Tag: presentation (page 1 of 5)

My takeaways from Stephen Downes’ talk on personal learning

In general, I have great intentions to watch recorded presentations. However, in reality, just like the number of philosophy books I get around to reading in a given year, I can count the number I sit down to watch on the fingers of one hand.

I’ve been meaning to watch Stephen Downes’ talk on personal learning since he gave it at the at the Canada MoodleMoot back in February. Since I’m talking with him this afternoon about Project MoodleNet, that served as a prompt to get around to watching it.

(as an aside, it’s a blessing to be able to play YouTube videos at 1.5 or double speed — presentations, by their nature aren’t as information-dense as text!)

Groups vs Networks

Downes has been talking about groups vs networks since before 2006. In fact, I often reference this:

Groups vs Networks

CC BY-NC Stephen Downes

The presentation builds on this, and references a tool/environment he’s built called gRSShopper.

Groups vs Networks

Downes doesn’t link any of this to politics, but to my mind this is the difference between authoritarianism and left libertarianism. As such, I think it’s a wider thing than just an approach to learning. It’s an approach to society. My experience is that some people want paternalism as it provides a comfort blanket of security.

Personalized vs Personal

There’s plenty of differences between the two approaches. In his discussion of the following slide, Downes talks about the difference between a ‘custom’ car and a customised car, or an off-the-self suit versus one that’s tailored for you.

Personalized vs Personal

My position on all of this is very similar to Downes. However, I don’t think we can dismiss the other view quite so easily. There has to be an element of summative assessment and comparison for society to function — at least the way we currently structure it…

Personal Learning Environments

Downes’ custom-build system, gRSShopper, is built with him (the learner) in the middle. It’s a PLE, a Personal Learning Environment:

gRSShopper workflow

All of this is based on APIs that pull data from various systems, allow him to manipulate it in various ways, and then publish outputs in different formats.

Note that all of this, of course, depends upon open APIs, data, and resources. It’s a future I’d like to see, but depends upon improving the average technical knowledge and skills of a global population. At the same time, centralised data-harvesting services such Facebook are pointing in the opposite direction, and dumbing things down.

Personal Learning Record

So gRSShopper creates what Downes calls a Personal Learning Record, complete with ‘personal graph’ that is private to the learner. This is all very much in keeping with the GDPR.

Data aggregation and analytics

The real value in all of this comes in being able to aggregate learning data from across platforms to provide insights, much as Exist does with your personal and health data.

Analytics and Big Data

Downes made comments about pulling resources and data between systems, about embedding social networks within the PLE, and browser plugins/extensions to make life easier for learners. I particularly liked his mention of not just using OERs as you learn, but creating them through the process of learning.

Conclusion

I’m looking forward to our conversation this afternoon, as I’m hoping it will either validate, or force me to rethink the current approach to Project MoodleNet.


Main image CC0 Marvin Meyer

Are alternative approaches such as gamification and badging effective in increasing engagement, retention, and achievement?

Today I’ve been in Birmingham presenting at the AoC Learning Technology conference on behalf of City & Guilds. I made an audio recording of the 20-minute presentation to go along with my slides. You’ll have to manually advance, but it should be fairly obvious when to hit ‘next’!

No audio above? Click here

Radical participation: a smörgåsbord

Today and tomorrow I’m at Durham University’s eLearning conference. I’m talking on Radical Participation – inspired, in part, by Mark Surman’s presentation at the Mozilla coincidental workweek last month.

My slides should appear below. If not, click here!

I was very impressed by Abbi Flint’s keynote going into the detail of her co-authored Higher Education Academy report entitled Engagement Through Partnership: students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. In fact, I had to alter what I was going to say as she covered my critique! Marvellous.

After Abbi’s keynote I was involved in a panel session. I didn’t stick too closely to my notes, instead giving more of a preview to what I’m talking about in my keynote tomorrow. As ever, I’m genuinely looking forward to some hard questions!

Minimum Viable Bureaucracy: Practicalities

This is my third post on Laura Thomson’s marvellous talk Minimum Viable Bureaucracy. In this one I’m focusing on the section she entitled ‘Practicalities’. All of the ideas in this post should be ascribed to Laura, apart from the fanciful interpretation of them (which is all mine – I’ve tried to make this obvious).

Posts in the series:

  1. Introduction
  2. Scale, Chaordic Systems & Trust
  3. Practicalities
  4. Problem Solving and Decision Making
  5. Goals, scheduling, shipping
  6. Minimum Viable Bureaucracy: Why have managers?

I chopped up the audio from her talk; you should find the two parts relating to this post below. Slides are here and it’s all backed up at the Internet Archive.

Communication practices are called practices for a reason.

(Laura Thomson)

In the previous section of her talk, Laura talked about the importance of scale, chaordic systems and trust. In this section she’s focusing on implementing these ideas in practice. She starts by talking about the importance of over-communicate everything, especially if working remotely. Tell people what you’re going to do, what you’re doing, and then when you’ve done it (and, importantly, how it went). A good tip: if you have face-to-face or IRC conversation and others aren’t present, then you should document it for the benefit of the rest of the team. This is important in non-technical environments too. Keep people in the loop.

Encouraging a culture of collaborative note-taking allows for what Laura calls ‘asynchony’ – in other words “I shouldn’t have to be physically present in time and space to know what happened.” She points to a presentation by John O’Duinn that you can access here (PDF) Interestingly, John’s presentation focuses on the importance of having ‘groups’ of remoties and makes a case for ‘aqui-hires’.

If you’re working in an office and some members of your team don’t work from the same physical location then it can seem like a hassle to document everything, remember to invite them to meetings, etc. The important thing to remember is that remote teams allow organisations to hire the best people, regardless of where they happen to live. It might be a annoying for those that are physically co-located, but there’s a good reason for it (more talent in the organisation). Remote working is effective when there are good communication practices and there are high levels of trust. In the long run it’s best to get used to ‘remote’ ways of working as the chances are any organisation will end up having more than one office.

Moving onto effective communication practices, Laura suggests the following:

  • Shared communication spaces
  • Every project should have a URL
  • Some kind of chat system that has logging (IRC/Campfire, etc.)
  • Etherpads and wikis for collaborative document editing
  • Bug tracking
  • Email (secondary – after the fact documenting)
  • Record as many meetings as possible through video, audio or shared notes
  • Record decisions made

‘Bug tracking’ might seem like a specific issue for software development, but there’s many way bug trackers can be used for other things. As an example, check out this recent bug (#914343) for transferring the Web Literacy Standard from the Mozilla wiki to Webmaker.org.

It’s a well-known fact that many meetings kind of suck. Laura believes that, paradoxically, team meetings can actually reduce communication. They can be a bit like an annual performance review where someone says, “Hey Fred, you did a terrible job this year, in March you did this thing that sucked”. But then you wait until December to tell him about it. If something is important, don’t wait for a weekly team meeting to raise it. It’s not the frequency of meetings, it’s the culture: the ad-hoc, asynchronous nature of the interactions/communications.

If you turn up to a meeting and never say anything you probably shouldn’t go to it. Try replacing the idea of meetings with conversations about the following:

  • Collaborative problem-solving
  • Maintenance windows
  • Triaging bugs
  • 1:1s
  • Show and Tell (people really enjoy doing these)
  • Post-mortems

If you have to have an actual meeting, make sure you have an agenda, a list of stuff you’re going to talk about (even if it’s just five bullet points). Limit the number of people at the meeting as “nothing good ever happened at a meeting with 20 people in it. Ever.” Limit the length. Try 30 minutes and if it takes longer than that, schedule another 30 minutes. And try to cluster meetings together – either all on the same day or same morning.* Record and take notes for asynchrony.

*This, of course, depends on shared calendars, which is a great habit to get into. You can share on a free/busy basis with most platforms.

When it comes to Minimum Viable (Project) Documentation, Laura’s advice is to aim for:

  • How to install code
  • How to make a change / submit code
  • What’s the roadmap (even a rough one for next week)
  • Changelog (version control systems often do this)
  • Glossary (helpful for new employees, interns, external contributors)
  • Where to get help (the most important)

Although this seems extremely software-specific, if you think about what these things would look like in your environment, it doesn’t take too much of a leap. Instead of ‘submitting code’ you could talk about ‘adding ideas’.

Finally for this section, Laura reminds us that it becomes more annoying to explain something for the tenth time to the tenth different person that it is to write it down. Documentation is important and saves everyone time.


You can follow Laura Thomson as @lxt on Twitter.

Weeknote 28/2013

This week I’ve been:

  • Booking travel/accommodation for what my team are calling ‘Badge Camp’. It’s a work week up in the mountains in Maine, USA where ‘yoga’ and ‘sleeping in’ sit alongside ‘strategy discussions’ as official agenda items. Win.
  • Setting up the Eventbrite for Mozilla Maker Party Newcastle at the Centre for Life on Saturday 17th August. Tickets have been going pretty quickly so I’m going to see if there’s scope for extra room.
  • Running three Open Badges workshops at the ePIC eportfolios and identity conference in London. Slides here.
  • Talking to Robin Raymond, the lead developer of Open Peer about Firecloud.
  • Discussing aligning with the Web Literacy Standard with Paul Allison. I’ve realised there’s an issue for those without developers: most (all?) of the third party platforms lack the ‘alignment’ field in the latest version of the OBI specification.
  • Encouraging people to sign up for MozFest. It’s the best decision you’ll make this year.
  • Editing and posting the audio from the Web Literacy Standard community call that I missed this week. Thanks again to my colleague Carla Casilli for hosting it!
  • Sorting out my expenses for June. It was a busy month. 😮
  • Purchasing the firecloud.co domain name and setting up a blog. It’s trivially easy to do these days, it really is.
  • Inviting the major contributors to the Web Literacy Standard to ‘half-hour hackfests’. They worked really well and I’m thinking of running some more next week!
  • Meeting with Carla to discuss what’s left to do with the Web Literacy Standard before the beta launch. Also, plans for some kind of ‘contest’ for people to align with the standard in various ways between MozFest 2013 and MozFest 2014.
  • Attending the weekly Mozilla Open Badges and Webmaker community calls.
  • Talking with people about integrating with the Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI) as I do every week. 🙂
  • Taking Friday off to look after my two year-old daughter.

Next week I’ve got meetings but no travel so I’ll be cracking on with getting the Web Literacy Standard ready for the beta launch on July 26th. I’m flying to Maine on Sunday 21st so it needs to be pretty much finalised by close of play next Friday!

Zen and the Art of Digital Literacies [video + article]

About this time last year, the Irish Learning Technology Association (ILTA) kindly invited me over to keynote their annual conference. I had a great time and presented on Zen and the Art of Digital Literacies.

Subsequently, I was asked to write it up as an article for the inaugural issue of the ILTA’s journal, which has been published recently. They’ve done a really nice job of creating a responsive, web-native, open-access journal that also include the video of me presenting.

Check it out here: http://journal.ilta.ie/2013/05/21/zen-and-the-art-of-digital-literacies/

(you should also take time to go through the other articles in the issue)

Ambiguity, OER & Open Badges (#OER13 keynote)

I’m presenting at the OER13 conference today. My slides should appear above and you can also access them by clicking through here. I’ll update this post when the recording becomes available.

I’d like to thank Paul Martin for his feedback on an earlier version of the slides. 🙂

Zen and the Art of Digital Literacies (#EdTech12)

Zen and the Art of Digital Literacies

I’m keynoting the Irish Learning Technology Association’s (ILTA) annual conference (#EdTech12) today and for the first time have created my slides using web-native HTML5 and CSS3.

Click here or on the image above to access them!

My TEDx talk on ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ [video]

A couple of weeks ago I presented at TEDx Warwick. The video is now available:

I’d love your feedback on this. 🙂

#TEDxWarwick: The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

Update: the video of my talk is now available!

TEDx WarwickAs this post goes live I’ll be delivering my talk at TEDx Warwick. <gulp!>

I wanted to take the opportunity to point towards the stuff that I didn’t managed to cram into my 17 minutes.

So here goes:

And last, but not least, I’m writing an e-book about digital literacies with the same title as my TEDx talk: The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies. You can find out more about this at http://dougbelshaw.com/ebooks/digilit

If you’ve seen my talk and have some feedback, I’d love to hear it in the comments below!

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