Thursday, 29 August 2013

#digilit Connecting for learning

Image c/o Mark Hawksey

I am currently wrestling with the planning for my first year module on Digital Literacy (as it is fast becoming) and I am stuck with a dilemma about blogging.

I want to convince students that blogging is A GOOD THING in and of itself - to help them reflect on their learning. But without an incentive (i.e. grades, or at least sweeties) it feels to me unlikely that they will buy this.

I am also suggesting that blogs can be a rich source of service user experience (I teach on a health and social care course) alongside more academic texts, and this I think will be of use to them.

So if I ask them to blog but never read their blogs or offer feedback they will rightly ask "why should I?". And if I do start down that road with 100+ students, have I realistically got the time to invest in such an activity? (er, "NO" is the correct answer to that)

Then this morning I happened on a Tweet from @NikPeachey sharing a link to this MindShift blog piece on the importance of connection:

One common wrinkle with the Donate step in Schneiderman’s framework is that many teachers and students simply launch their products onto the Internet, and most of the time they land like a tree falling in an empty forest. In the best learning environments, sharing work doesn’t just mean posting on the Internet; it means building connections with a wider community, so that sharing becomes part of a set of relationships and patterns of exchange. Mobile computing devices let students take those connections with them wherever they go.
(How Tablets Can Enable Meaningful Connections for Students and Teachers By Justin Reich and Beth Holland)

I don't have the perfect solution as yet, but I do think that the connecting and developing a network bit is what I am really after rather than getting students to write a blog solely with the aim of earning brownie points.

Reich and Holland recommend Twitter as a means of connection:

 a collaboratively produced stream of tweets from students can become a running record of classroom life through pictures, text, questions, and conversations. It also provides a mechanism for modeling the connections that we hope young students will make as they progress in their education.

This fits better with the idea I have already had of encouraging students to work in groups and post outcomes using tweets and hashtags. If I add to this an encouragement to microblog using Twitter (or tweet links to longer published blog posts) AND develop a PLN (personal learning network) on the same platform, this could start to look like a plan.....

The serendipity element of Twitter which brought this tweet into my consciousness this morning is the very thing I want to convince students about. The stuff people share has a direct impact on my practice, practically every time I open up Twitter. And I know from retweets, replies and post views that sharing my own struggles and discoveries has some impact on others. This feedback loop is what keeps me motivated to go on learning, developing, sharing.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

#digilit #digitalidentity 2FB or not 2FB?

My relationship with Facebook is undergoing a change. I have set up a closed group for incoming first year students and we have 40 members already, with still a month to go until Induction. Also, unlike last year's experiment with a FB Page, there is quite a bit of discussion and some messaging going on which is mainly around joining and preparing for the course. We don't have any student mentors on the group as yet as we are still in the process of recruiting these for our Digital Literacy project, but I am hoping once they are on board we (tutors) can relinquish control and quietly slip away.

On a personal & professional level I also sense a change. In the last few months I have joined more professional FB groups, liked a lot of education related FB Pages and find myself sharing posts from fellow educators and techie types whose posts I find relevant and interesting - much like on Twitter.

Twitter would still be my first port of call for interesting ed tech links but it is surprising how much goodness is emerging from good old FB. Earlier this year I had considered leaving it all together but now I'm possibly more hooked than ever.

Apart from the whole student engagement advantage of having a new students' Facebook group, my aim is also to use the group in my teaching this year - in particular to kick start a debate about digital citizenship and digital identity.

A resource I am planning to use is the "This is Me" workbook  which draws on examples of profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In and asks students (or health care professionals or the retired etc) to consider the impact of their own public digital personas. It's a really useful and simple downloadable text which should work well as either a class based or homework activity.