Day two at Ascilite 2008

Monday 1st December marked the start of the sessions at Ascilite 2008. The keynote presentation was by  Dr Michelle Selinger from Cisco. A little disappointing for me as it had a definite Cisco marketing flavor and I have a pet hate of advertising and I’ve been exposed to a lot of Cisco “rah rah” over the years.  For me it lacked a clear link to education although the argument could be made that technology is integral to an Ascilite conference.

Day one had some interesting presentations about a large variety of topics. The first one was about an Open University project called Cloudworks which I’d like to investigate further. Over all I was a little disappointed with the presentations which has more to do with my expectations than anything else.  Although I think that the 20-10 format is way to brief for some of the topics are quite complex and 20 minutes isn’t long enough to get a good feel for what’s being put forward. An example is a group of folk who used student blog postings as an assessment piece in a business course. They didn’t appear to use any of the social features of Blogs but simply used the “easy to edit” feature that Blog engines provide. They didn’t even use RSS to monitor the student’s postings. On the other hand this did utilize Blogs and was reported as being successful from the student perspective.

A couple of things to note for future investigation besides the Cloudworks project is the Social Design framework by Bouman and the REAP project in the UK.

Some of the presentations today included. I’ve added some more further on:

Cloudworks. A tool developed by the Open Univesity in the UK.

  • This is a tool developed by the Open University in the UK that was designed to help teachers make better use of technology. Its based on empirical evidence and endeavors to map the objects in social networking communities.
  • The tool uses the concept of cloudmaps that are collections of objects around a particular context.
  • Followup. Look up the REAP project in the UK.
  • I’d like to read a little further on this one and blog about it when time permits.

Engagement and learning through social software in finance: The Trading Room experience. Does online talking support student engagement and learning.

  • This presentation reported on a project at Deakin where they used blogs (as easy to edit web sites) to create a basic educational community. Participation was assessable conversation was stimulated through an artificial member of the blog community controlled by teaching staff.
  • What I found interesting was the lack of Web 2.0 features that were used in this project. I don’t mean this as a negative its just they simply used blogs as an easy to edit website that was very convenient for the students to use.
  • Some issues were reported with plagiarism which tends to confirm some of our previous conversatiokns about the use of Web 2 in higher ed.
  • One thing to note was that some of the feedback they received confirmed some of the things we are trying to do with the BProfComm project with regard to discipline based lines of communications and exposure to industry people.

Mobile Web 2.0: The new frontier

  • This one was a bit of a puzzler for me. It was a project in NZ where the Uni gave some students smart phones that had video and audio capabilities and got them to blog (text, video and audio) using the mobile while they doing industry type placements. The students seemed to like it but they did get provided with a free phone where the 3G data was paid by the University so its not a great supprise.
  • For me this presentation raised some questions. What do students think of the intrusion? Mobile phones are a highly personal thing and maybe they dont appreciate the intrusion. Several Universities are using SMS to send time table changes and results to students via an opt-in mechanism. I’d like to see what the students think.

Evaluating pedagogical affordances of media sharing Web 2.0 technologies: A case study.

  • This one is another one where the message was a little lost in presentation. I think its a tool or matrix that maps generic learning designs with digital artefacts but I’m not sure. I need to read the associated paper. They have a project Wiki and talked up a Web 2 site called VOX which I have to investigate.
  • Interestingly they are using Voicethread extensively to annotate multimedia presentations.

Web 2.0 and user-created content: Students negotiating shifts in academic authority

  • This was a quick report on a project where they got the students to create podcasts. One thing I really liked was the webpage they developed where the students could post their own audio podcasts using a simple webpage. It had a very nice interface.

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