Category Archives: Book Review

Laura Ritchie

Book Review: Fostering self-efficacy in HE Students

This book takes me out of my usual reading habit and away from the work I’ve been doing for the last few years, and back to or rather closer to the kind of work / contact I used to have with academics and students. Laura Ritchie’s book ‘Fostering self-efficacy in Higher Education Students‘ is a well structured, well written, and well argued insight into the kinds of student-focussed capabilities that HE, and by association those who work in HE, should be aware of.

I have become very aware of this thing we call the ‘student experience’, about how we need to include the student body in more and more process and decisions in how courses, programmes, and administrative functions are organised and run, Through their inclusion we have an opportunity to capture their interest and passions in a way we can structure around the core materials needed for the structured learnin objects. This means, or rather should mean, we have a stronger ‘product’ to offer the students, making them a stronger ‘candidate’ when they graduate and enter the workplace. Whether we’re looking at business leaders, doctors, researchers, or other graduate employment routes doesn’t matter. What matters is that the student has had the best attention we can give them and the best outcome for their future. What they do with this is up to them, but we can say, with hand on heart, we did everything we could.

Student experience is, obviously, more than just this though. Learning and learning objectives are just a small part of attending university. There’s things like the Student Union, sports club, library, friends, family, work/jobs, happiness, health, etc. We have the ability to input and affect how these things happen, across campus (and beyond) so should we?

Well, obviously, yes we should.

“As teachers in higher education, we strive to put students at the centre of learning and teaching, and understanding the formation and role of self-beliefs can have a huge impact on this process. Developing self-efficacy happens through communication and active learning, which facilitates a two-way interaction between learners and teachers. This fosters trust, so teachers and learners can risk having moments of vulnerability where we are willing to expand learning horizons and grow. With established self-efficacy beliefs, students will have both the foundation and tools to successfully continue their learning after leaving the higher education environment.” Laura Ritchie

Of the themes of the books the ones closest to my personal interests dealt with ’embedding the foundations of self-efficacy in the classroom’ and ‘implications for life-long connections with learning and teaching’. I admit I’ve only skimmed the other sections so I could really focus on these two chapters that have a greater pull.

This final section, about ‘life-long connections with learning and teaching’ fits my current thinking more than anything. Our ability (responsibility even?) to our students is to prepare them for their eventual progression into the work force, in whatever form that may take. Skills developed during studies with need to fit the academic requirement for study and assessment (more of that another time) but we need to represent the real-world, the world outside of academia – are these skills transferable to an employee, not student, status?

“Establishing a strong sense of self-efficacy sets the foundation for a continuing pattern of learning and achievement that happens through professional development and an active pursuit of personal growth. Planning, seeking, reflecting on opportunities for training, and peer co-learning can facilitate a positive career trajectory and keep a teacher’s perspective fresh and fitting with today’s fast-changing workplace.” Laura Ritchie

Image source: David Hopkins

Webinar Master

Book Review: Webinar Master from Donald Taylor

I downloaded Don’s Webinar Master eBook the day it came out and ready pretty much all of it straight away. It came at a time when I am becoming more and more involved in webinars, both at work at WBS, my involvement with ALT and Learn Appeal, and as an observer/participant in learning-related online seminars.

“There is no real difference between the intimacy and informality of a conversation with friends and what you say online. You still need to be engaging, and to know your audience. If you are also fully prepared, you will do an excellent job.” Donald H Taylor, 2015

Don writes from nine nine years experience of developing and delivering online seminars for the Learning and Skills Group (LSG), so it’s pretty clear to say that Don has seen many changes to the technology and features available in the systems on offer. What strikes me about the book and what Don has written here is that the basic skills needed to plan and run an effective webinar haven’t changed – you still need to carefully plan for an audience who will have many more distractions  that usual, that will be quick to leave unless they are engaged, that will be slow to react or reluctant to ‘chat’ unless they are displeased, and that you will never know how you’re doing until it’s too late.

“I strongly believe that an effective webinar relies on live contributions from attendees. If your platform does not offer a chat area which everyone can contribute to, and read, then I would change platform.” Donald H Taylor, 2015

It isn’t easy, however, to be a ‘webinar master’, I don’t claim to be any good presenting, whether in person or online, but Don’s book covers enough for me, and indeed anyone, to learn a few more skills and to be aware of what will help take a simple presentation and make it an experience.

Steve Wheeler: Learning with 'e's

Book review: Learning with ‘e’s

On my shelf (virtual and real) are a series of books that I know I just don’t have time to read. I’ve recently started to use Shelfari to organise my real and virtual book shelf, where I can easily refer to books I’ve read, I am reading, or want/plan to read.

Indeed (if this embed works) here they are:  Continue reading

The NET Model of Social Leadership is built around three Dimensions: ‘Narrative’, ‘Engagement’ and ‘Technology’. The NET model is both an idea and a call to arms.

Book review: The Social Leadership Handbook @julianstodd

“What we know today will get us to tomorrow, but we’ll have to learn more again tomorrow to keep ahead … welcome to the Social Age, where change is constant and we live in constant beta.”

I’ve never thought about learning like this before, other than I know I get bored quickly so find new things to keep me engaged and entertained. But, with the constant bombardment of new technologies, new networks, new applications to old techniques, etc. we are indeed in ‘constant beta’.

And I mean ‘we’ in the context of learning professionals (which I’m exploring with my next book project: follow here for news –#EdTechBook) that we need to not only keep up with developments but somehow keep ahead of them. I know this is near impossible, but we can at least be proactive in how we approach the changes, reflect on our own experiences, and make suggestions and engage with each other (and the students). From this will come better understanding and a clearer picture of what could be used, how, where, why, and (importantly) by whom.  Continue reading

Brian Chen: Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future--and Locked Us In

Book Review: “Always On”

It’s been a while since my last book review, but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been keeping up to date with my reading list – if anything the list is getting longer (and the days shorter).

Brian Chen: Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future--and Locked Us InMy latest addition to the list is from Brian Chen – “Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future – and Locked Us In“.

It is clear to see all around us just what impact smartphones have had on society and, in my area of interest, learning. It has enabled truly mobile learning to take place – in the sense of mobile materials as well as mobile individuals – as well as interactions when we, the learner, wants it, not just when the course director wants it. Apple has taken something, developed it, marketed it, and let it loose on the world. You could argue about Apple and Steve Jobs’ intent and whether they knew what they had when it was first released, but it is the inclusion of the App Store and the developments the global community made that have helped steer and mould the direction the iPhone and subsequent smartphones took.  Continue reading

The Sketchnote Handbook

I don’t write anymore, I sketch #sketchnote

A couple of months ago I had one of those ‘ah ha’ moments I should have had 25+ years ago at school. I have never been good at taking notes. Never.

At school I was always behind and struggling because I couldn’t keep up with my teachers and their dictated notes. I wasn’t alone with this, but it was still hard. At University it was the same, but it felt worse because everyone else wrote and kept amazing notes from lectures, demonstrations, field-trips, etc. I survived and gained my degree because I had generous friends who helped me when I needed it.

Now, with nearly 18+ years since graduation I’ve finally realised why I am still making rubbish notes in meetings, conferences, etc. (apart from the obvious reason that I suck at it). It’s the wrong medium for me. It’s not that my handwriting is so awful I can’t read it (which, unfortunately, it is) it’s that I don’t respond to those kinds of notes. Therefore I shouldn’t be trying to take notes like that.

I should be sketching, or rather taking ‘sketchnotes’.  Continue reading

The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual: Your toolkit for putting elearning into practice

Book Review: “The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual”

The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual: Your toolkit for putting elearning into practiceLate last year (2013) I started reading the latest offering from Rob Hubbard, “The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual”. A collection of chapters from leading and respected authors and educators this book offers the reader a “broad base of knowledge and the tools you need to navigate the eLearning terrain.”

The book is structured with well-defined chapters written by respected educators who lead their field, covering aspects of eLearning for synchronous and asynchronous delivery, internal- and externally-provided learning opportunities, and the differing platform and approaches to online / eLearning, including:

  • Jane Hart – informal and social learning
  • Charles Jennings – learning management
  • Ben Betts – games-based learning
  • Clive Shepherd – what is eLearning?
  • Julie Wedgwood – blended learning
  • Colin Steed – facilitating live online learning
  • Jane Bozarth – in-house, off-the-shelf, or outsourced eLearning?
  • Clark Quinn – mobile learning  Continue reading

Instant Prezi for Education How-to

Book Review: “Prezi for Education How-to”

Instant Prezi for Education How-toInstant Prezi for Education How-to” is written by Domi Sinclair (@Lilly_Stardust to you and me) and build on her experience and background as a Learning Technologist at University College London.

Designed as a short ‘instant’ book (I read the MOBI formatted file for Kindle, using the Kindle App) it is well structured and covers the basic details of Prezi for anyone new to the tool, and is sufficiently detailed for experienced Prezi users to find something new and useful too.

“This book is for people in education who are bored of delivering the same old presentations to their students (or perhaps it is the students who are bored!). This is for people who would like to increase student engagement by using more dynamic tools. This is for people who have not used Prezi before and may not be technically minded, but are willing to learn and utilise this online presentation aid.”  Continue reading

MOOC YourSelf - Set up your own MOOC for Business, Non-Profits, and Informal Communities

Book Review: MOOC Yourself (@Ignatia) #MOOCyourself

MOOC YourSelf - Set up your own MOOC for Business, Non-Profits, and Informal CommunitiesThis is the first book on MOOCs I’ve been inclined to read, purely because Igne Ignatia de Waard (@Ignatia) is someone I respect through our shared interest and conversations on Twitter – “MOOC YourSelf – Set up your own MOOC for Business, Non-Profits, and Informal Communities”.

Self-published through the Amazon Direct Publishing process Ignatia looks at the different options/formats for MOOCs and fits them in to best online learning practices and offers design and learning options. In the book she also looks at the pedagogy surrounding MOOCs and the options currently available for the often-criticised certification routes.

“The challenges and benefits of MOOCs are highlighted and guidelines on how to build an optimal MOOC experience are shared. Online learning best practices’ are listed with a focus on MOOC specific learning characteristics, certification options and pedagogies.”

The background and history to the current MOOC hype(first section of the book) is not for me, but it is worth reading as the basis for the cMOOC and xMOOC approach are explained well and are vital if you are to get the most out of the rest of the book. Continue reading

Organizations Don't Tweet, People Do: A Manager's Guide to the Social Web

Book Review: “Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do”

Organizations Don't Tweet, People Do: A Manager's Guide to the Social WebYou may think this a strange choice for a Learning Technologist to review – “Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do: A Manager’s Guide to the Social Web” by Euan Semple – but I’m reading this more out of my interest in Social Media and how we use it in our everyday (personal and professional) lives, rather than my interest in management styles or business process. That is to say, however, that these don’t interest my as well, it’s just my main focus is in our use and abuse of social media, whether it’s deliberate or accidental (or just plain ignorance).

I can’t remember now how I came to hear about this book now; it could have been the Amazon digest email recommending it based on other books I’ve bought or browsed, or it could have been someone on Twitter, but the blurb resonated with me on a level of my own use of social media. The book aims to provide:

“managers in all sorts of organizations, from governments to multinationals, with practical advice, insight and inspiration on how the Web and social tools can help them to do their jobs better … this uniquely people-centric guide to social media in the workplace offers managers, at all levels, valuable insights into the networked world as it applies to their challenges as managers, and it outlines practical things they can do to make social media integral to the tone and tenor of their departments or organizational cultures.”

In the book you can easily change the business-orientated wording and terminology to an academic and/or student orientation and the book is still relevant and informative: just how do we use social media, how can a single employee or students ‘like’ or tweet impact the organisation, school, or institution?  Continue reading