Monday, 21 July 2014

Talking the talk. Or not...

So it's been quite a while that I've been MOOC-free, (I wonder if I should get a coin of celebration for each month?), but I've fallen off the wagon! I'm back on the MOOC trail because I liked the sounds of this course from the Open University - Talk the Talk. I was/am particularly interested in this for a number of reasons:
  1. I've had a lot of experience presenting and talking to audiences, be it from teaching students, presenting at conferences or delivering staff development sessions. And well, it would be good to be able to polish that experience a little. Everyone can get better, and I'm no exception;
  2. It's from the OU - it must be good. They're like, the rulers of online learning.
The course intro suggests I'll be engaging people like Mr Bean (Martin, that is):
"Talk the Talk will provide you with the language and strategies to deliver talks with a difference. It will boost your confidence and turn public speaking into a valuable experience."
So my intro email popped through and I set aside some time to dip in. The first thing to disappoint me was learning that the MOOC would be so interactive:
"In Week 1 you will explore some talks online and decide on a topic for your own talk.
Wait, I have to do my own talk?
Weeks 2 and 3 will look at the content of your talk – the introduction, middle part and the conclusion. At the end of Week 2, you will record and share your own introduction and receive feedback from your fellow learners.
In Week 4 you will examine other elements of a talk – what does your body language say? Who are your audience? You will finish your talk in Week 5, and give and receive feedback after making a recording of your entire talk. You will reflect on what you’ve learnt in Week 6 and also examine how you can enhance a talk with visuals. " 
Now I don't know why this makes my heart sink, but it did. It might be because earlier MOOCs have somehow conditioned me that it's easy to be more passive. It might be because I already see myself as a reasonably experienced presenter and don't feel the need or want to go through a peer review process of my ability to present (in a totally non-arrogant way, that is).

Perhaps this MOOC like so many others, isn't for me? Or, perhaps I can get away without engaging with the peer review aspect and get to some teaching material to help me brush up. So I clicked on...

The next page - why am I here? I was prompted to reflect on what I wanted to get out of the course. The same old stuff facilitators always as at the beginning of workshops. I looked at the discussion for this page. 598 comments already. None of the first 3 pages would actually class as a discussion though. Just individuals posting a message, with only 1 response to any post (occurring on 3 occasions) with a one line comment - 'sure, I know what you mean'. Hum...

On to to watching a short TED clip, encouraging me to identify good/bad aspects of the talk. It was alright. Reasonably interesting I suppose. But it didn't blow my socks off. I wonder if that was by design? I actually can see the point of this activity. Reflect on this to inform my own practice. But is it going anywhere. Well yes, but at no blistering pace...

A couple of pages of nothing much, and then the good old end of week quiz. Not much content in the week at all, and no multimedia content from the OU. Hmmm.

Questions 1, 2 and 3 were reasonably easy to answer without paying too much attention to the content. But it is question 4 that has prompted this post and ignited my MOOC-frenzied-fury (not too dissimilar that which sparked Beatrix Kiddo's Roaring Rampage of Revenge).
Which of the following words does Bill [the presenter in the TED video earlier] use most often to begin a sentence?
  • So
  • And
  • I
  • Well
Seriously? WTF? Does it matter? Who cares?

The correct answer was 'And'. And here's the feedback...
"He uses ‘and’ 18 times. Most of the times, it is used to join two related ideas together. You will learn in the next few weeks about both the importance of linking ideas together in a talk and how to link ideas effectively. 
Davenhall has obviously prepared and rehearsed, but he’s not reading from a script. Therefore, sometimes during his talk, his use of words like ‘and’ and ‘so’ serve no grammatical function. It is perfectly acceptable to do this in a relatively informal speech, but you need to be careful not to overuse certain words or phrases that do not carry any meaning."
So again, what is the point? Tenuously linked to learning about joining ideas together?
'And' and 'So' serve no grammatical function. This question serves no pedagogic function, but unfortunately for me, it is still there!

So what?

Ok, I don't just want this to be about me ranting. There has to be something to it. Right? I think my frustration is multi-faceted:

  • I expected something very good from the OU. 15 minutes spent completing this first week leaves a lot to be desired. 
  • Yet more poor attempts at instigating online discussion, which, whether being down to the prompts themselves or the platform, just doesn't work.
  • Let's say I am old and bitter in this MOOC game (which I probably am), what experience is this MOOC providing to the young and fresh, enthusiastic MOOCites? If I try to set my bias aside (if that's possible), I'm still left somewhat disappointed. The MOOC game, and the platform, haven't innovated at all. 

Ok, rant over. I will check back in for week two when the time comes. Right now though, I need a cuppa!

Peter
@Reedyreedles

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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Social Network Analysis: using Hawksey's TAGS Explorer for #BYOD4LChat

So the #BYOD4L event has come and gone in the blink of an eye. It's gone so fast yet at the same time has been pretty tiring. I've used Martin Hawkey's TAGS Explorer to produce Social Network Analysis visuals for each day on the #BYOD4L event this past week:

Day 1 - Monday: Connecting
Day 2 - Tuesday: Communicating
Day 3 - Wednesday: Curating
Day 4 - Thursday: Collaborating
Day 5 - Friday: Creating

Although I've had a few anomalies that have needed rectifying this week, the tool is actually very easy to use and provides a ton of interesting information for analysis. This post hopes to provide some analysis for the whole week's worth of tweetchats (that is, any tweet that has included the #byod4lchat hashtag).

There were over 3000 tweets sent over the course of the week (that included the hashtag at any time of day, not just restricted to the live tweetchats). The tweets came from 135 unique users. Quite a few of those users only tweeted a few times, but I don't think that's necessarily a problem. If the event has engaged anybody at all and encouraged thinking and reflection about using devices and apps, then surely that's a positive. There was also some cross-fertilisation with the #edenchat hashtag (n=33).

Over the course of those 3000 tweets, 242 contained a link, which suggests the tweetchats were not simply a conversation, but also included the sharing of 'knowledge', or at least branching out those discussions to wider sources and views.

The bigger picture view of the network looks like one giant, close knit ball of wool. There's probably not all that much you make out from it actually...


I've zoomed in a touch to try to see the connections a bit, but the sheer volume of tweets, as well as the number of recipients makes it extremely difficult to make sense of anything. From what I can gather in this image, although many of the bigger names were connecting with each other, they were also playing a key role in facilitating and networking with a lot of participants, who were not necessarily the same. This is really important, as if they were communicating with the same people, the network could easily be seen as a clique. In actual fact, and as I blogged in previous posts, this event has demonstrated Lave & Wenger's Communities of Practice quite well, including the different roles that feature.



The top tweeters for the week are as follows:
1. @SamIllingworth
2. @BYOD4L
3. +Chrissi Nerantzi
4. @julieGillin
5. +Sue Beckingham
6. @amandaksykes
7. +Andrew Middleton
8. +Neil Withnell
9. @jimpettiward
10. +David Hopkins

I was only number 11 :-(
I'm sure Sam will be organising a party for tonight to celebrate his Top Tweeter Award!

In terms of the number of tweets sent throughout the week, Monday was the chat with the highest number of tweets.

Monday = 788
Tuesday = 583
Wednesday = 477
Thursday = 614
Friday = 607

Resources

You can view the interactive version of the network diagram (above).
You can use this searchable twitter archive (as part of the TAGS tool) to search for an individual's tweets.





Peter
@Reedyreedles
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#BYOD4L Day 5: Creating

So Day 5 of the #BYOD4L event focussed on the theme of Creating, and took a slightly different format. Chrissi & Sue flipped this tweetchat around a little and got participants thinking a bit more than in previous tweetchats, by having us asking the questions instead of them.

It was interesting and there was a lot of buzz about - something quite surprising as it was the last twetchat at the end of a long week. So I think that is testament to the job they done in formulating the chat and facilitating it.

There were just over 600 tweets which appears to be around the mean for the week (higher on Monday, lower on Tuesday). Sam Illingworth once again won the prize for most influential tweeter in the tweetchat. What is also very obvious to see, is that there is a lot of two-way interaction. The Betweenness Centrality issue I discussed earlier in the week appears to be less prevalent in this tweetchat - that is, the network didn't rely too heavily on just one or two people. Rather, the network acted in a more distributed, non-centralised way.



I'm planning on creating an overall picture of the week, so hang fire...
How are you interpreting these viusals?

Peter
@Reedyreedles
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Friday, 18 July 2014

#BYOD4L Day 4: Collaborating

This #BYOD4L week has literally flown by, with really rich discussions each evening. I'll cut to the chase with this post and get the visuals out...

There were 614 Tweets last night, back up from Day 3 and similar to the numbers of Day 2. From the bigger picture, there again appears to be less reliance on the central facilitators, as more people are gaining confidence and engaging with others. Lave & Wenger might define this as progressing from Legitimate Periphery Participation through to Full Participation / Membership within the Community of Practice. We'd seen Rod's progress in yesterday's post which also resembled this.

As you'll see, @SamIllingworth was the key player last night. He used #BYOD4LChat hashtag in 82 tweets last night (of course he may have tweeted and not used the hashtag as well). His significance in the network last night was actually not just related to the number of tweets, but the number of replies (29) and mentions (33). This would suggest Sam played a really key part in linking people together last night, and you can really see that by the number of incoming and outgoing edges in the diagram below.




I thought it might also be nice to use Martin Hawksey's TAGs Explorer in a bit more detail this time to demonstrate the tool. So in the example video below, I've taken a couple of minutes to look into SamIllingworth's tweets last night in more depth, and replayed his personal timeline....



A Storify of the Day 4 Tweetchat is available here....


Peter
@Reedyreedles
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Thursday, 17 July 2014

#BYOD4L Day 3: Curating

Day 3 of the #BYOD4L event focussed on the theme of Curating - how people curate via mobile devices (and desktop PCs) and the applications they use.

As is becoming the norm, there was a lot of buzz in the tweet chat. There was some acknowledgement (by me at least) that curating is something people don't do enough of and we needed reminding that things like reference management (e.g. Mendeley) can serve as a curating tool.

The visuals from the network are below, and you can follow through to the interactive version here. Again, there was a slight decrease in the total number of tweets to around 480 (dropping from 800 for day 1 and 600 for day 2). This might just be because +Chrissi Nerantzi wasn't online last night though ;-)

Although that is a joke, there could be something in the suggestion that when the more active people in the network are not present - such as Chrissi (and to a lesser degree myself), then other people can come through.... Take the following as an example.

It is particularly nice to see some users clearly gaining confidence in tweet chats. See Rod Cullen for example, who played a much bigger role last night than in either of the two previous. So a big well done for him. How much of that is down to pure confidence (which I'd argue has been built up by the very facilitation of the like of Chrissi), or the absence of other active networkers? And Rod isn't alone here.

Anyway, what do you see when you look at the visuals?



A Storify has been created by @byod4l for the day 3 chat on curating:


Peter
@Reedyreedles
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Open Image Collection Part 2: History of Medicine


Back in January I blogged about how we'd shared images from medical texts taken from the University of Liverpool's Special Collections & Archives. Well we're back at it again to release some History of Medicine images.

There are around 120 images, all under Creative Commons licensing, that relate to the history of Medicine at/in Liverpool. We've filtered many of the images down, but along with some buildings and interiors, there are also images of the wards, nurses/doctors, nursing home (which is now my office), and even some images of clinical practice. The image above is the old Dining Room in my building, which is now the main admin office for the School of Medicine.

Dr Sally Sheard from Liverpool's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society will hopefully be adding further metadata to the collection to provide more in depth understanding. If you check out the earlier collection, you'll see what I mean.

I'm really pleased we've managed to release such images under Creative Commons - We've got over 350 images in total now, all under CC. Much of the hard work in getting these images comes down to a colleague Paul Duvall (Lecturer in Medical Education (TEL) ). I'm just the one banging on about CC :-) But it is really nice to see and think about how these buildings were used for very different purposes.

You can access the History of Medicine Album on Flickr.

Peter
@Reedyreedles
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

#BYOD4L: Using devices & apps to communicate

Day 2 of the #BYOD4L short course focussed on using devices and apps to support communication. Another rich discussion took place in the tweetchats, which was facilitated by @andrewmiddleton and @Cheryl4Tel.

The visuals produced (below) show the key movers and shakers in the tweetchat - follow the link through to the interactive version and you can easily click on a name to see that user's activity.





Upon first glance, I'd hazard a guess at saying there were fewer participants in this tweetchat compared with day 1, and a quick glimpse and the spreadsheets suggest Day 1 had ~800 tweets compared with Day 2's ~600 tweets. However there are more users playing a bigger role in this tweetchat, evidenced by the greater number of larger/bolder names in the visuals.

I'd have to go back and compare the data to be certain, but the increased engagement could be because users are gaining confidence and familiarity with the tweetchats and thus engage to a greater degree. Of course, it could be related to the questions asked. The fewer tweets in comparison to day 1 is difficult to to explain - it could be that there was more hype about the beginning of the BYOD4L course, and excitement dipped after day 1, or simply because people were busy. Who knows.

It will be interesting to create more visuals at the end of the week to compare activity across each day.

What do you see when you look through the visuals and engage with the interactive versions?

Peter
@Reedyreedles
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