Saturday, 27 April 2013

100 People: A World Portrait

I came across this infographic again and felt compelled to find out more about its origin.

The milestone of the world reaching 7 billion people inspired a group of people to further previous research about the people in our world. They have spent the last five years asking students to simplify complex statistics by introducing us to the people that represent their part of the world. Using media this project is helping to illustrate information about where people come from but also the challenges people face. The project focuses a lens on ten areas of critical global concern that affect us all: water, food, transportation, health, economy, education, energy, shelter, war and waste.

If the World were 100 PEOPLE:
50 would be female
50 would be male

26 would be children
There would be 74 adults,
8 of whom would be 65 and older

There would be:
60 Asians
15 Africans
14 people from the Americas
11 Europeans

33 Christians
22 Muslims
14 Hindus
7 Buddhists
12 people who practice other religions
12 people who would not be aligned with a religion

12 would speak Chinese
5 would speak Spanish
5 would speak English
3 would speak Arabic
3 would speak Hindi
3 would speak Bengali
3 would speak Portuguese
2 would speak Russian
2 would speak Japanese
62 would speak other languages

83 would be able to read and write; 17 would not

7 would have a college degree
22 would own or share a computer

77 people would have a place to shelter them
from the wind and the rain, but 23 would not

1 would be dying of starvation
15 would be undernourished
21 would be overweight

87 would have access to safe drinking water
13 people would have no clean, safe water to drink
The harsh reality is that today there are still people who are dying of starvation or are undernourished; that so many do not have a place to shelter them; and that clean and safe water to drink remains such a problem. How can we change this? How can technology and social media help to bring people together to solve this? 

One man interviewed said "All the people in the world need to get together and speak with the same mouth. If people learn to speak the same language, in the same way. They could care about each other and there wouldn't be so many problems." Video and images are a starting point.

To find out more about this project visit:

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Professional Personal Learning Networks

This article in Teach Thought (which I recommend you follow) provides an excellent list of tips and ideas to get started or develop your personal learning network. These inlcude

The article also includes a list of resources. I was both surprised and thrilled to find that a presentation I had given with my colleague David Walker was included. This presentation was given at the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) Conference. 

Using social media to develop your own personal learning network from Sue Beckingham

Social Media has played a huge part in developing my own personal learning network. Some recommendations I would make would be to:

  • Ensure you create a clear bio that says what your areas of interest are and include a link to your blog, LinkedIn profile or website.
  • Upload a photograph of yourself. People find it harder to engage with an egghead or other default avatar.
  • Don't be frightened to just listen to conversations in social media channels initially, but do go on to raise questions or respond ones raised.

Further information about getting started with social media can be found on my Social Media blog at I'd love to hear your comments on any of the posts on there. 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Standing out in the #ocTEL crowd

Two weeks into the #ocTEL MOOC the mass of emails, tweets, Forum entries and now posts in the Google Community have grown like wild fire. I think the key advice I have taken on is that there is no way you can engage with all of it, let alone read it. Some of the messages are repeated in the different channels, so picking your favoured channel or two seems the best coping strategy. Simply reading other people's posts however is fine to start with but to really engage then you also need to join in the conversation to get the most out of it. Last week I joined the first webinar of the course which commenced with a poll asking how many people had engaged with the tasks set. The majority hadn't. My advice would be to give blogging a go. It is a useful way to collate information and reflect upon it. If you don't feel you are ready for publishing publicly, then create a private reflective blog. (You can select this option from settings).

Getting your voice heard 

For me I have found that Twitter is a great way to engage with a learning community and where a hashtag is used you can quickly see who is tweeting. For this course #ocTEL is being used. By searching for this hashtag in Twitter you can bring together all of the tweets in one stream. Start by listening to what others are saying and then jump in and reply to comments made, raise questions or simply retweet a useful tweet so that your followers can also read it.  

Other tools to view who is tweeting include Martin Hawksey's TAGSExplorer which visualises the tweets that include #ocTEL.

Another example is the twitwheel which shows interactions between tweeters.

I recently read an article in Inc titled 'Self Promotion: 6 Ways to get Noticed'. The caption below made me think back about my initial steps interacting online. Worried I would say something that others thought was daft, irrelevant or uninteresting. Say nothing at all and you are the wallflower; talk just about yourself can quickly sound like me, me, me.   

Effective self-promotion lies somewhere 
between being a wallflower and a flaming narcissist. 

The author's suggestions can be applied to the way we communicate using social media. 
Let your results speak for you
Promote others
Talk about what you believe
Admit your failures
Decide what you want to be known for
Put yourself out there

I know I have enjoyed reading both tweets and blog posts where I have felt I have seen the personal side of the author. This can still be done in a professional way - many worry that the personal and professional blurring of our online interactions is a bad thing, but this depends upon what you share. One rule of thumb I tend to follow is that if you wouldn't want your boss or your Mum to read it than don't broadcast it.  

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

#ocTEL - An open course in Technology Enhanced Learning

Well here I am with great intentions of slicing off enough time to engage with a new MOOC. I must confess right from the start that despite great intentions I have never been able to sustain the commitment needed to complete a MOOC. This in no way reflected on any of the courses; it was simply at those times life took over - home, work, formal MSc study and the unexpected...

The MOOC I am starting this week is being run by the Association of Learning Technologists and is titled the Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning or for short ocTEL. Further details can be found on the website and there's still time to join in! Having learnt an awful lot from people in the ALT community I'm really looking forward to getting my teeth into this learning opportunity. I think what I realise now is that I'm not alone in  not being able to keep up with all that is presented within a MOOC, in fact in this one it is actually pointed out that it is practically impossible to do so!

Week 0: Induction Activities

Introducing myself

I work at Sheffield Hallam University in the Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences as an Educational Developer and Associate Lecturer. I have to say that despite not being a learning technologist I have loved taking the opportunities to play with new tech and where appropriate include this both in my own personal learning and in teaching. The recent advances in technology have meant that it is so much more accessible. You don't have to know how to code to be able to create a website or blog, or a techy to take a photo or record video or audio and post this on your blog. I've found this empowerment of becoming a producer not simply a consumer of resources really exciting. I am also studying for a second Masters degree - MSc Technology Enhanced Learning Innovation and Change so am looking at both innovation and barriers to implementationMy research interest is in the use of social media with a focus on higher education, digital identity and online presence. 

My big question about TEL

I think this has to be how can we evidence the value of technology enhanced learning most effectively. Does it have to be measured in a certain way? What would that entail? 

Given the many excellent examples of good practice I am coming across there are clear indicators it is working and yet there seems to be a minority rather than the majority who are embracing new innovations. Is this because there is not enough time or support to introduce these new ideas?  

Secondly I'm looking forward to sharing new ideas about how people are engaging students in distance learning - what new activities are they using to get students to interact and participate with each other.

Exploring and experimenting

I've tidied up my inbox and organised a weekly digest of emails via the jisc-list. I can skim these but won't get to all of them. A regular user of Twitter as @suebecks I have contributed to the conversation and find the succinct messages there are more appealing. The forum discussions are where I think we will be dipping in and out of, with some having more personal appeal than others. It's good to see a variety of ways people can communicate.

What I am hearing:

The introductions by email have been fascinating and it's clear we all have different skills to bring to the table. It's going to be a busy and noisy environment to learn in but already we can see people reaching out to answer questions, suggest useful resources and also challenge ideas. 

Reasons people say they are joining the MOOC
  • want to enhance learner and tutor engagement using new technologies
  • keen to learn about best practice in TEL
  • interested in student perspective when embracing new technology
  • also involved with other MOOCs
  • looking for a more effective medium for teaching
  • I remain extremely interested in distributed learning (distance, online, notes taped to a rock and left by the third fence post to the south of the duck pond, mobile etc) and the idea of a Learning Society. 
  • I'm far more interested (especially in research terms) in the pedagogy of online learning and particularly how meaning is socially constructed in the classroom. However, I've decided that I need to to know more about the technology and that's why I'm here ... 
This is the value a learning community will bring - sharing ideas and trying to solve issues

Concerns people are sharing
  • my use of TEL is basic - we have a VLE and use video and podcasts
  • steep learning curve
  • concern through previous experience of MOOCs it will be overwhelming
  • information overload - number of emails as JISC filters not been set
  • students wary of online posting through fear of public exposure
  • Am sort of overwhelmed by all the emails I've been getting this afternoon
People usually know more than they think, and where they are stuck this is the place to reach out and ask. It's all part of the learning experience.

Tech speak, jargon and acronyms!
  • I try to keep technical terms to an absolute minimum in order to encourage teaching staff that they need not fear TEL. You don't after all need to be a mechanic to drive the car.
  • E-learning is inclusive of, and broadly synonymous with technology-enhanced learning (TEL), computer-based training (CBT), computer-assisted instruction (CAI), internet-based training (IBT), web-based training (WBT), online education, virtual education, virtual learning environments (VLE), and digital educational collaboration. 
  • TEL - What do I mean by enhanced?  How do I measure it - qualitatively or quantitatively?  
There are some interesting questions coming up which may not be answered immediately but as we grow as a group this collective body of people will no doubt get around to each one in time. 


As a starter here is a list of acronyms used in higher education I've been collating in Google Docs. Feel free to add to this open list.


To aid my memory (which is currently overloaded!) these are some links I think I'll find useful to refer back to: