Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Dare to be different: #ocTEL Activity 0.3 Exploring and experimenting


Today was the first webinar. This took us through the expectations of the course,  a look around the course site and some advice from past participants and facilitators. At the end we were given a password to submit on the badges page to claim the first 'webinar badge'. What is really neat is that the badge shows on my personal page slightly grayed out, but once the code had been verified it changes to green and white. You can also see the other badges you can choose to work for. The TEL Explorer badge can be claimed 3 times in a week by completing the designated activities and evidencing this with a link to your blog post or by uploading a file. I will come back to the motivational factor of badges and the principles behind how you can collect them in another post. Suffice to say for now it is working for me!

Activity 0.3: Exploring and experimenting

During the webinar Martin Hawksey told us that #ocTEL was about curating opportunities to make connections to knowledge AND people. This he said could be done within the course site by joining a group or forum discussion, but he also encouraged us to find different spaces of our own, to explore and experiment. Dare to be different and try something new. 

Shortly after the webinar had finished a LinkedIn group had been set up, last year's Mendeley group signposted and an invite to join a small group to curate an #ocTEL Scoop.it page (all of which I joined)! I am interested to see how the interactions differ in these spaces or what is said about these spaces. I have not yet used Mendeley to its full potential so I look forward to experimenting there. 

I also set up a Yammer group as a space for my two Sheffield Hallam course buddies and myself to explore and use to engage in discussions about the course. I've been a member of Yammer since 2009 and set up a variety of groups but to date have had only limited engagement. As it happens the colleagues who did engage have now moved on to other jobs outside of SHU. Having a focus to use a new social networking space of course is important. Without, it just becomes a repository for the odd link or document shared. Perhaps the motivation to interact needs to be by starting with a question? An invitation to get people to share their views. The group is currently private and as access to Yammer is ring fenced to the institution (or company) you work for having an open group would not benefit other #ocTEL students. 

For now the main relationship forming and community building seems to be happening within Twitter. New blog posts links are being tweeted and there are discussions forming around these both as tweets and comments in the blog posts. I keep skimming down the list of tweets (saved as a search for #ocTEL on my phone) as I travel to and from work, over lunch and other windows of opportunity. For me this makes it a manageable space to keep abreast of. It allows me to quickly respond to a question or comment. I think if I left it until the end of the day the attempt to catch up it would be overwhelming. Twitter is a space I feel comfortable in. A space I would say I am resident in (Visitors and Residents, White and LeCornu 2011). 

It's possibly too early yet to say if things will develop in other spaces. I get the feeling that participants are still feeling their way around and orientating themselves to the course site and for some getting to grips with Twitter as a new communication tool itself. 



Fringe groups

Mendeley: http://www.mendeley.com/groups/3241271/octel/

LinkedIn: http://lnkd.in/bu3Jt_G

Scoop.it: sco.lt/7hbVmD

Yammer: 2014 ocTEL SHU Co-Learners Sub Group


Experimenting with new tools

Share your location map should have been a quick and easy task but it took me a little while to fiddle with it. Participants were invited to add their university and location to https://mapsengine.google.com/map/.  


Not to be beaten I then went back and took another look and discovered you can change the colour of your 'pin' and its shape! There is also an edit box so in addition to labeling Sheffield Hallam Uni, I also added my name and my two colleagues David Eddy and Kelly Snape who are also taking the course.  



The tool could be useful for a variety of activities, particularly if you have an international cohort of students, are going on a field trip or want to mark the locations of specific attractions.   

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