Where Sheila's been this week: APT Conference, University of Greenwich #uogapt

I’ve been quite busy over the last few weeks, but I did manage to get back to the day job earlier this week and attend the  APT Conference at the University of Greenwich. There was a really great programme and I found every session I went to really informative. Unlike keynote speaker Stephen Downes, I don’t record every presentation I do, and despite his best efforts to convince us all to do so, I’m not going to start anytime soon. However,  I do try and reflect on every conference presentation I make, and every event I go to, and at the very least share my slides openly.

The theme of the conference was Connected Learning in an Open World, and Stephen got the day off to a great start with his keynote, where he challenged the traditional role of HE institutions, the cost of education, how current business drivers /models are trying their best to make us pay for open.  This is my sketchnote of the talk. As ever a larger, CC version is available by clicking on the image.


#uogapt 2014
visual notes from Stephen Downes Keynote,











My colleague Evelyn McElhinney and I presented our work on mapping student’s online residency.  Since my last post we have conducted another workshop and some more issues, particularly around the use of online spaces are emerging.  As we work with students getting them to map their use of online spaces, it is becoming apparent that there is currently a lack of useful utility type services in terms in access to our educational spaces compared with other “real life” utility type services.  This is raising questions for us in terms of thinking about what kinds of services we need to develop. We need to make sure access to what Mark Stubbs calls the “hygiene  factors” i.e. timetables, reading lists and our course material is easy, but that the learning activities themselves are still challenging. I’ll elaborate more on this in another post

Space and place was something that came up in the final panel session, which I was roped into. I firmly believe that traditional campus based institutions do have a future. People want to go to University, there is more to the HE experience, and indeed any kind of learning than content and courses.  Successful interactions (and not just educational ones) require confidence and social skills. In an online context these are even more crucial.  As anyone who has been on any kind of online course, never mind a massive one, online education can be a lonely experience.

I had to leave the panel a bit early to catch my flight home, and of course it was just as things were starting to get interesting. One particular set of questions from the floor centred on the perceived “best of breed” approach of the Oxbridge tutorial system. We can’t replicate that everywhere, and like many I don’t think we should be. I’m not sure if that type of experience really does much more than continue the power of the old boy network, which given the current state of the world isn’t doing that well unless you are part of that club or rich enough not to need to care.  Along with everyone else who went to the session on Digital Dissidence and CVs (creative visionary spaces), I was really impressed by Anthea, a recent Greenwich graduate, as she showed us via music, video and images how she had been encouraged to express her professional knowledge and herself in a truly multimedia and meaningful way.  Mark Webb’s innovative program exploring cultural diversity in relating to professional development is something I can see working in so many contexts, but I doubt that there would be such richness in an Oxbridge class, and it is more the poorer for that.

Thanks to everyone involved in organising the conference and to all the presenters.  I really hope I can get back to Greenwich for next’s years conference.

Here are the slides from our presentation.

Challenges of web residency case study – our vistor and residents journey and case study #HEAVandR

We have now officially completed our HEA Challenges of Web Residency Project, and submitted our case study on Friday.

This post is really just a collection of what we have shared so far and a link  to a draft version of the case study we submitted to the HEA on Friday.  Things didn’t go quite as planned, particularly around getting student engagement, however we are still working with the V&R model, and in fact did a workshop with some undergraduate students yesterday afternoon.  The case study explains in more detail our experiences and reflections of the project, as ever I’d be interested in your thoughts/experiences.


Sheila's V&R map, Feb 2014
Sheila’s V&R map, Feb 2014
visual workshop notes
workshop notes
Picutre of blank v&R map with biscuits and sweets
Essential kit for v&r mapping



Where Sheila's been this week: The Challenges of Web Residencey workshop #HEAvandr

Earlier this week I went to London with my colleague Evelyn McElhinney to join the rest of the projects in the HEA Challenges of Web Residency Programme.  As I’ve written about before this programme is exploring  students use of online spaces using David Whites visitor and residents mapping methodology.

In terms of our project, we have only managed to run one workshop. There are various reasons for this, but mainly around timing, it took a bit longer to get ethics approval and then lots of our undergrad nurses were on placement when we planned our workshops.we are going to run some more between now and the summer.

I was “well impressed” by some of the projects who have managed to get between 80-150 maps. It was also fascinating to see the overlay images David has managed to pull together. There were a few L shape patterns in the grid appearing. However, as David acknowledged it is hard to draw any concrete conclusions, and context is crucial.  So it was good to hear in a bit more detail from some of the projects about their experiences and conclusions.  Once common theme was that students did value their own online spaces for collaboration and didn’t want “us” there.

Once again I’ve been experimenting with visual note taking on my ipad and here is my note of the feedback session (clicking on the picture will take you to original image).

visual workshop notes
workshop notes

In terms of our experience, our participants were Post Registered Health Care professionals, so they are working full time and attending uni.  Unsurprisingly the are pretty strategic in the visitor and resident engagement. They have also found ways to circumvent professional barriers (e.g. quite closed networked systems)  that prevent them accessing what they find as useful services such youtube. We’ll be writing up our case study over the next fews days so I’ll be able to share more then.

Me in doodle mode!

photo of my hand drawing on ipad
Me sketch noting

Whose app (or map) is it anyway? #HEAVandR

Early this week my colleague Evelyn McElhinney and did our first visitors and residents mapping workshop for the current HEA Online Residency in the Disciplines programme.

The student co-hort we met with were all post registration health professionals, who are undertaking professional CPD courses here at GCU.  We had a good mix of participants both in terms of age and gender and in attitudes to using technology. From the self confessed luddites (always makes me smile when people use that term in a self derogatory fashion in relation to their own perceptions of “being rubbish at technology”, the original luddites were all highly skilled people) to those who seemed pretty confident about where and when they are online.

As we stated in our bid, one of the reasons we wanted to be part of this programme was:

“Effective online engagement is particularly relevant to health care professionals, who are bound by professional codes of ethics. The increasing use of social media for professional and public engagement requires them to develop understanding of the interactions between professional and personal spaces.”

True to David White’s experience, as our participants were developing their maps, some really interesting questions and discussions emerged, particularly around the use of apps. Is interaction with an app visitor or resident behaviour? Of course that very much depends on the app, and you connect to other services/online spaces with it. If you are for example using a fitness app to collect data about yourself is that resident behaviour or just a private record? As we were dealing with health care professionals, this led to another discussion about boundaries of personal and professional technology. If you have a say, blood pressure app on your phone should you use that with patients, or should you only use authorised apps and devices?

This led to another discussion or perhaps more accurately a series of questions about the whole quantified self movement and learning analytics. In terms of health care, in certain cases self monitoring can be very powerful. But if we all are recording everything on our Fitbits (or whatever) should that data be collected and stored by, the NHS? What are the practicalities never mind the ethics involved in that?

Lots to think about and I’m sure it wasn’t all just sugar and e-number induced nonsense.

Picutre of blank v&R map with biscuits and sweets
Essential kit for v&r mapping

Where Sheila's been this week – digital residency mapping #HEAVandR

Despite the best intentions of the weather this week, a number of people from around the UK managed to make it to London on Wednesday for  workshop as of the HEA Digital Literacies in the Disciplines programme.   As I blogged about before, the main focus of our case study will be within nursing programmes in our school of Health and Life Sciences.

The workshop was primarily an opportunity to bring the projects together and for us all to get a more in depth overview of the background to the mapping process.  For me the clarification of the ends of the V and R scale in terms of social traces was really useful. Visitor behaviour is where you don’t leave a social trace online and residency is where you interact with others and leave a social trace. The bit in the middle is where you are online to be with people, but within a known group e.g. Facebook.

I liked David White’s use of the term “elegant lurking” e.g. a student who follows experts in a certain field on twitter but doesn’t interact with them, but does get a lot of useful information through the wider interaction of that group of people. As someone who isn’t keen at all on the term lurking this contextualization really appealed.

As with most mapping exercises it is a not an exact science and the dialogue generated by undertaking the exercise is the most interesting part of the process. We were shown a range of different maps (again really useful to see) and as with most maps they all sparked a range of questions for me.

One of the reasons we are keen on this methodology for nursing students is so we can provide a way for them to articulate and understand where and how they interact online in context of their professional, personal and student identities. Hopefully this will allow us to improve how we support them in developing relevant professional and personal practice. We are also interested in wider issues of where and how they use different social spaces for learning. Will they even think to add our VLE to their maps?

This links to the use and support of learning spaces at an institutional level. Do we really need to be investing in developing social sharing spaces within our institutions (e.g. Yammer)  when most students use services such as Facebook anyway? And if we try to use these more personal spaces in a formal educational context, will that just make the students move somewhere else where they want to be? We may always be playing catch up. In turn, if these institutional social spaces are relatively closed will they be of any future value to students?  Should we be focusing attention on helping our students use recognised professional spaces such as Linked-In and leave them to use other online spaces in an informal way?

I found the mapping exercise fascinating, and it’s really made me think about where and how I exist and leave social traces online.  I thought I had a good overview of my online interactions – particularly in a professional context.  But seeing other maps, and talking with people on Wednesday I remembered a whole lot of spaces where I do have a large social trace but I had actually forgotten about. Like many people I have “played” around with online bio services such as about.me, but I kind of forget about them as they are automagically updated from RSS feeds from my more active and engaged spaces such as my blog and twitter. However I’ve had over 3,500 visits to my about.me page in the past year which astonished me.  I also have a vizify page which again is populated from other services.  It has what I always thought was a good overview of ‘where I am” online

Vizify places screenshot
Vizify online places

But after doing the mapping exercise I think picture is more like this

Sheila's V&R map, Feb 2014
Sheila’s V&R map, Feb 2014

I confess I’ve had to re-do my paper map from Wednesday as I had forgotten quite a few things, and also I wanted to use circles not rectangles. Don’t think it makes any difference but there are a few Venn like overlaps. I was also impressed by fellow delegate who used powerpoint on Wednesday to create his map.

We are running our workshop next month and I’m really looking forward to the maps and discussions it generates.