This week I have spent a lot of time looking at assessment, but also reflecting on the Plymouth e-learning conference where ten years ago I chaired a debate about closing the physical campus in times of crisis and disruption.
It could be floods, high winds (remember 1987), flu or similar viral infections, transport strikes, fuel crisis, anything…
I was supposed to be on leave this week, we were heading off to London for a few days, as we had tickets for the Only Fools and Horses musical at the Royal Haymarket. I had bought tickets for my wife as a Christmas present and it was something we were all looking forward to. Then all this lockdown happened and the theatre cancelled all the performances as required by the Government.
I did consider keeping my leave, but with leading a taskforce, it was apparent that I might not have the time to take some (and where would I go).
On this day in 2007 I was at the ALT Conference in Nottingham. This was the fourth ALT conference I had attended. What I really remember about this conference was how blogging became really big and important at the conference. We were blogging about the conference sessions, we were blogging about people blogging and lots of other stuff too. I think we were blogging because we didn’t have other tools that we could use, Twitter was just over a year old and most people were not using it (we didn’t have hashtags back then), so blogging was the only real online platform we could use.
I believe that people were blogging at previous conferences, but it was the first time that we had an RSS feed of all the blogs in one feed. This made it much easier to find blog articles on the conference and as a result the bloggers themselves. Importantly and this is why I think ALT-C 2007 was a sea change (and especially a sea change for me) was that these social relationships continued beyond the conference.
One of the sessions I attended at the conference was the Web 2.0 Slam – ‘Performing’ InnovativePractice workshop run by Josie Fraser, Helen Keegan and Frances Bell. This was (probably) the best session at the conference, certainly was for me and influenced a lot of stuff I did at later conferences.
They started off with the classic Web 2.0 Machine Video, which was shown at a lot of conferences I had been attending.
I think it still resonates today.
One of my early comments on this (and this was before Twitter really took off, so I did it on my blog) was
Josie Fraser is now giving an overview of Web 2.0, “think of it as a wave”.
Did Josie predict Google Wave, two years before it was launched?
As we were in Nottingham and we were put into groups to prepare something, I was in a group with Andy Powell, Agnes Kukulska-Hulme and Kath Trinder. We decided to create a Web 2.0 movement. We created a blog, a Facebook group and probably other stuff lost to time…
We called our idea Hood 2.0 (well we were in Nottingham, with Robin Hood) and are vision statement was:
There were lots of familiar faces in the room. We did a fairy bit of arm waving if I remember correctly.
I was certainly one of the few people using Twitter, so I did a few tweets from the workshop.
One of the things we seem to do in the world of e-learning is categorise ourselves and our learners into groups.
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!
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.
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.