Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Only if there was a book about #edtech

Oh wait, there is....

The Really Useful #EdTechBook
It's called "The Really Useful #EdTechBook".

Some time ago David Hopkins (@hopkinsdavid) came up with this wonderful idea of editing a book comprising chapters from lots of people engaged with #edtech on a daily basis and I was honoured that he asked me to be one of those authors, along with the likes of +Sheila MacNeill , +David Walker +Wayne Barry +Sue Beckingham and +Sharon Flynn (amongst many others).

The whole writing of the book was interesting in itself, with authors dotted all over the place working in Google Docs and engaged in discussion with each other. David conducted short interviews with each of us and at the time of mine, he was shacked up in a hotel room - for me something that really summed up the impact technologies have had on us all.

So my chapter attempts to take a view of Learning Technologists and the teams in which they sit within HEIs. I'm sure it's by no means a holistic picture but I think it sets the scene for the variations in both the roles and the teams. I consulted a few tweeps in the making to ensure that what I was writing was as accurate as can be.

As I was writing the chapter I thought about the various pressures on HE and the LT role in particular. It struck me that as we move to a post-digital era, and with continued financial pressures on institutions, the variations of the Learning Technologist will not cease any time soon. Who knows what's in store for us...

Anyway, you can buy the book, get on major eBook readers and there's also a cheeky pdf you can grab for free. Head over to David's blog here for more details.

Oh, and a big hats off to David and all the authors for achieving this in such a short period of time.


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The Reed Diaries by Peter Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Language of Feedback #LTHEChat #9

The first #lthechat tweet chat of 2015 took place last night, with David Walker (@drdjwalker) and I (reedyreedles) as facilitators covering the topic of The Language of Feedback.

The topic itself is something that many people can easily connect with, so the hectic hour or so that ensued was hardly a surprise. In trying to stimulate discussion, we asked the following questions:

  1. What does feedback mean to you? #LTHEChat
  2. Do students (and staff) know the difference between formative and summative? #LTHEChat
  3. Do terms like 'high-stakes' & 'low-stakes' encourage students to value tasks differently? #LTHEChat
  4. What are the qualities of constructive feedback? #LTHEChat
  5. Despite interventions across HE students are still notably less positive about feedback than other aspects of study. Why? #LTHEChat
  6. What is the relationship between feedback and assessment criteria? #LTHEChat 

There were lots of really interesting points made and thoughtful discussions.

Do staff and students really know what Formative and Summative mean? And if not why do we continue to use them? Is it like a secret code that you need to know in order to be part of the club?

The notion of feed-foward was prevalent - in that feedback should be timely and related well enough to feed into future work. On a basic level, this could be as simple as providing feedback to improve how a student references/cites existing work so they can avoid losing marks on a second assignment. On a deeper level, this can provide much richer and detailed feedback so students can improve 'performance' within the same module and ultimately achieve better results.

Also important in the discussion was the idea that feedback is the beginning point of a dialogue with students about their performance, rather than a one-way "here's your mark and feedback now get on with it" type approach.

In this sense, and something I emphasised in my tweets/discussions, the importance on moving away from typical end of module high-stakes assessment is critical. If we can move away from 5000 word essays worth 60, 70 or 80% of the module mark, we can introduce more authentic assessment types that enable us to engage with students in a dialogue about their work and how they can improve, which can then feed into the next assignments. I spoke about this at the eAssessment Scotland conference in September, through emphasising visualising assessment timelines - I even shared a draft timeline of our medical curriculum.

Anyway, here are the visuals from last night's tweet chat. When looking at the archive last night I was sure there was around 1000 tweets but having run it again this morning there appears to be around 650. I may have done something wrong.... Anyway.... @s_j_lancaster and @annakwood were very active last night and played a key role in the discussions. I kept forgetting to include the hashtag in discussions which I suspect is something a few people do by accident (I hope), which means those tweets are not captured in the archive.

I thought it would be nice to have a specific view of @s_j_lancaster 's network through the tweet chat last night so captured this as well... We can see he engages a lot, with a lot of people. Quite how he manages this is beyond me knowing how hectic it can be, but he's clearly a pivotal node in the network with a high betweenness centrality. We can also tell from this image that whilst some of his tweets are directed to/from individual nodes, there is also a lot of tweets involving multiple nodes (see upper and right part of image). 


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The Reed Diaries by Peter Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

Monday, 19 January 2015

Analysing #BYOD4L Tweetchats (Mon-Fr)

So the latest #BYOD4L iteration has come to a close. Well formally the non-course has come to a close, but initiatives like this are often just the beginning for all those participants that have connected with others. I suspect many will have made long term connections just like I have done in previous iterations.

Anyway, last week I posted a summary and analysis of the first few days of tweet chats, which summarised activity as well as identifying concepts such as social capital and betweenness centrality. So this post is a follow up to complete the week.

Wednesday Chat #3 -  Curating

Wednesday's Tweetchat was the most active of the week with around 750 tweets and for me, is one of the most interesting topics because it's something a lot of people don't really do - Curating. I certainly seen a couple of tweets along those lines, and other than this blog, I don't really do much curation myself (although whatever works for you, or me, is still valuable).

The recurring theme in looking at the visuals for these tweet chats is that we see some nodes that are not connected to the discussion at all, skirting around the edges. And then we tend to have a tight knitted ball where the majority of the activity takes place.

I've zoomed to get a better feel of some of those key nodes in the chat. There are some obvious key players in the chats like Sue and Chrissi, but I like to identify some of the non-organisers (so to speak). The likes of s_j_lancaster is a regular and one for always stimulating discussion - there's no wonder that there is a lot of activity around him - almost forming his own sub network. @iwilsonysj and @neilwithnell have also been active in this chat with lots of incoming and outgoing edges. You can easily imagine the impact it would have on this discussion if they were not present - their betweenness centrality is high because they've been central to the discussions taking place. 

Thursday Chat #4 - Collaborating

Thursday's tweet chat saw just over 650 tweets on the topic of collaborating. Interestingly, this chat didn't have any outliers like the previous chat, which is actually becoming rather common.

 The magnified view of the chat is showing more close knit discussions, this time around @andrewmid and some other not-so-familiar faces like @podzilla and @isobel_gowers. @sheilamcn is again pretty active around @chrissinerantzi and a few others, whilst @neilwithnell is linking around @suebecks. These are beginning to form subgroups with some of these key figures demonstrating betweenness centrality and social capital.

Friday Chat #5 - Creating

Friday's chat was the least active with around 450 tweets (of course still no mean feat). But what we can see here, is that whilst the volume of tweets were lower, there appears to be greater weighting amongst the nodes.

This time we see the likes of @whitneykillgore, @juliedesigns, @samillingworth and @diverselearners coming to the fore along with the usual suspects.

Overall Summary

What fascinates me with these tweet chats is that they start off with a series of questions coming from a single account. It would be easy to expect individual responses to just go back to that account, but the rich discussions that seem to naturally emerge demonstrate just how great an enabler technology, and in this case twitter, really can be.

The week seen around 3000 tweets using the #BYOD4LChat hashtag across 177 users, with almost 10% containing a link - evidence that the community are really building on the discussions and sharing resources.

The top 10 most active nodes were as follows (some of which are not surprising):
@chrissinerantzi - 266 tweets
@byod4l - 197 tweets
@neilwithnell - 173 tweets
@suebecks - 157 tweets
@sheilamcn - 119 tweets
@juliegillin - 101 tweets
@iwilsonysj - 89 tweets
@anortcliffe - 88 tweets
@sonofedd - 88 tweets
@cpjobling - 86 tweets

Another interesting view to take is the amount a single node's tweets that were retweeted. For example, 51% of @alexgspiers tweets were retweeted. #influence @cpjobling and @juliegillin (both 44%) and @sonofedd (41%) were also very influential in the tweet chats which adds more value than simply their number of tweets. Other users are clearly valuing the points made by these nodes, increasing their social capital. I suspect these would be good people to follow (it's just as well I am :-))

Anyway, it's difficult to make sense of the overall visuals for the week due to the sheer volume, so I leave you with a few of them to make your own mind up.

As always, if  you have any reflections on the week I'd be eager to read them, as would the rest of the #BYOD4L team.


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The Reed Diaries by Peter Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Analysing #BYOD4LChat Tweetchats (Sun-Tues)

So yet more tweetchats are taking place this week - this time for the #BYOD4L get-together. Of course at these times I typically capture the chats using @mhawksey's TAGS Tool.

The #BYOD4L has run a pre-'course' chat on Sunday, followed by chats on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Although they'll also be further chats throughout the week, this post is just capturing what's happened thus far. So here goes...

This first image shows the overall activity related to the #BYOD4LChat hashtag (between Sun evening pre chat through to Wednesday morning). There's not much we can make from this first image due to the sheer volume of activity (almost 2300 tweets). We can see a large tight knitted ball where most of the activity has taken place, with lots of outliers that haven't really engaged much with the rest of the community.

Tweets using #BYOD4LChat hashtag from Sun evening through Wednesday morning

In an attempt to make some sense of what's happened in each of the chats, I'll now break this down to just include specific tweetchats.

Sunday Pre-Chat

The Sunday tweetchat was a pre-'course' activity which seen over 300 tweets. As you can see from the image below, @whitneykilgore played a significant role in the chat - demonstrating the greatest Betweenness Centrality (inc incoming and outgoing tweets). Essentially she was most influential in the chat. Having said that, the whole group was reasonably active - typically people (nodes) who are not quite so active would be displayed small and on the outskirts. Take @jbj for example. It's clear this user had an incoming tweet from @whitneykilgore but didn't actually send any tweets.  

Monday Chat #1 - Connecting

Monday's tweetchat saw over 600 tweets amongst the community. Again there's a tight ball of activity and a number of outlying nodes.

The volume of tweets makes it difficult to make sense of what's actually happening in the chat so the following is a more magnified view of that tight ball in the middle. It's clear that the @BYOD4L account and @chrissinerantzi had a high betweenness centrality, but that's not surprising considering their role in the 'course' and tweetchats. Beyond those two, there is a lot of incoming and outgoing edges (tweets) by quite a lot of people - the visualisation identifies 67 nodes (or people) active.

In chats like this it's difficult to visualise the differences between a community and a network - A Network is everyone we're connected to, whereas Communities represent everyone that is tweeting about #BYOD4L. As such it's difficult to visualise the concept of Strength of Weak Ties (SWT) - this refers to those nodes who bridge multiple communities and networks. Those nodes have increased social capital - "whom a person is connected to, and how these contacts are connected to each other, enable people to access resources that ultimately lead them to such things as better jobs and faster promotions' (Borgiatte et al, 2009, p898). What we can see though, is a number of people crossing the whole community.

Tuesday Chat #2 - Communicating

Tuesday's tweetchat seen over 700 tweets amongst the community.
 This magnified view again demonstrates the more active nodes and gives an idea on activity.

On the whole the #BYOD4L chats (and hashtag in general) has generated a lot of buzz on Twitter and engaged lots of different users. of course there are a core group that have played active roles in previous iterations of #BYOD4L and #LTHEChat tweetchats, but there are also lots of other contributors engaging in rich dialogue within the community. Hopefully they can glean value from their participation in the chats, as I've discussed previously. I've also previously blogged on networks and communities if you're interested.


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The Reed Diaries by Peter Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

Monday, 5 January 2015

My TEL focus in 2015

CC BY Flickr photo by Scott McLeod
After 2 weeks leave at Christmas coupled with 2 weeks paternity leave shortly before that, I now need to get back into the swing of things. And what better way than a quick blog post...

I've been doing some thinking over the break and I feel that although Learning Technologists (and the variations of the role) are often future gazing and innovative, much of the stuff I've been looking at is actually relatively basic in comparison - things like VLE Baseline / Minimum Standards, Online Submission and Lecture Capture. Now I'm not demeaning these at all as they're very valid implementations in edtech (and perhaps more so considering the student as customer), but not particularly exciting from a technological perspective.

So my resolution for the new year is to be a bit more adventurous. Obviously this can be really tough in Universities, but there are opportunities to get some exciting projects off the ground, whether that be things like Augmented Reality or rolling out our exciting Kritikos project into other subjects. I'm also keen to get some other things off the ground too - 10 Days of Twitter (10DoT), Bring Your Own Device for Learning (BYOD4L) and an App Swap Breakfast (for staff and students) are three in particular (and all stuff I wanted to do previously). Staff Development is often a difficult thing to really make an impact with on a large scale, so I wonder if these could be useful - I'm often disillusioned when only getting a small number of attendees so this could be interesting.

Of course large scale implementations of the big three I mentioned earlier will continue to be a huge deal for us at Liverpool, as it will be for many institutions, and I like our approach because I'm interested in how we roll out learning technology broadly across the institution as well as specific tools in small scale areas.

So what things are looking to do in 2015 and what things will dominate the edtech area?


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The Reed Diaries by Peter Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

Thursday, 18 December 2014

#LTHEChat #8 Imagination

The 8th, and final chat this year, was guest-led by Dr Alison James on the topic of Engaging the Imagination.

I think the numbers have dipped as we approach Christmas - our very own @chrissinerantzi at one point thought she might not make it due to the festive activities. Needlesstosay she did and the discussion was still very vibrant around a topic that I admit was a little out of my normal train of thought.

The questions for the tweet chat were as follows

  1. Who or what fires your teaching imagination? #LTHEchat
  2. How do you nurture student imagining? #LTHEchat
  3. Are there good examples of imaginative pedagogies? #LTHEchat
  4. How do you counter things which kill the imagination? #LTHEchat
  5. What risks come with imagining? #LTHEchat
  6. How can we get better at imagining? #LTHEchat

A storify of the tweet chat is available at this link and you can access an interactive version of the network diagrams via this link.

What seems apparent in comparison to previous weeks, is that although the numbers of tweets/nodes are fewer this week, there is more of an even distribution of engagement across the community. Typically we see a few big hitters, and lots of very small hitters, and some in between. I think this week is a little more balanced with a good number of incoming and outgoing edges between nodes. As such the betweenness centrality isn't as great for nodes like @chrissinerantzi, @alisonrjames and @annakwood.


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The Reed Diaries by Peter Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

'Tis the season to be jolly: end of year reflections

CC BY -  flickr photo by kevin dooley
Having just read @Bali_Maha 's reflective post on the 'Year of Hyperconnecting' I am now in a  reflecting mood myself - it has that positive infectious kind of vibe to it so if you're tired and just looking forward to the Christmas break, head over and smile.

As most bloggers do these days, I quite like to post an end of year reflection on all things and this shall be no different. It's actually been nice to go back to my reflective post from last year.

It's been a great year for me personally and professionally. I achieved some of the things I'd set out to do in last year's post but not everything happened, such as any involvement with the MOOCs at Liverpool, but that's ok.

In January we finally booking our wedding. In Vegas. In February Mrs R got pregnant (I hate it when people say 'we' got pregnant. My body and hormones didn't change at all FYI). In August we got married. In November, just 3 weeks ago today, Max was born and is an absolute gem. Immediately I can sense my perspectives and values are changing.

In the midst of my hectic and exciting personal life, I worked to get a couple of modules online, one of which is now complete and went great, as well as working on some staff development sessions (an area I think lacks a perfect solution). I presented at my old haunt #solstice2014 in the summer. I was invited to keynote the eAssessment Scotland conference in September (a couple of days after returning from Vegas) and also presented at #ALTC in the same week. Building relationships at these events were definitely the highlights. I've officially began my PhD (Social networking in Meded) and have plans for focus groups to continue my work on hygiene factors for VLE minimum standards. I also sit on lots of working groups as a Faculty TEL rep, as well as the University Senate (yes, check me out!). This all helped in my promotion at Liverpool which has just been confirmed. Woop.

I've been busy all year collaborating with @suebecks, @chrissinerantzi and @drdjwalker on initiatives like #byod4l and #lthechat as well as with @hopkinsdavid on the #edtechbook. I'm a new Deputy Editor for the ALT Newsletter and have/am publishing some research in RiLT, etc. These have all been great opportunities to build lasting relationships with colleague from across the globe. As I've blogged previously, there is real value in social networking and it has certainly helped me in my day-to-day roles and career progression to date. Along with the people I've mentioned above, there are also too many people to mention, like @hallymk1, @sheilamacneil, @dkernohan, @ambrouk, @s_j_lancaster, @bali_maha, @boyledsweetie, @mark_power to name but a few.

At Liverpool, VLE minimum standards, EMA, and Lecture Capture have been a key focus as part of the TEL strategy and will continue to be a large focus next year. I'm also wondering how I might have a more direct impact on the student experience. I'm thinking more social media sessions, app swap breakfasts (which I wanted to do this year) and so on.

I am interested in how the MOOC landscape might evolve over the next year, and @dkernohan has made some interesting insights in his recent '9 things to watch out for in 2015' post. It would certainly be interesting if, as he predicts, a major MOOC platform will close or move away from their current model. I wonder how this might impact on the many Universities engaging in MOOCs currently? I also wonder to what extent VCs and senior management see MOOCs 'as TEL' and TEL 'as MOOCs'. If their understanding of TEL is limited to just MOOCs, and then MOOCs fail, what will that mean for local investment and support for real TEL initiatives? I think this hangs precariously through 2015. For students though, I continue to believe they are interested in tech implementations that are not really innovative. They want support and convenience consistently across their studies and they have an expectation that technology can/will play a part here. I think we are still some way off real innovation across the board (which feels strange as I'm supposed to be all positive about this type of stuff).

Anyway enough for now. Enjoy Christmas y'all.


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The Reed Diaries by Peter Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License