BDRA’s bibliography – more thoughts

Since David first mentioned the idea of a central, BDRA bibliography, we’ve agreed to try using RefWorks as a shared repository for all our references.

There has also been mention of Diigo and Delicious as possible mechanisms for a more informal sharing of links.

Something to consider in relation to these ideas: Jo Badge recently wrote about the use of CiteULike in conjunction with RefWorks. I’m not quite sure how these two systems work together yet, but it might be worth experimenting…

By Gabi Witthaus


Where are we so far? A summary

After over a month of intense collective blogging and critical friending, I thought it useful to capture some ‘highlights’, in the order in which they were contributed. The topics are varied. The tag cloud only gives a partial view of the richness of this blog.

The purpose here is to offer, on a single page, an overview of some of the key ideas that colleagues have contributed so far, in a way that the tag cloud does not capture. Maybe another contributor can select some of these highlights and weave them into a meaningful post? Or perhaps categorise them (with significant areas of overlap, I’m sure) in a way that -again- the tag cloud cannot do?

Learning 2.0,, Turnitin… but academics are unconvinced (Gilly)

Graduating from the Learning Futures Academy (M Mobbs)

Change through research – the Animal Kingdom (Ale)

Mushrooming of e-book readers (Pal)

Tactile thinking & tips to use stiftables in SL (M Wheeler)

Changing teaching through trial and error with learning technologies (Jai)

‘The future’ according to the London Tech Summit 2009 (Sandra)

Sustainability of education: will e-learning be essential? (David)

Learning, teaching, the environment and space (Sahm)

Podcasting is normalised… but hot still (Ming)

Remote applications for editing graphics and photos (Sandra)

Cloud computing and access to resources after graduation (M Mobbs)

The value of good teaching – are we too obsessed with learning (and political correctness?) (Ale)

Domesticating iPods – what do our learners use to listen to their course audio files? (Pal)

Free content, open educational resources and hidden agendas (Sandra)

Saving penalties, training goalkeepers: let’s use video footage on our iPods (Jai)

Infectious disease: using iPhones can seriously change your behaviours (M Wheeler)

Teamwork, communication, roles and collaboration post our National Space Centre visit (Sahm)

Being naked in Second Life (Ming)

Centralising BDRA resources (David)

Success factors of Web 2.0 (Roger)

The significance of rocks: past, present and future (Gilly)

Cool, useful web-based resources (Sandra)

BDRA’s knowledge store: the way forward (David)

Using an iPhone and being a puppet master (or being a puppet oneself?) (Jai)

Disruptive technologies, unexpected changes… and even benefits (M Wheeler)

Wiki-ing a podcast: can we really annotate an audio file in a usable format? (Pal)

Teaching memories with old and stable technologies + impact on today’s practices and on the self (Roger)

Detox yourself – give up technology for a bit! (Sahm)

Text’n’talk: what what works and what not in Second Life (Ming)

The Media Zoo today and in the future (M Wheeler)

Street view on Google – Earth-tivities are next! (Gilly)

In sum, a wide variety of contributions, reflecting the interests and thoughts of each member of our team, as well as some collective understanding around key concepts. Let this journey continue!

Alejandro Armellini
22 March 2009

Playing in the Same Key

Apparently, I am the ‘new Matthew Mobbs’; at least, this is how I have been introduced to my colleagues in the Attenborough Tower.

Highly flattered as I am to be compared to this articulate educator, software wizard and internationally renowned Mick Jagger impersonator (he really is very good – ask for ‘You Tube’ proof!), I know it will be some time before I am able to fill Matt’s shoes (if ever) and find myself up to speed on the many BDRA projects. But I have made a start. And it has been very exciting.

But today I will wear my other HE hat as a long-in-the-tooth face-to-face tutor and distance learning e-moderator. What is clear is that the emerging e-learning technologies and associated pedagogies that the Alliance rigorously explores allow our students to confront us with differing expectations. For this reason, the skills base required of the modern educator appears daunting.

I see BDRA at the cutting edge of research into these technologies – podcasts, e-books, 3-D MUVES such as Second Life, and so on. It provides the link between research and practice that is so vital in academia. Via its many research dissemination avenues and through innovative practices such as the Media Zoo’s  excellent Carpe Diem two-day workshop, BDRA enables educators to adapt their material to best meet these new student expectations. BDRA offers the reasons why they should or, equally as important, shouldn’t do so.

But I wonder whether there is a danger that the real-world application of these excellent educational innovations will be left far behind the research.

For example, as a tutor, I can see how a short, regular, Audacity-edited podcast on recent global events could add significantly to the International Relations course I teach. The audio could be combined with some animated Powerpoint slides containing website screenshots and URLs to produce a useful Adobe Presentation. A wiki would allow my students to add their own thoughts, or perhaps I could even have them take a small quiz in Blackboard, reinforcing what they have just heard. As a learning technologist, I can do this.

But do I really think an educator – and I’m not trying to be critical here – who indents text on a module reading list by using the Tab key will have (or ever find the time to acquire) the technical ability to do the same?

This is where university administrations have to take up the challenge laid down by research groups such as BDRA, as the potential of what can be done may differ significantly from what is actually offered to the modern (fee-paying and discerning) student. It’s stating the obvious, but this can be achieved only through significant investment in people and training, and an appreciation of the future of HE.

In considering whether universities – and university departments within a university – can afford to be complacent  in giving academics all the help they need in overcoming the gap between research and practice, I turn to the (completely fabricated) words of the Mobbs-ter’s rock mentor: “Hey Keef, man, it sounds better if we all play in the same key, you know?”

As we know, students, the masters of Web 2.0 social networking and inveterate ‘chatters’, have very keen ears.


Learning Technologist

An encounter with an e-book reader

Last week I was on the train to London (to attend a conference at the University of London).  As I was looking around for a seat (no chance, of course!), I saw, as usual, mobile phones and iPods everywhere. Then I saw one person glued to his Sony e-book reader. The device has a brown leather case, so if I hadn’t seen one before I wouldn’t have known what it was. I saw a couple more e-book readers on the tube later on.

I think it won’t be too long before e-book readers claim a space in our jackets, handbags, rucksacks etc.

I had my own experience with an e-book reader last night. I managed to read a 65 page document (all of it!) on a Sony e-book reader. I didn’t feel much of a difference between reading the text on paper (except that I saved 65 pages of printing paper)!

E-book readers have a lot to contribute to distance and mobile learners; and their access to learning and reference material. The Duckling project (one of BDRA’s animals) has several trials going on with e-book readers for distance learning – so we’ll have a lot to report in the coming months on this. Watch this space!

E-book readers will become more popular with the average reader (I mean those who are not the ‘early adopter technophile’ type), as the manufacturers of e-book readers improve the technology, according to an article in the Economist (‘Well read’, Feb 14th 2009. pp. 73 – 74). With devices that can be connected to the internet wirelessly, and with dedicated book / paper downloading services (similar to Apple’s iTunes) becoming available, we’ll be looking at distance and mobile learners reaping the beneficial effects of this new mobile device. We’ll be looking at the ‘iPod moment’ of the text.

Palitha Edirisingha (BDRA, 19th Feb 2009)

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