Category Archives: Networked learning

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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A month of #Pomodoro #pom31

“When it comes to interacting with the world of always-on information, the fundamental skill, on which other essential skills depend, is the ability to deal with distraction without filtering out opportunity.” -Howard Rheingold

As knowledge workers, our social (or learning) networks are like oxygen. We need the information streams they provide, to survive. As Dr Inger Mewburn, aka Thesiswhisperer, recently said in her #PLEConf keynote and blog post, these practices are “the work you do in order to do the work you do.” That applies whatever your learning and information environment of choice is; Twitter, Yammer, Facebook, LinkedIn, email or any combination of those. They are indispensable.

However, being dependent on those enticing, rich, abundant, omnipresent, (can we even say addictive?) information streams, does indeed mean that the ability to deal with distraction, as Howard Rheingold says, becomes a key skill.

I find that I am good at one facet of this skill: setting up appropriate filters so I don’t miss out on the opportunities provided. However, I would like to be better at another part: attention or “time on task”. Continue reading

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When Educators Become Curators – keynote slides from #moothr12

Educators need to become digital curators
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of being the virtual keynote speaker at the Croation MoodleMoot. Thanks to Sandra Kucina and Jasmin Klindžić for inviting me, and making everything happen so smoothly.

We agreed that, in line with my PhD topic, I would focus not on Moodle, but on the new digital curation skills being required of all teachers. So it began as an introduction to digital curation and then looked at how educators can curate inside or outside of an LMS. Thanks to those Croatian Moodlers in the Twitter stream for engaging with me afterwards. More feedback is welcome. I look forward to developing my ideas further…

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Basic Functions of a Social Media Tool

Most education technologists will argue that our work is not about the tools, but about what the tools will allow educators and learners to do. Social media tools in particular, are so versatile they can be used for almost any purpose, from sharing your PhD experiences to learning about Maths or hearing a Nobel Peace prize winner speak.

However, very often it is the tool that becomes the obstacle. Yet another account to set up. Yet more functions to figure out. And there’s always more tools after that…It can be discouraging.

But there’s a cheat. You don’t always have to start from scratch. Most social media tools have some basic functions in common, that you are already familiar with and can always look for. Knowing those basic functions, and identifying them quickly, can speed up your ability to assess a social media tool for your practice. Once you’ve isolated the basic functions of a new tool, you can focus on exploring its special functions.

Providing cheat sheets is an essential part of  my work with academic staff (see the Moodle Tool Guide evidence) ;-) . I like to make learning easier, for educators and learners. I created a diagram a few years ago on those basic functions, to aid me and  I’ve updated it now with examples from Facebook and Twitter, and posted it on Flickr. I hope you find it useful too.

Basic Functions of a Social Media Tool

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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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The LMS as a mixing panel for social learning

Photo by Sergiu Bacioiu, cc licensed on Flickr

Photo by Sergiu Bacioiu, cc licensed on Flickr

(This post is cross-posted from a guest blog post I wrote for Hazel Owen at Ethos Consultancy NZ community site)

I have a hard truth to share with you. Our learning management systems are letting us down. They are not getting the job done.

The slow rise of social learning

Over the last decade, the internet has gone from a primarily static content distribution system, to a social publishing, communication and sharing environment. As we’ve seen this “social web” develop, several social learning theoretical frameworks have been developed and tested, including connectivism, social constructivism and the conversational framework. These pedagogical models of learning remain at the periphery and have yet to achieve mainstream adoption.

That uptake will be slower in coming than some of us might wish, due to many stumbling blocks. I’ll mention just a few here:

  • our policies (both governmental and institutional) are slow to adapt because policy changes are not made at the speed of social media,
  • a “content is king” culture exists in learning and training that is hard to crack,
  • some long-standing organisational habits are not conducive to transformation (timetabling, lectures, a weighted teaching-research balance),
  • there are debates about what constitutes proof of learning; is it tests and exams or projects, group work and portfolios,
  • the struggle for investments needed for large IT projects in an age of funding and budget cuts,
  • digital literacy skill challenges of the parties involved,
  • and a persistent belief that nothing trumps face-to-face interactions.

I’m sure that there are gradations to which these stumbling blocks are present in your organisation and that there are others. And there’s no need to point fingers. These are large complex changes that affect every single part, process and person in our organisations. It will take time, new practices and some very hard thinking to adopt this new social learning. But it’ll be totally worth it. Continue reading

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Why you should go to the PLE Conference – a flashback to 2010 #pleconf

PLE Conference #pleconfI’m really looking forward to the PLE Conference 11-13 July 2012. The conference continues to innovate in many ways. Organisationally we’ve expanded the conference to two locations, Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia and Universidade de Aveiro in Portugal, spreading the opportunity for sharing scholarship around the PLN and PLE topics and effectively making this a blended conference. How neat! (Of course, one of the venue organisers for Melbourne is yours truly  so I’m a little bias…;-))

The two locations have a joint Call for Papers out with the closing date for abstracts on 16 March 2012, and the deadline for final papers on 13 May 2012. I’m hoping to encourage you all to write an abstract, submit it and join us!

So why should you go to the PLE Conference?

I was very lucky to attend the first PLE Conference in Barcelona and some firsts are simply things which cannot be guaranteed for subsequent events. This first iteration was a veritable who’s who of networked learning with Alec Couros, Steve Wheeler, Graham Atwell, Ilona Buchem and many others in the field attending. Besides the excitement of this, it being the first conference, it also meant that much of the PLE work presented, was completely new to the other attendees. So it was like finding a treasure trove of PLE/PLN research. Also Ricardo Torres Kompen was just the best venue organiser/host, his attention to detail and calmness without peer.

So what are elements of the PLE Conference that continue to make it THE event for any networked scholar/educator to attend? Continue reading

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#eLearnconf in Hawaii – covering it live

Well this is the first day at the eLearn 2011 conference in Hawaii. It’s a large conference with a very full program. So I thought I’d set up a CoverItLive event to try to capture as much as I can. It’s capturing tweets with the hashtag #elearnconf and #elearn11.

 

A week of #edtech links

The Epitome of #EdTech

Tomorrow I’m doing a show ‘n tell presentation at our institution about Blended Learning. I will demonstrate some courses, resources and learning approaches we have designed and developed at EIT. I’ll also show some work from other institutions. And then I’m keen to make my audience go: Wow! Show a few high-end examples, courses, resources or learning approaches, that show just what’s possible.

Currently I’m thinking about TED Talks, showcasing the sheer awesomeness of content already out there and available:

PhotonQ-Unveiling the Sixth Sense

 

Or maybe my own favourite teaching & learning tool, Twitter, as demonstrated in the Twitter Experiment at UT, Dallas, Texas. Continue reading