Thursday, 3 December 2009

JISC Online Conference - Day 4

Finally got around to writing up day 4, after catching up with my day job this week. I firstly listened to the recording of Peter Bradwell's session on The Edgeless University, which had been recorded the day before. When he talked about being edgeless he was talking function not form. He asked what are the challenges for UK Universities:
  • maintaining standards
  • rising demand and widening participation
  • strained resources

How can we maintain standards, continue to improve access all with strained resources? and what can technology do to help? He said technology aids collaboration, the availability of information and gets more people involved in learning. Technology poses a new set of possibilities but isn't just a threat. We need to emphasise the value, the quality, affiliation and authority that comes from the institution. Universities become partners in learning rather than sole providers. They validate learning, they are a driving force for research and collaboration. This the way in which they become "edgeless", not disappearing but broadening out. Learning happens beyond individual campuses and institutions. We need to rediscover why we still need universities.

He then asked a number of questions looking at different areas and what the priorities and challenges are in those areas. Obviously this was just a recording so I wasn't actively involved in this but could see the results produced the previous day. The results were interesting (I'm not going to list it all here) and I think in some cases possibly reflected the majority of the audience as teaching featured heavily in the responses, but that could just be me making assumptions about the make up of the audience.

After that I listened to the closing keynote (which was a live session) by Nigel Paine "From courses to communities". Again a very interesting session. He said you should be open to what might work, cull to what will work, and then focus your energies - sound advice, rather than trying to get into everything focus on what works for you and your students, in your institution. Don't just jump onto the latest band wagon.

He also said environment for learning is very important. It's not just about people - you do need to spend time developing yourself but you also need to work on the environment. He quoted Patrick Dixon, who when talking about companies said - visionary companies think radically, embrace radical new partnerships, integrate processes to create realistic products that meet real needs. This is just as applicable for universities.

He argued that leaders need to move from framing to shaping - it's not your job to tell people what to think - you need to build environments in which people can create their own learning.

Learning to know, learning to be, learning to do, learning to live

Things to consider:

  • the good enough revolution - cheap and simple is just fine - get it out there, don't worry if it's not perfect
  • venue is very important both for online and face to face
  • the key to learning success = fun
  • develop tools for communities not communities for tools
  • make it easy to get started
  • be flexible and be emotional

The quote of the day has to be "not everything is equally important" - how true.

And that was it. By this point my ears were numb from wearing headphones for too long and my head was banging from concentrating so hard. Good conference but in some ways harder than a face to face conference because you spend so much time staring at a computer screen.

Friday, 27 November 2009

JISC online conference 2009 - Day 3

Day 3 was a bit of washout in conferencing terms for me. My son's nursery had a flood (so literally a washout for them) so I had to be off work. Oh dear that was my full days conferencing gone, no chance of doing it at home with an almost 4 year old around. So we went around Liverpool looking for penguins instead. He was happy because he got to see the "big tree" and the lights as well as getting a couple of rides before home. I was happy because I fitted in a bit of Christmas shopping and got to spend the day with my boy.

So day 4 of conference will be me catching up on day this space

JISC online conference 2009 - Day 2

On day 2 there were no live sessions I wanted to attend so I could concentrate on other presentations. I was only around in the afternoon so focused on the presentation from the University of Bradford, which I found really easy to follow. I liked the fact they had a PowerPoint with audio that I could listen to at my own pace and go back if I missed stuff, which always happens in a live session. They also provided other useful materials to support their presentation. The presentation was by Becka Currant, Neil Currant and Neil McKeown and they talked about Develop Me! This came out of a review of the student experience, so given what LJMU have been going through it seemed really relevant to me. Develop Me! is an integrated package of transition, induction and study skills support for students to complement what they do face to face. There are 5 areas to this:
  • a social network (they used Ning)
  • online skills development resources
  • SaPRA (the university's in-house Skills and Personal Development Activity
  • mobile guides - - they are currently considering a iphone app
  • research into the student experience

They found that early engagement with academic materials helped develop skills. They created learning objects that can be accessed 24/7. Student and staff feedback has been very positive and this year they had around 2000 members in the social network.

As well as the presentation there was a podcast on why use a social network and why Ning, which was really interesting. The social network is designed to create a supportive community, it helps student to see that everyone else is in the same boat and no-one knows all the answers. They can join the social network before arriving at university so are making friends before they get here, that can only help that transition into university life. Ning was identified as a suitable option because it is more flexible than Facebook, it's easier to install 3rd party widgits too, it's more stable and older students were not as comfortable using Facebook because that's where their kids hang out. They wanted something for work stuff that was different to the place for social stuff. This is now managed by the central university web team in conjunction with the student union. They paid to remove adverts from the site and it is moderated. They wouldn't remove negative posts from students, but rather try to act on the bad feedback. However they have had to remove spammers and would remove offensive material.

It's branded to look like part of the university website, which was important to students and links to the student union Facebook page and twitter feeds. Academic groups have been created and some students have created social groups too.

I think we need to get on board with this kind of technology and are in danger of being left behind, if we haven't been already. I hadn't considered Ning before because lots of universities and university libraries use Facebook. Maybe something other than Facebook would serve our purposes better

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

JISC online conference 2009 - day 1

So day one was yesterday and I attended the two live sessions. The first was by Charlie Leadbeater and he talked about the role of innovation education. He said the question you ask largely determines the answer you get. He then asked the audience "where would you look to see what education and learning might become?" there was a wide range of answers from the audience. I personally said nursery school children and some others said similar "my grandchildren", "children's play" so some people think like me, which is reassuring that I'm not completely off the mark. Charlie said that we need to take larger range of questions to get a larger range of answers.

Learning takes place in many different settings, both formal and informal and he showed us a grid of innovation. There are four sections:

    • Formal sustaining - Improve - this is improving what we already have

    • Formal disruptive - Reform - developing new types of schools, focusing on personalised learning, which is learning with and by not to and from

    • Informal sustaining - Supplement - this is social and emotion conditions, the cultures and environments that influence

    • Informal disruptive - Transform - this alternatives to school, its about collaboration, connection - this tends to come from social entrepreneurs

    He asked - What are the keys to transformational innovation in learning?
    How do these areas relate to each other, which should be the driver (the largest)? Where do you invest time and money? It’s about how radical solutions from the informal sector get sustained and mainstreamed.

    The was much discussion on all aspects of how we make this happen in the conference discussion area after the presentation - some of which I haven't had chance to read yet.

    Later in the day there was a presentation from Rhona Sharpe and Helen Beetham about responding to learners. Some of the things they found which may be quite surprise given all the hype about digital natives were:

    • Students are often surprised by the amount of technology use expected of them when they arrive at F&HE colleges

    • actually have few (or no) expectations

    • are familiar with but don’t use (as in survey)

    • appreciate online resources (this crops up a lot), because strategies they have developed from school, social, leisure technology use often aren’t appropriate to f/he.

    • are guided by tutors in what they use
    They outlined a developmental model as one way of understanding how effective e-learners can be developed. They defined effective e-learners as those who are using technology in positive ways to support their learning. They asked the questions What practices do learners need in the digital age? and what are the challenges for learners? One of things that I got from this was we need to enable learners to learn across contexts and apply skills across contexts

    JISC online conference 2009 - first impressions

    I have to say first off I am exhausted. Online conferencing is much more tiring than normal face to face conferences. I don't know whether it's because there is a lot of sitting with headphones on, staring at a netbook screen or whether it's the wealth of information to read through. Whatever it is I'm shattered and it's only day 2 of 4.

    That said I am getting lots from the conference and have enjoyed my first experience of using Eluminate to listen to presentations and actively engage in discussion (and voting). However like some other delegates I have found the on-going discussion a bit distracting at times and it's just not the same watching someone sitting at their PC talking to you as it is in person. The two keynote sessions were very good yesterday. I do think I missed some bits but having Charlie's slides to refer back to after helped a great deal.

    I don't want to make this a massive post to read so will split it up as seems appropriate.

    I haven't been into the social area of Eluminate but have popped into the coffee bar and left a post in there. I'm not as active in the discussions as some others but this is my first time and I am getting to grips with it all. Also I am of the opinion if you don't have anything useful to say, don't say anything at all.

    Right onto the first presentation.....

    Tuesday, 10 November 2009

    PPRG Annual Conference - Evaluation

    The hotel was lovely, the food gorgeous (at least 4lbs put on) and the facilities great (pool was fab).

    I liked that the conference programme was split into short sections with breaks in between, this gave you time to stretch your legs and regroup before the next person was speaking. Given that most people cannot maintain their concentration for long periods, I thought this was really helpful - I wish other conference organisers would take note.

    Perhaps more practical sessions or sessions that used group work would be an improvement, I've been to this conference before I remember working in small groups more - nothing too scary but something like the layout session we did on the Saturday morning.

    The library debate was probably my least favourite bit but others probably enjoyed it more - I didn't feel I had anything to contribute and it felt like a long session (it was longer than the speaker sessions had been) - just a personal preference.

    All in all a good and enjoyable conference, which I hope to be able to attend again next year.

    PPRG Annual Conference - Day three

    Day three began with a session by Paul Fella on Impact and how to acheive it. Before he started he said he'd be providing us with a CD-ROM with the presentation and his transcript on so we didn't need to take notes. At first I thought great, I can concentrate on what he's saying without madly scribbling (or typing) but after a while I decided taking notes helps me to concentrate, so I took to tweeting instead. It was a very visual presentation outlining some of the basics of design. Very interesting and we were going to put some of this into practice in the session after break.

    So after coffee and more gingerbread if you had the capacity (think I forgot to mention that we'd been provided with the famous Grasmere gingerbread at break times) it was time for some hands on. I really enjoyed the practical session and wished that there has been more of this the day before (not that I hadn't enjoyed the day before, it's just that hands on breaks things up a bit). We had to design a magazine page using the techniques we'd been talking about, using images, headings, sub headings and text. Jacqueline and I worked together and after much deliberating were happy with our end result. Paul came round and said ours looked very funky which we took to be a good sign. One thing that would have made the session better would have been to see other people's work at the end and if Paul could have pointed out good bits and bits he'd change, that would have helped us. As it was we think we did a good effort but came away not being sure.

    After lunch we all went out separate ways after a very enjoyable conference. Will do an evaluation post as I very quickly filled in my evaluation sheet and kind of wished I'd had more time for reflection because I would probably have written more.

    PPRG Annual Conference - Dinner and quiz

    After the library discussion there was time for another quick swim before dinner. Jacqueline was very impressed with the hot tub - it's just not really my thing, I think it's the proximity of strangers that puts me off.

    Before dinner there were the PPRG Marketing Excellence awards, with gold going to Hertfordshire Libraries, silver to CILT Resources Library and bronze to Newcastle libraries. I was also very chuffed, if somewhat embarrassed when my marketing tip was draw out of the hat and I won the book Bite-sized marketing: realistic solutions for the overworked librarian. Picture evidence of this on flickr as well as other photos from the conference.

    The conference dinner was lovely, as the meal had been the night before. We had a large proportion of men at our table, which we thought boded well for the quiz, as we all know men know everything - it was not to be. We seem to excel at recognising tunes played in the style of Les Dawson and didn't do too bad at history but as for the rest it's better not to say. We weren't last which was something - I can take little or no credit as I was rubbish. I'm never very good at quizzes but this was particularly hard. 10 rounds later, yes 10 rounds, we retired to the bar for another well earned drink and some more networking.

    Saturday, 7 November 2009

    PPRG Annual Conference - Day 2 afternoon

    Lunch was again lovely with another “pot licking” dessert (we didn’t, we just wanted to). Sharon Tuersley, who I mentioned earlier kicked off the afternoon and got us all up on our feet to do a bit of post-lunch exercise so we didn’t slump from too much food (very good idea). You couldn’t possibly of slept whilst she was on though, because she’s very good presenter and very easy to listen to. Sharon is from Warwick University and they have developed a very strong library brand over the last couple of years. There was major remodelling at Warwick which facilitated the creation of the brand. I mentioned in my previous post about a clear message and making that part of everything you do and Warwick’s message is “Connecting you with information, support and your community”. They ran an “it’s my library” campaign, which included snazzy bags with great imagery on the front and back up text on the back. I thought it was a great way to get users to take ownership of their space and hopefully then to respect it.

    So how did they get there well they have a marketing advisory group, they did the branding in stages, they communicated well with other colleagues outside the advisory group and they provided support for staff in using the new brand. They have a library style guide (very glossy – nice) but not just that which reinforced what I’d heard earlier about supporting staff using the brand to get them on side, so they take ownership of the brand. This is your internal branding which allows staff to see where they fit into the grand scheme delivering the brand and creates a strong brand culture. It should provide inspiration to increase productivity and clarifies what is on brand and off brand.I like their small concertina leaflets and the Warwick library rocks rock. They also provided students with a card holder to put the leaflet in but that had space for your library card etc. Some of you may have seen their picks of the trick or treat stall – Sharon said this was a light bulb moment. A student who came to their staff at arrivals weekend said all you need is a pumpkin (in reference to the mass of orange on the stall) – so they very quickly set up their trick or treat idea. Students answered questions about the library for treats and the trick if they got it wrong was another question. As well as showing the human/fun face of the library but also gave insight into what students had and hadn’t picked up about the library service – could inform future campaigns. Their stall at arrivals weekend looked really professional (we need to get a table cloth for our welcome week events) and they said even though they clearly had their library branding all over it students came to talk to them. In the past we’ve deliberately not stood under a sign that said LIBRARY as we are in direct competition with pubs, clubs and societies etc. – but maybe arrivals weekend is a different set up to welcome week – I do not know. This year we did have Library and Student support on our new publicity behind us on the stall but I don’t know if it made a difference – something to think about.

    This was followed by a library discussion - check out the tweets from PPRG on Twitter.

    PPRG Annual Conference – Day Two - Morning

    Up bright and early (well early) for day two and sat in bed finishing the blog post from yesterday. Need to go somewhere where I can connect to the wireless so I can post it. Loving my new Samsung N110 which is getting its first outing for this conference. It’s very comfortable to use and incredibly lightweight so am very impressed so far. I also am finding that the shift key is where I’m expecting so I don’t keep hit page up by accident (something I do on the EEEPC when touch typing). Hope the battery life lives up to its claims so I can continue to use it throughout the day. Hoping for an interesting day....

    ..... much later. Well day two was interesting. I started the day off with a swim – very nice pool in this hotel. It was lovely and quiet at 7am and set me up for the day. Breakfast followed which was much needed and very tasty. After breakfast it was straight into the sessions, the first being Mark Young talking about Human-centred design. So what is human-centred design? Well it’s not just about giving users what they want, because users aren’t designers. But having said that it also isn’t about designing them out of the equation either. Users need to be integrated throughout the whole process. Mark said there are 3 areas of human-centred design (it’s not all about chairs), physical, psychological and organisational. We need to integrate the human into the system design and operation to achieve the desired level of output. He looked at a couple of case studies, the PalmPilot and the Fender strat – both of which were good examples of human-centred design.

    Human-centred design involves a number of different methods for engaging your users in the process, from the traditional interviews, questionnaires and observation to task analysis, error identification, performance times and interface design. Mark also told us about a Design Museum exhibition, which was a public engagement project “to enhance the appreciation of ergonomics in society amongst researchers and the general public” and they applied the principles of human-centred design to the exhibition. The exhibition aimed to give a broader picture of human-centred design and not just focus on the physical which is most people’s experience of it (the chairs thing again).

    So in summary human-centred design is observational design, evidence-based design and a philosophy of designing with users and designing with users in mind.

    After coffee it Elizabeth Buchanan Elford’s turn who was talking about libraries: marketing and advocacy. Elizabeth talked about social networking and gave a good example of how social networking has benefitted a campaign – the Barack Obama presidential campaign which really took off – the Yes We Can speech. She said you need to decide what you message is and make sure that is in everything that you do so I guess for us that would be information; help; support – that is on all our new publicity so may we should be making more of this – this thought came back to me again in the afternoon session with Sharon Tuersley from Warwick, but more on that later. There are good examples of big companies and organisations who have embraced social networking as a way to engage with their customers – we need to be doing this, we need to tap into this market – I worry that we are being left behind and spending too long deliberating it. The presentation ended with the Did you Know? Version 3.0 video on YouTube, which I think I’ve seen bits of but I certainly hadn’t seen it all. Makes you think.

    Another quick break then it was Judy Goodson from Staffordshire Library & Information service which underwent a major rebranding exercise. They used a really strong non-stereotypical imagery in some of their posters. They created bookmarks and flyers, radio jingles and junior learner packs amongst other things. They engaged their staff in customer service training, focusing not just on “library stuff” but retail concepts, which we seem to be more readily applying to our services. The main thing I took away from this presentation was the need for branding guidelines, and training staff to use these guidelines, but without stifling creativity. If staff are comfortable with what they can and can’t do they feel more able to work creatively within the brand. And then it was time for lunch. I was impressed with the battery life on my little device at this point but I did plug it in for a bit over lunch just to make sure it made it through the afternoon.

    Friday, 6 November 2009

    PPRG 2009- Annual conference Day One

    Jacqueline and I arrived in at a rather wet Ambleside to Low Wood hotel, which is very nice hotel, complete with fluffy dog on the bed (named Sam). We are here for the PPRG (Publicity & Public Relations Group) Annual Conference in our capacity as part of the marketing team in L&SS, at LJMU.

    After checking in a quick cup of tea it was time for the first session, which was by Sarah Godowski. It was quite public library orientated but she did make some good points. She said there may be a need to change perceptions of what you offer and what you are about. You need to choose one thing that you want to get right, try not to get bogged down in all the stuff that you do but focus on one area and market that well. Whatever you do needs to be consistent and well thought out.

    There is a need to find a balance between truth and imagination and fact and impression. We must examine where we sit and what we offer. Brands that work convey optimism and confidence. She also talked about marketing campaigns that don’t directly relate to the product e.g. Rocky bars – this conveys something about you character rather than just your product. Your product is important but your character is also important – it’s how people perceive you.
    We need to learn from retail. Shops market to customers and libraries need to do the same.After a short break it was time for the drinks reception (very nice) followed by dinner (also very nice). Dinner started with melon and strawberries in vanilla and mint sauce – not one of my favourites but very beautifully presented and then vanilla/mint combination was lovely. This was followed by roast pork, potatoes and vegetables – all very nicely cooked and didn’t spoil my slimming world regime too much. The same cannot be said for dessert which was white chocolate and raspberry crème brulee – not sure how many syns in that but it was divine. I thought Jacqueline was going to lick the pot out it was so good :) Good company on our table and conversation ranged from cross country running to how good we are a quizzes (there is always a quiz on the Friday night at these conferences), oh and we did talk a bit about marketing ideas too.

    Wednesday, 7 October 2009

    ALT-C Day three

    This post is courtesy of Leo Appleton because I didn't attend day three, unfortunately I had to get back to my day job.

    Surprisingly on day three, there were still plenty of delegates around for the final morning of the conference. This may partly have been due to the fine conference dinner that we enjoyed in Manchester Town Hall on the Wednesday evening. The students of Manchester’s various catering college’s provided about 350 of the conference delegates with a gastronomic delight, and those dining enjoyed the presentation of the ALT-C awards by Martin Bean, who had been a particularly inspirational speaker during the day’s keynote. Sadly we didn’t win the best poster presentation for our ‘Learning 2.0 @LJMU’ poster, but I am certainly tempted to get a LJMU entry into one of the ALT-C awards next year, especially considering the great collaboration we have enjoyed this year between The Learning Development Unit and Library and Student Support.

    There were a couple of parallel workshops and a final keynote to attend as part of day three, but particularly of note was the demonstration workshop delivered by our own Alex Spiers and Will Reid. The workshop was put under the ‘Redesigning Systems’ strand of the conference, and I am still a little puzzled as to why it was placed here, but the abstract in the conference proceedings was obviously clear enough, as we got plenty of Web 2.0 enthusiasts attending the workshop. Alex and Will then presented an overview of the Learning 2.0 project that we delivered earlier in the year, but on this occasion it included a live demonstration of the Learning 2.0 content and e-portfolio. Alex was very brave to demonstrate this in front of such an audience, but that was the name of the game here. It paid off, as the technology worked and the workshop attendees were able to see exactly how we had gone about delivering Web 2.0 training through our institutional VLE. The delegates were all learning technology staff and they seemed genuinely impressed with the collaborative model that we had adopted in order to develop and deliver our ambitious programme. Alex and Will also spoke a bit about the impact that the programme has had on our staff and their skills and competencies, and the eventual impact that it will have on our students as we strive to support them in out Technology Enhanced Learning.

    I thought Alex and Will did a great job with the workshop presentation, as did Stephe Fletcher with the poster design, and it was great that LJMU had such a presence at ALT-C, which is a conference that none of us had presented at before. This shows the great relationship and collaboration that our two departments have, and how our output is of genuine interest to the rest of the Learning Technology sector. Well done Learning 2.0 Team!

    Monday, 28 September 2009

    ALT-C Day two - afternoon

    This is my final post for ALT-C and slightly delayed due to a busy return to my day job. Plus I have blogged about the best bits of ALT-C already. This post is really just for completion sake.

    Most of the afternoon of Wednesday wasn't really that inspiring or useful to me. I went to three short papers on Tools for building a research culture, but they didn't really tell me anything new.

    Then I attending Redesigning design but unfortunately one of the speaker was cancelled, but this did mean and earlier train. The session I did hear was by George Veletsianos which was about adventure learning. This was an interesting insight into different ways of teaching, where students when on polar expeditions. They experienced the world they were learning about. The challenge is how to bring this adventure learning into the classroom. The key points George made was the you need to:
    • Define the activity/topic
    • Identify and expert/topic to engage with
    • Develop interactions with the expert
    • Explore the topic (blogs etc)
    • Share and collaborate with each other

    He said students are interested in the world not in you delivery of how the world is.

    This was a positive end to my time at ALT-C as I was unable to attend the final day.

    Thursday, 10 September 2009

    ALT-C Day two - continued

    After active learning I was worried the rest of the day would be a let down, but session two on redesigning teaching was very good. First up was Pat Lockley talking about creating learning objects for mobile phones. They used a system called TED. Here's the links to the screencasts which we saw in the session - Making a quiz - Making a drag and drop - Sending results over a text - A basic TED quiz on a mobile

    It was a good session and I took some useful ideas away from it.

    After that there was a sesson from Tony Lowe "developing a class room response system for drag and drop activities" - they used something called Webducate and we were able to have a go at some of the activities. I have to say we soon realised we knew nothing about sharks, hearts and countries wealth/health. It was good fun though and very easy to do.

    This was followed by another keynote - Martin Bean. He was very entertaining and interesting. He talked about transforming information into meaningful knowledge and of the need to educate our citizens for new types of work. He said it's about people and processes not just the technology, it's no good throwing technology at things if you haven't sorted out the processes and people first.

    And then it was time for lunch, which was good but everyone leaving the lecture theatre at once meant it was a bit crowded too.

    ALT-C Day two - first session

    Fantastic first session with Lilian Soon and David Sugden - "Active Learning with mobile and web 2.0 technologies" This is what a workshop should be. I was feeling sleepy on the train over from Liverpool and so this woke me up because I had to think and actively engage in the session. I also got talking to my neighbour who I didn’t know (didn’t catch his name either, which was a shame, we were too busy working on the tasks).

    There was hardly any tweeting going on in that session because everyone was too busy apart from when tweeting was part of the task of course. We texted, tweeted, contributed to a blog, took a photo of a picture we had drawn to represent an idea and emailed it to the blog. The fruits of our labours can be seen here: – a resource we can now go back to and share the ideas of others in the room for how we can use technology like texting to enhance our interaction with students. Good session which definitely did what it said on the tin.

    ALT-C Day One - Morning

    After the keynote I chose to listen to two more invited speakers, the first being Aaron Porter who gave a very interesting talk about the students perception of the student experience – this is quite topical for us as it’s changed the way we operate at LJMU by bringing student admin and library services together in one place and one team – the whole purpose being to enhance the student experience. Aaron talked about how to engage students into the academic community – to help them feel part of something, which then will increase engagement. When asked why they came to university most students talked about improving their career prospects/to help them get a good job. There weren’t any comments about wanting to be part of an academic community or even wanting to study a subject they were interested in – I guess they are more pragmatic than maybe we give them credit for. Aaron said that the induction process can have a huge impact on increasing engagement in the academic community. He suggested introducing academia into the social network spaces where the students reside. Don’t try to take over this technology but make use of it to engage your students. Most students will discuss their work with others in this environment but if asked whether they use social networks for academic purposes most will say no. They are doing it but aren’t necessarily recognising it as such.

    The other key points of Aaron’s session were that universities need to take on board the skills that students come to university with, and not make assumptions that all are digital natives but provide the facilities to upskill those that aren’t. And feedback, this is vital to feeling part of the community, asking for students feedback, taking it on board and acting on it, then demonstrating that you’ve done this “you said.... we did...” approach. Make it more Amazon-like, were you can track the process of your feedback like an Amazon order.

    The next invited speaker was Richard Noss. He did lose me a bit in some areas but the things I picked up from his session were knowledge is different from information and we need to understand the relationship between them. We need to redefine what we are trying to teach, what knowledge do we want our students to acquire. We need to think about how we teach the knowledge of tomorrow.

    Next was a couple of active learning sessions, looking at audio. The first by Andrew Middleton focused on the process of capturing audio, recording the transient, the conversations outside the formal classroom setting. For him the capture of the audio was more important than the delivery of it. It’s active learning, it the activity of capturing the audio that’s the point. It was a way of capturing voices, voices of students, voices of tutors, external voices – the aim being to engage the learners.

    The second audio session was by Tim Neumann talking about the MoSAIC project (models for synchronous interactive audiographic conferencing They used multiple tools for realtime interaction. The aim is to produce guidelines for tutors to help them use realtime conferencing – linked to pedagogic theories, grounded in observation of practice.

    Then it was time for lunch which was good.

    ALT-C Day One - Morning - Keynote

    Yes I know I’m doing the morning after the afternoon, if you see what I mean but it was just the way the last post flowed. Anyway I don’t think there are any rules in this blogging, social media world.

    So the morning – it started off with a great keynote from Michael Wesch – very engaging and interesting to listen to so it deserves a post all of its own. I didn’t think that I would be hearing about a small community in Papua New Guinea at the start of this conference. Michael talked about the history of insignificance and the search for identity and recognition. He said we know ourselves through our relationships with others, new media creates new ways of relating to others, therefore new media creates new ways of knowing ourselves.

    He went on to talk about the messages we are sending out to our students. If the medium shapes the message and the classroom is the medium, what message is it sending out? There needs to be a move from creating knowledgeable learners to knowledge-able learners. We need to pay attention to what our students are saying, what questions are they asking? If these walls could talk what would they say? But we need to focus on the purpose and not just use technology for the sake of it, the platform should be secondary to the purpose.

    Michael took us through a history of “whatever” and the different meaning associated with this one word through different generations. From the whatever of the 60s, whatever I don’t care, through the whatever of the Nirvana lyrics in “Smells like teen spirit” to the latest incarnation of “whatever, I’ll do what I want”. He proposed a new version ”let’s do whatever it takes by whatever means necessary”

    Wednesday, 9 September 2009

    ALT-C Day one - afternoon

    Well day one at ALT-C was interesting and for the most part engaging. Wish my eeepc (borrowed from work) had lasted the distance though. I didn’t use it for a couple of sessions so the power was saved for the last session of the day on Twitter in teaching but the battery still died before the end. Difficult to do a practical Twitter session with no technology. There is definitely a lack of plug in points for delegates to charge up their devices and given that this is a conference focusing on and actively encouraging the use of technology and that I wasn’t the only one tweeting about failing batteries that is a great shame. My only other complaint is the lack of suitable rooms for practical workshops. A workshop on twitter really ought to happen in an IT suite so that those delegates who don’t have netbooks, or iphones or whatever can take an active part in the session. Mind you given how many people attended the Twitter session I’m not sure there would have been an IT suite big enough to accommodate us all.

    That said I enjoyed the Twitter session and it stimulated lots of questions and discussion, particularly for those in the room who hadn’t really used Twitter much before. Personally I had but it was good to see what others were saying and to start thinking about how we could practically use this tool for teaching and learning.

    Before that session I attended a very interesting session looking at the challenges of online learning for some students. The group in question were from a university in Canada, were a diverse group, average age 39 and they had a mixture of face to face and online learning. The course started with online input followed by an intensive 3 week face to face period. Then it was back to online. This was the point at which 15% of the students were lost – the approach was taken to look at why the students who stayed with the course did rather than look at why the others left. I thought this was a positive way to approach things. The students who stayed highlighted 4 areas that helped them get through; presence, review and reflect, social context and skill set and they were also asked what tools could be provided that may have helped them more in their blended learning.

    The things that came up were:
    Presence – video conferencing, audio, webinars
    Review and reflect – video clips, powerpoint
    Social context – discussion areas, asynchronous and synchronous tools
    Skill set – train faculty on the use of online technology and pedagogy

    The first session I attended after lunch (yes I know I’m doing this backwards) was on collaboration in the free world. This unfortunately was disappointing. The room was not great for a workshop environment (lecture theatre style) and although it started off well as a workshop and promised lots – we were going to do collaboration without the technology but using the principles of the technology – it descended into just a discussion so maybe would have been better as a symposium rather than a workshop. We began by using pieces of paper to introduce ourselves as though on Twitter, we then swapped papers and noted down people we wanted to follow – this was a way to engage in a room where there were few people with laptops etc and so got everyone involved. The presenters used the whiteboard to create three areas – expectations, social space and conclusions. The social space was supposed to be our wiki and though they said anyone could get up and write on the board during the session, this didn’t happen, I think mainly because we were all trapped in a lecture style environment and also because we were unsure what to contribute – this was a shame because this could have been a really useful way to demonstrate the collaborative elements of a wiki in a physical way. I think others in the group maybe got more out of the discussion than I did, I hope so. The presenters seemed quite happy with the way things turned out

    Will update on the morning session later, it's 80% written

    Thursday, 18 June 2009

    Where will it all end? - Emerging Technology in the Library Part 1

    Creativity and play - that's the message I got from the MMIT North West summer conference. Creativity and play are good and we need to do more of it. Sounds good to me.

    The conference started with a very inspiring presentation from Russell Prue, ICT Evangelist, Inventor and Entrepreneur. I can see why he's an evangelist. I wasn't sure what to think when I saw a man in orange braces when I entered the room, but Russell is a very interesting man who is passionate about technology and the ways in which it can be used to great affect. Russell invited audience members to text him during the session and tweet using the tag #RPMMIT (check twitter out for snippets from the day). It was at this point I wished I had a better phone and had borrowed on the eeePCs from work - ho hum. I did do a bit of texting and did take part in the mobile phone survey (that's a survey using your mobile not a survey about mobiles). I thought this could successfully be used in a user ed session because the texting doesn't cost the user and you get immediate feedback.

    Russell also talked about a number of gadgets -like the projector phone and the Zpen (which I now want). He talked about how brain training and using a Wii fit Balance Board can help your left and right brain activity. And he asked the question "Are we asking the right questions?" - passing exams is still about memory retention, shouldn't it be more about developing the skills to shift through the wealth of information that is at our fingertips.

    How do you train kids for jobs that don't yet exist?

    More on MMIT later....

    Tuesday, 12 May 2009

    NoWAL - Web 2.0 in Libraries

    Well I am finally blogging about this. I have been so busy with the new job that I just haven't had time to get into this blogging business.

    So Web 2.0 for Libraries. As I said before Karen Blakeman was taking the session and it was a really enjoyable workshop. We covered many areas of web 2.0 technology as you can see from Karen's presenation at - just a note that this presentation is subject to change because Karen updates it regularly after she's run sessions or when there is new stuff to put on there.

    It was great being sat at a PC doing this session as it meant I could take notes on the computer and save them to my memory stick, no need for writing up after. I don't think I put down too much unecessary stuff, which is always a danger when on training courses. I mainly focused on how I thought we could use some of the web 2.0 technology we were discussing and playing around with.

    So we covered a multitude of web 2.0 tech, some I'd look at before some I hadn't. One thing I have decided to do as a result of the session is compare iGoogle and Netvibes as start pages. Haven't done too much experimenting since the session mainly due to time constraints (new job as I've said already), so no conclusions yet. Quite like the feel of Netvibes and it seemed a bit easier to use but early days yet.

    Another thing I thought we could use is something like Slideshare for sharing our presentations within our service. At the moment we put things onto a shared drive and so people have to have permission to access that drive and it may be that you don't want them to access everything on that drive etc etc. To me this seemed a way to make presentations more accessible to everyone in our service, and not just those who can access particular shared areas.

    Think that's enough for now otherwise this post will get too long

    Friday, 1 May 2009

    The weekend approaches

    Oh dear have run out of day to do any serious blogging. Was going to do more of an update on the web 2.0 training not to mention the Learning and Teaching conference I was at last week. Guess I'll have to try harder next week, I am trying to get to grips with a new job afterall. Hopefully things will settle down next week, I certainly seem to have less meetings which is a good thing.

    Time to go home, hope the weather holds whilst I trek across town twice to get my son then the train.

    Wednesday, 29 April 2009

    The beginning

    Decided to start a blog. Having done 12 weeks of web 2.0 training which included blogs I have decided to start a blog of my own. Not sure what will go on it yet but I think it could be a good place to put information about things I've been too like conferences and stuff.

    I am in fact sitting in a web 2.0 for libraries workshop run by Karen Blakeman for NOWAL. I'm enjoying this. Some stuff I knew about already, some I didn't but it's helping me to think about how we could use some of this web 2.0 stuff at work. The practical sessions are open for us to try out different technologies, hence me writing this. I like this free approach to training.

    More later....