The goal of the JISC Report into the ‘Challenge of eBooks in Academic Institutions’ project is to help “orientate senior institutional managers and to support institutions in the effective adoption and deployment of eBooks and eBook technology. As a consequence the project helps to support the wider ambition to enable improvements in the quality and impact of teaching, learning and research and meet rising staff and student expectations.”
“At present, for academic institutions, the ebook paradigm largely remains one of PDF format ebooks consumed using PCs. This is now dissolving. The ebook landscape is changing rapidly, driven to a large extent by developments in ebook readers and tablet devices which have enabled better ways to consume econtent.”
Week three and into ‘block 2′ of the five week Coursera / University of Edinburgh MOOC: ‘eLearning and Digital Cultures’. Are we leaving the bliss of utopia behind, or will be building on the fear of a controlling and dystopian ‘master’ as we become ‘human’?
“What does it mean to be human within a digital culture, and what does that mean for education?”
This week is introduced from the perspective that “we tend not to question, in our everyday lives, where the boundaries of ‘the human’ lie”. As with previous weeks we have a few videos to watch and criticise analyse as well as a few papers and web resources to read in order to define or answer what it means to be human in the future.
The advert from Toyota has had a lot of discussion in the Coursera forum but I have a more cynical approach to it – stop trying to intellectualise something that is pure marketing. Do you really think Toyota is trying to make some kind of moral message on the future of technology, or just trying to replicate other successful advertising or cinematic sequences? The end of the advert is very reminiscent of the end of The Truman Show, where Truman (aka Jim Carrey) has a choice to stay in the world he now knows is fake, yet safe, or leave to an unknown but world that allows freedom of choice and experience. Isn’t this also what education is becoming … isn’t this why we’re also doing this MOOC, for the freedom of choice?
The second advert, this time one of the adverts in the series from BT (UK) which is supposed to represent “authentic” human contact, taking a cheap shot at the Instant Messaging and Facebook generation in an effort to show how a simple phone call is the real thing. No, a conversation in person is the real thing, a phone call is the next best thing. If we take this scenario into the real world, into my day to day work, then I would rather walk along the corridor to someone’s office and talk to them properly than a phone call or email. In an online learning environment this is obviously not possible, and neither is a phone call (one tutor to ‘x’ number of students, that could be a lot of calls) – this is why Instant Messaging or discussion boards and/or conference calls (Skype?) are popular, and will remain so.
Here’s what I liked (at minute mark 5:18) when talking about integrating technology (from the student feedback, NSS score, and improving the “student experience”) and the issues on an Institutional level at making these changes:
“We can’t change everything because we’d have to change ‘Everything’! … if you unpick all this you see lots of but’s, reasons why we can’t do something … we had what’s called a Deputy Vice Chancellor ‘out of patience’ error … this notion of we can’t do it because we’d have to change everything built up and up and up, so we ended up with” ‘well if we can’t do it because we’d have to change everything, and that’s what you’re saying to me, then let’s change everything!'”
Indeed … “using Learning Technology to transform a whole university’s curriculum”. Who’s with me?
For the past few years I keep hearing the phrase that we are “preparing students for jobs/roles that don’t yet exist”. I’m sure the majority of people have seen this video (below) but if not then I urge you to spend 5 minutes and watch it.
You could consider this the fourth part in the ‘What is a Learning Technologist’ series. See my profile page for links to the rest of the series.
What I want to work on is the future of the phrase that (at time-stamp 0:46) “we are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist … using technologies that haven’t been invented … in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet” and whether we apply this to ourselves, and our own roles?
My thought is this: if we are preparing students for roles that don’t exist (yet) what are we doing to prepare ourselves for this change, for the roles in which we are already employed? Do we update our own list of roles and responsibilities to match the changing environment we are expected to work in? I’ve been in my current role for 4 and a half years and the job specification has not changed even though my daily tasks, responsibilities and capabilities has radically altered. In fact it would be safe to say that even the environment I work in, the people I work with, and the students I support is so very different from when I started. Yet my ‘role’, or the description my role is assigned, has not altered.
Let’s go back to the video again. At 3:32 the video ‘claims’ (I haven’t checked the facts) that new technical information is doubling every two years and that “for students starting a 4 year technical degree this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study” and, if you carry this further, will be outdated by two ‘generations’ of change by the time they finish their first year of employment. If you take this further back it is also likely that the learning materials the students start using in their first year are not up to date, perhaps two or three years old, therefore their final year of study could be as much as 4 ‘generations’ old. This is not preparing students for the job market.
Bring this into line with employment and job specifications for Learning Technology professionals … how many of us are spending our working day on things that we did not do last year, or use tools that were not available last year, or the year before? How much of this daily activity is written into our contract or job specification, yet it is something that we involve ourselves with, and engage in, in order to complete our tasks and responsibilities in our current role and/or environment?
Add the often rigid structure used by employers regarding role/pay progression routes into this mix and you can see where I am coming from – how do we as individuals, or as a discipline of Learning Technology, advance our own role and responsibilities in a structure that is not capable of recognising the unique talent?
While it is not appropriate for employers to update or modify their employee career ‘structures’ as often as the above might suggest, is there scope for periodic reviews of the whole, or in part, to establish a route for individuals to shine through and be rewarded for their work above and beyond the role suggests?
I don’t know if I’ve been able to capture my thoughts adequately, or eloquently enough here, but I welcome your thoughts on whether your role is ‘future proof’ or you also feel like the industry we work in is leaving you behind ‘officially’ while you keep up to speed because of your own private pride/desire/dedication to your job? As always, please leave a comment if this post/idea has made you think.
I found this Infographic this morning and it kind of resonated with me and some thoughts I’ve been having recently about using alternative systems for student interaction (not replacing the VLE, but ‘enhancing’ the student experience).
While I like this and what it is trying to say, surely Facebook and indeed any system is going to make the student ‘better’ based only on how it is used, not what it can do? Therefore it is ‘our’ responsibility to introduce and set up the system (Facebook, Twitter, etc) in a way that will engage and enhance the learning experience? Please leave a comment below if you agree or disagree, or just what to comment on the general implication of social media on student lives.
A while ago I posted about a guide to Moodle that Joyce Seitzinger had created – “Moodle Tool Guide for Teachers“, and I am pleased to say it was well received and gained quite a lot of re-tweets and hits, both on my website and even more importantly on Joyce’s. At the time I said I was working on a version (copy?) for Blackboard and I am pleased to say I have completed the first draft.
I am not as comfortable with Bloom’s Taxonomy as Joyce so therefore have not included the information in the version below, but I hope that with continued time and effort to become familiar with it I can incorporate it into version 2, and any new/updates. This version is intended to be included in a Conference I am hoping to attend later this year so is set at A1 size for printing, but still looks good printed on A3 (hint: A4 is a little too small).
This guide is worthy of more than just a re-tweet this morning, so I’ve linked it here.
And for those not interested in reading the whole report (shame on you!) here are a couple of choice quotes from Rachel;
“What if we opened up courses for student reviews on our site? New students would be able to view reviews on classes when trying to make their selections, especially for general education courses. Courses with great reviews will likely receive higher enrollments, without any additional cost to market these classes. Administrators would likely worry about the classes that would receive poor reviews – but whether you enable this feature or not, these conversations are happening elsewhere, likely on sites you have no control over.”
“Social media comprises of activities that involve socializing and networking online through words, pictures and videos. Social media is redefining how we relate to each other as humans and how we as humans relate to the organizations that serve us. It is about dialog – two way discussions bringing people together to discover and share information.”
Admittedly the guide is slightly old now, written in 2008, it talks about “the two most popular social networking communities are Facebook and MySpace” which we know is not the case as it is Facebook or Twitter now (reports of 10 million users leaving MySpace a month have been seen recently) but it should not be discounted just because of it’s age. We may be better at thinking and using Social Media than we were three years ago, and the world of Social Media and Social Networks have changed with Smart Phones and Tablets allowing us to be more mobile with “when and where” activities, but we all have a responsibility to check and re-check our online activity, individually or as an organisation.
Twitter is becoming an important tool for backchannel chat and information exchange in conferences, exhibitions, and classroom activities where perhaps email and/or discussion forums were used before. Twitter has also become a very useful way for those unable to attend to keep up with speeches, presentations and conversations that surround the ‘event’, and I have virtually ‘attended’ a few conferences this year already without having to book tickets or take time off work. It is not the same as being there, but it is still extremely useful.
Using a tool that can send a tweet from your presentation isn’t only useful for those unable to attend your session, it is also a good way for you to send notes into the backchannel for attendees information. I have started planning my next delivery of the Social Media & how (students) can survive online presentation to include sending tweets to the different examples I show as well as the YouTube videos and any other background information that could benefit the students in their follow-up activity (reflective blogging).
So, if you’re interested in this too, you’ll need the AutoTweet tool, which is free and easy to download from here:
You don’t have to install any other of the SAP 2.0 tools to make this work, but they’re worth a look for other aspects of including Twitter in presentations.
You will also need an account with a service like www.supertweet.net to enable the tweets to be sent due to the ‘API Proxy Account’, or something – anyway, you’ll need it. You can always revoke the application access from Twitter settings afterwards if you want.
AutoTweet will run as an ‘add-in’ in PowerPoint, which so far I have had to re-configure each time I open it to use (which makes testing the presentation a pain) but at least one option is to disable auto-tweeting until I’m ready to publish and tweet. One option available is that you can also display when a tweet has been sent (the bottom check-box in the settings image below) but I have found this slightly disruptive to the presentation but I know from colleagues that the students like it as it gives them an indication that content has been made available in the backchannel:
Now all you do is enter the hashtag in the box, as above, that you want to use and the tool will add this to the end of any text you specify to tweet from the slides.
To set the tweet content you just add the text and links (or even another hashtag) between the [twitter] [/twitter] code that you place in the slide ‘notes’ section, like this:
I’ve been wading through the 2011 Horizon Report and find it fascinating reading and quite a thrill to realise that some of my thoughts are not too far off the mark with what other people /organisations are thinking, saying, or planning.
Here are few passages that caught my attention – mind you most of the report did this too!
“As the electronic book moves further from a digital reproduction of a printed piece, some writers are seeing it become something far richer, allowing journeys through worlds real and imagined, undertaken not alone but in company with other readers. The gestural interfaces of new electronic devices enhance the intellectual experience of reading with tactile interactions. Electronic books have the potential to transform the way we interact with reading material of all kinds, from popular titles to scholarly works”
This is something I have touched on in a previous post on January 17th, 2011 “The Future of eBooks … my vision“, and the video below is referred to in the report after the passage above;
“Despite their obvious advantages of size and weight, electronic books are not as established among scholarly readers as they are among the general public. Several obstacles have stood in the way of general adoption among academic institutions: scarcity of academic titles, lack of necessary features in electronic readers to support scholarly work, a restrictive publishing model, and digital rights management (DRM) issues Despite their obvious advantages of size and weight, electronic books are not as established among scholarly readers as they are among the general public. Several obstacles have stood in the way of general adoption among academic institutions: scarcity of academic titles, lack of necessary features in electronic readers to support scholarly work, a restrictive publishing model, and digital rights management (DRM) issues”
“Until electronic textbooks are divorced from reader-dependent formats, broad adoption will continue to be problematic for universities. Nonetheless, the promise offered by the technology is such that electronic books are being explored in virtually every discipline. Clear advantages for students (e.g., price and portability) are other factors that make this technology worth pursuing.”
“Mobile applications add easy social interaction around electronic books that could be marshaled in support of group study and focused teacher-student interaction at any point in the text. Electronic texts can be linked to a myriad of supporting materials that can extend and enrich them.”
I am still reading my way through the list of resources and links in the report, but there are some good ones there.
What I take from these two posts and the lists/stats that have been collected is that there does not seem to be a uniform approach to the way the social media are being used. Are Universities using these tools because they think they ‘have’ to in order to be seen as progressive, modern, interested, social, etc, or is there a well-defined and implemented strategy behind the decision? I fear it is more likely to be the former than the latter.
What do you think? Do you run/maintain an ‘official’ channel?
Many thanks to Brian Kelly (@briankelly) for the posts and analysis of results.