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Tag Archives: ALTC2009

In the Choice and Change in OER workshop we looked at our own motivations to use Open Educational Resources and were then  taken through a process of working with ‘patterns’ looking at how that might be used in conjunction with the reuse of an OER. ‘Blog Innovation’ showcased a couple of projects that had used blogs and wikis with undergraduates and revealed the usual suspects of enablers (time, cost, support, embedding, access) and inhibitors (isolation, time, firewalls, lack of training).

In the Pedagogic Innovation session there were examples of the use of QR codes from Andy Ramsden (for instance in labeling artifacts with further information) and a contrast of ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’ experience of the web and web 2.0 tools from David White. Helen Whitehead expanded on the ‘Beyond 9 to 5′ community site and Brock Craft explained how sketching had been used to try to elucidate practitioners’ course design processes.

In the Learning Technology session Joss Winn talked about the use of BuddyPress to set up a series of institutional blogs and its versatility. Adam Blackwood illustrated the potential ability of a mobile phone to replace a range of gadgets in the classroom.

The keynote came from Martin Bean, giving us his vision for the OU of which he is soon to become VC. We have all been invited to join Social Learn (, a tool that hopes to bring together social networking and education.

The afternoon session on Redesigning Assessment included Sue Folley’s look at the use of rubrics to make thing easier for both teacher and self assessment, and the use of digital story telling as a method of assessment from Geraldine Jones.

A great opening to the first day with a keynote from Michael Wesch, full of ideas and challenges. He began with the idea of media being more than a tool but something that can actually mediate our relationships (making me wonder if therefore we choose our media with sufficient care). His history of insignificance looked at the possible increasing loss of the sense of self and how this might be manifesting itself through the quest to be broadcast. Wesch suggested an interesting alternative to the term group, using ‘flock’ to better describe the coming together of numbers of people at points when they were traveling in the same direction, followed by their dispersal when their directions diverged. We were directed to the videos ‘A Vision of Students Today’ and ‘An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube’ for further information.

Aaron Porter had several good ideas about how we might use technology to enhance the student experience. He asked if any university of offering students a tracking system for their work (rather like on online order or helpdesk problem), whereby they might see when feedback is offered and those offering it could see that it has been accessed. When students give us feedback are we seen to be responding to it? Since students are known to use social networking tools might  same be used to help students feel part of the academic community? I like the idea of easing the inevitable tensions of approaching group work by allowing students to draw up their own rules of engagement.

Richard Noss talked about several interesting TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) projects including Ensemble (concerned with semantic technologies); InterLife (using virtual worlds to help with transition skills) and Learning Design Support (to help teachers exploit the potential of TEL).

The Semantic Technologies in Education session had us all thinking, not least about what were the problems it could actually solve or was it simply ‘a good idea’ and when realised we would find out what it could do.

The OER Matters session speculated a lot of possible opinions about OER that I have already met through the course of my work. The question ‘Are free resources really free?’ is an important one along with the worry that the apparent economic driver may become the main focus. Though we may all agree that ‘Open Education’ and ‘Educational Resources’ are good ideas, are we really positive about OER and it’s implications?

With ALT-C 2009 approaching I found myself updating my details in CrowdVine. It was interesting to see how my work had moved on since the last conference and how my interests had developed, but I found myself stalling at the same question that had foxed my last year:

What topics are you an expert in?

Now there’s a good question… that is ‘What is an expert?

At what point would you call yourself or someone else an expert? Is it an absolute term or a relative one? If you can translate two words from an obscure dead language, and that’s two more than anyone else in the world, are you an expert? Well, you know more than anyone else so, relatively, you are. However, look at it another way, that’s just two words of many thousands, or tens of thousands; you know next to nothing in absolute terms. Feel like an expert now?

Maybe one’s expertness can only really be judged by others; they know how much more we know than they do, we look like experts, but we know always how much more there is to learn.

So, what do I profess to be an expert in? Well, the term is loaded for me; perhaps it is my training (any physical scientists want to comment on that?) but I would be be loath to apply it to myself without thinking I had a lot to back up my claim. The area of my doctoral and post doctoral research, yes, I was the expert in that very small area of that very small field, and unsurprisingly I don’t remember a crowd beating a path to my door to learn more about it. (Buy me a coffee, a good cup of coffee, and I promise not to tell you anything about it).

Yet, there are probably areas in which I could offer someone help and advice; how do you express that though without using the word ‘expert’.

Look forward to meeting you at ALT-C 2009, expert or not!

What topics are you an expert in?