Tag Archives: Web 2.0

The survival of higher education by Steve Wheeler

‘The Survival of Higher Education’ by @timbuckteeth

I’ve been following and talking with Professor Steve Wheeler for several years now, and have had the honour of presenting at his Pelecon conference and sharing the billing at the eAssessment Scotland conference.

Steve often writes individual posts or, like recently, he writes a series of post with common themes to expand or challenge a certain approach or concept of education – his 2010 series on ‘Distance Learning / Distance Education’ initiated some interesting discussions. Steve has, this time, been looking at the survival of Higher Education – please read all of Steve’s posts, you know you’ll be the  better for it.

I’ve linked to Steve’s original work here, as well as my response I posted to his website – I concentrate on  specific aspect of his posts/series, but please be sure to read the full posts so my comments (and the quotes) are not taken out of context:  Continue reading

The Future of Search (video) #edtech

I came across this excellent little video on The Guardian website (via Flipboard): “The future of search … made simple – an animated guide”

“How will new mobile phones, technology such as Google Glass – the wearable gadget that searches for whatever we look at – and social networks like Facebook and Twitter influence our searches? Should we be concerned that sensitive personal information is being filtered through a small number of companies?”

“The future of search could have more of an effect on us than we think.”

Designs on eLearning #DEL12: Usman Haque

Designs on eLearning #DEL12: Usman HaqueThe final keynote for the Designs on eLearning conference today is from Usman Haque, founder of Pachube (www.cosm.com), a real-time data infrastructure for the Internet of Things. Usman is credited as the creative architect behind initiatives of “responsive environments, interactive installations, digital interface devices and dozens of mass-participation initiatives”.

Rounding off the conference themes of connectivity, engagement, and the ‘revolutionary’ shift in the relationship between learning and technology, Usman use real world examples and projects to explain these themes they the way everything is changing.

  • From architect to information (construct) architect: continual development and small changes in the ‘software space’ changes how inhabitants interact with each other (image above of the pigs shows their sleeping habits based on slight temperastute increase).
  • Using different techniques for designing spaces Usman showcases the difference ways to approach projects and how individuals approach, interact, and engage with the installation as well as each other, Scent of Spaces is a good example.
  • SkyEar: a “non-rigid carbon-fibre ‘cloud’, embedded with one thousand glowing helium balloons and several dozen mobile phones. The balloons contain miniature sensor circuits that respond to electromagnetic fields, particularly those of mobile phones.” Each time the phones were called the electromagnetic fields changed, therefore the colours and patterns in the balloons changed. Nice!
  • Primal Source: each voice from the audience affects the colour display, with each person trying to work out what their voice ‘looks like’

Designs on eLearning #DEL12: Usman Haque

Primal Source YouTube project video

  • Pachube / Cosm – www.cosm.com: remote monitoring linked to sensors in real-time, building a twitter-like environment for a house, to enable a creation of global repository of sensor actuators(?) for energy environments, objects, devices, etc. Exchanging ideas and data with developers to bring smart(er) products to the world. A social platform that “helps you connect to, and build, the ‘Internet of things’.”

What Usman is showing us here is how people collaborate, how people work together, and how people want to share ideas and data for the good of the project and for the development of their ideas through someone else’s perspective. This is not about owning the idea, for me it’s about seeing where your ideas can go with the ‘community’ involvement. I am, however, struggling to find the eLearning in Usman’s keynote, enjoyable and informative though it is – there’s lots about the “crowd and cloud” in his work, but not explicitly mentioned.

  • Natural Fuse: “The carbon footprint of the power used to run devices can be offset by the natural carbon-capturing processes that occur as plants absorb carbon dioxide and grow” and the selfless or selfish in sharing carbon-capture plants. Interesting project that shows that you need 6 plants to offset just one low wattage LED bulb, but you build a social relationship with your device and plants that helps to show accountability in actions, as well as connecting these plants to the global network of other users (yes, you can kill someone else’s plants!)

Natural Fuse YouTube project video

  • Creation and fostering citizenship by using different terminology, as well as from the project brief, highlights the need for correctly applying and grounding our work in the world we want (students) to work? While we may know this is as an intended outcome (planned or otherwise) do we need to explicitly inform the students of this intention, or let them figure this out for themselves, either during the work or afterwards?

Thank you to all the speakers, from all the sessions, the keynote presenters, and to the team behind the Designs on eLearning Conference. The slides and the recorded keynotes are all going to be available through the Conference website (link above) in the next few weeks.

Pinterest Infographic

Pinterest, what’s the fuss?

In the fast-paced world of Internet start-ups and social media companies Pinterest has been around for a couple of years already. It has however gained a lot of interest in the past few months after high profile names start using it, and a slightly dubious legal issue it needs to address (more later).

But, what is Pinterest? Well … “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard to organize and share the things you love.” Does that make sense? I should know better than to turn to Wikipedia for help but this does explain it quite well – Pinterest is

“a pinboard-styled social photo sharing website that is designed for users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies and more.”

You must first ask (and wait) for an invitation. Once you get one you can sign-up and get started. The welcome email provides some helpful netiquette tips too, these being:

  • Be Nice!
  • Be Creative. The best pinboards mix products, art, recipes and images from all across the web. Try not to pin everything from a single source.
  • Give Credit. If you blog about an item you found on Pinterest, it’s nice to credit your fellow pinners by linking back to the original pin.”

Here is a great video introduction to Pinterest too:

But what of the issue about copyright? There have been some articles and blog posts about this in recent weeks (The Reason I Just Deleted My Pinterest Account and ) and here is why – the Pinterest T&Cs state that by pinning the image you are saying you have the copyright or intellectual property on that image.

Here’s another quote from the volume of stories about Pinterest – you can make your own mind up (as I am doing):

“While we maintain that sharing a link on Facebook (praised by content producers) is the same as sharing a link on Pinterest (feared by content producers), it should be noted that for people leaving the site… the proverbial cat is out of the bag and any content a user puts on the site may continue to display and be re-pinned, even after their account is deleted.” – Pinterest: what happens when you close your account

“To further avoid more of these copyright issues and encourage users to “be authentic” without having to worry about their creative content being sold by the site, Pinterest also deleted a Pin Etiquette principle telling users “not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion”.” – Pinterest Terms Of Service Get Updated

Ignoring these legal ‘hiccups’ (?) how could Pinterest be used in education and the classroom?

  • Plan: create a board for each lesson, project, event, assignment, etc, and use this with students who can re-pin and add these resources to their own boards.
  • Inspire: follow boards created by other users (and follow them too), revisit your boards (especially if you allow others to collaborate with you on it), you’ll soon find other resources you weren’t aware of before.
  • Share: with Pinterest being a ‘social’ network the whole sharing thing is a given, it will only be of use if you share. As with the lesson plan, encouraging students (and faculty staff) to create and share resources will benefit those with whom it is shared.
  • Structure: use different boards for different subjects, projects, events, activities, etc. Organise them properly at the start and it will be easier to maintain, pin, and share.
  • Visualise: use the boards as a graphical diary (blog) for the project, print them out, tag and pin people, videos, audio, etc and make it interactive.
  • Collaborate: invite the students to collaborate on your boards, ask them to contribute to the board and to the project, subject, etc.

Further links, resources, and quotes can be found on the Mashable website.

Here is me, my boards, on Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/hopkinsdavid/

What do you think, is there a future for Pinterest and classroom activities (faculty and/or student)? Are you using it already, want to share you experiences, then please leave a comment with links to your Pinterest boards and/or write-up of your project.

As always, there’s an “infographic for that”, and here is one you can find on the TechCrunch website.

And another – “16 Ways Educators Use Pinterest“:

Making Smartphones work

I love my smartphone, my iPhone. In addition to this, I love my iPad, but I’m not as enamoured by it as I am with my phone. Since I got my iPad I have found myself using my laptop even less (it’s only 2 years old so not, by any means, old or slow or a cumbersome weighty block of plastic with a tiny screen). But they could both be better.

Considering how I (we) use these new mobile devices I am surprised that there is less integration between apps. Let me explain:

When I click a link in an email it opens up the Safari web browser. Simple and easy to understand. But when I click a link in an email, or on a webpage, to a Facebook update, to a tweet, or to something on LinkedIn or something else that I use an App to manage, the Safari web browser is used. I don’t use the browser on my phone (or iPad) to use those services, use the app I’ve installed and configured for my account(s). I am not logged in to the website version of those services (and many others) but I am logged into the App.

Why can’t the OS be configured to allow it to ‘learn’ from the apps I have installed. Let’s have them learn that a link to something on Twitter (tweet, profile, hashtag, etc) means I want to use the App and not the web browser?

Perhaps this is just ‘limited’ to iOS devices? Perhaps to get what I want I need to think outside the ‘Apple’ box and go Android or Windows … ?

Or have I missed something so fundamental to iOS and it can already do this? Comments below please if you agree with me, have a handy hint to help me sort this out, or just want to gloat because your (smart)phone already does this.


David Hopkins

What is a Learning Technologist (part 5)?

David HopkinsDepending on where you work you might use the title Learning Technologist, Education Technologist, Instructional Designer, or something else, but essentially these roles are the same.

  • See the ‘related posts’ section below for links to the previous 4 posts in this series.

Here are a few excerpts from job descriptions for these roles that I found with a quick Google search, see for yourself:

While reading this post last night – Learning Technology Trends To Watch In 2012 – I found the section on “Expanded Instructional Designer’s Role” quite interesting, not least as the expanded role sounded an awful lot like the work I am already engaged in?

“Captured in Clive Shepherd’s book, The New Learning Architect, the idea that an instructional designer has one only one function – course creation – seems outdated. Although many will continue to develop courses, instructional designers will need to think in broad terms about how to close learning gaps. This means understanding the strategies that underlie diverse possibilities for learning, both formal and informal, traditional and nontraditional, online and print and face-to-face and virtual.”

Many of the people I converse with on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, at work, at conferences, etc, are also of this opinion: that it is more than just the final result that the LT (Learning Technologist) is interested in, that the LT can be a vital part of the whole process in getting the learning materials researched, set up, assessed, etc. Convincing others of this is not always easy.

“For example, instructional designers are managing communities of practice, curating content, facilitating online discussion groups, organizing events and supporting of social media for learning. Instructional designers are often the proponents of innovation and the persuaders who convince upper management that interaction and collaboration will make for a smarter organization. As more instructional designers and educators see themselves as learning architects, the world will become a smarter place.”

Wow, this is me, am I now a Learning Architect?

Do you have a view or comment on this, or any other aspect of the role or industry you work in? If so then please leave a comment and open the discussion.

Social Media & Networks: Ho to survive online

Do students understand their ‘digital footprint’ and how it can affect their employability?

Last year I presented to a group of 1st year Business School students on the topic of their use of Social Media and Social Networking websites and how this could have implications on their employability.

This year I’ve been privileged enough to be invited back into lecture slots for all the first year under graduate Business School students (Law, Accounting & Finance, and Business). While the topic(s) and reflective activity the students are presented with are the same (including the majority of the responses given) the examples have been updated and improved … there are far more examples to choose from for a start!

Click to view

This year I have been able to incorporate the TurningPoint handsets (clickers, zappers, etc) to get real-time responses (and capture/record them too) to the content. The responses to each question are loaded to the SlideShare presentation above as well as the videos I showed. There were 98 students present, but not every one of them voted on every question (either they clicked their response before the voting was ‘open’ or they didn’t press the button/key hard enough to send the response in).

I ask the question at the beginning of the session “Do you consider your online activity ‘safe’?” and then again at the end when I’ve demonstrated different scenarios and examples of good and bad experiences of using Social Media. I was not surprised, as you should not be either, that there were more people at the end who are less confident of their activity online, but I was surprised that there is a such a wide swing from 41% at the start who thought they were not safe online to 80% by the end! The biggest swing is from students who were unsure if they were safe to ‘not safe’ (30% at the start to 2%).

By using real-world examples of how, in most cases, just one instance can have such a drastic consequence to someones credibility or employment circumstances, whether it is a good or bad ‘instance’, obviously struck a chord with these students who, from discussions I had with a few afterwards, had not considered their activity on Facebook or chat-rooms as something that an employer would be interested in.

For me this process was about joining the dots, in helping them realise that their activity online is not necessarily distinguishable between home, private, work, or professional use. Whether their Facebook use is restricted to their home/private life wont matter too much if they complain or insult their manager, a client, or colleague. If that content is found then it could bring their employer into disrepute, or even lose work/contracts and even respect.

What really warmed my heart was some of the comments left on the Unit blog (as requested during the presentation) about how the students left after the presentation, and how it made them think about their own use of these types of websites. The following comments are reproduced by kind permission from the Unit tutor, and are anonymous:

“This has been probably the most informative lecture I have had most likely due to how interactive it was. As I felt I was so part of the lecture (answering the questions interactively) I walked away feeling like I knew more than when I first walked into the lecture about Social Media which is ironic as I use it everyday! It was a nice touch using modern technology like interactive keypads when talking about such a modern topic such as Social Media as it helped highlight the points made. The warm up questions which might have seemed irrelevant at the time; such as what is your favourite drink was a good idea to get the audience into the interactive questions and to understand the bar charts/pie charts which will appear after. Asking questions such as “Can an employer check on employees through/using Social Media” really hit home how scary it is how advanced technology is and even when you think you’re safe online you really aren’t!  The integration of YouTube videos I felt kept my attention while still making a point on the main body of the lecture.  Leaving the lecture, myself and probably most people in the lecture went home to check that all their privacy settings was actually set to private!”

“I felt slightly alarmed after the lecture at the fact that this is an issue affecting much younger people than myself, it scares me sometimes when I see a friends little sister of the age of 10 on facebook!! With this comes a responsibility and one that I think schools need to be taking on. Schools should be providing the same kind of lecture to their students. I never had a talk on the dangers of facebook and so I’m sure neither have they but at such a young age they should as they are perhaps exposed more to dangers as they might not fully appreciate the need for privacy settings.”

“Some people might think that this lecture was common knowledge but I found it particularly helpful to bring home the fact that what happens on the Internet STAYS on the Internet…forever?”

“I think the most important thing is to think about the consequences of what you say before you say it and do not say anything online you would not say to your mum!! However, the lecture did make me think and when i got home i checked all my setting were on private. I have defiantly learnt not to post things that may jeopardize future employment as it is not worth it in the long run.”

“It [the presentation] really opened my eyes as to the lengths employers will go to find the most adept, and suitable candidate. In many ways it makes sense, with fewer jobs in today’s economic climate and a higher demand, employers are going to want the very best candidates.”

“Originally, I thought the social networking lecture would be like those we had several times at school and college, however, the session was much more interactive and in context to our sector of work which made it appeal to me much more. Many of the real life stories were particularly effective and made me take the comments and updates I write much more seriously. I think the importance of this matter has grown in recent years and it is evidently clear that one passing statement could have drastic consequences upon your future career and therefore upon your life.”

“The statistics about the internet, over all, were shocking and in some respects scary and it was interesting to see how many people changed their minds about the safety of the internet after watching the videos and seeing the articles where people had been affected.”

“It is very true that we live in a society today who are extra sensitive to ‘jokes’ about ‘bombs’ and ‘explosions’ given the events of the London bombings and more importantly ‘9/11’ it is understandable that people may over react with insensitive and immature jokes about airports in particular. Therefore, this example in particular demonstrates, expressing yourself on social networking sites just for the sake of boredom, is just not worth it, it is more productive and sensible to just have a conversation with a friend.”

“I had had many of these lectures in secondary school so I thought I new the dangers and risks of social networks and internet usage, but this lecture really opened my eyes as to what I was exposing myself to by using the internet.”

So, a note to us all: let us be sensible when we use any online service (Facebook, Twitter, eBay, LinkedIn, etc), think about how we want to be viewed by whoever may find the content (whenever they find it) as it may just come back to bite you.

Here are a few of the examples/links I use in the presentation:

A few more examples that I didn’t include, but could quite easily have done, include:

QR Codes: Rise of the Code

I found a couple of really interesting infographics this week that I thought you might like.

I am still very confident and enthusiastic about using QR Codes in education, in classrooms, in inductions, in libraries, in presentations, etc, and realise I may have a long uphill struggle ahead with some people and their understanding on what we can do with them. I am presenting next week and will finish the presentation with a final slide showing a QR Code that links to a series of online resources, presentation, notes, etc that I have collected ahead of the event, as well as my contact details. I am also putting the codes on my poster presentations in a similar way, to save on valuable space for contact details, but also to use the online (mobile friendly remember) webspace to put more information about the poster subject that doesn’t fit on the poster itself (background, research, facts/figures, etc).

So, how are you using QR Codes? How are you planning on using them? Leave a comment below and share with us all please.

Click to see full version

And the second:

Click to see full version

Foursquare: getting the students to go outside?

A recent study by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth found that almost every Higher Education Institution in the US is on Facebook and 84% of them are also on Twitter, and are using them to connect with the students to tell them “about events and meetings and resource centers with Facebook or Twitter. With Foursquare, they can actually get students to go to them.”

I signed up to Foursquare just under a year ago and am enjoying it (even if I don’t get out much!). But what I have seen is that friends, colleagues, peers, etc are interested in locations and (when linked in with other geo-location based services like the photo manipulation and sharing app Instagr.am Foursquare can come alive very very quickly.

One of the things I have been trying to work out is how we can utilise the current fashion for this type of geo-caching activity and badge/mayor-hunting passion for the students, to get them outside and engaged in something – like Induction week?

“Foursquare uses the geo-locator technology built into smartphones to turn exploring physical places — like, say, a college campus and the surrounding town — into a virtual game by encouraging users to ‘check in’ virtually at places they visit in real life. They can leave virtual notes, or ‘tips’, about a place for future visitors.”

By checking in to venues you score points, and if you check in more often than others over a time period (2 months I think?) you could become the ‘Mayor’ and ‘own’ the place (until someone checks in more times than you). Some places (mostly restaurants) offer special deals to the current Mayor, which gives an incentive to return and check in again to see if you can steal the mayorship. Foursquare confirms someone’s presence through the phone’s geo-locator – if you are not deemed to be close enough then the check-in doesn’t count.



So what does this report (link above) suggest as ways to encourage students to use Foursquare?

  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College held a Foursquare scavenger hunt, giving students a sequence of clues for places on campus to check in. The reward? A 30-percent discount at the campus bookstore.
  • At Waukesha they have entertained the idea of using Foursquare to encourage student involvement in extracurricular activities, while at the same time strengthening ties with local businesses. “Maybe if a student checks in at the association for student activities office, then they could be eligible for a discount or coupon for a local store/restaurant]. Studies have shown the positive effects of engagement with campus life on student retention and success, she says. “At its core Foursquare allows you to tap in to student engagement.”

The report also highlights the downside of this kind of activity – the time taken to set it up and to monitor it:

“A staff member usually spends three to four hours a week monitoring and updating Foursquare. Other events such as the scavenger hunt, required several full days of effort from the social media team, the business development team, and students.”

The report also send s a cautious note to anyone thinking of utilising Foursquare: “If students are not already active on Foursquare, it will be challenging for student affairs staff to generate buy-in for a new social media tool.”

However, Foursquare is aiming itself at the student market with the availability of four specific badges only open to ‘branded pages‘ created by education establishments (US only at this stage I think). “Several campus officials talked about the possibility of allowing students to redeem badges for campus bucks — just like a café might offer free coffee to its virtual mayor.” This sounds good, but in order to make it work there has to be the incentive, whether it is financial or other. I have heard of someone using Foursquare as a virtual register for their classes (you can create your own unique check-in point if it doesn’t already exist like a specific room), but this is heavily dependent on each and every students having a mobile device capable of using the system.

Are you using Foursquare for anything other than the morning coffee fix? Do you think you have a good idea for how we can use Foursquare in and out of the classroom? Please leave your thoughts and ideas below.

‘Generation Y’ is dead, long live ‘Generation T’

I wasn’t aware of all the different labels that have been assigned in the past, but here is a brief overview (for those who are equally in the dark):

  • The Lost Generation: Those who fought in World War I (born pre-1900)
  • The Greatest Generation: Veterans of World War II (born 1901-1924)
  • The Silent Generation: Also known as ‘War Babies’ (born 1925-1945)
  • The Baby-Boomers: Those born in post-war boom and are generally attributed with(born 1946-1964)
  • Generation X: (born 1960’s to early 1980’s)
  • Generation Y: Also known as ‘Millennials’ or the ‘Net Generation’. This label is more about their attitude  (born between late 1970’s to early 2000’s)
  • Generation Z: Also known as the ‘Internet Generation’ (born early-mid 2000’s)

From what I can see the movement from one categorisation of generation to another has been about the enlightenment of the individuals to their surrounding based on different elements of cultural and economic influences. However, I think this only applies to the earlier classifications. Once we see the eruption of technical capabilities, and our reliance on it in our every-day lives, we can see the classifications above become entwined with technical advancement. This is why I opt to use the term ‘Generation T’ for children born post 2008/9 … the ‘Tablet Generation’. As with the classifications above I would also advocate the use of  the ‘App Generation’ in reference to the way in which we are now using and talking about technology – everything is about the App, whether it is smart phones, tablet PCs, or cloud computing (Chromebook).

Here’s a good example:

YouTube: Baby Works iPad Perfectly. Amazing Must Watch!

In this video a father gives his child a tablet for the first time, just look at how quickly she learns to use the home button to exit the app and find another …

You Tube: A 2.5 Year-Old Has A First Encounter with An iPad

There are loads of examples if you look for them, but the fact is that tablet computers are so intuitive that children of all ages can use them. Robert Thompson explains that a tablet, “with its touch interface … can help children extend their creativity using intuitive applications that allow them to color, trace letters and do simple counting exercise — the possibilities are endless.”

Please note that I am trying to stay away from identifying one tablet over any other (or even operating system) as it is the technology and how we utilise it that interests me, not brand or price (although we cannot ignore the importance that is placed on form over function and preference on iPad or Blackberry PlayBook or HP TouchPad, etc).

While the jury is out on whether tablets will replace traditional computers that use a keyboard and mouse, the children/student of the future “will still need laptops, because they’re great for doing school work and just try passing a degree without one, the same goes for many jobs” (Tablets: A backseat for creativity). This is, of course, based on the assumption that the education system will not change and we will still instruct and assess in the way we do now, which we have been doing for many decades before. But this too is changing, just look at the way in which recent Web 2.0 systems (blog, wiki, podcast, etc) have been introduced to the learning environment, and the way the students have engaged with it. If this continues then the historical framework of teach/assess will also change.

Are we ready to embrace the changes? I think we are; there are already schools around the world providing tablets for each child, game consoles are used for game-based learning, etc. While these could be viewed in isolation, don’t forget that 25/30 years ago there were only a very few schools that had a room full of computers for students to use, this is now viewed as the norm, in fact it is essential equipment.

So, how long will Generation T last? I don’t know, but I’m sure the developers at the big tech firms have already started planning for the next big ‘thing’ – but will it be a game-changer like the advert of smartphones and tablets? I welcome your input and ask you to leave a comment or thought below.