Tag Archives: dave white

Snow

From BBC News

The coldest snap for 20 years shows no sign of letting up, with the freezing weather expected to last all weekend and into next week.

Then we read this

Thousands of children are affected by school closures in England, Wales and Scotland after more heavy snowfalls.

Oh these stories are not from last week, but from last February!

Last February we had some of the worst winter weather for twenty years, unprecedented and somewhat unexpected. As a result many schools, colleges and universities closed their doors to learners and students and staff got a “free” holiday.

Sound familiar, well last week we had even worse weather, something not seen since 1963 in some places. Lots of snow, freezing temperatures and once more many more schools, colleges and universities closing due to the snow.

John Popham in his blog does ask the question

Why, in 2010, we are not making more use of the Internet to cope with these conditions. As in many areas of British life, you will probably tell me that the UK has such extreme weather conditions so infrequently that it is not worth the cost of preparing for them, but, as this is now the second consecutive winter where we have had significant snow fall, and it appears likely that climate change may well make this a regular event, surely we should seriously think about how we prepare for such occasions. And, in this context, as we are supposed to be moving increasingly towards both delivering more education online, and adopting more flexible working practices, surely these should come into their own at these times, shouldn’t they?

I agree with him.

Part of the issue in my view is the culture of snow closures.

Look at this tweet from the University of Bath.

Part of a co-ordnated effort as described on Brian Kelly’s blog how the University of Bath used a range of communication channels and technologies to inform their staff and students that they were closed.

Just to note it’s interesting to see that the University is closed, isn’t it just that the physical site is closed? Can’t at least some of the University continue virtually? However by using the language “closed” it implies that no activity will take place, well no formal activity will take place.

Culturally is it because those not involved online can’t see that closing a physical location need not have a significant impact on the business of the University, if that business can be carried out at home or online?

Using the word “closed” also sends the message to staff that the University is closed and that they do not need to go to work, or even do any work – even if they could.

The University of Bath is not alone, many other educational institutions followed a similar line and message to their learners and staff.

The statement from my college initially to all staff was that the college was closed. Obviously the site was closed, but the VLE was still operational. It wasn’t until a few days later that a message about the VLE was put on the website. However I wonder how many staff are “using” the VLE and how many are taking advantage of the closure to have a bit of a break from work.

David Sugden also brings in another institution in his blog post on the snow, he wrote

With no contingency in place, my wife sent texts to her learners and told them that ideas for work would be posted on the Moodle and that she would be there – on chat – during the class time. But no one came. There is no culture amongst the learners (in Sharon’s case full time nursery workers/managers who were probably too busy with extra children anyway) to visit online learning activities at times like these.

He also asks the question

So, how do we change that culture? How do we prepare our colleagues AND our learners for ‘snow time’?

A good question. At the moment staff and learners see snow as an excuse for a break and won’t even think about let alone consider the possibilities that technology allows them to continue despite the snow and site closures.

David also says

I believe that we have to get them all thinking about the use of audio and video for instruction and assessment as a matter of course and to use online collaboration tools as part of their day-to-day college, school (whatever) life.

Last February we recorded a podcast on this topic and it is still relevant this winter.

David continues

We need to wear the technologies and associated techniques like comfortable coats!

This view is also echoed in an Audioboo by Graham Attwell who brings in David White’s excellent Digital Residents and Digital Visitors model. Those of us who are digital residents didn’t see the snow as an issue, those of us who are digital visitors probably didn’t even think about the possibility!

If all staff and learners were familiar with the technologies then snow closures wouldn’t be such an issue. However if the snow in February 2009 and again in January 2010 has shown anything, it has shown that there is there still a long way to go before educational institutions really are making best use of the internet and digital technologies to enhance and enrich learning.

What about those staff who did work from home? Will they get any benefit or overtime for the day that they worked, but others made snowmen and went sledging? Why should I work from home (because I know how and can) when everyone else is not?

Yes snow makes it dangerous to travel, but with the internet and mobile technologies, does it mean that learners need to stop learning just because the decision is taken to close the physical location?

So what if this snow is unprecedented? What if we are now not going to have bad snow for another twenty years? Well even if you ignore the possible impact that climate change can have on our winters, making them colder and with more snow, institutions can still close for other reasons. My own college was closed in 2007 because of the floods in Gloucestershire. Schools in 2009 were closed because of swine flu. Closures happen a lot, time to start thinking about how an educational institution can make best use of the fantastic tools that are available to it for learning. Though the first thing to do will be to change the culture. It’s not just about contingency planning, it’s about changing the way people work when there isn’t snow and changing the way people think when there is.

Last year we had the “worst snow” for twenty years, here we are less than twelve months later and the snow is not only back it’s even worse! Culturally we have some way to go I think before snow only closes the physical location and doesn’t close the institution.

Visitors and Residents

When I was at FOTE 09 a few weeks ago I stayed overnight and went out for a meal at a terrible Italian restaurant; one of the problems I have visiting different parts of London is that I am merely a visitor and unlike the local residents do not know the best places to eat. I remember visiting London a few years ago and my sister-in-law who lived in London at the time (a resident) took me to a wonderful local pub with fantastic food. The more I visit London the more confident I get with getting about (on foot and on the tube) and knowing which places to avoid and when and which places to seek out and try. First time visitors to London know it differently to those that visit more often and likewise people who live in London will know some places better than others. Visitors and residents know London in different ways and the same can be said for those who use digital and online tools and services. I really don’t want to use the term digital world as I don’t think it is a useful term.

Last year we discussed the concept coined by Dave White of Visitors and Residents and how this relates to how people interact and use the online and digital tools and services out there.

Dave has made a video of the presentation he gave at ALT-C 2009 and it makes for interesting viewing.

You can read more on his blog.

Most people should by now realise that the age demarcation of the digital native and digital immigrant is a flawed concept and should not be relied upon. Projects and research have again shown that young learners are not digital natives and often have issues with digital and online technologies.

From the MoLeNET programme for example.

The experiences of several MoLeNET projects suggests that not all young people are the “digital natives”…

“We came to this project with an unspoken belief that young learners would innately understand how these devices worked, we quickly came to understand that, while they can use them well on a superficial level, more demanding tasks stretched their knowledge of the technology”.

The key lessons to remember is that you can’t assume that younger learners will be confident in how to use new technologies, likewise also don’t assume that older learners will not know how to use technologies.

If you are an online resident it can sometimes be difficult to remember that a lot of people are merely visitors and that they may not fully undertstand the local customs, practices or best places to go.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #018: Digital Literates

James Clay, Kev Hickey, Shri Footring and Lisa Valentine discuss Twitter, digital literacy, digital identity and other stuff too.

Audio MP3

This is the eighteenth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Digital Literates.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Digital Literates

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

James is joined by Kev Hickey and Shri Footring. Lisa Valentine joins us later in the conversation.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #018: Digital Literates

Shownotes

  • Digital Literacy Debate – The purpose of the debate is to try and move forward on issues surrounding Digital Literacy. The focus of the debate will be the UK education sector, but international attendees and contributors are more than welcome. Recently, Digital Literacy has gained a lot of traction within academic and educational technology discussion within the UK, and is generally thought of as A Good Thing. However, some important questions have yet to be addressed.
  • James, Shri, Kev and Lisa all use Twitter, but some of us prefer Jaiku.
  • So what is a hashtag?
  • Pat Parslow’s comment on the term digital native.
  • Marc Prensky’s new paper on digital wisdom.
  • Dave White’s blog a post about residents or visitors to the online world.
  • The e-Learning Stuff podcast on the whole digital native, immigrant, visitor, resident, naturalised debate.

Photo source.

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #004 – natives, immigrants, residents and visitors

This is the fourth e-Learning Stuff Podcast, natives, immigrants, residents and visitors.

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Download the podcast in mp3 format: natives, immigrants, residents and visitors

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

In this show, James is joined by Nick Jeans, Dave Foord, David Sugden and Lisa Valentine and they discuss the concept of the digital native, the digital immigrant, resident and visitor. Apologies for the poor audio quality of Nick which we’re blaming on his Skype connection.

Shownotes

e-Learning Stuff Podcast #004 - natives, immigrants, residents and visitors

Are you a resident or a visitor?

One of the things we seem to do in the world of e-learning is categorise ourselves and our learners into groups.Are you a resident or a visitor?

One of the key pieces of work on this was from Marc Prensky on Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. Now I was never really very happy about this idea that if you were old (like me, well I am not that old, but it’s sometime now since I first sent e-mail, 1987 I think it was) you were only a  digital immigrant and young people were digital natives.

However when I looked at the students at my college, I couldn’t see this age divide at all. Yes it was true many of the students were very happy and capable with handing digital devices and playing games, but not all.

We had some digital natives that fitted the description, but we also had a fair few that didn’t. There were students who didn’t and in some cases couldn’t use the internet and the web, not because they hadn’t been immersed in a digital world since birth, but because they didn’t want to. Also there are issues with many students in relation to the digital divide; they may play video games, but don’t have access to the web.

I also couldn’t see how myself fitted into this, I may not fit the digital native sterotype, but I knew (well others told me) that I was very much immersed into a digtial world and used the internet in ways in which they couldn’t fathom or understand. Was I merely a digital immigrant?

From my experiences on the web I met many digital natives and quite a few of them were over forty!

So it was quite refreshing to read on Dave White’s blog a post about residents or visitors to the online world. Like a few others, notably Andy Powell and Josie Fraser, I quite like this concept.

There are some who live in an online world and see the internet as part of their everyday life. This I can identify with. It was for example very strange at ALT-C 2008 to meet Kev Hickey, someone I knew very well from Jaiku. Over the last year we had discussed many e-learning issues and shared experiences of applications, but also I had seen his photographs from Blackpool, I knew the names of his dogs, I felt he was someone I would call a friend.

Are you a resident or a visitor?

So it was very weird to actually meet him in person at ALT-C. He is just one of many people I know from online in just my e-learning sphere, better wave to Lisa at this point…

I can quite easily see how that I can be a digtial resident, living part of my life in an online world. I do use the internet a lot and do use a range of online services and applications to make my life easier, to communicate, to share, to drink coffee and to have a bit of fun as well.

Working with many staff in the college (and quite a few students as well) I often find that they are merely visitors, using the online world when it suits them and meets their needs.

I’m reminded of a member of staff at a training session who was quite vocal about being a “technophobe” and didn’t want to use technology in her teaching (note the word teaching and not learning). So basically I ignored her, there were staff there who were interested. As we moved around the room, another member of staff started talking about how she used learning technologies, how she used the VLE and then she remarked on how she used MSN chat to converse with her students at a time and place to suit them. At this point the “technophobe” spoke up and said, “oh I use MSN chat all the time to talk to my daughter in Australia”. For me she is the perfect example of a visitor to the online world, using the technologies when  it suits her needs and ignoring the potential that other tools, services and applications could offer her and importantly her learners.

Having said that, on Josie’s Blog there was a comment from Mike Amos-Simpson which I think is worth repeating.

I think that perhaps when its considered as a ‘world’ it maybe makes too many people feel like aliens!

I agree with Mike that calling it a world could alienate people, but then again so does using the terms like digital native and digital immigrant.

So are you a visitor or a resident? Or do you prefer native and immigrant?