25 February, 2011

Learning Technology Journals

Inspired by a recent conversation on the ALT-MEMBERS group on JISCMail, I've developed my list of all the Learning Technology related journals that I find interesting or useful.

The list contains:

1. Feeds for the journals so that you can subscribe with a feed reader (e.g. Google Reader).

2. Links to the journals' home pages so you can find articles and information about the journal.

3. Links to the journals' pages in the EHU library catalogue, for Edge Hill University staff and students.

4. The date when we last tweeted about a new issue of the journal in question. This is mostly relevant for me as I also try to tweet around the time that new issues of these journals are published. You could follow #cakesltd on Twitter to get these updates.

I hope this list might be helpful to people who are quite new to this area of using new technology in teaching and learning, and who are wanting to explore the research.

[image by the.Firebottle]

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11 February, 2011

SOLSTICE & CLTR Conference 2011: Call for Abstracts

This year the SOLSTICE and CLTR conferences will be run as one, and the call for abstracts has gone out.

The conference will focus on the enhancement of student learning through evidence informed practices.

Day one, the SOLSTICE 2011 eLearning Conference will focus on effective practices from a Technology Enhanced Learning perspective and will build on the success of the SOLSTICE Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning’s previous conferences which have run over the last 5 years.

Day two, the CLTR 2011 Learning & Teaching Research Conference will focus on innovation and development in higher education learning and teaching practice, which has been at the heart of the CLTR’s mission for the last 9 years.

10 February, 2011

Thoughts on Personal Learning Environments for Formal and Informal Learning

There are various things that the term Personal Learning Environment (PLEs) can refer to, but any definition would look on them as student controlled environments to support either formal or informal learning. Stephen Downes' 2005 E-learning 2.0 article does a good job of talking through the changes that have been taking place over the last decade, which have led us to using and talking about this sort of thing.

We can gain a basic understanding of PLEs by comparing them to VLEs For example:
  • VLEs
    • Managed by institution.
    • Made of a few pieces of software.
    • Owned by Institution.
    • Student uses for the time that they are in formal education.
    • Content mainly provided by institution.
  • PLEs
    • Managed by student
    • Made up of varying numbers of pieces of software, people and networks.
    • Owned by student as far as that is possible
    • Student uses for the time that they are wanting to learn about a topic
    • Content provided by wide variety of people

This is a very simple comparison and Envisioning the Post-LMS Era: The Open Learning Network goes much deeper (see Table 1).

Some are looking at the idea of the Open Learning Network as trying to merge the best of these two 'systems' in a formal setting, with a different Informal Learning Environment as the solution for informal learning or small scale corporate learning.

Exploring these ideas leads me to two questions.

Firstly, can we see our VLE and supporting tools developing to include what an Open Learning Network is, or would we need to develop new systems to support this? I don't feel that I understand the concept enough to comment right now, although the development of the Learning Edge system, which is more than just a VLE, seems like it could be a foundation for something like this.

The second question is how do we support students and staff to develop their own Personal Learning Environment for their own informal lifelong learning. A good starting place would be to work out what it might look like. Sarah Stewart tried to visualise hers and how it changed over several years. If I was to examine mine looking at inputs and outputs from the perspective of work on my SOLSTICE Fellowship I might find:
  • Inputs
    • Face-to-face - Colleagues in the office, other Fellows, academic staff
    • Web content collected by Google Reader - Blogs, conferences, journals
    • Twitter - content and comment from around the sector
    • Personal experiences
  • Outputs
    • Face-to-face - meetings, conferences and conversations
    • Twitter - content and comment
    • Blog posts
    • Reports to institution
    • Relevant research list
    • Delicious bookmarks
Is this what we want a informal PLE to be for our learners? There are specific goals (reports, influencing people to use the technology where it is appropriate), there is communication and reflection about what has been learned (the process of writing blog posts and reports) but in writing this out I see different outputs and can recognise how chaotic this process is.

In conversations in the office it was noted that if we are to support the development of people's PLEs, we really need to know what process individuals go through when using them. There’s not a right or wrong way to manage your inputs (e.g. Web Feeds, Podcasts, Twitter networks, and Bookmarks), but advice on work flow could help people use appropriate tools well.

So it looks to me like we could:
  1. Encourage people to visualise their own PLE in some way to identify what is involved and enable developments.
  2. Raise awareness about various tools that can be used in your informal learning. (e.g. we could run face-to-face and online sessions, publish blog posts).
  3. Encourage sharing of how work-flows can be improved while performing tasks (e.g. using a feed reader rather than visiting dozens of web sites every week to check for updates, backing up your data).

09 February, 2011

2011 Horizon Report: A Quick Overview

I always enjoy reading the new edition of the Horizon report. It’s interesting to see what they think is close to being used in mainstream HE, what is far off, and how things have changed since previous years (2008, 2009, 2010). I don't think that they've been far off in their predictions, although uptake of the technologies by the mainstream has perhaps been a little slower than expected.

This year in the One Year or Less to adoption section we have Electronic Books and Mobiles. In the Two to Three Years to adoption group we have Augmented Reality and Game-Based Learning. Four to Five Years to adoption contains Gesture-Based Computing and Learning Analytics.

Over the next week or so, some of us in LTD hope to write up some thoughts on the report and the individual technologies discussed within.

07 February, 2011

What are the Barriers Preventing Academic Staff from Using New Technologies?

As part of my Postgraduate Certificate I'm starting some research into what the barriers/obstacles are to the use of new technology in teaching and learning in HE. To start with I wanted clues as to which areas might be worth exploring. I also wanted a change to play with Google Moderator, as I've not had a chance yet.

Have a look at the Series that I set up and it'd be great if you could add your own suggestions to it.

If you'd like to think about using Google Moderator with your students ktotheb's video gives you an example of how it could be used, and Penn State University have written an overview.