Blogging to Enhance Learning Experiences: February 12-25, 2007

Hi from Yorkshire UK

Hi from Yorkshire UK

by Terry Wassall -
Number of replies: 11

Hi Everyone

I'm new to forums like this and relatively new to blogging so really looking forward to being part of this seminar. I am an academic member of staff at the University of Leeds, in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, and have taken an interest in the potential of so-called Web 2.0 programs and services since about the beginning of the 2005 academic year. In particular I am interested in how I and students can develop a more personal learning environment outside of the more restricted institutional VLE. We are currently piloting and evaluating an Elgg learning space system for blogging and community building and activities and a Mediawiki installation for trying out a wiki environment. Our current VLE is a Bodington installation (in fact it was first developed here in the late 1990s and subsequently released as open source) but we are in the process of choosing a new VLE. A decision will be made by the end of March this year which one. My hope and expectation is that we will continue to use a blogging and wiki system that is outside of and independent of whatever is available in the new VLE when we get it. This seems to make sense I think given the contemporary emphasis on life-long learning and the development of citizenship and identity in a knowledge and information saturated society. The years of formal education are quite short compared with the continuing personal, professional and informal education that hopefully we are helping to prepare our students for. Also increasingly our new student intake each year is already experienced with social networking, blogging and collaborative learning and we need to get to grips with this to maximise our exploitation of this and not to embarrass ourselves as dinosaurs!

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Hi from Yorkshire UK

by Terry Wassall -
Whoops! To late to edit this. It has just occured to me that "Hi from Yorkshire" is not really a good title for a discussion thread. Sorry about this. I guess it is a sign of my limited blogging only experience. Maybe it would be useful for beginners like me to have a discussion of the differences (uses, strengths and weaknesses) between this sort of forum cum message board system and blogs, personal and group. I anticipate having both sorts of utility available to work with my students.
In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Hi from Yorkshire UK and differences between forums and blogs

by Sylvia Currie -
"Hi from Yorkshire" is a perfectly fine and typical subject heading for discussion here in SCoPE. smile

We have an option to switch on the ability for all participants to initiate discussion topics, and often revisit these choices. We don't want participants to spend too much time thinking about where to post to a discussion. And the reality is that there are many ways to follow the dialogue, and keeping threads all neat and tidy just can't become a priority.

Now, having said all that the suggestion that we examine the differences between forums and blogs needs to become a top level discussion thread. It's not just a question for beginners; I'd say most people are wondering that! 









In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Hi from Yorkshire UK and differences between forums and blogs

by Terry Wassall -

Thanks for this Sylvia. Your attitude to neat and tidy nicely sums up my office!

However, there is so much going on here!! Perhaps one use of a wiki would be to delegate the task of collating, summarising and reporting on the major themes and issues that emerge, dispersed as they are all over the threadosphere, to individuals volunteers.

In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Hi from Yorkshire UK

by Derek Chirnside -
Here was me thinking "There must be somewhere round here I'm supposed to start, this looks the most likely place."

I could call this post "Hi from Christchurch."

Terry, it looks like you have quite a courageous institution in facing these issues.  There must be some benefit to a subject like Social Policy.

I will be a dabbler and a lurker primarily during this discussion - even much more so than my usual . . .

-Derek
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Hi from Yorkshire UK

by Terry Wassall -

Hi Derek

Some avoid courage, some embrace it, some have it forced upon them. I think many Unis are in the latter group. Our recently published learning and teaching strategy document makes it quite clear we don't have the option of not developing our teaching and support of learning using the full deck of interactive, collaborative, social networking, Web 2.0, read/write applications, whatever we want to call them. I choose to embrace while I still can!

In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Hi from Yorkshire UK

by Barbara Dieu -
Hello Derek,
So good to meet you again. And here! Warm memories of the unconference in Christchurch.
I had a quick look at the icommunities you are involved in and I especially like the outside in and inside out plan you set out in the Strategic Goals pic where you outline the need for "grouping spaces together into collections that reflect potentially related interests" and "community discussion from collection are flows over into individual spaces".
Would you use aggregators and tags to accomplish this, a mashup or is there sthg else in the making that we are not aware of?
In reply to Barbara Dieu

Barbera's side question . . .

by Derek Chirnside -
Barbera, Hi. The benefits of the unconference continue by the way.

This is a slightly off theme question, that I have been thinking a little about.  I'm writing a conference seminar for the Eifel e-portfolio conference in Wellington:

"Capturing a personal history: sensemaking from the Fragments"

My questions relate to managing the assemblege of our internet foot prints: wikis, collaborative activities, etc etc.  In our courses, this may become particularly scattered.  Joe uses Vox, you are involved there, Sally uses Multiply, you are there - you work in wikispaces . .  etc.  And that is just one course - you do 6 for the qual, and each time you get more scattered.

Plus: process vs product.  What if you say something unwise in an early course . .  ?  Public vs private lives?  Public vs course private comments?


I know of people who never comment on other's blogs.  They just write blog posts on their own blogs.  How to link all the items here is easier.

There is a 'Blogged out" theme I have yet to read here.  I personally think it is sad that institutions should require students to manage more than one blog.  Especially with tags and all the modern time saving devices.  Just set up tags for various purposes.  etc. and use one.  I suspect one blog per course ia lecturer convenience.

There are some special skills to managing a life in web 2.0.


All this to start to say I don't really have a simple answer to your question.  I thought I did, but we have just run out of resources to go the next step at the moment, and things have become more complex . . .  There is actually nothing much NEW here . . .

In iCommunities, we have a few basics:

  • The site is divided into spaces with members
  • Everything is taggable.  But what to do with them then?  needs more work.
  • Everything is commentable.
  • You inhabit a small cluster of groups

eg one person may be in e-learning, educational design and music educators.
Someone else in e-learning, staff development and learning theory.

  • You leave and join groups as you want to
  • leadership is emergent and distributed.  (Even in our courses, anyone can get admin powers with a click of a button to a defined area)
  • Aggregators can go anywhere to help you keep track of what you want.
  • We have four basic tools:
    1. Forums, but quite different: in beta, using real ajax drag and drop
      With notifications at the post level, soon to have postlets (we define these as social acknowledgements not really part of the discussion (ie in this forum, if I wanted to say "Nice post barbera" I'd NOT want it pushed out to all)) and a few other nice things.
    2. Sharing area.  File sharing, comments, tagging.
    3. Knowledge bases.  These are flexible places to harvest good stuff, template driven with user defined templates.  They are like flexible databases.  Commentable.
    4. One page wikis.  Like Writely was, if you know this.
  • Content is linkable across groups.  (This is quite different to Blackboard or Moodle for instance)
     
The focus is on the people.  And as I said above, nothing really new.  I think we mistook a clear view for eas of implementation.'
Sorry.  It's all down to Tags+comments, aggregators, self chosen social groupings.  In some small niche areas it genuinely is working as we conceptualised it: flows of life from theme to theme, into personal e-mails, into blogs etc etc.
Enough. - Derek
In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Hi from Argentina, sorry for my late introduction

by Silvana Carnicero -
I'm Silvana Carnicero from Argentina. I am an EFL teacher and my interest in technologies for the classroom started about six years ago. From that moment onwards, I have been working wiht web-based collaborative projects, forums and blogs. The experiences I gave gone througha re really rewarding, that's why, I'm eager to go on learning through the sharing of knowledge and experiences.
In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Hi from Yorkshire UK

by Larry Hull -
I've no interest. How do I get off this list?
In reply to Terry Wassall

Re: Hi from Yorkshire UK

by Elizabeth Anne -
Hi from a lurker in  France. I teach ESP at the Université Joseph Fourier. Previously webmaster of our new departmental site:
http://dsu-net.ujf-grenoble.fr/pool/anglais/accueil.php
I've been "following" the Blogging for Beginners workshop of EVO.
http://eannegrenoble.edublogs.org/
I don't want to interrupt for long, because I don't think I'll manage to make time to follow the discussion properly - but for someone who, as an undergraduate in Physics at Aston-in-Brimingham, actually programmed computers using punchcards - I assume my position of grandmother in both lives, and look forward to - and thank you for letting me - "listen in" to the discussion.
Sorry - it was "Yorkshire" that made me crack... my homeplace many years ago.
In reply to Elizabeth Anne

Hi Elizabeth . . .

by Derek Chirnside -
You are not interrupting.  I think we can dip in and out as we wish.  I presume ESP is not what we commonly think it is.  :-)  Lurking is quite honourable, now joined by 'blurkers'.  (See Jaunita's post)  - Derek