Medium and message (liveblogging debate round 2)

Today, the OU’s Vice Chancellor, is giving a speech to Council (the OU’s governing body – like the Board of a company) and an internal audience on ‘Scholarship in the Digital Age’.  She will be speaking “about the impact of new technologies, including Web 3.0, on the University’s business: how it affects teaching, research and the student learning experience”.

I’m really encouraged: this is exactly the focus we as a University need to be taking.  And I’m not just saying that because it’s my area and so I obviously think it’s important. (Although there probably is an element of that.)  I’ve said before that the VC is reading the right stuff (e.g. Here Comes Everybody) and there was further proof in the internal publicity for the talk – it was accompanied by a big copy of the xkcd Online Communities map:

But I’m also worried about whether to bring my laptop or not.  Last time I liveblogged from a talk by the VC, people complained – entirely reasonably – that I was disturbing them with my typing – which I was.  I did a post arguing (not entirely clearly) that the fact that such typing was disruptive showed that we have a mountain to climb in getting the OU to where we need to go. The discussion generated more traffic – and blog links – on here than anything else I’ve written, and ended up with me realising that by (inadvertently) reinforcing the stereotype of laptop users as antisocial inconsiderate types, I’d set things back, not forward.

Just to be totally clear: I am not saying that people are wrong when they say they are being disturbed.  They are being disturbed, and that impairs their ability to hear and understand what’s going on.  And with this particular presentation, people who aren’t (yet) natural laptop users and bloggers are the ones who really need to hear it: us techies are the choir the VC is preaching to here.

So do I bring it or not?  If I do, it’ll disturb people.  If I don’t, we lose (some of) the benefits of doing just what (I expect) the VC will be exhorting us to do.

Happily, our Comms team have come up with an excellent compromise: there’ll be a blogger area outside, with a screen showing the VC, and we can hammer away on keyboards to our hearts’ content without disturbing people who find such things distracting.  (There may even be sufficient power sockets!)

It’s not ideal – to exclude this group from the room itself is a little unfortunate.  But I’d rather leave the people inside free of distractions from technology so that they can come to love (appropriately used) technology.

… and I’m also going to try to keep the meta-discussion about liveblogging separate from the actual stuff, at least on here.  I’m sure there’ll be all sorts of stuff on Twitter.

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TEL Away Day: learning activities

Grainne – learning activity competition – we all write learning activities on bits of paper, stuck up on wall around the outside of the room. Everyone rate them *, **, ***. Ask is this giving you good ideas? Online? Web2.0? (All learning activities will go in to Cloudworks.)

Interesting real-world process process similar to social networking/Digg etc – I came late to looking at them and noticed which were the ones with a lot of annotations and paid more attention to those. Which is what the conversation is centring around.

Interesting stuff about appraising ideas about learning activities. Issues about scale and reuse. They are context free, though, which makes it hard to make concrete. As an array of things without a purpose makes it hard to sort or select.

More feedback collected on the IET WetPaint site. 3rd place was Tina about blogs. 2nd was Patrick with the instant video vox pops. 1st was Canan with discrepant events – she gets a box of chocolates.

TEL Away Day: second session

The meeting accounting is running at nearly £2600 as we return from coffee.

Instant feedback from the small groups captured by Patrick’s little video tool as talking heads over coffee. (May be available later online?) There’s a general feeling of skepticism bordering on cynicism about some of them but some enthusiasm. Boundaries between the personal and the professional/work worlds – some people mix them seamlessly (apparently) but some people experience a lack of separation between work and other life as very problematic already.

Patrick is going to suggest things we should do:

  • Let’s give Twitter a try. No compulsion but that’s where people will gather. Follow PlantOUTEL if it’s not already following you (so we can see all the TEL people’s Twitter accounts).
  • Wikis – I did a (private) wiki for last year’s conference – but we can use WetPaint, pbWiki, etc, and there is an IET wiki again. Should use for monthly and quarterly reports.
  • Blogs – encourage people to try – let Juliet/Will know and they’ll put it in to the aggregator.
  • KMi tools – do play with them.  Can we occupy Cohere (Compendium?) to support IET’s ideas?
  • Ning – have a look at the Ning Anesa and Rebecca have set up.

TEL Away Day: New ways of working

At an internal conference thingummy – the TEL group (Technology Enhanced Learning) is my organisational bit of IET (for now).

Patrick is encouraging us to use our laptops and do what we want to do, and he knows (and doesn’t mind) that we’re not all paying complete attention all the time (Martin is deep in something). About 24 people, with about 19 laptops (some have none and some have more than one). Wants us to work in new ways.

Has Tony Hirst’s meeting cost counter running – £1690 already just getting coffee (although £1500 is the meeting room hire). Many techies in one room gives plenty of people who can fix tech issues … but also creates more tech issues to fix. (Sound issues, projector not showing whole screen, etc.)

Grainne: Write down a really great teaching and learning idea – on slips of paper. Pin up on wall, tick ones you like, the winner will get a box of chocolates. Link to Learning Design work and CloudWorks.  (Except lots of people don’t have accounts and Juliet who issues them is off on honeymoon … another tech issue. And Twitter is intermittently giving the FailWhale.)

Patrick: Wikinomics is widely read in the OU.  Lots of people in the room have blogs; only about two have one on the official internal OU blog hosts.

Groupwork – four or five groups, way in which we can adopt open technologies to help us work, what are our preferred ones.

Extensive small group discussion about tools and their use – distinguishing between social, organisational, and purposeful/educational use.  Then a lot of discussion about our experiences of using stuff as diverse as Twitter and Cohere.