Networked Learning day two

Museum of archeology: Thessaloniki

The second day at Networked Learning, I attended several really interesting sessions, including a symposium organised by the University of Cumbria on e-portfolios. The four papers provided an overview of the JISC funded project called Flourish based at Cumbria, and I was interested to hear about the use of an e-learning retreat, to introduce staff to e-portfolio software. Shane Sutherland from Pebble Pad was also presenting as part of this symposium and I have been hearing a lot about this software recently. The use of e-portfolios for staff is something I am really interested in and the key message from Cumbria was that rolling out e-portfolios to students needs staff to be on board. So getting them to use it for appraisals, and for accreditation (such as HEA) is really helpful. I hope to be in touch with Sarah and the team about this project in the future. Kim McGowan, a librarian at Cumbria also spoke in this session about her experiences of using Pebble Pad as a student while completing he PG Cert in HE.

In the afternoon I attended a symposium entitled ‘Breaching the garden walls‘ which looked at the role of social software in education. Led by Chris Jones, from the Open University with contributions from Ray Lund, Thomas Ryberg and Nina Bonderup Dohn. It was a lively session and packed out. They spoke of the danger of overhyping web 2.0 technologies and Ray Land spoke about the authority of text in our universities and challenge of digital which operates in ‘fast time’. Lots rang true, such as how reading is being displaced. Nina Bonderup Dohn, who spoke in fast time, spoke about why we might want to use web 2.0 in education and the tensions of using it. She mentioned issues such as how it might undermine conventions such as citation and referencing and copyright. All sorts of issues were raised in this session, such as digital literacy skills of children, problems of privacy with social networking sites such as Facebook and the lock-in that can occur with infrastructures and systems.  Great stuff!
We had two keynotes, including one from Diana Laurillard who is always interesting to listen to. She talked about her vision for technology enhanced learning, the conversational framework and about the pedagogy planner that she has been developing. Some stark facts on the challenges and ambitions for educational policy makers made us think. For example the UK government’s commitment to provide 10 minutes extra teaching per child per week, which she equated to 3000 new primary teachers! And the need for 1500 new adult literacy and numeracy teachers!  For her technology is necessary to try and meet these challenges.
The other keynote of the morning was from Yannis Dimitriadis and I must confess to struggling to understand it all. I took his early points on board about how technology had really changed very little about what happens in the classroom as it is largely used for powerpoint and that teachers are not really willing to use ICTs in the classroom. He made a good point about how educational experts and technologists are often disassociated (a good argument for the need for formally accredited learning technologists!) He then went on to look at a series of tools that he’s been involved in developing which should be helpful such as Collage and Group Scribbles.

Overall I took away from this conference a real sense of needing to concentrate on how I teach rather than how I can use technology to teach. I also took on board Diana’s point that the podcast really isn’t an exciting development in pedagogical senses as it is simply the transmission mode of education and very similar to the lecture. I guess the difference is it’s anytime, anywhere learning, but in terms of interaction, she is right. There was so much food for thought at this conference, I just know I’ll be referring back to my notes time and time again.

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