Thursday, 20 November 2014

#LTHEChat 4 - The Flipped Classroom

Last night's #LTHEchat focussed on The Flipped Classroom and facilitated by +Sue Beckingham and guest Dave Smith (@dave_thesmith), was the busiest, most hectic one yet.

Around 727 tweets were posted with the hashtag during the tweet chat, and as there was a lot of discussion post the 9pm shut down, I have included some of that in the numbers as well.

The Flipped Classroom is something that has received a lot of attention over the last few years despite being a practice that has existed for many years - that's what a catchy title can do for you I suppose. Essentially, it's concerned with replacing the didactic (boring?) elements of teaching by moving that to out-of-class work, thus freeing up time in class for more active, engaging activities.

Dave's questions for the tweet chat were as follows:

Q1: What does flipped classroom teaching mean to you?
Q2: How does a flipped classroom benefit the student?
Q3: How do you/could you prepare the students for a flipped classroom session?
Q4: What type of learning activities could do you do within the flipped classroom?
Q5: How could you or your students curate the ideas and conversations encountered during the session?
Q6: What is the students perspective on the flipped classroom?

What follows are two visualisations from the tweet chat. The first being the full view, and the second slightly zoomed  in to get a better view of the big messy ball of interconnections.

I think what's becoming increasingly evident throughout the tweet chats, and especially when thinking back to the original tweet chats we held for #BYOD4L, is that they are becoming less reliant on a single person. Even though there are key nodes in the network (see @s_j_lancaster & @chrissinerantzi), the 'betweenness centrality' is almost certainly lower as we are less reliant on individuals to connect other members and act as the gateway. Perhaps this is a sign that we are moving from a broad network to a community of practice? I posted the differences on these here last week. Perhaps it's also a sign of growing popularity of #lthechat? Will be nice to see how this progresses.

When I was thinking about this last night, I think we are starting to form a community. If we were so inclined, we could simply post a single tweet in response to the leading questions and the discussion would be near none-existent. Instead what we see, are complex threads of discussion taking place between different people. Often someone else might be copied in to a tweet as it might be of interest to them, or alternatively someone might see the conversation and want to jump in to add a point. Of course this is nothing new to the world of social networking...

Another nice little observation I made was in the participation of @neilwithnell - in last week's tweet chat I think he was mentioned a single time in a tweet but didn't engage. This week it's clear he was much more active which was nice to see.

Another thing I've been thinking about recently is how the participants in the tweet chat might leverage value. Again this is something I posted about recently in relation to Value Cycles (Wenger, Trayner and De Laat). I'm sure many will benefit from the later value cycles through new ideas to implement in their practice. Would be good to hear some accounts of this and we're encouraging participants to reflect on their experiences - more info on the summary post over at

Anyway, I would encourage you to head over to the interactive version of the network visualisation here to have a little play about.


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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Leveraging Value from (Social) Networks and Communities

I posted recently to distinguish Networks and Communities as separate (but perhaps cooperative?) entities, and the comments pointed me towards some interesting further (and quite similar & complementary) work around Nets and Sets (thanks again Len & Natalie). I've been thinking more about the questions I left at the end of the post - what is value in a network/community, how do we get value and how is that realised/communicated.

Well the obvious 'recipient' of value from networks and communities would be the individual participating. I get some value from this engagement, otherwise why would I bother. Further to this though, the organisation I work for can also benefit from my network, for example if I ask a question or come across some practice via Twitter that directly informs a project at Liverpool. We're often very good at building and maintaining those networks (e.g. following and being followed by other people), but one key challenge is battling through the 'noise' to use that network/community for the benefit of work or learning. A further interesting complication is how management see the value of employers engaging in social networking.

Wenger, Trayner and De Laat suggest five 'Value Cycles' and I've summarised them as follows:

Cycle 1: Immediate value 
Interactions within a network/community is valuable in itself – we might help someone with a question, or we might ask a question which is answered, etc.
Key questions: What happened and what did we make of it? Participation? Fun? Relevant? Did I make connections?

Cycle 2: Potential value
Not all value within a community is realised, but the knowledge capital can be useful. For example we can learn from someone’s experience of a particular situation and we may or may not call upon that in the future. We might learn a skill, learn a piece of information, have access to information like a connection's blog posts, or even build and value reputations for trust.
Key questions: Have I acquired new skills or knowledge? Has my understanding/confidence developed? Have I developed new connections, trust or reputation? Do I see new opportunities?

Cycle 3: Applied value
Taking something from the network/community to change practice. This could be reusing a survey or an OER that someone has put together.
Key questions: Where/how/why have I implemented something from the community?

Cycle 4: Realised value
We can’t presume that changing practice is necessarily improving practice. It’s important to reflect on changes and evaluate.
Key questions: What effect did the implementation have? Success? Time saving? Better outcomes?

Cycle 5: Reframing value
Redefining success. Achieved when social learning causes a reconsideration of learning and the criteria by which success is defined.
Key questions: have we reflected on what matters? Does this suggest new metrics? How has it translated to change – new frameworks, policies, etc?    

It’s important to note that one cycle does not necessarily lead on to the next in a procedural fashion. Members of the network/community may be more interested in the production of outputs (cycles 1 and 2), or in solutions to improve their own practice (cycle 3). Managers might be interested in results (cycle 3) and strategic outputs (cycled 5).

For me, thinking through these cycles has been reassuring that there is actually a purpose to social networking. Sometimes it can feel completely like procrastinating, but the cycles above really do add some weight to it as a genuine professional activity. 


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Thursday, 13 November 2014

#LTHEchat 3: Engaging the Unengaged Learner

So the third #LTHEChat focussed on engaging the unengaged learner, and was facilitated by @suebecks and myself.

I think the questions started off quite broad and narrowed in a little. There were lots of questions coming back at us which showed people were certainly thinking into these topics and there were over 600 tweets using the hashtag and 82 nodes (people) involved.

The questions we explored were as follows:

  • Q1: What does an engaged learner do to signify they are engaged?
  • Q2: What signs would you say identify an unengaged learner?
  • Q3: What motivates you personally to engage with learning/CPD?
  • Q4: What type of activities work best to engage learners?
  • Q5: Do you see opportunities to introduce social media to keep learners engaged? Explain.
  • Q6: What examples can you share where students use of social media has increased engagement?
There was lots of rich discussion, adding further contextual aspects to the questions e.g. f2f or online settings, what it means to be (un)engaged, and later, a lot of love for some social media tools (but not so much for the poor VLE/LMS).

So what you've all been waiting for is the Hawksey Magic (c / Trademark)....

There are three images to cast your eyes over below.

The first image is the overall tweet chat with all nodes visible. There are a number of nodes on the periphery - these were perhaps people who were included in a tweet for reference, rather than them engaging in the tweet chat fully. The centre of the image shows the tight mass of nodes and connections (or edges).
Of course the larger names indicate the betweenness centrality of the node - so once again, @S_J_Lancaster was a key figure in bringing people together in discussion, and it was nice to see @ODPGuru (someone I've not seen before) being a key figure too. Myself and @suebecks were not so significant in this chat as we were tweeting from the @lthechat account.

The second image takes a closer look at the centre of the network. This gives a view that there are lots of tweets coming in to the LTHE account, but impressively, @S_J_Lancaster is king of the chat, demonstrating so many incoming and outgoing edges, and stealing the crown from +Chrissi Nerantzi .

Impressed as I am regarding the role of @S_J_Lancaster, I've also included a third image - a look at his personal network within the community. His incoming replies and mentions were not far off his total outgoing edges, so he plays a key role in discussion and bringing people together.

As I discussed in yesterday's post, networks and communities are different things. A Network includes all of the nodes - people we might be connected to for one reason or another. A Community contains a group of people that have a shared domain of interest. I think the #LTHEchat is demonstrating how a number of individual networks come together to form a single community, and in a holistic and organic way, the community feeds back to create a richer and more dynamic network through new contacts and connections.

The LTHEchat is also an opportunity to cut through the noise we see on our timeline and find significance, through a focussed facilitated discussion. Quite what impact we create in terms of noise for other nodes in our network (not community) is another matter though...

If you want to have a play about, you can access the interactive version of the images via this link.


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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Networks and Communities: Significance, noise & value

Network or Community: TAGS visualisation of BYOD4L Tweet Chats
I'm revisiting some literature for my PhD that I thought I knew quite well - Emphasis on *I thought*.

I think as social networking sites have become popular, we tend to relate to our 'networks' and 'communities of practice' interchangeably, but there is actually quite a big difference.

Networks refer to sets of relationships and connections among participants, viewed as a set of nodes. They can help information flow, joint problem solving and knowledge creation. My total list of followers on Twitter would be my Twitter 'Network'.

Communities (of practice) refer to the development of a shared identity around a particular domain of interest, representing a collective intention to steward and sustain learning about that domain. They often include many networks. So my connections who come together around the #BYOD4L initiative could be seen as a community, or indeed, those that follow my beloved Everton, and within the community we can sit quietly around edges (legitimate peripheral participation) and be much more active (full membership).

Personal networks are rarely communities as the nodes/people are unlikely to have much in common other than being connected to the same person. Members of these networks may not even know of each other’s existence. Conversely, you can see community through allegiance and identity to a cause such as donors to a charity. They may not form a network as there may not be any interactions or connections between them but they can still have that shared identity that a community has.

The danger to community is that it can be stuck its ways - 'hostage to its history' and established ways of working. The danger of network is 'noise'. Whilst expanding connections increases the chance of useful access, it also increases the level of noise. How do we determine between significance and noise? 

The work of the community is develop partnerships and identity and to specify why people are there, what they can learn and achieve together. The work of the network is optimize the connectivity among people, enabling new connections and strengthening existing connections.

So given that, does the size of your network matter? What value do we get from engaging with networks and communities? How do we measure and communicate that? Do we get value at all, or do we just procrastinate?

Wenger, E., Trayner, B., & de Laat, M. (2011). Promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks : a conceptual framework. Open Universiteit. Retrieved from


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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

#LTHEChat Developing Staff Digital Fluency

Another lively discussion ensued in the Bonfire night special edition of #LTHEChat, expertly facilitated by Dr Liz Bennett (@LizBennett1) & Dr David Walker (@drdjwalker). The theme for this chat was developing staff digital fluency and had many people questioning their own thoughts and views on certain issues.

+Chrissi Nerantzi and @S_J_Lancaster were the most prolific tweeters of the night (as the image on the right shows), but they were closely followed by quite a few people - this is particularly pleasing as it demonstrates a very active and vibrant community of practice. There were over 600 tweets sent using the #lthechat hashtag, and probably many more related tweets that didn't.

The network diagram below (made using Hawkesey's TAGS Explorer) visualises the messiness of such tweet chats - You can access the interactive version of the network diagram below via this link. The bigger the name, the greater influence in the network and the arrows show tweets sent and received to/from others in the network.


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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Proto-Professional & Technology

Having had my first PhD supervisory meeting I'm hitting the literature. My topic is around the use of social media/networking amongst undergraduate medical students (I'll be tightening up the question very soon).

As we began to unpick the topic three key areas emerged:

  • identity within communities of practice; 
  • social networking B.C (Before Computers) and A.C (After Computers); 
  • and finally, the impact of social media on the undergraduate journey to becoming a professional  and holding a professional digital identity.

In this post I just wanted to share some thoughts about one piece I've read on professionalism.

Hilton and Slotnick (2005) discuss the concept of professionalism amongst medical students and practicing doctors. They suggest six domains of professionalism - three are personal (intrinsic) attributes of professionals, including: ethical practice; reflection/self-awareness; and responsibility/accountability for actions. The other three are co-operative attributes including; respect for patients; working with others and social responsibility.

Critically, the authors suggest these six attributes of professionalism are not merely traits of medics as individuals, but more as a state achieved through prolonged learning, instruction, experience and reflection on experience. They suggest it further relies on what Aristotle (in Nichomachean ethics) termed ‘phronesis’ – what Wikipedia suggests is a type of wisdom or intelligence, or what the authors say is: “prudence or practical wisdom, such that professionals know which rules to break and how far to break them to accommodate the reality at hand” (Hilton & Slotnick, 2005).

This is a very practical skill borne from experience and reflection, and the  authors introduce the term 'Proto-Professionalism' to relate to the journey of (in this case, medical) students towards such a state. The concept is something very appealing and I wonder how this translates into other fields - trainee teachers for example?

But some key questions stand out for me here - what implications does technology provide for the proto-professional? What risks and challenges must they become aware to and overcome on their journey, particularly related to the introduction of social media? What can they do and what rules can they break? And critically, what are we doing to support them on this journey.

So if you like a bit of jazz, I leave you with Phronesis (see what I did there??)


Hilton, S. R., & Slotnick, H. B. (2005). Proto-professionalism: how professionalisation occurs across the continuum of medical education. Medical Education, 39(1), 58–65. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2929.2004.02033.x


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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...

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