Reading: Hashtags and retweets

I’m getting back into reading around things I enjoy and things that matter to me. What better place to start than with the archives of the RILT, the ALT Reasearch in Learning Technology open access journal.

Hashtags and retweets: using Twitter to aid Community, Communication and Casual (informal) learning, by Peter Reed.

Since the evolution of Web 2.0, or the Social Web, the way in which users interact with/on the Internet has seen a massive paradigm shift. Web 2.0 tools and technologies have completely changed the dynamics of the Internet, enabling users to create content; be it text, photographs or video; and furthermore share and collaborate across massive geographic boundaries. As part of this revolution, arguably the most significant tools have been those employing social media. This research project set out to investigate student’s attitudes, perceptions and activity toward the use of Twitter in supporting learning and teaching. In so doing, this paper touches on a number of current debates in higher education, such as the role (and perceived rise) of informal learning; and debates around Digital Natives/Immigrants vs. Digital Residents/Visitors. In presenting early research findings, the author considers the 3Cs of Twitter (T3c): Community, Communication and Casual (informal) learning. Data suggests that students cannot be classed as Digital Natives purely on age and suggests a rethinking of categorisations is necessary. Furthermore, the data suggests students are developing their own personal learning environments (PLEs) based on user choice. Those students who voluntarily engaged with Twitter during this study positively evaluated the tool for use within learning and teaching.

Reed, P. (2013). Hashtags and retweets: using Twitter to aid Community, Communication and Casual (informal) learning. Research in Learning Technology, 21.

Image source: Petit Louis (CC BY 2.0)

When everything changes

Well, it’s over four months since my last blog post, and the longest gap in my 9 year blogging ‘career’. 

Why is that? Well, apart from being busy starting and defining a new role in a new industry, I’ve not really had that much to say. I’ve tweeted, I’ve connected with people on LinkedIn, I’ve travelled (and posted photos of it, like this and this and this). I’ve rested. I’ve worked hard and lost lots of sleep over it too. 

Oh, and we got kittens too! Mostly the bite or chew everything (including the wires), but sometimes they settle down and keep me company in my home office.

But what’s only struck me really in the last few days is the lack of interest in this blog. From me. I am still active on Twitter, I’m still learning about my ‘craft’ and still learning about my new role in an exciting start-up. I’m reading and writing a lot on ageing and the wellbeing of older people, it’s just not on this blog or even in the public arena. Yet. 

Let me also be honest here, it’s not just the working environment that’s changed (shared open-plan office to my spare room acting as a home office) or the industry I’m working in (UK university to global start-up, or business school to medical/healthcare specialists), the change is in and because of me. I am constantly seeing change in my attitude and approach to issues, problems, solutions, conflict, design, learning, remoteness, connectedness (is that a word?) and my general social demeanour.

Yes, tweeting is fun and hopefully will continue to be (but then again, maybe not) but I’ve always prided myself on this blog and the way it helped me network, collaborate, communicate, reflect, etc. with everyone ‘out there’. I am still reading around the various disciplines of online/distance learning, MOOCs, etc. and putting the ideas and designs to good use. I still join online courses, not so many MOOCs these days, both for personal enjoyment and professional curiosity. I am growing as an individual and a professional, and the journey ahead is all new to me, again, and exciting too.

The rest is the future. Using the skills from my CMALT journey and as an assessor I continue to evaluate and reflect on what I do, why I do it, how it can be better (or at least different), and how I can be better (and sometimes different too). I don’t want to stand still, I don’t want to be pigeonholed into one role or a ‘one trick pony’. I am too dynamic for that – I’m not being big headed or facetious for saying this, nor am I being cocky or rude. I mean dynamic in so much as forever looking forward and around me, observing and capturing, learning from others to improve myself and my work. 

Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow. (William Pollard)

Image source: Simon and his camera (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

#tbar: Wie bei einem Telekom BarCamp Mitarbeiter zu Managern werden

BarCamps bei der Telekom gibt es schon lange. Länger als das Corporate Learning Camp, das morgen in Frankfurt mit der siebten Auflage startet. „Corporate Blogger“ Björn Burghard stellt hier das Format noch einmal vor. Seine Überschriften lauten: „Wie funktioniert ein Business BarCamp?“, „Kontrollierter Kontrollverlust: Die Inhalte kommen von den Teilnehmern, nicht von den Organisatoren“ und „Das Unternehmens- BarCamp als Lernort für die Arbeitswelt der Zukunft“. Hierzu schreibt er:

„Das Format BarCamp dient ganz automatisch auf verschiedenen Ebenen als Ort für Lernerfahrungen. Im Vordergrund steht natürlich die fachliche Auseinandersetzung mit den Inhalten der Sessions. Darüber hinaus können aber weitere Fähigkeiten eingeübt werden, die relevant für die Arbeitswelt der Zukunft sind. Wenn ich ein Unternehmen vor Augen habe, in dem Teams in flachen Hierarchien mit viel Eigenverantwortung agieren, fallen mir beispielsweise folgende hilfreiche Skills ein: …“

Und er zählt auf: „Ownership für das eigene Thema übernehmen“, „Entscheidungen fällen“, „Verantwortung tragen“. Am 26. September 2017 hat übrigens das 14. Telekom BarCamp stattgefunden. Eindrücke auf Twitter gibt es unter #tbar. Eine willkommene Einstimmung auf den #clc17!
Björn Burghard, Blog. Telekom, 22. September 2017

Bildquelle: Tweet von Philipp Schindera (@schindera)


Die aktuelle Ausgabe des FNMA Magazins (Forum Neue Medien in der Lehre Austria) stellt verschiedene Tools vor, die in der Lehre und Zusammenarbeit an österreichischen Hochschulen zum Einsatz kommen. Eine Mischung aus kurzen Steckbriefen, Manuals und Erfahrungsberichten. Behandelt werden Kahoot, Twitter, OneNote, Planner, Yammer, Classmill, KnowledgeFox, dazu einige Computerspiele, die beim Sprachenlernen eingesetzt werden. An der einen oder anderen Stelle wird auch der Kontext gestreift, in den der Einsatz eingebettet ist (Flipped Classroom, Microlearning). Und auch kritische Töne finden Platz, wenn z. B. Philippe Wampfler auf die „Gefahr der Quizifizierung der digitalen Bildung“ hinweisen darf.
FNMA Magazin, 02/2017 (pdf)

Bildquelle: royalty free (Flickr)

So long Instagram, it was fun

Yesterday I switched off another network, Instagram.

There are a few reasons for this. It was inevitable, really. So how did it get to this and why?

  • Whilst I used to love the filters, and making my relatively mundane photos look fun or interesting, I am fed up with seeing everything else through a filter.
  • The search was pretty useless; you couldn’t save a search, there were accounts or #hashtags I wanted to keep track of but not follow, etc.
  • The app would regularly hog over 1GB of storage, and on a 16GB iPhone that’s a whole heap of space I could use for something else.
  • Until this last week there was no two-factor authentication, and lots of stories of people hacked and locked out of the accounts.
  • Facebook owns it, therefore we’re all feeding into the Facebook approach to security and data access.
  • Spam. At the end I was getting 5-10 likes per photo from spam accounts selling 1000’s of likes or followers, usually using a busty woman as their avatar, and with a randomly generated username. I was also blocking 2-5 accounts per day who started following me. They were inappropriate or accounts (not people, they were mostly bots fishing – of phishing – for followers and likes) I didn’t want to be associated with.
  • I don’t ‘do’ selfies. 
  • Instagram T&Cs state it can use my photos whenever and wherever it wants.
  • Ads. Oh, the bloody ads and promoted accounts. And the fake accounts.
  • Everyone I know/knew on Instagram I am also connected with on either Twitter or Facebook, so I will probably see their (your) filtered snaps at some point.
  • The pressure to post something interesting. Regularly.

I deleted the app a week ago. Initially I missed it, really missed it, as I used to search for things of interest: motorbikes, lifestyle, research places, etc. But I can find the exact same things elsewhere, I don’t actually need Instagram for that. I can still see their Instagram photos using the web interface anyway [wink]. Examples: here and here.

I started using Instagram probably about 6 years ago (I can’t check the exact date now, the account is deceased), shortly after it launched, and used it mainly for conference and workshop activity. Over the years I do less of that now, but still took more photos of family, locations, food, etc. (like everyone else). But, and here’s the real reason, I was becoming more and more desperate to try and find something new to do or somewhere new to go just so I could check-in (I dumped FourSquare back in 2012) or tag myself there, and share a photo even I found pretty boring. My phone stored the original photo and the filtered version so, unless I deleted them off my phone in a vain attempt at recovering some lost storage, I’ve still got the photos.

It’s kind of sad really, this is all that’s left … “Sorry, this page isn’t available.” I kind of wished I had the option to ‘leave a message’ when I disabled the account, leaving one photo as some sort of tribute to the 2.5k or so photos I created in Instagram.

What do other people say about quitting Instagram? Read this and this and this and this. Most search results are of the likes of Bieber (I can’t believe I’ve just included him on my blog. I feel dirty) or Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley, but for reasons of harassment. This is another reason I am considering my online activity. I’ve not been the subject of anything like this – I’ve had a few ‘tough’ tweets from someone who didn’t agree with me, but that’s part and parcel of a generic conversation, not only online activity, so I accept that.

So, if I’ve taken this step, is any other network at risk of being culled? Well, yes, I’ve already written about my (current) mood and Twitter. I’ve also talked about deleting my Facebook account too – I deleted the app a year ago and only use a browser to access it now. I’ve not deleted FB, yet, because there are friends I keep in touch with only through FB. But let’s be honest, it’s not really keeping the friendship alive, it’s just keeping in very-lose touch, stalking them almost. I might just take the plunge, posting one last update saying

“I’m going to delete my Facebook account. if you want to stay in touch you have one week to send me a message or reply saying you want to stay in touch. We’ll exchange phone numbers, email and postal addresses, and stay in touch the nice old way. And arrange to chat and meet up more regularly too. How about it?”

Here are some articles about breaking up with Facebook: here and here

Image source: Pexels (CC0)

Dear Twitter. It’s not me, it’s you

Here’s a confession … I’m not as enamoured by Twitter as I used to be. Unlike a traditional break up argument (is this the case, I don’t know?) where one party says to the other “it isn’t you, it’s me”, I am most definitely saying “it’s not me, it’s you [Twitter]”.

Twitter, at its core, is something that merely reflects us, either individually or culturally. It’s a free tool and subject to very few rules and regulations. And I don’t like what I see there these days. A year ago, I wouldn’t have thought I would be in a position anywhere I would be called, or call myself, anything other than Avid Twitter User (ATU), but today I find myself a Reluctant Twitter User (RTU). I still use Twitter because I have made some amazing friends and contacts there, I have some fabulous conversations and networking, and the like. I’ve had ideas, shared them, allowed them to grow, collected and collated articles and books, all from Twitter. And I want to continue that. For the most part my use of Twitter hasn’t changed in the last year. But the way other people use Twitter has. Let me explain.

I have never used the ‘trending‘ or ‘moments‘ features of Twitter. I’m not interested in the latest celebrity news, I don’t care what who said to whom, or which talentless so-called celebrity is on the cover of some over-priced glam-mag, or whatever they’re called. And don’t get me started on the ads … all I’ve learned from Twitter ads is that the more you interact with them (either blocking the accounts or clicking the ‘dismiss’ option) just means you get more. The last time I tried dismissing or blocking the ads I ended up with a ad every 5th or 6th tweet in the iOS app. Now I ignore them, just gloss over them, and I get far far fewer! Annoying, oh yes, but fewer of them.

No, these are mere annoyances. What is causing me to think twice about Twitter is the way, as I said earlier, the way it reflects ‘us’ and how others are using it. In the last year the world has changed, it’s quite difficult to have not noticed. For my UK and European friends, it’s been Brexit. For the US and, frankly, rest of the world, it’s Trump. My Twitter feed is now full of political commentary and all sorts of negative content that wasn’t there before. Don’t get me wrong, and I’m not making a political statement here, the world feels like it’s on the edge of a very precarious precipice, and I feel like we’re toppling into the abyss on the other side we may never recover from. But that’s not the Twitter I want, or rather not what I look to Twitter for … this is why I ignore the ‘trending’ and ‘moments’ features, it doesn’t represent the Twitter (and my network) I want. 

I admire those who are vocal and active in bringing the ‘new world’ to our attention, to bringing the elite few to task for the masses who are not as able or represented (freedom of the press is powerful and ultimately the only thing capable of bringing balance to current affairs, by holding those in power to account for their actions), but I want to read and hear about it when I choose, not somewhere where I go to learn about my work, my network, my interested and passions, etc. Twitter has always been, for me, about learning, learning technology, etc. because those I choose to interact with and choose to follow are also tweeting about that. The world has changed, and all of us with it.

So, here’s what I need from Twitter, in this new world – I don’t want my Twitter timeline/stream to be controlled by algorithms, but I do want more control (note: I want the control, not for it to be done for me) over the kind of tweets that fill my timeline. If the 1,300 or so people I follow on Twitter want to share and discuss current affairs and Brexit and the like, then I am happy for them and don’t want to stop them, or unfollow them either. I just want some way to filter those out, until I want to read them. Twitter is acting against the rise (and rise) of trolls and the nasty side of the internet (some say too late).

Some might say I shouldn’t’ blame Twitter, it’s merely holding the mirror up to reflect society as it is changing, and it’s that reflection that I don’t like, but Twitter has changed – not just how it’s being used but also how it’s allowing itself to be used. Twitter, I believe, has a responsibility to balance how it is used. An analogy would be to not blame the car manufacturer for the people the drivers kill in accidents where their cars are involved, but we still hold them responsible for either false or misleading advertising features or safety they don’t have, as well as holding them responsible for the safety features they ought to have (so your car can go 200mph … how good are the brakes? Good enough, or the best they can possibly be?). So, Twitter needs to hold itself to account and deal with trolls, deal with the abuse of the verified icon, deal with the abuse of the global audience every tweet can have (whether it’s from someone with 3 followers or 3,000,000 followers), deal with (deliberate) misinformation from those who are in a position to affect so many, etc. Twitter has a responsibility. I don’t know how it can do any of this, but hiding or ignoring it isn’t going to make it go away. Inaction to deal with these problems, by association, is the same as allowing them to happen, almost to the level of making it approved behaviour, almost encouraging it?

Am I breaking up with Twitter? No. Or rather, not yet. But I am very conscious of trying hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Oh yes, Facebook. Don’t get me started on Facebook …

Image source: “Twitter” by Pete Simon (CC BY 2.0)

Weiterbildung & Lernen 2016/ 2017

Ich habe mich zwischen den Jahren hingesetzt und getan, was ich schon immer einmal tun wollte: die Blogbeiträge eines Jahres noch einmal auszuwerten und zusammenzufassen. Herausgekommen ist die folgende Übersicht über die Themen und Stichworte, die meine Lektüre, aber auch meine laufenden Bildungsprojekte geprägt haben.

Feedback - auf welchem Kanal auch immer - ist herzlich willkommen!
Jochen Robes, SlideShare, 9. Januar 2017

Why is Twitter no longer No 1 on the Top Tools for Learning list?

Ist Twitter nach sieben Jahren als Learning Tool Nr. 1 auf dem absteigenden Ast? Den vielen neuen Gesichtern nach zu urteilen, die ich im Gefolge des CLC16 auf Twitter entdeckt habe, mag man das kaum glauben. Jane Hart versucht jedenfalls eine Erklärung: Trolls, die Kommerzialisierung sozialer Netzwerke, die Popularität von Messaging Apps - oder eine Kombination von allem? Wie auch immer: Jetzt steht jedenfalls YouTube an der Spitze (Gudrun Porath: “Lernen mit Youtube”, Haufe, 13. Oktober 2016)
Jane Hart, Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies/ Jane’s Blog, 18. Oktober 2016

Using Social Media to Build Professional Skills

Eigentlich gehört der Verweis auf diesen Artikel nicht in einen Blog. Denn er will gerade die ansprechen, die sich fragen, warum und wie sie Social Media beruflich nutzen sollen. Die Autorin zeigt, kurz und pragmatisch, mit Blick auf drei Fragen auf, welche Möglichkeiten es gibt: “What do I want to learn?”, “When do I have time for learning?”, “Whom do I want to learn from or with?”
Alexandra Samuel, Harvard Business Review, 4. August 2016

7 Jahre auf Twitter: Was hat es mir gebracht?

Noch einmal Twitter: André Spang ist Lehrer und, als @Tastenspieler und Gründer von #EDchatDE, eine feste Größe in der Bildungs-Community. An seinem Twitter-Geburtstag blickt er zurück und fragt: “Was hat es gebracht?” Die Antworten sind (natürlich) verschiedenen Hashtags zugeordnet, u.a. #PersönlichesLernnetzwerk, #Vernetzung, #KeepItReal, #FilterBubble, #DigitalFootprint und professioneller #Mehrwert sowie #Twitterchats. Sein Fazit: #TrySomethingNew.

“Wenn Du nun denkst, Twitter ist was für Dich, kann ich Dich nur ermuntern, es zu probieren. Vielleicht mal zu Beginn ein wenig lesen, dann mit Interaktionen starten und den Twitterern folgen, dessen Tweets und Themen Dich interessieren. Tipp: Twitter funktioniert nicht von selbst. Du musst schon ein wenig dranbleiben, aber es kann sich auszahlen, wie Du in meinem Fall gesehen hast.
Letztendlich gilt: #DuEntscheidest, ob und wie Du Twitter nutzt und, ob es etwas für Dich ist!”

André Spang, 7. Juli 2016