Archive for the ‘socialnetworking’ Category

The PLE2010 Conference unKeynote

June 28th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Alec Couros and Graham Attwell have been paired together as co-keynotes at the PLE Conference in Barcelona, Spain, July 8-9. The organizers have asked us to do something different than a typical keynote, so we have been thinking about an unKeynote format. In keeping with the theme of the conference (PLEs), we’re hoping that individuals in our network would be willing to help us frame what this might look like.

How the Session is Going to Work:
We have put together a  a list of questions (see below) and are inviting your responses. We will put together a joint presentation based on your slides.

We will present the ‘keynote’ together but will be encouraging participants – both face to face and remotely – to contribute to the keynote as it develops.

Where We Need Help:

  1. We’d like you to respond to one or more of these ‘key questions’ found below. We suggest responding through the creation of a (PowerPoint) slide, or creating a very short video (less than 1 minute?). Or, if you can think of another way of representing your ideas, please be creative.
  2. We’d like you to provide questions for us. What did we miss? What are some of the important questions for consideration when exploring PLEs/PLNs in teaching & learning.
  3. Please send your responses to graham10 [at] mac [dot] com (and you may cc: couros [at] gmail [dot] com) by July 6/10.

Key Questions:

  1. With all of the available Web 2.0 tools, is there a need for “educational technology”?
  2. What are the implications of PLEs/PLNs on traditional modes/structures of education?
  3. What are the key attributes of a healthy PLE/PLN?
  4. What pedagogies are inspired by PLEs (e.g., networked learning, connected learning)? Give examples of where PLEs/PLNs have transformed practice.
  5. What are the implications of PLEs/PLNs beyond bringing educational technology into the classroom, and specifically toward workplace/professional learning?
  6. If PLEs/PLNs are becoming the norm, what does it mean for teachers/trainers (or the extension: what does it mean for training teachers & trainers)?
  7. As our networks continue to grow, what strategies should we have in managing our contacts, our connections, and our attention? Or, extension, how scalable are PLEs/PLNs?
  8. Can we start thinking beyond PLEs/PLNs as models? Are we simply at a transitional stage? What will be the next, new model for learning in society? (e.g., where are we headed?)

Sieci spoleczne i Ning

June 21st, 2010 by Ilona Buchem

Rozmawiałam na Skypie z Markiem Hylą, założycielem i moderatorem sieci społecznej SzkoleniaXXIwieku na temat inicjowania i rozwijania sieci społecznych oraz o nowym modelu biznesowym Ning. Oto zapis naszej rozmowy.

IB: Jest Pan znany w Polskiej spolecznosci e-learningowej. Czym się Pan zajmuje zawodowo? W jaki sposób porusza się Pan na codzień w sieci?

MH: Zawodowo jestem menedżerem w firmie szkoleniowej – osobą odpowiedzialną za nowoczesne technologie w procesie szkoleń. Z sieci korzystam zarówno zawodowo, jak i pozazawodowo. Zresztą jak się nad tym zastanowić, to oba te zastosowania się ze sobą łączą. Trudno oddzielić ostrą kreską zawodowe i pozazawodowe korzystanie z sieci. No bo na przykład czy pisanie bloga to zastosowanie zawodowe, czy pozazawodowe? Albo korzystanie z LinkedIn? Albo z GoldenLine?

IB: A dlaczego założył Pan sieć społeczną www.SzkoleniaXXIwieku.pl?

MH: Chyba z kilku powodów. Po pierwsze dlatego, że postawiłem sobie za cel promowanie i rozwój rynku e-learningowego w Polsce. Po drugie dlatego, iż widziałem bardzo pozytywny wpływ na to jak jestem postrzegany przez książkę, którą napisałem, tzn. “Przewodnik po e-learningu“. Fakt bycia autorem bardzo dobrze wpłynął na mój osobisty brand (markę) na rynku, a blog był znacznie ciekawszą formą nawiązania kontaktu z osobami, zainteresowanymi tematem nauczania przez sieć. Warto też zauważyć, że nie bez powodu zacząłem pisać bloga na środowisku Ning, które pozwala właśnie na tworzenie społeczności, a nie po prostu na pisanie tekstów do poczytania. Zależało mi na tym, aby skupić ludzi, móc nawiązać z nimi kontakt.

IB: Dla kogo sieć www.SzkoleniaXXIwieku.pl jest przeznaczona? Dla kogo szczególnie interesująca? Kim są uczestnicy tej sieci i co im daje bycie jej częcią?

MH: Spolecznosc ta jest przeznaczona dla dwóch grup. Pierwsza grupa jest małoliczna – jedynym jej członkiem jestem ja sam :). Mówiąc poważnie – blog jest dla mnie, tak jak pamiętnik, takim miejscem, gdzie mogę zapisać “sam dla siebie” rzeczy ciekawe, interesujące, ważne z perspektywy czasu, potrzebne do lepszego zrozumienia zmian jakie dzieją się na rynku. Grupa druga – to oczywiście wszyscy uczestnicy sieci. Udało mi się osiągnąć mój początkowy cel – członkami społeczności jest dość szeroki przekrój osób zarówno z firm, instytucji administracji publicznej, szkół i uczelni. Są tu i dyrektorzy, i specjaliści, i wykładowcy akademiccy, i studenci. Mam nadzieję (i to, póki co moim zdaniem, jest wartością dla uczestników sieci), że to, co wydaje mi się interesujące i co zapisuję “sam dla siebie” może być również interesujące dla innych. SzkoleniaXXIwieku mają jednak charakter dość jednostronnego przekazu. Mimo tego, że można bloga komentować, że jest forum, to jednak głównie piszę ja, a inni czytają. Cóż, taka jest specyfika większości blogów…

IB: Tak, znam ten „problem”. Jakie tematy więc Pan porusza?

MH:  Inicjuję zagadnienie, które czasem trafiają na podatny grunt i budzą dyskusje. Poruszam tematy interesujące mnie, obejmujące przede wszystkim nowoczesne technologie szkoleniowe, styk człowiek – technologia, innowacje technologiczne, które mogą wpłynąć na nasze życie, na to w jaki sposób postrzegamy świat, w jaki sposób się uczymy (w bardzo szeroko pojętym tego słowa znaczeniu).

IB: Z pewnością chciałby Pan, aby więcej inicjatywy wykazywali uczestnicy, np. sami inicjowali nowe tematy lub więcej komentowali …

Myślę o tym, by spróbować w ciągu najbliższych miesięcy lepiej wykorzystać potencjał tych prawie 750 osób, które są członkami społeczności. Planuję, by celebrując 1000 osobę wprowadzić jakieś istotne zmiany w formule społeczności, np. bardziej otworzyć społeczność, złamać trochę formułę jednostronnej komunikacji na rzecz oddania trochę większego pola dla uczestników. Oczywiście wymagało to będzie znacznej pracy stymulacyjnej z mojej strony – ale postaram się tego dokonać. Zadowolony nie jestem, ale nie obrażam się na rzeczywistość. Wiem, że taka jest specyfika sieci, społecznościowych mediów. Wiem jednak, że w dużej liczbie osób, z którymi nawiązałem kontakt tkwi ogromny potencjał. Chcę ten potencjał spróbować wykorzystać. Dlatego zachęcam ludzi do uczestnictwa w społeczności, zostawiania swoich danych, tworzenia profili. Wiem jednocześnie, że działa to na moją niekorzyść jeżli chodzi o liczbę odwiedzin na blogu – utworzenie własnego profilu to jednak dla wielu osób pewna bariera …

IB: Jaka będzie Pana strategia? Jak chce Pan zaktywować członków społeczności?

MH: Jak to osiągnąć? Szczerze powiedziawszy jeszcze nie wiem. Muszę zaproponować coś ciekawego, coś co da wartość uczestnikom sieci. Może od czasu do czasu będziemy robić jakieś ciekawe badania ankietowe, albo będę wysyłać do wszystkich personalnego e-maila z prośbą o wsparcie inicjatywy. Może otworzę formułę społeczności tak, aby każdy jej uczestnik mógł pisać tutaj swojego bloga. Może otworzę grupy zainteresowań. To tylko kilka pomysłów…

IB: To ciekawie pomysły. A ma pan jakis model, wzór? Czy jest jakaś sieć społeczna, która jest dla Pana przykładem?

MH: Mam raczej kilka inspiracji. Ninga wybrałem zachęcony przez Elliotta Masie, który na tym środowisku otworzył “LearningTown“. Zobaczyłem, że można zbudować społeczność liczącą tysiące osób w skali światowej. Stamtąd też zaczerpnąłem np. pomysł grup zainteresowań. Śledzę rozwój różnych trendów w zakresie komunikacji społecznościowej. Na przykład zmiany na LinkedIn pokazują co się zmienia, na co stawiają znacznie bardziej doświadczeni w komunikacji gracze. Przykładem jest coraz bogatsze i lepsze poznawanie ludzi poprzez sieci społeczne. To już nie są tylko podstawowe dane, ale (jeżeli, oczywiście, jest taka wola członka społeczności) możliwość poznania jego gustów czytelniczych, planów podróży itp. Do tego dochodzi oczywiście, coraz doskonalszy profil doświadczeń zawodowych. Innymi słowy – sieci społeczne pozwalają na coraz lepsze zdefiniowanie siebie – z korzyścią zarówno dla siebie samego, np. poprzez lepsze szanse rekrutacyjne, oraz innych, np. poprzez sprawniejsze znalezienie osób, które mogą pomóc w realizacji zawodowych czy pozazawodowych celów.

IB: Moje następne pytanie odnosi się do Ning: Niedawno Ning ogłosił, że zamyka wszystkie swoje darmowe serwisy. Jak zareagowal Pan na ten nowy model biznesowy Ninga? W jaki sposób te zmiany wpłynęły na SzkoleniaXXIwieku?

MH: W zasadzie nie wpłynęło to w żaden sposób na SzkoleniaXXIwieku, gdyż od zawsze korzystam ze środowiska płatnego. Moja reakcja była ostrożnie pozytywna. Chciałbym wierzyć w to, że ruch Ning sprawi, iż serwis będzie lepszy, bogatszy w funkcje, sprawniej działający, z mniejszą liczbą błędów. Działa to, oczywiście, na niekorzyść osób, które założyły społeczności w modelu darmowym, niemniej mówi się coraz częściej o tym, że model wartościowych serwisów w Internecie za darmo zaczyna się kończyć. Nie mam nic przeciw płaceniu rozsądnych pieniądzy za wysoką wartość usług.  Na razie nie odczułem zmian, chyba na to za wcześnie. Pojawiły się wprawdzie jakieś nowe funkcje, ale nie nastąpiła żadna rewolucja.

IB: Na koniec proszę jeszcze powiedziec tym osobom, które same chciałayy założyc podobną sieć społeczną. Co jest ważne, jeżeli chce się (a) zainicjować i (b) umożliwić rozwój własnej sieci społecznej?

MH: Moim zdaniem – trzeba chcieć to robić DLA SIEBIE. Jeżeli liczy się na to, że każdego dnia będziemy mieli setki czy tysiące odwiedzających, to szybko się zniechęcimy. Trzeba starać się być regularnym w tym, co się robi. Jeżeli podejmiemy decyzję, że piszemy co tydzień, to róbmy to co tydzień. Jeżeli mamy to robić co trzy dni, to utrzymujmy ten rytm. Ja staram się każdego miesiąca opublikować kilkanaście wpisów na blogu. Trzeba określić i trzymać styl bloga. Tworzyć go tak, aby ten styl był spójny. Trzeba też rugować z sieci osoby, które nie są gotowe podporządkować się takiemu stylowi. Ja np. byłem zmuszony usunąć profil osoby, która miała nieodpowiednie dla stylu naszej sieci zdjęcie. Mam też praktykę witać indywidualną wiadomością każdego nowego członka społeczności. Raz na kilka dni przeglądam listę nowych członków i wysyłam takie powitanie. Poświęcam na te wszystkie zadania pewnie 2 godzin tygodniowo. To może wydawać się dużo, ale tak czy siak – pewnie połowę tego czasu i tak poświęcałbym na szukanie, czytanie raportów, analizy itp. To co robię dodatkowo to dzielenie się swoimi przemyśleniami z innymi. Nie robię tego czysto altruistycznie. Poprzez moje działania w sieci buduję moja osobistą markę. Moja marka pomaga mi w biznesie, określa mnie w sieci, buduje znacznie doskonalszy profil niż wszystkie LinkdIny razem wzięte.

IB: Dziekuję bardzo za rozmowe. Bardzo chętnie porozmawiam z Panem następnym razem na temat budowania własnej marki w sieci. To też bardzo ciekawy temat …

Digital Identity Matters

June 14th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Over the last two years I have been lucky to work on a project called Rhizome. Rhizome is a research and development project, funded by Eduserv, exploring the key social and technical elements that impact on the construction of online identities.

The Rhizome awareness report, published today and entitled ‘Digital Identity Matters’ highlights the issues we face when dealing with our online identities. It outlines the design pattern approach that has been used to help define a set of problems and their solutions that all relate to our understanding and use of a digital identity. The material is released as an open access resource and is aimed at contributing to a deeper understanding of digital identity and the impact it can have on the individual and those around them. It will be of relevance to anyone who uses the Internet to disclose personal information about themselves – be it purposefully through the use of social media tools or as a result of work-based professional activities. The report can be downloaded from the Rhizome project web site. The following text is an except from the introduction to the report.

“Our relationship with the Internet is changing. Mobile devices, wireless connectivity, and our increasing virtual presence across multiple social media services have all but collapsed the boundary between being online or offline. Together the virtual and the real form the seamless space in which many of us live out our daily lives. We fashion the self through social interaction, community and network affiliations, and here come to construct our identities as well as interpret the identity of others.
The ease with which individuals can now produce, reproduce and distribute digital content has powerfully shifted the ways in which we think about global connectedness, media access and distribution, social action and the production of knowledge.

Our ability to engage so readily with digital media and online networks is empowering but our resultant actions also make us vulnerable. We suffer the pressures of information overload, time management and, as we argue in this publication, the need to curate our increasingly visible digital lives. The Internet is not a set of static objects but a dynamic network of connected, interacting subjects.

How does our online visibility affect who we think we are and our ability to act with purpose and intent? How should we ethically respond to concerns about the impact of one person’s online behaviour upon the lives of others. These are two of the questions that are explored here.

We focus on a design pattern called ‘Putting Children First’ and two supporting case-stories that describe the dangers of using an online photo-sharing service. Together they illustrate the complexities of negotiating our responsibility to others when we are in the process of developing our own digital identities. This pattern offers a design solution for using social media in a thoughtful, literate and ethically responsible way.

One of the aims of this publication is to raise awareness and we hope you will distribute this material as widely as possible.”

Diaspora challenge to Facebook

May 13th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Sometimes it it is hard to see anything stopping Facebook ruling the world. But a few years ago it was hard to see anyone ever challenging My Space. And some of us can still remember Friends Reunited. Now the tide may be beginning to change against Facebook. It is Facebook’s own financial greed and their willingness to run roughshod over privacy rights which is threatening their hold.

A new generation of entrepreneurs are emerging with a very different vision and different technologies.

A report in today’s New York Times explains: “A few months back, four geeky college students, living on pizza in a computer lab downtown on Mercer Street, decided to build a social network that wouldn’t force people to surrender their privacy to a big business.” They go onto say: “They have called their project Diaspora* and intend to distribute the software free, and to make the code openly available so that other programmers can build on it. As they describe it, the Diaspora* software will let users set up their own personal servers, called seeds, create their own hubs and fully control the information they share. Mr. Sofaer says that centralized networks like Facebook are not necessary. “In our real lives, we talk to each other,” he said. “We don’t need to hand our messages to a hub. What Facebook gives you as a user isn’t all that hard to do. All the little games, the little walls, the little chat, aren’t really rare things. The technology already exists.”

Meanwhile Facebook itself is showing some signs of recognising the danger.  Nick O’Neill on the All Facebook web site says: “Facing increasing pressure from the media and users, Facebook has called an all hands meeting tomorrow afternoon, at 4 PM Pacific, to discuss the company’s overall privacy strategy according to sources inside the company……..While it’s unknown what Facebook will announce during the meeting, it’s pretty obvious that changes will need to be made if Facebook is going to regain users’ trust. The most likely change will come in the form of a temporary removal of the “Instant Personalization” service, or at the least, a shift to “opt-in”, something many privacy advocates have been calling for.”

Reflection and people central to developing knowledge

April 14th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

A quick report from the European Commission funded Mature project. I am in Vienna this week at a meeting of the project consortium. The project is researching how knowledge matures in organisations and aims to develop and test software tools to support both individual knowledge development and organisational learning.

One of the activities undertaken over the last year was a ‘representative study’ based on interviewing individuals from 125 companies in Europe and look at how knowledge was developed and shared in their enterprise. The results of the survey will be published in the near future on the project web site.

One of the most interesting findings is what processes people perceived as important for knowledge maturing within their organisation and how ell they though these processes were important. The two processes perceived as most important were ‘reflection’ and ‘building relationships’ between people. These were also the two processes seen as amongst the least supported.

This could be seen as offering a strong steer for the development of new software tools. mature is already testing the prototype of a ‘people funding’ tool, designed to make more transparent the skills, competences and interests of employees in an organisation. The issue of ‘reflection’ is more complex. e-Portfolio researchers have always emphasised the centrality of reflection to learning, yet it is hard to see concrete examples of how this can be supported. Your comments on this would be most welcome.

Using Web 2.0 tools for learning

March 4th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

The EU funded Politics project is using a web based story telling process to encourage ypoung people to explore politcial involvement and develop their own ideas around politica;l issues and events.

The project intends to use social software and Web 2.0 software to develop learning pathways for participants in six different European countries.  One of the first tasks for the project has been to produce a report on Web 2.0 tools for learning. The report has been  written by Pontydysgu intern student Jo Turner Attwell, and and is based on previous work by Jenny Hughes in the handbook on Teachers Aids on Creating Content for Learning Environments (available for free download on the Taccle website) together with more recent materials posted on the Chalkface section of this web site.

You can read the introduction to the report below and download the full (14 page) version of the paper in ODT and Doc format at the bottom of this page.

Technologies are changing very fast. Up until recently Learning Management Systems – systems that help to organise and administer learning programmes for students and store and organise learning materials seemed to be the most important technology for creating and managing content. But since then, we have seen an explosion in the use of social networking applications like blogs and wikis, as part of what has been called Web 2.0. These are tools that make it very easy for people to create their own content in different forms – text, pictures, audio and video. POLITICS aims to provide Web 2.0 tools to enhance the learning experience achieved within the development of the participants own Politics story. The project hopes to improve the participants knowledge of Politics in their country of residence by leading them through a Webquest type pathway.  Embedding these tools into a platform designed to allow communication between participants and collection of resources helps to create opportunities for tasks inspiring creativity within these pathways.

There are currently a wide range of web2.0 tools and programmes, particularly those that are useful in a pedagogical way. Many of these tools are already widely used, such as the microblogging tool twitter, or the video sharing tool youtube. Some systems are simply designed for the sharing of content such as Flickr or Slideshare, however some social networking sites go a step further. Videothreads or PB wiki allows deeper interaction as people can add and contribute to the information or work already there. This means content can be created and edited collaboratively online.

Some of the applications listed below are specifically for creating content, for example, authoring tools, or for storing and sharing materials you and your students have created. Others, like online messaging tools, are essentially designed as tools for communication. Some can serve both purposes, for example blogs. However, it is increasingly difficult to draw a line between them. A Skype text message about the weather may be no more than a simple social exchange between two people but group text chats on Skype by members of a community of practice discussing their ideas can create a rich learning resource. It seems a fairly pointless academic exercise to try and differentiate between them. They are all useful tools and applications for teachers so we are including both.

odt version

Review of existing web20 tools25-1

Doc version

Review of existing web20 tools25-1

Barcampy

February 12th, 2010 by Ilona Buchem

W zeszłym tygodniu byłam na nietypowej konferencji, na educampie w Hamburgu, ktróry jest formą barcampu. BarCampy, podobnie jak mówi Wikipedia (apropos: ktoś powinien zaktualizować ten artykuł ;-)) to otwarte i interaktywne spotkania dotyczące określonych tematów. Takie nietypowe konferencje nazywane są też „nie-konferensjami“. Chodzi w nich o to, aby w przeciwieństwie do tradycyjnych konferencji, które są sztywne i nudne, umożliwić uczestnikom aktywne branie udziału i  współstwarzanie konferencji.

Są m.in. politcampy dotyczące spraw politycznych,  socialcampy, dotyczace tematów socjanych, bibcampy dla bibliotekarzy, foocampy dla hackerów, musiccampy, genercampy, artcampy, gamecampy, photocampy no i są też educampy związane z edukacją.

Celem takich barcampów jest wymiana doświadczeń i pomysłów, dyskusje i prezentacje  w otwartej i nieformalnej atmosferze. Program barcampu układają zwykle sami uczestnicy, tzn. podczas barcampu każdy może zaproponować jakiś temat i jeżeli znajdzie wystarczająco dużo uczestników, zorganizować sesję. Educamp w Hamburgu połączył jednak takie demokratyczne układanie programu z zaplanowaną dyskusją, do której zaproszeni zostali znani i raczej „tradycyjni“ profesorowie. W barcampach uczestniczą przeważnie bardzo różni ludzie, zacząwszy od profesorów, poprzez managerów, pracowników firm, naukowców, nauczycieli do studentów i uczni. I własnie o to chodzi w barcampach. Chodzi o to, aby taka heterogeniczna mieszanka mogła spojrzeć na interesujące ją tematy i problemy z  różnych perspektyw i przez to znaleść nowe drogi, nowe metody, nowe pomysły itd. Na barcampach uczestnicy używają chętnie twittera.  Tweety wyświetla na twitterwall (ekranie). Twittuje się na różne sposoby, można coś komentować, wyrażać swoje zdanie, zadawać pytanie itd. Przez to praktycznie każdy uczestnik ma możliwość aktywnie się udzielać i wpływać na rozwój sytuacji. No i do tego jest dobra zabawa 🙂

A co słychać na temat barcampów w Polsce? Znalazłam właśnie stronę na której wymienione są spotkania barcampowe w Polsce. Mam wrażenie, że wiekszość tych barcampów dotyczy tematów informatycznych lub biznesowych. Np. ogólnopolski barcamp skierowany był do startup’ów internetowych.

Czy barcampy to zmiana paradygmatu?

We seem to be doing a lot of preparing, and supporting, but not so much inspiring

February 8th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I was greatly inspired by the Wise Kids conference on Young People in a Digital World – Preparing, Inspiring and Supporting, held in Bangor in Wales on Wednesday. This was the second of two regional conferences, with videos from the first, in Swansea earlier in the week are available now online (the video by Tanya Byron, who advices the UK government on internet safety is encouraging from a policy point of view).

Here are a few impressionistic comments which by no means express the breadth and quality of the event.

Two things which particularly encouraged me. The first was the breadth of organisations represented by participants. This included teachers, local government officers, youth workers, researchers and delegates from internet and software companies and the  voluntary sector. The second was the active involvement of young people themselves in the conference.

And for me, the highlight was the youth panel of some ten or so students from Ysgol Trfyan. They were thoughtful, articulate and above all opinionated. Having previously presented a Welsh language drama about e-safety, they went on to answer questions from participants in the conference. all but one said that if they were forced to choose they would give up television rather than the internet. But there main message was their opposition to the ban on accessing social networking sites and particular Facebook from school. They said the reason they had been told for the ban was that social networks had been used for cheating in exams (unlikely as I found this, a report in last weeks Guardian claims the use of mobile phones for cheating is on the increase!). However they could not see why Facebook has been banned when there was still access to other sites including games. “Facebook is better for learning than games”, said one. Another said: “Whatever they ban we will find a way around it:. And although there may have been an element of campaigning going on, when asked what site they accessed first when they went on the internet, nine said Facebook, one YouTube, and one shopping.

Members of the panel has obviously researched the question of e-safety in some depth in preparation for their drama performance. However, whilst they felt schools should do more to teach internet safety and that also parents should pay more attention to what their children were doing on the internet, they were against nanny programmes. They were also dubious that present age restrictions of access to sites like Facebook were working. One member of the panel said that if her younger sister insisted she was going to set up a Facebook account,, despite being under 13, at the end of the day it was pointless to try to stop her but instead she would try to watch out for her sister’s safety!

The issue of safety tended to overwhelm the conference. As chair Alan Davies said, we seemed to be doing a lot of preparing, and supporting, but not so much inspiring.

Especially in the workshop sessions there was a lot of inspiring. I enjoyed the presentation by Rebecca Newton on Moshi Monsters. But my favourites were the workshop sessions by John Davitt – Occupy the Hand and Mind – simple strategies to make learners active with New Tools – and Leon Cynch‘s brave exploration of the suddenly unfashionable Second Life.

However these sessions were very much geared towards teachers and trainers. There is a big gap – a gap between what such pioneers as John and Leon are doing and the reality of what our systems administrators and school managers are allowing. And it is that gap which was so eloquently exposed by the students from Ysgol Trfyan. The issue of firewalls, white lists and so on is not an administrative issue. If education is to keep in touch with the way young people (and older people too) are exploring and using the internet for learning, for work and for play, then we have to rethink the present absurd policy of banning social software.

Yes, online safety is an issue. But Wise Kids has shown that internet safety is computable with open systems and that educating young people is a better policy than policing them.

Survey on use of Social Networking sites

February 2nd, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Interesting results from the latest Pew Internet survey on adults use of social networking sites in the United States (I wish we had a European equivalent). The survey found:

  • 79% of American adults used the internet in 2009, up from 67% in Feb. 2005
  • 46% of online American adults 18 and older use a social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn, up from 8% in February 2005.
  • 65% of teens 12-17 use online social networks as of Feb 2008, up from 58% in 2007 and 55% in 2006.
  • As of August 2009, Facebook was the most popular online social network for American adults 18 and older.
  • 10-12% are on “other” sites like Bebo, Last.FM, Digg, Blackplanet, Orkut, Hi5 and Match.com?

Of adult SNS users:

  • 73% have a Facebook account
  • 48% have a MySpace profile
  • 14% have an account on LinkedIn
  • 1% each on Yahoo, YouTube, Tagged, Flickr and Classmates.com

Overall there is nothing particularly surprising in the results. The survey shows just how hegemonic Facebook has become in terms of social networking sites. I am a little surprised at how low the figures are for Flickr and YouTube. However this may be because you do not need an account unless you wish to upload material to these services. I guess it confirms the fact that only a relatively low percentage of social software and social network users are creating content.

It is also interesting to note the increasing numbers with a LinkedIn account. In the longer term I think LinkedIn may prove more sustainable than Facebook, if only because it has a real purpose behind it. And LinkedIn seem to have successfully increased the social networking functionality, whilst not allowing it to overwhelm the site.

Paradigm change needed to enable young people to deal with implications of transformations

January 7th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

In December I wrote about a workshop I had attended at the Alpine-Rendezvous event organised by the European Stellar Network. The workshop: on ‘Technology-enhanced learning in the context of technological, societal and cultural transformation’ was organised by Norbert Pachler, the convenor of the London Mobile Learning Group (LMLG), housed at the Centre for Excellence in Work-based Learning for Educational Professionals at the Institute of Education, London.

The LMLG comprises an international, interdisciplinary group of researchers from the fields of educational, media and cultural studies, social semiotics and educational technology. The aim of the workshop was to augment the work of the LMLG, in particular around its socio-cultural ecology, and to extend the interdisciplinary nature of its work through exposure to perspectives advanced by (TEL) researchers in cognate fields from across Europe and the US, in particular in relation to design-based approaches.

This blog is an edited verion of Norbert’s report on the workshop. The full report will be published as part of proceedings of the workshop will be published as a Special Issue of the International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning in 2010 guest edited by Norbert Pachler.

For me, one of the most interesting points about the recent debate around Open education is the exploration of the links between theory and practice. I have been long frustrated by the paucity of theory in the area of Technology Enhanced Education. and it is apparent that if we are to develop a convincing body of theory which can properly inform and reflect practice, it is necessary to engage in a multi-disciplinary discourse with researchers and practitioners coming from different fields of study and action.

The workshop in Garmisch comprised of an attempt at developing such a discourse and whilst the findings may represent only our early efforts to understand each other, I valued the opportunity to take part in such a discussion.

Norbert says:

“The LMLG sees learning using mobile devices governed by a triangular relationship between socio-cultural structures, cultural practices and the agency of media users / learners, represented in the three domains. The interrelationship of these three components: agency, the user’s capacity to act on the world, cultural practices, the routines users engage in their everyday lives, and the socio-cultural and technological structures that govern their being in the world, we see as an ecology, which in turn manifests itself in the form of an emerging cultural transformation. Another significant trend, which requires pedagogical responses, is the prevalence of what we call ‘user-generated contexts’. We are currently witnessing a significant shift away from traditional forms of mass communication and editorial push towards user-generated content and individualised communication contexts. These structural changes to mass communication also affect the agency of the user and their relationship with traditional and new media. Indeed, the LMLG argues that users are now actively engaged in shaping their own forms of individualised generation of contexts for learning through individualised communication contexts. New relationships between context and production are emerging in that mobile devices not only enable the production of content but also of contexts. They position the user in new relationships with space, i.e. the outer world, and place, i.e. social space. Mobile devices enable and foster the broadening and breaking up of genres. Citizens become content producers who are part of an explosion of activity in the area of user-generated content. What are the implications for education?

The workshop inter alia sought to explore the following questions and issues:

  • Learning as a process of meaning-making for the LMLG occurs through acts of communication, which take place within rapidly changing socio-cultural, mass communication and technological structures. Does the notion of learner-generated cultural resources represent a sustainable paradigm shift for formal education in which learning is viewed in categories of context and not content? What are the issues in terms of ‘text’ production in terms of modes of representation, (re)contextualisation and conceptions of literacy? Who decides/redefines what it means to have coherence in contemporary interaction?
  • What synergies are there between the socio-cultural ecological approach to mobile learning, which the LMLG developed (see Pachler, Bachmair and Cook, 2010), with paradigms put forward by different (TEL) research communities in Europe and beyond?
  • What relationship is there between user-generated content, user-generated contexts and learning? How can educational institutions cope with the more informal communicative approaches to digital interactions that new generations of learners possess?
  • What pedagogical parameters are there in response to the significant transformation of society, culture and education currently taking place alongside technological innovation?

Position papers and questions for discussion were made available in advance of the workshop on Google Groups as well as Cloudworks. During the workshop contributors’ presentations were added and participants in Garmisch and beyond contributed to the discussion on Cloudworks as well as on Twitter.

Key messages from the workshop:

The mixture of theory and practice was felt to have worked well and to have been fruitful particularly in view of a potential chasm developing between the research community and the policy and practitioner communities in the field of mobile learning.

The workshop underlined the importance of definitional clarity around key terminology, particular in the context of interdisciplinary work in an international context.

Mobile learning, the main focus of the workshop, can be seen to deal with complex issues, which benefit from an interdisciplinary approach. Despite interdisciplinarity adding complexity and this complexity needing to be managed sensitively, there exists a need for greater richness in the conceptual foundations of mobile learning; there is arguably a need to challenge the hegemony of education, psychology and computer science as the foundational disciplines of the mobile learning research community.

Some topics, such as sustainability, have proved to be multi-layered and the concurrent discussion of different layers during the workshopprovided fruitful insights into possible different framings of each given topic and issue.

The workshop showed that the key theoretical framework used at the event for illuminating the use of mobile learning – the LMLG’s socio-cultural approach – has provided a useful lens and a shared vocabulary for analysis. At the same time it transpired that, in relation to some topics such as work-based learning, more work is required to align it and its theoretical underpinnings with established discourses in certain areas, such as WBL. Work-based mobile learning has to be embedded in the work-processes and current practices and not be designed as an extra layer. Structure in WBML is not only related to media platforms but also to organisational structures and focusing only on the first issue would be too narrow. Power-relationships are a central construct to be considered in WBML. And, the fact that businesses are orientated towards a productivity paradigm, rather than towards a learning paradigm, poses a particular challenge for WBML. A key question appears to be to what extent practices around mobile devices influence work-life balance.

The discussion around user-generated contexts demonstrated the complexity of the notion of context and how its different understandings are rooted in divers epistemological and ontological traditions.

The discussions around augmented reality brought to the fore a number of issues in particular around retention, perception and coherence as well as filtering and the need for criticality on the part of the user.

With respect to augmented contexts for development, the question arose whether Vygotskyan notions of perception / attention / temporality are a way forward and how these notions link in concrete terms to more academic / traditional views of ‘literacy’. And, what are the implications of for the emerging field of mobile augmented reality? Is it possible to replace the more capable peer in the zone of proximal development?

Synergies with design-based research were generally seen to offer considerable potential for the work of the LMLG and beyond. In particular, there emerged a strong sense of potential around the bringing together of a hermeneutic and critical historical approach to planning and analysis of teaching and learning, i.e. critical didactic, with the experimental, empirical evaluative approach offered by design research.

In terms of sustainability, the workshop concluded that much more still needs to be done in terms of understanding the complexity of the notion of sustainability. The discussion showed that there exists an important, and currently under-explored, ethical context to mobile learning, that is the context in which we connect with learners, composed in part of challenges such as sustainability, scalability (or transferability or replication), equity, inclusion, opportunity, embedding. It relates to a concern for the role of mobile learning for addressing forms of deprivation and disadvantage and informing the relevant policy environment.

Overall it can be noted that the discussions during the two days reiterated the need for a paradigm change in education to enable young people to deal with the implications of ongoing transformations.”

References:

Pachler, N., Bachmair, B. and Cook, J. (2010) Mobile learning: structures, agency, practices. New York: Springer

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