Browse Tag by social networking

Opening up the walled garden

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6KnJPeAWog

If you have a little over 1hour and 17 minutes to spare, here is a very interesting debate from late 2009 (but still topical nonetheless) on the whether the VLE (virtual learning environment) is dead and that the PLE (personal learning environment) is the way to go for learning.

I’m going to sit firmly on the fence here. It might get a little uncomfortable at times and I can waver a little but for me certain things come to mind before we force a decision.  Perhaps we’ll be throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

Do we really know what our VLE can do?

Have we taken enough time to investigate the functionality?

Have we exercised enough creativity in what we could do with it and in it?

Did we forget to ‘be there’ providing that human touch or have we just left our students to their own devices with merely a map to guide them through the maze of content.

Are we going to going to remain within our secret walled garden of the VLE or could we, as Dicken and Mary did in the novel ‘The Secret Garden’, unlock the door enjoy the best of both worlds?

Remember that we can easily create doorways out into the social world and PLEs with the use of links. For instance, one activity within the VLE could be to take a conversation beyond the walled garden and out into a social network where students could share resources more easily, upload photos and videos for comment and discussion and return to the VLE to post a conclusion or analysis of their ‘field trip’. Maybe you’d create a Facebook account for the course or a Twitter account using hashtags for grouping the assignment conversations (after establishing whether your audience can access these of course), the limitations are really only your imagination.

Maybe we need to invest a little more time into these creative ideas and encourage the meeting of these worlds rather than an exclusion of one or the other. It’s not always necessary to make a decision between one or another.

Another case for blending methinks.

Twitter-lingo

Copyright I L Layton-James

Did you know…

There have been 659,042 Tweets in the Haitian Creole language of  Kreyol Ayisyen within a user group of 7,468 and Cymraeg (Welsh) is the third most popular language Tweeted with 261,083 Tweets altogether between 2,729.

These statistics have been gathered by Indigenous Tweets as reported by the BBC last week.  According to the article, Indegenous Tweets is “about encouraging minority language speakers to discover each other online”.

This got me thinking about how Twitter can be used to help people learn a language.  I’ve always been told that the only real way to learn how to speak a new language is to use it – regularly.  However, speaking a new language may not necessarily help you get to grips with writing it.

What’s a better place to interact with others in a particular language to try out your skill and improve them.

Here are some ideas I’ve had:

  • Set a ‘conversation’ activity in class to practise written language skills
  • Set an icebreaker task before the course asking students to research how to say “Hello, my name is, what’s your name?”
  • As the skills increase hold regular live Tweet meets where the tutor and group will only converse in that language.
  • Encourage students to join a wider community where they hold conversations with others
  • Create a blog to post regular conversation topics giving details of the time and duration of Tweet-meets
  • Upload a copy of each conversation to the blog to discuss further

Because Twitter is just another tool by which we can hold conversations, it’s important we think beyond the prejudice and barriers and start thinking creatively on how we can harness it for learning.  Of course, we don’t want to use these tools ‘just because’ but perhaps we need to start thinking more about ‘what can be’.

Classroom trainers have been very creative in the past about how to include different tools and activities to aid the learning process.  Just think about how we introduced video and DVDs to the classroom course.  The set up little group to collaborate using flip-charts, then PowerPoint.  We’ve introduced games and adapted them to encourage problem solving. The only difference now is we no longer have to be bound by walls and have a much richer collection of tools.

Are you using a hammer to crack a nut?

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Or do you really need the right tool for the job?

As some of you may have guessed, I’m a really big fan of social media.  I think it’s the best thing invented since sliced bread.  Now for the uninitiated, when I mention social media and in particular Twitter, the initial reaction is either  ‘oh no here we go again’ or ‘I can’t see the point in hearing what everyone had for breakfast’.  But social media is so versatile.  It’s just another conversation tool – just like the telephone.

What’s the betting that when telephones started to be installed in more homes, people just rang each other up to find out what they had done that day.  It’s a novelty thing. It’s a ” We just gotta try it out but I can’t think of anything profound so I’ll just say the first thing that comes into my head” sort of thing.  In fact, my mum still does that.  I’m not going to tell you my age but I think you’ll guess I’m not a kid any more but I still have to telephone ‘home’ every night when I travel anywhere.  There’s usually no new amazing news to hear so I just get “have you had your tea?  What did you have?”.

But of course we also use the telephone for some of the most important of calls as well as keeping in touch with our loved ones.  The same goes for e-mail.  I remember when e-mail was first introduced where I worked.  There were e-mails being sent all over the building just saying saying “hello, how was your weekend” even when we were just in the next office (or even in the same office).  It was a novelty.  Then came the policies on how to use e-mail responsibly, how to communicate correctly and all was good with the world.

What I’m seeing now though is e-mail being misused in as much as it is becoming a conversation tool.  Yes, I know it IS a conversation tool in a way but we’re seeing it being used for chit-chat again even if that chit-chat is work related.  Yet there are many more appropriate tools we can use for this type of conversation within a work environment:

Skype for example.  Here people can have real time business conversations either on a one to one basis or group.

If it’s more about collaborating on a project, what about using Google Docs and Google Buzz.

If we need to share research, discuss ideas, view and review little videos we’re planning, what about creating a Facebook Group for your team.

We are so blessed nowadays with a variety of different tools that do different things can we really look back at our current practices and say we are working efficiently?  Of course, we need time for a bit of research but sometimes, we just have to give it a go.

And that’s just what I’m just about to do now.  I’m going to create a team Facebook Group for collaborative working projects and see how it goes.  How about you?

Scan this….

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’m all excited. I’ve discovered QR codes.

Well, I haven’t just discovered QR codes. I have been aware of them for some time and have ‘played’ with them using an App on my iPhone. What I meant to say was I’ve just discovered how to use them for something tangible and very useful.

It’s been a very busy couple of days planning for Learning Technologies next week where the we have a stand; we were tasked with designing brand new posters for the event advertising our eLearning courses. Well, needless to say, I was in my element. My creative ideas were going wild and my two worlds started to collide. Technology and art.

I also have more than a little interest in marketing. It’s not a professional interest you understand but I am fascinated by it. Bearing in mind that I love simplicity in my designs, I was trying to think of an effective way of providing extra information without covering the posters in text – a big mistake a lot of people make, confusing the reader. Then I had a brainwave. What about using QR codes to link to contextually specific information from our website. And what a perfect venue for the trial. A conference where technology is the heart of everything.

I couldn’t wait to try it out and the first idea was to create a label with a QR code to stick to the back of my business cards. When scanned, this code will take my networking connections straight to my LinkedIn profile.

So now we have four posters, each with a barcode unobtrusively on the bottom corner and high-tech (well nearly) business cards.

I used Kaywa to create my QR codes as recommended by Phil Vincent from Sheffield University (thanks Phil). Phil also uses Goo.gl but I’ve not tried this yet.

The Apps I have are Bakodo and QR Code Reader from ShopSavvy

I will be very interested to hear other creative uses for QR codes you have. I can already think of some for learning – have you?

#SoMeSoGood

It’s good news week

Dontcha just love good news, dontcha? dontcha? I’m a sucker for it – especially when it is about social media. Here’s another feel-good story with a social-media twist. My last post shared two others.

Meet Ted. Ted has a rich, smooth, chocolate voice. A voice that you could just sink into. Strong, yet comforting. His is a sad story but one that would soon change for the good. It was just Wednesday that a reporter in Ohio discovered him homeless, ‘selling’ his voice to feed himself. He videoed him and uploaded it to YouTube. Guess what – it went viral. His rich tones were heard around the world and offers of voice-overs started to pour in. Click the video clip for the whole story.

That got me thinking. We hear so many negative stories about social media being used inappropriately, so how about sharing some good news.

I’ve started a Twitter hashtag stream #somesogood. Go on – share some good news in 2011.

 

Update – what happened to the man with the golden voice?

Check out my recent post to find out how Ted is doing 10 years on.

Novel uses for Twitter – a different kind of book club

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

For those of you out there who still think Twitter is a banal social networking site good enough only to find out what’s going on behind the scenes of ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ or Steven Fry’s latest gastronomic delights, I have some news for you.

I recently came across a book club run entirely online with discussions taking place on Twitter. The book club is LrnBk Chat, a brainchild of the social media guru Jane Bozarth. The book club runs like this:

A new discussion topic is announced on the dedicated blog (LrnBk Chat) giving details of the book to be read. An agreed number of chapters was agreed at 2 being manageable and series of dates are listed for each. On the morning of each discussion period, a series of questions are published on the blog to consider when reading the set chapters. The conversation starts and so it continues.

So people can follow the conversation, a dedicated hashtag is used – in this case #lrnbkpull for the latest topic being discussed.

Although the conversation is designed to be carried out on Twitter, Jane decides to use Hootcourse (“an online classroom …instead of cumbersome forums or complicated lesson-plan formats, HootCourse uses a combination of the most popular social networks and blogging platforms to provide a new type of online classroom”). Hootcourse allows bookworms to sign in using their Twitter or Facebook account.  Hootcourse can post comments publicly to Twitter or kept private but I’ll go into this another time.

‘It’s a book club, Jim, but not as we know it!’

It just goes to show that with a little creative thinking and shaking off of those blinkers which are narrowing our views and create some really engaging alternative activities to be run online.

So what if you can’t use Twitter or Facebook? What if your organisation blocks these sites. Well, let’s see what you have already that can be used just as effectively. Take a look at the online tools you currently have in your organisation for communication. They may not be used for learning at the moment but we can always high-jack them. We did it with PowerPoint after all.

You may well have a VLE/LMS (virtual learning environment/learning management system) such as Moodle to run your online courses. These provide communication tools in one place including forums and blogs as well as a live chat facility that could be used along the same lines as Twitter. So, for instance, you could create your own book club (or work on a case study in stages) and arrange a time to meet for the live chat or just continue using an asynchronous discussion if this is more appropriate.

What creative ideas can you think of?

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