Archive for the ‘Digital Identities’ Category

Digital Scholarship

April 18th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

I have recently had a series of conversations with Cristina Costa on ideas around digital scholarship (we might even publish something together on this in the future!). And by luck I found this interesting presentation by Cristobal Cobo Romaní. The presnetation is based on a paper he has written. Cristobal says on his blog: “Widespread access to digital technologies has enabled digital scholars to access, create, share, and disseminate academic contents in innovative and diversified ways. Today academic teams in different places can collaborate in virtual environments by conducting scholarly work on the Internet. Two relevant dimensions that have been deeply affected by the emergence of digital scholarship are new facets of knowledge generation (wikis, e-science, online education, distributed R&D, open innovation, open science, peer-based production, online encyclopedias, user generated content) and new models of knowledge circulation and distribution (e-journals, open repositories, open licenses, academic podcasting initiatives, etc.).:

Wales history online

May 31st, 2012 by Graham Attwell

People’s memories of watching television footage of some of the most significant events in Wales from 1950 – 2000, can now be viewed on a new website funded by Jisc for researchers, teachers and the general public.

Historical events such as the Aberfan disaster in 1966, the Miners’ Strike in 1984 and the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 are some of the important events to have been documented and placed on the website, created by Aberystwyth University as part of Jisc’s investment in opening up valuable content online.

As well as interviews with contributors and film footage the website, which is called Media and Memory in Wales, also includes maps, documents and photographs.

Why Facebook IPO debacle may be good news

May 29th, 2012 by Graham Attwell

The Facebook IPO was very interesting for a number of reasons.

Facebook has managed to screw everybody. Firstly they persuaded us to sign over our data to them and then made a fortune out of selling it to others! And then they sold that model to investors a vastly over-hyped price.

At the end of the day Facebook has little market value, other than selling our data to advertisers. But in this they face three big challenges. The first is to actually get us to buy anything from Facebook ads. OK – I am pretty advert resistant. In fact I don’t actually ‘see’ most adverts. But if I do want to buy something, I certainly don’t go to Facebook. Like mots of us, I guess, I use a search engine. lately I have been using DuckDuckGo for the very reason that it doesn’t track my data, but if I use Google then very occasionally I might look at the sponsored results. More often though, I will buy a travel ticket and then find as a result of Google tracking, Guardian newspaper ads are advertising flight tickets to places I have already bought one for!

But back to Facebook. Their second challenge is getting us all to agree to open up our data. And that means relaxing privacy controls. So Facebook goes through a circle of relaxing privacy – leading to protests – and then having to produce new controls as a result.

But possibly more important in the long run is a commercial problem. Much of the protests around the IPO was that the banks behind the share release gave information to big customers which was withheld from smaller investors. And the main point of this was that Facebook are having problems selling adverts for the mobile version of the social networking site.

My guess is that it is not just Facebook. Whilst we can happily ignore advertising on a big screen, it becomes invasive and annoying on a mobile device. Quite simply users don’t like it.

Since Facebook’s financial model is built on selling targeted advertising and more and more people are using mobile devices to access the site, this is bad news for them. But what is bad news for Facebook (and Facebook investors) may be good news for the rest of us. It may force developers to move away from a model of selling our data to advertisers and look for more sustainable and – dare I say it – more people friendly and socially responsible business models.

 

Visitors and Residents

December 13th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

David White (University of Oxford) and Dr. Lynn Silipigni Connaway (OCLC) have been attracting quite a stir with their JISC-funded work on Visitors and Residents: What Motivates Engagement with the Digital Information Environment?, being undertaken as part of the Developing Digital Literacies programme webinar series.

Slides, audio and a recording of the Blackboard Collaborate session where they presented some of the findings of their work can be found at http://bit.ly/jiscdiglitvr.

Mobility Shifts

October 18th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I was in New York last Friday presenting at a panels session at the Mobility Shifts Conference on In, Against and beyond the Institution. The panel was chaired by Mike Neary and comprised of myself, Josie Fraser, Richard Hall and Joss Winn. Somewhat surprisingly to me some 15 people turned up despite it being scheduled at se4ven o’clock on a Friday evening.

Joss presented the  Student as Producer project which re-imagines students role in the design, development, and critique of the curriculum. The process of teaching learning is decoupled from traditional power relationships so students become an integral part of the governance of an institution rather than solely its customer (there is a paper available on this written by Joss together with Mike Neary.

Richard considered how students and teachers might dissolve the symbolic power of the University into the actual, existing reality of protest, in order to engage with a process of transformation (for more see his blog).

Josie talked about the transformative aspects of digital literacy. And I looked at changing pedagogies in work based learning and developmental competence – the capacity of the individual to acquire and demonstrate the capacity to act on a task and the wider work environment in order to adapt, act and shape (design) it.

All good stuff. I found some of the ideas hard – and we certainly did not reach any conclusions. But the very fact that we are having such discussions – and the renewed interest in critical pedagogy – is testimony both of the crisis which pervades our univeristies and the growing opposition and questioning of the purpose and organisation of education including the role of researchers and teachers. To that extent I think the title – In, Against and Beyond – is helpful in linking the attempts to transform practices and roles within universities to growing protest movements outside the institutions – including the many initiatives – particularly in the UK – to explore alternative structures to the established universities.

More on this when I am less tired. in the meantime Doug Belshaw has written a  series of excellent blogs talking about some of the many wide ranging discussions which took place at Mobility Shifts.

Pedagogic Approaches to using Technology for Learning – Literature Review

May 31st, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The proliferation of new technologies and internet tools is fundamentally changing the way we live and work. The lifelong learning sector is no exception with technology having a major impact on teaching and learning. This in turn is affecting the skills needs of the learning delivery workforce.

Last September, together with Jenny Hughes I undertook a literature review on new pedagogical approaches to the use of technologies for teaching and learning. You can access the full (86 pages) document below.

The research was commissioned by LLUK to feed into the review then being undertaken of teaching qualifications in the Lifelong Learning sector in the UK. The review was designed to ensure the qualifications are up to date and will support the development of the skills needed by the modern teacher, tutor or trainer.

However, we recognised that the gap in technology related skills required by teaching and learning professionals cannot be bridged by qualifications alone or by initial training and a programme of opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) is also needed to enable people to remain up to date.

The literature review is intended to

  • identify new and emerging pedagogies;
  • determine what constitutes effective use of technology in teaching and learning
  • look at new developments in teacher training qualifications to ensure that they are at the cutting edge of learning theory and classroom practice
  • make suggestions as to how teachers can continually update their skills.

Pedagogical Appraches for Using Technology Literature Review January 11 FINAL 1

Super injunctions and digital identities

May 16th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The UK press has becoem obsessed with the issue of press freedom and super injunctions. the so called super injunctions not only legally ban the press from reporting about a particular person or issue, but also ban them from stating that such an injuction exists. But such draconian legal measures have become somewhat ineffective in the face of social network services like twitter which do not recognise UK borders or to that matter injunctions.

However the debate is confused, not least because of the UK press obsession with chatter about the private lives of celebreties. Ordinary people have no access to legal redress to ban press reports. And the real issue is not so much privacy but our abilities and rights to control our own digital identities. And that debate will not go away.

E-portfolios – taking learning out of the shoebox: a reply to Donald Clark

April 1st, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The ever provocative Donald Clarke has posted an interesting article – E-Portfolios – 7 reasons why I don’t want my life in a shoebox. It has sparked off a lively debate with Simon Grant wading in to defend E-Portfolios.

Clarke makes two key points in his argument. The first regards lifelong learning:

People do not see themselves as ‘learners’, let alone ‘lifelong learners’. It’s a conceit, as only educators see people as learners. Imagine asking an employer – how many learners do you have? People are individuals, fathers, mothers, employees, lawyers, bus drivers, whatever….but certainly not learners. That’s why an e-portfolio, tainted with ‘schooling’ will not catch on. By and large, most adults see school as something they leave behind and do not drag along with them into adulthood.

Of course he is right, but there are two ways to look at the idea of lifelong learning. And I do not think this new paradigm of the lifelong learner is a conceit of educators but rather is a policy directive. In a fast changing economy and a period of rapid changes in technology and working practices the drive of such policies is to say that we should all be involved in learning for all of our lifetimes to ensure we are employable and have up to date skills and knowledge etc. etc. This is part of a longer term debate over who pays for education and whose responsibility is it for maintaining our ability to find jobs. In this scenario, unemployed people only have themselves to blame for having no job. If they had maintained their skills they would now be able to find employment. It is indeed a conceit – or rather a deceit – but one which is ideological in intent. But of course educators are being coerced to make this happen.

But there is a second way to look at the idea of lifelong learning. We all learn to a greater or lesser extent every day. Not from the schooling system but through work and play, through informal learning. Of course we do not recognise that as learning and often would not identify ourselves as learners. And then the issue is how that learning can be recognised societally. Not through ‘my life in a shoebox’ but precisely my life outside the shoebox of formal certification and records of achievement.

And coming back to Donald’s shoebox – is this anything new? Prior to e-Portfolios, we all kept bundles of certificates and formal qualifications – indeed often in a shoebox. e-Portfolios have the potential to free us from such restrictions and such narrow ways of looking at learning.

But I agree with Donald when he says:

Media are linked on the web and cannot be easily stored in a single entity or within a single entity, so the boundaries of a real e-portfolio are difficult to define, and will change. An e-portfolio would have to cope with my social networks but they are proprietary. Information wants to be free fiscally and ontologically. We want to be part of all sorts of expansive and variously porous networks, not boxed in.

E-portfolio systems – as they have been conceived – have often been proprietary – despite Simon Grant’s and others’ best efforts to promote interoperability standards. Even that is not the main problem. The main issue is that our digital identity and thus the story of  our personal achievement is scattered across the web. E-portfolios have firstly tended to overly value (and prescribe) formal learning and achievement and secondly have failed to allow us to present our digital presence and life stories in any meaningful way.

Then arises the issue of whether all the effort (and money) expended on e-portfolios has been wasted. On the whole I think not. e-Portfolios is merely a term which was used to encompass the research and development of new forms of technology beyond the VLE – what we now often call Personal Learning Networks or Personal Learning Environments. Perhaps the term e-portfolio is no longer relevant. But that work maintains its coherence and validity. That we have moved on from earlier developments is unsurprising. The use of computers in business and entertainment and for all kinds of other uses is hardly a slow moving field. We cannot expect the use of technology for learning to be any different.

There is one part of Donald’s article with which I would disagree. He talks of a ‘recruitment myth’ saying:

I spent a lot of time recruiting people and what I needed wasn’t huge, overflowing e-portfolios, but succinct descriptions and proof of competences. If by e-portfolio you mean and expanded CV with links to your blog and whatever else you have online, fine. But life is too short to consider the portfolios of hundreds of applicants. Less is more.

In my experience employers are precisely wanting to move away form formal competences to learn what people can do. One Romanian CEO in an advertising company told me he would not employ anyone who did not have an active web presence. Many employers – especially in small enterprises – just Google someone to find out more about them. So yes, I do think we need an application which allows us easily to create an expanded (digital) CV with links to whatever we have online. We do not really have such an application at the moment. If this is to be called an e-portfolio or something else does not matter.

Finally I think Donald disproves his own point when he says:

I can see their use in limited domains, such as courses and apprenticeships, but not in general use, like identity cards.

It seems to me Donald’s “limited domains” are pretty broad. Of course the use of any software, educational or otherwise, is contextual. Contextual in place and time and contextual in terms of why and how we use it. And those are some of the main issues for those wishing to explore the future of e-portfolios or whatever else we call them!

Identities, relationships and on-line spaces

March 15th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

Interesting post by Karen Romeis on identities.

Karyn says:

I have noticed that some of the people with whom I have both and on- and off-line relationship are competent at conducting a single relationship in two spaces. Others less so. In some cases, there is a strange split. There is one relationship going on online and another offline, and that it seems to be ‘not done’ to break that wall…….In cases where people pursue two separate relationships with me, I have come to regard that as a sign of an inability to assimilate an online space into an existing relationship. An indication that there is a level of maturity still to be gained. By and large, this two relationship experience tends to be restricted to those for whom social media tools are little more than toys.

I am not sure it is as simple as that. We are increasingly morphing the digital into all aspects of our lives. But at the same time – just in the way the environment shapes our face to face relationships – then digital tools intermediate digital relationships. And I think that we all have different identities. Such identities are mediated by environments. And I am unsure that it is simple to just ‘assimilate’ an online space into an existing relationship. That on-line space surely mediates the nature of the relationship – off and online. In the comments on her post Karyn says when she talks about maturity she is referring to the maturity of the digital environments we use. But I can see more ‘mature’ digital environments – for instance augmented reality – further enhancing our different identities – rather than leading to a single identity – on or off-line.

Thye social web – a huge shopping mall?

January 18th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

The Facebook privacy arguments won’t go away. In part this is because as a society we are having to rethink what we mean by personal privacy and how much we are prepared to live our lives openly on the net.

And it is also in part because Facebook are keepi9ng the pressure on for ever more disclosure of data. last weekend Facebook announced that it had expanded the information users are able to share with external websites and applications, to include home addresses and mobile phone numbers. True, this had to be authorised but as is often the case the interfaces for doing this were less than clear. In the event Facebook backed off and on Monday announced they were rethinking this feature. But they will be back.

In one of a series of articles she has written on Facebook in the Guardian newspaper, Jemina Kiss explains Facebook’s motivation:

Facebook’s future – if it is to meet the increasingly inflated aspirations of its “incentivised” investors – is to use a combination of its scale and the acres of intimate information it holds about all of us to find the real money in targeted advertising. The strategy is to gradually open our personal data more and more, making open information the norm, desensitising us to any uncomfortable feelings we might have had about our personal data being released into the wild.

And in turn Facebook’s incentivised investors are driven by the aspirations of Facebook to control the social web and eat into Google’s search driven advertising revenue.

This raises a big question. If ‘social’ is indeed the future of the web, do we necessarily have to give over control to a bunch of investors. Is the web just to become one big shopping mall. Or indeed, is that what it is becoming already?

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