In 6 August I attended the Stepping into Literature conference in Second Life (see blog entry here) I’ve now written this experience up and the report is now available as a pdf Stepping into Literature
Eduserv’s latest Snapshot (May 2008) gives an insight into current HE activity in Second Life. For a short cut check out these slurls for the University of Leicester’s Media Zoo, and the University of Coventry home of the PREVIEW project which is using virtual problem based learning tutorials for medical training.
If you are going to be net savvy you need to get organised. Bookmarking and RSS feeds are the key. Choose a feed reader you can access from any computer such as Netvibes or Google Feed Reader. Make your feed reader your home page; it’s the best way of engaging with your updates on a regular basis. I like the drag and drop functionality of Netvibes. For bookmarking sites I use delicious. Adding the delicious extension to Firefox means I can bookmark, tag and access my delicious folders within my browser. I then feed my delicious account into netvibes; ditto with Facebook, Twitter and any other social networking sites plus my favourite blogs and news webs. Everything is all in one place making Netvibes my one stop internet shop and a valuable life raft which keeps me afloat in the Internet ocean.
I attended the Stepping into Literature conference in Second Life, organised by Learning Times. This was an all day event designed to investigate the effectiveness of immersive environments as teaching and learning tools. Do 3D sims have affordances for disinterested students? How ‘sticky’ is Second Life?
The JISC report Learning in Immersive worlds prepared by Sara de Freitas suggests that the game and simulation based learning has the potential to transform the way teaching and learning is developed. After the Stepping conference I felt I had ‘learned’ on so many different levels. What ever your discipline; student, teacher, technologist, designer, librarian – I think it would be hard to deny that virtual immersion can be a powerful tool in the learning process.
How long does it take to produce one hour of online content. Bryan Chapman has come up with some ratios which make interesting reading and Clark Aldrich takes this one step further. For everyone who thinks uploading their 50 minute lecture notes creates an online learning resource this may be a shock. As a general guideline it will always take longer than you anticipated and generally cost more than you budgeted for. But there’s no direct trade off between the amount of time/cost and the value of the result. In terms of teaching and learning sometimes it is the simplest idea which is the most effective. Those which cost the most in both time and expense may lay unvisited or unclicked.
Online learning is less about content and more about what students do. Reading text online rarely stimulates. The key to online learning is interaction. One answer is the deveopment of reusable learning objects; especialy those you can customise with a minimum of technical skills. I’m currently involved in a project to produce templates for customisable inter-activities. Watch this space…
Twitter tells other people what you are doing – in 140 characters or less – in the moment in which you are doing it. Quite Zen really.
I’m not sure about its value. It seems to do far less than other social networking tools; a case where less isn’t necessarily more. Maybe it’s more about harnessing Surowiecki’s wisdom of the crowd – or O’Reilly’s ethos of the more you use it the better it gets; the ‘harvesting of collective intelligence’. But even if I used it more, with a greater number of people, I’m still not convinced I would find any intrinsic value.
I’m interested in synchronicity and whether or not – as Jung maintained – it is meaningful – or it is pure coincidence. I think that the Internet enables synchronicity – the greater the amount of available information then the greater the chance of finding links you can impose meaning on. I’m cynical. Belief is personal – we believe in what has resonance; universal truths are hard to quantify. But here is a trail that nevertheless intrigued me.
I hear about the tv series The Wire. I don’t know anything about it but it sounds good. I check my daily rss feeds. I follow a link about learning new skills in elearning technology. I notice an Edublog Winner logo so I revisit the Winners 2007 page. I scan over the 14 blog links; I’m drawn to best new blog winner and it’s title dy/dan – there is no additional information – I’m intrigued by what it doesn’t tell me – I find an interesting alternative blog mixture of video and podcast – I scan down looking for text (I’m in a rush – I don’t want to watch or listen) and I see a link called The Truest Thing I’ve Ever Watched Or Written. Again, I’m intrigued – and this link it takes me to a post all about – The Wire!
I thought I was the first to use the word but I’ve now come across ‘bloggage’ several times. @iandelaney uses it on Twitter. bloggage.me.uk is a blog title from Jimbo in Shoreham. The domain name http://www.bloggage.com is live but lacks content; is a website for bloggage verging on oxymoronic?
Do I do bloggage or do I produce it? It feels a bit like luggage – containers of personal artifacts – which can then be disconnected through the links of strangers and sent to far flung places. bloggage.me.uk has ended up here at learninglab.lincoln.ac.uk. I’m following @iandelaney on Twitter (although it feels uncomfortable, like virtual stalking). Or maybe bloggage is more like traffic. Where the blogs are the cars and bloggage is a conglomeration of them; a multi storey car park, or a traffic jam, or even a scrap heap of rusted unwanted vehicles; after all there are more unread blogs than read ones, more blogs are dead than alive. Blog rot is endemic. But however you interpret it, bloggage is a phenomena; indicative of Web 2.0 technology which gives individual voices the opportunity to be heard. To me, bloggage is the Internet in action; real people engaged in virtual communications – even it they are mostly talking into a digital void.
It is a fact universally acknowledged that every learning experience will somewhere include reference to a blog. If you are new to blogging and wondering what all the fuss is about, try the Guardian article The world’s 50 most powerful blogs (2008) and see Edublog awards for examples of educational bloggage.
Blogging tools are easily available; free software includes WordPress and Blogger. If you have an internet connection then you too can blog. Blogs are Web 2.0 tools for self publishing – free of quality controls and censorship. They’re an example of the power of the internet to link virtual identities and personal life stories, to build virtual networks which may or may not translate into off-line relationships.
So why do we blog? Is it because we can? Or we’ve been asked to? Or we’re being assessed and the marks count towards the end of year exams? Or is it evidence of CPD? Behind every behaviour there lies a motivation.
This blog is a mirror that reflects my role in the Centre for Educational Research and Development at the University of Lincoln, UK. It’s not a reflective blog. I’m unconvinced that reflection should be located in a public arena. Nor is it a diary – for the same reasons. It’s meant to be functional; a Web 2.0 toolbox; a repository of bits and pieces of technologies; postcards of my virtual travels across the Internet. Although reflection has gone into this statement; it’s all behind the scenes; the blog is the end result not the process of getting there. To me, that’s what blogging is about.
So why do you blog?
Project Gutenberg is a free collection of e-books which everyone can take part in producing. Volunteers are invited to scan or key in pages from books printed prior to 1923, or proofread scanned pages. Anyone can become a volunteer to help preserve history one page at a time. This is an excellent example of how the Internet enables virtual cooperation on an international scale. Distributed Proofreaders coordinate the project and offer a pre-registration online Walk Through demonstrating how it all works.