Friday, 29 November 2013

Summary of NADP conference, 28th Nov 2013

National Association of Disability Practitioners
National Association of Disability Practitioners
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend an event put on by the National Association of Disability Practitioners in Birmingham. The focus of the event was the use of social media in the context of disability support services and we were fortunate enough to have two excellent speakers, Matt East from Anglia Ruskin University and Terry McAndrew from JISC TechDis. This blog post begins with five things I learned during the day, then goes on to provide a summary of the key points from both sessions and links to some of the online resources highlighted during the sessions.

Five things I learned at the NADP conference

1. Students increasingly expect to access resources via social media

This implies that support departments may need to communicate via an appropriate social media platform in order to maximise their reach and impact. However, choosing an appropriate platform is key in order to avoid issues of involuntary disclosure of a disability.

2. The growing ‘App Mentality’ has significant implications for student learning

This mentality is potentially causing students to be more critical and demanding of available services. Some of the quotes included “I want everything I need in one place”, “if I download an app and it doesn’t work first time, I delete it”, and, “I want information personalised to me”.

3. The preferred search engine for 16-24 year olds is YouTube
This statistic shows that students are very comfortable with consuming information in video format. Support departments could harness this by creating short videos about their services, and potentially turn these into a YouTube ‘channel’ to make it easier for students to find and understand them.

4. Transmissive teaching is not accessible
Wherever possible we need to encourage approaches to teaching which encourage participation. This has benefits for all students, not just those with disabilities.

5. Age and disability are not significant factors in determining whether someone becomes a ‘resident’ in a network
Research by Le Cornu and White (2011) indicated that social, participatory learning spaces provide a means for students to create a different identity. These spaces can empower non-traditional learners and those with disabilities as they prevent others from judging them on their appearance.

Summary of presentations


Matt East – Anglia Ruskin University

Matt argued that social media is a key factor in our successful engagement with students as it enables them to access support services in a way with which they are familiar and comfortable. The above Prezi contains some informative videos which provide a useful insight into the world of social media.

Matt shared a quote from a student who had revealed that, “using Twitter has become my first port of call rather than using the Library in many cases”. Typing a search term into Twitter will almost always bring up a list of useful resources ranging from social (blog posts and videos) to academic (journals and e-Books). This suggests that support departments who are seeking to raise awareness of their services would do well to ensuring that they were discoverable on social media platforms. An example might be regular tweets containing links back to departmental web pages, blogs and online resources.

However, use of certain platforms such as Facebook did raise issues of disclosure, particularly for students with disabilities. For instance, a significant attraction of social media is that it enables people to assume an online identity that is different from their physical identity. Consequently, a Disability support department might reasonably aim to push out their service on Facebook because they know a large percentage of students will see it. But if a student were to ‘like’ this page this could suggest to others - rightly or wrongly - that they have a disability, as their friends would see that they had liked this particular page. This highlights the importance of choosing a social media platform that is appropriate both to your needs and to those of your intended audience. For this example, Twitter was cited as a potential alternative as it is less ‘personal’ than Facebook – in other words, there is potentially a smaller reputational risk for a student who follows a Disability services Twitter feed.

Matt also drew attention to the excellent AMMOSSHE Social Media Toolkit. This provides helpful advice and guidance for anyone considering greater usage of social media. The toolkit contains both strategic advice for managers and departments as well as more practical tips for staff.

Terry McAndrew - TechDis

This presentation highlighted both the high-level, strategic aspects of social media use for institutions as well as providing links to a range of useful TechDis resources on accessibility. Terry reinforced the point that, when using social media, students with a disability often don’t want to let on that they have a disability. Highlighting the research by Vaughn and White?? around Digital Residents and Digital Visitors which revealed that neither age nor disability are significant factors in determining whether someone becomes a ‘resident’ in a network – i.e. becomes a regular contributor. This suggests that using social media provides an opportunity to widen participation, communication and learning experiences, and it is therefore important that universities maximise their usage of social networks.

Below are some of the key resources that Terry highlighted:
  • Concept Linkage - this tool enables students to enter two different search terms. The tool then creates a visual map of all the potential linkages between the two terms, and could be useful in helping all students find out ‘what they don’t know’ about a topic.
  • Web2Access - great resource by Southampton University which evaluates a range of freely available Web 2.0 tools. The Disabilities page also contains a wealth of diagnostic tests to help you match an appropriate learning tool to a disability.
  • Access For All - enables you to download a PDF Accessibility Checker, making it easier for you to check the accessibility of PDF documents.  
  • Flexible Pedagogies: new pedagogical ideas - a report by the Higher Education academy into new pedagogical ideas, including social learning, learner empowerment, crossing boundaries and decolonising education.

Me – Digital Curation: how to make social media work for you

Due to a gap in the programme I also jumped in during the afternoon slot and provided a short workshop on Digital Curation. The aim of the session was to introduce participants to some practical social media tools that they begin using in their professional activities. The session introduced a simple three-stage framework to inform usage of social media - Discover, Curate, Share – with a view to providing a reason for participants to engage with social media. My main aim was to encourage people not to fear social media but rather to get involved and have a go. Only by doing so do the benefits become more evident.

The resources for my session can be found on the Digital Curation page of this blog, and I must thank Sue Waters for sharing her excellent blog post with me on which my page is based.

Thank you also to the NADP for organising a thoroughly informative and enjoyable day.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Friday, 1 November 2013

We hear you Russell, but what's the alternative?

Jeremy Paxman's recent Newsnight interview of Russell Brand provided a platform for the comedian to wax lyrical about the woes of the current political system. The second half of the interview highlighted Brand's ability to be a convincing public speaker. After all, it takes an agile mind and flawless delivery to render Paxman at a loss for words. 

But what was worrying was Brand's call for revolution without presenting any suggestion of an alternative system of government. There have been many figures in history capable of stirring an otherwise passive public to rise up against the status quo, but these speeches usually include a proposition for an alternative system of government. To me it feels irresponsible for Brand to call for a revolution without offering a corresponding vision for how things might be different.

What struck me most about the interview, however, were the parallels between Brand's portrayal of dissatisfaction with democracy and the current debates around the future of higher education. In recent months a significant amount has been written about the viability of the current university model. Topics of concern range from the sustainability of rising fees to the impact of MOOCs and new technologies on student expectations. Anyone new to the higher education sector reading these articles could easily believe that the entire system was on the brink of a revolution.

But what is lacking, in the same way as in Brand's interview, is a convincing view of an alternative vision of higher education. While few would argue that there is no shortage of innovative ideas, pedagogic models or technologies, there is a surprising lack of debate around what an alternative system of higher education might look like. In much the same way as western democracy, western higher education has been exported across the globe. Despite its flaws, many countries strive to replicate the western university model.

The world needs people like Russell Brand and the thousands of commentators who are able to articulate the faults with our current systems of government and education. But the debate would also benefit from the voice those who are able to present a convincing alternative.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Knowledge + knowing = innovation

I've just finished reading a dense yet highly insightful article by Cook and Brown (1999) about the nature of knowledge and its relationship to organisational innovation. Although the article was written in a pre-social media age (hard to imagine now), like any great research it contains powerful insights that are highly relevant in today's world where use of social tools by businesses is growing exponentially. This post is an attempt to interpret aspects of their article and apply it to social business, but I would highly recommend reading the original research (reference at the end of the post).

Cook and Brown argue that there are four different types of knowledge: explicit, tacit, individual and group. Each type of knowledge is distinctly different and each fulfills a function that the others cannot.
  • Explicit knowledge can be understood as "knowledge that can be spelled out or formalised"
  • Tacit knowledge is associated with skills or know-how
  • Individual knowledge is that stored in the minds of individuals
  • Group knowledge constitutes the 'body of knowledge' possessed by a specialist group or community of practice
'Knowledge' and 'Knowing' are also understood as two separate concepts, with each enabling the other. Knowledge can be viewed as something that individuals or groups possess, and Knowing constitutes the application of this knowledge in a form of action by groups and individuals interacting with each other and the physical world. In this sense, Knowledge is positioned as a tool of Knowing with each enabling the other.

The key aspect of this interpretation is Cook and Brown's belief that the interaction between knowledge and knowing constitutes a powerful driver of innovation in organisations. Of particular significance is their argument that "harnessing this innovation calls for organisational and technological infrastructures that support the interplay of knowledge and knowing" (1999: 381).

Why is this relevant in the age of social media?

The use of social media tools in organizations can be seen as constituting precisely this sort of infrastructure, as these tools enable employees and managers to access, manage and make use of the "intellectual capital" of the organisation. Implementing a means to access the tacit and explicit knowledge that resides in both individuals and groups enables managers to tap into the creative potential of the workforce. This rich knowledge can then be applied to help the organization generate innovative ideas, products or solutions. The ease with which organisations are able to tap into this creative potential is likely to increase their competitive advantage and ultimately render them more innovative.

The recent report by the Altimeter Group about the Evolution of Social Business suggests that there is a distinct gap between businesses that are implementing a social media strategy and those that are 'deeply integrating social media and social methodologies throughout the company to drive real business impact' (full report below). The research indicated a truly social business has an approach to social which:
  1. is clearly aligned with strategic business goals of an ogranisation
  2. has organisational alignment and support that enables the execution of that strategy.
After surveying nearly 700 social media professionals and executives the research also found that only 34% of businesses believed that their approach to social media was connected to the goals and objectives of the business. And more worryingly, the report uncovered that 'half of all executives are not informed, engaged or aligned with their company's social media strategies in any capacity'.

There is a clear need for senior executives in businesses and organisations to understand the competitive advantage that social tools can leverage. The alignment of social tools with strategic objectives can significantly increase the potential for an organisation to harness the rich creative potential of its workforce. Using social tools, organisations can access the 'knowledge' residing in individuals and groups and turn it into the 'knowing' that can bring real innovation.


Cook, S. D. N. and Brown, J.S. (1999) Bridging Epistemologies: The Generative Dance Between Organizational Knowledge and Organizational Knowing. Organisation Science, Jul/Aug 1999, Vol. 10, No. 4. pp.381-400.

Li, C. and Solis, B. (2013) The Evolution of Social Business; Six Stages of Social Business Transformation. Altimeter Group 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Higher Education, MOOCs and global fluency

What is the purpose of Higher Education? I don't pretend to have the answer - after all, it isn't a simple question. But having read George Siemens' recent assessment of the debate around MOOCs it strikes me that the unwillingness of Higher Education to respond to the networked environment is at the heart of its existential crisis:

Today's students are in some way connected almost every hour that they are awake. But while they (and we) are using 21st century technologies to access knowledge the majority are being forced to learn according to 20th century delivery models.

According to Siemens (2013)...                  ...but from what I'm reading...

That's not to say there aren't some interesting innovations. The adoption of competency-based learning frameworks at several US universities is just one example of an innovative response to the challenges of higher fees. But these are tempered by worrying stories of entrenchment, such as the recent news from Duke University that Faculty have rejected a plan to enable graduates to gain credits for online courses. Then again, if it is true that "digital literacies are still too chaotic and random a concept... to deal with at a senior level" then it is unsurprising that the paradigm shift represented by MOOCs is a conceptual leap too far for many universities at present.

But in business, if your customers get networked, social, self-organised, adaptive and global, and you don't, you days are numbered.

Remaining relevant

If Higher Education is to remain relevant to the future needs of its students it will have to accept the fact that a new delivery model is needed, perhaps even several. Bonnie Stewart observes that MOOCs are a symptom of the change currently taking place in HE rather than the source, and makes a strong argument that universities should be seeking to adapt in response to the new ways of knowing and learning that the networked era has created. We've already been warned that an avalanche is coming, and MOOCs currently represent the first flurry of snow. But whether the snow settles or not, MOOCs will be followed by innovation after innovation, each potentially more disruptive than the last, until traditional models of Higher Education disappear under a glacier. Grainne Conole's paper calling for a new classification of MOOCs is a positive step towards convincing university decision makers of their value in terms of pedagogy and social inclusion.

50 years ago the top 5% of school leavers went to university to become professors and push the boundaries of knowledge. In today's society the top 50% of school leavers go to university to avoid being in the bottom 50% of wage-earners. But despite this, many Higher Education Institutions are clinging to an operational model that belongs in the previous century and are unwilling to accept the changes that digital technology has forced upon the music and publishing industries. And look what happened to them.

The purpose of Higher Education

It is clear that universities fulfil a complex function in today's society. Although it can be argued that the traditional view of Higher Education as a public good unto itself is largely outdated, nobody is advocating that universities' sole focus should be on employability. But it is important to realise that the overwhelming majority of students go to university in order to access more highly paid jobs than would otherwise be possible.

Higher Education should therefore aim to prepare Bachelors students for the changing world of work, while at the same time providing postgraduate students with an environment in which they can develop the base knowledge of their disciplinary area. Graduates should leave feeling confident that their investment has prepared them for a wide range of jobs, rather than fearing their degree was a waste of time. Business should be able to have confidence that the majority of applications they receive will come from candidates who are literate, capable and appropriately skilled.

Universities could be better at aligning some aspects of their provision more directly with the needs of the global economy. The Higher Education Academy highlights the value of skills such as creativity to employers, but at the same time states that universities need to articulate more explicitly the 21st century skills that students are learning during their course.Students considering a Bachelors degree should have a clear understanding of how the course will equip them with the skills and abilities to obtain a good job. Graduates at Bachelors level should then be able to demonstrate the skills and literacies they need in order to be globally fluent and able to succeed in the global economy, incorporating:
  • creative & critical thinking
  • collaboration
  • network and social media literacy
  • information literacy
  • knowledge management
  • connected leadership

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Could Competency Based Learning give MOOCs longevity?

Just came across an interesting post on Edudemic explaining how competency based learning (CBL) works. Essentially, a CBL-based curriculum requires students to demonstrate competency in the required areas of learning regardless of the amount of time spent on a given task. This means that students can determine their own rate of progress, moving rapidly through certain areas of the curriculum if they can demonstrate their mastery of the required content.

This seems to me to be an ideal academic framework for MOOCs to thrive. A curriculum designer would create the learning tasks that students have to master, and then it would be up to the student to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to demonstrate their competence in the specified areas. As the Edudemic posts suggests, the role of the tutor then becomes that of a facilitator, providing 'office hours' for students in which they can discuss their progress.

The spiralling cost of Higher Ed in the West is causing many students to question the value of a university education unless they leave with the 21st century skills necessary to make them employable. MOOCs have already demonstrated the potential to offer a low-cost alternative to the spiralling cost of Higher Ed, and even if MOOC providers were to introduce a nominal fee it would be much less than the cost that students currently face. A CBL curriculum would enable students to use MOOCs to gain the knowledge they require to learn the competencies they need, and provide a reason for Higher Ed institutions to keep providing them. A university would then split its core function of teaching and assessment: it might not accredit the students who participate in its MOOCs, but could provide accreditation to students who have participated in the MOOCs of another university.

I'm thinking off the top of my head here, so feel free to add your thoughts and comments...

Competency-based Education

Friday, 28 June 2013

Global fluency and the need for 21st Century skills

I keep reading articles full of alarmist rhetoric such as 'Higher Education is broken', or that 'An Avalanche is Coming'. Following a recent visit to the Google and Hewlett-Packard campuses in Palo Alto I'm beginning to understand why.

As a member of the International Microsummits delegation, the aim of the visit was to discuss how the needs of Business, Education and Government could be aligned more coherently. We were fortunate enough to meet with Jim Vanides, Educational Programme Manager for Hewlett-Packard, whose work on STEMx education is gaining traction in both educational and business spheres. Jim believes that the current focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is too narrow and risks depriving students of the skills that they really need to be successful graduates. Amongst others, these skills include:

  • Global Fluency
  • Global Citizenship
  • Digital Literacy
  • Collaboration
  • Knowledge Management
  • Community Management
  • Connected Leadership

Adapting a model found on the Langwitches blog, I'm trying to unpick the notion of Global Fluency and what it means for Higher Education in terms of skills and literacies (this is a work in progress):

Harold Jarche makes a strong case that in the new world of work the network is the solution. Business and the global economy need workers, managers and leaders who can organise information and work collaboratively to find rapid solutions to complex problems. Higher Education has a clear responsibility to equip students with the necessary skills. This can be achieved without universities simply becoming training institutions, but curriculum development needs to clearly articulate where these skills are being taught during a programme of learning. 

It's a win-win: students can see more clearly how their investment will prepare them for the new world of work, and Higher Ed can respond to criticisms that it is not adapting to the shifting demands of the global workplace.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Massive Opportunity Of Course: transforming global learning with MOOCs

This article first appeared on the International Mircosummits website.

MOOCs? Bit of a fad, aren't they? We'll probably be talking about something else this time next year. Or will we? The continual appearance of new MOOCs and growth of platforms such as Cousera and Udacity suggests that they might be around for some time to come. But what does this mean for Higher Education, and what could be the potential impact of the MOOC on global learning?
As the cost of higher education in the western world continues to rise, even parents with deep pockets are beginning to question its affordability and value. And with Ivy-League universities such as Harvard charging upwards of $70,000 a year, who can blame them? In the UK there have been calls to reduce fees for students who attend a local university in order to make the cost of obtaining a university degree more bearable. But if an aim of a university degree is to help you become a 'global citizen', then the spiralling cost of Higher Education risks denying many students the opportunity of a global, inter-cultural learning experience. Faced with the prospect of crippling debt, there is a risk that the overseas students who would contribute to the development os a university's global community will instead choose to study in their country of origin.
Enter the MOOC. Although their honeymoon period is only just drawing to a close, MOOCs have already demonstrated their potential to facilitate learning on an international scale, drawing together hundreds of thousands of learners across the globe. If global citizenship is an aim of a university degree, then surely having an ambition to bring teachers and students together globally is a good place to start? Although awarding credit for participation in MOOCs is still an issue, some institutions such as the UK's Edge Hill University are already developing mechanisms to offer credits for studies completed through a MOOC.

Those educators who have embraced the concept understand that for their students, the opportunity to participate in a global community of learners is too good to pass up. The connected nature of learning in a MOOC provides enormous opportunities to expose students to global attitudes and diverse opinions that are not solely derived from a western perspective. Research has indicated that some of the main non-monetary benefits of global learning include a reduction in xenophobia and cultural stereotyping, creation of international good-will through collaborative team projects, and the development and nurturing of intercultural and social capital.
But what about the learning? Well, if you haven't seen it already this video features the opinions of leading ecuationalists and thinkers about the changing nature of learning in a networked society:


New skills


Higher Education's monopoly on credibility could also be in the early stages of decline. Michael Ellsberg points out that while for many years employability has depended upon the credibility of obtaining qualifications (preferably from a fancy university), the business world is increasingly measuring credibility by a changing yardstick. Companies now take very seriously a candidate's ability to build professional networks, write informed and informative blog posts, and develop legitimate, healthy followings on Twitter and other social media platforms. These skills are precisely those that participation in a MOOC support as they drive learners to be independent, inquisitive and informed.

The Open Educational Resources that feature in many MOOCs have come under scrutiny in recent months, with questions being raised about the general level of quality and sustainability of OERs. This is a valid point - who will monitor and update these OERs in the same way that textbooks are updated? But to criticise OERs for their quality is to miss the point: ten years ago it was difficult to find anything like the quality of resources that can now be accessed online. Admittedly the quality can vary, but shouldn't we then as educators not be focusing on helping our students develop digital literacies so that they have the skills to critique and evaluate the quality of these resources for themselves? To continue thinking in a 20th century mindset where 'someone else' is responsible for evaluating and updating educational resources is dangerous. If we are truly to prepare students to succeed in the 21st century they will require the ability to take control of their own education and teach themselves the skills and knowledge required for their new world or work.

Much has been written about the failure of technology to have a significant impact on transforming learning. But ask the international students who are accessing top quality resources via a MOOC whether technology is failing and they may well provide a different viewpoint. There continues to be much debate about the impact MOOCs will have on the current model of Higher Education. But what has already been demonstrated is the desire of many educators to give away their knowledge for free, sharing it with anyone who is interested for the altruistic benefit of educating humanity. It may be that the concept of the MOOC is a passing fad, and we may well be talking about something else this time next year. But for the time being MOOCs have the potential to bring about a paradigm shift in the delivery of Higher Education at a global level. And for a lot less than $70,000 a year.

Friday, 17 May 2013

4 reasons to build an online undergraduate learning community

Why would you want to create an online learning community? Social media? Blogging? Pah, that's for the kids. What benefits to learning can be brought by chatting away at all hours of the night?

And yet, for the generation of students now entering university, social online interaction is as much a part of the fabric of their life as, well, their t-shirt. Social media is arguably the ultimate manifestation of social constructivist forms of learning as first proposed by Vygotsky (1978). If learning is a process of constructing understanding through discussion with others, then it's hard to deny that social media has increased learning opportunities exponentially. And whether tutors choose to explore these opportunities or not, students will continue to access information through social channels in order to enhance their learning.

So how does this relate to teaching and learning in Higher Education? This article sets out five reasons why building an online community of learners can be beneficial to your students.

1. Help students adjust to university life

click to enlarge
The transition from school to university can be a difficult journey, with some students experiencing a feeling of 'culture shock' (Oberg, 1960). The diversity of the student body suggests that the behaviour of students can be attributed to a broad range of psychological theories. Students will only get the most out of their university experience and become successful, independent learners - akin to what Maslow (1954) described as 'self-actualisation' - if their basic needs are met.

Building an online community around students' experience provides them with a supportive social structure, helping cultivate a sense of belonging in the crucial early stages of a course. This can be a key factor in improving retention, particularly for international students who are grappling with unfamiliar surroundings (Sovic, 2008), with the discussion in the community showing the student that they are not alone and share common concerns with their peers.

2. Increase peer-supported learning

An online community makes it possible for students to form friendships quickly, overcoming issues of shyness and confidence, and provides a forum where students can ask questions and share information outside of the classroom. The community space provides a forum in which students can answer each other's questions, thus reducing the amount of queries directed at the tutor.

Cultivating an online community around a course also enables students from all cohorts to interact. This can be useful for not only improving inter-year communication but also in providing opportunities for more experienced students to mentor newer students. 2nd and 3rd years are often happy to share their experiences with the new cohort, and this behaviour is consistent with the Communities of Practice model (Wenger, 1998) in which new members of a community gradually move towards the centre as they grow in confidence and experience.

3. Monitor engagement and quickly diagnose problems


ARISSA RIQUELME, Laptop, computadora An online community enables a tutor to monitor student engagement and identify students who might be having difficulty with their work. Although not all members of an online community will participate regularly in discussion, the tutor will be able to see whether students are logging in to read updates. If a student has not logged in for some time there is a risk that they are becoming disengaged from the course, and the tutor can then contact them to ask whether they are having difficulties.

Setting regular, fun tasks asking students to post examples of their work or an update about a given topic can be a useful means of stimulating engagement, particularly during university holidays. This printable leaflet contains ideas for community-building activities, and if you need more here are 50 Community Building Tips from online community expert Richard Millington.

4. Enhance student employability by developing digital literacy

Providing opportunities for students to develop transferable skills is a key aspect of any university degree. An online community enables students to develop a sense of professionalism and become accustomed to communicating effectively in an appropriate tone. Encouraging students to share examples of their work online obliges them to consider their target audience, from customers to employers, and develop their ability to present themselves in a professional manner. Encouraging students to engage in online discussion helps them develop critical thinking, writing, reflective and communication skills, and fosters an ability to seek out new information and ideas to share with their peers.

The vast majority of graduates will require an ability to use online communication tools in their chosen career. Building an online learning community creates opportunities for students to develop and sharpen skills that will form a key part of their future employability, helping them to function effectively in a range of online environments.

This excellent Slideshare from Stephen Downes provides further supporting evidence of the benefits of ways in which an online community can enhance students learning:



Maslow, A. (1954) Motivation and personality. New York: Harper

Oberg, K. (1960) Culture shock: adjustment to new cultural environments. Practical Anthropology, 7, pp.177-82

Sovic, S. (2008) Coping with stress: the perspective of international students. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 6 (3). pp. 145-158. ISSN 1474-273X

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978) Mind and society: the development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press

Wenger, E. (1999) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 

Wenger, E. (2006) Communities of practice: a brief instroduction. Available at 


Richard Millington's excellent Feverbee website is a constant source of inspiration and highly recommended for anyone interested in developing and managing online communities.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Changing Educational Paradigms

This is a winner - an inspirational talk on the challenges facing education combined with awesome animation from RSAnimate. Well worth 10 minutes of your time:

Monday, 15 April 2013

A large amount of e-learning tutorials

Claiming to be the world's largest repository of free e-learning tutorials. Although I can't substantiate this there are certainly a lot of helpful hints and tips here:

Thursday, 4 April 2013

A truly slick Prezi, and some greate adivce for entrepreneurs

The Prezi below not only demonstrates how sophisticated online presentations can be, it also contains useful advice for those considering starting their own business:

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

What would you do if money was no object?

Thought-provoking short lecture by Alan Watts (3m 9s) - particularly relevant given the increasing focus on student employability:

Monday, 11 March 2013

An avalanche is coming: look out Higher Education

‘Should we fail to radically change our approach to education, the same cohort we’re attempting to “protect” could find that their entire future is scuttled by our timidity.’
David Puttnam, MIT, 2012

A detailed and insightful look into the uncertain future of Higher Education - download the full report here:

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Truly awesome: Daphne Koller explains Coursera

There has been much discussion in recent months about the impact of MOOCs and online courses on the traditional model of Higher Education. Coursera, an online platform where you can take a range of online courses for free, has caused much hand-wringing about the future of the university in an increasingly online world.

But this TED talk by Coursera founder Daphne Koller should go a long way to calming the fears of all those who truly believe that education can make the world a better place. For anyone working in Higher Education, this short video is well worth 20 minutes of your time:

Sunday, 24 February 2013

My 100th post! Another thought-provoking video...

Techtrees is 100 today! Not 100 years old of course, but 100 posts. I hope you have found the content that I've shared over the past year to be useful and thought-provoking.

On that note, I wanted to share another historical video made by Marshall McLuhan in 1966. Similar to the Asimov video in a previous post, this video illustrates how uncannily accurate some people have been in predicting the advent of networked learning:

Monday, 11 February 2013

Isaac Asimov's future of education - 1988

An amazing interview with sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov. Recorded in 1988, it's as if he had already glimpsed the future of technology in imagining an education system that would finally put the learner at the centre:

Thursday, 7 February 2013

e-Learning and Digital Cultures

This excellent blog post by David Hopkins provides a useful summary of the activity in the short #edcmooc currently being run by Coursera and the University of Edinburgh. David also draws attention to the near-future of education and technology and provides a useful critique of 'utopian / dystopian' discourse (Hand and Sandwell, 2002) and provides links to some interesting videos:

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The changing role of the teaching in a personalised learning environment

Just came across this post which explores how the role of the tutor could change in response to an increasingly personalised system of online education:

Given all the recent debates about MOOCs and their impact on HE it's interesting to consider if and how the age-old practice of teaching might change. Perhaps we will just return to a more Socratic method of personalised instruction?

iPads and mobile learning - ideas for use in the classroom

Use of iPads in educational contexts is increasing exponentially. But hoe are students and tutors making use of this mobile technology: Here are some posts that provide ideas for using iPads and tablets in your teaching:

12 principles of mobile learning  Useful key guiding principles to guide the use of mobile devices in learning 
23 ways to use the ipad in the 21st century problem-based learning classroom

25 ways to use the iPad in the classroom

12 characteristics of an iPad-ready classroom

iPads in Art and Design