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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And then there were 14! #moodletoolguide

Well this is an exciting week for the Moodle Tool Guide. We have two new translations!

Czech

First of all there is the Czech translation of the Moodle 2 version that Gavin Henrick created a few months ago. This version was created by Bohumil Havel & Jan Trávnícek at Moodle Partner PragoData Consulting.

 

Arabic

And then there was this little gem which came to me from Oman. This was a collaboration between the lovely Andrea Hall  whom I met in Musqat during my visit in September 2011, and Salim AlWaaili, both of the Sultan Qaboos University. This is a translation of the original one-page Moodle 1.9 poster.

I’m trying to collect all of the versions on this Moodle Tool Guide blog page, so you can find the other translations & adaptations there. If you know of a version that’s missing, then please let me know.

 

Thank you! Děkuji! Shokran!

Most of all, a big thank you to the translators on behalf of the Moodle community! Awesome work & sharing!

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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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What People Think I Do Meme: Education Technologist

Like most people in the last few weeks, I’ve been greatly entertained on Facebook and Twitter by the What People Think I Do, What I Really Do meme.

Here’s one for all you education technologists, or flexible learning advisors, or e-learning designers, or learning technologists, or whatever they call you…

20120221-160300.jpg

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Moodle Tool Guide: a cool dozen

12This weekend I got the nicest email from Jasmin Klindžić, informing me that the latest translation of the Moodle Tool Guide was complete. He and his colleague Tona Perišić Pintek from the University of Zagreb had finished the Croatian translation. And with that, there are now a cool dozen translations.

The power of community around an LMS

I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you to all those Moodlers spending their evenings & nights contributing to their local Moodle community. A real example of Clay Shirky’s cognitive surplus in action:

More value can be gotten out of voluntary participation than anyone previously imagined, thanks to improvements in our ability to connect with one another and improvements in our imagination of what is possible from such participation.

I think the collaboration and open sharing in the Moodle community, is special.

Continue reading

The 5 P’s of Path

This weekend one of my friends asked me: “So what do we think about Path?”. What DO we think about Path?

I installed it about 8 weeks ago. In fact Path tells me two months and 285 moments ago. I can’t remember who originally suggested it to me. It was at the beginning of a month’s travel around Europe and I had intermittent internet access. This meant I was mainly in capture & broadcast mode (journaling my travels) rather than access & curate mode (monitoring and sharing from information streams). And Path is great for capture & broadcast.

I fell in love with  it, even though I did have to move it to the front page of my iPhone first, so I wouldn’t forget to use it, and go to one of my other services instead. Here’s 5 reasons I do so like Path.

It’s personal

I think the key reason I like Path is that it is intensely personal. Path only lets you post your personal updates. It has various artifacts you can create: a check-in, an update, a picture, a music-update, but all of those are originally created by you, based on an experience you are having. You can’t “re-Path” someone else artifacts either, so only your artifacts live in your Path.

Friends can take several different actions in response to your artifacts, Continue reading

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