Learn IT: Blog it! Tweet it! Film it! Wiki it! from the student’s perspective

So, I attended the last event from the series of Learn IT (a staff-student exchange event), organised by Developing Digital Literacies working group. Before writing this post, I looked at the written form of the passed talks produced by other participants, including the guild’s president and lecturers from different departments. Seemingly, this Tuesday it was a concluding part of the continuous discourse around issues on online identity management, academic content creation, interaction between staff and students, possibilities of new media technology, and more.

Learn IT student-staff exchange concluding talk

 

Some of the Tuesday topics on the agenda were:

  • VLE (virtual learning environment) perspectives
  • Teaching & Learning techniques through technology
  • Academic content production in various media
  • Digital literacies of various stakeholders at university
  • Action points to promote media literacy (some of them seen in the picture below)
Some action points posted real-time on textwall

Some action points posted real-time on textwall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, it was a very lively discussion where everybody expressed/contributed an interesting bit of their own experiences in relation to media technology use for their teaching or/and learning methods. Particularly, I’ve found it compelling when one speaker mentioned the difficulty for academic staff to ‘break the ice’ with their students on mainstream social media. From Georgina’s words (a lecturer from Media & Communication dep.), students seemed to be reluctant towards extra interaction with their lecturers/tutors on popular social media. I would consider this unwillingness as the result of lack of highly-valuable asset as time and apparent unawareness of potential benefits from such networking-interaction for their future career development.

Surely, there is a matter of privacy that students may be concerned with, when a member of staff ‘invades’ the personal space despite the fact that proximity is minimised. I imagine it is inconsistent for a student to combine his academic and social life in one place. Moreover, I think even if such network (for instance a university bespoke blog) existed, it would put more pressure on already loaded academics who probably struggle to even respond on time to unread emails from students. Further, in our group talk it was immediately pointed out by Alistair (a final year engineering student), that this extracurricular practices do not drive the grades up so there is no point in participating for scholars.

To take the matter even further, it was interestingly pointed out in one of the commsmedialiverpool posts, that the idea of 24/7 university may pose health-related dangers to students. Although the concept was substantially discussed in relation to physical university rather than virtual technologically-enhanced learning opportunities. Nevertheless, one could still relate the similar trend of potential dangers and disadvantages to the increased proliferation of social media. So perhaps, the fuss about finding the new ways to engage students more with the academic staff by means of new media is more incidental.

On the other hand, for me the proposition of more staff training seemed most viable. Particularly, in relation to developing certain skills and literacies in order to ‘gain’ students’ attention, thereby  potentially cultivating relationships between one another. From my perspective, the lecturer’s/tutor’s skill (or talent?) to make students think matters most when attempting to boost interaction amongst the two, in either real or virtual environments.

 

 

Next event: Blog it! Tweet it! Film  It! Wiki It! 

An invite to our next event: Blog it! Tweet it! Film  It! Wiki It!  aka, reading and creating academic communications in a range of media

Do you use blogs, tweets , films or wikis in your academic work or study? In today’s digital world, staff and students need to know how to communicate not just in writing in academic journals but increasingly in other internet-media.

All staff and students welcome.

LearnIt: Blog It! Tweet It! Film It! Wiki It! - on 10th March 2015

LearnIt: Blog It! Tweet It! Film It! Wiki It! – on 10th March 2015

Tuesday 10th Mar 2015, 13:00-15:00

The Guild, Elizabeth Gidney Suite

More info and registration at http://www.liv.ac.uk/cll/booking

Refreshments: tea/coffee/muffins

Come along and hear from academic colleagues, colleagues from the Guild, and students,  how these alternative forms of communication can enhance learning and be fun and engaging.

By taking part, you will have opportunities to

  • Learn about reading and creating academic communications in a range of media
  • Think about how you can capitalise on the means by which students’  “real world” experiences are so often conducted
  • Gain tips and techniques that you can take away.

We hope that as many of you as possible will be able to attend the event yourselves, but also that you will be able to promote the event to other colleagues and students.

The Developing Digital Literacies Working Group

Have you Googled yourself recently? Report from our student-staff #LearnIt event

Student-staff exchange on digital identity - a LearnIt event by the Developing Digital Literaicies Working Group, hosted in the Guild

Student-staff exchange on digital identity – a LearnIt event by the Developing Digital Literacies Working Group, hosted in the Guild

Online career and identity management was the theme of the second event in the successful LearnIt series of staff-student discussion events.

Students and staff from academic and professional services departments from across the institution heard brief introductory presentations on how/ why your online presence can influence your career, how social media can support academic learning, and how students can actively use social media to promote their subject to the wider community. These thought-provoking presentations were then followed by discussion groups comprising staff and students. A wide range of subjects was discussed including tips and techniques for different social media tools, the challenges of managing your online identity, multi- cultural approaches to social media and issues of ethics and integrity of an online presence.

Following these discussions, the group developed some action points for the institution, which will be taken forward by the DDLWG. These actions points were:

  • We need to look at consistency of social media presence of the different units of the university
  • The need for a university steering group for social media activity
  • Interpretation of corporate policies on social media into a student friendly format
  • Corporate Communications needs to promote social media policy
  • Training for students and staff
  • Raising awareness of professionalism on social media within academic context
  • Internationalism in the virtual environment – needs to be looked at
  • Investigate own professional body guidelines and see if we can create a support session for students to help them to adhere to the guidelines
  • Google yourself to see which online profile is most visible
Student-staff exchange on digital identity - a LearnIt event by the Developing Digital Literaicies Working Group, hosted in the Guild

Student-staff exchange on digital identity – a LearnIt event by the Developing Digital Literacies Working Group, hosted in the Guild

Commenting on the workshop, Dr Nick Greeves said “The workshop highlighted the power and potential of online professional activities for students, staff, departments and the University while also demonstrating that it is challenging to give definitive guidance to all these groups. It is clear that we need to address the constructive development of online identity for students (and staff) within our teaching at a departmental level. The opportunity provided by this event to hear diverse perspectives was invaluable.”

Student-staff exchange on digital identity - a LearnIt event by the Developing Digital Literaicies Working Group, hosted in the Guild

Student-staff exchange on digital identity – a LearnIt event by the Developing Digital Literacies Working Group, hosted in the Guild

Alex Ferguson, Vice President of the Liverpool Guild of Students, added: “It was great to see a second Learn IT event in our building, at the Liverpool Guild. We kicked off with a series of explanations of what an online footprint was, and how it could help (or hinder) the student, academic staff or member of the professional world. It was so apparent social media is second nature to us now; we use it for everything and do not think about the fact it exists as a record of self and access point of information.

We saw how in the work environment it could mean the difference between hiring and firing someone – a true way for an employer to find out more about the personality of their prospective employee. We saw how it can be used more publically to let the wider world know about areas of academic work, or the activity of a society”

The final two events in this series are shown below:

Tue 17 Feb 2015,              1-3pm   Information literacy & Digital research skills

Tue 10 March 2015          1-3pm   Media literacy online;  Collaboration & Communication online

You can register now via http://www.liv.ac.uk/cll/booking

blog by Trish Lunt, Educational Development

Have you ever Googled yourself? Our next Student-Staff LearnIT event on career and digital identity management, 18 Nov 2014

Have you ever Googled yourself? What would you find? What would you like your digital footprint to look like? This LearnIT Student-Staff Exchange event will focus on the opportunities and challenges of managing our digital reputation and online identity –and why and how it matters both for students and for staff.

Event leads: Trish Lunt, Educational Development, Fiona McNamara, Careers and Employability Service, Anna O’Connor, School of Health Sciences, University of Liverpool.

LearnIT Career and Digital Identity student-staff exchange 18 Nov 2014

LearnIT Career and Digital Identity student-staff exchange 18 Nov 2014

Date/Time: Tue, 18th Nov 2014, 13:00-15:00
Venue: The Guild, Elizabeth Gidney Suite
Refreshments: tea/coffee/juice and muffins

By taking part, you will have opportunities to:

• Meet students and staff at the university;

• Learn about how and why staff and students manage their digital identity, and what social media tools they use to support this;

• Gain tips & discover new ideas to try.

Please register on the CLL booking site or directly 
Presented by: Developing Digital Literacies Working Group

Twitter: @LivDigiL
Website: http://digilearn.liv.ac.uk

Upcoming LearnIT Student-Staff Exchange event series 2014/15:

Date                                               Event theme

Tue 17 Feb 2015, 1-3pm               Learn IT: Information literacy & Digital research skills

Tue 10 March 2015, 1-3pm           Learn IT: Media literacy online;  Collaboration & Communication online

LearnIT, as seen by the Guild President

From Harry Anderson, Guild President, University of Liverpool

a photo of Harry Anderson, Guild President, University of Liverpool

Harry Anderson, Guild President, University of Liverpool

The Guild recently played host to the inaugural Learn IT session – a series set up by the University’s Developing Digital Literacies Working Group with the help of the Guild tasked with looking at how we use and interact with technology in terms of our education.

The event brought together students and staff from a variety of areas within the University, with the aim of the inaugural event being to begin the conversation over where we are, as in institution, in terms of technology enhanced learning.  As a result, the questions discussed remained broad and ranged from effective time management through to how our physical spaces at the University are conducive to digital learning and working.

Partly in a nod to the future Learn IT events, and partly due to the open and frank nature of the event, it was stressed that Tuesday’s session was merely the start of the conversation. There were to be “no wrong answers”. Dr Nick Greeves, for instance, referred to how Chemistry had been looking into providing iPads to students to allow them to take notes, with one of the interesting discussion being around how physical note-taking (i.e. the old fashioned pen and paper approach) was still seen as superior given that it was often quicker and enabled students to absorb information better. Therefore, understanding when and where technology is of benefit was equally as important as understanding when and where it is not.

LearnIT - inaugural event on digital literacies

Small-group discussion on the use of technologies for learning/working at the LearnIT – inaugural event on digital literacies, 28 Oct 2014, The Guild, University of Liverpool

Another key message that emerged from the event was the fact that issues concerning technology were not just reserved to students, and were equally a concern of staff too. Bringing together students and staff into the same open forum was one obvious way that illustrated this, highlighting, for example, how time-management and the like were problems staff had to deal with just as much as students. Presentations, however, from Law lecturer Dr Rob Stokes and third-year Physics student Joe Chamberlain also helped bring this point into sharp focus. Both Rob and Joe, for example, talked about different issues they’d faced, and overcome, with the help of technology, with Joe even having designed his own app, Unisocs, to manage his course demands. With these presentations acting as the catalyst, conversations soon began to flow amongst the various groups, with recommendations, points of discussion and broad issues being picked up and debated.

One such discussion I had concerned the provision of WiFi around campus. As with the above, it soon became evident that good provision of WiFi was an issue staff felt equally strongly about and how, with the landscape of technology rapidly and ever changing, the need to be able to connect and access resources lay at the heart of virtually everything. Whether it was accessing VITAL, sending emails or reading e-books and journals, the need for a fast and secure connection was essential.

LearnIT - inaugural event on digital literacies Small-group discussion on the use of technologies for learning/working at the LearnIT - inaugural event on digital literacies, 28 Oct 2014, The Guild, University of Liverpool

LearnIT – inaugural event on digital literacies

Overall, the first Learn IT session went down extremely well, with positive feedback from staff and students alike. By bringing together both groups, the Tuesday’s event created an opportunity rarely afforded in other university settings and enabled a frank, open and honest discussion about how we currently use technology and crucially how we can improve it for both staff and students. Given this event was just the starting point of a much wider Learn IT conversation, the remaining sessions will no doubt be just as successful and I very much look forward to attending.

Harry Anderson, Guild President

Not so much “ECDL” but rather “how can I do well…?”

The inaugural LearnIT event

This week photomath.net launched an Iphone app which allows students to use their mobile phones to photograph a mathematical problem and not only to obtain the correct solution but also the full “working out” – that evasive concept which my old maths teachers used to constantly insist upon seeing. In my case it didn’t really matter. Both my workings out and my final answer were usually wrong – which is probably why I ended up following Law instead of anything which involved the slightest hint of scientific method.

The other significant event of this week for me was the inaugural session in the LearnIT series which is being co-organised by the Developing Digital Literacies working group and the Guild in recognition of the rapidly changing technological landscape in which teaching, learning, living and working now take place.

LearnIT inaugaral event

The event saw around 60 staff and students discussing how we can use technology to make us more efficient with our time, more effective collaborators, and more flexible and better organised writers.

This was the first in a planned series of events which will start to focus on more specific issues. I am personally looking forward to the upcoming session which will consider the reputational issues at stake for users of the web and particularly social media. The value of managing your ‘digital footprint’ in a well-informed and even a creative way is something which our own students are becoming more and more aware of. The LearnIT: Career and digital identity management online session will take place on the Tuesday 18th Nov 2014, 1-3pm to consider those sorts of issues. You can register for this event here.

What makes this series of events particularly interesting is that it proceeds on the assumption that we really don’t know what the “right” approach to using technology in HE effectively actually is. That seemingly down-beat outlook in fact promises to delivery much more than we might expect from a new-age trendy tech-evangelist perspective on technology. The LearnIT approach is open-ended and makes no assumptions about what technology might offer us. Tuesday’s event saw staff and student break out into focus groups to grapple with particularly un-focussed ideas. Because that the point; to break with conventional perspectives on IT for teachers and learners in higher education and start talking about what we want and need from technology.

Up until that moment I had tried very hard so far to avoid saying IT for a very good reason. This programme of events is about needs and solutions in the context of the work we do, not the all-to-easily-accepted discourse on Information Technology training and skills. This new discourse speaks of digital literacy not information skills. Not so much “ECDL” but rather “how can I do well…?”

We heard two excellent presentations from Dr Rob Stokes (lecturer from Law) from Law and Joe Chamberlain (student from Physics) which illustrated just that point. Each of these participants at some point faced the same problem – how to manage the challenges of workload management in the context of intense pressure to succeed. What solutions might technology offer to workload management? Neither of the solutions suggested by our speakers were the same in any shape or form but each was their own solution and each met the users’ needs.

The inaugural session has stepped up to face a myriad of issues ranging from helpful apps to awful habits, from online worlds to physical spaces, from the custom fit of the personalised app to the regimental reliability of the corporate IT solution. Looking at how our individual personalised learning, living and working needs might be met within the ever changing word of the app.

Jeremy Marshall (Lecturer, Liverpool Law School)

Follow the conversation about digital literacy for Liverpool University staff and students on Twitter at #LearnIT and @livDigiL and online at http://digilearn.liv.ac.uk

Are these examples of digital literacies? Discuss…

This blog post invites you to consider 3 examples and identify: are they examples of digital literacies? If so, in what way? If not, why not? This task is the one Oxford Brookes’ Rhona Sharpe, a pioneer in digital literacies research (LLiDA, SLiDA),  asked us, the participants of the HEA-organised day, entitled “Changing Learning Landscape —The role of digital literacies in supporting continuing professional development in HE contexts“, to consider, which I attended on the 29th May in Birmingham.

The task worked well on the day to get us into thinking what digital literacies are. Rhona Sharpe’s presentation on the day can be found on slideshare.

Example 1: Baby talks with cat on iPad

Example 2: a student’s writing who uses a blog to make them public

Legoscratch site 

Example 3: iPad Cafe : students from York St John meeting up and discussing useful iPad apps

iPad Cafe , York St John UniiPad Cafe , York St John Uni

iPad Cafe , York St John Uni

Can I ask you to do the same? Please consider:

  • the baby (Example 1),
  • the young pupil (Example 2) or
  • the York students iPad Cafe (Example 3)

Do the examples demonstrate digital literacy? Yes/No? Why?

Please post and share your responses and respond to that of others.

Thank you!

Tünde

Tünde Varga-Atkins, eLearning Unit, University of Liverpool

 

Libraries, Digital Literacies and labels… LILAC 2013 conference

Digital Literacies

Steve Wheeler

What is the difference  between Digital Literacies and Information Literacy? As a librarian Information Literacy is my bread and butter, although I acknowledge it doesn’t trip off the tongue of those outside the profession. Information Literacy is defined by the Professional body for Libraries, CILIP as:

“knowing when and why you need information, where to find it and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner”

So, where does Information Literacy end and Digital Literacy begin? Is there even a difference? Does it matter?  I don’t think the labels matter at all, and we can waste far too much time navel gazing and agonising over them.

I recently attended the LILAC (Librarians Information Literacy) conference, in Manchester along with 800 librarians, mainly from the UK, but with increasing numbers from other countries. Many of the papers dealt with Digital Literacies – in fact this could easily be re-branded a as a Digital Literacies conference.  The first Keynote speaker was Steve Wheeler from Plymouth University, where I used to work; @Timbuckteeth on Twitter.

His keynote, and others from the conference are on the LILAC YouTube Channel now. The phrase that really stood out for me from Steve’s talk was  “Digital Wisdom”. Isn’t that what we all need? The wisdom not to tweet something stupid, the wisdom to ensure that your digital footprint is accurate and not damaging to your career, and the wisdom to choose the appropriate tool for the job in hand. This is not just “skills”, or even knowledge – it’s a way of thinking in a digital age. I took away some useful further reading from this keynote – a debunking of Prensky (2010) Digital Natives concept from Kennedy et al (2010), which concudes there is nothing special about the knowledge and skills of the so called  “Net Generation”. young people are no more able to learn and live in a technological age than the generations before. Instead of being especially adept at using technology, many are in fact basic users. This chimes with my own experience of students and indeed younger  family members. Just because you are young, it doesn’t mean you automatically “get” technology.

Steve Wheeler at LILAC 2013, Manchester University

Kennedy, G., Judd, T., Waycott, J., & Dalgarno, B. (2010). Beyond natives and immigrants: Exploring types of net generation students. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(5), 332-343.

Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching digital natives : partnering for real learning / Marc Prensky ; foreword by Stephen Heppell. Thousand Oaks CA ; Corwin, 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking through wikis

As a dyed-in-the-wool geek, I was very happy to join the Digital Literacies Working Group and contribute from the perspective of an academic involved in quite a bit undergraduate teaching; as a recovering Facebook addict and all-round party planner, I offered my thoughts particularly on the use of social media and networking. What follows are my musings on a first year module I created, and how I’ve used a group project to enhance digital skills, and used the digital tools on which the project is based to enhance research skills. (Spoiler alert…the short version of what follows is: students create an encyclopedia website through VITAL’s wiki tool, and hopefully come out better able to do dissertations in later years.) At the very least, it should serve as an illustration of technology-enhanced academic practice at undergraduate level, and hopefully generate some ideas for others, and some feedback on the concept at my end!

When I first started working at the University of Liverpool’s School of Music in September 2005, there was an intriguing discrepancy between the two main undergraduate programmes in the department. One–a BA in Popular Music–made a third-year dissertation a compulsory element, and to prepare students for that project, there was a second-year module called Researching Popular Music. The other–a BA in Music*–did not make a dissertation compulsory, but it remained available as an option.

* By “Music”, undergraduate degrees generally mean western art, “classical”, music–odd, since presumably other types of music are also music, but there it is…

So, for those students wanting to write a dissertation on New Labour’s use of Britpop in the ’97 election campaign, or misogynistic hip-hop lyrics, there was second year guidance as to how to conduct an independent project of 10,000 words; meanwhile, those wanting to write about the contribution of Samuel Wesley to nineteenth-century organ music, or the impact of the Reformation on English church music…well, they pretty much went it alone. At the same time, there was no consistent instruction in bibliographic methods, referencing techniques, and other core ‘study skills’ expected of undergraduates and not previously taught at school.

In an effort to fill some of these gaps and better equip students for the transition from school and college to independent research, we introduced a compulsory first year module–MUSI100 Studying Music–in 2008. After a semester of core ‘study skills’ (using the library, note-taking, critical reading, bibliographies, etc. etc.), students undertake a group project over the whole of the second semester. In years past, the task was to create a wiki in VITAL for a hypothetical audience of first year music students all about the study skills and learning literacies they’d need to develop.

Wiki

Not only did the students consolidate the skills covered in semester one, but they enhanced their group work and project management. But the reason for the wiki as a vehicle (as opposed to anything else–a presentation, for instance) was in no small part to make the task somewhat more engaging than it might otherwise have been…

This year, I have changed the project so that the medium of the wiki and the digital workspace are a more integral part. Now, groups are given a number of subject-specific topics to choose from, and they develop a wiki site about that topic:

  • ‘Genre’ as a concept in music
  • The history of music notation
  • A genre of music (choose one…) under a political regime (choose one…)
  • ‘World music’ in relation to western cultures

Still, project management skills are tested; still, groups have to work well together and deal with the inevitable freeloaders; still, they engage on some level with the digital medium.

But more than that, they are more challenged in terms of the independent research elements–they are, in essence, creating an encyclopedia about their topic, and anyone who’s ever written an encyclopedia entry knows how rigorous your research and writing have to be!! And, even more usefully (to my mind), they are actively encouraged to think through the medium of the wiki.

In a sense, we are dealing with the “affordances” of the tool–a concept my colleague Rob Strachan has been dealing with in relation to creativity, asking how music-making software informs the creative process. (I’ll try and get him to write here one day, but for now, back to the first years….

By situating the research topic in a dynamic environment, where hyperlinks abound and audiovisual media is de rigueur, the research itself is thus afforded different opportunities. No longer are the knots of ideas and the complexes of concepts constrained by the beginning-middle-end form of an essay. And no longer is the content limited to what works on a printed page. Rather, the digital medium allows the cross-linking of ideas, enables video and audio content, and situates the project in the ever-expanding online universe by allowing links to external content–thereby facing students head on with the need to be critical thinkers in response to online sources.

Whether this will contribute in any further way to the quality of third year dissertations is a question whose answer is, by definition, two years away. (And even then, I don’t have a control group….) With a bit of luck, though, all students–regardless of their interests, and regardless of whether they ever even do a dissertation, since that is now optional to all–will have some experience of independent research and the place of the digital world in relation to that.

But since I’m pondering the use value of this project, I wonder…have you ever constructed a website as a research output? What effects did it have on the way you undertook the research? Or even…have you used this kind of project in your own teaching at all? What happened?

I’d be very interested to know whether my hunches are anywhere approaching correct, so do leave a comment!

Dr Freya Jarman, Senior Lecturer, School of Music

“I thought you would use prezi, PowerPoint is so 2005”

“I thought you would use prezi, PowerPoint is so 2005” wrote a lecture participant as a comment on Helen Beetham’s recent lecture at our university on ‘Making sense of learning in a digital age’.

PowerPoint vs Prezi?
PowerPoint vs Prezi?

This comment juxtaposes two kinds of presentation software, Powerpoint and Prezi,  and places them on a spectrum of ‘old’ and ‘new’ with the implicit value judgement that ‘old’ is bad, ‘new’ is good. But is that how we should judge technology? Or is the question rather: When is it best to use Powerpoint, what is it good for; and when is Prezi better to use?

Or in other words, for effective learning (and teaching) it is being critical about our use of technology that should count – exactly as Helen Beetham expressed in her guest lecture.

To me, Powerpoint as a presentation software is useful when you have a logically ordered talk that yields to a sequential presentation. Prezi, however works best when you have either a visual metaphor or arrangement for ordering your talk or when zooming in and zooming out has uses for your topic. Helen’s presentation worked in a way that she conjured up images, images of the haunted university, the constant scholar, which worked best as freeze-frame images – exactly the strength of PowerPoint. (Prezi would have worked only if she had a unifying metaphor of the haunted house and zoomed in into its various compartments.)

So thank you, anonymous commenter, you made me think critically about when I would be using PowerPoint and when I would be using Prezi in the future: the kind of critical digital capability that Helen Beetham talked about.

And if you are reading this blog, can you add either your thoughts on the above quote? Or the way you decide on a tool or technology when you do a presentation? How do you decide which tool to use?

Thank you,

Tunde