Category Archives: Teaching

01Mar/16

#iCollab, communities and networks

Nurturing global collaboration and networked learning in higher education, an article based on our iCollab experiences, has been published in Research in Learning Technology today. The article was authored by Thom Cochrane, Averill Gordon and myself, three members of the iCollab community of practice – it is based on a presentation which Thom and I gave at the 2014 EdTech conference ‘Nurturing global collaboration’.

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[slideshare id=35266959&doc=nurturingglobalcollaboration-slideshare-140529103906-phpapp01]

In the article, we reflect on our experiences in iCollab, creating a global community of practice of educators and students which intentionally operates within and across networks.

The iCollab lecturers who initiated and facilitate the iCollab CoP share a common understanding of higher education students, in all their diversity. We recognise that students, as networked individuals, enter higher education with existing identities, networks and practices – both digital and embodied. We do not ask students to leave these at the door (or the virtual door, in the case of VLEs). Instead, we invite students to join a community of practice that is itself networked, to reflect on and develop their identities, networks and practices within the iCollab CoP and to the extent that they wish, in wider networks to which the iCollab CoP provides visibility and access.

Thanks to our #icollab colleagues Helen Keegan, Ilona Buchem, Mar Camacho, Bernie Goldbach and Sarah Howard – and to all of the students with whom we have worked – for ongoing inspiration and learning.

02Oct/13

Teaching with Twitter (this week)

Student views on Twitter (September 2013)

Student views on Twitter (September 2013)

I’ve used Twitter for over four years and have integrated Twitter into my teaching for the past three. The practice evolves with time, and with the preferences of different groups of students, but it’s been a fascinating learning experience. A few examples:

We use Twitter in a 2nd year BSc Computer Science and IT course, Professional Skills, which focuses on research and communication skills, digital literacies, and social media. We use #ct231 as a course hashtag for our Twitter conversations. I also tweet from a course Twitter account @CT231 — this allows people to easily find our course on Twitter (and thus our course website) and allows students to Direct Message (DM) me, which has proven to be a popular alternative to emailing for many students.

Yesterday, Thom Cochrane posted this dynamic image, made with TAGSExplorer (thanks @mhawksey!), showing the activity on the course hashtag #ct231 for the past week (click the image for a dynamic version).

click image for dynamic version

click image for dynamic version

It’s still early in the term, but this is a fascinating glimpse into our interactions on Twitter. In addition to the expected heavy activity from @CT231 and @catherinecronin, many students appear in the network, mostly as a result of our Twitter conversation in class yesterday. Well done to all!  @sharonlflynn (from CELT at NUI Galway) and @fboss (Education Officer and moderator of #edchatie) were active participants in our conversations, as well as several other educators in Ireland and beyond.

Also appearing in the #ct231 Twitter discussions this week are the participants in #icollab, an active network of students and educators who communicate and learn together across institutions and timezones (Ireland, UK, Spain, France, Germany, New Zealand, Australia). CT231 is happy to be a part of this great network. Thanks to #icollab participants: @ThomCochrane, @heloukee, @mediendidaktik, @marett, @averillg and our newest and welcome additions, @topgold and @spacelyparts.

Finally, thanks to Nathan Jurgenson (@nathanjurgenson) and Alice Marwick (@alicetiara) who popped into our Twitterstream yesterday after learning (via a tweet) that we were studying and discussing their work in class yesterday morning; we aim to engage with you further during the term. Using Twitter, some students shared their summaries of key points from the articles, others posted their own thoughts. In any case, live interactions with authors whose work we are studying is one of the superpowers of Twitter, so we thank Nathan and Alice for joining in.

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There’s much more to say and to study about teaching and learning with social media tools like Twitter. This quick snapshot of one week is one small contribution. Many thanks to Thom Cochrane for running and sharing the TAGSExplorer analysis.

Interestingly, just after leaving our class yesterday, I saw the following tweet from Sharon Flynn, sharing an interesting study by Chris Evans.

ccc

My answer to the question is yes.

sss

NOTE:

Texts studied in CT231 class and discussed via Twitter (1st October 2013):

The IRL fetish by Nathan Jurgenson (2012)

The public domain: Surveillance in everyday life by Alice Marwick (2012)

Teens, social media and privacy – Pew Internet & American Life Project (2013)

George Saunders’s advice to graduates New York Times article by Joel Lovell (2013)

21Mar/13

A module ends, a hashtag continues

“Teaching and learning with social media changes the roles of students and lecturers and the scope of learning. We learn from one another, and from people across our networks. Our CT231 IT Professional Skills module ends this week, but we will continue connecting, sharing and learning via a variety of social media channels — all linked by our course hashtag, #ct231.”

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11Feb/13

International student collaboration with #icollab

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Photo: CC BY-SA 2.0 Martin Fisch

Over the coming weeks, 2nd year Computer Science & IT students at NUI Galway will have the opportunity to collaborate with students in Spain (Barcelona), Germany (Berlin), New Zealand (Auckland) and the UK (Salford) on the iCollaborate or #icollab project. The project, now in its third year, is described by Helen Keegan as “a community of practice where… students work together on creative social tech projects that cross disciplines, levels, time and space.” I’m delighted to be joining Helen, Mar Camacho, Ilona Buchem, Thom Cochran and Averill Gordon — and our students — in participating in #icollab. Our CT231 class at NUI Galway will be bringing Ireland into #icollab for the first time.

Coordinating a project with students in 5 countries, crossing 12 time zones, and working in different terms has its challenges. But the project coordinators decided at the start to view these differences as an asset. Students in each location share their work and students in other locations can engage and connect — sometimes immediately, sometimes later that day, sometimes much later. As Helen Keegan describes:

“We’re now looking at the ‘tag-team model’ of education: the projects never end, as there is always a cohort to carry on, and lead into the next group, and when they overlap that’s great – that’s where the genuine collaboration happens. …Traditionally, we deliver modules/courses, neatly chunked into 12 weeks, with units of assessment, leading to grades etc. and that’s the way things are (generally) done. I’m not saying scrap all of that, but I do think that modules are best served as springboards to other things. Increasingly, students are connecting across levels and cohorts through Twitter and now we have ex-students getting together with current students, undergrads coming to postgrad classes (and vice versa) as they’ve connected online and have a genuine interest in getting involved in other groups/further curricula outside of their taught modules.”

As the Galway group’s first foray into sharing across those boundaries, CT231 students are posting their Ignite presentations online (via the CT231 Student Showcase), inviting feedback and conversation. In a Google+ hangout last week with NZ colleagues, Thom and Averill asked me if CT231 students would also be willing to post videos of their presentations, as another means of students connecting and sharing. The following day we did a trial run of this in class using the Bambuser app. Bambuser enables live video streaming from mobile phones or webcams. Using the app is simple: one click opens the app, one click records and streams (in public or private), and one click stops recording and uploads to the user’s Bambuser page. Once posted on that page, others can view the video and add comments.

bambuser captureOne of our student presenters agreed to be filmed this week so that we could trial the app and learn how best to use it for recording presentations (thanks, Jack!). The experiment was a success and we learned some valuable tips for future recordings. After sharing the video via #icollab, feedback from New Zealand was available to us the following morning (thanks, Thom!). We look forward to extending the collaboration with students in the coming weeks.

Right now I’m looking forward to the next weekly Wednesday night Google+ hangout with Helen, Mar, Ilona, Thom and Averill and discussions with my students the following afternoon, as we collectively create the terms and the vision for #icollab 2013.

Image source: CC BY-SA 2.0 marfis75

19Dec/12

Enacting digital identity

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When we ask our students to share online — in a discussion forum within an LMS; in a wiki, course blog, Google Doc or Facebook group; on Twitter or anywhere on the open web — we are inviting not just online interaction but an enactment of each student’s digital identity. Involvement in or resistance to online interaction is largely rooted in ideas and beliefs about identity, privacy, voice, authenticity and power. These ideas and beliefs may be articulated easily or they may previously be unreflected, but they will be invoked each time we ask students to participate online.

As connected educators, it is essential that we think deeply about digital identity — both our own and our students’.

In previous posts, I’ve shared some of my ideas about exploring digital identities with students (Exploring digital identities, Resources for exploring digital identity, privacy and authenticity and Learning and teaching digital literacies). However, when asked recently to facilitate a discussion about digital identity with academic staff as part of the NUI Galway Learning Technologies module #cel263, I opted not to share specific practices, but instead share some of the key ideas and resources which have helped me to reflect on my own ideas about digital identity and develop my learning and teaching.dd

In research on social networking within education, for example, Keri Facer and Neil Selwyn (2010) found that students saw a clear divide between “social interaction” and “educational interaction” on social networking sites, based on existing educational assumptions that “learning is organised around the individual and… oriented around content rather than process”. However, this may be changing. In their review of the research, Facer and Selwyn concluded that educators might need to “pay attention to social networking sites as important for the social construction of identity, including personal, social and learner identity”.

IRL

IRL is the international abbreviation for Ireland as well as the acronym for In Real Life…

A key concept in considering digital identity is the relation between the physical world and the digital world, the organic and the technological. Nathan Jurgenson has written extensively about this, coining the term digital dualism to refer to the notion, held by many, of a clear separation between the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’.  Jurgenson refutes digital dualism:

“…our reality is both technological and organic, both digital and physical, all at once. We are not crossing in and out of separate digital and physical realities, a la The Matrix, but instead live in one reality, one that is augmented by atoms and bits. And our selves are not separated across these two spheres as some dualistic “first” and “second” self, but is instead an augmented self. A Haraway-like cyborg self comprised of a physical body as well as our digital profile, acting in constant dialogue. Our Facebook profiles reflect who we know and what we do offline, and our offline lives are impacted by what happens on Facebook…”

Regarding digital identity and digital dualism, as educators we must be willing to critically examine our own assumptions as well as the expectations of our students. Are my online and offline identities enmeshed? Is my online identity reflective only of my professional self, or of me in other contexts as well? How comfortable am I with sharing online — with colleagues, students, an unknown audience? How comfortable are my students? How does the power differential in the educator-student relationship affect the enactment of our digital identities in online spaces? Important questions such as these must be explored. Embracing the notion of an augmented self does not preclude critical analysis of differences in the online/offline experiences of space, time, visibility, privacy and power.

Considerations of digital identity are personal and individual. Yet we negotiate them daily in the enactment of our digital identities — as individuals, citizens, learners and educators. Inviting our students to interact online is not a simple or neutral act. We invite more than just the sharing of information and opinions — we invite an enactment of digital identity in all its complexity. As Facer and Selwyn (2010) conclude:

“…learners need to practice and experiment with different ways of enacting their identities, and adopt subject positions through different social technologies and media. These opportunities can only be supported by academic staff who are themselves engaged in digital practices and questioning their own relationships with knowledge.”

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Additional resources were considered and discussed during the presentation and ensuing discussion, including the following contributions from danah boyd, Bonnie Stewart, Chris “moot” Poole, Alan Levine, Neil Selwyn, Howard Rheingold and Rhona Sharpe, Helen Beetham & Sara de Freitas (as shown below). My thanks to all.

Social Network Sites as Networked Publics by danah boyd @zephoria (2010)

Digital Identities: Six Key Selves of Networked Publics by Bonnie Stewart @bonstewart (2012)

High Order Bit by Chris “moot” Poole @moot (2011) at Web 2.0 Summit

We, Our Digital Selves, And Us – YouTube (2012) by Alan Levine @cogdog (2012)

Social Media in Higher Education by Neil Selwyn @neil_selwyn (2012)

Social Media Literacies syllabus by Howard Rheingold @hrheingold (2012)

Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age: How Learners are Shaping Their Own Experiences, by Rhona Sharpe, Helen Beetham & Sara de Freitas (2010)

Image source: CC BY-NC-ND Will Foster
13Jun/12

Pecha Kucha: tips, resources & examples

Some wonderful examples of Pecha Kucha presentations were a highlight of the recent Galway Symposium on Higher Education (#celt12) held at NUI Galway. If you’ve attended or delivered a Pecha Kucha presentation, you’ll know that it can be both a dynamic and challenging presentation format. Over the past two years I’ve had the opportunity to prepare and deliver four different Pecha Kucha presentations. Each time is a unique learning experience! This past year I did something I’d considered for quite a while: I assigned Pecha Kucha presentations to my students. In terms of presentation quality and the skills students developed, this was a great success. In this post I’ll share a few tips about Pecha Kucha presentations, some resources which my students and I found helpful, and a few examples of PK presentations.

I. Pecha Kucha presentation tips

A Pecha Kucha or 20×20 presentation contains 20 slides, with each slide shown for 20 seconds, for a presentation of exactly 6 minutes, 40 seconds. The format is similar to an Ignite talk, which is 20×15 (i.e. 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide, 5 minutes in length), so advice for preparing and delivering Ignite and Pecha Kucha presentations is similar.

The advantages of the Pecha Kucha format for a conference or a class are clear. Within a given time slot, more presentations can be scheduled and the schedule is predictable. In addition, the atmosphere in a Pecha Kucha session is usually very engaging. Once the “clock starts ticking”, the audience is on the side of the presenter, willing them to succeed. This is a wonderful atmosphere for both new and experienced presenters.

Tips for presenters:

  • Images are the key to effective Pecha Kucha. Try to find images which are illustrations or metaphors of your key points and/or use words-as-image, as in the example above. This makes delivery of your presentation much easier, as you’re not trying to race through a list of points. It also makes your presentation more engaging. This is why Pecha Kucha is so successful, I think. It’s not the timing, as such, but the fact that it leads presenters to use best practice in creating presentations which are visually strong and appealing. Let’s banish the bullets! 🙂
  • Practice, practice and practice again. I’m not a person who tends to memorize my presentations. For a Pecha Kucha presentation, however, memorizing your key points for each slide is usually the best approach. I suggest writing down the 2 key points you want to make for each slide and trying to stick to that. Then practice delivering your presentation until it flows easily. Practice really makes the difference.
  • Hack the format! If you want to go into depth on one particular slide and 20 seconds just won’t be enough, repeat the slide and add text or graphics to develop your points. Your information will then be on-screen for 40 seconds, with small changes appearing midway through. This is a very graceful way to keep within the format but still go into depth.
  • When delivering the presentation, don’t worry if you finish making your points on one slide before the next slide advances. Pausing will break your flow. Just start speaking about your next slide; it will likely appear midway through your first sentence. This makes for a more polished presentation rather than pausing for a few seconds to wait for the next slide to appear.
  • In working with students, I found that it was important to spend plenty of time beforehand to help students to develop not just an understanding of good presentation skills, but also of copyright, Creative Commons, and how to find, use and assign CC-licensed images. Most students who completed Pecha Kucha presentations in my Professional Skills course assigned CC licenses to their presentations and uploaded their work to Slideshare, forming part of their e-portfolio and digital footprint (some examples below).

Tips for organisers:

  • If possible, schedule Pecha Kucha presentations in a room that is not too large. I’ve attended Pecha Kucha sessions in small rooms and in large lecture halls, and I’ve found the atmosphere in rooms with a higher density of people is more connected and more fun. Participants tend to feel in touch with the presenter and the presenter can feed off the positive energy of the audience.
  • If you are organising a Pecha Kucha conference session, make sure all presenters send you their presentations ahead of time so that you can be sure that the timings are set correctly to 20 seconds per slide. Another approach you might consider is creating one long presentation for each Pecha Kucha session, with a transition slide (or two) between each presentation. This makes for a seamless session.
  • In one conference I attended (#ece11) yet another element of excitement was added by putting the presentations in each session in random order. Presenters didn’t know where their presentation fell in the running order, so had to be prepared to pop up when their name appeared. This led to much hilarity and great audience engagement and support.
  • When organising Pecha Kucha presentations for a class, I took on less of the organising work. I asked students to bring their own laptops or share laptops. Students learned a lot from loading presentations, connecting to the projector system, adjusting the room lighting, etc. And in one or two cases where students had not set the slide timings correctly, it served as a great learning moment for everyone.

II. Pecha Kucha resources

Pecha Kucha 20×20 —  This page gives the basics and a brief history of Pecha Kucha.

Why and How to Give an Ignite Talk by Scott Berkun — This terrific presentation (in Ignite format) is relevant for both Pecha Kucha and Ignite presentations. Take Scott’s advice and “hack the format” if necessary. If it’s Pecha Kucha, just be sure your presentation is 6 minute and 40 seconds long.

Creating an Ignite presentation — This article was written by presentation expert Olivia Mitchell about creating an Ignite presentation, however the guidelines apply just as easily to Pecha Kucha. This is a terrific, visual article, very helpful for careful planning of your presentation.

Choosing good images for presentations — This blog post has excellent advice on finding relevant, potent images for your presentation.

Finding CC-licensed images — the following sites are helpful in finding Creative Commons-licensed images and learning how to reference them:

  • Compfight – excellent search tool for Creative Commons-licensed Flickr images
  • Creative Commons Wiki – a Creative Commons image directory
  • CC Search — powerful search across a variety of platforms (e.g. Flickr, Google images, YouTube) to help you find content you can share, use, remix
  • Flickr images – enter search term, click Advanced Search, then tick the box “only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”
  • Content Directories — extensive list of directories of Creative Commons-licensed materials (audio, video, image, text

40+ Tips for awesome PowerPoint presentations — This is a useful checklist for all presentations, not just PowerPoint.

Prezi workshop — Prezi videos, examples and templates

Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte — Nancy Duarte is the author of the excellent books Resonate and Slideology – unbeatable sources of ideas and inspiration for all presenters. This 25-minute video is worth viewing if you want a deeper understanding of what makes a presentation which truly connects with an audience.

III. Pecha Kucha examples

The first two presentations below are examples of student Pecha Kucha presentations. Each of these was the first presentation ever created by the student — wonderful work, I’m sure you’ll agree!

>> Also, please check out the CT231 Student Showcase on Scoop.it — an up-to-date collection of student work including Ignite & Pecha Kucha presentations, blogs and audio podcasts.

Open Source Software [slideshare id=11796567&w=425&h=355&sc=no]

Digital Activism [slideshare id=11987302&w=425&h=355&sc=no]

The final two presentations are conference presentations. The first is by Mary Loftus, an excellent presentation from #celt12 on ‘ways of being’ in the online classroom. The second is one of my own Pecha Kucha presentations, delivered at #ece11, on learning and teaching Professional Skills.

Words to shape ‘ways of being’ in the online classroom[slideshare id=13241733&w=425&h=355&sc=no]
If you have additional advice or tips, I’d love to learn from you. Best of luck in creating and delivering your own Pecha Kucha presentations!

Image source: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 edmontonnextgen

29Feb/12

Resources for exploring digital identity, privacy and authenticity

At the CESI (Computers in Education Society of Ireland) conference last weekend (#cesi12), I presented ‘Social networking with our students: digital identity, privacy and authenticity’. A number of people have asked for details of the articles and resources I referenced, so here are both the presentation and a summary of resources.

Digital identity, privacy & authenticity – #CESI12 [slideshare id=11746918&w=425&h=355&sc=no] [=> presentation updated 18/04/12]  The presentation is based on student work in a Professional Skills module, in a 2nd year BSc Computer Science and IT programme (see our Scoop.it for additional resources). The module aims to help students to improve their research and communication skills. Students gain experience in writing and presenting, both online and in class. Together we explore digital identity, privacy, social media, openness, copyright and Creative Commons.

Authentic learning is at the heart of the module. It is unrealistic to believe that students can learn or practice modern communication skills effectively in a traditional academic situation — i.e. submitting assignments individually to a lecturer, in an essentially private transaction. Communication today, particularly for IT academics and professionals, often takes place in open, online environments: discussion boards, social networks, blogs, wikis, etc. Ideas can be presented, discussed and defended; collaboration and feedback are enabled; better solutions can be found. To make the most of communicating in these different modes, in different media, a good understanding of digital identity and privacy is essential.

My CESI presentation focused on our use of Twitter, and particularly Google+, in autumn 2011 as an environment within which to discuss digital identity and privacy. Following is a summary of resources which we found useful, thought-provoking, interesting.

Search for your digital footprint
Resources

This Is Me is an excellent set of learning materials about digital identity, produced by the This Is Me project and modified by Nancy White, Shirley Williams, Sarah Fleming and Pat Parslow.

danah boyd’s (@zephoria) work is essential reading for anyone seeking a deep understanding of digital identity, privacy and social networking, with a particular focus on young people. In her 2010 paper, Social network sites as networked publics, boyd identified 4 key attributes of information which exists (about us) online, i.e. it is persistent, replicable, scalable and searchable.

The private/public debate is fascinating, and one in which students can actively engage. For example, while Mark Zuckerberg has asserted that sharing or “public” is the new social norm, 4chan founder Christopher Poole argues that anonymity allows users to reveal themselves in a “completely unvarnished, unfiltered, raw way”.

Helen Keegan (@heloukee) is a recognised expert in the areas of digital identity, digital media, social networking and learning. Keegan has written of the “tyranny of authenticity”, particularly in the dynamic between students and educators, and the challenge of authenticity in the context of higher education.

Videos

TED Talk: Beware Online Filter Bubbles by Eli Pariser

TED Talk: “moot” (on Anonymity) by Christopher Poole

I Know What You Did Five Minutes Ago by Tom Scott  (many of my students enjoyed this video — possibly better for older students)

Books

Eli Pariser (2011) The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You — The “filter bubble” concept is a great one to explore with students of almost any age; Pariser’s TED Talk is excellent and accessible, and the related website has useful tips.

Jeff Jarvis (2011) Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live — Jarvis, espousing extreme “publicness”, acknowledges that fear accompanies the adoption of any new technology and notes that “we will make a lot of mistakes as we develop social norms around how to treat information online”.

Sherry Turkle (2011) Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other — Turkle has received praise and criticism for this book, in which she maintains that democracy requires that we retain a “zone of privacy” around the individual.

We’d love to hear about additional resources which you have found useful.

04Nov/11

Students, peer learning, and Google+

Two groups of higher education students in Ireland — IT Professional Skills at NUI Galway and Emerging Technologies & Trends at LIT-Clonmel — are engaged in a collaborative project using Google+. We are now midway through the project.

As described in my previous blog post, 2nd year students in IT Professional Skills (#ct231) develop research, writing and presentation skills, but the foundation of the module is the exploration and development of digital literacies. Students explore digital identity, changing definitions of privacy, search personalisation, social media, social networking, social bookmarking, and curating information.

When I learned that Bernie Goldbach was teaching a similar module (#litet) at LIT-Clonmel, and each of us planned to use Google+, we agreed to suggest a collaborative activity to our students. Both groups of students agreed to give it a try.

We began simply by creating a shared circle and outlining a joint assignment with specific discussion questions. For the past ten days, students have been posting ideas, reflections, links and comments on topics including privacy, digital identity, useful tech tools, and the use of social media in education. Students are referencing work by danah boyd, Jeff Jarvis, Cory Doctorow, Rey Junco, Eli Pariser and Ken Robinson, among others.

The most powerful aspect of the activity is the peer learning which is taking place. The dynamic is one of conversation and exploration. The asynchronous nature of the discussion allows reflection; engaging conversations are taking place over several days. Some students post public comments on Google+, and some post only to our shared circle. Interestingly, in this activity we are both practicing and teasing out the issues surrounding online privacy and digital identity.

What do students think? Below is a collection of student voices on the topics we are discussing, as well as opinions on Google+ itself. Students will be producing their own digital media creations later in the term — I look forward to sharing links to many of these.

We welcome your thoughts, feedback or questions: #ct231 and #litet on Twitter; #ct231 and #litet on Google+.

Student voices: Privacy and digital identity

“There is considerable debate about whether or not young people care about online privacy. Well as a young person I am very concerned about privacy and controlling the information I share online. I am very specific about what I want to make public about myself and even then I try to restrict who has access to that information.”

“I decided since Jeff Jarvis took interest in our work, I would return the favour and view his opinions on Privacy.”

“Just read an article online about privacy in the digital era. It’s amazing to see how the definition of privacy differs between people, companies, marketers etc… I never really appreciated the extent of how privacy influences an individual’s online experience. Privacy in itself is a fluid concept and users are not likely to read the privacy policy for each site mainly due to its length, this means users are placing a lot of trust in sites and effecting how comfortable they are socialising online.”

“‘Filter bubble’ is a new term to me since I started the CT231 module this September… The Filter Bubble is minimising the connections we can have and minimising the information we can share and, in turn, shared with us. IMO, to truly enjoy the Internet to its full potential, we must break out of our filter bubbles.”

“Before I started Professional Skills, I had little or no knowledge of the term ‘digital identity’. As I researched the topic, I slowly realised how much my digital identity affects me and will affect me in the future.  A shocking example is how employers commonly search for your online digital identity when you are in the running for a job. This is even more evident for the IT sector, where one could imagine the employers would have the relevant know-how to search for ones digital identity.”

“I do believe though that more of an effort should be made to educate users on the importance of online privacy but at the end of the day I guess it’s up to the individual how public or private he/she wants his/her social network to be.”

Student voices: Social media in education

“I think that using social media in the classroom is a great resource for students. If a student is working on an assignment and they don’t understand something, who better to ask then to ask the lecturer who set the assignment! Twitter allows this question to be posted instantly, the lecturer or indeed another student would be very prompt in their response. Twitter allows lecturers to instantly share their ideas or websites or posts that they have just discovered themselves with students, instead of having to wait until the next lecture. It can also allow people who are not in the class to engage in the classroom discussion, possibly including sources they know about or their opinion on a topic. Twitter lets the classroom open up and engage to a world full of people with experience and knowledge.”

“I have also noticed how well this particular class have taken to our use of Twitter and Google + to complete our assignments. It definitely feels like less of a chore when doing assignments on a social media site.”

“Students are willing to take on Facebook as an educational tool as well as a social one, whereas there is a reluctance amongst faculty members to do so. [This] mirrors the actions of our first year class, where most students welcomed the group, no faculty members did.”

“I agree there should be a more prominent link between sites like Khan Academy and social media sites. I’ve no doubt that in the future more sites like this will be established for the next generation of students to ensure even greater online collaboration between them and lecturers from all over the world.”

“I find sites like YouTube offer a great step by step solution to any questions you might have where the highlights from lectures are posted and are rated based on their quality. Recently our class has begun to use more social networking sites like Facebook and tools like DropBox to share notes and keep up to date with lectures I found this to be a great benefit in studying and managing my work.”

“Schools and colleges discourage students to go on their social networking sites during college/school hours by banning the sites on their computers. Yes, social networks could be a very distracting site for students while in school, but there are also many educational values to these social networks. I have a firsthand experience using social networks for educational purposes with this module and I feel that if more colleges and schools did it, using social networks for education could potentially rise by a high percentage.”

“I have only been a Dropbox user for an hour now and I have fallen in love with it.”

“Dropbox is an amazing site which enables you to save files and easily access them online. Since I have started to use the site I have found myself relying on it more and more. Before my introduction to the site, I would continually find myself in situations where I wanted to work on a project, but couldn’t due to the fact that my documents were stored on a computer at home or in college. Because of Dropbox, I am no longer faced with this problem. I look forward using the site for other reasons in the near future also. As we will be faced with many group work projects throughout the college year, I can imagine that it will be extremely useful to be able to share a folder as a group where we upload our part of the project as we do it.”

“I think a really big aid in learning these days is video tutorials. There are countless videos available on YouTube covering every aspect of every subject. It is really useful to be able to stop a lesson/lecture that is difficult to grasp at a certain point and rewind back and watch it again. I find it way easier to pick up a new concept if I am learning it through video as opposed to through a traditional classroom setting, or from reading textbooks. There is no pressure to grasp the concepts before the lecture moves on, maybe that is another factor that makes learning through video seemingly easier. The best videos I’ve found are from Khan Academy.”

Student voices: Using Google+

“I am liking Google+, I didn’t think I would like to make the transition from Facebook to Google+ but now I’m seeing that Google+ has all the best features from Facebook and a lot more good ones from other social networks.”

“I really dislike Google+ I have been using it since beta and have found that Facebook is much easier to navigate and share information, Google+ looks clean but I prefer Facebook’s layout, it is also restrained because you cannot create events and Facebook pages on certain topics and people. There are more options with Facebook although there may be issues with privacy.”

“I must admit at first I wasn’t overwhelmed by Google+ when initially joined. Facebook has become the norm for my social networking activates and trying to change over to Google+ felt like just what it was, an assignment for college. However, over the last couple of days Google+ has really grown on me. I like the idea of separating people into circles, social circles, academic circles and Career circles. Google+ is like a crossbred social network, trying to combine all the best bits from other social networks such as twitter and Facebook.”

Google+ seems to be more universal as in people will be able to use it for a lot more than just talking to friends (like Facebook), the idea of setting up different circles for different areas of your life will be very useful.”

“When I began to use Google+ I was instantly impressed by how we could filter the information that we wanted to share through the use of circles. I felt more secure in the fact that we could post something jokingly to friends and not be embarrassed when older relatives or people it was not intended to be viewed by see it.”

Image (created for @purposeducation): CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Josie Fraser  
 
25Oct/11

Student ideas for assessment

In Professional Skills #CT231, a 2nd year BSc IT module, students develop their research, writing and presentation skills — both in conventional formats (written reports and in-class presentations) and using web 2.0 technologies. The foundation of the module is the development of digital literacies, defined by FutureLab (2010, p. 3) as “the ability to participate in a range of critical and creative practices that involve understanding, sharing and creating meaning with different kinds of technology and media.”

CT231 students explore digital identity, changing definitions of privacy, assessing information, search personalisation, social media, social bookmarking, social networking, online publishing, and audio, video and multimedia presentations. In recent years, students have produced excellent and creative work for assessment such as writing and editing Wikipedia articles, creating “tip sheets” for other students and creating blogs (or expanding existing blogs).

This year, instead of giving students a list of options for projects, I decided to find out what students would like to create. Last week, I asked students the following question:

Students generated ideas on their own at first and then worked in small groups to identify similarities and differences. A few students struggled with the open-ended task (as illustrated in the photo at the top of this post). This is not altogether surprising. Students explained to me that this is the first time they have ever been asked to decide their own modes of assessment. Given that this was new territory it was affirming to see that most students welcomed the opportunity and suggested plenty of ideas — there was great energy in the room during these discussions! The range of ideas was diverse, more so than any list I could have formulated. This was great learning for me and something I will do again.

Student ideas included:

  • create/edit Wikipedia article
  • blog/website
  • video tutorial(s)
  • multimedia presentation (e.g. Prezi)
  • video documentary
  • podcasts (audio/video)
  • Skype conference
  • Google+/Twitter blogging
  • photography
  • interactive test

This week we discussed the list and made plans for students to select from these options. A grading rubric will be drafted and discussed with students, so that all work submitted for assessment — diverse as it may be — will be assessed using the same criteria for “effective communication”. I’ll share our rubric when it is finalised.

Image: source