I recently attended a couple of one-day events on eLearning – here’s a brief report and a few links and photos:
1) The E-learning symposium held by the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies (UK Higher Ed) focused on the possibilities for Language Teaching and Learning of the ‘Web 2.0’ technologies – wikis, blogs, and tools such as Facebook, MySpace, Elgg (the platform behind Community@Brighton, the University of Brighton’s social network) and Second Life. Some of the contributions were video-recorded and are available online along with the presenters’ slides, including the keynote by Jon Dron on the different levels and types of control afforded to teacher and learner by different learning environments. Jon looks in particular at the potential of feeds and tagging, and draws a contrast between the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ and the ‘stupidity of the mob’, which he illustrates with chocolate raisins. I kid you not.
What made the day especially interesting – apart from the chocolate – was the fact that most of the contributors were not from the areas covered by the Subject Centre – it was useful to engage with other perspectives, and to think through the correspondences with our own disciplines.
2) Sharing interesting practice in eLearning, held at the UoB’s wonderful Creativity Centre a few days later. In the morning there were half-a-dozen brief accounts of some of the ways eLearning is being incorporated into teaching and learning across the university.
Of particular interest for colleagues in the School of LLC is that the Learning Technologies Group has a limited number of small solid-state audio recorders that staff can use to record material, in order to make it available to students via for instance Studentcentral (the UoB’s Blackboard environment), or as podcasts – both are really easy to do, as Joyce and Les demonstrated. Ask Les for a gizmo.
The afternoon was an informal ‘show and tell’ session, in which we all wandered round, seeing and discussing what others were doing. Katie flew around the UoB’s brand-new Second Life island, parachuted down here and there, had a couple of beers, gyrated a bit on the dance floor, and generally hung out; I attempted to demonstrate a number of SL educational developments, with less success as apparently we were operating under bandwidth restrictions, and in the more built-up areas in SL everything was slow and dark. See the web-pages Educational Uses of Second Life and Theatron 3, a project of the English and Dance, Drama and Music Subject Centres – there’s some fascinating things going on, and if you have SL you can teleport in to some of the locations. We did manage to get to Theatron 3’s Theatre of Ancient Pompeii – an impressive build, and there’s several others under development.
The day ended with an overview by who else but Jon Dron, who reckons we’re just about at Education 1.5b, and that it’s not a bad place to be.
The whole day was filmed, and videos, slides and photos should be available before too long on the UoB eLearning Community blog – I’m not sure if this will be open to folks outside the university, I hope it will. In the meantime, here’s some of my photos, which show what a high-powered, academic event it was.
This post has been written with several audiences in mind – colleagues in the UoB School of Language, Literature and Communication, members of the UoB eLearning Community Group, colleagues at the Subject Centre symposium, and fellow-participants from around the world in the Electronic Village Online workshops ‘blogging4educators‘ and ‘Social Media in English Language Teaching‘ – highly recommended to anyone wishing to get to grips with the potential of these media for language teaching and learning. So please excuse if some of the comments seem aimed elsewhere.
Privacy and/or accessibility: I’ve posted this to my Daily Post blog so all the above groups can access it; likewise I’ve put the photos in a gallery of my own – but not on Flickr because I wanted to keep them within these groups as far as possible, and with Flickr your photos are either completely open or ‘members only’ – too much hassle!
Stan, Alison: any specific tags for your events?