Informaticopia

Friday, May 04, 2007

JISC Web 2.0 - reflections

The final day, when we had much more interaction and actively-encouraged participation has lead to discussion of a whole host of interesting issues, including identity management, and the ethics of requiring students to use particular technologies. However, we probably needed to go through a lot of the earlier materials in the more structured manner.

It has been an interesting experience - hopefully some good ideas and recommendations can come out of it, and the Moodle fora will capture a lot of the ideas. Kudos to the organisers (Tom Franklin - franklin-consulting.co.uk/) and Mark van Harmelen (www.cs.man.ac.uk/~mark/).

If you want to look at the Moodle for asynchronous discussion, slides and audio recordings of presentations and Q&As at moodle.cs.man.ac.uk/web2 - you can self-register or use the guest login, (self) registration is required for contribution to the discussion.

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JISC webinar - Friday

Friday - last day of the Web 2.0 webinar already. Today provides for a round-up of the week, discussion of issues arising in terms of Web 2.0 use by institutions, and individuals, and consideration of 'where from here', especially in terms of what JISC might be asked to do. Once again, I will try to update this post at intervals over the time of the 'live' session.

One suggestion raised is that JISC might fund studies into different models for provision of Web 2.0 tools (eg external to institutions, internal hosting, or different blends), including the benefits and drawbacks. There seem to be plenty of Web 2.0 tools around, so it seems debatable that JISC might have any role in developing tools.

Some people suggest that we are still at the beginning of the learning curve on use of Web 2.0 in education; others suggest there is little quantitative evidence, but that there is some emerging qualitative data, at least on the issues that are emerging as important. Where institutions are providing tools, there seems, at present, not a great deal of take-up, and individual enthusiasts seem to be driving what work there is. Implications for pedagogy are still being explored. Issues of how to assess in Web 2.0 - especially in respect of groupwork - seem to be an important set of issues.

Do we need new assessment models and methods? How do we evaluate whether learners feel they have progressed, rather than assessment from the teacher's viewpoint?? If the pedagogic models are going to change, then who determines the nature of assessment/evaluation will doubtless change. Is assessment practice holding up the development of new pedagogic models?

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

JISC webinar - Thursday

The topic for the penultimate day of the Web 2.0 webinar is 'Policy and strategy-concerns, issues, and suggestions relating to high-level HEI policy and strategy'. We had a few technical hitches yesterday, so today I've logged in early to the presentation. While waiting for the session to start, I've been browsing the Moodle discussion fora - which seem to perfectly demonstrate the '1% rule' (technology.guardian.co.uk/weekly/story/0,,1823959,00.html - 'It's an emerging rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will "interact" with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it.') Although we have had up to 50 people 'participating' over the 3 days so far, we have few discussion posts in comparison.

An interesting survey is mentioned in the text-chat - on 'some real data on Web 2.0 use' - it is at >>> (University of Oxford).

The first speaker, David White, from TALL Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning). His slides are at slideshare >>>. He talked about the 'edge of the institution' (eg Does the institution want to own or facilitate the ‘chat down the pub'?) and 'if everybody does their learning online, does e-learning become simply 'learning'? He suggests that Web 2.0 is changing the role of institutions' computer services, and that the future challenges will shift from the technological to the social, if these services offer e-learning and social spaces; their role might, he says, shift from provision to advice if students and staff are using services and applications outside the institution.

He asks whether it is a good thing for an academic to have a posting on Wikipedia, and presented some interesting results from the survey mentioned above.

People are listening actively, as we get a steady stream of input from the text-chat boxes (and instant reaction sometimes) - maybe the Moodle being not linked directly makes it a link too far for people to go to and use?

The second speaker is Chris Adie, from University of Edinburgh, looking at institutional policies on externally hosted Web 2.0 services. His materials are also at slideshare >>>. He touched on some interesting legislative issues affecting the link between the institution and the external service provider (eg Data Protection re: supplying student details to external bodies, Freedom of Information and Disability Discrimination Acts, sharing data outside the EU). University regulations (eg on assessment) might impact links with external providers in the case of online assessed materials (eg will the material still be available in 4-5 years time when the student finally graduates?). A whole set of interesting questions.

One issue raised was the assessment of student-created Wikipedia entries, for example, and how copies or the history might be tracked - one participant turned things on their head and asked whether one assessment criteria might be not whether the entry remains stable, but how much it is changed by others - interesting.


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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

JISC webinar - Wednesday

The theme for today's session of the week-long webinar is 'Learning and Teaching', with Tom Franklin and Mark van Harmelen, who are the main organisers/facilitators of the whole set of activities, as the speakers.

Tom Franklin began by talking about the typical trajectories of new technologies, from them being new and not well understood, and people tending to use them to repeat old ways of working, but then through a phase of beginning to enhance old ways of working, through transforming work, and to them being mature, well understood, and a co-evolution of work and technology. He suggests Web 2.0 technologies in learning are still at an early stage where they are still not understood. He presented a slide comparing old learning to new (www.slideshare.net/Downes/understanding-learning-networks) and also exploring new forms of teaching; he says almost all teaching today is driven by the assessments (from teacher and student perspectives); whether this will change or not, he is a little sceptical.

In looking at how things might be done differently (and whether the new technologies can really allow us to do anything new), he looked at sharing of results/data from different groups/studies, and may lead to cross-disciplinary work; sharing resources between students (eg over several years), through course-based social bookmarking; collaborative work and co-design. He ended by presenting a dystopian view for discussion from last week's 'Observer' newspaper (>>>) in which 'in which people endlessly Google themselves and expertise counts for nothing; online communities gather merely to confirm their own prejudices; internet television purports to showcase amateur talent but is dominated by corporate marketing; newspapers are driven to the wall by online advertising and news sites edited at the whimsical click of a mouse; and knowledge of history and literature becomes smothered by an avalanche of blogs from self-obsessed teenagers.'

Mark explored some basic issues around what kinds of values we wish to promulgate in our learners; he supports the empowerment of learners, to work independently and in groups, who engage in lifelong learning. He discussed/promoted the ideas of Vygotsky (social constructivism) and Papert (constructionism), and in his work promotes working in teams, using critical incident analysis. He suggests that, if we are to 'grow' independent learners, we need to foster meta-cognitive skills, and need to find ways to develop groupwork assessment. He concludes (as an enthusiast for Web 2.0) that Web 2.0 on its own will not solve the problems, but may work as catalytic tools in conjunction with developing the new pedagogies.



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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

JISC webinar - Tuesday

The second day of the JISC Web 2.0 webinar - today the topic is 'Content Sharing'. The two speakers are Brian Kelly (UKOLN at Bath) and Graham Atwell (Pontydysgu). I am going to try 'blogging live' during the presentations.

Brian's talk is titled 'Content creation: Web 2.0 is providing the solution'; his presentation material is available on the UKOLN website at >>> He began with the proposition that our students are using third party Web 2.0 services already (eg Facebook, GMail, etc), and are often a lot better than those provided by universities' IT services. Even though many Web 2.0 services are in 'perpetual beta' (as opposed to the 'frozen' services provided locally by institutions), he suggests that this is akin to education where we should all be continually improving, ie in 'perpetual beta'. His talk focused on a range of issues around in-house development of services and using external providers, links, etc.

Graham's talk was titled 'Content creation and open educational resources' (delivered from Bremen in Germany). Open educational resources (OER - coined by OECD) is about creation and provision of open source tools, software, content, standards etc. He suggests that the biggest challenge of Web 2.0 to institutions is the concept of openness (as most education is based on closed, restrictive paradigms). Dimensions of openness are easy discovery, re-use, learnability, and community (to support the resources). He suggests some OERs have been very successful (eg the MIT open resources), but there are also challenges, as many repositories are not widely used, or re-used.


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JISC Web 2.0 webinar

As this blog is about elearning as well as health informatics, a somewhat different tack from me for a change. All this week (April 30 - May 4), I am taking part in a webinar organised by JISC (www.jisc.ac.uk), the UK higher education body that provides the JANET academic network and supports/promotes use of information and communications technologies in education.

The webinar is using a mix of live sessions (one hour lunchtime sessions with speakers and live Q& A sessions) and Moodle-based discussion fora (yes, they use 'fora' , not 'forums'). The live sessions use Instant Presenter (www.instantpresenter.com).

I will try and post a daily overview of the discussions and issues arising - the one for yesterday will be late.

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