Archive for category Blogging

EnquiryBlogger – First steps

Prototype gadgets Working with Simon Buckingham Shum (OU) and Ruth Deakin Crick (University of Bristol), I took part in workshop that was, in part, intended to explore the possibilities for a blogging tool to support enquiry-based learning. Progress during the workshop was recorded in a blog set up for the occasion.

This work led to the development of EnquiryBlogger. This project, funded by the Learning Futures programme in 2010-2011, tuned a blogging tool to scaffold authentic enquiry-based learning. Run jointly by the Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute, and University of Bristol’s Centre for Systems Learning & Leadership, EnquiryBlogger provides a set of plug-ins which extend one of the world’s most popular, robust, open source blogging platforms, WordPress (multisite edition, enabling admin of many child blogs under a parent blog).


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Virtual Heritage 2010

Following the book chapter on virtual heritage, I was invited to Bangor as a speaker at the Virtual Heritage 2010 event.

This was a two-day “Science & Heritage Cluster” and VRLink workshop, bringing together industry, charities and institutions to discuss Virtual Reality techniques and ideas for Science and Heritage applications.

For my presentation, I tried out Prezi for the first time, and blogged about the experience. I also produced a more conventional version of the presentation, using Slideshare

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What is social learning, and why does it matter?

Despite Vice Chancellor going public with SocialLearn at ALT-C in 2009, my research work remained largely under the radar, resulting in a series of internal reports that were not available outside the university. As the restrictions relaxed we began to move toward wider dissemination – starting with the project blog.

In January 2010, I blogged about online social learning – it’s one of my blog posts that I refer back to when I am thinking about the possibilities for social learning:

Web 2.0 extends the possibilities for social learning, making it possible not only to locate and access a vast amount of content from all around the world, but also to engage in extended interaction around and about this material. Learners – particularly those learning outside formal settings such as schools and colleges – may find themselves adrift in an ocean of information, struggling to solve ill-structured problems, with little clear idea of how to solve them, or how to recognise when they have solved them. It’s here that social learning has its place – helping people to use these resources to construct knowledge together effectively.

Social learning can take place when people:

• clarify their intention – learning rather than browsing

• ground their learning – by defining their question or problem

• engage in focused conversations – increasing their understanding of the available resources.

These three actions help us to build meaningful connections online, and offer learners the benefits of co-operative activity and of collaboration.

The challenge for SocialLearn is to support and encourage users to clarify their intention, ground their learning and engage in focused conversations.

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Research blogging

In autumn 2005, I moved from the masters programme on to the PhD programme at The Open University.

I also took up blogging. This was partly in response to the university prompting me to start a research journal, and partly because Gill and Anesa, with whom I shared an office, were already blogging.

My blog started out in November 2005 on AOL (yes – it was that long ago!) on a site that is now gone. In 2006 I moved all the early postings over to a university blog, where I still make use of it.

Soon after that, Anesa, Gill and I started researching our blogging practice. We analysed our individual blogs but also, for a year, ran a joint blog at the university (now deleted). We even had a mirror blog for a while, in which we used tags and categories to analyse our blog posts.

My blog tracked the process of my research, and the constantly evolving nature of my research questions, which changed so often they had to be allocated their own category. Here’s their first(ish) iteration:

OK, here is the first ever formulation of my PhD research question (after I ditched the original idea about international communities in primary schools).

How do people successfully become members of an online learning community?

And the sub-quesion: ‘What problems and limitations stand in the way of successful membership?

Dave Wield suggested formulating the question in different ways, so here goes:
Why… do people have problems when forming online learning communities?
Where… are the most successful online learning communites found?
When… does a successful online learning community form?
How… do people become successful members of online learning communities?
What if… I had to design an ideal online learning community?

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