Snow, Floods Swine Flu Terrorist Threats Keep Calm and Carry On


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Debate panel presentation for University of Plymouth E-Learning Conference, 11.15am, Friday 9th April with regards to cultural change in institutions wth regards to introducing e-tools for learning.

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  • OK, so I want to look at how to build that internal community between staff, within an institution… So, just a little background, to contextualise my approach 2004 completed PhD in Second World War posters (at Winchester) – cultural history – how to keep a community going through some of its hardest times, how do you get people to do something they initially don’t want to “for the greater good” Post-PhD to Uni of Manchester, promoting interdisciplinary research – found too bureaucratic to be able to create community, and realised how strongly I dislike the top-down approach… World travels then Tour Leader around Europe – singles of varying ages, had to get that sense of community going quickly – so ID common threads (most were Christians) Had been using digital tools - e.g. blogs, etc. the whole time, returned November 2008, trained as a life coach, and then dove back into Academia: temporary teaching, websites, etc. October 2009, appointed as ‘Blended Learning Fellow’ – with a remit to create a Blended Learning focus within the Uni (in only 1 day a week)… so what strategies have I started to employ… and I’d be interested to hear advice for more…
  • Now, I expect everyone in this room to know these terms… Digital Native (technology their first stop) Digital Immigrant (had to learn to use/adapt) Digital Aliens (don’t want to use) I know they’re contested, but acknowledging the numbers of mature students, many students will “never know a world without ubiquitous broadband internet access”…
  • In 2008-2009, Sir David Melville undertook this study ( The Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience ) . Their remit was to “consider the impact of the newest technologies such as social networking and mobile devices on the behaviour and attitudes of students coming up to and just entered higher education and the issues this poses for universities and colleges.” Can see here, some of the findings… That idea of the ‘digital native’, however contested, came out through their research into the younger groups, and the timeframe just kept accelerating Staff, however, are much slower in take-up, and many still cling to the idea of the ‘sage on the stage’, when the role more clearly appears to becoming ‘the guide on the side’ Students often know how to use the technology, but if we can get staff to use the technology, they can then start to apply the pedagogy…
  • So, how to we manage these changes within the institution? Staff time and support issues are critical – which is where my post comes in - my role is to provide that central person who gets to understand some of the issues which could be helped through the use of technology, circulate examples of good practice, and identify tools which are helpful and begin implementation with those who would gain from them… Etienne Wenger et al is the key thinker in this, and his most recent book ‘Digital Habitats: Stewarding Technology for Communities’, and he provides some of the most useful guidance… (haven’t read all of it yet, but happy to see it fits my approach)…
  • As a Lecturer myself, believe me, I know how heavy the workloads are! There’s plenty of people at the University with a fear of technology, and a belief that the current emphasis on open access technology is a threat to Intellectual Property. There will be people in all groups – natives, immigrants and aliens, and we need to strategise to reach all levels… , and gradually ensure that using technology appropriately becomes a part of everyday practice. The other week, I ran a Face to Face session within our ‘Collaborative Enhancement in Teaching’ lunch series (the food often brings people along!). Around 15 attended (out of 200-odd staff), so, aware that this was a group that is already interested in Blended Learning, I asked what they thought were the similarities and differences between learning, and technology-led/enhanced learning….
  • I just wanted a brief discussion, but after 20 minutes, had to bring it to a forceful halt… You can see: A belief that essentially people are still the same, these are TOOLS we are offering them (often to do the same thing in a different way, or even allowing us to do something new altogether…), and that e-learning tools are essentially the next step in “progress”, but the SCALE of it and the openness of students shocks many. I know that this is not getting to the fears of the major group, so I have plans for a Survey (Survey Monkey) to identify what people are familiar with, and what they would like to get out of e-tools for learning…
  • Now, to come to the interest in technology – how many of you have seen this test, from the BBC’s “Virtual Revolution” – I came out as a ‘Web Fox’, which is not surprising for most people as I’m online… A LOT! This is expected to be the most common type for “digital natives” – but as always, not all (and I am considerably older than the typically described ‘digital native’)!!!
  • Now, I know that I’m familiar with many types of technology (to varying extents, as most of us are), and that I’m comfortable in experimenting with many different environments – I have used many other bits of technology and abandoned them… as I’m sure most of you in this room have – don’t try and cover EVERY platform… sometimes ‘good enough for now’ is enough! As Wenger again points out, it is important for the technology steward to understand what is available, and what is possible for their own community. This can then allow us to make informed choices about technology… as within my role, I promote some of the tools that I have found helpful, with an indication as to the purpose that I have used them for… But of course, we’re in a University, so the VLE is central to our use, ours is simply called “The Learning Network”…
  • So, to make inroads across the board at the University, I am making use of the Learning Network (which everyone is required to use – how far they do is debatable, but that’s another talk!)… as people are at least familiar with the basics of this…. On these pages I’ve uploaded key thinking, conference feedback, how-to guides, and links/information on various possible tools. There is also a forum, little used at present, but we got some debate going after that previous discussion… probably not best to launch it just before the Easter “break”! Aware that there are those who will never go on here, and that some will find the amount of content overwhelming, I am also visiting each Faculty to present a talk about my role, and emphasise that it’s about finding the right tool for the job, not using them all…, this also gives me an opportunity to find out what their fears/concerns are… ------------------------------------------------- Blended Learning - what it means, how it can be deployed in teaching, other people's experience ........ Blended Learning community - who's interested in what? who would be a good contact for help or discussion? Events involving Blended Learning including training Forum on Blended Learning - have your say JISC : The UK organisation supporting Universities in the innovative use of digital technologies Conference Feedback : What are the current debates related to Blended Learning? Current Projects What is currently going on in the University? Using the Learning Network - ideas from others, and for you to add yours Using Wimba : What is it - training opportunities. Using Clickers in the classroom How to get started Electronic Submission All about the pilot E-Assessment Practice within the University. Web 2.0/Social Media : What are some of the possibilities? Blogging Online diaries Wikis What are they and how can you make best use of them? Twitter What can you say in 140 characters? Second Life What possibilities are available with JISC? Facebook Does it have a purpose in education? You Tube Where do we go with it? Google Wave What is it and who can you connect with? Screen Capture Provide online tutorials
  • As I’m also teaching 6 modules this semester, and finding it difficult to monitor pieces of paper outside various offices I have access to…, I gave one small example at the discussion the other week, which raised great excitement… On the Learning Network, I have used the activity “Choices” for the assignment questions. Within this 2 nd year history module, the students each have to give a presentation, so I placed all the options for titles on the Learning Network, and once a student had picked an option, it wasn’t available to any other students (if you want 2+ per question, then you can set that too). I advertised the closing date for choices, and besides having to chase up a couple of students who were still appearing in the left-hand menu (the remaining ones there are staff), all were in place in time!
  • Another simple tool that I use to give that ‘gentle introduction’ to technology is my wireless presenter. Most of the people in this room probably use them without thought, but to several people recently, these have been something exciting, and they have purchased one… a simple tool, but gives me credibility in some people’s eyes who otherwise think that I’m trying to pile more work on top of their already towering piles…
  • Another big concern for staff is that with students increasingly using sites such as Wikipedia, and the easy access to ‘purchased essays’, and the pressure to get a good degree because of the state of the economy, we all know plagiarism is on the rise! The University has a subscription to TurnItIn – plagiarism checking software My predecessor, who created the role a couple of years ago had already provided information on this software, so I redirected staff to it. In all this, my concern is to show, through small ways, the possibilities of technology in problem-solving the issues already pre-existing.
  • Another tool which some tutors have started to use in Facebook – mostly groups – which allows you to maintain contact with your students without having to become “friends” with them. Here is an example from the MA: Religion Rhetoric and Rituals of Death, which uses Facebook to maintain contact with its students, but also to bring in a wider audience…
  • And remember, it’s not only for teaching purposes, getting the administrative groups involved really helps, and the Library has been at the forefront of experimenting with Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging – a great way to keep on track of new acquisitions, and even to access them without going into the library…
  • What I would really like to do is find the time to create a blog for all of the above kind of material – as the VLE appears to be groaning under the amount of data that I have put into it, and I would like the functionality of tagging, etc. – but how much familiarity and training do I need to do on blogging before I can get a critical mass working with me, and we have also run into concerns about privacy – this kind of blog would require critique of systems that don’t work as much as recommendations of those that do….
  • However, just to finish, as the technology steward, it’s my role to support the adoption and transition to use of new technologies (with support from ITS and other enthusiasts for the technology)… I had used Elluminate before, but the University has purchased a 3 year licence to Wimba. This is my first experience of trying to implement such a package, and as I wasn’t involved in choosing the package, I’m essentially learning along with everyone else – always interesting… As always, it’s about calming fears – this is not designed to REPLACE face-to-face teaching, but to act as a substitute when for some reason something is unavailable…. As our panel is considering, this would be great for if the snow falls, as lectures could be presented via Wimba Classroom. It’s also about demonstrating the further benefits, and what it makes possible that wasn’t possible before… it’s great for allowing for more frequent research student supervisions…, great for allowing access to students who can’t come in for daytime tutorials, and for international students who struggle with English as a Second Language, there is an opportunity to re-watch/listen to the presentation (similarly for dyslexic students) – all fitting in with wider strategies with regards to widening participation, accessibility support, and gaining more international students!
  • So, as I hope you can see, my approach has been one of softly, softly, working with those who are interested – as far as possible in the first instance, and gradually drawing in others as they see the benefits & possibilities, ensuring that the use of e-tools becomes embedded within the culture, rather than a luxurious extra – it’s a bit of an uphill struggle, but an interesting one to engage with…!
  • Snow, Floods Swine Flu Terrorist Threats Keep Calm and Carry On

    1. 1. FLOODS? SNOW? SWINE FLU? TERRORIST THREATS? “KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON”: INTERNAL COLLABORATION [email_address] 9 th April 2010 Plymouth E-Learning Conference Dr Bex Lewis, University of Winchester Blended Learning Fellow Lecturer History/Media Studies
    2. 2. Coming up… <ul><li>That old ‘Digital Native’ debate </li></ul><ul><li>Creating Digital Habitats </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding Community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being Tech Savvy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being aware that others aren’t tech savvy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gaining engagement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adoption of new technologies </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3.
    4. 4. Sir David Melville, March 2009 <ul><li>Use of Web 2.0 is ubiquitous from the age of 12. </li></ul><ul><li>Patchy take-up from staff </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Even when a strong drive from management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tools can take a long time to use properly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Staff time and support issues are critical. </li></ul><ul><li>Familiarity with the technology? </li></ul><ul><li>Where they fit strategically? </li></ul><ul><li>Skilled Students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Critical/evaluative skills: deficit area, likely to get worse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. “The 10 Second Researcher”: Google/Wikipedia facilitate “shallow research”. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Appropriate skills for future workplace demands. </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Creating Digital Habitats <ul><li>“ Technology stewards are people with enough experience of the workings of a community to understand its technology needs, and enough experience with or interest in technology to take leadership in addressing those needs. Stewarding typically includes selecting and configuring technology, as well as supporting its use in the practice of the community.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wenger, E., White, N., Smith, J.D., Digital Habitats: Stewarding Technology for Communities , 2009, p.25 </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Understanding Community <ul><li>“ The first and foremost activity of tech stewards is to understand their community and its evolution well enough to be able to respond to its expressed and unexpressed needs with respect to technology. This understanding of how the community functions includes its key activities, member characteristics, subgroups, boundaries, aspirations, potential, limitations, as well as its context. Achieving such understanding will require a combination of direct involvement, observations, and conversations with community members.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wenger, E. et al, Ibid , pp.26-7 </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Discussion: 26/03/10 <ul><li>Similarities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People will still be people, same fears, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Just another tech. development like printing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Naivety & suspicion in early use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guidance required to enable good use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distinctions – space to meet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implicit credibility </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Differences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scale/massification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accessibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Longevity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Worse cyber-bullying/or just more public? Direct abuse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Think it’s “our world” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We know too much about students outside? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Laziness, not past digital tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community vs individual focus </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Bex: You are a Web Fox <ul><li>Fast-moving – Web Foxes like you are great at finding information quickly, just as real-world foxes are always ready to pounce on an opportunity. </li></ul><ul><li>Sociable – Foxes are highly social animals, maintaining complex relationships with the other members of their social group. When you browse the web you are also a social creature, often using social networks, or other sites whose content is created by its users, as sources of information. </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptable – Web Foxes are highly adaptable multitaskers, able to do several things at the same time – just like real-world foxes who can rapidly change their behaviour to suit their environments. </li></ul>
    9. 9. Bex’s PLE
    10. 10.
    11. 11. Learning Network: Choices
    12. 12. Wireless Presenter with Laser Pointer
    13. 13. Plagiarism Checking <ul><li>“ Turnitin Originality Checking allows educators to check students' work for improper citation or potential plagiarism by comparing it against continuously updated databases. Every Originality Report provides instructors with the opportunity to teach their students proper citation methods as well as to safeguard their students' academic integrity.” </li></ul><ul><li>Ask ITS for a Tii password </li></ul><ul><li>Go to: </li></ul><ul><li>Register a class & ask students to upload their assignments </li></ul><ul><li>(or use the ‘Quick Submit’ facility) </li></ul><ul><li>See Eric Bodger’s report ‘Critique of Electronic Submission’ on the Learning Network </li></ul>
    14. 14.!/group.php?gid=104742819300&ref=ts
    15. 15.
    16. 16. Best Practice Blog?
    17. 17. Synchronous Conferencing ; ;