What Sheila's seen this week – #BYOD4L badge fairy

screen shot of digital badges

For various reasons outwith my control,  yesterday wasn’t a particularly good day for me. However there were a few rays of sunshine in my inbox when I got notification of the full set of badges from the recent iteration of #BYOD4L.

It always surprises me how good getting a badge makes me feel. I’m still not quite sure what to do with them. My Mozilla back pack isn’t part of my CV,  but I have shared the facilitator one into LinkedIn via the social sharing mechanisms in Credly (the badge issuer system used by #BYOD4L). I was slightly disappointed the badge graphic didn’t appear.  On the plus side, it is something else to add to LinkedIn. TBH I’m not quite sure what to do with that either, but do feel I need to have a presence there. . .

screen shot of linkedin page

Anyway hope lots of other #BYOD4L-ers are getting their badges too and equal feelings of happiness.choice for #BYOD4L) –  was slightly disappointed the graphic didn’t appear.

Using Trello for learning design

I was introduced to Trello last year by my colleague Jim Emery. For those of you unfamiliar with it,  Trello is a “free, flexible, and visual way to manage your projects and organize anything.”

Like many people I seem to have an aversion to most project management tools, but I have to say I took to Trello like a proverbial duck to water. We used it last year when we were developing our open course GCU Games On. In that instance we really used it more for task management,  having a board with three categories – to do, doing and done. But it can be used for so much more than that.  Doug Belshaw has a created a little video where he illustrates a workflow between Trello, gmail and github.  It’s strength really is it’s flexibility and the fact that it works cross platform and on any device. It also embeds into our VLE which is kinda handy too.

Earlier this year we recommended it to another of our colleagues, Anne Russell. Anne is a Senior Lecturer on our staff CPD programme. As part of a redesign and re-approval of the programme Anne was looking for a  tool to help her plan, and give an visual overview of her new module structure.  What she has come up with using Trello is, imho, pretty fab.  She has exploited features such as the colour coded labels in a really effective way to breakdown the activities, interactions and resources in each timed block of study. The screen shot below provides an illustration (click on the picture to see a larger version).

screenshot of trello board

We are also currently providing support for staff developing fully online programmes. We’ve been using a variety of learning design methodologies (see here and here). Today we ran a session for some colleagues in our school of Health and Life Sciences where we moved from paper based design to actual course and activity structure.  All of the participants today had already developed an outline paper storyboard. At the start of the session we showed Anne’s trello board. Immediately I could see lightbulbs going on. Within 5 minutes they were all totally absorbed and creating their own boards, sharing them with others not at the workshop and generally “having the most fun I’ve had all year”.

I’ve never really thought of Trello as a learning design tool, but I am now.  It has an almost natural flow with the Carpe Diem and Hybrid Learning Model storyboard/cards approach. The Trello board can be shared and adapted by course teams,  and the overall structure can then be used as they structure for a prototype (or actual) course design. Collaboration, deadlines, tasks etc can easily be built in too. I wish we’d had a tool like this back in the heady days of the Jisc Curriculum Design programme when there were a number of card/paper based design tools developed but a common challenge was what to do next with the paper prototype.

We are encouraging our staff to use Coursesites as a prototype area, primarily as our VLE is Blackboard and so it is a very familiar environment for them to work in. However we are also encouraging our staff to think about open, online courses, and Coursesites is a stepping stone in allowing people to make their designs more open and think about run them or bits of them as open courses.  The Coursesites option also allows for far easier peer review as the staff have complete control over who can access their sites.

We seem to have a really nice workflow now from paper storyboard to online, sharable, more detailed structure/activities/resources (via Trello) to prototype (Coursesites) to final delivery via our VLE GCULearn.  Over the coming months as this develops I’ll share how it is actually working, but as usual I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have in the comments.

design workflow model

Twitter archeology, swirly, twirly diagrams and people #lak15

It’s the #LAK15 conference this week and as I can’t be there in person I’ve been following the twitter stream to try and keep half an eye on what is going on.  This tweet from Brian Kelly led me to an this post and paper from Bodong Chen on some work he has called Twitter archeology. Bodon and his colleagues have mined the “ Twitter archives from the past LAK conferences to uncover insights about the community.”

Now I’m confess I am a complete sucker for a bit of SNA.  I do believe that twitter is an invaluable tool for promoting engagement and fostering and maintaining a sense of community particularly around conferences. Both in the post and the paper, Bodong highlights how their analysis has highlighted the transient nature of the LAK conference twitter community. Very few “tweeters” seem to have engaged in all of the conferences. In the paper I am one of 18 tweeters who seem to have managed to get through all the data processing and have been active in the past four conferences.

Unsurprisingly I tweeted most when I was actually at the conferences in person.  I haven’t left the community but due to changes in my job and the fact that the conference has been held in the States for the past 2 years has meant that I can’t justify the expense of going to the conference. The #hashtag allows me (and many others) to still connect with the community. At the moment my involvement is decreasing and I am looking to others in own twitter community who I know are at LAK this year to keep me informed of what is happening. I will of course still be using the hashtag now and then.

Again, in both the paper and the blog post Bodeng and colleagues highlight the limitations of their analysis, and state that they if they did future work they would like to “connect tweets and academic publications, to further construct a more integrated picture of the learning analytics community”.  I think that would be great. Speaking personally, twitter is kind of my shorthand or note taking from a conference. I tend to write more considered posts after the event.  These posts have also been part of my wider community building efforts (particularly when I was working for Cetis).

However as well as all this data analysis, why not speak to the people involved too? I know reading the paper and blog post has made me reflect on my engagement in the LAK community.  I know this would take time and if LAK were a commercial company, had money to spend, this is exactly what this kind of analysis would allow them to do to help improve their “product” (community). Community is fundamentally about people. As the paper beautifully illustrates, data analysis can give some insights into topics and trends. But I hope that any community is more than the sum of its data.

If learning analytics is to become an everyday “thang” for those of us in mainstream education then we need some hear some real stories and voices from the people in the community and not just algorithms and swirly, twirly diagrams.

Where Sheila will be seen and not seen this week – University of Sussex, #openeducaitonwk, #digifest #LAK15

open education week 15 logo

It’s open education week and there is a lot happening this week.  I’m looking forward to my first visit to Brighton later today,  to give a talk as part of the University of Sussex TEL seminar series.  I’ll be mainly talking about our open event GCU Games On, but also more generally about my experiences with open education.

Of course there are lots of other events this week- almost too many!  A couple of webinars from ALT have caught my attention. On Tuesday there is a preview of the  #oer15 conference, and Thursday a session around supporting and developing open online courses. More information on both is available from the ALT website.   On Friday here at GCU our monthly coffee club meeting will be discussing openness here at GCU, and we’re very pleased that Marion Kelt from our library is going to lead the discussions by giving an overview of how our OER guidelines have been developed.

This week also sees Jisc’s #digifest, which I’ll be following via twitter. I’m sure there will be a lot of great ideas and practice being shared.  Later in the week there’s #lak15, which again I’ll be following via twitter.  I’m pleased to see that this year there is a pre-conference hackathon. I’ve enjoyed the LAK conferences I’ve attended in the past, but did feel that there was room for a more hands on/playful aspect to the conference along side the academic paper side of it.

In between times this week there’s a full week of activities here at Blended Learning Towers, including more work on our placement trial using the myknowledgemap placement progess system, myprogess  and more online course development workshops.

Hoping that there is even more open sharing than normal this week – let’s all try to do one open thing this week.

A bit of experimentation with visualizing blog comments using Textexture

I’m still processing all the comments that were left on my blog about mainstreaming OER and Open Education last week. I’ve done a quick summary and as a quick visual overview a wordle of the comments.   However I thought I would try and do something a bit more sophisticated and perhaps more enlightening.  I’m a bit fan of the visualizations Tony Hirst does using gephi, and have played a bit with it, usually with the help of my former Cetis colleague, David Sherlock. Anyway, I was all set for an afternoon of visualisation delights at the weekend, but gephi didn’t want to play. I’ve since found out it is probably a java/mac issue . . .

However in my search for an alternative I came across Textexture, which will “visualise any text as a network” (using gephi).  Below is a screen shot of the network for the blog comments (the embed code doesn’t work for me in wordpress), but if click on the picture you’ll be taken to the interactive network.

I’m not sure how much more this tells me, other than confirming the interconnectedness of ideas.  But, it is a pretty simple service to use and we all love a network diagram.

Network visualization of comments