One year on: The Really Useful #EdTechBook

It’s been an eventful year in the life of The Really Useful #EdTechBook. I wanted to just look back and collect my thoughts, and give you an insight into what it means to me, and to others.

The idea
My original idea was to write about my thoughts on the use of learning / educational technology. I then realised that, for me, the world of learning technology or technology enhanced learning (or just ‘learning’, as some prefer now) is about the people I connect with and learn from. Plus, you’ve probably read enough from me these days!

So, my original idea morphed into a collaborative project where contributors brought their own experiences, knowledge, and unique perspectives to the fore, for you to learn from.

From initial conversations, tweets, emails, etc. came the idea and concept for The Really Useful #EdTechBook. Each chapter was set aside for each invited contributor to have for themselves, no real limits were imposed, but ideally between 2,000-5,000 words. I wasn’t asking for anything in particular, I didn’t want to direct or control the flow of ideas or perspectives, other then each author’s own words on their own interpretation of the book title. I was hoping that, once the chapters came in, I could apply a narrative to their order – thinking of (1) the background / history to the use of technology, (2) the current field and areas we work, and finally (3) looking forward to what we can expect or hope for in the future. As is turned out the stories and experiences were echoing and supporting each other that it became obvious there is an underlying thread of our work; that technology has not only enabled us but also constricted us in our outlook – from repeating mistakes to growing concepts and inclusion of stakeholders in all aspects of our work. 

The book is logical, insightful and provides the reader with a rich array of both personal experience and “tools” for use in education. The book will appeal to anyone who is interested in the use of technology in teaching and learning, highly recommended!” Neil WIthnell

In the year since I finalised the copy, edited the layout, read the proof editions, and sorted the cover art I have been proud, and quite humbled, at the way in which the book has been received. I wanted to say another huge thank you to each of the chapter authors and to each of you for reading, commenting, sharing, etc. all details on the book and it’s contents.

To date (early January, 2016) there have been 2,340 downloads of the PDF edition. It is really hard to work out definitive numbers for the Kindle and paper edition, due to the number of different systems it’s available through, and the very complex reporting method each of them has, but I think the numbers of purchased editions are in the region of 80 paper copies and 250 Kindle editions. I didn’t start this project, this journey for the sales, but it’s gratifying to know the chapters and book concept has resonated with you, the reader, in some small way.

Some other links / information for you:

Earlier this year I was contacted by Vicki Davies, from the Every Classroom Matters podcast. Vicki asked me to talk to her and her avid listeners about the process, and reasoning, behind being a self-published author, which was itself published earlier this month – Every Classroom Matters Podcast).

So, what next then?
I have considered a second edition or The Extended / Next Really Useful #EdTechBook, if you like. I’ve been contacted over the past year with people interested in both writing for it as well as other who’d love to read it, but I figure the concept doesn’t lend itself to a sequel – tell me if you think I’m wrong?

I am considering other forms and concepts for a second collaborative project. If you’re interested in either reading or writing it with me then please get in touch and we’ll continue to develop it together!! You know where I am!

"A very insightful and extensive collection of authentic accounts by practitioners who identify themselves as Learning Technologists in a variety of educational settings." Chrissi Nerantzi

“A very insightful and extensive collection of authentic accounts by practitioners who identify themselves as Learning Technologists in a variety of educational settings.  This reminds us of the fast pace of change in this relatively new profession, the variety of roles and responsibilities as well as the passion of these individuals for supporting change, innovation and transformation in the digital age. Challenges and opportunities linked to professional identity, engagement and positioning are discussed.” Chrissi Nerantzi

"The Really Useful #EdTechBook does exactly what it promises on its cover. It draws together a useful, diverse, eclectic set of visions and commentaries that together provide the reader with a lucid and comprehensive vista of educational technology." Steve Wheeler

“The Really Useful #EdTechBook does exactly what it promises on its cover. It draws together a useful, diverse, eclectic set of visions and commentaries that together provide the reader with a lucid and comprehensive vista of educational technology.” Steve Wheeler

The intrinsic and extrinsic value of academic blogging #LTHEchat

I’m not new to running or paricipating in tweet chats, in fact I’ve done a fair few over the last few years. And loved each for their own individual characteristics – here is a write up on two particular ways of running one.

This time I took part / facilitating in the 31st LTHEchat with my good friend Sue Beckingham. The invitation was broad and open to interpretation (scary!) but with help and discussion I settled on blogging, or more specifically academic blogging. So, to come up with six questions that would enable detailed yet flexible answers, in 140 characters (minus ones for the #LTHEchat text and any @names), and in a one hour time slot.

“This LTHEchat will be as much about blogging as the process of sharing. Do you blog and if so why do you blog? Are you blogging for yourself or for your professional profile? Indeed, is there a difference? Is it for reflection or progress? Join me and the LTHEchat community to share your ideas, experiences, pleasures, pains, and purpose.”

As per previous LTHEchat sessions everything has been collated into a Storify archive, or you can try and use the Twitter search archive for #LTHEchat, for what it’s worth. 

The questions I asked, and you answered, were:

  1. Let’s start with an easy one: why do you write your blog? Conversely, if you don’t blog, why not? #LTHEchat
  2. How have you helped to inspire non-blogging peers? #LTHEchat
  3. Do you have a ‘plan’ for your blogging activity? Is there a purpose or reason for it, or just as-and-when you feel like it? #LTHEchat
  4. Are you a reflective (intrinsic) or broadcaster (extrinsic) blogger? Is there a difference? #LTHEchat
  5. Now let’s share some of the #LTHEchat … Who inspires you to blog or to contribute via comments and why? #LTHEchat
  6. Lastly for tonight, share your own blog (links pls) and why you started it? #LTHEchat

To everyone who engaged and made it a wonderful experience, thank you. If you missed it, I’m sorry, but you can gauge some of the frenetic energy and the thoroughly engaging community we inhabit on Twitter through this #LTHEchat Storify archive.

For those who asked, here are some of the blogs you shared:

Then there is this great graphical representation of the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic blogging from Simon Rae:

Banner image source: mkhmarketing (CC BY 2.0)

50 Most Influential HE Professionals Using Social Media #Jisc50social

For a month or two JISC has been asking for names and nominations to a new list they’ve been producing – 50 Most Influential HE Professionals Using Social Media. Well, the time has come and the final list has been announced.

There are some wonderful people on this list I am proud to know and call friends, and some I’m not previously aware of and will be looking at (hmm, sounds a bit stalker’ish, sorry) to learn about what they do, why, and how.

“The final line-up – chosen by a panel of social media experts, including award-winning social media editor for Times Higher Education Chris Parr, Insider Higher Ed journalist and blogger Eric Stoller, and Teacher Training Videos founder Russell Stannard, as well as Jisc’s David Kernohan and Sarah Knight – features an impressive mix of academics alongside vice-chancellors, librarians and IT and support staff.”

The final 50 features outstanding cases of social media use that others could benefit from, and we will be looking to highlight some of this excellent practice in the weeks to come.”

Even more helpful than the list is also the Twitter list, making it easier to follow the work of all those on the list.

Again, it’s an honour to be on the list, and I’d just like to sat how much I enjoy being ‘social’, talking about and sharing ideas and experiences, and above all hearing all about the wonderful things people are doing with students, learning, engagement, collaboration, technology, communication, and each other.

Project: The Really Useful #EdTechBook

You know how it is … you have an idea that just won’t go away. About a year ago (January 2014) I had an idea for a third book: a follow-up to my ‘what is a Learning Technologist?‘ eBook. I wanted to continue my exploration of my role and the community of learning professionals I find myself interacting with online and in person.

But, let’s face it, you’ve probably heard enough about me. So I toyed with the idea of seeing if anyone would write it with me. After a while I figured there wasn’t one person I’d want to write it with, but a whole series of active, engaging, and trusted people who have something to add and share to the conversation. Then came the difficult (and it was very difficult) choice of who, out of this much much wider range of people to approach.

So, how did I plan and execute this massive project then? Well, firstly I had no idea how big or tiring or wonderful the experience would be. I used a multitude of tools and approaches to inviting, collection, collating, writing, designing, marketing, and generally getting this project to market and completed.

  • I won’t write about the physical process of editing and publishing and the various trials and tribulations involved, as I’ve written about it before. Please head on over to my old post written after my first two book: ‘Writing an eBook: Lessons learned on how, where, and why’. I will say one thing though, it is very much more complicated when you’re producing the same content for two different platforms (electronic and paper) as the Word file do (despite what anyone may tell you) need to be completely different formatting. It’s fine, so long as you don’t need to make any more edits … if you do, you have to do it twice!

Openness
The key to the project, as I mention in the final chapter / post-script was that the finished product, the book, was formed by the process of writing itself. I knew who I wanted involved, and I knew what I ‘hoped’ the book would be about, but I did not direct any authors on content or writing style. I am so hugely impressed that there are themes that have formed that can be read through the whole book, through each chapter … all credit to the authors who managed to do this without even realising!

Google Docs
I set up a folder in  Google Docs and invited everyone to it. I created a document for each author that they could use to write their chapter (although most chose to do the writing in private and coy-and-paste- the final version here later).

Also in the Google Docs folder were a series of files that I used to plan and inform the team – all about communication and planning the project. I wanted everyone involved to have an input, if they wanted, to help steer the final product – yes, I could have used my ‘editor’ and ‘publisher’ position to do this, but that wouldn’t necessarily have produced a worthy product that my peers and colleagues would want to either read or be involved in.

Google Docs - The Really Useful #EdTechBook

It was through this process of openness that many important decisions were made, ranging from the actual name of the book (I deliberately didn’t force a name on this, but instead asked for suggestions) as well as timing for publication and pricing. The name of The Really Useful #EdtechBook was proposed at the start, more of a ‘holding’ name than anything else, but it stuck and soon became the call-to-arms of the writing styles and approaches to the individual authors.

Three factors helped me decide to include the hashtag in the title:

  1. We are all connected: in some case I’ve only connected ‘virtually’ with some of the authors, with others it was an online connection that we’ve made ‘real’ at various events. The hashtag represents this connected world we learning-technology-people reside in.
  2. A title like The Really Useful Educational Technology Book was to long and, well, naff.
  3. The title has it’s own marketing department already in build. If anyone posts or tweets and uses the full title, on any of their networks, it’s quite easy to find, read, and RT! It also demonstrates a shift in marketing and publishing, where much of it is now online where hashtags and trends and communities grow and prosper. Including the hashtag enables and embraces this shift.

Dropbox
Actually working on the editing and publishing side of the book needed us to be able to to share files. Using shared folders in Dropbox  I shared images, Word files, PDFs, ePUB, MOBI, etc. among other things. I also used this to ensure that I had access to my files on which machine I ended up working on, and to be sure I didn’t loose anything if USBs got lost or other such mishaps.

Dropbox used with The Really Useful #EdTechBook

Cover
I had an idea for the cover, based on a few styles of artwork I’d seen. Through work the name of a colleagues wife came up in conversation so we had an email exchange and the cover was sent across, pretty much as you see it now! Either Claire Riley is really good at interpreting my garbled notes or she is truly a gifted artist (definitely gifted).

Note: There’s much much more on the back cover .. which you’ll only see if you get the printed copy (hint hint)!

The Really Useful #EdTechBook

Interviews
I wanted to try and build a community around the project, as well as build a sense of anticipation and marketing for the eventual launch (January 28, 2015). I invited the authors to participate in a series of ‘interviews’, conducted for the most part through the Google Docs again. I started each interview with the same question – “How does the use of technology, in all its various forms, affect your day-to-day working life? ” – we we took it from there. Each interview takes very different directions to the others, based on the individual and their response to this first question.

Read the interviews here:

Book Reviews
The book was also sent to a few interested and key people for advance review (and comments). Thanks to Steve Wheeler, Maren Deepwell, Chris Rowell, Chrissi Nerantzi, Helen Blunden, and Neil Withnell.

Commerce
The links below are where you can currently purchase the eBook or paper copy from:

The individual chapters have come about from a simple, and short invitation to the book. The request/instruction … write about your experiences in, and with, technology for learning:

  • Wayne Barry: “…and what do you do?”: Can we explain the unexplainable?
  • Zak Mensah: “Why do we do what we do?”
  • Peter Reed: “The structure and roles of Learning Technologists within Higher Education Institutions”
  • Rachel Challen: “Learning Technologists as agents of change? Blending policy and creativity”
  • Julie Wedgwood: “Developing the skills and knowledge of a Learning Technologist”
  • Dr David Walker and Sheila MacNeill: “Learning Technologist as Digital Pedagogue”
  • Lesley Price: “Times they are a changing …or not?”
  • Sue Beckingham: “The Blended Professional: Jack of all Trades and Master of Some?”
  • Julian Stodd: “How gadgets help us learn”
  • Terese Bird: “Students Leading the Way in Mobile Learning Innovation”
  • Inge de Waard: “Tech Dandy, or the Art of Leisure Learning”
  • Sharon Flynn: “Learning Technologists: changing the culture or preaching to the converted?”
  • Mike McSharry: “This is your five-minute warning!”

Marketing
So, how can you see more of the world that surrounds the book? Try these links below:


The Really Useful #EdTechBook

I’m sure there is so much I’ve left out of the whole process, but it’s the stuff I’ve been doing daily for 8+ months that it’s all part and parcel of my daily routine.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the book. I finished the book with a short ‘post-script’ chapter …

“Without this book perhaps some of these stories may never have seen the light of day? I am certain there are many more stories out there that not only highlight what we’re missing or doing wrong or don’t understand properly, just as there are numerous examples of what we are doing right, where we have made a difference in just one child or one class or one school.

“Please share your stories. With me. With each other. With anyone who’ll listen.

“Use the #EdTechBook hashtag on social networks, with your Personal Learning Network (PLN), on your blog, or even on someone else’s blog. This book isn’t the start of anything new … but it could be a further catalyst to improve the use of technology for learning (all aspects of learning, in all possible locations), to highlight ‘bad’ practices and to investigate new ones.”

Please also leave a comment or review on the page where you bought or downloaded this book from. This is one small step that will bring the #EdTechBook community to the attention of your PLN and your peers. The next is, as I’ve already said, to share your story. Do it!”

Bring Your Own Devices for Learning: July 14-18 #BYOD4L

After such a successful run earlier this year, the team behind BYOD4L (Sue Beckingham, Chrissi Nerantzi, Andrew Middleton, et al) are working their magic again – put the dates in your diary: BYOD4L July 14-18. I have been invited back again this time to work with Sue, Andrew, and Chrissi (and the other team members) and will be engaging course participants online.

If you’re interested the details are below

YouTube: Bring Your Own Devices for Learning: July 14-18, 2014

As before the team will be online and blogging, tweeting, plus’ing, FBing, etc. in the run up to and during the course.

Details of the course:

Participants will be able to immerse themselves (students or teachers) in a range of opportunities to explore the use of smart devices for learning and teaching in their professional context in an immersive, open and collaborative environment. Each of the five themes will be explored, one a day, during the course – connecting, curating, communicating, collaborating, creating. Each day you will have an opportunity to engage us and each other in a tweet-chat (what’s that? Click here) at 8-9pm.

If you’re interested in what we did last time, here’s my recap video I produced using the VideoScribe iPad App:

YouTube: BYOD4L Reflection

“I make, therefore I learn”

Earlier this year I worked with Sue Beckingham and Chrissi Nerantzi (and others) on the BYOD4L (Bring Your Own Device for/4 Learning) short course. From this exposure to social learning  and from the shared experience in helping Sue and Chrissi run the course I was privileged to be invited  to work with them again. This time on a special edition of the online Lifewide Magazine – Issue 10 (June 2014): ‘Lifewide Learning in a World of Personal Technologies and Social Media’.

Looking back over the work on BYOD4L, my recent changes in circumstances, and my approach to the role I’m in, I was asked to write about something about the challenges of being creative (or not) in a role that doesn’t always require creative working or operation.

  • Due to the reflective nature of the post, that I am thinking and working towards being a better ‘learning technologist’, this forms the 13th part to my series of ‘what is a Learning Technologist?’

Here is my article, also available on the Lifewide Magazine website and associated PDF download (page 34):

“I make, therefore I learn”, by David Hopkins

As a Learning Technologist I tend to make or create things. Everyday I write emails, attend meetings, take notes, support staff, advise colleagues, demonstrate systems, deliver workshops, etc. .. and that’s the ‘required’ stuff that an employer would see as my role. But alongside this I make and ‘create’ far more than this: I create solutions, sort problems (even create problems that are worth sorting), collaborate with colleagues, write reports, summarise articles, manipulate images, test software, demonstrate techniques, etc. Whilst the official terminology used for my roles like mine may not look like it needs a creative person (in the traditional sense of what a ‘creative’ person is), I need to be considerably flexible on what I do, how I do it, when I do it, why I do it, and for whom.

Being creative is not a requirement to being a Learning Technologist but, for me, it has been essential to me becoming the Learning Technologist that I am. But through the creation and exploration of my role, of the environment I find myself working in, and through the connections I have made, I find myself trying more things, questioning more, being more creative, learning about my environment, and learning more about myself. I have learned to push myself and the boundaries I find myself bumping into. I have learned how to use these boundaries to my advantage. I have learned to be more creative and how to make more of this creativity to help and support others.

For me this is why I ‘make’. Therefore this is how, and why, I learn. My biggest ‘Ah ha!’ moment recently has been the discovery of Sketchnotes. Using graphics, drawing, and colour to capture the theme of an event rather than the details I have found something to rival my use of Twitter in meeting and at events.

I reviewed a book called The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rohde on my blog earlier this year  where I covered the new approach to notetaking, and the difference it is making to my work, my retention of information, and concentration & effectiveness at events. In May I attended the Blackboard Teaching & Learning Conference in Dublin and, for the first time, I did not tweet everything I heard. In fact I barely tweeted at all, instead using simple pen and paper and producing sketchnotes of the keynotes and sessions I attended.

Here is an example a sketchnote of Prof Stephen Heppell’s keynote.  The key is not the quality of drawing or artistic impression (for I do not claim to be any good at either) but the ability to capture the ideas and concept of the presenter in a graphical way … as Mike Rohde says in his book, a Sketchnote dog is still a dog no matter how well or badly it has been drawn.

Prof Stephen Heppell #BbTLC2014

I do not claim that sketchnotes will be for everyone, as I’m sure they won’t. I have had some amazing conversations with colleagues and peers on the concepts: some love it, some don’t. What it has done is what I believe I should be doing in my role as Learning Technologist … starting the conversation, testing the water, developing a style, and making sure we don’t get lazy and never try something new.

As I said when I started: “I make, therefore I learn”.

Combining Media
I didn’t have to use paper and pen for the sketchnotes, I could have used any one of the many Apps for my iPad for drawing or notetaking. So why did I, a self-confessed digital native (trying not to use that contentious phrase but realised that nothing else would really do) go back to basics and paper and pen? Firstly, it was only an experiment so I used the one thing I had to hand when I started reading Mike Rohde’s book, paper and pen. Secondly it has been extremely satisfying creating something like these sketchnotes that I can’t quickly edit or erase – it has helped focus the mind on getting it right the first time.

Then came the question of “how do I share these?” My first sketchnotes from the Blackboard conference were loaded to my blog and shared as part of the post outlining my thoughts and experiences from the conference. This has limitations as I quickly realised I would only have a limited audience for my work. I could have just shared the photo of the sketchnotes on Twitter, as I have seen others do with their notes, but I would have no ‘control’ over where the images went, nor would I be able to see how many views they got – I am not interested in restricting access to the images, but I wanted some way of knowing/seeing how far they travel and what kind of interest they get.

As I already had a Flickr account (and barely used it), and had seen how my peers and respected colleagues were sharing their work through this network, I decided to add Flickr to the experiment. Loading a photo of each sketchnote to Flickr was easy enough using the Flickr iPad App and I then collected them together in an album (above) to make one easy-to-share link I could use on my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. I toyed with the idea of using Instagram  (which am I always using) but knew it wouldn’t offer me the collection/album tool for collecting them together for easy sharing.

I am still familiarising myself with the subtleties of Flickr and the way in which it works, not least the tagging and meta-data associated with each photo or album, and trying to get more individual views to the sketches. This is not a mainstream subject/topic, so the views won’t be in the hundred (I would have thought) but I am slowly understanding the value of the network.

Where would I be without Twitter?

[Read this next bit as though it's a well known Sinead O'Conner song]

It’s been 5 years, 30 days, and 53 minutes since my first tweet. Here is it:

Twitter: hopkinsdavid / David Hopkins

In that 5 years, 30 days, etc. I’ve made nearly 25,000 tweets. Admittedly not all of them are relevant, interesting, insightful, funny, or worth repeating, but some of them have been. Some of them have been ideas, sharing, conversations, photos, jokes, people I’ve met or places I’ve been, books or journals I’ve read, etc. Some are re-tweets (RT), mentions, replies, etc. And some are just banal observations for no other reason than Twitter was available and somewhere I can put a random thought, observation, rant, or other piece of useless information. 

In this time I’ve made (to date):

  • Posted or tweeted 24,885 times.
  • Followed 1,411 people, organisations, spoof-accounts, etc.
  • Been followed by 7, 145 other people, organisations, etc. (I’ve also blocked a large number of inappropriate or spam accounts, including , for example, taxi companies in places I’ve never been).
  • Been added to 662 lists, the vast majority based around EdTech, educational or learning technology, etc.
  • Been on Twitter longer than 99.5% of all Twitter users, but only 64% of the time since Twitter first launched.
  • Only had two avatars.

(These stats have come from my Twitter archive and also the Twopchart website).

But what has Twitter done for me? Or rather what have I done with Twitter?

In the beginning I didn’t understand it or know what I was supposed to do with it and, to be honest, neither did most people. After a while, and through some first contacts I made (Steve Wheeler, James Clay, Jane Hart, Lou McGill), I began to see the wood through the trees, that Twitter was only what you wanted it to be, that you would get out of it what you put in. I worked out that I wanted (needed?) from Twitter so I could learn more about the role as a Learning Technologist, make connections and find out about things, events, technology, techniques, etc. that I didn’t know about from the people I worked with. Twitter became my ‘go to’ place for everything and anything that interested me.

David Hopkins

I started by ‘hiding’ behind a cartoon (right) and by the time I thought about changing it, to come out from behind the anonymity it offered, it had become a symbol and avatar I both liked and was recognised by. Now, over 5 years later I’ve changed it (finally) and now use the same avatar across all networks. I’m still not sure if I’ll swap back, but for the moment I’ll stick with it.

David HopkinsIn May 2009 I made a presentation to the Business School at Bournemouth University about ‘Twitter in Education’ (below) and also uploaded it to SlideShare, where it has since been viewed 80,000 times, embedded on 315 websites, and had over 100 downloads. This was as much about me sharing and helping colleagues to understand Twitter as it was about me also understanding the possibilities of what it can do and how you / we can use it. The follow up – ‘Twitter in Education: what next?’ - has also been viewed in excess of 11,000 times.

Twitter in Education

For me Twitter has …

  • been somewhere I could share my thoughts and reflections, from this blog, to a wider audience.
  • resulted in invitations to present at UK and European conferences.
  • opened my eyes to critical thinking and reflection through examples and the work that other people share through Twitter.
  • enabled real time help and support when tech failed me (or I could help someone else who had had their tech fail them).
  • made some real and valuable friends that started off as 140 character online conversations and has matured and grown through face-to-face contact at events and conferences.
  • helped me focus and concentrate on what is professionally important – here I’m thinking about implication and application of an ‘appropriate’ technological implementation, making sure it’s something that will add value or increase efficiency rather than the “ooh, it’s shiny and new” approach.

Twitter is not …

  • open – colleagues and friends follow me (some interact, some do not) and therefore I cannot rant or rave or moan too openly as it would be unprofessional
  • free – see above. Sometimes it’s a curse that I can’t say what I really really want or need to, that I can’t be totally open about something that has moved or effected me. Well, that’s my choice.
  • safe – despite Twitter being something I value in my day to day life I know ‘it’, or rather the people on it, can easily turn on any one of us (there are far too many examples of trolls who deliberately make someone’s life a misery, for apparent fun. Examples include some of sports modern heroes Rebecca Addlington, Curtis Woodhouse, etc. – please note I have linked to supportive stores associated with the trolling these athletes have endured to show the positive support the Internet can provide, my little way to counteract the negative).
  • mine – despite the feeling of ownership or control over my / our network, we ought to remember it’s not, nor will it ever be. There may be guidelines in place that protects the ownership, or IP, of my tweets, but Twitter can stop all of this, at any time.

Where would I be without Twitter? Well …

  • I would not be CMALT accredited – I would not have engaged with other applicants or assessors. I would not have seen the benefit of being CMALT accredited, and I would not have pushed myself through the process.
  • I would not be anywhere near the Learning Technologist I am today without the availability of the networked knowledge I have access to – without the connections I would’t have known there was even a large and welcoming network of technologists out there, thirsty for knowledge.
  • I would not have grown or expanded my passion or enthusiasm for my role and the industry I work in.
  • I would not have self-published my own books.
  • I would still be just plodding along, being reactive in my role and waiting for ideas to come to me instead of pushing my own boundaries, and that of the people around me, in the quest (is that the right word?) to better myself.
  • I would not be presenting at a conference in Madrid in May, looking at strategies for engaging students.
  • I would not be running twitter chats with my good friends Sue Beckingham and Chrissi Nerantzi on the BYOD4L and FDOL courses.

This is what I have let Twitter do for me, or rather this is how I wanted my network of connections to affect and effect my life. I do not see any other online network having anywhere near the impact or possibilities that Twitter has offered me – to me Facebook is for my family & friends, LinkedIn is still just an interactive resumé, Google+ is growing but still un-proven.

This is the value of Twitter to my every day life, personally and professionally. What about you, what does Twitter (or any other network you value) mean to you?

At some point you will want to, or ought to, download your Twitter archive. If for nothing else it serves as a reminder that everything you tweet is still open, accessible, and shouting “this is what [insert name] thinks”. If you’re not aware of this, then you really oughtn’t to be using Twitter or other ‘open’ networks where your digital identity, your digital footprint, is so plainly available for scrutiny. In the spirit of openness, here’s mine:

#BYOD4L Day 5: Creating and engaging

The final day for the short BYOD4L framework is here – creating! With the guidance and preparation of the below, we knew we were in for an interesting time:

“We want to encourage you to explore learning through ‘making’ – meaning how you can use smart devices and applications to develop original and meaningful outputs as an individual or within groups. An opportunity to find ways to express yourself creatively and develop personal learning activities that are relevant and meaningful to your needs.”

The first thing I saw on the final day of BYLD4L was Chrissi Nerantzi saying we needed to check we could tweet pictures. So I did. 8:31 this picture was tweeted as I waited for my day to start (a rare peaceful moment before the students arrived and made some noise): 

BYOD4L - CreatingIt seemed the Twitter chat was going to be a case of sharing both thoughts and locations … how mobile are we when we engage in it?

When asked during the chat (the Storify archive is here) what I was going to take away from the learning experience I was admittedly in the middle of getting children ready for bed, so my immediate thoughts included the difficulty of allocating enough time to really do the course and my involvement justice. I was amazed at the dedication and creativity of participants (and slightly in awe of them too) and enjoyed just reading the tweets for a while, not wanting to spoil the flow.

But, thinking creatively about BYOD4L I thought I’d represent my experience as an ‘avatar, something  could share and that others could enjoy too. After sitting looking at a blank screen for an age, trying to think how I’d do this, I turned to my Apps and decided on Foldify, where you can use the templates to draw, colour, and personalise a character or shape.

So, here’s my contribution – download the printable PDF (BYOD4L – Foldify Character / @hopkinsdavid), print it, cut it out, then stick together to make a little #BYOD4L character!

BYOD4L Avatar / @hopkinsdavid

Updated: here he is, in all his glory (my printer needs some new ink, so he’s a little pale):

BYOD4L - Foldify Character / @hopkinsdavid

If you have the Foldify App you can search ‘BYOD4L’ and find the avatar and download / modify your own! If you do please upload your own example back to Foldify, make sure it’s searchable with the BYOD4L name/tag, and leave a comment / image / link below to share it.

#BYOD4L Day 4: Collaboration, sharing, and ownership

Day four is upon us (going quickly, isn’t it!) and we’re looking at collaborating.

“We all need to work with other people and this is an opportunity to explore how smart devices can enable you to work with individuals and groups in a number of versatile ways so that you can maximise engagement and effectiveness when collaborating.”

For me collaboration starts with my network, my personal learning network, my learning environment … and here is how the tools I used) back in 2010:

DavidHopkins - Personal Learning Environment (PLE)The tweet chat was, as before, frenzied and alive, and so very much fun. If you missed it check out the Storify archive.

Collaboration has been big in assessment terms in recent years with projects and research on and around the use of Wikis in student-to-students work groups. But what of collaboration between us, educators, and students, or even between ourselves? Every time I tweet or email or phone or meet someone (student, professor, colleague, etc.) I am collaborating. It doesn’t matter that we’re talking about bikes, films, Twitter, etc. The fact is we’re sharing views and helping to form or reform new opinions or views in others. This is reflected in the 1st question last night … “Q1 Who can we collaborate with?”. The beauty of the Internet and BYOD is that we are no longer constrained to those in the same office or company or geographic location.

When asked how we can collaborate (Q2) the answers, again, showed that we are free and able to use any and all means possible. With the availability of Google Docs, Dropbox, FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, etc. we can define our own boundaries and set the expectations on what, when, who, how, and where it happens. I collaborated through Twitter last year on what it means to be a Learning Technologist in both HE and FE.

Getting people together to collaborate is easier, in my experience, than getting teams to do so. Individuals are more open or receptive to sharing ideas and working together than ‘teams’: is this because of the management, time, and politics that comes with inter-team collaboration? If you know please drop me a line so I can understand this better?

Where can we collaborate (Q3) seemed a little redundant as a question as we’d already kind of answered this in Q2 .. everywhere,  anywhere, and anytime we like. The trend towards mobile computing devices means this can easily be on the train or bus home, sat in a coffee shop or conference venue, at home or at work. We are only limited by the time and effort we dedicate to the project (Q4).

So, the final day of BYOD4L is here … this could be good!