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Talking about social media learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 3 Nov 2011, 22:03

A call from a colleague with a major corporate and we talk social media learning for nearly three hours.

During this time I repeatedly search this blog, using the e-portfolio that it has become, sending charts and grabs from Picasa and from the iPad, creating a mind-map in Bubbl.us and balancing how the MA in Open and Distance Learning compares to the OU MBA he completed last year and the MRes he is doing now.

Just a phone call. We could have gone to Skype, Elluminate or even Google+. The phone freed up the laptop. Several photos picked up from workshops, as well as screen grabs, were emailed from the iPad which was also running.

Social Media Learning Bubbl.us Mind Map

Fig.1. Social Media Learning Mind Map

Timely as I am procrastinating over the ECA which will be on the use of Forums and Mobile devices in e-learning.

A reminder of how a synchronous conversation can achieve so much, especially when there were items set before our eyes to discuss.

We also discussed (I hadn't the energy to take many notes. In retrospect I wish I'd recorded it):

  • Belbin Team Roles
  • Activity Theory
  • Management Mindsets
  • Silos
  • Web 2.0
  • Learning on the periphery
  • Vicarious Learning
  • Medical Market Research
  • TV Production
  • The role of an Alumni Board
  • Narrative
  • Research
  • Assessment
  • Blogs as 'electronic paper'

It was invaluable to have the external point of view, someone from a global comany of thousands talking about social media learning. Looking at the devices we now have, such as smartphones and tablets, it was particularly interesting to be reminded of human nature, how devices may be used for things and in ways that they were not designed.

Whilst the iPad permits mobility, we often use it when static: in our favourite chair, recumbant on the sofa, even in bed or in the bath. Is this mobile learning? It's hardly getting out of the house, drawing down data on the run using augmented technology to enhance the environment your in. And simply having content on an iPad so that you can using the touch screen to open and close the text, enlarging text, flipping the screen size between portrait and landscape all the time - the joy of its tactile nature. Unable to sleep I use the light from the iPad as a torch to sneak away from the marital bed and passed the children's bedrooms and to find my way downstairs withouth having to put the landing light on.

It also was clear how both devices and approaches to learning cannot be isolated, we got our joint heads around Engestrom's 'Activity Systems'. The technology is complementary, the move to personalise everything through device and software choices.

I'd played Devil's Adocat a couple of times suggesting that 'nothing had changed' only to come away agreeing that many of my behaviours were/are different as a direct result of Web 2.0. I have gone from learning in private, hunched over my books never showing it to anyone to a situations where, more like someone tending a public garden, or at least one seen from the street, people can see my thinking. Ironically, it is the end result that often fails to appear because I'm not about to post TMAs and ECAs online.

Some authors I quoted/cited during the conversation:

  • Vygotsky
  • Engestrom
  • Richardson
  • Moon
  • Cox
  • John Seely Brown
  • Jonathan Swift

To which I subsequently add as a result of browsing the blog and so re-engaging with my own experience within the chronology of the module; it is this, after all, that is to be examined, rather than my knowledge from this and the preceding modules. A learning design fault?

  • H807 You diddle about with every instrument in the orchestra and several that have just been invented.
  • H808 You learn to conduct, or at least why a conductor is important (even if you can't play an instrument or read music).
  • H800 You learn to play an electronic keyboard

I quoted Swift as saying (paraphrasing) 'I don't know what I mean until I hear myself speak'. If anyone has any idea how to cite this please do offer your thoughts.

More authors to consider in this context (mobile learning, forums, e-learning, web 2.0):

  • Haythornthwaite
  • O'Reilly
  • Weller
  • Traxler
  • Gregory
  • Mason
  • Sharpe
  • Beetham
  • Belshaw
  • Hinchcliffe
  • Bacon and Dillon
  • Siemens
  • Boyer
  • Wenger
  • Bruner

Other topics that we should have discussed:

  • User Generated Content
  • Collective Intelligence
  • Apprenticeships
  • Problem based learning
  • Participation
  • Demand Pull



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We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover for ourselves than by those given to us by others'. Lec 'The surest way to corrupt a young man is to teach him to esteem more highly those who think alike than those who think differently'. Nietzsche 'Analogy is the only language understood by the subconscious mind'. Jung + Time (parameters, deadlines, borrowing it from elsewhere) Assessment Human nature to do things in unexpected ways Cultural differences: think US, UK, Germany, Far East + Japan
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"For two personalities to meet is like mixing two chemical substances: if there is any combination at all, both are transformed." C.G. Jung (Psychological Reflections: A New Anthology of His Writings 1905-61)
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Day two we gave this another hour. This impressed on me the need to follow up initial discussions, indeed, it is only as you press on, dig deeper, that you literally get to the bottom of something. Keep asking questions without loosing sight of the main points. I was remind how an enlightened tutor put a PHD student into a wiki to get things going. What they found is that filling the wiki with DELIBERATE mistakes got the students engaged as ONE would crack eager to correct spelling, another would come in to alter punctuation and before you know it someone has enough confidence to add facts, delete spurious evidence, qualify and reference.
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We spoke at some length on what binds an alumni group? People who have paid good money and now altruistically want to 'give something back'. We concluded that it was the common experience, the ups and downs, the struggle and rewards ... And making it to the end.
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Learning must be experiential Conole and Dyke 2004 Gibson 2979
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Narrative Words, expression, meaning and communication. Conole (2011) Electronic literacy. Weller
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Design for learning VS. Serendipity (though it has a role to play) Apprenticeship or trainee status VS. Learning by osmosis In both cases learning by doing (Conole, 2010)
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To add references to: Grainne Conole Gregor Kennedy Wenger Bruns and 'produsers' All searchable in this blog
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And: Oliver (maybe I should include and list all faculty members of the Institute of Educational Technology)
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Include: Denise Kirkpatrick Blended Learning Practice-based Learning
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Important to have the latest stats on this. Things coming into the academic year 2011-2012 have moved on from Research in Australia in 2008 or though the OU in 2009. ‘The researchers found that only a minority of the students (around 21%) were engaged in creating their own content and multimedia for the Web, and that a significant proportion of students had lower level skills than might be expected of digital natives.’ (Bennett 2008:02) Kennedy’s research in Australia says it all. Emerging technologies are NOT the lifeblood of a generation, far from it. Research amongst students in three Australian universities showed that: 21% blog 24% used social networking 21.5% used podcasts (from this blog)
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Simms Wenger Wagner Langer Jonassen Dewey Holmberg Laurillard
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'Ubiquitous learning.' Haythornthwaite
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Cost savings! Not requiring facilitators on site or flying people in to a regional or central training office. Savings on books, workbooks and DVDs.