Saturday, 18 May 2019

Reading habits: how do you bookmark a page?


Scott Ibberson tweeted a table of reading habits a few days ago and it got quite a few of us thinking about our own habits and how we bookmark a page in a book that we are reading. My initial response was also neutral good: uses scrap of paper/shopping list/receipts as bookmark.


I reshared the tweet and it was fascinating seeing how others responded. It also got me thinking about it more deeply and reflecting that I really engaged in a variety of the options depending what I was reading, why I was reading, where I was reading and when I was reading.

When reading academic books, especially when undertaking research, I like to use sticky translucent flags to mark interesting sections. They can be easily re-used and moved around and they don't spoil the book pages.

I tend to buy notebooks with a ribbon bookmark for work. I do like the moleskin notebooks that also have a pocket in the back page to hold extra bits and bobs like a mini ruler. I also use these kind of tabs to mark pages I might have to go back to for a meeting at work. 



When away for a beach holiday I can easily get through 8-9 novels so it's a Kindle is a good space saver. That said I do like to buy 2-3 from charity shops to take with me. Once read I then swop with other books where the hotel has a book corner for guests to do this. My chosen bookmark good be place face down if I decide to go for a dip in the sea or whatever scrap of paper I can find if the book needs to back in my bag. 

So revisiting the table I find I really have a a variety of my reading habits dependent on whether I am reading for leisure, study or work. Here are some of my reflections. 


Lawful good
uses proper leather bookmark embossed with initials
I've never had a personalised bookmark but would love one with gold initials. I do have a couple of 'proper' bookmarks that have been given to me as presents. For some reason (unbeknown to myself!) these have been saved for something special and sit on a bookshelf in my study. I also have some handmade bookmarks given to me as gifts and these are saved too as they are so delicate.  

Neutral good
uses scrap of paper/shopping list/receipts as bookmark
Typically this is what I tend to do as I reach for whatever is to hand. It could be anything from a local takeaway menu to a flyer that came through the letterbox.

Chaotic good
uses finger as bookmark; never actually books book down
Those moments you are gripped with a section of your book and nature calls - the book of course has to go with you and this is the quickest option to bookmark the page you have got to!

Lawful neutral
uses random implement to mark place e.g. pen, phone, fork
When the need arises - a pair of reading glasses, straw, icecream stick, hairpin...









True neutral
reads on ebook, bookmarks digitally
I read a lot of novels on my Kindle. It's light and great to take on holday or long journeys on the train. 

Chaotic neutral
leaves book open, face down, at last page read
Sunday morning reading in bed when I go and make a cuppa, I will leave my book open in this way. 









Lawful evil
dog-ears corners (but smoothes them out again when finished)
Maybe as a teenager...

Neutral evil
dog-ears corners, cracks spine, highlights fav passages
Not intentionally but have lost a few pages reading on holiday as the glue has softened!

Chaotic evil
Rips out each page once its been read 
NEVER!

Friday, 26 April 2019

My 10th Twitter Anniversary




Never in my wildest imagination did I consider what a huge impact Twitter and social media would have on my professional development! Ten years on and I have developed an international personal learning network and 11.6k followers. 

This was my first tweet in 2009 

To find your first tweet, you can use Twitter's Advanced Search. Go to https://twitter.com/search-advanced and enter your username into the 'From these accounts' field under 'People'. Then to select the date. I added the date I joined Twitter in the 'From this date' section and the day after in the 'To this date'.  


Friday, 12 April 2019

What will the university look like in 2030?



In April I was invited by James Clay, head of HE and student experience at Jisc to contribute to Networkshop47 where a panel of students, staff and education technology experts offered their visions for the future. The audience was mainly networking and security people.

Panellists included:
  • Sue Beckingham, Principal Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Caitlin Bloom, Sector Analyst, Jisc
  • Jake Forecast, Jisc Student Partner
  • Mark O'Leary, Head of Network Access, Jisc
  • Amber Thomas, Head of Academic Technology, University of Warwick
  • Andy Powell, Cloud Chief Technology Officer, Jisc
  • Simon Wilson, Chief Technology Officer, Aruba

Our brief was to discuss which emerging technologies offer the most promise in helping with the challenges universities and colleges face. The panel session focus was to look at the wider student experience in 2030 and what this means for those who support the student experience through the use of technology.


How an we predict the future? James suggests we start by looking at the past. In 2008 the iPhone had just been out less than a year with 3G connectivity! In the panel disucssion we reflected on what we think will happen in the next 11 years, what the implications will be for universities, what this will mean for the student experience, and also the technical infrastructures that are going to enable this student experience. 


My vision for 2030

My vision of the future student experience is to have a virtual learning hub that is interconnected. All students would be provided with an intelligent device. This would be preloaded with activities: 

  • Active learning apps - things we might relate to in today's learning and teaching for example Socrative, Padlet and what ever they are in the future that allow learning inside and outside of the classroom, collaborative andindependent learning. 
  • Personal profile - the students would have a profile preloaded and would be able to personalise that, they can put in their interests. It would be searchable and allow students to connect with shared interests. 
  • Achievememts - the device would have a profile of their achievements - their marks, feedback and attendance
  • Student support -  it would enable chat (text or voice) and connect them to their academic adviser, their tutor, student support, careers adviser, wellbeing
  • Learning workspace - this might include a future version of the VLE and spaces like Google Drive for personal and collaborative work.  
  • Extracurricular - it would link to acvitivies outside of the taught curriculum so that students know what is available. 
  • Conversation - access to peer chat and video chat
  • Maps and wayfinding - where to find places (libaray. places to eat, classrooms etc) and linked to the student's timetable
  • Self help - utilising Siri or Alexa technology for FAQs, bite sized learning, revision
  • Virtual video meetings - connecting to others locally and globally, other students, and businesses and professionals in their field. This would come with subtitiles, translation and auto transcription
  • Digital feedback - students can record and save feedback (formative and sumative) from tutors, peers or others using multimedia in a format they choose. This can be tagged with keywords for later recall. 


There would be flexible learning spaces, so not defined as a lab vs a classroom (rows of tables and chairs). Students would take their device into the classroom where there would be charging mats on the tables, the ability to connect their device to a larger screen so if they wanted to work in 2s or 3s, or larger groups they could. Also interactive walls to capture collaborative work that syncs to the students device.

The device is not futurisic. My examples could use the technology that is already here and being used by us in our daily lives. It would need to bring these together in one space. A space that is secure and safe. 


Jisc News summarises my contribution as:  
"Sue Beckingham, principal lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, felt that every student might have an “intelligent device”, which becomes their personal, interconnected virtual learning hub. This will hold a profile of their academic and personal life, syncing all their work to their tutors, connecting to university services, and linking to their extra-curricular life and their peers. Students will also submit work and get feedback on this device, she said." 

You can watch the panel session in the recording below.






Sunday, 17 March 2019

#OpenBlog19 What's wrong with education?



The #OpenBlog19 challenge created by David Hopkins is sparking a series of posts where educators go on to challenge others to write a blog in answer to a given question. Steve Wheeler challenged me to write about 'What's wrong with education'.

My initial thought was that I would have much preferred talking about what is good with education! There are so many good examples I'd love to share from the many educators I connect with online through Twitter, that have openly shared with others how they engage their students; how they co-learn together; and how they experiment with innovative and creative approaches using Lego, social media, digital technology, post-its, role play and so much more. 

So back to the question. I'm not the kind of person that can just list what is wrong, as I have the strong desire to consider what we can do about it. I know I may not have all the answers and therefore I think it is so important that we discuss any such issues with our peers and in this context also with our students. So with that said I will still offer a few of my own observations. 



Identifying a purpose for learning

I still remember sitting in maths class challenging the teacher about the maths we were attempting to learn, asking where this would be used. I was always motivated when I could see how it could be applied AND put into useful practice and de-motivated when my questions were brushed aside and told you just need to learn it... 

I think we need to consider more ways in which we create situations where students can apply their learning, re-visit this through reflection and feedback and then have opportunities to re-apply an enhanced version of their learning. There are many examples where students work on authentic projects with a purposeful outcome. When these involve real-life situations to investigate, analyse or solve, this is where I see the sparks and enthusiasm. 

I suggest that we need to:

  • reconsider how we can encourage curiosity, intrigue, excitement, the desire to question, and the confidence to critically challenge.
  • encourage creativity and reflection on not just what has been learned but identify what could be done to improve
  • acknowledge learning is challenging for all of us
  • support multiple attempts and endorse FAIL as 'first attempt in learning'
  • find more opportunities for students to apply their learning that is meaningful to them and society



Developing our practice through professional development

We know that there are educators who continue to teach as they experienced 'being in the classroom' and this is not always a good thing. That's not to say that what may be called traditional approaches don't equate to a positive learning experience. For example there are many great examples of the lecture being an incredibly engaging experience, but we also know having being on the receiving end of being talked at, that we can quickly disengage. Why would it be different for our students? 

Going to educational conferences, seminars or workshops within or beyond your university, college or school has for many provided great inspiration to enhance practice. When we can hear from peers about innovative practice that is evidenced as being valued by learners, it provides inspiration to re-look at our own practice. It's important to to have those discussions about new interventions that haven't worked too. 

However CPD budgets are being cut and sadly in some cases becoming non existent. It is important that we look for other ways to learn from peers. As already mentioned this is happening across the globe where educators have appropriated social media and digital technology to connect, communicate and collaborate. For me everyday is a learning day and I am constantly learning from peers. As educators we need to fire our enthusiasm for professional development and take responsibility for this. Equally I would argue that this needs to be recognised as well as encouraged by senior leadership in our institutions.  

I am sure you will have come across the quotes below in some form or another. These apply to everyone one of us and not just the students we teach. 

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire” wrongly attributed to W. B. Yeats and "The purpose of education is not to fill a vessel but to kindle a flame" to Alfred North Whitehead (who also is quoted to say "Fundamental progress has to do with the reinterpretation of basic ideas.") 
"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled"

Plutarch (46 AD - 120 AD) 
As educators we need to lead by example and embrace lifelong learning. We need to reflect on how we teach and get feedback on how we teach; observe how others teach and learn about new ways to enhance our own teaching. 

We need to trust and value those of our peers who have roles for example as educational developers, learning technologists, learning developers, librarians. Professional development needs to be embedded in our practice and time allocated to do this, but not as the odd bolt on. CPD is what is says on the tin - continuous professional development.   
   


A misconception of the purpose of education 

This is an extract from a paper titled the 'Purpose of Learning' by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1947. I think it may suffice to say that we all need to reflect on and learn from history.  

Most of the "brethren" think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end.

It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life.


Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one's self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.

Martin Luther King Jr. 1947


Finding our purpose

A thought to leave you with




References

Martin Luther King Jr. (1947) The Purpose of Education. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/purpose-education

Quote Investigator https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/03/28/mind-fire/


Image credit
Free for commercial use. No attribution required: https://pixabay.com/vectors/pixel-cells-pixel-feedback-learn-3699331/

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Reflections on #SocMedHE18 and #mugafesto - Social Media for Learning in HE Conference

#mugafesto

For those that know me, you will know that for some years now I have been an advocate of the use of social media for learning and teaching. It has provided opportunities for my own CPD that continue to go beyond my expectations. The generosity of the communities I engage with or indeed listen in to, have had such a postive impact on who I am as a professional and the work that I do. #SocMedHE18 is the conference hashtag this post is about. I have been incredibly lucky to be able to co-create, co-organise and contribute as a co-presenter at an event that brings so many wonderful people together to openly share, discuss and debate topics around social media for learning. 

So this year Rachel Challen from Nottinham Trent Uni picked up the baton and agreed to host the 4th Social Media for Learning in HE Conference. Rach made the decision to reach out to her network to look for volunteers to form the organising committee for #SocMedHE18 and I was thrilled to be asked to join her team. Her approach to leading this massive undertaking must be commended. Using social media - mostly Google Drive and a private Twitter DM group, with the odd Zoom and Skype meeting - Rachel encouraged everyone to contribute ideas. The creativity that came from this group was fantastic and the unique additional touches Rachel added were brilliant. Right at that start she involved Bryan Mathers from Visual Thinkery to help the team develop ideas for the conference themes and to help Bryan create a collection of visuals that could be made into stickers (which were gifts for delegates at the event). He also created an Inclusive Revolution remixer which was great fun to use - try it yourself.  The whole process was an incredible experience.  From start to finish Rachel made sure everyone had a part to play and inspired everyone to contribute. Meanwhile behind the scenes she worked with her wonderful NTU team to make the magic that pulls a conference together. 


The #SocMedHE18 Organising Team
Image credit Sandra Huskinson ()

The themes for the event were openness, digital identity and creativity. Deb Baff came up with the ingenious idea to ask people to tweet their proposal to make it inclusive for all to contribute something short (in 280 characters!). A great response was received and the conversation using the #SocMedHE18 hashtag was on fire right from the start! To be honest the conversation has been vibrant leading up to, during and post conference. The event included activities that enabled those who could not be there to engage. Livestreaming the keynote is one example and then there was the Mugafesto. #Mugafesto was an idea created by Andrew Middleton to develop a manifesto that could fit on a mug. Statements that could help others see why social media for learning in HE is important and something that should be supported and encouraged. See my contribition at the top of this post - my intention being to highlight the value of open sharing to encourage the making of new connections, conversations and collaborations. The more we do this, the more we can gain. The more we gain and learn through trusted networks, has to be a win win situation. 

I was delighted to have the opportunity to introduce Maren Deepwell who gave an excellent keynote on how we use social media and technology for teaching, learning and assessment by exploring three critical themes: community, equality and openness. Maren's calm approach and the ability to articulate quite often complex matters is something I really admire. She began her talk by raising something I am sure we are all semi conscious of and that is the amount of time we spend online and the value of taking time out. She recommended the digital data detox which is described as 
The Data Detox helps you look for signs that you might not be leading a healthy, balanced digital lifestyle. It gives you practical advice so you can discover what you share, when you reveal it and to whom, and what it might mean for your life.
Maren refered to social media as powerful, personal and pervasive. It is easy to get carried away with the positive outcomes of using social media, but we also need to be mindful of the dark side. Having these conversations with family, friends, colleagues and students has never been so important. 


 

The day continued with three sets of parallel sessions. Choosing was always going to be difficult but in a way was made easier for me as I was asked to chair three sessions in the first set and was presenting a workshop in the final set. Given the Twitter feedback all sessions brought their unique value to the day. I certainly got a great deal from all the sessions I attended. 

Reflecting on the day there is so much I could write about, but for now I will use the event themes as a useful focal point and share these thoughts:

Openness
Hearing from educators sharing their practice and being able to discuss not just what went well, but also what didn't go as planned is incredibly valuable. Providing a forum to question, discuss and offer similar experiencs or suggestions is such a helpful approach and for me the bedrock of successful CPD. Every session allowed for this and I have come away with new ideas and ways I can re-consider my own practice of using social media for learning and how to (re)evaluate it. 

Digital identity
We explored in a session what we feel it means to 'lurk' (or what I prefer to refer to as positive silent engagement), where not participating is very often because the individual is shy or just not ready to contribute immediately (if at all). I want to think more about how I can encourage and help those that want to 'cross the bridge' but also recognise that I must acknowledge others may gain as much as they wish to by just listening in. During this session I co-led with Sarah Honeychurch, Neil Withnell and Scott Turner, I was momentarily worried people were not enjoying it, mistaking the quietness. Sometimes we need quiet for thinking space. Some people may need more time to think than others. 

Secondly I wanted to mention the joy and happiness of the many first 'face to face' meetings that took place. Many selfies were posted at the start of the day! I met people I regard as friends as we have known and interacted with each other through social media for some time, yet never met in person. I'm sorry I can't mention everyone but it was a joy to meet you all. I do want to mention Hala Mansour as our friendship is deeply rooted having shared a #WOL (working out loud) experience; and also Jenny Lewin-Jones and Kiu Sum who have both been part of the LTHEchat organising team; plus Teresa MacKinnon who I've had the pleasure of meeting many times off and online but would love to see more of! I find it fascinating to observe how the use of emojis, GIFs and bitmojis can add visual cues that maybe don't make up for the face to face experience of communicating but certainly help us express emotions and facets of our digital selves! 

Creativity
From the start of the day the 'build your own badge' table had everyone smiling as they happily added their own creative stamp whilst making their perosnal name badge. Andrew as afore mentioned used his creativity to create a video to introduce the #Mugafesto activity, and Bryan who made the best stickers were both brilliant; but then each and every presenter also brought a range of creativity to the way they have enhanced their practice, shared research undertaken or ongoing, and in the way they stimulated discussion around one or more of the three themes. Rachel of course has used her creative wand numerous times and made this such a special event. Thank you for making it happen. 


I really didn't want the day to end. The good (actually brilliant) news is that SocMedHE19 will take place on December 19th at Edge Hill University led by the wonderful Dawne and Sarah. If I can leave you with one bit of advice, it would be follow @SocMedHE and make sure you get yourself to #SocMedHE19!