JISC Next Generations Technologies in Practice – Day 2

I’m now back in Portsmouth, but am determined to write this before I forget & it ends up in the rather large “draft” set I have.
So, we started off with Gwen van der Velden discussing what she, as a Directory of Learning & Teaching Enhancement looks for in a project proposal. Mostly, it made sense (i.e. had to have a good pedagogic reason; had to not use up ridiculous amounts of time to get going; had to interface with existing student record systems [often the nightmare part], etc)
A couple of points she raised though were of further interest; firstly that a technology should be easy to use (i.e. not need training). The comparison was made in the twitter feed was between SL (needing training) & Twitter (not needing training), but what struck me is that many people (me inc.!) needed training in the reasons for Twitter use. The “how” of Twitter’s pretty simple, the “why” is more complex. However, with SL, it was more or less the opposite; I could immediately see potential – I just took a long time to understand the “how”. Still learning!
The other point that Gwen raised was the 5 areas that she & others at other Unis see as being what is likely to be getting funding in the next few years:

  • Open Source/resource/structure
  • Feedback
  • online assessment
  • data collection connectivity (i.e linking in to other uni wide systems)
  • mobile comms & student experience (including non-work related)
  • communities of academic practice.

The next session, Janet Findlay’s report on the 3 projects she’s had involvement with was very useful; in particular the idea that sharing practice is often much more useful than sharing content.

Other URLs related to those projects:

Plenty of food for thought, there.

The STAIRS project – had a range of interesting ideas. I’ll be interested to see how their survey of staff use of web technologies ties in with the survey Terry and I are trying to do at the moment with our staff (and @stellal ‘s survey in Edmonton) . Nice use of google apps – while recognising that though Google was best option at time, mayn’t always be. (Wonder what options the Guardian Open Platform will offer in the future)

In the Innovation & Change session – we had to look at different aspects of what governs us at work (i.e. Institutional Policies) to say which encouraged innovation in eLearning technologies (including the so called “disruptive” technologies” – & which stifled it. Perhaps as expected, some aspects were definite “hinderers” (e.g. those that are management driven) others much more likely to support them (the student focussed policies). For some, there was a clear indication of how, for example, local policy would have a strong impact (e.g. whether library services were seen to support or hinder innovation). Harold has a good set of the before & after photos

In the plenary, Paul just used a few Wordle.net images – before & after the previous session I’d been to – when words like “social” were suddenly changed to “disruptive” (Wordle seems to be down at present)

JISC Next Generation Technologies in Practice – Day 1.

I’m just sitting in my room, listening to the Sounds of the Bazaar broadcasting from the JISC ngtip09 conference.
It’s been a useful, if somewhat tiring day.
There were a number of things that struck me, in particular the concept of “Critical friends”. This was in particular relationship to funded projects; though I can see a lot of parallels with both being a personal tutor & also someone who’s maybe a 2nd or 3rd supervisor for a PhD student. I’m looking forward to the site they’re going to launch in a few weeks. (http://www.critical-friends.org.uk – I think)
I was particularly interested in Mark van Harmelen’s Personal Learning Environment.
I’ve tended to advocate that students should be encouraged to learn to manage their own learning environment & have been very wary of a provided PLE – mostly that if it’s provided – how can it be “personal”. I have, though, in the past, seen a parallel between PLEs & building a house from Lego.
The commercial (WebCT) solution is kind of that you can have a “house Kit” – which only goes together in a few ways …. though you can have it any colour you like. Next we have the PLE that allows users to have the components they want in their house … but they still only have “standard” lego bits. I’d see that as a few of the earlier PLEs I saw. Next, you have the lego base plate … selection of bricks to start with but also lessons on where to find other (“non-house”) bricks – how to find non-lego bricks that fit, and it’s left to their imagination. I guess that would be what Mark called a MUPPLE (Mashedup PLE) – where his is somewhere between that & the previous idea.

The demo Mark showed had some “built in tools” and some links to external tools (e.g. delicious) which would, I think, mean that they only have to login once (one of his students complaints against mupples – too many logins to remember)
The tool that let people arrange ideas, bookmarks & essentially start to do some research really appealed to me; I could see several uses for it with the students that I work with. The book tool & also the multimedia rooms were useful – and, from my understanding, it’s going to be relatively easy for sophisticated users to add in things.