Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’

ascilite09 conference reflections #2 – Day One

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

It was a beautiful morning in Auckland and a pleasant stroll through the University of Auckland grounds to the impressive (fairly new) Owen G. Glenn Building.

A genuine and wonderful welcome and greeting in Maori to start off the conference.

The first keynote by Dr Scott Diener took us through the sense of self, sense of place, & sense of emotion that can be exploited by virtual worlds. He suggested that something different happens when we are together and finished off saying we need to be open and share our development and experiences.

Then a plenary by Mark Nichols who provocatively asked if we thought enough about, and recognised & questioned, the ‘group think’ (the wisdowm of crowds) that can mislead us regarding the imagined benefits of technology and elearning. We need to be realistic and not get caught up in the hype of possibility, but be rigorous in our examination and critique of the affordances of new technologies.

I sat in on a symposium called ‘Cascading Change: The role of social software and social media in educational intervention and transformation’. The discussion was focused on how little effect small interventions have at an institutional level and how might we best approach change from a broader ‘whole of organisation’ scope. What conditions, factors, drivers are required? I missed a social get together to continue the discussion so hope to hear more, in the meantime James Clay has blogged about the symposium.

In the afternoon I listened to presentations on the adoption of web 2.0 technologies. Take home points were; workshops don’t always work, follow-up and evaluate any professional development activity to see if practices have changed, there are always new tools to try, and students can do peer assessment if trusted & scaffolded appropriately.

The next session I attended was focused on mobile learning and we learnt about pod/vodcasts to support information literacy for students, using mobile technology to interact during the lecture and about lecturers adopting mobile technology into their teaching. Summary of these presentations is that while we can understand that there are benefits for learning in the adoption and use of mobile technologies, there are still significant barriers to uptake and we need to think carefully about how we might introduce and scaffold the use of these tools in learning & teaching.

Had some fun catching up with friends and meeting twitter followers/ees during the breaks. This link will search twitter for #ascilite09, the conference hashtag so that you can read all the tweets posted with delicious insights to the presentations and other goodies.

All the proceedings of the conference have been published and you can search the programme and find links to all the papers on line at the Conference Programme website.

a month is a long time between posts

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

I’ve convinced myself that I need to write a blog post today, or I’ll feel bad for the rest of the year. My last post was a month ago, which to me seems far too long! I’ve jotted down a few ideas for posts over that time and I’ll get to them soon – but for now it’s just a matter of getting some words and thoughts down so I can sleep tonight. In between weekend chores, watching the Olympics, and catching up with what’s happening to my friends via Twitter, I haven’t spent any time preparing or thinking about this post so, here we go (might have to rely of some ‘stream of consciousness’?, or how’s this for an idea? As this blog is about my observations and reflections, I think I might write about some of the more significant aspects of my work that I’ve experienced over the last month. Hope you find it interesting and maybe even useful…

I attended a workshop on e-Assessment by Geoffrey Crisp who presented as a part of his ALTC fellowship project. We were given a good overview of assessment and how you might create new possibilities for immersion and activity using e-assessment as well as enhancing social interaction (through using a wiki) and even adding value to learning by doing something other assessment can’t do. You can visit his website, register as a user, and check out the resources available.

The university where I work has three campuses and I regularly travel between the one I’m based on (Geelong @ Waurn Ponds) to our main campus in Melbourne. This is usually a 75 to 90 minute commute and I try to hitch a ride with someone who’s driving a university vehicle (to keep one extra car off the road and for the opportunity to talk on the way). Because there’s quite a few people traveling on a daily basis, the university has undertaken a trial for three months of running a bus (12 seater) between the two campuses. I’ve used it a couple of times since inception, and I think that it might catch on. There’s always the opportunity to meet and chat with people from other areas of the university, but the IT people have installed a mobile wireless internet connection on board (this is the cool part). There’s a wireless router (connected to 7.2 NextG card) so everyone with a wireless laptop connection can connect into the uni network while zipping up the highway. There were four of us checking email (me also keeping an eye on my Twitter friends) earlier this week, and after a day of meetings it’s nice to get some of that correspondence out of the way before getting home. There are plans to also provide a couple of laptops on the bus for those who don’t have them, and they are also going to provide a couple of IP telephone handsets so we can call the office over the network instead of using mobile phones. Apparently the cost of maintaining this mobile wireless connection annually (excluding the card and router) would only be around $600 as part of our telco contract. Cheap! All we need now is an AC power supply to plug in the laptops in case batteries run out – and maybe even an espresso machine. 😉

I also managed (with a couple of colleagues) to get a paper written and submitted (by the end of July) for peer review for the ASCILITE Conference at the end of the year. Don’t understand why there’s such a long lead time but I understand that there will probably be well over 200 papers submitted.

I partcipated in the The Knowledge Bank online conference 2008 which was focused on Web 2.0 in education: what it is, how it’s being used today and its potential to radically change education. The event was facilitated through Elluminate (sessions were recorded and available from the website), featured live blogging and is supported by a wiki. It was a great (learning) experience to be part of a group of nearly 200 people from all over the world listening to a range of speakers/presenters. The event was well managed and with a few moderators and presenters (with their slides) went more smoothly than I thought it might. It was fun to hear school bells ringing in the background as teachers participated live (and included their students!). Nice to experience what’s possible.

I’m also on a group providing feedback and support to the implementation project for a learning repository for the university. We’ve been discussing project scope and milestones, metadata, workflow, digital objects, permissions, and training etc. Will be nice to have this available by the end of the year.

I also attended a training session/workshop on using our new powerlink for Blackboard/Vista that enables us to create a Drupal/SMF and/or a Mediawiki installation in our units/courses that integrates within the system. This will be a good enhancement to the LMS ad provide opportunities for some authentic collaboration between students, particularly those studying off-campus/remotely.

I also attended a couple (brown bag) lunch time seminars; ‘multiple choice questions – cultural, linguistic and item writing factors’, and ‘designing, facilitating and assessing group assignments’.

Well, that’s most of the exciting stuff (I’ve probably missed a few things) and looking back reasonably interesting. As second semester settles down I’ll be writing more reflectively on these experiences.

what we need is a system bypass

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Events have recently had me thinking about the LMS and CMS and what they can do for us with regard to student learning, and teachers being able to facilitate this. I’ve realised that we need to recognise these tools as systems and that while they can manage people and content, they need a fair bit of thinking about to be used effectively for learning.

At the university where I work we have an institution-wide implementation of Blackboard (Vista 4) which works quite well (supplemented by Elluminate and Lectopia to provide extra functionality and access to resources), and helps us manage our units/courses and student/staff enrollment etc. Often a template is applied, the class ‘delivered’ via that structure because of the convenience, and the model keeps getting replicated.

My thinking has been encouraged by a recent article by Lisa Lane (in EDUCAUSE Quarterly) called Toolbox or Trap? Course Management Systems and Pedagogy and Britt Watwood’s blog post, Moving Beyond Access and Convenience to Learning. In these two pieces the questions are raised about the potential problems/issues/constraints raised by the use of the ‘management system’ and how they can stifle creativity and learning. Both suggest that many web 2.0 and/or social networking applications are better suited to providing more meaningful learning experiences and allowing students more opportunities for collaboration and inquiry learning.

What is exciting me, is that we’ve recently implemented a project (supported by a Blackboard Greenhouse grant) that has enabled us to make a couple of powerlinks available so that teachers can create drupal/SMF and mediawiki installations within their learning context.

So, I’m looking forward to working on the rollout of this, and hoping that we might get past the tools and functions to some good learning. Being able to go beyond the management system to places where we can encourage conversation, collaboration and community. Where students are able to make sense and meaning through working together…

I’m now looking for good ideas, strategies, and examples to help teachers come to see the possibilities of the social (networking/collabotaive) software they have at their disposal. Anyone able to point me in the right direction?