Saturday, March 04, 2006

Wikis, Podcasts and Blogs: collaborative learning in education Part I

I described in my previous post the background to my presentation on Wikis, Podcasts and Blogs: collaborative learning in education at a Teaching and Learning Through Technology event at the University. This post will start to fill in the detail on what I talked about and what I omitted due to poor time management and my failure to do a true Lessig style presentation!

Here is my Powerpoint presentation more or less as I delivered it. The main differences are that I have blurred the photos of the people doing the vox pop and I have embedded the sound files in the presentation (I hope). The first quote is from the Dearing Report, specifically, a section from point five of the introduction to the Summary Report. The "...willingness to risk oneÂ’s prejudices" is more of a paraphrase, but the idea comes from Halliday, J. (1996) Back to good teaching: diversity within tradition. Cassell. The "public scrutiny" idea comes from Leinhardt G., Young, K. & Merriman, J. (1995) Integrating professional knowledge: the theory of practice and the practice of theory. Learning and Instruction. 5, pp. 401-408. The "Good enough to criticise" quote comes from Alan November via Will Richardson. Finally, I referenced the Seven Principles for Good Practice. I think all of the quotes have some relevance to the Web 2.0 tools I wanted to talk about, but there is a very clear link from these seven principles which I will make explicit later.

Dog and Bone
Dog and Bone,
Or Doggie's Breakfast!
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
After the presentation I went straight into blogs. Perhaps I should have explained a bit about what a blog is, but went straight into showing some examples instead. I started with Stephen Dancer's blog - Doggie's Breakfast. Stephen is a friend from my university days that I'd more or less lost touch with. At the time I found his blog, I was wondering what blogs were and why anyone would want to write one. I discovered that he'd left his engineering job at Rolls Royce and was studying theology with a view to becoming a minister. I thought blogs were just personal diary spaces, but as I read Stephen's, I realised that they could be learning spaces too. And more than just personal learning spaces, because Stephen seemed to be in contact with a community of learners. This community was contributing to his blog by leaving comments and Stephen was picking up on posts in other blogs and interacting with these people too - learning conversations.

I like Doggie's Breakfast. It's not all deep theology, there's fun stuff and family life there too. For example, as a Scot living in England he clearly found it difficult to resist this recent post. But he's also learning. He talks about what he's read, about assignments, about his experiences... He opens up his thinking for others to see. He is challenged by people and he has to defend or re-think his position. I asked him why he blogged and if he thought it helped him with his studies. He thought it did. Having to write down his ideas and having the opportunity to discuss them with others was useful. (Stephen, if you're reading this, and I've misrepresented you, feel free to leave a comment.)

So, I started my own blog, and at the start of term, I tried to talk the students into starting a blog to help them reflect on their learning. Thanks to a boost when Ewan talked to them, we now have about a dozen students bloggers. The one I chose to show at the TLTT event was Lesley's blog: To Probation and Beyond. Her blog is very pink, but there is some good reflection going on there and some great comments. Comments from tutors, fellow students, ex-teachers, current teachers, ... She's having problems with programming, and a Computing teacher offers support. Classroom management issues and she get comments from arespectedd American educational blogger. Brilliant! Well I think it's brilliant, and the good thing about blogs is that Lesley can speak for herself by leaving a comment here, or posting a response on her own blog. So, what do you think Lesley?

There were a few questions on blogs, the last one was essentially asking if there were any dangers? The short answer is, "Yes!", but the thing about blogs is that it is your space. You can control who leaves comments, you can delete comments, it's your blog, it's your choice. There are sharks out there, but so far, all I've encountered is dolphins!

In my talk at the TLTT event, I had intended to go onto podcasts after blogs, but the, "Can you trust the advice you get on blogs?", question gave me a good way into wikis. So, in my next post I'll give some background on what I said about wikis.

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Anonymous said...


link doesn't seem to be working for the powerpoint - access denied :(

Stephen said...

I didn't think my blog would be so useful! There's no misrepresentation - it's all true.

Incidentally, I called it Doggie's B because it was going to be a mishmash of different kinds of stuff. There's meat in there somewhere...

Duncan__ said...

I was looking forward to viewing your PowerPoint, David. But (as Anonymous has already pointed out) access has been denied. (Maybe only accessible from on-campus?)

David said...

I don't know why the presentation wouldn't download. I found a cludge however that lets me download. Does it work for anyone else?

David said...

Stephen, I thought it was "full of meaty chunks!" :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi David,
Downloading now, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Have you thought about adding a module to ITE where the students have to interact with school students by leaving comments on pupils or school blogs. It would helpl them get to know the level that the kids are at, expose them to the technology, encourage school kids, and within a few years get this stuff right into the heart of schools, in the hands of the young and enthusiastic.

David said...

Hello Struan

That's a good idea. This year I have mostly been doing this sort of thing on an ad hoc basis with the students, but I've already been talking to people about doing something a bit more formal next year. Getting them to comment on class blogs is an idea that is worth exploring.


P.S. Hope you enjoyed the Masterclass session.