Saturday 9 July 2011

#connections #social media #googleplus #mooc #womenofgoogle+

As most researchers and academics know - studying and writing can be a lonely business - but the internet can make it better!
Google+ is the latest shiny social media playground and admittedly it looks pretty good so far.

Through #mooc, #edumooc and cck11 I have become ever more involved up in the world of online social media - so rather than working on my book I have prevaricated all day and played on twitter and google+.

I do like most features on google+ so far - although it can be a little creepy. A comment on my stream that the platform seems faster than FB, prompted a little pop up message thanking me for 'a nice post' from GOOGLE itself.

I am slightly undecided on how to judge this message - in a way it is a timely and transparent reminder and  that  all our information, which is put out by us on FB, Google, Twitter and our e-mails do get stored and semantically analysed. Consequently to maintain the illusion of a 'private conversation' or 'direct message' online is basically insane.

On the plus side, google+ IS actually very nifty and the whole Circles thing is much better than Facebook Friends.
There are already some early adopter networks out there, like the interesting sounding 'women of google plus'. Apparently only 10% of subscribers on google+ are women - and despite my reservation of single-sex groups, I find myself tempted to actually sign up.

Friday 1 July 2011

#edumooc - the benefits of lurking


here goes my 3rd MOOC - and I anticipate that I will be lurking around again!  I am referring to the rather neat categorisation of  mobiMOOC (my 2nd MOOC) - participants were asked to self-categorise into the following options, before and after completion of the course:
     2)moderately active
     3)memorably active
While I had initially aspired to the 2nd category I never managed to get beyond 'lurker'. Nevertheless, I found that just being involved on the periphery, subscribing to the googlegroup, email digests and also the Facebook groups was very useful indeed. I learned an enormous amount through links which were shared, and I was able to follow up topics which interested me in my own time. Of course I  would have gleaned more if I had participated more actively - something which holds for everything in life, the more you put in the more you get out. While I was initially beating myself up about this, I have now cheerfully missed the first online session of #edumooc - although I do have to admit that  'the first come fist serve basis' of getting into the online class room put me off from even trying.
So here goes to a summer of lurking - the online equivalent of being the kid in the back of the class who sometimes surprises. Although in my case it's not attention deficit, but attention overload by trying to juggle too much stuff. Everything is interesting!

here is the link for anyone who wants to dip their online toes into an open learning environment:

Saturday 26 February 2011

cck11 diigo and collaborative bookmarking/tagging sites

I would love to hear about peoples' experiences and tips for using sites like Diigo and Connotea.
They seem to me a very valuable way of cataloguing and archiving the internet information deluge.
I have only just started experimenting with them, but I feel I am nowhere near exploiting their potential.
How participatory do you find the experience of being in a Diigo group for example - or is it the case that it is as particpatory as you make it/wish it to be?

With regards to participation, I posted a reply to Connectiv about his post and some of the FB comments regarding blogs as  just a way of shouting into the echochamber.

To sum up, I guess it's up to the participants how participatory they want to be on one another's blogs.
Personally I appreciate having a bit of time and space for reflection before posting answers. Conversations can be asynchronous.

Monday 14 February 2011

#cck11 social media in education - too early to tell?

Larry Kahn posted at
New Things New Ways
what is probably a fairly representative account of attitudes of skepticism with regards to technology in schools, with the difference that at his school, the outcomes are mostly positive, both on a personal and community level.

 I do share his optimism about social media, but my hunch - based on anecdote, rather than hard evidence is that learners (particularly younger learners) are not first and foremost engaging with this technology for learning purposes. Pupils might use live chat to find out what homework was set, or if there is a test scheduled for the next day, but not in a truly connected way.

Coming from the old school of set curricula and hierarchical learning I imagine there needs to be more instruction on how to use these tools, apart from the warnings against plagiarism (copy and paste) and making sure  kids know that they can and should venture beyond  wikipedia to collect material for presentations.
Countering this perhaps wrongly perceived need, Sugata Mitra's experiments in self-learning show that kids are incredibly resourceful if they want to be. And that's Indian village kids and slum kids, with virtually no access to formal education or a guiding hand in negotiating cyberspace.

On the more critical side regarding the significance of social media as a learning tool, Neil Selwyn from the Knowledge Lab/IoE makes some powerful points in favour of set curricula - and acknowledges the fact that not everyone can be a self-directed learner.

Personally I am interested in social media and distance learning via the web at the HE level, particularly in classical music. I also like the idea of harnessing a peer-network for feed-back and direction. This is for several reasons, but the main ones are concerned with accessibility and improving the methodology and quality of teaching. The teaching model of a conservatoire is firmly rooted in the 19th century. Curricula and methodology would benefit imo from an overhaul and technological additions.

Many participants of cck11 have commented on the fragmentation of knowledge and the aleatoric/conncetivist element of learning in a MOOC and online in general. I feel that once exposed to a medium or learning environment,  learners are able to judge for themselves where the quality is. In fact crowd-sourcing and 'density' of traffic and links will be a fairly good indicator of quality content. (speculation on my part).

Whatever the eventual shifts, I also agree with Neil Selwyn that it is still very early to tell in which direction we will be progressing. Was it Mao, who when asked to comment about the French Revolution, replied: 'it's too early to tell' ?

Sunday 13 February 2011

 CCK11 - Well, it's week 4 and I have not quite managed to catch up with all the reading.
Possibly the highlight of the course was the rather wonderful comment that 'life's too short to read critical theorists.
On the plus side, I am still super impressed by Elluminate and the live sessions. Maybe the discourse is not quite as rigorous as it might be in a 'real' seminar, but that's just a hunch, as it's been a while that I attended one.
A thriving Facebook Group has been established, with people generously sharing their knowledge, links etc.

I decided to follow one of them up - Wolfgang Greller over on his blog is offering a round-up of MOOCs.
Two interesting concepts mentioned are density and sustainability, ie the knowledge repository that is a MOOC will be available for reference on the web.

I like the concept of  of density as a (presumably) measurable dimension of knowledge clouds, which Wolfgang brings up in his blog. It would be interesting to elaborate on this further.
I imagine, that the higher the number of connections, links, twitter feeds etc the higher the density the knowledge cloud.
But, as Wolfgang stated, the fragmentation of the knowledge and potentially tricky task of figuring out if web-based content actually makes sense is the difficult issue, particularly for novices to a subject.
Qualitative evaluation of material remains difficult - hence presumably the further need for accredited content - which would usually not be free. Or possibly it's self-selecting - crowd sourced knowledge would determine the validity of content and reduce density accordingly.

Monday 7 February 2011


I used to work in e-learning about a hundred years ago during the bubble. Anyone could get a job in some internet start-up, or so it seemed. I barely knew how to turn on a computer and I was employed, because I could spell and because I had a friend already working in the company.
It was a pretty steep learning curve for me.

Comparing the courses we had back then with the structure and tools of this MOOC, I am full of admiration of how well it all works and the way usability has been thought out - loved 'Elluminate', 'Vue' and how personable the participatory  experience in general has turned out.
The seeming loss of 'hierarchy' and structure  is a little difficult for me to take, but I am sure it is a question of familiarity with the topic and also getting comfortable with relinquishing 'control'.
Getting on top of bookmarking and managing Diigo in a more intelligent way will surely help as well.

I am very curious to see how any of this new knowledge can be applied to the practical part of learning and teaching classical music, for both vocal and instrumental practitioners - I am excluding musicologists. Can the teaching of an 'embodied skill' over distance truly work, or will it be at best a crutch? What would be the practical consequences of the digital teaching studio? How do methods and the didactic structure need to adapt?

Conservatoires and most institutions of HE in music (classical) are still operating to a model firmly rooted in the 19th century. Technology does not get used and taught as much as it should, leaving music students quite often ill-equipped for life as both performers and teachers, where the demands and skill-sets needed have changed beyond recognition.