Archive for the ‘teaching and learning’ Category

Digital Literacies – Post 1

October 6th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

This is a blogpost is based on a presentation I recently did for the Flexible, Distance and Online Learning open module that Chrissi Neranzi and her colleagues are currently running. It was part of Unit 2 that focuses on the theme of Digital Literacies.

Digital literacies is a very “hot” topic right now, and one that deserves our attention given the influence of the web on our working and social lives. And worthy of note is that the web is not only influencing the way we work nor solely the way we use it to socialise. The separation between formal and informal, public and private spaces has never been less straight forward and, as many would argue, the boundaries are blurry(ing) (See here, here, and here, for instance).

In its Developing Digital Literacies briefing paper, JISC state that
digital literacies define those who exhibit a critical understanding and capability for living, learning, and working in the digital society. 

digitalIdentities_FDOLI think this is a good definition. It goes beyond the initial concerns regarding the searching and retrieving of information online – as important as they are – to reflect the participatory culture that the social web supports because of its very interactive nature.

Yet, not everyone perceives the web in this way nor does everyone value it for its social(lisation) potential. The web as a field of participation and socialisation is not deprived of tensions, and it is far from being evenly distributed in the current global and network society [just to throw a couple of more ready made phrases in there!]. Consequently, different practices, and agendas, co-exist in a space that aggregates a wide variety of groups of people with a multitude of approaches on how the web can be appropriated to serve their needs.

This takes me to consider the Digital Visitors and Digital Residents debate initiated by White and Cornu. In wanting to take the digital native discussion to a new level, the authors devised a topology that looks at the frequency of use and explores the needs and motivations of individuals when using the web. This is translated into two different types of users: those who have embedded the web in their day-to-day practice (the residents) and those who use it sporadically for specific purposes (the visitors). Attached to this dichotomy between intense and occasional use of the web is a feeling of belonging, with the former feeling more attached to the “online world” than the latter. Although the Digital Visitors and Digital Residents metaphor provides us with an understanding on how individuals are taking to the Social and Participatory Web, it still offers, in my opinion, a binary interpretation of a more complex reality; one that educational institutions are struggling to get to terms with. And that has as much to do with how learners are using the web as it has to do with why some learners are more predisposed to do so than others, not to mention those who may be excluded of this topology altogether because of other factors that may preclude them from having access to technology or perceiving it as a useful tool for learning.

This makes me wonder what role individuals’ social, cultural and economic background play in prompting them to engage with the web for living, learning and working.

And more important even, it leads me to question as to the role (or duty) of educational institutions in cultivating and enhancing learners‘ cultural capital in a world mediated by technology.

digitalIdentities_FDOL.014Providing access to technology and wifi is necessary, but it’s effects will only be felt if the implementation of such technological infrastructures are accompanied by practices that promote its effective use.

The University of Southampton has recognised that and launched a module on Living and Working on the Web in an attempt to equip their students with relevant skills for the changing job market that the so called digital economy is bringing about. In our preliminary study we realised that the student population participating in the module was very diverse, not only in terms of their digital literacies but also, and above all, in terms of their attitudes with regard to digital forms of working and learning. This might be related to the way students have been socialised into learning and how they are predisposed to engage with digital practices. In this sense, I wonder how different these students are from staff who also feel less keen in changing their practices and attitudes to accommodate digital practices.

With learning technologies (and implicitly digital literacies) starting to feature heavily in Educational Institutions’s policies, what does it really mean to (and in) practice?

Learning Layers – What kind of transition phase are we going through in our fieldwork (Part 3: Design process and training activities)

August 25th, 2013 by Pekka Kamarainen

In the first  post of this series of blogs I indicated that we (the ITB team together with our Pontydysgu colleagues and the application partner Bau ABC)  are going through a transitional phase in our fieldwork for the Learning Layers  (LL) project. In the second post I looked back at the shifts of emphasis that had characterised our field visits and workshops in Bau ABC since the first ones in winter to the latest ones before and after the summer holiday break. In both postings I made the point that we had moved from preparatory measures to work in the context of a participative design process. In this posting it is time to consider the implications of such process for the design activities themselves and for the necessary training activities to be planned and carried out.

In principle, there has been an implicit agreement among the LL partner that our project is not a “technology push” project. Neither have we seen our application partners as clients in the supermarket – making choices between ready-made solutions that are on the shelf. Instead, the emphasis has been put on participative co-design processes. Yet, it has been quite a challenge to get such processes take off in the domains and in the locations where we want to carry out pilot activities.

In the case of the Rapid Turbine initiative Graham Attwell has given some insights into the first steps of the design work, into the plans to produce videos (the helmet camera) and into conceptual challenges (“closing the gap”). Much of this design work is still on the way and the demonstrators are yet to come. However, we already know that much of the messages of trainers and apprentices have been taken on board. The important thing is that the Pontydysgu colleagues try to provide real support for completing working and learning tasks without dropping the idea of self-organised learning. Thus, the web tools and the software solutions are there to enhance the learners’ awareness of their own learning. At the end of the exercise, the apprentices should have a picture what they can do, what the cannot do yet and what challenges they can meet in the next phase. This is being discussed between developers, trainers and us, the accompanying researchers.

This has also implications for getting the forthcoming Rapid Turbine designs work together with existing applications and software solutions (such as the Reflect application for the LL project and the software for the assessment procedures in Bau ABC). In this way the support for project-based learning of apprentices would be linked to a tool that enables audio recording of learners’ reports and trainers’ feedback – and to the assessment processes. This, as we understand, will take some time and requires further efforts in the design process.

Parallel to this we have made progress in our discussions, how to give shape for training activities that would support the Rapid Turbine initiative and enhance the general media literacy of trainers and apprentices. Whilst the design work and the discussion on appropriate workshops were firstly taking off as two different things, they seem to be getting closer to each other. It is obvious that the design of the Rapid Turbine gives rise to specific training activities. These can be seen as one part of a wider range of training options to be considered together with the application partners. Here, we are pleased to be able to share experiences with the EU-funded TACCLE projects that have a long experiences with such workshops for teachers to help them produce user-generated web content.

Here I need to stress that both the design work for Rapid Turbine and the development of the training concepts are at an early stage. Yet, we are carrying out this work via joint working meetings in which different parties are actively engaged. This, to me, is already aq good sign and I am looking for the next steps that are taken very soon.

To be continued …

PS. I have written this blog posting just before a series of working meetings with several LL partners and stakeholders that will bring these issues (and wider issues) further. As I will not be present in all these activities and since I will be travelling some time afterwards, it may take some time before we get updates. PK

Acknowledgements. This work is supported by the European Commission under the FP7 project LAYERS (no. 318209), http://www.learning-layers.eu.

 

PLE 2014 -a call to host

July 30th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

The PLE Conference 2014 – an Open Call for hosts

The first PLE Conference was in 2010 in Barcelona. And it was so fantastic everyone asked where it would be next. So 2011 we were in Southampton. in 2012 it was Aveiro in Portugal. And this year PLE was hosted in Berlin. Meanwhile people from the south of the world asked for their own parallel conference. In 2012 and 2013 this has been organised in Melbourne, Australia.

In this time PLE conference has developed its own unique atmosphere and style with many saying it is their favourite conference.

Which leads to the next question – where will the PLE conference be in 2014? We have also developed a tradition of publishing an open call. Would you and your organisation like to host the PLE conference next year?

You will preferably be somewhere reasonably accessible and have access to spaces conducive for intensive and sociable knowledge sharing. You will probably need the support of your organisation. And despite the great support from the PLE Conference Organising Committee you will need to commit yourself to some hard work.

If you think this sounds like you please contact Graham Attwell, myself  or another member of the PLE Committee by September 20, 2013. Also feel free to ask us anything you need more information about.

Rapid Development for Rapid Turbine

July 25th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

I guess many of you are enjoying your holidays now. Here at Pontydysgu we’re ploughing ahead with our summer project, codenamed Rapid Turbine. Rapid Turbine is a spin out from the Learning layers project design group called Sharing Turbine.

The design idea has followed extensive discussion with Bau ABC, a large training organisation for the building industry in Lower Saxony and Bremen in north Germany. The apprenticeship system in Germany is based on a Dual System, with apprentices learning both within companies and within vocational schools. However in the construction trade there are three venues for learning, the company, the vocational school and the training centres.

Training in the training centre is organised around practical tasks which may take from one to three or four days to complete. The tasks are documented in something called the White Folder which is also used for reporting on work. This has a number fo problems – it takes time to update content and despite the use of colour photocopying has limitations in terms of media. Perhaps the biggest drawback is teh lack of portability, thus limiting the use of learning materials or of apprentices/ past learning in the company or the vocational school.

Thus the idea of Sharing Turbine is to produce a mobile app which can provide interactivity whilst undertaking workplace learning tasks. But the more we have looked at developing such an app – the more daunting it seems. Wireframes and diagrams have multiplied, with multiple use cases and endless meetings.

So Rapid Turbine has been designed as a rapid application project to get something out. And my thinking is until we have produced something, we will not really understand what we are doing. So we have taken just one task – Trench digging and pipe installation- and are trying to produce an app.

So far we have hit two big issues. The first is the pedagogic approach. We want to go further than just producing information on how to do the task – even with nice video. The mobile app should stimulate not just interactivity  but activity in the work process. And of course there are many real life artefacts which are used in that activity.

The second issue is establishing a workflow. Ultimately our aim is that our colleagues from Bau ABC will be able to produce the learning materials themselves. So far our workflow is fourfold. Firstly we are producing wireframes. Although we have used Balsamic in teh past, at the moment our designers, Owen Gray and Martina Luebbing are preferring to work on flipchart paper. then we need to generate the HTML, CSS, Javascrtipt etc. for the app. This we plan to do using Twitter Bootstrap and an html editor. And then we will use the Tribal m-Learning program to produce the App.

So far so good. We are still at the wireframe stage. I will update you on how it all goes.

What is a University for?

July 25th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

I just came across this video/ initiative on twitter.

Enlivened Learning an introduction from Multi-Sense Media on Vimeo.

Lately I have been asking myself the same kind of questions… as I am still searching… trying to make a meaningful contribution! What is the University for? What is my role in it? And how can I help make it a place of “useful learning“?

In the current changing environment, I think these are questions that need to be debated urgently.

In the video, one of the authors alludes to the need to re-connect education to “land, place, community and history”.  How do we make Higher Education part of who we are? It is also a matter of identity, and values, and purpose, is it not?

How do we consider ourselves within the HE universe? A large percentage of the world population – the majority(!) – does not identify themselves with the University , because it’s far removed from their social, cultural and economic backgrounds. It just isn’t them, or so they think…

The University has always been an exclusive place, but knowledge has/ should not. Especially in the current socio-technological and economic context can Universities afford to continue to be what they were 200 years ago, with the aggravating ambition of becoming a business…?

I wonder!

 ”Knowledge is sacrificed when Universities become businesses” ~ a member of the Buffalo tribe

Reflect – an App for recording ideas and learning

July 23rd, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Reflect is a free Android App for phones and tablets developed by students from Hochschule Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences) for Pontydysgu as part of the Learning Layers Project.

The app is presently in closed beta but will be open for use by everyone in August 2013. If you would like more details please email graham10 [at] mac [dot] com.

We demoed the App at a workshop jointly hosted by the UK National Health Service developers network Handi and the Learning Layers project in Bradford last month and share here the report we produced on the feedback.

Aim:

  • To elicit user feedback from developers and healthcare professionals
  • Evaluate potential of the App

Background and Key Idea:

The original idea came from talking with a doctor in the UK at a Learning layers workshop. He explained how little time he had to reflect on his ongoing learning. The most time he had, he told us, was when he was in his car between meetings and visiting patients.

The Reflect App was originally designed to make the recording of learning, both formal and informal, easy.

The App is voice controlled and translates voice recordings into text.

Users can build a ‘stack’ of questions by typing them into a simple form on a web interface. Then they can use an Android Phone App which reads them the questions. They can skip to the next question, resubmit their answer or ask for help. The answers are automatically converted to text and can be downloaded to their own computer or tablet.

What we hoped to learn:

We were concerned to get feedback about:

a)    The general idea and potential interest in the app

b)    Usability and UI

c)    Ideas for further development

Feedback from developers and healthcare professionals:

Negative feedback:

  • GPs are concerned about the level of security, regarding sensitive data.
  • Developers were concerned about quality of voice recognition and difficulties with background noise

Questions that were raised:

  • What is the maximum recording time?
  • Where does the voice recognition processing take place?
  • Is an off-line mode possible?
  • could Reflect be integrated into other systems (e.g. NHS)
  • What are business models for future sustainability?

Positive feedback and further potential:

  • Reflect could be a good tool to report back the first impressions on meetings
  • A future approach could be to develop an APi to allow use with other systems
  • Domains for groups to work together
  • Reflect could be used for research purposes e.g surveys
  • Learning tasks could be created for students (microanalysis)
  • Link to Evernote
  • Reflect provides strong support for scaffolding learning

Suggested Business Models:

  • Advertising
  • Premium domain accounts
  • Develop market ins tacks of questions for different occupations / domain and license under revenue sharing model

What Next?

We are continuing to test the App on a closed beta and are working on an open beta release for Reflect.

We are hoping to get further developer support for:

a)    Exploring off line potential

b)    Developing a API

c)    Porting to iOS

Evaluation of the activity:

From our point of view we were delighted with the critical and positive feedback. We especially noted the concern from external developers that there is a strong business model and suggest that this should be noted by other Learning layers development teams / design groups.

The workshop was very well organised. Whilst it would have been useful to have more health care professionals, the opportunity for engagement with so many developers and with commercial companies was extremely valuable.

About theory and practice

June 20th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

We have been running a series of workshops for the RadioActive project on developing internet radio stations. Part of this is about content and part around the technical side of streaming internet radio.

In theory the technical side should be easy – we take a series of feeds – from microphones, MP3 players, from a computer and mix them through a 8 track mixing deck before returning the signal to the computer, streaming it to a streaming server in London and hence to the internet. Indeed, so easy we thought it, that we designed the technical training as a breakout session from the main workshops.

We were wrong. The struggle with the technocracy has proved to be the main problem with the RadioActive project. And we came to realize the problem. We had showed people how to set the computer and deck up. But we had not explained the underpinning theories and ideas behind the audio set up. Fine if it all worked our of the box. But if it didn’t then without an understanding of what different components are doing, it is mighty hard to diagnose where the problem is.

Secondly we paid insufficient attention to the issue of leveling. Fairly obviously different inputs will have different levels (just like people – I am make an incredibly loud input). And one of the skills of the technician is leveling those inputs, both using presets during a sound check and adjusting the faders (and if necessary, the gain) during the broadcast. Also, post processing on pre-recorded items can help in getting a common level.
I could sort of operate the deck and system myself. But I had just picked it up as I went along and had no real knowledge of what the different buttons did.

And one of the issues was that people kept asking for us to tell them the ‘right’ why to do it, when , in truth there are many different ways to set the system up. But, once more, to understand the different possible set ups, which is useful when you discover you have left a key connecting cable behind, means having a more theoretical understanding of what we are doing than just following a diagram.
So we have revamped our technical training for internet radio. We have turned it into a two-day module and are experimenting with outcomes based accreditation. Dirk delivered the first workshop for the London partners two weeks ago. And I followed the same programme in Bucharest with our partners from Romania.

One of the critical aspects is we go far further into the theory, explaining what each part of the equipment does before even trying to connect it all up.
And it seems to work. Our Romanian partners broadcast a wonderfully smooth programme last Friday lunchtime. We still have some things to learn – we had forgotten to teach them how to use remote recorders. But the programme is getting set on the right course. Next step I think – is to try to produce some open educational resources and multimedia to supplement the face to face training

EU funded ICT course for teachers

June 11th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

This year I taught again on the Comenius / Grundtvig funded course called TACCLE . It is a week long course for teachers who want to learn more about technology.  Teachers can now apply for a grant  to participate in the course with their National Agency. Deadline for grant applications is September 17th. Jens Veermersch just sent me details and I though I would share them here in case you would like to participate in it.

Urbino, Italy

Urbino, Italy

 

 Registrations are now open for the 6th edition of the TACCLE course in April 2014.

You might be interested to learn that we are organising a new edition of our TACCLE course in April 2014 in Italy.

With this fifth in-service training, which will run from 6 until 13 April 2013 in Urbino, Italy (reference number: BE-2013-268-001 Session 2 Comenius or BE-2013-267-001 Session 2 Grundtvig) our aim is to help teachers to develop state of the art content for e-learning in general and for learning environments in particular. We try to achieve this by training teachers to create e-learning materials and raising their awareness of e-learning in general. TACCLE will help to establish a culture of innovation in the schools in which they work. The training is geared to the needs of the classroom teachers but teacher trainers, ICT support staff and resource centre staff may find it useful too!

 This course is not aimed at advanced users of ICT.

 The course is organised by GO!, the state education network in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium

 

Participation fee and how to get a grant to pay it all

1335 Euro (700 Euro for full board en-suite accomodation in single rooms in Hotel**** Mamiani + 635 Euro for tuition and course materials). For both participation fee and travel expenses to Italy you can request a grant from the LLP National Agency in your country, which will cover all costs. You can find the address of your LLP national agency here.

Only participants living in one of the 28 EU member states, a country in the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) or FYROMacedonia, Switzerland or Turkey can register for the sixth TACCLE course and apply for a grant. Unfortunately Italian participants are not entitled to receive a grant since the course will be organised in Italy.

 

Deadline for grant applications with your LLP national agency is September 17th 2013!

Pre-registration are possible on-line: http://tinyurl.com/taccle14

 

Here is one of the slide decks I used this year:

Maybe I’ll see you there! ;-)

Hours of fun and Singing Fingers on the Taccle Web site

June 11th, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Jenny Hughes was in Bremen last week and showed me some of her favourite apps on the wonderful Taccle web site. Although the site aims at providing practical ideas for teachers in using technology in the classroom, it is also a great resource for anyone interested in technology for teaching and learning and particularly rich in mobile apps.

We found a number of broken links and looked at installing a WordPress plugin to check for these. In the end we concluded the plugins seemed to have too high a processing load and instead used  free application called Integrity which worked like a charm. We also discovered that the Taccle site has over 2500 external links!

The other technical / design feature which interests me is the metadata / category system. This has undergone a series of revamps and I think gets in pretty much right now.

Anyway here is  one of my current favourite apps featured on the site – Singing Fingers, created at MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten.

Make a sound while moving your finger to record a sound-drawing. Touch the drawing you just made to play the sound back: forward, backward, sideways, or any way. That’s it! Singing Fingers Basic ExplanationSinging Fingers lets you see music, hear colors, and re-see everyday sounds for the beautiful playground that they are. Singing Fingers lowers the floor to let beginners play with sound as if it was finger paint, and raises the roof by letting advanced DJs break out of the grooves of the records into a world where sounds take any shape you give them. Your own fingers are like the needles that play the sounds back. Just like records and tape recorders were breakthroughs in simplicity and power, Singing Fingers has no complex buttons, menus, or rules. One simple medium, one simple touch of the finger, millions of possibilities.How it Works

While you drag your finger across the screen, your voice or any other sounds nearby are turned into colors on the musical canvas. The pitch of the sound is translated into a color, while the loudness of the sound determines the size. If you start on a blank white space you are recording. If you start on a colored space you are replaying. Use up to five fingers to play back many sounds at the same time, forwards, backwards or sideways.

Making Instruments, Telling Stories, Performing, Exploring, and Drawing Pictures

Tap the keys of a piano or sing a scale while dragging your finger on the screen, and you’ll have just drawn your first playable musical instrument. Tell a story while drawing the story on the screen. Explore a sound in the world, like rain or thunder, visually and see what it sounds like forwards and backwards. Use your voice as the “paint” to draw a picture. Laughter and yelling gives dozens of colors, Scribbling with Singing Fingerswhile whistling a note can give you a specific color.

Cross-Sensory Creative Thinking

When you holler out and move your finger around on the screen, Singing Fingers turns the sounds into a concrete visual object. By transforming the pitch of the sound to a color and smearing it across the screen, people can learn to “see music” and “hear colors.” What is sometimes referred to as “synesthesia” or “cross sensory thinking” becomes an everyday part of playing with sounds. One of the goals of the people behind Singing Fingers is to help people to see the invisible and re-see the everyday world as the beautiful playground that life is.The Next Evolution of Sound Recording and Remixing

A long time ago, only advanced technicians with handmade machines could record sounds. Exciting advancements like record players and tape recorders meant more people could play and record sounds, while cultural revolutions like scratching records and making summer mix tapes meant more people were mixing and remixing music. Computers have opened up many new ways to play with sounds, but none have been as huge a leap for DJ Recordpeople’s expressiveness as we would hope for: iPods let you play music, complex software lets you mix it together, and simple programs let you record sounds, but where is the big leap forward? We see Singing Fingers as a step toward the next big cultural transformation, putting all the power of recording, playing back, and remixing, literally at the tip of the finger for the most improvisational, fluid, sound interface we could come up with. Singing Fingers lowers the floor to let children play with sound as if it was finger paint, and raises the roof by letting advanced DJs break out of the grooves of the records into a world where sounds take any shape you give them and your fingers are like the needles that play the sounds back, with as fine control as your hand will allow. The scratching of records, the recording of tapes, the visualization of the graphics equalizer, and the remixing power of computers, in one little app that takes seconds to learn and years to master.

Interface Simplicity Lightning and Birds
Just like record players and tape recorders were simple and powerful new ways to work with sounds, Singing Fingers simply gives you a blank page. To manipulate sounds you only need your fingers to smear them onto the page and to play them back. No complex buttons, menus, or rules. In fact, to record, play back, and remix sounds there are zero buttons or menus (the buttons are only for file manipulation: saving, loading, and getting a new one). One simple medium, one simple touch of the finger, millions of possibilities.

 

How I manage to keep active in so many networks

June 5th, 2013 by Cristina Costa

I was asked this question the other day and I thought it was a good one to explore in a blogpost.

For some people my constant tweeting, facebooking, skyping, emailing…. must be a bit overwhelming! And I know for a fact that the colleagues with whom I share an office think I’m a bit mad and waste all my time in these social networks. Well, (maybe) true – I’m a bit hyperactive, but I don’t see my activity online as “wasting” time. It’s actually really valuable to me, and it is only a reflection of how it has progressed. It was not always like that … it rather evolved to become what it is today!

At first it’s unfamiliar, then it strikes root – Fernando Pessoa about Coca-cola

As many people I know, I didn’t immediately see the value of twitter, I resisted to get on to facebook, and I only signed up to skype because I needed to join a group meeting online. For me these things need to make sense, add something to what I am already doing, and be easy to use. But ultimately, I need to try it for myself to see how it makes a difference in my work flow. Hence,  I had to stick to it for sometime until it started to make sense. Needless to say, it took me a long time (Internet  time, that is) to get to the super active stage I am currently at.

… OK, enough rambling… how do I do it?

First, I think it’s important to remember that working and participating online requires you to change the way you work… or at least, to acknowledge that the way you work is not the way your mother imagines you work. Working from 9 to 5 in academia is just unrealistic. Concentrating for long periods of time just doesn’t work for me. [To be honest, it never has, but, you see, now these networks “betray me” in that way as they make it visible though my participation. Do I care? Not really!]

When I am at my desk I work in 20-30 minutes chunks. That’s how much I can handle. In between those sometimes rather productive sessions I check my networks. If there is something I think it is worth a mention, I’ll re-tweet it, re-post it or like it. And then I go back to what I was doing. And I repeat this as many times as I lose my concentration. It helps me re-focus [strangely enough!]

I also try to share things I read – like newspaper articles. And sometimes I engage in conversation. I answer people’s questions, make a comment on someone’s tweet/post or try to crack a joke [not really great at it, but there you go!] The chatting is important. It’s the glue of any networked experience. It brings people together. And sometimes I also tweet/ post silly stuff cause life ain’t always serious. I give you access to a more social me in that way. [If you like it, it's altogether another story; I enjoy it!]

* I don’t distinguish between professional and private networks. They are all socio-professional to me. If I don’t want people to know something about me/ what I am doing, I just don’t publish it online. That is my rule of thumb, but that would be another post.

Build your networks
Building your personal learning network doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build confidence to post “your own stuff”. And it takes equal effort to build your network. It’s important to choose the people you follow because they will be the ones providing critical content. Collective intelligence is the hook to your participation and existence in these networks [in my humble opinion, that is]; the social interaction what brings it all together.

My network is very important to me because it provides me with an alternative platform to test my ideas, to build new ideas, and to learn from other people’s ideas. And their distributed location just means that they travel well … anywhere I go! Having recently moved to a new institution, new city, and for that matter, a new country, has meant that my then local professional and social networks are no longer within my reach. Being active online has somehow given me a sense of continuity  that has eased my settling in.  Moreover, as it often happens, I work in a section of the Institution that deals with a variety of knowledge areas, not all of them technological minded. This is great because it challenges my perceptions and balances my views. Yet, the online networks keep me updated about my own field and enable me to feed that back into my work.

Anyway, in short:

  • Acknowledge that people’s working patterns are different and that their use of social networks during working hours is not merely a form of distraction. For me, it’s a form of breaking up a working routine, especially when I reach a point where “I am stuck”. Then I need a network break!
  • Build up your network with people who can contribute to your knowledge from different perspectives. You can also follow people who you don’t know face to face. You’ll be surprised at how much they can contribute to your knowledge.
  • Don’t judge it before you try it. Allow some time for it to start making sense.
  • Have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously, because no one else will. So post whatever, whenever  it’s important to you. Sharing is a way to show you care!

Anything else you would like to add re: how you manage your networks and how important they are for you?

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    Sounds of the Bazaar LIVE from the Online EDUCA Berlin 2013

    We will broadcast from Berlin on the 5th and the 6th of December. Both times it will start at 11.00 CET and will go on for about 40 minutes.

    Go here to listen to the radio stream: SoB Online EDUCA 2013 LIVE Radio.

    The podcast of the first show on the 5th is here: SoB Online EDUCA 2013 Podcast 5th Dec.

    Here is the second show as a podcast: SoB Online EDUCA 2013 Podcast 6th Dec.

    News Bites

    Open online STEM conference

    The Global 2013 STEMx Education Conference claims to be the world’s first massively open online conference for educators focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and more. The conference is being held over the course of three days, September 19-21, 2013, and is free to attend!
    STEMxCon is a highly inclusive event designed to engage students and educators around the globe and we encourage primary, secondary, and tertiary (K-16) educators around the world to share and learn about innovative approaches to STEMx learning and teaching.

    To find out about different sessions and to login to events go to http://bit.ly/1enFDFB


    Open Badges

    A new nationwide Open Badges initiative has been launched by DigitalMe in the UK. Badge the UK has been developed to help organisations and businesses recognise young people’s skills and achievements online.

    Supported by the Nominet Trust, the Badge the UK initiative is designed to support young people in successfully making the transition between schools and employment using Mozilla Open Badges as a new way to capture and share skills across the web.

    At the recent launch event at Mozilla’s London HQ Lord Knight emphasised the “disruptive potential” of Open Badges within the current Education system. At a time of record levels of skills shortages and unemployment amongst young people all speakers stressed need for a new way to encourage and recognise learning which lead to further training and ultimately employment opportunities. Badge the UK is designed to help organisations and businesses see the value in using Mozilla Open Badges as a new way to recognise skills and achievement and and connect them to real world training and employment opportunities.

    You can find more information on the DigitalMe web site.


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    Apologies for the broken Twitter feeds on this page. It seems Twitter have once more changed their APi, breaking our WordPress plug-in. It isn’t the first time and we will have to find another work around. Super tech, Dirk is on the case and we hope normal service will be resumed soon.


    MOOCs and beyond

    A special issue of the online journal eLearning Papers has been released entitled MOOCs and beyond. Editors Yishay Mor and Tapio Koshkinen say the issue brings together in-depth research and examples from the field to generate debate within this emerging research area.

    They continue: “Many of us seem to believe that MOOCs are finally delivering some of the technology-enabled change in education that we have been waiting nearly two decades for.

    This issue aims to shed light on the way MOOCs affect education institutions and learners. Which teaching and learning strategies can be used to improve the MOOC learning experience? How do MOOCs fit into today’s pedagogical landscape; and could they provide a viable model for developing countries?

    We must also look closely at their potential impact on education structures. With the expansion of xMOOC platforms connected to different university networks—like Coursera, Udacity, edX, or the newly launched European Futurelearn—a central question is: what is their role in the education system and especially in higher education?”


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