Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Welcome to my Technology-Enhanced Learning Blog!

Welcome to the blog :-) This is the final post going on to the blog before I submit for the PGCert in Technology-Enhanced Learning at Bucks New University. The deadline is tomorrow!

If all goes to plan, then the assessors will have first read the 'Reflective Journal: Supporting Narrative' document accessed via my PGCert Blackboard (Bb) organisation (only available to enrolled users on Bb). I have also made this available to view via issuu.com here. Reading that document will have brought them here if they have chosen to follow the links as intended. :-)

The idea is that this blog forms a central part of the Reflective Journal that constitutes the summative assessment for the PGCert. It is intended to capture, or dare I say, 'reflect', the learning journey over the course of the PGCert running from October 2014 to July 2015. You, of course, will be the judge of how effectively it does that. If you want to get a sense of that journey as it unfolds (if you really haven't something more pressing to do!) then use the Blog Archive to find earlier posts and follow it through. Alternatively, scroll through as you see fit and see where it takes you. As Dave Cormier (the man who I believe coined the term 'MOOC') might say, let the journey be 'rhizomatic'!

As is the case with blogs, there is space to add your own comments below any of the blog posts here and I very much welcome comments, questions, thoughts, and feedback. I have learnt much during the PGCert, a large proportion of which has been over the last few weeks, as I have attempted to bring things together and discovered more about using such varied technologies as Issuu, Periscope, Padlet, and so on.

Anyhow, enough of the small talk. Go and explore :-)

Thursday, 16 July 2015

A Virtual Open Evening

We did it! We ran a virtual open evening for the MAPP yesterday and it seemed to go ok...

The session was conducted within Blackboard (Bb) Collaborate and lasted about an hour. We had a total of 9 people take part in the session, of whom only about 3 or 4 were prospective students. However, the session ran smoothly and we now have a recording that can be used for any subsequent enquirers this year if needed. A link to the Bb Collaborate recording is here. [The Bb Collaborate recording should also be available to view within my PGCert Bb organisation.]

The feedback from those taking part was overwhelmingly positive and the prospective students were clearly very grateful that such a session had been provided. One of the prospective students, looking to study the MAPP via distance learning, was logging in from Qatar so this was enough of a validation for me that virtual sessions such as this are needed if we want to truly open up to a global audience and making our learning provision available to those unable to travel to the University campus.

Alongside the more 'official' session on Bb Collaborate, I also broadcast part of the session via Periscope. Until the power on my phone went :-) This had 67 'live' viewers (I was aiming for at least 10 live viewers). Of course, these viewers will not be people who are likely to be interested in the MAPP as they will be Periscope users simply browsing for live broadcasts, of which there are still relatively few as the number of Periscope users builds. Still, it was a useful 'test of concept' and a way of exploring what might be possible using the Periscope app. For example, it does allows quick and easy filming and distributing of material that could be instructional for students or for raising awareness of a course (or both).

Friday, 10 July 2015

Levels of participation in a community of practice

Wenger-Trayner notes [here] how there are different levels of participation within a community of practice. This is visually represented very nicely below:

[Source: http://wenger-trayner.com/project/levels-of-participation/]

This serves to reaffirm my view of 'The Positive Psychology People' (PPP) as the basis for a community of practice, as this reflects the 'structure' (if that is the right word?) of the levels of participation in the PPP, with there being a core team of co-ordinators, a wider group of active 'members' (e.g., developing content for the web resources), and so on.

Using this as a framework, I can see MAPP students becoming initially involved at the 'peripheral' level and, depending on their own interests, becoming occasional or active contributors to discussions and other activities.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Swivl in the sunshine!

A recent coaching workshop at Missenden Abbey allowed for an unplanned, yet very helpful, meeting with a colleague who offered to meet again today (also at Missenden) to go over what I had done so far for the PGCert. It gave me an interim deadline to work to, and I need deadlines!

It also gave me an opportunity to do a little filming with the Swivl. So I popped out into the beautiful grounds at the Abbey, set up the tripod, Swivl and iPad, and recorded a little 'welcome' video for myPGCert Bb organisation. A little gimmicky, perhaps, but it did allow me to have a bit more of a play with it and showed that filming with this can be done anywhere and is simple to do alone. This contrasts with some recent attempts to do filming with a cameraman, etc. to produce video materials for the distance MAPP for 2015-16. So much easier to film and upload, rather than film bits that need a good deal of editing, etc.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

A 'mock' virtual open evening

Today we ran a 'mock' session for a virtual open evening ahead of next week's PG Open Evening. We had about seven or eight people log on to a Blackboard (Bb) Collaborate session (including our PG Marketing Manager!) and all seemed to go well! The PGMM was impressed and I think we have turned her around to the idea now :-)

Lots of support from our Open4Learning team, and a commitment from them to support the real session next week. Looking forward to it. I'm wondering if there would be a way of obtaining some feedback from those who take part. I'm sure that should be fairly easy.... for example, in the session I could seek some basic feedback. And then a follow-up email? Or perhaps something on SurveyMonkey?

Alongside the more 'formal' Bb Collaborate session, we even had a play with Periscope, an app from Twitter that allows live 'broadcasting' over the web. As I read a little more about Periscope (e.g., there is an official blog here), I discover how new the app is. It was only launched in March of this year! It was fun to play with, and I think we will try to do something as part of the PG Open Evening. I haven't figured out a way to 'post' recordings from Periscope on here, but if you dowload the app and follow @BucksMAPP you can view live or recorded broadcasts (recordings are only available for a short time after). While you're at it, you can also follow @BucksMAPP on Twitter!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Up Periscope!

I have recently been introduced to Periscope, an app that I think is owned by Twitter, and 'allows you to see the world through another's eyes'. It is effectively a video version of Twitter in that it allows the user to 'broadcast' live to followers over the web. I like it and I'm beginning to have a play with it, wondering how it might be used in a learning context. I have set up a @BucksMAPP account (to represent the MSc Applied Positive Psychology) as well as a personal account (@dr_matthewsmith). Both easy as they are Twitter accounts and you can log on using Twitter.

One of my first thoughts, as we think about running a 'virtual' open evening session, is whether we could be broadcasting via Periscope at the same time? Worth thinking about?

Thinking more long-term, Periscope may be another tool to help build and support community among learners? For example, research has shown that 'social presence' (characterised as 'being together' with learners) can be influenced positively through online communication that is expressive, emotional, immediate and stimulating (Tu & McIsaac, 2002). Real-time informal broadcasts via Periscope, that do allow two-way interaction as viewers can type in comments an questions that appear on the broadcast, could meet such criteria.

Tu, C., & McIsaac, M. (2002). The relationship of social presence and interaction in online classes. American Journal of Distance Education, 16, 131-150.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

What about a 'virtual' open evening?

Having recently been succesful in getting the 'distance' (i.e., FDL) version of the MSc Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) validated, I found myself reflecting on why we didn't offer a 'virtual' open evening for prospective distance learners. The more I reflected on this, the more it seemed a bit of a 'no-brainer'... Of course we should offer something like this!

And so I mentioned this to some key people at the university to see what kind of response I would get if we were to try and run something like this for the MAPP, nothing too big, alongside the PG Open Evening on Wednesday 15th July. The PG Marketing Manager, usually very supportive of any activity that might enhance the marketability of a course, was a little reticent. Perhaps this could be something to think about for the future? The E-Learning Services Manager, however, was happy to support this and we arranged to meet.

What made this even better was that the Digital Media Manager had independently considered that the University should consider 'Virtual Open Days' having come across a case study from the University of Derby who had been running such events, via Blackboard (Bb) Collaborate, for a number of years and suggested these were effective ways of converting potential applicants into students. We met, shared our ideas, and became quite excited by the possibilities! We agreed that I would run a 'mock' session a week before the PG Open Evening to see how it might work. We would invite a group of interested parties (including the PG Marketing Manager) to log on and try it out. We scheduled this for Tuesday 7th July...