Day 2 started with an excellent keynote by Dave White (Uni. of Oxford) who talked about the transition of co-digital to the post-digital. Through a diagram, based on David McCandless’ “Hierarchy of Digital Distractions“, he introduced the different types of users involved as pioneers (building new stuff); players (networkers who influence the evolution of tech); pragmatists (want to know what tech is for and how to use it correctly) and phollowers (don’t experiment, use normalised tech). This made me think about what category I, as a Learning Technologist, would fall into… I wouldn’t class myself as a ‘player‘ although certainly our role involves presenting at conferences and networking. I don’t think I totally fit in the ‘pragmatist’ category either as I show people tech and advise on how it could be used, usually in response to lecturers approaching me with an idea for enhancing their teaching. Dave concluded that the players and pragmatists need to talk to each other – I would argue Learning Technologists, and other support staff involved with e-learning, make up a missing layer between players and pragmatists and actually are the ‘conversation‘. I’d be interested to hear what others think…
‘Discovery Learning with Web 2.0 Technology‘ (Rhian Pole, Swansea Metropolitan University) presented the e-Tutor Project, comparing using a Social Learning Environment (SLE) made up of Ning, MindMeister (mindmap) and Google to the University’s VLE (Blackboard) with 26 students on a ‘Personal Computer and Internet Technologies’ module. The module was structured through the mindmap with links to the web. Students liked having a customisable personal page and map to organise resources (they preferred this to the VLE) and the fact they could use it for other areas of their lives. In fact, because they like the social features, productivity increased. There is an emphasis on research in this module and Google was used to create customised search strings to the map. This was found to impede the learners, however, as they were not searching themselves. Rhian concluded that this set-up improved the learning, allowing the tutor to review each student’s progress. The tutor role was crucial in guiding the students.
Geraldine Jones (Uni. of Bath) introduced me to ‘Voicethread‘, which she used successfully with her students to facilitate peer-assessment (Peer Assessment in a Web 2.0 World: Revisiting the ‘Big Ideas‘). In short, Voicethread allows you to create, share and discuss digital stories. I’ve had a very quick play and it looks impressive – expect a dedicated post on it later!
Back on chairing duties in the afternoon for the ‘Handhelds/e-Books’ stream. Lee Bryant (City of Bristol College) described how the quality of research was lifted through students using ebooks (eBooks for HE in FE students). This was followed by a presentation by Udo Bleimann (University of Applied Sciences, Darmstadt, Germany) comparing different types of eBook Readers (eBook Readers in Academic Personal Knowledge Management) – Sony’s got a good review due to it not having to be recharged for a couple of weeks although, due to cost, the conclusion was that these would be ideal for researchers/ Phd students.
The final presentation in this strand (Using Flip Camcorders to Support Learning in Large Classes) was by Laura Taylor and Elisabeth Dunne (Uni. of Exeter) who described using flip cameras with large classes of students who spoke different languages. The students were divided into groups and the cameras used to record ice-breaker videos. These were then reviewed by each other and content revised. Students loved using the cameras and this was reflected in the numbers attending the classes. As this was a group project, students didn’t want to let other members of their group down so felt that they had to be there and make a good contribution. However, logistical issues such as recharging camera batteries and converting the videos to flv, were very time-consuming…
The conference ended with a plenary session with Steve Wheeler, Dave White, Josie Fraser and Thomas Fischer. I won a wireless mose in the prize draw – a great way to end a very enjoyable conference!
Photos of PeLC10 by Dawn Wheeler. (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)