Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Web 2.0, Social Networks, and Learning.......

More and more technology-savvy educators and educational technologists are going crazy about the use of web 2.0 tools like blogs, social networks (some even go as far as suggesting facebook) and other types of apps like Wikis for learning or in education. Many even go as far as suggesting that these are the modern tools to be used at all cost for all educational systems and processes for learning to occur. In other contexts, some would stress for meaningful learning to occur, as if there are some learning which can be 'meaningless'. 

Another issue is that many educators confuse the use of software designed for social networks and their potential if they were to be used in an educational context with the actual social networks that exist due to these software and how in such virtual environments or communities, learning can take place without these being specifically designed to be learning communities.

A blog for instance is no different to an online forum in terms of the software and its technological design. A post in a blog can be seen as a new discussion in a forum and each comment of a blog can be seen as a reply to the forum post and these become discussion threads.

Web 2.0 is essentially a concept where users of the web can also contribute to populating the web with articles, news, views and opinions. Facebook can be seen as web 2.0 tool because anyone having a profile there can post 'content' to his profile and others who have access to this profile can post comments on that person's wall. A social network is not necessarily a place where educational type of learning will take place most of the time although it can contain info related to an educational type of learning in which one or more persons in that network of friends are part of. It can contain a simple information on the date of a class test, or the tips provided by a lecturer for the exams. But these are not necessarily related to the core learning process. Same as this message can be used to communicate on facebook, twitter offers a more less same service (specialised as facebook is more general) for that type of activity. 

A classroom whether physical or online where participants can be with each other and communicate to each other is already a social network. It does not necessarily mean that it will expand. Therefore using a social network software to create a social network for a particular classroom is a bit of an oxymoron. But the use of a particular web 2.0 tool to promote say critical thinking for a particular learning activity can be a useful idea where learning of some sort will take place. 

On the other hand the use of a social network approach to extend the network of one classroom of a particular course at a particular level to connect with peers of similar characteristics across a geographical region can contribute to some extent in the educational process. But it depends on what the network talks about, what they share and what they are doing in that network to shape learning. How much learning goes on the social networks of facebook users? May be all sorts of informal learning or some news or just enough to create a revolution to topple governments, yes indeed it may have broader social effects, but not necessarily related to the more specific issue of learning within a predefined formal educational context, where learning outcomes and assessment structures and learning goals are well defined...........

Thursday, 16 June 2011

We have never done it before........

Today during a professional conversation with a staff of the University regarding the launching of a new course, the person, told me "We have never done this before at the University......"

Ooopsssss......I was stunned by this statement. We are in a University and this is exactly the place according to me 'to try out things that have never been done before....'

When an idea makes sense it is worth exploring it, if it does not we abandon it...this forms the basis from which we can nurture our creativity and bring innovation and not the way round.....

This is not about resistance to change mind you, but this is mainly about obsolete software (mindset).

VCILT showcases student's work

A few trainees currently on work-based learning placement at the VCILT are developing a kind of digital library to showcase our students' work in the different courses related to educational technology. Most of these work have some educational value and the resources have been created using open-source software (mainly e-learning authoring tools).

Undergraduate students in English, French, Psychology and Science fields have taken the General Elective Module on Educational Technology. Throughout the course, they have been developing IT related skills to develop simple educational websites. The course also tries to develop their reflective ability as well as critical thinking skills. This can be reflected in their commenting of the different articles in this blog.
We felt that its high time that students' work are not confined to CD-ROMs that are stacked on shelves and then destroyed later. By this online showcase of the work, we feel that we are adding value to the effort done by the students as well as the tutors who assisted them in the course. We have done a first selection of the best work.

The digital library will also showcase work of undergraduate students in the BSc Educational and Instructional Technology programme who are mainly practising teachers. It will also house the productions of our Diploma students in Web and Multimedia Development.

The address hosting a prototype is http://lcms.uom.ac.mu/vciltwebsite 

This will later be migrated to an integrated CMS.



Monday, 6 June 2011

VCILT recieves the visit of Prof Meller from OU UK as External Examiner

You are all invited to the talk of Prof Weller on Digital Scholarship.

New technologies are potentially changing all aspects of scholarly practice, including teaching, research and public engagement. This talk will look at the nature of digital scholarship, some examples of changing practice and the issues it raises for academics in all disciplines.

Martin Weller is Professor of Educational Technology at the Open University in the UK. He chaired the OU's first major elearning course with over 12,000 students, and was the director of the VLE project. His research interests are in open education, the impact of new technology and digital scholarship. He blogs at edtechie.net

Venue: G4 NAC Building
Time: Friday 10th June at 10 am