Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Virtual Meeting anyone?

How would you like to meet in a virtual world? with desks and chairs you can sit in, interactive screens you can watch Powerpoint displays on; chat facility, not to mention the ability to fly?

I completed my Second Life Basic training last week and have been back for a few brief visits, exploring this strange virtual world.

I really like the space University of Leicester have created with their Media Zoo - there are boats to sail on, beanie bags to lounge on, even a dog... and this is a picture of me in their impressive conference centre.

I wonder what it would be like to hold a virtual meeting here, instead of Blackboard or the Wimba classroom? In my training I was only interacting with one or two people - the teacher and another student. The difference between this and Wimba was that the tutor could literally show me where to go and what to do (or his avatar showed mine...).
Nonetheless, I managed to end up in the water a couple of times - not to mention flying into trees. Now that doesn't happen in meetings very often!

Anthropological study of YouTube

There are dark days in e-learning/ virtual leading, when you feel lost in the onslaught of information, new sites, software possibilities. When communication is not as clear, ordered, humane, and considerate as it might be, and sitting at your PC, you feel isolated, unsupported and wonder .... well, just what is the point of it all?

And then, you glance randomly at a Twitter posting, and a whole new world of insight opens up.

Well that's kind of a snapshot of what I was going through at various stages of yesterday evening. I found this video so exciting, I postponed watching Spooks....

Be warned: it is long, but if you are at all fascinated by the phenomenon that is YouTube,wonder where all this blogging and vlogging is taking us, or are simply curious to know what your kids are up to - persevere....

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Coaching in Organisations

In the final weeks of this module you are asked to explore a coaching approach to "distance" management - that is, moving from micro managing the team to a supportive, objective-setting stance that recognises the distance and the autonomy of the staff concerned whilst firmly contracting to get the job done.

I have been sent this link: http://www.cipd.co.uk/helpingpeoplelearn/_cchng.htm

which shows how a number of companies are developing coaching within their organisations. I thought it might be helpful....

Monday, 17 November 2008

My first Wimba session as facilitator

well, the hour flew by and in spite of my initial concerns - if not cynicism about the medium, it was surprisingly effective.

Signal strength varied and so one person never really succeeded in joining us, one only heard intermittently and a third had only chat facility though she could hear and see the screen: the other three managed to have conversations chiefly about the assignment criteria, how to develop a wiki and latterly about developing trust in teams.

In the last instance, the team members (including the one who could only add chat input) gave some good ideas to the person with the issue - so that it became a bit of an "action learning" session.

The issue was a central one to the module: development of trust in a virtual/dispersed team: especially where there are ancient and deep rooted tribal differences.

Feedback was very positive - I felt there was real learning and sharing: the voice and webcam helps to create a more grounded kind of contact than just chat. And that's what students said too."Like being with someone in the classroom"

Great fun, very useful, will definitely do it again!

Tweet Tweet Tweet

and while we are on the subject of simple communications platforms - here's a nice little blog post I came across about the many uses of Twitter (and yes - I found it on Twitter...).
what stood out for me was the following quote:

A diffuse kind of ad-hoc educational institution emerges from the twittersphere in this way. There is no teacher and no student. We’re all teaching and learning from each other.

So if you still don't know what it is, now's the time to find out... about twitter

Saturday, 15 November 2008

keep it simple, stooopid

I enjoyed this post - which is a quote from another blog..... just passing on goodies here, really.

The point is one I take to heart - we cannot wait around for the technology or the firewalls to catch up with our need to connect: we have to use available technology, make the links that we can and get cracking!

I am planning to set up a Grou.ps site for my team which spans a number of faculties, so we can share our professional profiles, register our interests, share documents, chat about common interests, work on projects together and find out who is available for delivering new programmes to coporate clients. Sharing links to some key websites would also be a great idea.

I am a big fan of Grou.ps : it actually does provide the simple, single site that Scott Leslie fears we may not be able to lay our hands on yet, and one or two of you have already started to discover how handy it can be for your own group communication needs - for those who haven't yet, explore!!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Virtual conference

On line conference - social networking and learning
I am currently "attending" a conference hosted by Leicester University. It involves a face to face event in January but prior to that there are both synchronous (on line "live" ) sessions and asynchronous ones (discussion forums, podcasts, videos etc).

Today I particpated in a forum discussion about the usefulness of podcasting and was directed to view/hear a few examples. I also watched a recording of a Wimba classroom session where a lecturer facilitated a small group discussion about different on line media in education.

Next week I will be being trained in the basics of Second Life (that's my "avatar" above...) and attending a small group session on line all about mobile learning.

The conference is making me aware of how much scope there is for developing models of e-learning that are not constrained by Blackboard and which give greater freedom to the learner to pick and choose modules/activities.