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You wouldn’t necessarily know it was a wiki either, rather it is a shared document held online with secure access by a group of people collaborating on a complex project.
The roles are well-defined, as clear as those on a film production team (with similar titles):
- Senior Production Manager
- Production Manger
- Learning Design
and so on
New to an e-learning office I find I am permanently online adding to a massive, collaborative wiki which is the e-learning course with its plethora of inputs.
Email rarely comes into it, why should it?
Wikis are lean production, they operate ‘just in time’ with each cell responsible for picking up their task as it best suits them.
The Open University provide an OU Student Blog platform, which you are required to use for some modules to build up reflective practice, they also provide a portfolio called MyStuff in which to dump stuff.
As portfolios either system can be used to aggregate content that can be shared, offered with restricted access or kept private.
I have been on the Masters in Open & Distance Education (MAODE) for two years, we have to give blogs, portfolios, wikis and other tools a go.
The interesting thing is to see how it plays out in practice during these MAODE modules.
I can cite failures as well as extraordinary successes.
Like learning to do anything new people/teams need to accept that at first they are getting into the sandpit to play.
Letting go of inhibition is tricky, academics in particular find it very hard to touch the words of another person.
The trick, I find, is to think of myself as a writing team, that the words that appear as text might just as well be a conversation around a meeting room table. Over time the ‘script’ will be bounced around.
- A wiki needs to be ‘populated’ with some text, ‘seeded’ by someone just so that there are some ingredients to get started on.
- Don’t fuss about spelling, grammar or even the accuracy of ideas that you present. Indeed, the rougher the initial input, even the presence of easy to fix mistakes, the more likely someone will dip their toe in the water and fix the obvious. The polished whole should be the product of the group enterprise.
- The magic isn’t the finished result, but the ability with current tools to trace back and forth through the ‘narrative’ of changes. In Google Docs you can contribute using different colour text which makes this ‘animation’ all the more easy to read. I found I got a fantastic sense of the thinking process, the logical changes, the ebb and flow, the occasional false trail corrected.
Have a go in Wikipedia
I was surprised how easily I signed in as an editor, found I subject I knew something about and jumped in with text and images. This felt like the first time I swam in a 50m pool.
My conclusion, shared amongst fellow students, is that the ‘modern’ blog platform, such as WordPress offers all of this, as in a wonderfully simple, bulletin board kind of way the OU’s own blog offering.
Six categories of eportfolio:
1) Assessment – used to demonstrate achievement against some criteria.
2) Presentation – used to evidence learning in a persuasive way, often relate to professional qualifications
3) Learning – used to document, guide and advance learning over time
4) Personal development – related to professional development and employment
5) Multiple owner– allow more than one person to participate in development of content
6) Working – combine previous types, with one or more eportfolios and also a wider archive.
Three kinds of e-portfolio (Matt Villano):
(A note on blogging. Spurred to say something about wikis based on my current experience in an international e-learning business with 70+ offices around the world I refer to the OU Student Blog I have kept since February 2010. Amongst its 1000+ pages there are 23 tags to wiki, or I can search ‘wiki’ in the blog. This reaches out to any notes I have taken during the FOUR modules I have thus far completed, where wikis, amongst many Web 2.0 tools are carefully introduced and discussed at length drawing on academic papers, the course content, input from out tutor, my student group and from the student cohort on this module who contribute to the vibrant asynchronous conversations in the various social learning environments offered).
I had an interview in London that by fortuitous timing ties directly into the H808 ECA (end of course assessment) that I have to complete and upload in the next 13 hours. What is more, every part of the MA in Open in Distance Education with the OU would have some application to the role for which I’d applied. Personal Development Planning (PDP), the subject of the ECA, would be important too, indeed it is a vital component of ‘learner-driven’ or ‘learner-centred’ education. Successful, engaged, pumping PDP is at the heart of e-learning – people must be motivated to take the initiative, to drive their learning while others support them in every way they can with appropriate resources, many of which will be ‘electronically enabled,’ i.e. ‘e-learning’.
I have a draft of the ECA written, the choices of evidence have been made, collated and labelled.
I’ve already uploaded a draft so feel confident that the ETA system will handle whatever else I do.
I had the file, rather more chunky printed out and clipped into an Arch-Lever Folder than on a memory stick or zipped on the laptop so that I could review it on the train journey in and out of London. I like paper; things need to be expressed in other ways that via a QWERTY keyboard. It helps to talk, to discuss, to animate your thoughts with your hands even … as we shall see.
On the way into town I find myself sitting with a friend who is 18 months into the Creative Writing course at Sussex University and was having a second interview with a literary agent; our respective career paths were shared. He is a professional photographer who has an online resource of stock photos targeted at UK Councils. I don’t look at the ECA.
The interview, like so much I now do, is duly reflected upon, though for reasons of privacy not here as an open blog. This debrief, this self-assessment, served a dual purpose, at the front of my mind, of course, is the possible outcome and responses to the interview. And notes on how and where I felt it went well, or not so well, for future reference and to judge what improvements I might make when attending such interviews in future and how to compose my written thanks when I reply.
I recognise the purpose and value of reflection and make the time to do so
At the back of my mind, of course, as we talk, is the ECA.
Coming to the end of the interview process I felt compelled to share this sketch to add conviction to my belief that Personal Development Planning is ‘at the heart of things’.
I did this earlier today to get a handle on how in one shot I now see PDP, not as a self-contained ‘do it and move on unit’ at the start of a course, but at the heart of what you do: at the beginning, the end, everything in between … and beyond. (And yes, you should hear Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) saying it!).
It was somewhat evangelical of me, but I feel passionate about it. I believe it as a consequence of my own personal experience and from others who take this approach.
Reflection with a second person can help; it is natural that my wife would take an interest in the day’s events. This is invaluable, and is a form a assessment. However, where I find I become increasingly animated regarding PDP is that I felt I still hadn’t got it right, that had I seen myself in that meeting what was I doing with my hands? What else was I trying to express? Sometimes recording an interview to look over it afterwards has advantages. You need to be winkling away to find ideas and inspiration.
I’d mentioned life-long learning, that PDP can benefit both your career, how you organise a hobby, even family life.
And then I remembered this:
My interpretation, visualised, of what life-long means from H807.
The problem I have with my sketch of ‘PDP at the heart of things’ is that it loops back on itself, there is no suggestion of improvement, of advancement.
I toss around further ideas like a board game, the PDP process being, for example, what happens every time you ‘Pass Go’ in Monopoly. Then I imagined climbing up a helter-skelter, or fairy-lights around a tree. I thought too about Kolb’s cycle of development … and then, as I was standing up waving my hands about I got it … a great analogy would be of a glider catching a thermal and rising in a series of circles.
‘A load of hot air.’ My wife remarked, laughing.
And yes, I could imagine giving a presentation and a heckler saying exactly that – so I’d have to have a reply prepared. (Be prepared for anything)
With this in mind I set to work.
Earlier this week I threatened to photograph myself standing next to the family washing-line with my evidence pegged out. This is how I said I would make my choices and write the assignment. As it was raining instead I got a roll of wall-paper backing paper and stuck it to the bedroom wall with masking tape; I would draw my washing line. I have just taken this down and taped it vertically.
At the bottom I draw this.
Then I go for this.
In a live presentation I would draw this from scratch on the largest sheet I could find, talking my way through it, seeking input, offering explanations.
As a video-asset I would lock off an overhead camera and draw it onto a sheet of A3 paper, possibly over a lightbox, and then use EFX to speed it up. I would then add a voice over.
There are many other ways to play with it to varying degrees of simplicity (authenticity) or elaboration. Not least by using stock footage of a glider or Condor or some such catching a thermal with labels tagged onto the video archive footage as it played out. Indeed, going from the basic sketch it might be better still to invite course participants to create their own expression of this PDP as an ascending cycle – say playfully spinning around in front of camera with a balsa-wood model glider with the person’s name on it! Fun is good. Originality is good. personalization is good. This makes it memorable without needing it as an APP or an electronic alert.
The conclusion I find as convincing as the process.
The process here includes reflection, blogging, collaboration … and could in due course include video, podcasting, presentation and moderation.
As I was able with ease to add every aspect of H808 onto this simple diagram I felt I had reached an important point, not least vindicating my methodology that might look as if it is depends on technology, but does not. Often the route to get an idea from the mind into the public domain is via face-to-face discourse, a few movements of the arms, then reaching for pen and paper.
This diagram can be draw it up differently depending on the context.
This implied versatility suggests it effectiveness.
PDP as indicated here suggests a set period to repeat or revisit the process … this ought to be expressed to occur every quarter, rather than after every cycle as suggested here with loops that might represent a typical OU unit of two weeks and the activities one engages with along the way.
A productive day then.
An OU Blog, Wiki, Forum and E-portfolio should fit like four pieces of lego. They should not only look and feel part of the same family, but their functionality should be very closely matched. In this way, operating to the strengths of each, improved engagement by students would result.
Courtesy of Google and on the hunt for a quote that goes something along the lines of ‘analogies taught the world to think,’ I stumbled across the Quote Garden.
What strikes me is my feeling that the time engaged with the medium of the Internet is not a boast that it is wise to make, that it is counter-intuitive, that the best ideas are more likely to come from someone who got access to a computer with a broadband connection for the first time a few months ago and is bouncing out ideas like a sparkling Catherine-wheel that’s come un-nailed.
Wherein lies the dilemma for every creative working in this field – or pond, or my favourite analogy … in this ‘digital ocean.’
If the likes of Google and Facebook have gone from minnows to sharks, to leviathans worthy of the era of the dinosaurs, when does something new come along like a water-born virus and kill them off?
Or are Google, Facebook, Amazon an eBay vast shoals, even a branded variety of species now that are less vulnerable to such attack?
Faced with three deadlines over the next ten days what do I do? Something else.
I like something else, these sparks.
Where was I?
Working on a piece about wikis. I wish this were a wiki. I like them. They suit me. I will be an engaged participant, a catalyst, a stirrer-upper … though not necessarily an initiator or completer, because serendipity engages me and distraction takes me off again.
What does that make me in this digital ocean?
One of these?
Who are you?
Go fishing and post your fishy-self image in the comment box!
- Something happened.
I don’t like the way text is sometimes displayed here. Simple HTML coding. I may have prepared notes in word that I paste here and find large gaps between headings and paragraphs. Hardly a coding nightmare but I resist any attempt to drill into the code because it reminds me of the barrier I hit in 1999 or 2000 creating web pages in Dreamweaver.
- What happened?
On reaching a barrier rather than seeking a way beyond it, I may give up. A little disingenuous that, I started a producer job in a web agency where coding was done by programmers and there was an IT guy who made sure the computers sang. Code was not my domain. Nor was IT.
- So what?
Fine in an office, but of yo and your wife work from home you cannot keep hiring in the ‘Lewes Computer Guy’ when something goes wrong. Time was I felt on top of some of the basic fixes, so when did it all become too much? Time was you could lift the bonnet of a car and see the problem, now you need to plug in a laptop and run through the diagnostics.
- Now what?
Though it hardly makes me tech savvy I am opening up the HTML codes on these pages and deleting lines creating breaks between paragraphs. The patterns are surprisingly easy to spot. Immediately I’m taken back to lines of colour coded commands. My way to differentiate the code.
My wife said I’m the kind of guy who thinks they can run a marathon on day one having done little exercise. She has a point. My impatience can be my later undoing. When I aim too far, or too high and fail I may give up. I may make excuses that ‘this isn’t me and do something else. The answer is to take things in gradual, incremental stages.
Is this reflection? Do I need to show ‘my workings?’ How hard can this be to translate into the H808 reflection tasks relating to course wikis and e-portfolios?
On this basis, like it or not, I can tackle a new platform or piece of software from scratch. If I want to be an ‘e-learning professional’ taking command of a variety of tools for my sake, and for that of my clients and/or students, will be crucial.
It also matters that I have in my mental tool-box a simple method of self-analysis that serves its purpose for the MA ODE and its modules, and becomes second nature.
- Something happened.
- What happened?
- So what!
- Now what?
Of the six or seven in the group only four have made their presence known, while three have done all the reading which is meant to be shared across the group. People seem to think it is easier to get on with the task alone, rather than expect others (strangers) to do their bit.
Whether and when we should populate our Wiki wasn’t decided, or was … and then someone started posting anyway. I then added something and so did another.
Sharing notes with anyone fails, either they are too busy or not reading their emails. In any case, they should be making their own.
A few hours in the dead of night were spent refreshing our Group Wiki to cut out duplications and to create some order in the information.
It matters that you don’t feel coy; whatever you do can be undone and is visible in any case. I liken this to building a snowman,though instead of a family and neighbours in the park together, we are inclined to do a bit more in passing.
I then posted data from two further reports, BECTA and the JISC reports.
Training as a TV producer I picked up some skills editing, writing and directing. A project was never too small that a person fulfilling each of these tasks wasn’t required. Indeed, the ‘one man band’ was frowned upon. Some TV crews were still unionised so you had a cameraman, assistant and sound engineer, minimum. Today in TV production a producer may not only direct and write, but operate the camera and edit the piece. To be a TV professional in 2010 you need this variety of skills. I do. I did the courses. Camera, editing … even six months as a sound engineer.
- Google Docs
- Google Wave
- Adobe Acrobat
- FilmMaker Pro
- Windows Live