Friday, 4 July 2014

Starting on July 14th and running for one week... 

Are you a busy lecturer who'd love to learn more about all these technologies everybody seems to be using but you just don't have the time? Or perhaps you're a student who wants to know how all these mobile devices, apps and social media can help you study? Or maybe you're a Learning Developer or academic support staff who worries about being left behind in this changing learner landscape?

BYOD4L is an online learning space open to all - teaching staff, academic support staff, students and anyone else who is interested. Throughout the week of July 14th - 18th, participants will have opportunities to discover how to use mobile devices, apps and social media for learning and teaching. Together, we'll look at how to:

  • Connect
  • Communicate
  • Curate
  • Collaborate
  • Create

To learn more about what the course involves, have a look at the BYOD4L Start Here page. There's no need to register and you can participate as much or as little as you want. 

There are currently 5 universities involved in facilitating this online short course. They are:

Manchester Metropolitan, Sheffield Hallam, Sussex, Ulster, London Metropolitan

If you're at London Met, two of the CELT eLearning team will be helping to facilitate BYOD4L and we'll be running a short intro sessions to help you get started on Friday 11th (12 - 1) and Monday 14th (1 - 2) in LCM-18 in the Learning Centre. For more info on the London Met facilitators, check our BYOD4L Institution Page. Please do come and join us and together we can unravel some of the mysteries of using mobile devices, social media and other tools for learning and teaching.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Connecting on Twitter

So, as the dust settles after Monday's first, slightly manic, Tweetchat...

Q1: What mobile device(s) do you use to connect with others?
Q2: What mobile device(s), tools and apps do you use to communicate with others?
Q3: What BYOD4L forums have you used to connect today?
Q4: How do your connections help you with your learning?
Q5: Do you have any tips for connecting with others?

What did you get out of it? Here are some thoughts...

 - It's a bit like walking into a room where everyone's talking, quite loudly, about the same thing, but not to each other.

 - for touch-typers it's a huge advantage to participate on a laptop as opposed to a tablet or phone as it allows much faster interaction

 - blink and you missed it

 - even just making one connection - following and being followed, commenting, sharing a link, tool or project - makes it worthwhile

 - shame it's not possible to create Twitter groups and throw a fence round this type of chat - yes, openness is good, but potentially annoying for followers not involved in BYOD (although it's up to them to curate and manage - and ignore - their twitter stream I guess)

 - Learning by doing is the best way

 - Would it be useful to have questions in advance? (or does that defeat the object?)


Here are a few questions relating to the 2 scenarios on the Connecting page:

  • What tools can we use and processes can we engage in to help keep us up to date with developments, research, changes etc. in our subject area?
  • As a (lifelong) learner, what are the benefits of developing a Personal Learning Environment and Network?
  • How does the increasing use of mobile devices and social media in every aspect of our lives relate to what we do in our learning and teaching?
  • Do teaching staff have a responsibility to use certain devices or technologies or is it all a matter or individual choice?
  • With multiple responsibilities and very little time, why should teaching staff engage with new devices and apps?

Hope to hear some thoughts and (time permitting) will be adding some of my own...

The slide above is from a Prezi I did a while ago for a workshop

Blog your own device...

CC-BY-SA: Flickr/

Bring your Own Device for Learning (BYOD4L) starts on July 14th - 18th. I'll be attempting to blog about the experience from a Facilitator perspective. At the same time, I'll be creating a new article for London Met's very own eLearning Matrix, all about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) concept - what does it mean? How's it relevant to staff and students? What if I don't have an ipad? etc. 

I've had the sneaky idea of using the combined expertise of our facilitators (and participants) to try crowdsourcing the article.. I'll be drafting the article on a Google Site and would welcome input in the form of suggestions, useful links or resources, criticism, proofreading and anything else you wish to contribute. The final article will then be published on the eMatrix as an open resource under a Creative Commons license with all contributors gratefully acknowledged.

For London Met staff and students, if you're taking the BYOD4L course and learning more about mobile devices, apps and social media, check out the eLearning Matrix. Under Tutorials, you'll find some articles and resources all about technology and pedagogy for teaching and learning. For example, this article on Developing your own Personal Learning Network.

* Don't forget London Met BYOD4L-ers... if you need some face to face support and TLC, come along to our sessions:    
Friday July 11th 12 - 1   and / or  Monday July 14th 1 - 2  (LCM-18 in the Learning Centre, North)

What's in a name?

I'm slightly struggling with the BYOD4L acronym - the temptation is to try to pronounce it as one word, but it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue... BeeYoDforL? Beeyoodiful? Neither sounds quite right.... how about 'Bring n Learn' (like the old bring n buy sales)? Or maybe it'll just have to be Bring your Own Device..... Any suggestions welcome... ;-)

What is curation?

CC-BY-2.0: Sally Wilson/Flickr

Curation is more than just collecting links

Here's a quote from an article in the Journal of Interactive Media in Education by Paul Mihailidis and James Cohen (2013):

"Curation is an act of problem solving. Curating information to tell a story creates a sense of responsibility for the curator. Storytelling advances the core media literacy principles of analysis, evaluation and creation. By curating, students can compose a story using content acquired on their search with heightened awareness of purpose and audience (Hobbs 2010). All media online is searchable by any user of the web, but the task of the curator is to organize the information into a story in order to share with others in a coherent, nuanced and clear manner. Guided by the teacher, students can access content, analyze and evaluate the messages, create presentations, reflect on findings, and work together in collaborative environments (Hobbs 2010)." [my italics]

In my view, when we talk about curation, there's a danger of getting too bogged down in discussion of specific tools - Storify, Flickr, Pinterest, Evernote, Feedly etc. ad infinitum.... I think it's important, when curating resources, websites, articles, pictures, videos, blogs, tweets, people (?) etc., to ask yourself:

  • Who am I curating for?
  • What is the purpose of curating these resources?
  • What I want the audience to do with them (or are they just for my personal use)?
  • Do I need to check and refresh the resources regularly or is it just for one learning event or period of time?
  • Can the task of curation be 'outsourced' to students/colleagues? In other words, can it be more meaningful as a collaborative exercise.
The above quote resonates with me because it reminds us that curation has a purpose - problem-solving, storytelling etc. Too often, a collection of links will be thrown into an online space with no direction or commentary...

Creating Collaboratively

At London Met we're working on an open learning resource for teaching staff. We want to spread ideas, share new technologies and provoke discussion about learning and teaching in a digital soup.

I'm writing a short article about Bring Your Own Device (the concept, not BYOD4L, the course). The aim is to introduce UKHE teaching and academic staff to BYOD, some of the issues surrounding it and how it might affect them, what the benefits and drawbacks are... I need to write a short introduction and description, link to useful resources, find some scenarios, include some video/audio/image and so on..

Can you help? 

One of the great things about this week has been the combined expertise, knowledge and different views that have been so abundant - I would love to harness some of that abundance to help create something better. If you have any ideas, tips, suggestions, resources to add to the Google doc below that would be fantastic.

What will you gain by collaborating? 

A warm glow? Well... the resource will be entirely open to use or link to for anybody who finds it useful. I think it could be really innovative and exciting to try this kind of collaboration and perhaps think about how it might be developed further in future. For example, the University of Sussex created a blog post about Tweetdeck this week which I've added a link to on our site. On the same page is a Slideshare by Sue. I really believe there could be more of this kind of collaboration and creativity and I'd like to explore ways we could develop this.... Anyone interested in exploring this with me?

How can we collaborate?

Google Docs seems to be a popular tool, judging by some of the comments and posts coming out of this week. I'm sharing a link to a very basic Google Doc (below) and depending on how this goes, may use a Google Site later to start creating something including multimedia and formatting which will be closer to what the article could look like on the eMatrix. For the finished article I will include a short paragraph describing the collaboration and including the name and institution of any contributors who participated (with permission of course).

Google Doc for collaboration:

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Domains of Learning - ocTEL Week 7

One of the Week 7 Tasks for was: 

·       How you would you implement one or more kinds of support in some learning provision in which you are involved?
·       How would these meet the needs of your learners (you may find it useful to refer to any work you did on Week 2),
·       The challenges you think they might experience.

For this task I’ve been taking a look at George Siemens’ article on what he calls the Learning Development Cycle. As I often find with his work, it’s extremely dense (the look of it, font, line spacing etc doesn’t make it an easy article to get to grips with…) but on closer inspection I find thought-provoking nuggets which I’d like to explore further. For me, the concept of the four learning domains  which he describes (see below) is more interesting and useful than the actual Learning Development Cycle which he outlines later in the paper. I’ll try to relate these domains to my own context and describe how I think they overlap.

George Siemens:

I sometimes teach on a Pre-Sessional Academic English programme for international students. The aim of the course is to give these students the necessary language and academic skills to be able to participate in a course of under- or postgraduate study.

There is no escaping the Transmission domain for this course. There is a tried and tested syllabus, materials, timetable and assessment framework which needs to be adhered to. This is, of course, not perfect, but it has the advantage of giving structure to the course and providing a degree of familiarity/comfort for international students with an extremely wide and diverse range of educational experiences. This is not something that is likely to change in the near future, so I think the important question is: 

How can Instructors on the course begin to integrate elements of the other 3 domains of learning into this existing framework? 

Siemens outlines the role of the designer (Instructor in this case…) in each of the domains:

Transmission: Create courses, workshops
Accretion: Create networks, ecologies, environments
Acquistion: Ensure availability of resources
Emergence: Foster and encourage reflection

He also categorises how each domain is indicative of a particular type of learning theory or view of learning:

Transmission: Behaviourism / Cognitivism
Accretion: Connectivism
Acquistion: Connectivism / Constructivism
Emergence: Constructivism / Cognitivism

For me this is useful as it highlights the fact that no one learning theory fits all, and that good learning and teaching practice cannot generally be described by one over-arching learning theory, but instead will have elements of a variety of learning theories.

So, in terms of my course, how would I bring these other elements in? Here are some examples:

Transmission: As an Instructor on this course, most of the course material and the syllabus has already been created. In the transmission domain, my role would be to ‘deliver’ these during face to face sessions, manage the assessed components of the course and so on.

Accretion: The aim here would be to help learners build their own learning networks so that they have the skills to find what they need as they progress into their full degree programmes. For example, I might create a Diigo (social bookmarking) group and encourage students to find and add relevant sites for academic or language skills. A Twitter feed embedded in their course site (currently Blackboard Learn) could highlight useful information and articles, or even better, they could create their own Twitter lists of practitioners in their particular subject area. Use of some of the social communication tools (e.g. blogs, discussion boards) within the course could begin to build up a community of learners and, once some confidence had been developed in this (relatively safe) environment, this could be extended out into a wider network (using Nancy White’sideas of Community and Network - great webinar by the way, well worth a look if you haven't already).

Acquisition: The idea here would be to provide a variety of resources in different media to try to meet the different needs of learners. For example, rather than links to lots of dense PDF documents, I’d also try to include some OERs in various formats e.g. a video, podcast, prezi, slideshare etc. It’s relatively straightforward to provide a good variety of different resources. The challenging part is persuading learners to engage with these resources. Self-directed learning does not come naturally to many learners – certain educational cultures are prone to spoon-feeding content, and some learners may see this as the norm and find it difficult to adopt different learning behaviours. So acquisition also requires good scaffolding in my view.

Emergence: To encourage reflection and meta-cognition, a personal journal can be used to encourage students to reflect in writing on their own learning. Again, it’s fairly simple to build elements of reflection and self-assessment into a course, although it is sometimes necessary to make these a part of assessment in order to encourage participation. This may be outside learners’ experience of education and therefore needs to be done with care. It always helps to explain exactly why we are doing it and what can be gained by it. Having students accompany any piece of written work with a short description of what they found difficult about the task and how well they think they achieved it can also be an interesting exercise.

In my view, these are all things which an Instructor can do to help learners reach their particular learning goals. The challenges inherent in trying to enable learning in all of these domains often relates to student expectations/experience (particularly when your cohort is international students with an extremely diverse range of educational backgrounds). In a sense, we look to encourage a cultural change among learners, to help them become more self-directed, reflective, networked and risk-taking learners. 

(If you're a Diigo user, I've made a few highlights and comments on the Siemens Learning Development Cycle article which you can access at   - depending on browser you're using you might need to hit Annotate in Diigo toolbar or widget to allow you to see highlights / comments)