What am I?

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

2015 End of year musings ...

I just realised that throughout the year 2015 I've been guilty of not following one of the good practice guidelines for running a blog, which is 'to update regularly'.

What might be the reasons for this? Normally, I would simply resort to the usual excuse of 'not enough time in the day'. But when looking at my posting history I have to admit that I wrote more when I had less time. Which seems to indicate that 'less time' equals 'more things going on', and hence there would be more to write about. There's a suspicion lurking in the back of my mind that some kind of procrastination has started. My original enthusiasm for using the positive potential of technology for learning and teaching might have been dampened by routine and 'business as usual', perhaps? Which, in turn, would follow a current trend in learning technologies? There's still a lot of work to be done, but how much of it is now 'just stuff that needs to be done' as opposed to being creative, inventive, innovative?

What kind of things spring to mind to help me remedy this situation? Here's at least one, just to make a start: Very recently, I attended a short video course at filmoxford as part of my continuous professional development. It was an extremely positive experience, due to a variety of factors. Firstly, we had a very capable and enthusiastic course tutor, Zoe Broughton. Also, I felt very lucky regarding the topic chosen for the short film sequence we had to produce in groups: we had the chance to work together with Jane and Jason. Jane has MS, and Jason is her canine partner. Both patiently went along with us for hours on end to produce footage for the sequence. Please see for yourself - here's a link to a short sequence about Jane and Jason:



Video production is obviously one of the technologies which recently have become a lot more accessible and easy to use. I've seen it put to extremely good use in one of our modules here in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, where Physiotherapy students produced videos demonstrating treatment techniques ... There might be potential for workshops and tutorials for people who don't feel comfortable with just 'doing it'?

I'm going to review the situation, and make a fresh start in January ... I've got the feeling the enthusiasm isn't quite dead yet. It just needs some TLC to resurface!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Flying through the solar system is one thing, but ...

A while ago, we had a "Future tech hands on workshop" in our Learning Technologists group, which I (and I think most of the others, too) enjoyed thoroughly, and we further explored their potential in learning, please see 'Learning Technologists eploring VR'. We discovered that you can fly through the solar system on Oculus Rift, become a virtual artist with 'LeapMotion' and embark on virtual journeys with Google Cardboard, which "anyone can build or buy".

I enjoyed 'flying through the solar system on Oculus Rift' and I can imagine how VR could potentially be used in education. But: All these fascinating gadgets are nothing but tools. With regard to education this means their 'worth' much depends on who uses them, and how they are being used, what for ... And the most pressing question is: people who work in HE might have the time for little taster sessions, but do they have the time to have a go at seriously considering and possibly even implementing these 'gadgets' in learning and teaching?

It seems to me that the use of learning technology has arrived on a kind of 'plateau'. VLEs are now a 'normal' part of the routine business at universities. Like all technology the potential of VLEs by far exceeds the reality of how and for what they are being used in practice. The term 'learing technology' is more and more being replaced in conversations, presentations and talks by 'technology enhanced' learning. I'd like to have a closer look at the 'enhancement' that should take place via the integration of technology in the learning process. What exactly has been enhanced, by how much, and in which areas? There's a lot of research taking place, and I intend to get more involved with ELESIG (Evaluation of Learner's experience of eLearning) again, after a long break.

Monday, 23 March 2015

IT infrastructure ...

Just read a short blog entry about 'Universities struggle with IT', see http://edtechnology.co.uk/Article/universities-struggle-with-it #edtech

While I do (obviously) agree with the statement that a sound IT infrastructure enhances the student learning experience, I do not like the way this entry (almost) suggests that student learning works out well when an excellent IT infrastructure is guaranteed. Ideally, a decent IT infrastructure delivers what I would call the 'basics', from where we should move on. Too much of what used to be 'new technology' is now 'embedded' - so much so that the question arises, "if it is pushing boundaries or simply ossifying business-as-usual, petrifying forms of practice we assumed the ‘new’ of digital would disrupt!", as David White states in Post-digital revisited.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Contemplating options

We've been acquiring  new kit recently, all in the name of 'lecture capture'. This serves as an umbrella term for all sorts of things, starting from straightforward lecture recording to 'flipping the classroom'. The latter is still often used for the delivery of audio-narrated PowerPoints via the VLE, which has its place in the context of providing more time for seminars and discussions ...

The next step, of course, is all about making best use of the kit. First of all, we'll need to publicise that it is available, what can be done with it, how it will be supported. The question I'm asking myself first of all: Will it be welcome? It seems kind of a difficult task to give it its 'rightful' place in the context of learning and teaching, rather than either having it considered as an extra 'burden', or something that can 'rationalise' the provision, make it more streamline, convient, easy? How can people remember slightly complicated setups, like for example the use of  a camcorder, a 'swivl', a mic in combination with MyMediasite, when they will only use them very occasionally? I had some trouble yesterday, with simple editing steps in Adobe Premiere, because it's almost a year ago that I last used this powerful tool. It felt a bit like starting from scratch all over again, even for me, who should be used to technology of all kinds ... Admittedly, this post is literally just a musing, no more and no less. And realising in the process that lecture capture still has to find its place in all respects.

Monday, 26 January 2015

No looking back?

In one of my previous blog entries I was puzzled by 'split-second' decisions to be made in answer to the question 'which tool?'. My puzzlement hasn't dissolved, rather it did increase. While working with technologies in learning and teaching I increasingly miss the time to 'look back', or, in more fashionable words: to reflect on what we are doing in TEL these days, and - more importantly - why we're doing it.

So, reflective practice seems to be more difficult in an area which develops continuously at a rather fast pace. Additionally, a constant 'trouble shooting' approach dominates in the world of digital technology. Systems have flaws, and users forget, or there's too much demand at peak times: the possibilities and the resulting calls for help are numerous for people working as supporters and developers of technology.

So, there's a need for setting time aside, not only to keep up-to-date with emerging technologies, with new and creative applications and use of technology in learning and teaching, but also to take stock of what has happened in my own practice so far.