Monday 7 November 2016

Reflecting on my experiences of digital transient CPD #sedaconf #seda_nets

For some years now I have engaged in online CPD. My exploration of Twitter opened up a wide range of opportunities to engage in conversations with fellow educators and professionals in a wide variety of roles. 

My interest in social media and how it was being used by businesses was an eye opener. As a result I've engaged in numerous tweetchats with marketing specialists and recognised that this mode of communication opened up so many opportunities for interactive dialogue that went beyond text. The ability to link to other resources or add images, audio or video added a new richness. Being able to filter tweets through a shared hashtag opened up the opportunity to curate collections of tweets. My network grew as I connected with professionals sharing and discussing useful information. However this didn't happen overnight and as I often say a personal learning network is just that - personal. I have connections that add value to my own CPD, but these may not all be of value to everyone else, simply because we have different as well as potentially shared interests.

Over the last two years I have engaged in the weekly #LTHEchat - a weekly chat about topics relating to learning and teaching in higher education. Prior to that tweetchats in the online course Bring your own device for learning brought great value to the learning experience. They work and provide numerous opportunities to co-learn with others. Conferences provide another space to extend the conversations beyond the face to face. Last week I engaged with the SEDA Conference that was using the #sedaconf hashtag as a virtual participant. However what brought it alive was the organised tweetchat within a workshop. Andrew Middleton (@andrewmid) and Sue Moron-Garcia (@DrSueCELT) through Twitter invited people to join what was going to be a live chat the following day. They shared a specific hashtag #seda_nets and tweeted the time the chat would take place. I was thrilled as it fell between my teaching and I was able to block out the hour in my diary. I wasn't able to attend the full conference because of my teaching commitments this year and this gave me an opportunity to be a part of it. 

Reflecting on the experience

As a result of Andrew's post on weaving across the digital physical space and then the invite to myself and Chris Rowell (@Chri5rowell) to respond as digital participants to present our view from the other side of the physical-digital tweetchat - I was prompted to reflect on my experience. 

Chris reflected that his engagement with the workshop chat was purely serendipitous. He was on his way to a hospital appointment via public transport and had via his phone checked in to the SEDA conference hashtag #sedaconf. He picked up on one of Andrew's tweets and caught the additional hashtag linked with the proposed tweetchat. He was then able to reply to each of the questions. He used the retweet with comment option and nested his answer above each of the questions Andrew posted. This is a useful way to do this as it keeps the answer with the question, however you can't include images. 

For me the experience was immersive. I felt a sense of belonging with the group that were at the conference and in this workshop. Those there that also tweeted the answers to the questions (they had been given post-its), also interacted with myself and this led to interesting discussion around the topic shared.  

Why transient CPD is important

This short opportunity to engage in CPD through this tweetchat was valuable as

  • It provided a space to discuss an interesting topic with people I may not have otherwise been introduced to. 
  • Whilst the tweetchat is short-lived, I've been able to make new connections with whom I can continue the conversations if I choose to do so. 
  • I didn't have to travel to a venue, and was able to take part in the space I was in at that time.
  • The duration of the CPD activity was less than an hour and it fitted into my busy schedule. 
  • The experience added value to my working day and I thoroughly enjoyed it.    

Why it can be difficult

Through sharing Andrew's blog post with our comments with my own network it stimulated discussion around personal space. I had shared that my CPD experience had been interrupted when a colleague had come into the office and asked to speak to me. Despite explaining that I wasn't able to at the moment as I was online, the person insisted on trying to tell me what he wished to discuss. 

I think the 'issue' was that it is hard to give the visual cues to demonstrate you are engaged in a CPD activity of this type. Had I been wearing headphones and engaging in a webinar this may have been more apparent. However this was a tweetchat and I was not actually taking to anybody but preparing to answer the question. My computer screen displayed a SlideShare presentation. I had been searching for an image in a prior presentation I had given that would help me to answer the first question. I felt rude saying I couldn't continue the discussion at that moment. Perhaps I should have been more explicit and said I was involved in a tweetchat, but at that time I didn't think this would have helped. 

I felt my space had been invaded at a point where I had given myself an hour to engage in CPD. As I mentioned a short discussion took place about this on Twitter last night. One person mentioned that she no longer took part in lunch time tweet chats, because of interruptions in her shared office space. So is it that we should move to another space to take part in this transient form of CPD or are there ways we can make it clear we are engaged online and prefer not to be disturbed? My office colleague suggested I put on my headset as a means of signalling this. I'd be interested in your thoughts and experiences.  

Friday 4 November 2016

Happy Birthday #LTHEchat: an invitation to the community

Created by @simonrae 

This week we celebrate the 2nd Birthday of #LTHEchat, the tweetchat about Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Now into the third academic year, and a programme planned that extends well into 2017 with volunteer guests offering to lead themed chats, it is truly something to celebrate! In 2014 my dear colleague Chrissi Nerantzi and I via a skype call were reflecting on other shared projects and we came up with the idea of running a weekly chat as a pilot for a few months and see what happened. Well as you can see #LTHEchat is still here. What has made this work and become a sustainable model is the community that has grown to be #LTHEchat. The community not only spans the UK but also has participants from Europe, the US and Australia. Some are active participants and others 'listen in'. Every single one of you are valued members of the #LTHEchat community.

The community not only take part in the chat, some have contributed to the organising team. This group of people have worked incredibly hard behind the scene and are what makes the chats happen week on week! There are also four colleagues who who have shown sustained engagement, commitment, insight and open sharing to the LTHEchat community and they have been awarded the #LTHEchat Golden Tweeter Award: Professor Simon Lancaster, Neil Withnell, Simon Rae, Hala Mansour and Chris Jobling.

In December a group from the #LTHEchat community who have contributed to the organising team will be presenting at the 2nd Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference 2016 which takes place at Sheffield Hallam University. The paper is called:

‘With a little help from my followers’ – Facilitating the #LTHEChat

The presenters representing the organising team (yes there are more amazing people!) at the conference will be:

Chris Rowell – @Chri5rowell
Regent’s University London

Debbie Baff – @debbaff
Swansea University

Neil Withnell – @neilwithnell
University of Salford

Kate Soper – @KatesSoper
Manchester Metropolitan University

Chris Jobling – @cpjobling
Swansea University

Ian Tindal – @iantindalAnglia Ruskin University

Sue Beckingham – @suebecks
Sheffield Hallam University

Your invitation to contribute
This is where you as members of our #LTHEchat community can help us. We would be very grateful if you could complete this short online survey. Thank you!

Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference 2016

It would also be wonderful to see you at the conference! You can find out more about the event by following @SocMedHE on Twitter and how to register here:  

This paper and the other shot papers, workshops, thunderstorms and poster abstracts can be found here: 

‘With a little help from my followers’ – Facilitating the #LTHEChat

This short paper will share the evaluation of the #LTHEchat and the impact of this on professional development for the organising teams and the chat participants. The twitter chat has shown there is demand to focus conversations on Teaching and Learning (T&L) in Higher Education (HE). The research will include results from a survey and semi-structured interviews, to identify the impact and value gained by active or silent participation, for the organisers and participants. In addition the chats themselves and the learning analytics of the Storify will be monitored and analysed to evaluate asynchronous engagement with archives of live chats.

The #LTHEchat, created by the community for the community, is a collaborative project on T&L in HE via tweetchats. “A tweetchat is a virtual meeting or gathering on Twitter to discuss a common topic. The chat lasts one hour and has questions to stimulate discussion” (Beckingham 2014). Each week there is a pre-determined topic with guests leading the chat.

Through #LTHEchat an online community of practice has evolved, including educators with a variety of roles. Drawing upon the literature, Wenger, Traynor and De Laat (2011) discuss five cycles of value creation in networks and communities, suggesting value can be:
  • Immediate: answering/being answered. The #LTHEchat has created synchronous, Twitter activity. The discussion is right when you want it and, when a link is shared to a blog or article, the depth and breadth of shared knowledge increases. 
  • Potential: gaining skills/knowledge/connections which we may call upon in future. The #LTHEchat provides a fertile ground for sharing learning experiences and forms collaborative working relationships. 
  • Applied: taking something and applying to practice. Every conversation is applied to the HE context. 
  • Realised: reflecting on new implementations. The chats allowed for the sharing of reflective practice in an open forum. 
  • Reframing: in light of value gained, how does that impact on our view of success. While this is less easy to measure, the #LTHEchat has impacted on practitioners thinking about T&L. 
Wenger’s (2002) concept of ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ is relevant as the #LTHEchat facilitators ‘bounce’ from the edge to the centre of the community and from live participation to catch-up via the tweets. The #LTHEchat guests join the community in the ‘hotseat’ to develop the conversation which encourages the community to grow (Ultralabs, 2015)

The joining of chats, e.g. #HEAchat and new initiatives such as #HEStudentQ have opened the chats to both staff and students providing new opportunities for informal learning.

This short paper will share some case studies and short vignettes from the research undertaken to highlight how #LTHEchat empowers a community of practice to embrace informal learning and has supported co-learners to take ownership of their continuing professional development. Finally it will provide participants with ideas on how they could develop their tweetchats for informal learning.

Beckingham, S. (2014). Introducing tweetchats using #LTHEchat as an exemplar. Accessed 27th May 2016

Ultralabs (2015) The online communities. Accessed 27th May 2016

Wenger, E., Trayner, B., & de Laat, M. (2011). Promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks : a conceptual framework. Open Universiteit. Accessed 27th May 2016

Wenger, E., Lave, J. Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (2002) Legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice. Eds Julia Clarke and Anne Hanson in Supporting Lifelong Learning, Vol. 1: Perspectives on Learning: Learning and Teaching Vol I. London: Routledge