Wednesday, 28 February 2007

New technologies and moral panics

I think there's a media fixation with the negatives of technology that's not always helpful.

Sometimes this anxiety is justified - mobile phones and the phenomenon of 'happy slapping'.

Sometimes it seems to be an expression of incomprehension and fear at changes that are taking place that are leaving many people behind.

Here's the front page of a free newspaper last week reporting on how some south London gangs have posted videos of themselves on YouTube (see 7 Things You Should Know About YouTube) brandishing guns and punishing rival gang members.

The start of a new moral panic about Web 2.0 technologies?

Capturing the "now"

Here's one thing I forgot to add in my earlier post on blog affordances:

... blogs seem to be really good at allowing you to capture the 'now' of your thoughts or project development.

Here's my kitchen this morning ... (better than yesterday)

Here's a picture I took on my way to work (Surbiton to Kingston along the Thames):

Here's what I'm thinking now: should trees have blossom this early? is it another example of the effects of global warming?

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Progress on the kitchen

Still a degree of domestic chaos: no sink or appliances; lots of paper plates, plastic cutlery and microwave meals.

However, progress is being made (just look at kitchen a couple of weeks ago).

If I had time I'd draw an analogy between my developing kitchen and my developing e-learning knowledge. On second thought, I won't bother ...

Monday, 26 February 2007

E-tivity 5.1: Course Report

I'm going to start working on E-tivity 5.1: Course Report here. I'll make a start then re-edit ...

E-tivity 5.1: Course Report
to reflect on the value of the course.
Task: Prepare a report, of no more than 500 words, that identifies the key e-moderating skills that you need to develop that will make significant differences to the development of your own participants as online learners. Post your report in the Forum below.
Respond: to the reports of others by identifying helpful perspectives that the participant may have missed.

Areas for further development/reflection:

1) So many virtual spaces: discussion forums, the blogosphere, chat rooms and wikiworld. Affordances. What are their relative merits? What can they each do that the others cannot? My initial thoughts are:

  • Blogs: good for getting one to articulate arguments to an imaginary interlocutor (does it matter if a blog has a readership? is presenting ideas to an imagined readership suffucient discipline?); good for linking to relevant sources - repository of references for self as well as sharing; good for day-to-day unfinished reflections that you can return to (either edit or new post); a source document for an essay, report or longer piece of writing. Question: should you assess a blog? Potential for designing out plagiarism quite high? Ownership model: individual.

  • Wikis: great for finished products (e.g. e-tivity, group presentation). Spoke to colleague in nursing about her midwifery students: small groups working presentation of physiological changes to women's bodies during pregnancy, each group looking at different trimester. Wikis would be perfect here. More thought needed on discussion that needs to take place around the wiki. Synchronous and/or asynchronous? Ownership model: group/democratic.
    Some research into the use of wikis in education

  • Discussion boards: good for brainstorming, socialisation, development of cohort identity and sense of purpose. Great at idea generation but not so good at creating a finished article. Ownership model: group/democratic.

2) Assessing online: guidelines for academic colleagues. A colleague today asked me how could we encourage staff to use discussion forums without first doing the e-moderating course or similar. Many colleagues are assessing online participation in online forums. I wonder how sophisticated their assessment criteria are. I'll try to track the quote down later, but I remember reading an article that argued that students' learning improves when they come to hold the same understanding of quality as that held by their tutors. One way of doing this is by being more specific about the criteria by which we assess online participation. I'm glad I had the chance to thrash some ideas out about this. However, Rachel's experience makes me think I'm at a really early stage of my reflection on the practicalities.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Reflecting on feedback

I thought these quotations might be useful for our group e-tivity:

"The feedback may be vague and in a language students find difficult to understand. The balance of positive and negative feedback may overwhelm the students and make it difficult for her to take in what is being said. What students really want is dialogue about their work [emphasis mine]."
Brockbank and McGill,
Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education (The Society for Research in Higher Education. Open University Press, 1998 p.205

"Feedback is of limited use unless students can understand it and act on it."
Ron Dearing et al. (1997).
Higher Education in the Learning Society: Report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (aka ‘The Dearing

"Students should be trained in how to interpret feedback, how to make connections between the feedback and the characteristics of the work they produce, and how they can improve their work in the future. It cannot simply be assumed that when students are ‘given feedback’ they will know what to do with it."
Sadler, D.R. (1998). ‘Formative assessment: revisiting the territory’. Assessment in Education, 5.1, p.78)

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Last thoughts on txtspk

Gilly Salmon made an useful contribution to one of out discussions and quoted her colleague Sylvia Jones:

The aim of communicating in a discussion forum is to make points that communicate your ideas to other contributors. In an educational conference at graduate level, it might be assumed that the ideas being communicated are quite complex. This is because messages to conference are intended to make points or proposals about the topic of the conferences, plus take issue with other peoples' points of view. However, the aim of the conference is that students do contribute, so, as well as making your points clearly, contributors have to write in a friendly and courteous way to encourage others to respond. Thus, not only will txtsk not be able to communicate more complex ideas, but it will not be able to meet the requirements of inclusivity and courtesy. Thus, the twin functions of language in an educational conference, to engage in discussion and maintaining a friendly tone cannot be met by txtsk. These functions demand quite a lot in terms of language and I do not think a simple checklist would be a lot of help. However, a resource illustrating friendly and inclusive communication, identifying good and bad practice might help."

I wonder though if it is really the case that txtspk is incapable of articulating complex ideas?

Txtspk appears to work through the omission of vowels (e.g. txtspk) and the replacement of certain sounds with a single character (e.g. gr8 for great) in order to significantly reduce the number of chracters used in a message.

There's surely no reason for txtspk to be incapable of complexity. However, it was never developed for this purpose.

Maybe the problem with txtpsk is that it is an inefficient use of language for anything other than short functional messages such as CUB L8R - Call you back later?

Anything longer, and the reader is forced to translate and infer meaning in a way that actually slows down the processes of communication.

Ez really.

Monday, 19 February 2007

More thoughts on txtspk

In a post in week 1 or 2 I wrote about the use of txtspk in online forums (reproduced in last blog entry).

I think my view was that students (school to undergraduate) need to understand more about varieties of language and develop an ability to "toggle" between them, understanding when and where a particular variety of language was appropriate.

I’m not going to take part in the small-group activity with Hannah, Jim and Stephen but they might find the the link useful (it takes the view that "[t]xtspk appears to be the current threat to our students’ fluency in standard English"):

My first thoughts in txtspk

This is a really interesting topic and one I think that spans pre- and post-16 education as well as HE.

Stephen writes of the use of "text language" rather than more formal written English and Hannah has described it as a problem. This issue has also got a national profile in the UK (see Examiner's warning over exams culture).

Part of me really likes text language or txtspk (but aka SMS language) as it’s a variety of language that is totally fit for purpose (i.e. writing quickly and comprehensibly, often on a small keyboard, whilst standing up etc.) as well as being quite creative.

So txtspk is gr8 for instant messaging and SMS on mobiles but should it be used for discussion forums (fora?) where participants have more time to reflect and to produce a more controlled form of written English?

I’m not sure.

What I do think is a problem though is an inability to differentiate between different linguistic registers and to appreciate why some are more appropriate to certain situations than others.


"Hi m8 ru goin pub 2nyt" is fine as an SMS to a friend


"When a number is divided by another number that is gr8er than its square root …" is inappropriate if used in an answer to a formal examination paper.

The Information-Age Mindset and Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

A blog is maybe a good place to stick all those useful articles you've found and make use of in a place that others can see and make use of.

Articles of interest to colleagues who've posted on generational differences are:

Perhaps you have other articles on similar themes ...?

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Thinking about assessing online interaction

I've been thinking about this intermittently today.

The PowerPoint presentation Adele attached today made reference to one set of assessment criteria that used Paul Grice's four cooperative principles.

I wonder how this can be adapted and, indeed, if it's the best place to start?

Welcome to my e-moddie blog

Welcome to my e-moddie blog.

This is where I'll be posting my reflections on doing the Beyond e-Moderating course.

I'm starting this blog towards the end of the third week of the course. I'm feeling a bit guilty about my participation level this week as I've been a bit busy with meetings and development workshops as well as a slightly coping with a slightly chaotic home life (building work and new kitchen - see embedded picture below).

That's all for now.