Saturday, December 06, 2008

The use of social networking (Web 2.0) in higher education

Peter Murray has point out to me an interesting report from Franklin Consulting entitled A review of current and developing international practice in the use of social networking (Web 2.0) in higher education which has recently been published.

The report was commissioned by the Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Learner Experience who asked for an international perspective on Web 2.0 tools and their use in universities around the world. The results which cover Australia, The Netherlands, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America) highlights the drivers and inhibitors to use and draws some conclusions about the likely direction.

Their findings reflect patchy uptake and a wide variety of ways in which these tools are being used, but suggest "The potential transformation of the practices themselves is yet barely understood or encountered".

There was a remarkably high level of agreement about the issues to be addressed which included:

Social and professional lives: The use of Web 2.0 for both social and professional purposes has created uncertainties for HEIs. This is reflected in institutions’ current regulatory behaviour codes for use of Web 2.0 for both staff and students.
Privacy and safety: Issues of privacy and safety have been raised within the international reports as matters of concern for students and institutions.
Identity: One of the key issues that both students and institutions will face is the nature of students' and staff online identities.
Issues for Institutions: Traditional frameworks for the development of academic knowledge do not sit comfortably with the speed of information sharing and information production that exists via the Internet.
A lack of new pedagogic models creating uncertainty for both staff and students.
Time constraints; administrative overload, high maintenance of the learning process
and learning the new technologies are all time consuming.
A culture shift for academics: The rapid and huge expansion of information accessible through the web coupled with tools that can be used to repurpose and create new knowledge on-line have created a very different information and a communication environment
Issues for students :Issues for students are common across all countries where they are engaged in using Web 2.0 tools.

The perceived advantages for co-creation of knowledge and the support for
on-line collaborative activities are balanced against concerns over the
longevity of software applications and reduced institutional control as learning space becomes atomised.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

E-learning in health and social care study day

On Friday I attended (and help to organise/run) a study day of the Higher Education Academy, Health Sciences & Practice e-learning special interest group at the Glenside Campus of the University of the West of England.

Dr Pam Moule opened the day and gave the first presentation about the work we had undertaken for the HEA HS&P "Scoping e-learning: use and development in health sciences and practice" over the last two years. She set out the aims of the study and the two phase data collection with a survey and then case studies which had identified 5 themes:
* Facilitating factors
* Inhibiting factors
* Innovative technologies
* Pedagogy
* Training

She then led a discussion of the findings of the study and their implications for practice.

The second speaker was Dr Heather Wharrad from the University of Nottingham, School of Nursing Educational Technology Group (SONET) who entitled her presentation RLO's are good for Health: Community based approaches. She described the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for RLOs before giving descriptions of the characteristics of a reusable learning object and their approach to their production and use. The key points were illustrated with a case study from Nottingham's Non-Medical Prescribing Course, and outlined the positive evaluation from students.

The next two speakers were from Coventry University. The first was Imran Ali who described the myriad of innovative technologies being used within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. Of particular interest to me and many in the audience was Echo 360 which they are currently implementing for lecture capture.

Imran's presentation was followed by Elinor Clarke who moved the innovative technologies forward with a discussion of Web 2.0 technlogies in use within the faculty, particularly InterProfessional Learning Objects and touched on Second Life (under the banner of Second Learning) to support their pedagogical aims.

After lunch Anne Smith described the "Reading Experience" with the E-learning framework in use at the University of Reading and the real life considerations which impinge on elearning use with her students. She particularly highlighted issues around the impact of e-learning on the assessment process.

Following Anne's presentation the attendees broke into smaller facilitated groups to identify examples of good (and bad) practice in relation to e-learning to aid wider sharing as an outcome of the HEA HS&P project, and gave comments on the draft "Guidance for e-learning implementation". Pam closed the day by thanking all participants and giving an outline of future activities within the HEA HS&P e-learning SIG.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Open access - how well do our areas do?

We've discussed quite a few aspects of open access on this blog over the years, so a recent email from BioMed Central ( lead me to looking into our areas of interest - nursing, health informatics, e-learning, etc. - to see how well we scored in the open access stakes.

The 'Open Access Quotient' (OAQ) was introduced on the BioMed Central blog in July 2007 (>>>); the OAQ aims "to quantify just how open a particular research field is – i.e. what fraction of the research in that area is available with open access immediately following publication". It does this through a search of PubMed citations from the past 60 days - a metric you can argue with, but maybe as good as any other.

At the time, I did a quick look on nursing and found it then had an OAQ of only 2.55% - not a very good score, and well below the PubMed average of 6.8% at the time. Well, nursing, as many other areas (>>>), has improved a bit in the past 12 months - it now scores 4.3% - but only, I suspect, due to the effect of the increasing number of BioMed central journals, rather than any conversion to the open access model or philosophy by other publishers.

A comparison with some other subject areas of interest shows:
health informatics = 9.64%
medical informatics = 19.44%
e-learning = 26.67%

However, when 'nursing informatics' returns a result of 66.67%, then I start to suspect the reliability of the algorithm - although it is on a sample of 3 articles.

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