Sunday, 24 August 2014

Edshelf is saved! Crowdfunding through Kickstarter saves the day #saveedshelf

Edshelf is socially curated directory of education technology. It's a discovery engine of websites, mobile apps, desktop programs, and electronic products for teaching and learning.

I have personally found Edshelf incredibly useful and created themed collections of tools and apps for the free open learning event Bring Your Own Devices for Learning (BYOD4L). The BYOD4L event ran over 5 days and was open to educators and students to learn together how we can use our own mobile devices for learning and teaching. Each day had a themed topic. These were: connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating and creating

For each of the topics I created a collection of app and tools that would be useful to 'connect' with, 'communicate' with, 'curate', 'collaborate' or 'create' with. Links to the collections were posted on the relevant pages of our BYOD4L Wordpress site. An example is below. You can find my other collections here:

Edshelf is free for educators but as with all tools is not free to maintain. Mike Lee the co-founder said "When I started edshelf, I didn’t want to take money from educators. I believed - and still believe - that it is possible to have an ethical and self-sustaining business by charging edtech companies instead"

When Mike announced that he was going to have to close Edshelf down what happened next came as a big surprise. The community of educators rallied round with messages via Twitter about how useful Edshelf is and #saveedshelf became a mantra. Suggestions from educators that crowdfunding might be an option kept coming. It was at this point that Mike decided to take a chance and see if a Kickstarter project could save the day.

The call

I and many others rose to the call and made a small pledge of $10 dollars. Others pledged more. The great news is that Mike has met his target! There is still time today to support this campaign. Be part of a community that has helped to make a difference - Visit the Kickstarter page now! Share your support via Twitter using the hashtag #saveedshelf.

Great acts are made up of small deeds. - Lao Tzu

Friday, 8 August 2014

ALT Newsletter: BYOD4L – Bring Your Own Devices For Learning

Reblogged from the ALT newsletter 8/8/2014
Association of Learning Technology

This post introduces the design and delivery of BYOD4L – Bring Your Own Devices For Learning (, a team effort based on an idea by Chrissi Nerantzi. Chrissi and Sue Beckingham who developed the concept into an exciting learning event drawing on Chrissi’s experience of open collaborative course design and her knowledge of open educational practice in the area of professional development of teachers in higher education – the focus of her PhD. Sue brings her research interest of social media.
The initial idea was to create an open collaborative learning event using smartphones and tablets for learning and teaching targeted at both teachers and students and we linked it to the  Media-Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group led by Andrew Middleton, a related conference and book project around Smart Learning. BYOD4L stemmed from the 5Cs of Connecting, Communicating, Curating, Collaborating, and Creating and a model based on Chrissi and Sue’s “Magical Open Box” conceptual framework, rooted in individual and collective learning ecologies inspired by Prof. Norman Jackson’s work around these..
Development of BYOD4L started in autumn 2013 and the event was offered for the first time in January 2014 over five days. It involved a team of collaborators (academic developers, learning technologists, lecturers and researchers) from different institutions. Volunteer facilitators were recruited to form the team from our personal networks. Over several weeks the team invested energy in making BYOD4L the success it became for those who participated. We include below a slideshare that captures further details of BYOD4L as well as participants’ voices.
The BYOD4L initiative was conceived and developed to model the use of freely available social media for creating meaningful learning and development opportunities beyond institutional boundaries. The co-creation and sharing of resources was fundamental to the pedagogic design, as was promoting learner and facilitator collaboration and creativity. Unlike many technology-enhanced learning projects, we had no seed funding. All we had was each other and our commitment to show that innovation is possible, and perhaps heightened, when working within such constraints. We were interested in finding a sustainable solution for open CPD and open course design more generally that fosters collaboration in a cross-institutional context. was selected as an attractive and highly configurable ‘home’ environment around which other media could be integrated by both the core facilitator team and the participants. It created a coherent identity for BYOD4L while encouraging participants to construct their own learning ecologies using media that suited them. Learning, therefore, was contextualised and tailored to their needs, priorities and aspirations. Each participant was able to carve their own path within a supportive learning community. Learners were encouraged to connect with peers and facilitators and engage in conversation, reflective and creative activities to further their knowledge, understanding and skills in the area of smart learning. To do this the learners established and developed presences in their chosen spaces which included Facebook, Google+, Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Pinterest, Storify,
David Hopkins introduced open badges to the team which were designed to motivate and reward learning in small chunks. There are badges for participants but also for facilitators. Andrew Middleton, David Hopkins and Dr David Walker peer reviewed participants’ and facilitators’ digital  portfolios. Ellie Livermore designed all BYOD4L artwork, while Dr Cristina Costa reviewed the design before the start as critical friend.
BYOD4L was offered for the second time in July 14. Five institutions joined us: Manchester Metropolitan University, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Sussex, University of Ulster and London Metropolitan University. The team consisted of 20 volunteer collaborators in total (see all of them at and many local events were organised during the week to complement online BYOD4L activities that created a real learning buzz. Many rich resources have been shared by participants on Twitter via our hashtags #BYOD4L and #BYOD4Lchat. We started small and are developing a model to scale-up open educational offers of this kind through collaboration. Could this be a sustainable solution? The BYOD4L team is currently working on a number of related research projects to evaluate many different aspects of this initiative and is disseminating findings through conferences and publications. Please check out
BYOD4L has been a wonderful opportunity to learn within a vibrant and supportive open community. And the good news are that there are further institutions who would like to join us in the next academic year, which is fantastic. For more information, please visit and follow @BYOD4L on Twitter.
We hope you will be able to join us next time!
The BYOD4L team was shortlisted for the 2014 Learning Technologist of the Year Award. For more information about the award please visit the ALT website.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Developing a Social Media for Learning framework

Social Media for Learning #MELSIG keynote from Sue Beckingham

The growth of the Internet is unprecedented. Never before have we seen such an uptake of a new technology and the Internet in real-time and how quickly data is generated is phenomenal. The way we communicate and connect has changed. There are now a multiplexity of ways this can be done, building upon strong ties and creating new opportunities to develop weak ties. In his TEDxKC talk Michael Wesch stated that:
We are moving towards.....
  • Ubiquitous computing
  • Ubiquitous communication
  • Ubiquitous information
  • At unlimited speed
  • About everything
  • Everywhere
  • From anywhere
  • On all kinds of devices
Which makes it 'ridiculously easy' to.....
• Connect • Organise • Share • Collect • Collaborate • Publish
There is a shift from being knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able (Michael Wesch 2010)

Digital technologies and social media have enabled personal learning networks unconstrained by time and place. However these require new literacies for networked people. Rainie and Wellman (2012:272-274) refer to:
  • Graphic literacy i.e. infographics
  • Navigation literacy i.e. internet geography
  • Context and connections literacy i.e. PLNs (personal learning networks)
  • Focus literacy i.e. time for solitude switch
  • Multitasking literacy i.e.. appliances, people
  • Scepticism literacy i.e. ‘crap detection’
  • Ethical literacy i.e. trust
To develop these literacies it is therefore important that we consider how we can provide opportunities within learning and teaching. There is still a tension however and some may still argue that social media is for socialising and not for academic and scholarly work. There are also many counter arguments and exemplars of how social media is being used effectively. To frame this in academic practice it was felt that a set of principles was needed and this work in progress is currently being shared openly with an invite for readers to contribute and critique.

Developing a Social Media for Learning Framework

The following key principles offer a framework upon which the effective use of social media for teaching and learning can be plotted. The ideas in the framework work in combination or independently of each other. Each principle is informed by established ideas for effective teaching and learning and therefore able to help to clarify and legitimise the use of social media, in its various forms, in good academic practice. (Middleton and Beckingham 2014)
The seven principles proposed are:
  1. Socially inclusive
  2. Lifewide and lifelong
  3. Media neutral
  4. Learner-centred
  5. Cooperative
  6. Open and accessible
  7. Authentically situated
Socially inclusive
Supporting and validating learning through mutually beneficial, jointly enterprising and communally constructive communities of practice; fostering a sense of belonging, being and becoming; promoting collegiality, feeling connected, social glue.
Lifewide and Lifelong
Connecting formal, non-formal and informal learning progression; developing online presence; developing digital literacies for experiential, problem solving, creative and critical learning approaches.
Media neutral
Learning across and through rich multiple media; providing opportunities for choices and self expression.
Promoting self-regulation, creative self-expression, building self-efficacy and confidence; accommodating niche interests and activities, the ‘long tail’ of education.
Promotes working together productively and critically as peers (co-creation) in self-organising, robust networks that are scalable, loosely structured, self-validating, and both knowledge-forming and knowledge-sharing.
Open and Accessible
Supporting spacial, temporal and social openness; promoting open engagement in terms of access being geographically extended, inclusive, controlled by the learner, gratis, open market, unconstrained freedom, access to content.
Authentically situated
Making connections across learning, social and professional networks; being scholarly and establishing a considered professional online presence and digital identity
The framework and principles are intended to:
  • Promote discussion informing curriculum design and staff development;
  • Validate and refine existing practice;
  • Help identify how social media can be further embedded in practice to enhance and transform it.
It is work in progress - Your contributions and feedback will help to develop this framework.

Talking through the Social Media for Learning Framework with Andrew Middleton.