Avoiding death by PowerPoint

Getting ready for a training session tomorrow, and want to share this, one of my favourite presentations:


Digital Literacies workshop

Prior to the start of ALT-C, there was a JISC workshop on Digital Literacies http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/4293

We self-selected into groups by topic and were asked, What critical differences is technology making? What new capabilities do graduates need to have? I took some notes from our group and a few key comments from other groups. These are the rough items as typed on the spot…when editing up my notes from the conference, I’ll try to polish them (make them more comprehensible?) before putting conference notes onto Nexus.

Comments from Social and Personal Practices Group

  • Flexible, cope with more integrated lives
  • Health – rapid change impinges on how people perceive people
  • Identity and interaction with other people has become crucial
  • Boundaries blurred or transcended
  • Digital divides – not full citizen if on wrong side of divide
  • We are WEIRD
  • Criticality – need to be aware of potential and impact, have enough control to use in a savvy way, just having the tech doesn’t automatically create community, critical evaluation is essential to the literacy
  • On-line v off-line personalities
  • Younger generation doing the filtering automatically, but not seen as being ‘critical’ – once it becomes automatic it is truly embedded, medium becomes transparent
  • Motivation – not just capability, skills, how to you start the snowball rolling?
  • Need to engage students, get them started doing something to break the ice, stimulate intellectual curiousity
  • Is it us v them? Dave White residents/visitors – not polarised
  • All use FB few use anything else (e.g. Twitter, social tagging)
  • TAKEAWAY MSG: people are always connected and now they have to use the tech in order to connect. FB and mobile phone. How to be disconnected, deal with info overload. Crucial in the workplace.

Selected comments fron other groups –

  • Personalised
  • Shared knowledge – what and who you know
  • So much is available, to what degree do students take advantage of it
  • Digital broadcast media, range/number of sources, crowd-sourcing,
  • Lost distinction office/unofficial sources – are we good at creating shallow but not deep media?
  • Rather than use news media, people look up on Google and Wikipedia
  • Has idea of ‘audience’ changed? Are we critical consumers?
  • NYT people becoming self-obsessed as own audience
  • Different levels of access, bottom-up and top-down
  • Ability to learn in a digital world is crucial
  • Adaptability
  • Chosen futures – gen X and Y ‘lattice futures’ not straight-line career progression, more choice for individuals
  • Our practices also need to change, have to learn and reinvent practice all the time.

Gwella launch – Nexus website

On 21 October 2009, we held a launch to announce the new Nexus website for enhancing learning through technology, as well as our other Gwella activity: http://aberystwythuniversity.xwiki.com/xwiki/bin/view/Main/WebHome

Nexus is part of the Gwella projects undertaken by AU, and we are using the site to pull together the various threads of the projects. It includes case studies of good practice in e-learning, annotated resources, news items, good practice guides, and more.

It is a joint product of the E-learning Team at Aberystwyth University. We hope you like it!

Podcasting for Pedagogic Purposes SIG meeting

Yesterday, my colleague Julian and I went to the second meeting of the Podcasting for Pedagogic Purposes SIG at University of Hertfordshire in St Albans outside London. The SIG is making a significant contribution to the higher education sector by setting up means of sharing resources and examples of good practice in educational podcasting. 

  • SIG Blog about podcasting
  • SIG podcast – includes excellent how-to guides for using two free tools: Audacity for sound file editing and podOmatic for mounting the podcasts. We made podcasts during the session.
  • SIG Wiki with materials contributed by members

Here are some of my initial responses to the event. It was heartening to hear the message stressed that podcasting can be used most effectively for student-centred teaching that goes far beyond just recording lectures and posting them online.  A teacher-centred, transmission-style lecture isn’t going to be enhanced by merely posting a one-hour long audio or video file. although some students will still find it somewhat of an aid to revision (reviewing for exams). A typical length for a podcast from the examples given was between 5-10 minutes, no longer.

There are some things you can do to improve a podcast of even this one-way type of lecture – chopping into smaller, logical chunks and providing tags or some way for students to find just the bit they want, using a more dramatic speaking style, etc. Even more exciting, however, are the ways of using podcasting for two-way communication between teacher and students, among students, or even just among several different people who talk to each other ‘talk radio’ style within the podcast. The ‘magazine’ style examples were particularly effective.

A wide range of ideas and, even more importantly, examples were presented that made the case quite strongly. I particularly like the idea of using student-created podcasts for group or individual projects, reflective learning journals, and peer-to-peer mentoring. There was a hilarious video that was a student group project in which those obnoxious solicitor (lawyer) TV adverts were spoofed leading to a scienfitic explanation of rust (don’t ask!). There were also some nice examples of experienced students making podcasts to give incoming students tips on university life.

The materials, examples and ideas presented will make it easy for us to encourage academic staff to use this new technology in interesting, creative, and most importantly effective ways.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking of ideas for my own podcasts…shifting from snapshots to sound bytes. Watch this space!

Today’s students

This clip from Kansas State University gives an interesting portrait of today’s students:

About This Video (quoted from their own description)

a short video summarizing some of the most impo…

a short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

ALTO website is now up!

Just a quick note to say that the ALTO elearning support website (Aberystwyth Learning and Teaching Online) is now finally up and available to the world.  This was a major project for our team (mostly me, but also Kate) over the past six months. 

Around 200 pages of material was either written from scratch or revised based on earlier versions, in many cases incorporating significant amounts of new material based on features available with our recent upgrade to Blackboard.  I re-took a large number of screenshots and tested out all the functionality of Blackboard in the process. 

We are very excited to have this finally go live on line, so it is a celebration today!




May Benchmarking meetings

This month has been very busy with the e-learning benchmarking exercise.  We had a two-day meeting in Bristol two weeks ago, and are in ous Milton Keynes at the moment for the methodology training workshop.  We had a tour of the Knowledge Media Institute at the Open University this morning, followed by an all-day hands on workshop.  Basically, we looked at processes within a university and evaluated evidence (such as policy documents, module outlines etc) to determine how adequate the processes are.  We evaluate each process along five dimensions to generate a ‘carpet’ or matrix showing a pattern of adequacy for each of 35 processes across the five dimensions.  The processes we are examining are those that facilitate the embedding of elearning in the university.

The ultimate goal is institutional change. 

That is about where we are at the moment.  One more day and then back home, then to implement the methodology.