquitous as QWERTY. Facebook for social/family; Linkedin for work related groups, interests and contacts (e-learning, corporate communications)

My OU Blog in the student environment and its mirror my external blog in WordPress IS a blog, learning journal, e-portfolio, forum and deposit. It can be a link to ‘like-minds’ too (and job opportunities)

I want an article I cut and paste the reference in Google.

If I can’t have it I repeat this in the OU Library resource fist by title, then by author. I find I can, almost without exception, read whatever takes my interest. Brilliance for the curious and ever-hungry mind.

Increasingly I photo and screen grab everything, manipulate in Picasa then load online where I can file, further manipulate and share. A better e-portfolio and an e-portfolio as it is image based. My e-learning folder tops 350+ images.

When busy on an OU Module the ‘OU Learning Environment expands to fill 1/3rd of the screen: the learning journey, resources, activities and student forums are my world for 6-9 months’.

In truth I need to video my activity and then do a time in motion audit. Tricky as I don’t have a laptop or desktop anymore. All is done (most) on the move on an iPad or iPhone. I ‘borrow’ my son’s desktop when he’s at school or early mornings on my wife’s laptop. Which explains why EVERYTHING is online, I could go to the library or an Internet cafe and work just as well.

‘A university in my pocket’?

Or ‘a university in the clouds’, literally as envisaged in the 1960s by Michael Young et al and featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The New Elizabethans’ (in association with the Open University of course)

  • A pivotal role in the creation of the welfare state
  • Groundbreaking work as a social scientist in the East End
  • His creation of the Open University

P.S. Which reminds me: the Open University was devised for those with a fraction of the opportunities I have had so I need to treat it with huge respect.

Fig 2. My PLE July 2011

A year on my choice of blogs has greatly reduced. I still access Diaryland as it has 1,700+ entries to draw upon from 1999 to 2006. StumbleUpon I still use and need to add to the current PLE. I don’t go near Xing. I haven’t indicated the digital tools, the hardware I use to access this (these) online resources.

But what’s more important, the phone or the conversation?

Yes, I dip into Wikipedia but frequently I scroll down for alternative equally valid answers from the long established sources that have finally got themselves online. TED lectures I’ve missed out too. I must watch several a month.

I haven’t add family and friends because where they are part of my world, increasingly online through Facebook, they are not directly part of my PLE.

However, it would be foolish to ignore the vital role family and the context of family, community and school play in learning.

FURTHER LINKS TO MY OPEN UNIVERSITY STUDENT BLOG ON PLEs

Virtual Learning Environments vs. Personal Learning Environments

Virtual Learning Environments or Personal Learning Environments

Google+

Technology Mediated Learning Spaces

The reality check. Must PLEs be technology enables to qualify as PLE?

The Challenge Facing Course Design 1997 vs. 2012

What’s wrong with educational social networking?

My Personal Learning Environment (2011)

Sometimes only paper will do

Digital Housekeeping. Recording everything.

Technology Enhanced Learning End of Module Images / Visualisation

Technology Enhanced Learning End of Module Assignment Course Specifics

What’s wrong with Educational Social Networking? (EDU)

H800: Technology Enhanced Learning. An online module from the Open University

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