ICT and eLearning

Welcome to our new cohort of learners who are joining us on the ICT and eLearning blended learning course from 17th March until the 19th May 2014.

A Wordle created from pasting the URL of this blog!

My own wordle based on this blog.

During our induction we will discuss the underpinning pedagogy behind this course based on situative, active and reflective learning and you will have the opportunity to tell us which tools and technologies you wish to explore during your journey. All the learning content is in our ICT and eLearning hub in Moodle.  

All our blog posts will be listed to the right of this blog. Please make sure you read each other’s blogs and try to comment. We are a community of practice (CoP) and by sharing ideas, queries, and our exploratory reflections we can learn a lot from each other.

We will be using Yammer (the social enterprise network) as our communications hub to post news and announcements.

Join Twitter as soon as you can and use our unique hashtag to share resources or news. You can follow us at @Beth_A_Snowden and @geordie_online.

Here are some dates for your diary so you have a clear idea of when you need to write your own posts.

Blog Posts

  1. 17-03-14  – First Post during Induction
  2. 24-03-14  – Blogs, Cops, Reflective Cycles
  3. 07-04-14  – What is Web 2.0?
  4. 21-04-14 – Web 2.0 for Learning and Teaching
  5. 05-05-14 – Pedagogy – Gathering Speed
  6. 12-05-14 – Web 2.0 Potholes

Google+ Hangouts from 8pm

  • Hangout 1: 31-03-14
  • Hangout 2: 12-05-14

I will be exploring Nearpod (a collaborative learning solution) which could also be used for Flipped Learning so I will keep you posted about my own adventures. See if you can find my case study on their site?  Now I have signed up (coerced) 5 other members I am a Gold Member so I am very excited to use this on our TAP Day – Building for Success in Teaching, Learning and Assessment.

Online Tools4Learning

Online Tools4Learning

I have already written a wiki on various tools and technologies that I have explored which you can view at: http://bit.ly/onlinetools4learning  This failed as a “collaborative” space (the essence of a wiki) as there were only a few other contributions from colleagues but nevertheless it helped me to analyse some of the pedagogical and practical affordances of these tools so it has been a useful exercise. If anyone does wish to add their own reflections or critical analysis of any tools they come across I would be delighted to add them.

We hope you enjoy your journey with us and share your experiences, challenges and insights to innovative ways of working, learning and teaching.

To see how communities of practice can be developed and nurtured with learners you can hear a presentation I delivered with my colleague @micholtean at Kirkless College http://bit.ly/NewWays_CoPs 

Let’s explore and remember…

Pacansky-Brock quote

Just signed up with http://quozio.com/ to create this graphic above. It was a doddle. Just sign up, paste in your quote and choose your style. I wish I had known this when I was developing my moodle sites!

Pacansky-Brock, M. (2013) Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies. Routledge.

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X-Factor Pedagogies Versus Anarchogogy

Something has been troubling me of late.

However…

after listening to Peter Shukie’s (@ShukieOne) keynote today on Pop, Folk and Punk, at the JISC RSC HE eLearning Conference 2013 I think I may have hit the nail on the head as to why. After all my extensive research into the plethora of learning theories, frameworks, and pedagogic models out there I think I am quite overwhelmed and I wonder to myself, how can these pedagogies help educators at the coal face, struggling with the practical demands of engaging learners; and maintaining retention, achievement, and assessment rates that formal education values so highly? So many to choose from, all enticing with eat me, drink me written on the label. Like Alice in Wonderland we try what we think might be the best option to unlock the potential of what is on the other side of the door and like Alice we often make mistakes and have to try another remedy.

Alice

So back to my troubles.

Is there a pedagogic remedy that really works and which one do I choose? Do I focus my efforts on building pedagogic practices on the foundations of connectivism, constructionism, rhizomatic learning, social constructivism, self-organised learning, reflective learning, problem-based learning, etc and which model should I choose; Communities of Practice, Salmon’s 5 Stage Model, Bloom’s Taxonomy (revisited), the Flipped Classroom pedagogy, the Contributing Learner Model, the MOOC Model, the Digital Practitioner Framework (Bennett, 2012)?

Education is agog with x-gogies.

And then Mr Shukie comes along today, a self-confessed idealist, and talks about anarchogogy and yin and yang and I think he may have the answer. To put this into context his presentation set out to explore “Punk, Folk and Pop as concepts from which educators can make choices based on their own ideological and philosophical preferences,” (Shukie, 2013).This struck a chord with me (excuse the pun). He uses the analogy of the homogenisation of music which is regurgitated in the T.V show, the X-Factor, and warns of a “similar peril” for eduction in the form of a “boiled down, grey pedagogy draped in the rhetoric of functional skills and consumerist ideology“.

We cannot pick a pedagogy off the shelf and expect it to work because it looks like a quick fix or others tell us it is a bargain so we should try it. No, we are all indviduals with different experiences, values, belief systems. Each lesson we ever teach to any group of learners will always be unique. Therefore we have to use a mishmash of different pedagogies, experiment with them, challenge them, ask our learners what they think about them and accept that if they fail we reflect on why and simply move on having learning from this experience. I know this sounds like the cliche “one size doesn’t fit all” argument but it is more than that. To quote Shukie directly, he wants to “encourage the inclusion of ourselves, our philosophies and ideologies and the diversity of our practices as ways to shape (sic)  the environment in which we teach and learn“. I found this resonates with my own understanding of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). We are who we are because of our own personal experiences which shape our belief systems and values which in turn inform our choices. Whether we have a dystopian or utopian view of technology, or straddle the fence, will depend on who we are and what we have experienced in life. I think our attitudes towards change, with our without technology, depends on the recipes we have used in life.

I particularly liked Shukie’s concept of Edu-punk and anarchogogy which “operates in a non-hierarchical, user generated, open environment” but perhaps this is because I have been exploring the kind of chaotic and nomadic style of rhizomatic learning which, in its nature, is quite MOOCish. A free, online course with 30,000 enrolled participants is going to be chaotic. I am definitely a nomad on a journey except I am not making good sense of the compass and map provided so I am carving my own path. Yes, I like Edu-punk.

Another note that chimed well with my present thinking was Shukie’s metaphor of Yin and Yang which reminded of the holistic approach to education that many of us aspire to.

Ying Yang

The Yin was a nod in the direction of collaborative, participatory learning whilst the Yang was a metaphor for the locus of control being held by the institution and the curriculum. This reminded me of Collis and Moonen’s adaption of Sfard’s metaphors of learning as acquisition (yang) and participation (yin). I suggest, at least at this early stage in 21st century learning, that we need to assimilate both into our teaching.

Two metaphors of Learning

So the enlightenment for me today is that it is OK to question existing pedagogies for teaching and learning. As individuals we can adopt a mishmash of different gogies and experiment with them to find out what works best for our learners within our particular context. X-Factor pedagogies need to be challenged.

However, there is something in common with whichever approach we take, one rhythmic beat which we all tap our foot to; whether Pop, Punk, Folk, or a heady combination of them all. As educators and practitioners we still need to reflect, for if we don’t reflect on our teaching and learning experiences how can we know what is working well and what isn’t? Reflection enables us to dig deeper, to prod, probe, and scrutinize and then adapt to the situation at hand as our first impressions of any pedagogic model may not be right for our particular context.

On my return home today my little boy showed me a trick and it seemed to sum up a day full of curiousity and intrigue. All is not what it seems.

I’ll take a recipe of moocishness with a good dose or participatory, active and reflective learning with just a spoonful of anarchogogy for added zestiness.

Reference

Bennett, E.J. (2012) Learning from the early adopters: Web 2.0 tools, pedagogic
practices and the development of the digital practitioner (n.p)

Shukie, P. (2013) – Pop, Folk and Punk – how technology defines approaches to learning, teaching and life. Paper presented at the 2013 E-Learning in HE Conference.

Metaphors for the Future?

I picked up a new word today. I like words. If I don’t know a word I need to look it up. I think that is why I have enjoyed reading Johnston’s (2009) article on “Salvation or Destruction: Metaphors of the Internet”.

This article helps put last week’s metaphors, to describe the future of technology as either dystopian or utopian, into context. Is the internet a “revolution” for the good of humanity or is social media turning us into “enslaved” cyborgs? We use metaphors to compare new things and ideas to something we already know therefore making it easier to understand. That is why the internet is called the “web” or the “information highway”. A metaphor I use often is “harvesting” – the harvesting of collective knowledge which we can reap so easily through our online connections. Isn’t that about food again? Better not mention the tasty smorgasbord of Web 2.0 tidbits.

So what is the new word? Commodification! This offers a dystopian view of the web and it reminded me instantly of a story I read a few years ago in which Lady Gaga and her vast army of marketing strategists were employing young teenagers to post interesting stories about the celebrity on their Facebook wall and twitter feeds. I found this distasteful in its manipulation but if these little marketeers were getting their freebies and it isn’t illegal then why should I be concerned? In fact aren’t we all commodities ourselves? The amount of data that companies and organisations collect about us, purely from our browsing habits, is quite shocking if we take time to really ponder over it. Perhaps the Facebook generation won’t feel this invasion of privacy so keenly as we do. They will be used to having all their information stored on one central database although I don’t believe the repercussions will be as chilling as this video Sight would have us believe.

I am not swayed by any of the videos I have seen for this week’s MOOCs. I find them all rather unappetising. I do not watch many films of the future because they often contain so much violence. Why is that? With all the developments in the world why are there so many books and movies portraying a more violent dystopian view of society. Perhaps they make better entertainment!

In relation to A Day Made of Glass 2 I cannot wait to show this to my 7 year old. He was intrigued by Bendito Machine 3 and uttered the words “worship” and “technology” in one sentence so he kind of hit the nail on the head. However, I think he will find A Day Made of Glass 2 amazing. He only has a Wii (no Xbox, PSP, DS, Kinnect, mobile, Ipad) and perhaps that explains why I found this vision of the future rather alarming. Everything squeaky clean, sterile and lifeless. Everyone connected to their personal devices to find out what to do next, where to go next, what to eat next, what to say next, what to experience next in Augmented Reality simulations. What about the here and now – living for the moment, experiencing friends and family and connecting in real-time?

A few other things I noted in A Day Made of Glass. Firstly, it is strange that all the kids are still going to school in the first place and secondly the teacher is at the front of the class and the kids are all sitting in rows watching in awe. Is this student-centred learning? I grant there were moments where the learners were working collaboratively but this scenario struck me as at odds with a utopian vision of education for the future. Same set up, just more gadgets. Perhaps all the research I have been doing today on flipped learning and the crisis that Higher Education could be in because of the MOOC movement (Carr, 2009) has skewed my thinking for today. Secondly, is this technology really so far into the future? It all worked much more elegantly and obviously gesture based technological communications were more enhanced but don’t we have some of these things already? Perhaps this video was showing a vision of equal access for all – a “democratisation” of technology.

I doubt it!

But that would be my vision.

A future where children from all over the world would have the same access to technology and poorer countries wouldn’t have to beg for defunct second hand computers just so their disadvantaged children could learn the basics of reading and writing (Computers4Africa).

Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves

We have a long way to go. Even here in the UK, 8.12 million adults have never accessed the internet.

So what is my answer to Johnston’s question?

What other metaphors better convey the future and potential of the Internet?

It has to be Democratisation and Equity.

References

Johnston, R (2009) Salvation or destruction: metaphors of the internet. First Monday, 14(4). http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2370/2158

MOOCs and CoPs – A Tale of Two Courses

Copyright: PresenterMedia

Copyright: PresenterMedia 2013

Resurrection indeed?My blog post from May 2012 suggested that there was a danger in resurrecting this blog because I might get “sucked into the blogging vortex….unable to detach myself from the Web 2.0 shackles”. Evidently no such dangers lurked. I have only written 4 posts since then! This blog is like the resurrection plant (honestly, it does exist because I saw it on David Attenborough’s Africa).  It dries up and dies and then with a few drops of rain the dormant seeds are sown and up it pops again, alive and vibrant and striving towards the sun.

So the rain has arrived and the the call to blog has come knocking at my door.  It is morphing into something else. From dialogue to monologue in one fell swoop. This is because I have the need to reflect on a lot that is going on this month.

I suggest the next few posts will be my spontaneous and rather haphazard reflections of two very different learning experiences I am participating in. I am intrigued to be enrolled on my first free Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) in eLearning and Digital Cultures (along with 35,000 others) and it has already got me thinking about the Faustian bargain we make with technology as I consider the perceived dystopian and utopian landscape it creates.

All technology is a Faustian bargain…since media trade-offs are by
definition cultural trade-offs…In other words, if all technologies are
attempts to solve problems or to make lives easier, then it is essential to
recognise that these attempts will also bring about problems of their own
,”
(Gencarelli, 2000, p.98).

It is strange that on the same day I watch this thought-provoking clip on Bendito Machine 3 which surely illuminates a dystopian view of the human adoration and obsession with technology I find myself attending the Learning Technologies Exhibition 2013 which sells me the utopian vision that technological evangelists and innovators would have us believe is there for the taking – with a price I add! What a paradox I find myself in.

But then again I have always sat on the fence in relation to the benefits and impact technology has on society and culture – which is peculiar for someone in my line of work. Of course, I believe technological innovation and development is necessary. It makes life easier, more fun, more engaging, more worthwhile, less arduous and of course it saves lives. No-one wishes to turn back the clock on research and developments in medicine. Yet, some people would undoubtedly welcome a slower pace of change when it comes to everyday technology that affects the lives of our younger people. The controversy over the Facebook generation tethered to their networks and hooked on their games incapable of what is considered normal, face to face, social interaction with others is highlighted in Turkle’s article The Flight from Conversation (2012). There is so much more I can add to this debate. I won’t even mention Professor Susan Greenfield’s take on social media for what some critics denounce as “berating our culture for sleepwalking into an Internet-fuelled social apocalypse” (Steele, 2009). However, a more light-hearted conversation can be found here, between Nicholas Carr who wrote The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains (2010) and Stephen Fry (who as you know is a devotee of technology).

I have also started to wet my feet in the waters of another onlince course with the Social Learning Centre.  My interest in this course stems from my own research on the CoP model of learning proposed by Etienne Wenger (1998) and the notion of Siemen’s and connectivism highlighted by Siemens and Downes. I am paying a small fee for this online course (lasting about as long as the MOOC) but I believe the participants are nearer to 40. I am really looking forward to learning about how to nurture a community of practice as I am hoping to launch my own next month. I have entitled this Stepping into Web 2.0: A Rite of Passage for Educators in which participants will blog as part of a community of practice in which they reflect and hopefully revisit how they learn (improved metacogntion).

How interesting therefore? A tale of two courses, side by side, my fingers in both pies, one perhaps smaller, sweeter and home-made, the other a fusion of different ingredients, baked for the masses. And I get to taste both. More metaphors about food. I must stop it. Although I still like my idea of the Tapas Menu offering a smorgasbord of Web 2.0 tidbits!

It is not my intention to compare these two courses because they are too different . However my blog posts will no doubt dig deep into my engagement and interaction with them. The concept of Rhizomatic Learning within the MOOC is something I wish to explore and this self-managed learning, wearing a nomadic hat, will be both chaotic and challenging.  So these ramblings will hopefully act as an aide memoir and may also help contribute to the assessments I have to do for both (yikes).

A post script about today’s Learning Technologies conference which deserves more than the cursory comment I made above. I observed a similar golden thread running through some of the seminars I was able to hear snippets of which made me hopeful for 2013. There were quite a few discussions about learning and development practices being less about content and tick boxes and more about people. At last! Once we take a holistic view about learning and development and allow learners to contribute to their own learning and the learning of others we are one step closer to success.

References:

Downes, S., (2012) Connectivism and Connective Knowledge: Essays on Meaning  and Learning Networks [online] Available at: http://www.downes.ca/files/books/Connective_Knowledge-19May2012.pdf [Accessed 1  February 2013]

Cormier, D., (2011) Rhizomatic Learning – Why we teach? [online] Available at: http://davecormier.com/edblog/2011/11/05/rhizomatic-learning-why-learn/ [Accessed 1 February 2013]

Gencarelli, T.F., (2009) The intellectual roots of media ecology in the work and
thought of Neil Postman. New Jersey Journal of Communication Vol. 8, No.
1, pp.91-103

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge University Press

Infographics and Moving ZPD

I am feeling quite overwhelmed at the moment. Perhaps it is looking at this infographic (posted on 30th August 2011) depicting the growth of social media which is both interesting but unsettling. I was wanting to find some reliable statistics highlighting the growth of social media and web 2.0 technologies for my research and I came across this from the Search Engine Journal Website.

The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic
Source: The Growth of Social Media: An Infographic

The statistics are already out of date because I am aware that Facebook now has over 1 billion users  which led me to examine why I was searching for this data in the first place. What do these statistics give me? A compelling argument to persuade educators that we really do live in a digital age? Perhaps, but I guess not. Rather this may appear to be a quagmire of baffling technologies that serve no purpose to many who have no inclination to “connect” to the rest of the world.

We really are on the cusp of great change. There is no turning back the tide as our lives are increasingly being lived online. I do feel that I am sometimes being sucked into the Web 2.0 vortex and feel under pressure to make further connections, explorations and discoveries.

I can relate to Siemens notion of Connectivism and do consider the pipe to be more important than the information that flows through it but where does it end, is there an end? How much surfing, connecting, posting, mashing, bookmarking, tweeting do I have to do before I feel settled that I have the information I need? Knowledge is limitless and perhaps that is where my frustration lies – never feeling satisfied. Collective knowledge is undoubtedly great but will I ever reach that nirvana of Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development? It seems to me the more I extend outwards the further the goal posts move and this leaves me feeling a bit deprived. My tutor once told me I had epistemic curiousity – is that why I am writing this blog to try and fathom out what is most important?

http://ictlogy.net/20120831-personal-learning-environments-and-the-revolution-of-vygotskys-zone-of-proximal-development/

Source: Ismael Peña-López at http://ictlogy.net/20120831-personal-learning-environments-and-the-revolution-of-vygotskys-zone-of-proximal-development/

Amongst the myriad of different technologies (all of which I want to try) how can we find the right tool for the job? There is a lot of exploration and experimenting to be done and that takes time. I need to make a decision on delivering a short presentation soon and I have tentatively thought about using;

….all of which are runners but where do I place my bets?

Perhaps I should connect to my various nodes to get more insights?

Alternatively, maybe I could sit here quietly, on my own, pen and paper in hand, and through a careful process of examination and elimination, look again at the odds and place my bet on gut instinct and experience, thereby getting the job done swiftly…

….although now I have no time because after all my trawling and being side tracked by infographics and great blog posts I still need to find Ismael Peña-López on Twitter as a More Knowledgable Other (MKO).

Therein lies the dilemma of Personal Learning Environments.

Coming of Age

A Tale of Two Ages

The evidence is clear. Generation C cannot strictly be characterised by the fact that they are all born in the 1990’s. After attending today’s Teaching and Learning Olympics 2012 we can define Generation C as a band of people who simply engage with technology and leverage Web 2.0 to meet their needs to communicate, collaborate and connect. As Picket points out in Who is Generation C?

Generation C’s members all have the common characteristic of being “digital natives” who turn to the Internet naturally and extensively to do a number of things, and are very Web 2.0-savvy.

Age cannot be a defining characteristic of this group so this begs the question, why do some people cross the Rubicon of technological innovation and creativity, effortlessly and with gusto, whilst others don’t even dare dip their toes in the water’s edge? How can a silver haired enthusiast rave about the benefits of Facebook when others talk of a generational digital divide that is like a chasm? True, the arguments against the concept of digital divide that Marc Prensky first brought to the limelight are now gaining credence but my curiousity stems from the reasons why some people do engage with technology and others do not. Practical considerations aside what is it about our personalities, DNA and experience that either spurs us on to explore new territories OR shrink back into the comfort of our home territory. I agree, there is a lot at risk but the rewards are great for the practitioner who sets out on the adventure. The Bilbo Bagginses of the new technological frontier are the ones that have all the fun. You just have to minimize the risks and watch out for the trolls (excuse the pun).

What a whirlwind today. It is a privilege to be amongst those evangelists who extol the virtues of technology to promote learning despite my disinclination to concede that only teachers who use technology can be “good” teachers. Watch the live debate recorded at: http://www.jiscrsc.ac.uk/yh/conference-2012.aspx

On a personal level, today heralded another milestone. If I keep on like this I’ll run out of them! At this moment in time I am being reflexive to the situation I find myself in. I am sitting on the train, deep in contemplation and revisiting my thoughts about the day but instead of simply looking out of the window and re-mashing everything I am blogging all these reflections down on my shiny new, fabulous new mobile device – the iPad.
Yes, I have come of age.

My Shiny New iPad

The thrill of it all!

During the conference I was even able to see a retweet of something I had posted on Twitter just moments earlier, there on the big screen – there-in lies the satisfaction. Gee, refers to the semiotic domain of communities (2009), that sense of belonging which an active participant feels by using the same lingo and mannerisms. That is how I felt today, a legitimate part of the group, with the same know-how, in with the gang.

A quick recap of the day, for my own sanity, so I can remember my
To Do List (so much better than pen and paper which gets hidden away amongst a mountain of paper work).

Workshop 1: Gamification? http://gamification.org/

A new term and an interesting concept. The factors that drive the success of gaming is engagement, loyalty and revenue. Gaming involves achievement, collaboration and socialisation which I suppose is a strong argument for the pro-gamers in education. I realise that games are integral to learning but I do recognise there are limitations, and context is key. I have relented in allowing my little one to play on Angry Birds more often ever since I read Mr Williams used it in class to improve numeracy in iPads in Primary Education. I now interrupt my son frequently (it is a negotiated bribe) to ask him what score he has and it is amazing how fluently he can say 22,367.

Apparently you can use Bartle’s Quiz to assess your Gamer Type? Are you a socialiser, killer, explorer or achiever?

To Do: I am in a group on edWeb.net on the subject of gaming for learning and teaching and I do need to revisit this. Download Drawsomething which is becoming a popular gaming app. Read Gamification in Education; What, How, Why Bother?

Workshop 2: Transforming Teacher Education with Web 2.0 for social purposes.

Louise Mycroft is an inspiration. She describes herself as non-technical until she came across the iPhone and then her journey began. She is encouraging reflexive practice with her teacher education learners using social media. I liked her passion for focussing on sense-making and finding one’s own identity as well as her revelation that “Twitter has transformed my practice”.  Follow her @TeachNorthern and view her blog at teachnorthern.wordpress.com.I love her first sentence already, “The path to being a teacher educator is littered with lightbulb moments…”

Workshop 3: Educational Apps

Download, download, download. There is so much out there. I wonder what would have happened if Mitra had used an iPad in his Hole on the Wall experiments rather than a computer?

I pointed out that many primary schools are now equipping their learners with iPads rather than kit out new ICT suites. It appears that a school can purchase any number of iPads and using one account and one docking station download the relevant apps onto them all and sync all the iPads for students’ use. Clever. I wondered how they managed it.

I am not convinced that straight-jacketing apps into a taxonomy is such a good thing, but it is worth pointing out.

Adapted from Kathy Schrock's Blooming iPad

Adapted from Kathy Schrock’s Blooming iPad

Available at Langwitches.org

To Do: explore, experiment and collaborate. Apps that intrigued me are AudioNote and HootSuite. Prom Hairstyles is a must fun app for Hair Dressing and Beauty. There seems to be so many apps to help learners with dyslexia that I have asked JISC-RSCYH to showcase what there is to relevant tutors in Learning Support.

So I am edging nearer to the frontier. What on earth will I do when I get there?

I am reading The Hobbit at the moment to my little boy so perhaps this post has been rather Bilbo Bagginsesque in its zealous use of adventure metaphors.

Web 2.0 in Higher Education…and Colin

I have read for the second time the publication Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World (JISC et al, 2009) and still found it interesting and relevant even though I think deployment of Web 2.0 tools in education is obviously now more widespread than it was then. What I found intriguing at first glance was the illustrations on the front cover.

Front Cover of the publication

I think the mobile device in this photo is a blackberry but it appears that the other learners illustrated here are sitting with their laptops – not an ipad in sight!

How things have changed! At every conference or training event I have attended recently it seems that everyone, except me, is tapping away and swiping at their shiny new ipads. The first ipad was launched in April 2010 and the sales figures were indeed impressive – see Apples Sells 3 Million iPads in 80 days. This small tablet and its copycats have taken off with such lightening speed, in such a short space of time, that educators need to sit up and listen to the buzz. Why? Because just like the advent of the Smartphones that are now ubiquitous and in the loving hands of nearly every learner in College or Uni these sophisticated mobile devices with their innovative apps will probably become mainstream. A quick peruse of the blogosphere will evidence the rapid growth of this technology within education from primary to tertiary.

Just the other day I heard a forward thinking Science tutor say how much he relished the fact that learners in his class were tapping away on their ipads. It seems to me that the ipad instigates feelings of exploration and discovery.

Discovery! Now there’s a compelling word. There is no doubt that Web 2.0 tools can offer a world of discovery.  I am reminded of a narrative I came across the other day in relation to the learner of the future. It centres around a fictional character called Colin who belongs to Generation C, “connected, communicating, content-centric, computerized, community-oriented, always clicking” (Booz & Company, 2012). Go and have a look through the crystal ball.

But back to Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World which I had hoped to digest and focus on a few key points. It was apparent, even in 2008, that there was a need for an independent inquiry to explore the impact of integration of Web 2.0 tools in higher education to inform strategy and policy. The report suggests that amongst school age children of 11 years old and upwards the use of Web 2.0 is high. This has repercussions for H.E. However, deployment of Web 2.0 for teaching was patchy and driven from the bottom up (as innovative technologies often are). I think this is probably still the case. The pros and cons of adopting Web 2.0 for learners and teachers are carefully considered and a number of critical issues identified which help formulate the recommendations. The researchers of this publication had the foresight to identify that the skills learners gain from engaging with Web 2.0 also match the skills demanded by 21st century employers – “communication, collaboration, creativity, leadership and technology proficiency” (JISC, 2009, p.6). Although the adoption of social media sites like Facebook at this time was seen as something to be developed I think educational institutions have made significant strides in the last few years as most colleges and universities now have a Facebook and Twitter presence. A recent HDA report on the Facebook generation suggest that the social networking phenomenon is having a positive impact on “creativity, collaboration, communciation and productivity” (HDA, 2012, p.10). As educators perhaps we should be tapping into this phenomenon?

The critical issues that emerge from the Web 2.0 in H.E publication point to staff development issues for tutors, especially in relation to e-pedagogy and also the necessity to develop learners’ digital literacy so they can “search, authenticate and critically evaluate material from the range of appropriate sources, and attribute it as necessary” (JISC, 2009, p.7). I suggest this is something educators need to address too. The role of the tutor is fundamental as is the changing relationship between the tutor and the student. The constructivist pedagogy which is the hallmark of Web 2.0 based on community, collaboration, participation and sharing allows the learner to be more actively engaged in learning with their peers. This active, self-directed learning calls for a rethink on how we structure teaching and learning. For tutors to “practice effectively, they have to stay attuned to the disposition of their students” (ibid, p.9) and recognise that their role is changing. The idea of a more equal partnership and a flatter hierarchy might not appeal to many (both tutors and learners) but it may be worth considering.

On that dangerous note it might be helpful to know about Mitra’s Hole in the Wall experiments in which young school children in rural areas in deprived parts of the worlds learn from a computer, amongst each other and without the intervention of any teacher. Fascintating stuff…but that deserves a posting all on its own.

In the meantime, I wait with bated breath for the arrival of my very first ipad. What on earth am I going to do with it?

References

JISC (2009) Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World [online]. Available at: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/generalpublications/2009/heweb2.aspx

HDA Associates Ltd (2012) Generation F: Facebook Generation Future Workforce Research White Paper [online] Available at: http://www.hda.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/HDA-Generation-F-Survey-White-Paper-Q1-2012b1.pdf