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Posts Tagged ‘participation’

Today I have spent time reading some of the resources that I hadn’t already had a chance to look at on the ALT module BlackBoard site – of particular interest was this short video explaining what a community of practice is, by Etienne Wenger:

This is exactly what I am wanting to create for our students – working away from  the University remotely in different practice settings. My intention is that by providing them with a tool to meet as a group, shared learning will occur; that they can discuss what has worked and what hasn’t worked; as well as collectively identifying any gaps in their knowledge that I can support them with. I set up a page on BlackBoard for them, and posted the video about communities of practice for them to also watch. I then emailed the group and updated them, signposting them to the new page and video, and asking for their thoughts and suggestions on aspects such as when would be a good time to meet? Would a session in the day and a session in the evening be a good idea? I suspect that I won’t get a particularly good response as they are all in the first few weeks of starting placement, so will no doubt be preoccupied with orientating themselves in a new work environment, but at least they know they can contact me. I have also told them that I intend to pilot the online session soon, so would appreciate a few people to help me try it out.

Postscript: As at 4pm on 13th December not one student has contacted me! I did suspect that they would all be busy climatising themselves to their placements. In addition, I assume nobody has looked at the page I set up on B/B for them, as it transpired today that our second years are not even enrolled on the site I placed it on! Therefore they wouldn’t be able to access it even if they wanted to!

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I have been thinking about and working on my project a fair bit, but have recorded very little – I need to work out how to install a WordPress app on my phone then I can be more spontaneous with my reflection. I continue to explore which online group meeting tool is going to be best to use with the second years. I have tried setting up a Google Hangout, but am struggling to get it on my Laptop as it does not seem to have the software necessary to install the required ‘plugins’. I have been able to set it up from my work PC but there is no camera or microphone attached, so I would be unable to use it from my Salford computer. I need to investigate this further, but so far I have established that to use it, students need to:

1. Set up a Google+ account

2. Go to Google Hangout

3. Ensure that their laptops are compatible to accommodate Google Hangout.

I have tested using Google Hangout in principle, and as a platform I prefer it to Collaborate as I think it is more accessible. Students need to find technologies accessible in order to participate in them for effective learning – I like the way Beetham and Currant (2008, slide 13) use the term effective learning as characteristic of ‘skilled, digitally aware learners with the capacity to participate on learning using technologies of their own choosing’. If the technology is accessible then students are more likely to choose to use it. Wenger et al (2009) address ‘Community Orientations’, and specifically online meetings. They note that the choice of technology needs to reflect the style of the community so one needs to consider formal or informal, presentation or discussion and so on. These are essential elements that I need to consider for my project – I want the group session to be informal, but its value recognised by the students. Therefore it must not be so informal that people don’t bother to participate or engage. I want the sessions to be mainly discussion, and peer led – but I also want a tool that is going to allow me to present information if necessary. In  addition another benefit of Google Hangout is that it can be recorded on YouTube so anybody unable to participate could always have access to it later (this in itself requires thought around permissions, consent, privacy settings and so on, but it is an important feature that I believe increases the accessibility to students)

Beetham H & Currant B (2008) presentation on Learning Literacies for a Digital Age from the ELESIG symposium, Longridge Technology Park, 20/11/08 online resource accessed from ELESIG website, members area:  http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/3434   on 19/11/12

Wenger E., White N., Smith J.D (2009) Community Orientations: activities and tools. In Stewarding Technology for Communities. CPsquare; Portland, oregan.

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