Category Archives: Networked Practice

My #eddies13 champions and why the Edublog Awards matter

My heart in your hands

Image cc license by Aussiegal on Flickr

Is it that time already? The nominations for the tenth Edublog Awards are here. I know. 10!! It seems like just yesterday that we were all geekily setting up our first ‘web logs’.

Why the Edublog Awards matter

The Edublog Awards are organized annually by the good people at Edublogs and fondly known as the “eddies”. Although I agree with some of the critics that it can be a bit of a popularity contest and it doesn’t have the geographical and network spread we might want, I still wholeheartedly support the “eddies” for a few reasons.

1. Transferrable recognition

For people who are doing work out on the edges, early adopters, it can often be difficult to find recognition within their organization. Although they are appreciated by their online peers, those metrics (comments, tweets, etc) rarely translate back into their organization. However, getting an award does. It is a concept that has value in both of the organizational and the networked world of an educator’s practice.

And that effect spreads. Even those who aren’t nominated can benefit when an expert they follow, a community they participate in, a tool they use, an unconference they attend or a practice they practice, is publicly recognized.

2. Don’t underestimate the effect of an Edublog Award on a recipient or their audience

Many early adopters work in isolation and against the grain in their organization. This can be lonely, even when you have networked support from other bloggers and tweeters at a distance. For me, getting the award for the Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers encouraged me to tell myself: “See, I’m not crazy. I’ll just keep going.” And going back to point 1, it was at that point that my organization included my work for our marketing materials and pushed me at local press. I also started to be invited to international conferences which in the end even resulted in my moving countries.

3. A crowd curated uber-FollowFriday

Each year’s list of nominees and winners forms a great jumping off point for discovering new colleagues, new projects and new ideas. Curated, distilled and endorsed by the educational crowd, you know that you won’t be wasting your time delving into any of their work.

4. The timing is perfect.

It’s the end of the year, whether you’re in the Northern hemisphere and breaking for the holidays, or in the Southern hemisphere and breaking for the holidays and summer and getting ready for a new academic year. That means you are realizing that some of those things on your to-do-list will simply not get done, and that frees up space in your head. I’m sure you’ll start feeling the creativity bubble very soon. That is the perfect time to jump into the treasure trove of new ideas, cognitive tools and practice examples that you can find in the nominations. Open up your notebook or Evernote and start plotting for next year, filled with fresh inspiration.

5. A retrospective of our practice

We all know our work practice has changed dramatically but going back through the lists of previous years finalists really brings it home. Unfortunately the blog posts don’t go back before 2006, but remember 2006? Pre-tablets, pre-Twitter, pre-Instagram? We couldn’t stop talking about wikis…

My Edublogs daydream

Having said that, I would like to think that after 10 years the time is ripe for the Edublog Awards to take the next step and truly become global, recognizing emerging practice in education around the world. To do so, we would need:

  • More descriptive criteria for each category.
  • Simpler nomination and voting systems that have a social layer.
  • The Edublog Awards should totally be awarded as open badges (this one is easy and can still be done this year!)
  • I’d love to see a Curator and Curation board category
  • Wider participation, including the addition of regional nominations. I for one would love to see the nominees from Africa and South America.
  • The addition of sponsored awards in specialized categories. I’m sure there are vendors out there who could provide an educator or organization with a small grant or donation, in return for the exposure.
  • Collaboration with larger global organizations (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? Mozilla?)
  • And to formalize and achieve the above goals, the organizers could put together a Board of Advisors made up of past award recipients.

Just my daydream…

My #eddies13 nominations

Until then, here are my 2013 champions among the many champions that I follow and read and share with every day. Much love from me to all of you!

Best group blog: The ThesisWhisperer blog.

Dr. Inger Mewburn‘s blog has supported and encouraged thousands of PhD students. She writes prolifically on the blog, but also uses it as a platform for other voices and the comments sections frequently turn into lively debate halls. It is everything a blog can be, a focal point for a community.


Best open PD/unconference/webinar: the iMoot conference.

Ok this is one I didn’t actually attend this year, but I heard SO much about it after the fact that I am going to nominate it anyway. The iMoot Conference about everything Moodle has been organized for the last few years by the lovely Pukunui people. I have attended and been a speaker in the past, and right from the first one it has been a marvel.

The conference is fully online and goes around the clock and around the globe for 3-5 days. The speakers come from the incredibly engaged Moodle community and the program is put together and facilitated by ringmaster Julian ‘the Moodleman’ Ridden. All sessions run twice in different time brackets to account for timezones. Held over a weekend, I’ve always been impressed with how much it feels like a real conference. You attend the sessions you are interested in, and in between you talk to people in the ‘virtual hallways’, on Skype, on Twitter and in the Moodle forums provided.

However the one thing every one kept buzzing about this year is how successfully the conference used ‘open badges‘. This function had only just been released in Moodle, but at every event or conference I’ve attended since, participants keep mentioning how much they learned and engaged with others because of this. Bravo Pukunui!

Best free web tool: Mozilla’s Open Badges

I have already mentioned the Open Badges a few times but I cannot get over the truly revolutionary and far reaching the work that the small Open Badges team at Mozilla are doing. And it’s all out there for anyone to engage with and build on it further. I won’t go into all the details why I love this project. I’ll just share two artefacts from two of the inspiring team members I’ve had the privilege to meet and learn from this year.

Carla Casilli’s blog post on badge pathways really stretched my brain and brought home to me the effect open badges can have in personalizing lifelong learning.

And the clarity of Doug Belshaw‘s presentations has been indispensable in talking to others about badges.


Best mobile app: Evernote

Evernote is the most versatile notetaking tool out there, it syncs across all platforms, accommodates all media and has great extensions, made by the company itself and by third parties, letting you scan business cards to your contacts and handdraw notes. And now they have just gone and made it collaborative.

Evernote can go from small to big. Use it on your smartphone during your tram ride, use it on your tablet for writing, use it for an impromptu presentation at a meeting from any pc by accessing it in the cloud. Whether you are a teacher, a researcher, a librarian, an edtech or a manager, if you are not using Evernote yet, you are depriving yourself.

Give some love

Those are my nominations for this year. All nominations need to be in on Sunday 1 December 2013, so you’ve still got time to give some love to those who have brightened your educational year. And did I mention you can also nominate individual tweeters…

Social media activities to help crowdfund research (part 1) #deakin #pozible

Here is @bestqualitycrab at launch of the @pozible crowdfunding #research project. Only 6 wks ago...#deakin

@bestqualitycrab at launch of the @pozible crowdfunding #research project

An Im-Pozible-y Cool Project

Before the December break in 2012, Prof Deb Verhoeven (who is awesome and in my mind like an academic version of Sheryl Sandberg) asked me for a chat about a project she was working on. It turned out to be an innovative project to trial crowdfunding research in Australia, in collaboration with Pozible, the Australian Kickstarter counterpart . In development over about 2 years and with Pozible already in the market, her project was now coming together.

This end of year time is always so conducive to brainstorming, and we spent an enjoyable lunch thinking about what kind of projects could/might be succesful, what people would definitely not sponsor (eg academics flying to conferences in exotic locations…), what kind of social media and digital presence would be needed to be successful, and whether anyone would dare to take the plunge.

Well some very brave souls did, the project launched on 8 May and it has been quite the ride. Before I go any further, I'd like you all to go take a look at Research My World! Some of the projects have already reached their goals, but some are still looking for support to hit the mark by tomorrow!! (DO IT NOW!!!)

I've been so excited to be involved in this. It is a prime example of how technology

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7 Habits of Networked Academics

7 Habits of Networked AcademicsToday Colin Warren and I were very pleased to be invited by the colleagues who run the Graduate Certificate of Higher Education at Deakin, to come and share our thoughts on the evolving concept of networked academics. As it was a late afternoon session, after a day of student presentations, we wanted to keep it simple and just share some practical tips. Keep it applied. We focused on the habits we’ve seen exhibited by networked academics that can be adopted by newcomers and included some quick activities. SO this is by no means comprehensive. We also emphasized that networking habits are a matter of choice, everyone should decide what’s right for them and where to start. No one should feel pressured to do everything.

We prepared a digital handout for reference, and in case we would run out of time, which we of course did. Some of you may find this useful, so we’re sharing it here.

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One way to grow a networked teacher, is to grow a networked learner #pln

In my new role as Lecturer in Blended Learning, a part of my role is staff development. Staff development has always been a part of my roles, both in how do you do staff development in a networked world?

It was one of the big questions at the national AITD conference on training and development where I was invited to be a keynote. Much of the discussion in the keynotes and sessions where how traditional trainers/developers could adapt their traditional approaches capitalise on working and training in a networked world and in networked organisations.

Some issues overheard:

  • Traditional training is unpopular. Staff don’t want to give up time/other activities.
  • Traditional training lacks the ability to customize, not personal, not just-in-time
  • Not every trainer is an expert in every aspect of the company’s operations
  • How do you measure networked staff development?
  • How do you measure your contribution to organisation, if you can’t tick off training sessions, coaching interventions, resources created…
  • Senior management need convincing on the power of networked organisations
  • There will never be enough IT trainers to help everyone

And even though I wouldn’t call most higher education institutions networked organisations just yet, there are nascent networks inside them. These will become more important as the impact of the networked, information abundant world on this sector grows (as it has with the music, publishing and newspaper industries). Networked organisations are more flexible and adaptable. And so we as academic developers can look through the lense of the T&D professionals and see that we struggle with the same issues.

A networked professional has a Personal Learning Network

I’ve long thought that it is impossible to truly assess the potential of networked technologies for learning, when you only learn about them in a 2 hour workshop.

I’ve done many a Twitter, LMS (Moodle, Blackboard, etc), Facebook workshop and the traction is… Continue reading

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