April 21, 2010

Was it only a couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post entitled “million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten” in that I wrote about the impact of snow closures on educational institutions. I did write…

Even if it doesn’t snow really badly next year, other things may happen that result in the physical closure of the educational institution. It could be floods, high winds (remember 1987), flu or similar viral infections, transport strikes, fuel crisis, anything…

Over the last week we have seen not so much closures, but certainly some disruption due to the volcanic ash from Iceland and its impact on air travel.

Hitting the UK as it did at the end of the Easter break, many learners and staff were stranded overseas with no way of getting home.

As with the snow, little mention has been made of using technology to mediate the impact of the closure of UK airspace. One exception, BBC News reports on one teacher who is using a webcam to continue teaching despite been stranded in Spain.

A teacher from Oxfordshire stranded in Spain because of air restrictions is using an internet cafe to take lessons. He is using a webcam to make sure that his business studies A-Level students do not miss out on lessons.

Interestingly in the same article…

Meanwhile, 16 teaching staff from King Alfred’s School in Wantage have been left stranded because of the ban on flights. The school said it on its website that it would face “severe staffing shortages” and would only open for certain year groups during the week.

So it would appear that not everyone is coping with the disruption.

In the comments on the recording of our debate on this issue at the Plymouth e-Learning Conference was the following comment:

Irony time: In my mailbox this morning “Technology Enhanced Learning Workshop cancelled due to speaker unable to get a flight”. Missed opportunity for some “Technology Enhanced Learning” me thinks? The Sky is broken so use Skype?

I am aware of a few people who are stranded overseas, but are in fact continuing to work using e-mail and VPN to maintain contact and communication with colleagues back home. Time zone differences are causing a few issues, and I also know that many people rather than stay and work are travelling and trying to get home.

As far as I am aware no schools or colleges have closed because of the ash, but certainly some classes have been cancelled or disrupted due to the ongoing ash cloud issue.

Learning technologists have to be careful to ensure that they don’t appear smug about the role technology can play when we have issues such as snow and ash, but we as a community need to work with colleagues to ensure that when disruption happens we don’t worry so much, we keep calm and carry on…

Picture sources here and here.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #043: Keep Calm and Carry on

April 18, 2010

Recording of the Keep Calm and Carry on debate at the Plymouth e-Learning Conference.

During the Second World War, the British government sought to use appropriate communications tools to convey policy to the populace, whether via posters, newspapers, radio, or legislation. Resource restrictions meant that there was not always a free choice in which to use.

Sound familiar? It should.

As James Clay indicated in a blog post on January 10th snow, floods and swine flu all have the potential bring our physical campus to a halt, for valid health and safety reasons. Institutions announce via local radio and the web that they are closed to students and staff. In most institutions such crises effectively bring the entire workforce to a halt. Despite the digital options available, the word ‘closed’ implies that no (formal) activity will take place, and sends the message to staff and students that they do not need to go to work, or even do any work, even if they could.

Culturally, most institutions do not incorporate online or virtual learning into everyday working cultures, at any level: management, staff or students. Those who do not routinely use digital options can’t see that closing the physical institution need not have a significant impact on the business of the institution, if that business can be carried out at home or online. The issue is not to focus upon contingency planning, but to focus on changing the way people work when there isn’t snow and changing the way people think when there is. Although this debate will centre largely upon Web 2.0 methods, it will take an outcomes-focused approach, rather than a tools focused approach, in line with William Morris’s quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. We consider what is necessary, not just in times of crisis, but in implementing everyday e- practice to meet learning and teaching needs.

With a focus upon communities rather than machines, and a recognition that no tool offers “one size fits all”, each panellist will focus upon a specific relationship, specifically ‘Institutional Representation’, ‘Collaboration’ and ‘Teaching Purposes’. What institutional cultural factors will need to be addressed? What do electronic communications approaches offer that previous methods haven’t? What drawbacks are acknowledged in the use of each with regards to the outcomes required? Which tool is most appropriate for the outcome required, and what are its pedagogical purposes?

With James Clay, Bex Lewis and Carolin Esser and of course delegates from the Plymouth e-Learning Conference.

This is the forty-third e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Keep Calm and Carry on

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Keep Calm and Carry on

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes


The Hierarchy Of Digital Distractions

April 17, 2010

I was introduced to the amusing diagram by Dave White during his excellent keynote at the Plymouth e-Learning Conference.

See the full version.

Have a look and see whether it fits your life, not sure about the linking to video of kitten frolicking. Is that distracting? Possibly!

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #042: Don’t feed the pelicans

April 11, 2010

Thoughts, reflections and recordings from the 5th Plymouth e-Learning Conference.

With James Clay and others….

This is the forty-second e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Don’t feed the pelicans

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Don’t feed the pelicans

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes


Privacy has gone…

April 10, 2010

Do we have privacy anymore, do we have privacy with the internet now being so much part of our lives?

The opening keynote at the Plymouth e-Learning Conference 2010 was by Josie Fraser. She delivered an inspiring thought provoking keynote covering many different issues including digital identity, digital communities and communities of practice.

One of the key discussions was on privacy and the ability to control what I put online on services such as Twitter, this blog, Flickr or even (now and again) Facebook.

I can do lots to protect my identity.

I can decide what photographs I post to Flickr.

I can decide whether to include geo-data when I post to Twitter or use Audioboo.

What about the issue of other people infringing my privacy and putting details of my life online.

I can’t stop other people from broadcasting what I am doing…

I can’t stop them taking and posting photographs on me online.

I can’t stop them writing about what I am doing on services like Twitter and Facebook.

I can’t stop them uploading videos of me to YouTube.

I won’t be able to stop them adding geo-data to images or videos of me.

These services that people have used have take down policies, but unless the images, video or text are “not nice” then would the services taken them down because I don’t like them?

Of course I can ask, but they don’t need to say yes!

We seem to be at a stage where privacy is almost impossible to maintain if you go anywhere that others will be using cameras, online services such as Twitter or Facebook; even if I don’t use any of these things myself.

Josie in her keynote showed us the Ungooglable Man.

Does he exist? Probably?

Does he exist online? More than likely!

Even if he doesn’t use Myspace or Facebook, it is likely that friends and family do. They may place photographs of him online, they may talk about him, they may have videos of him. As a result he may be found online despite the fact that he is not online himself.

There are implications for those who have concerns about their own online identities that they may well have no power to stop others posting “stuff” about them online.

At the moment, many colleges are looking to work with learners on the concept of e-safety, part of which is digital identity. Colleges need to remind individuals that they are not the only person who needs to be concerned about what they post online, but that their friends and family need to be aware of the issues too.

Do you worry about what is posted about you online?

Do you know what others have posted about you online?

Should we care?

PELC10 – Day 2

April 9, 2010

It’s day two of the Plymouth e-Learning Conference.

I am looking forward to Dave White’s keynote.

The education sector is constantly chasing the tail of the latest technology. Innovation ‘out there’ on the web generates paranoia that we might be missing the latest opportunity and the suspicion that our students are experts in everything. We create profiles on every new platform just in case they become ‘the next big thing’, collecting solutions-looking-for- problems and losing our focus on what students and staff might actually need.

Having seen him speak at the ALT-C Fringe I am expecting to enjoy his presentation.

After the coffee break, it will be time for the debate session I am taking part in, Floods? Snow? Swine flu? Terrorist threats? ‘Keep calm and carry on’.

Culturally, most institutions do not incorporate online or virtual learning into everyday working cultures, at any level: management, staff or students. Those who do not routinely use digital options can’t see that closing the physical institution need not have a significant impact on the business of the institution, if that business can be carried out at home or online. The issue is not to focus upon contingency planning, but to focus on changing the way people work when there isn’t snow and changing the way people think when there is. A

Also read my original blog post on the snow in January and my more recent post, “million-to-one chances happen nine times out of ten”.

After lunch I am chairing another debate, the great debate.

This forum will explore methods for categorising learners approach to online platforms and how this can influence edtech/pedagogic strategies. It will focus on Marc Prensky’s famous ‘Digital Native & Digital Immigrants’ trope and the more recent ‘Visitors & Residents’ idea proposed by David White.

Following the infamous Devon Cream Tea it will be the closing session and the prize draw! Overall a busy second day.

Future of Books and other stuff…

April 8, 2010

This really nice video shows the power of augmented reality in terms of reading books and other ways in which learners learn (as well as other things as well).

Shown in part at Plymouth e-Learning Conference.