Friday, 14 November 2008


Learners and Technology Affordances Group
I really like the perspective of technology affordances and always go back to Gaver’s paper to remind myself where the technology part of the affordances discussion originally came from.

So wayback I was involved in a project which produced some guidance of students using technolgy in learning. What I am trying to do is revisit that work and look at it with modern eyes.

Amongst the ideas which emerged then were an activity gradient - looking at different styles of interactions. I visited each area of the gradient and came up with lots of examples for each stage in the gradient. Not sure where it is now, but I do know that I don’t throw stuff away....

Also Hugh Davis and I produced a (rather clunky) slide show which looked at a day in a life of a student - and showed a few scenarios.

What I want to do now is to make a start on re-populating the stages in the gradient and add in the applications which have emerged since the work we originally did. I am planning to start by populating it myself, but then putting it up onto a wiki and getting people in workshops to elaborate it with me.

Since then too, I have got very much into the ideas of disciplinary differences and have been looking at how teaching and student learning varies across disciplines - and given my home area, of course I have quite a lot of stuff on Computer Science, engineering, technology and cognated disciplines.

These ideas link to work which we are doing on student experience following on from our campus benchmarking exercise in 2007-08. I took these ideas to COOP 2008 and they also link in to the proposal I have just put forward to the ALT2009 Programme Committee to run a student YouTube competition for short videos on the theme of their perceptions of learning.

I guess part of the idea for a YouTube competition came from the Guardian who are running something on this theme with a deadline for December 2008. Its also inspired by some of the whacky videos which our own students via the Student Union at Southampton have produced recently.

Maybe we could put a video-booth on campus which students could use, maybe we should involve the students union who ran the freshers TV stuff. Dave Tarrant is our ECS TV PhD person who may be worth talking to, Jason Allen is an undergrad in ECS who has done Freshers TV.

Not sure how this would work, but if could be an adjunct to the student voices work we are just getting off the ground.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Back in the loop - rant

back in the blogosphere, but not sure for how long
desperately grappling with my online identities
am I a runner?
am I an academic?
am I just plain eccentric?

what I do know is that I have not posted since September partly because I have been doing other things, but also partly because each time I tried to post, the text appeared in Hindi! this was not my intention, but its taken til now to spot the transliteration button at the bottom on the config page and work out that I needed to change it - not that I spent a great deal of time on it you understand, but still it was a barrier

  • And that is what I am interested in from a research point of view.
  • I came back to this blog because I have been editing my home page, and then thinking it would be better to do this via the blog.
  • And then that added another item on the todo list ( which I am currently ignoring) which is that I probably need to separate my online identities.
  • And then that made me think about the fact that I maybe want to register a few more domain names
  • And that reminded me that each domain will need a visual identity
  • and that made me think about a life online, and the fact that I only live it a bit, because I also have a life offline....
and did I mention the really good pages from British Columbia on digital tatoos?
But coming back to the life online, there are a few ideas....

If we are talking about using technology for education, we might need to think about the realities of people's lives.

Academic researchers who live online have a world view which is shaped by their experience, but it aint the world view of joe and joanna public.

I have a list of considerations:
  1. your students do not have the same priorities as you do
  2. it might be dangerous to base our models of how students prefer to learn of the leisure habits of an indeterminate number and proportion of young people
  3. early adopters and early majority have a different experience/perspective to the late majority
  4. educators need to take charge of how they go about educating
  5. the bandwidth of face to face communications can be incredibly high
  6. its a good idea to remove the barriers to learning
  7. learning can only be done a bit at a time
  8. the magic number seven plus or minus one was a good paper, but we might be happier with even less complexity
  9. the map is not the teritory
  10. academic evangelists do not have the same perspective as neophyte learner
Now of course, the technogazers have a valid argument that you should not focus on the implementation problems, but think about the big picture, however, if we are dealing with education here and now, then the human issues actually do matter. So as a future gazer I can say, discount the problems, but as a teacher using the technology I need to understand the problems in order to overcome them. That means, logically that the problems need to be categorised accoding to their impact - half life - will it go away in time if so, how does that change things? does the exisitence of the problem give us insight into something which is important - ie and insight into the learning process?

When I was going through my dilemma of am I a runner/academic/eccentric I was also thinking that its important that I am all of these things.

Talking to my running sisters reminds me that there are lots of people who are not online all the time, do not have routine access, and who have rather clunky models of how inter-webby thing might work. We could think of them affectionately as the world wide plebs
Plebs - definition from the free dictionary
common people, folk, folks - people in general (often used in the plural); "they're just country folk"; "folks around here drink moonshine"; "the common people determine the group character and preserve its customs from one generation to the next"

so here we are back in the life online
some of us have one, some of us don't... some of us who do, are not there all the time

and I am coming back to some old ideas - technology affordances, barriers to learning hmmm...