Thursday, 30 October 2014

#LTHEChat Inauguration & TAGS visuals

So last night saw the inaugural tweet chat for the new #LTHEChat initiative that I'm involved in, along with @suebecks, @chrissinerantzi and @drdjwalker. I blogged about the initiative a while back and was happy to see its launch last night, focussing on the theme of new ways of engaging with bite sized professional development.

This first image shows the entire usage of the #LTHE tag over the past couple of weeks (720 ish tweets).


I've deleted the first batch of tweets which took place before the actual tweet chat last night, so we can get a more accurate representation of last night - as such we have 650 tweets (not bad hey?). The image below shows a tight knitted group at the centre - those that were most active in the chat - and a number of outliers who may have tweeted but didn't really interact with many other people on the night. I see I'm one of those with only 15 tweets (although to be fair I had lots of subsequent tweets that just didn't include the hashtag and hence not included here)!





If we zoom in a little tighter we can get a better picture of those more active in the chat. Unsurprisingly, +Chrissi Nerantzi & the @LTHEChat account were key figures, but it's also nice to see a lot of other names in there such as @s_j_Lancaster, @trabimechanic, @libgoddess and @KayAppletonUAE.




I managed to connect to some new people, including someone who also works at Liverpool but I've not met before - @NickBearmanUK. Another highlight for me was a chat with @sambasite about the value of journal clubs and how we'd love to organise a virtual one - perhaps managed through Twitter or Google+. Any takers or suggestions????

Anyway, that's week 1 out the way and we'll be back next Wednesday evening with more #LTHEChat - don't forget you can vote for future topics over at LTHE Headquarters...



Peter
@Reedyreedles
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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

My Upcoming #edtechbook Chapter & Interview

So you may have heard by now, but that +David Hopkins (@hopkinsdavid) has had another brainwave of putting together a new book covering a range of aspects of educational technology. I'm very pleased to be writing a chapter for the book, which also includes chapters from other people like the wonderful +Sheila MacNeill (@sheilamacneill), David Walker (@drdjwalker) and Sue Beckingham (@suebecks).

My chapter in particular is one of those that can set the scene - given the various roles in the different HEIs I've held, I'll be discussing the variety of roles we see within the 'Learning Technologist' job title - perhaps becoming something of an umbrella term for #edtech roles. I'll also be discussing the variety of institutional approaches to technology enhanced learning support - what works best? Central provision or devolved school/faculty responsibilities? You get the drift.

Anyway, I've recently finished a really enjoyable interview with David about the chapter that he's published on his blog. He's asked some very interesting questions that got me thinking a lot. He asked how I use different tools to support my role and my tips for other people new to such tools. I think the interview got more interesting as he probed into deeper depths, teasing out how we might get colleagues engaged in wider open networking, the implications of (not) doing so, and considering the work-life (or working 9-5) balance. In response to a question about technology taking over our lives, I responded:
"Over the past few years I’ve come to believe that a career is a significant part of your life. A career isn’t ‘just a job’ so you don’t (or can’t) leave everything at the office – not “can’t” because of any requirement, but “can’t” because you’re always engaged. You read books, see programmes and speak to people, and relate all these things to your role. It’s something you care about beyond just a pay packet each month. You might get an idea that would work in implementing a strategy or a cool idea for a staff development programme. These happen at all hours of the day, on every day of the week!" 
Anyway, I'd encourage you to head over to David's blog to read the full interview. The interview itself led me to think more about what a 'typical' learning technologist looks like, so why not read that post too :-)

Peter
@Reedyreedles

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Monday, 20 October 2014

What does a typical learning technologist look like?

Don't read any further than this paragraph. Just take 10 seconds to sit back and visualise a learning technologist. Think of them in work. Are they at a desk? Do they have lots of kit around them? Is their office like a store cupboard brimming with cables, old desktops computers and printers. Keyboards and mice? Ok you can read on now...

I've just finished an asynchronous written interview with @hopkinsdavid related to the chapter I'm writing in the upcoming #EdtechBook. I suggested to him that the interviews would be great in a video format, and began to visualise the scenes with each of the authors. I quickly thought that each of us would be sat with varying pieces of technology surrounding us - computers, laptops tablets and smartphones. Maybe even having some code on a screen. In fact, David sent through the latest book cover the other day, and as well as those obvious things, there are some printed books (remember them?), a coffee mug, a video camera (more kit), a satchel, a kit kat and a twix (ok, they're just for +Sheila MacNeill).

But then I sat back and thought about this. My chapter discusses the variety of people that hold learning technologist positions and the things they do on a day-to-day basis. Do they fit this mould? Is that a representative picture of all of the learning techs I've worked with?

I think the answer is a resounding no! 

Learning technology is primarily about learning. The technology comes second. We're always quick to put pedagogy first and technology second, so why do visualisations of learning technologists emphasise the technology so much? By these views, we could be programmers or web developers. In fact, some LTs may even do these roles. But all of them? Is it representative?

I think this isn't just questioning the visualisation of learning technologists in general, but I also wonder if this might harm the role through such a techno-determinist portrayal, or at least put a dent in the message we often try to portray to academic staff....

Would love to hear your thoughts on this one...

Peter
@Reedyreedles

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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Instructional Design Quality of MOOCs

I came across an interesting paper this morning - Instructional Design Quality of MOOCs in the journal 'Computers & Education'. The abstract reads:
"We present an analysis of instructional design quality of 76 randomly selected Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The quality of MOOCs was determined from first principles of instruction, using a course survey instrument. Two types of MOOCs (xMOOCs and cMOOCs) were analysed and their instructional design quality was assessed and compared. We found that the majority of MOOCs scored poorly on most instructional design principles. However, most MOOCs scored highly on organisation and presentation of course material. The results indicate that although most MOOCs are well-packaged, their instructional design quality is low. We outline implications for practice and ideas for future research."
So, MOOCs aren't great from an instructional design perspective. Tick.
MOOCs are well organised and presented. Tick.

It was an interesting read. My first impression went something like this - let's say what we think is good practice, and then see if these MOOCs live up to what we say is good practice, even though we know what the answer is a big fat No!

But as I read on I think I was being harsh as there is more rigour to study, but it still leaves me with a few questions.
Firstly, how would traditional face-to-face undergraduate courses fare in this experiment in comparison with MOOCs? There is a whole lot of chalk and talk still taking place in HE - the analogue counterpart to many MOOCs, and I wonder if they would be less organised. Granted it would be difficult to sample...
Secondly, whilst the instrument used looks reasonably comprehensive (albeit rather subjective) it's not clear if the researchers went through every single topic in each of these MOOCs.
Finally, although the authors tip their hat towards such research, it would have been nice to see some comparison between MOOC platforms e.g. Futurelearn vs Coursera, etc. That is of course, if some of the points in the instrument are even related to the platform or if it's solely course design.

Regardless of my questions, it's still an interesting read. Head over to the journal to read for yourself (sorry if it's behind a paywall)...

Peter
@Reedyreedles

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Monday, 29 September 2014

#LTHEChat : A Weekly tweet chat dedicated to L&T in HE

As some people will already know, the Bring Your Own Device for Learning initiative was a great success. One of the key highlights was the flurry of activity around the synchronous tweet chats that took place on each of the five evenings.

Reflecting on the 'non-course', Sue and Chrissi suggested we could try to introduce a more general regular tweet chat outwith #BYOD4L. So after months of deliberation and back bench heckling, we can now introduce #LTHEChat - a weekly tweet chat that will cover a whole host of topics related to learning and teaching in higher education, and participants will be able to vote for topics that we could cover in future weeks.

Details

Twitter Hashtag: #LTHEChat
Twitter account: @LTHEChat
When: Wednesday evenings, from 8-9pm
Launch: Wednesday 29th October, 8pm
Website: http://lthechat.com
Facilitators: Sue Beckingham, Chrissi Nerantzi, David Walker, and me, Reedyreedles.

So we hope you all get involved and look forward to tweeting soon :-) If you have any suggestions for topics to discuss in the earlier sessions, feel free to tweet one or all of us!

Peter
@Reedyreedles

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Paper - Staff experience and attitudes towards TEL initiatives

As I've blogged previously, last year I done a reasonably large 3 phased piece of work to audit existing practice within my Faculty at the University of Liverpool, as well as survey academic staff and students. Well I'm happy to say the staff survey part is now published in the latest volume of Research in Learning Technology.

The staff survey didn't exactly receive a huge amount of responses but I think it's of interest because of the topics it covers. I hope people find it useful anyway.
Further to earlier work carried out by the student union (SU) along with strategic discussions regarding technology-enhanced learning (TEL), this research aimed to identify the attitudes and experience of teaching staff in relation to specific uses of technology in learning and teaching. Data obtained through an online questionnaire (n=100) suggest that teaching staff are generally agreeable to the need for consistency in the virtual learning environment and identify specific criteria to be included within ‘minimum standards’; have some experience and interest in solutions to enable online submission, marking and feedback; and whilst there is more resistance, there was still interest in the provision of recorded lectures. Respondents overwhelmingly identified lack of time as a significant barrier to engaging with TEL, as well as other factors such as lack of skills and support.

Reed, P (2014) Staff experience and attitudes towards Technology Enhanced Learning initiatives in one Faculty of Health & Life Sciences. Research in Learning Technology. 2014, Vol 22.

Peter
@Reedyreedles

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Beginning the PhD journey #phdchat

CC BY-SA flickr photo by quinn.anya

So as of the 1st October, I'll officially be a part-time PhD student. I'm registered within the University of Liverpool and supervised by Helen O'Sullivan (internal) and Chris Jones (external) from Liverpool John Moores University.

I'll be studying the use of social media within medical education, and in particular looking at how student use of various social media tools and practices. Or at least I think that's what I'm going to be looking at - I've been open in that this is an area I'm interested in (SoMe) and have reasonably good access within our School of Medicine. I've engaged in some literature early on and hope that a systematic review will help narrow down exactly what it is I am asking.

I'm sure this will be a challenge, especially given mini-me will be arriving in November, and I'm really looking forward to learning more about research and being a researcher. I've done bits of research over the years and published a few times, but I'm aware there so much for me to learn. I'm also conscious that I will have to curb the varied topics I'm really interested in.

So here goes....

So as well as the other stuff a blog here, there'll be some #PhDProgress posts as well :-)

Peter
@Reedyreedles

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