VoiceThread and evolving communication

April 27, 2009

Kevin Burden and I gave a short paper at ASCILITE in Melbourne Dec08 called “Evaluating Pedagogical ‘Affordances’ of Media Sharing Web 2.0 Technologies: a case study”. In the paper we looked particulalry at how the DiAL-e Framework might be used to explore the opportunities of a particular tool, in this case Voicethread. Off the back of that we bagan to get rather interested in how the various Web 2.0 technologies are actually chnaging the way people think about communication. We’re writing that up now and part of the process is to use the tool to talk about the tool! So Kevin has created a VoiceThread called “How is VoiceThread changing our ideas about communication? “

I’ve embedded the VoiceThread below. It’s free to sign up and make contributions. Although we’re looking for people to share their existing expereinces, the novice perspective is also welcome. Making comments is really simple and you can delete and re-record as many times as you like.
If you didn’t know already……
A VoiceThread is an online media album that allows a group of people to make comments on images, videos, and documents, really simply. You can participate 5 different ways – using your voice (with a microphone or telephone), text, audio file, or video (with a webcam). It’s easy to control who can access and comment on a VoiceThread, which makes it a secure place to talk about almost anything: business and academic presentations, travelogues, family history, art critiques, language study, tutorials, book clubs and digital storytelling. A VoiceThread allows an entire group conversation to be collected from anywhere in the world and then shared in one simple place.

So here’s our invitation to a dialogue ! How is VoiceThread changing our ideas about communication?


Cognitive Guidance….

April 27, 2009

From information delivery to cognitive guidance…. how’s that for a workshop title. I’m working up my notes for Wednesday, looking back on some great resources produced by Lynn Saville and her team at the University of Hull and various pieces by Richard Mayer. All those coffee conversations about poorly presented seminars and lectures and now I am actually being asked to tak about that to a willing audience ! So Auckland Wednesday…very early start and will be a long day.


Transferring practice to alternative contexts

April 24, 2009

The other concern about ‘transferring practice to alternative contexts’ has arisen in connection with staff asking about the ‘online delivery of lectures’. It looks like institutionally there will be some support for Adobe Connect but whether staff are in a position to use it effectively will depend on a range of external factors. I’m preparing for a couple of PD events on the PowerPoint->Presenter->Connect equation and again, it raises a number of interesting issues.

Why! The educational developers favourite question (were we all those kids at the pool and in the supermarket queue going’but whhyyyyyy’ to parents great irritation?)  Why do you want to ‘deliver the lecture’ online. Why is it a lecture? Why is the student going to benefit from this mode of delivery. I’m looking at some interesting uses of PowerPoint/Presenter as stand alone resources which might be seen as multi-modal workbooks, animated, engaging

objects which stand-alone for the student. These might then indeed have some kind of facilitated discourse around them, and that may well happen inside Connect so the presentation (or an alternative version of it) might be shared and annotated, referenced and so on. I am struggling with the concept that the online synchronous ‘presentation’ is an effective use of the student, or lecturers, time. Why (there’s that word again!) would one take the time to present. Maybe it relates in part to the fact that in our face-to-face practice we can ‘half-prepare’ the representation because we often ‘busk’ around the edges. If we want to create a genuinely usefully internally scaffolded and referenced presentation… well that takes real work.

Do most academic staff consider these issues of internal structure to their content? Or are they so used to deal with a linear information exchange model that they just don’t think about it. Who can blame them? How do we change that. How do we move from the ‘Sage on the Stage’ approach to the ‘content author/facilitator’ model on an institutional basis.

Simon Atkinson (the old Open University mug!)

Sequencing, pause, reflection and action in learning materials

April 24, 2009

Working this week with a variety of practical tools to develop learning content and thinking seriously about how they are structured, internally referenced, and where the opportunities for scaffolding professional development within them might be. This seems easiest at first glance with the Frontpage eXe editing tool which creates reasonable XHTML code and has a variety of expert options including IMS/SCORM packages that work fine in Moodle at least. However, it raises some really interesting questions about ‘how’, in practice, most academic staff actually build the materials they use in their teaching. Here I’ve been dealing with content written in word and passed to an administrative member of staff who has ‘transferred’ it into eXe. There are clear issues with awful Mso code being imported which is tiresome to get rid of.

More interesting is perhaps the mismatch or disjuncture in the authoring process for Word than for the delivery environment. We may NOT want academic staff authoring content direct into the VLE, but we need them close enough to the delivery context to understand the issues of sequencing, pause, reflection and action. The argument might be for the development of a more structured ‘template’ for each authoring environment, and indeed the professional conversation with authoring teams around the development of a template would in itself prove valuable. My own development of the these MS-Word-> eXe materials for one specific undergraduate course makes me think there must be a better way. Just need more time to think about what it might be.


Must learn to focus…

April 20, 2009

My own writing has been the focus the last couple of days. I’ve been struggling with a personally tendency towards the theoretical and philosophical ramblings of a prematurely aging ‘whatever I am’ and the need to develop something more substantial. I have memories of my primary school teachers telling my parents “Simon would do well if he could just focus”, so here I am still very unfocussed and just to damn interested in everything! In recent days I’ve been codifying the DiAL-e learning designs in PowerPoint with a view to sharing them through Slideshare and through the DiAL-e Wiki.

It’s an interesting process trying to establish how much guidance and support each individual teacher is likely to need. Can we assume that they can deconstruct a learning object for themselves or should be give it them in a form which essentially lists the manifest like a contents page. I’m thinking about how this relates to the professional development (PD) programmes I need to run here at Massey to support the uptake of the institutional Moodle implementation. How does one walk that fine line between patronising the insightful and leading the blind. I’m still inclined to give individuals a toolkit, some kind of ‘take-away’, but one still has to make sure ‘they get it’. My concern today is ‘how do I get staff to think about using Adobe Presenter effectively when I’m not sure their PowerPoint is up to the task’.


Anybody Out There?

April 20, 2009

snapshot-2009-04-20-13-52-012

I’m re-engaging with Second Life. Why? Well partly I like torturing myself in a slightly masochistic sense by visiting all these mammoth University Campus islands with their beautifully designed (empty) lecture theatres and marvel at the idea that so many bright people could have so spectacularly missed the point. But I also feel that I should be giving Vision FLux (yes, that’s my SL name) a little bit more of a run. I fancy Vision is getting somewhat wide around the waist and needs a little more exercise. I have been in SL on and off since 2006 and I still don’t think I’ve quite come to terms with that identity. Needs work.


Literally inspiring

April 14, 2009

Had an interesting meeting with staff at SouthPacificPress on the 14th. They produce some really interesting materials to support literacy development in a classroom context called CSI (Comprehension Strategies Instruction), blending PD for staff with learner resource. The ‘interactive’ dimension is relatively limited but not inappropriate given that it is all teacher-led. It was interesting to see that proprietary interactive software being used to protect IPR. It made me think about the effectiveness of teaching literacy and writing and the idea that one can separate the two. As I left I couldn’t help thinking about the improvements in literacy through creative writing workshops using ‘itinerant’ teachers (‘resting’ authors mostly) in the ‘Valencia 826’ project.

It made me go back and watch again the inspirational clip on TED.COM of its originator Dave Eggers: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/dave_eggers_makes_his_ted_prize_wish_once_upon_a_school.html

It was a very interesting conversation. To come from last weeks focus on OER to be talking about the needs and concerns of publishers, investing a lot in resource development, was very thought provoking.


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