Staff Development Day

Saturday saw me working once again for the Open University, this time at a staff development session held in the ThinkTank part of Millennium Point, where I’ve been spending some time recently at the TIC (which will soon form part of my own faculty).

The purpose of the staff development was to consider Web 2.0, and the impact this may have on the learning and teaching of students and Associate Lecturers (tutors).

I was able to stay for most, but not all of the sessions, those that I did varied in quality, from the good to the excellent.

Firstly, someone who’s involved in mobile learning demonstrated some of the innovations which are being considered, including a very clever ‘my moodle’, an offline version of moodle which would allow students to keep their course material after the presentation has ended.  This really would be of benefit, one of the difficulties of e-learning is that you have to make your own copy of the learning objects – miss one and you’ve missed a whole chunk of the learning that was being offered.

There was also some looking at what I would call ‘wacky’ demonstrations of (for example) linking GPS and photos tied into Google Earth.  Why?  I think the answer was ‘because we can’, not a sound pedagogy.

It was a real surprise when I finally make the connection that Shailey Minocha, who was giving a talk about the use of Wiki’s in a postgraduate course, was the lady who had invited me down to the Open University at Milton Keynes to give a talk about my use of blogs (through the connection with David King).  I was delighted to see her again, and that we were able to have a brief chat about how things were progressing.

The only ‘adequate’ presentation was regarding the use of FlashMeeting – an online web chat product that the OU has developed (why?  I’ve used lots of web-based chat services in the past, and whilst this had some good pedagogy, I can’t but help think it was a solution in search of a problem).  The tutor did well, but a succession of video clips failed to keep me engaged I’m afraid, though he also had the misfortune of being the first post-lunch speaker, after we had been allowed to ‘run riot’ in the ThinkTank museum itself.

All in, it was a good day, a shame more people couldn’t attend and a shame in turn that I couldn’t stay for Wendy Baird’s excellent podcasting talk.  Well worth a Saturday of my time.

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