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Just published! Game-based Learning and the Power of Play

I am delighted to announce the publication of a new book on Game Based Learning which I have had the pleasure of co-ordinating and editing alongside my colleague Professor Nicola Whitton (MMU).0337753_game-based-learning-and-the-power-of-play_300

Published by Cambridge Scholars, this book explores the application, potential and challenges of game-based learning and gamification across multiple disciplines and sectors, including psychology, education, business, history, languages and the creative arts. With chapters exploring the use of games across the full educational spectrum – from early childhood education, through to the corporate sector – it provides comprehensive insights into the potential of games and play for facilitating learning and engagement at every life stage.

Thanks to my co-editor Nicola, to all the authors who contributed chapters and of course to the reviewers who provided invaluable feedback throughout the peer review process. It is great to see everyone’s hard work and efforts come to fruition.

For more details see http://www.cambridgescholars.com/game-based-learning-and-the-power-of-play.

 

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To tweet or not to tweet? Looking back at the #elss16 social media etiquette

As described in an earlier post, I was recently involved in developing a Social Media Etiquette for this year’s Dublin eLearning Summer School (#elss16). In this post, I’m going to explore how participants and the wider public responded to these guidelines and reflect on the implications for social media practice and etiquette in our future events. Before this though, let’s recap on why we thought it might be useful and appropriate to develop a social media etiquette in the first place!

social media 2

CC (SA) Kjyrstenolson

Many people have embraced social media on both a personal and professional level and social media now plays an increasingly important role at conference and other professional development events. However, while there are many benefits – not least enhanced openness, transparency and wider opportunities for sharing and networking – this has been accompanied by concerns regarding privacy, control, attribution etc. While social media ostensibly promotes an open and “sharing” culture, not everyone is equally comfortable with this. What is acceptable and “normal” practice for one person, may appear invasive  or inappropriate for another. (As mentioned by Dr. Eoin O’Dell (@cearta) at #elss16, Danah Boyd’s excellent book “It’s Complicated” provides a really interesting exploration of social media, identity and privacy and, in particular, how individuals conceptualise privacy differently.)

The theme of #elss16 – “Ethic and eLearning” – focused specifically on many of the issues which arise in discussions of social media at conferences: privacy, data protection, analytics, digital identities etc. Given this, and the potentially sensitive issues under discussion, it seemed particularly appropriate that we develop a social media etiquette for the event this year. This etiquette was published in the event website, emailed to all participants in advance of the event, and a hard copy was also included in participant packs. To encourage an open and sharing culture, while respecting the wishes of individual speakers, speakers were also asked to clarify at the beginning of their session if they were happy for their presentation to be tweeted/photographed etc.

Having disseminated this social media etiquette to #elss16 participants and the wider public, I awaited the response with bated breath! I was particularly curious about the response because (a) this was a new initiative for #elss16 and (b) in my experience such guidelines are not widely used for conferences in the field of education/elearning. (It must be acknowledged however that we are not the first to do this – many other events, particularly those in the fields of law/science/medicine, have published such guidelines. (See for example Social media guidelines for  events run by the American Academy of Family Physicians and Social media guidelines for the  European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2016.)

The response

So how were our #elss16 social media guidelines received? (Note, in my exploration here I am focussing purely on the public online response, for example via blogs and Twitter. In the spirit of the the #elss16 etiquette, private conversations with participants will not used here.) Responses were varied initially: overall, curiosity and interest was stirred as reflected on Twitter:

Some were very positive:

However, some tweeters also hinted at some underlying concerns:

And interestingly, these guidelines stimulated bloggers to address the topic, raising valid questions and stimulating significant debate. (See for example, Dr. Sharon Flynn’s Etiquette for tweeting at conferences – an honest question). Most of this debate surrounded the #elss16 request that participants do not photograph presenter’s slides and share them on social media without their permission.

For me, one of the most valuable outcomes of publishing our #elss16 social media guidelines has been the online debate that they have stimulated. While there seemed to be a general consensus on the inappropriateness of recording someone’s presentation without their consent, there was less consensus on the appropriateness of tweeting a speaker’s slides. In my  experience, it seems that the default assumption  is that speaker slides are tweetable. However, as Simon Wood posits, “is that fair?” Academics may be comfortable presenting evolving, unfinished work to peers in a conference setting: but is it reasonable to assume that they should be equally comfortable presenting these ideas to the world?  As argued by Adeline Koh in an interview with Steve Kolowich, “I see this as a divide between older and newer forms of academic culture…On the traditional model, you don’t put an idea out there until it’s fully formed and perfect.” 

Blogger Andrew asks “What is the copyright status of slides?” and “why tweet?” These are valid questions: IP issues may arise, particularly if someone is simply capturing and disseminating someone else’s work, as opposed to making their own contribution or response to the work.

So where does this leave us?

At #elss16, our aim was to respect speaker’s preferences, while encouraging the openness, transparency and sharing across our personal learning networks that is so valuable. For us, it appeared to work. However, key to this was the fact that we explicitly asked each speaker to clarify their preferences regarding sharing via social media at the start of their presentation. All #elss16 presenters were happy for presentations to be tweeted etc. and it seemed that participants were happy to know that they were free to tweet  with consent.

However, I think there are still questions that are worth grappling with here and I have to say I am still working through my own thoughts on this, which undoubtedly will evolve. Perhaps a future blog post?

Developing a social media etiquette for conferences and events

socialmediaFor some time now we have been discussing the increasing pervasiveness of social media at conferences and professional development events. Undoubtedly this has great benefits. For example, Twitter backchannels can enable attendees to follow multiple parallel sessions at the same time. Those who are unable attend in person can also follow event conversations online. And of course, Twitter now affords the potential to extend these conversations beyond attendees, opening up a potentially global conversation. Also, tools such as Storify can be used to create a useful archive of conference tweet for browsing after the event.

Some organisations have used social media to facilitate gaming activities which complement conference events: #senatesecrets, a treasure hunt game designed specifically for the FOTE 2014 conference, is one interesting example which blends offline and online activities, the latter using a range of social media tools including Flickr and Twitter.

Similarly blog posts from conference attendees can provide a wonderful synopsis of an event, prompting reflection on, and discussion of, conference themes. (See for example Catherine Cronin’s #oer16 blog post for an excellent reflection on the #oer16 conference, which itself includes a collection of blog posts from other academics.)

As academics become more conscious of their digital identity, and the benefits of engaging in such networking via social media, the blogging and tweeting at conferences and similar events has increased exponentially. However, at times it seems as if, in our enthusiasm for sharing via social media, we have paid insufficient attention to the privacy and ethical issues which inevitably arise.

For example, if you have presented at a conference, are you happy with attendees taking photos of you and/or your slides and tweeting them? Would you be happy for an attendee to record and stream your presentation via social media without asking you? Would you feel comfortable if someone tweeted a keynote-related comment you had made informally over coffee?

With this in mind, I’ve been involved in developing a Social Media Etiquette for this year’s Dublin eLearning Summer School: an etiquette which we felt was particularly relevant considering the theme of this year’s event – “Ethics and eLearning”. All #elss16 attendees will be asked to follow the guidelines below:

Please do:

  • Make sure to include the official hashtag, #elss16, when sharing event-related posts on Twitter and elsewhere on social media.
  • The default assumption is that all presentations are “bloggable” and “tweetable”. However, some presenters may request that certain slides, or findings, be left out of the social media conversation. Please respect any such request.
  • Please respect other participants and presenters – remember that your posts are public and live forever.
  • If you are tweeting or blogging during a session, please consider sitting near the back of the room to avoid distracting presenters or other participants.
  • Please mute your mobile phone/laptop/tablet volume to avoid disruptions.

 

Please do not:

  • Video or audio record any session without the presenter’s explicit permission. This includes the use of mobile apps such as Periscope.
  • Post online any images, audio or video that have been recorded, without first having the presenter’s explicit permission to post it.
  • Photograph presenter’s slides and share them on social media without their permission.
  • Capture, transmit or disseminate research data presented at the event – this may jeopardise subsequent publication of the data in an academic journal.
  • Tweet, or post elsewhere online, comments made by fellow attendees at the event.
  • Engage in rudeness or personal attacks online.

 

Watch this space for the response from participants and presenters as #elss16 begins tomorrow!

Tools for facilitating collaboration

I’ve recently begun using Edshelf for curating, annotating and sourcing tools and apps for teaching and learning. It’s a really useful platform, particularly given the ever-increasing number of tools available. Having an accessible online space to curate these tools, and to share reviews and experiences with the wider educational community, is invaluable. And even better, it’s free to use! For starters, see my “Collaboration Shelf” at https://edshelf.com/shelf/paulinerooney-collaboration/ (or click on the preview image below). Note: all my “shelves” are works-in-progress!

Tools for facilitating online collaboration

Writing and Enquiry: Providing higher-order feedback on written assignments

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a workshop facilitated by Professor Chris Anson (North Carolina State University) on the topic of “Writing and Enquiry: Providing higher-order feedback on written assignments“. The workshop examined issues surrounding the provision of higher-order feedback on students’ written assignments (where higher order feedback focuses on argumentation, concepts, and structuring in comparison to lower order feedback that focuses on language/grammatical issues).

Most academics will agree that the traditional mode of writing assignments in Higher Education – the so called “one and done” model where students submit an assignment at the end of term and receive a mark for it – is problematic and limits student learning. Essentially because students receive no formative feedback on their writing (instead receiving a final mark or perhaps even just a pass/fail), they miss a valuable opportunity to learn from the experience, to refine and further develop their understandings of the subject matter at hand and to improve their communication and academic writing skills. (For an overview of key academic writing skills see this Academic Writing Handbook from my former colleagues Dr. Ciara O’Farrell and Dr. Marian Fitzmaurice.)

In addition to outlining the different types of feedback (for more on this see Peter Elbow’s “Summary of Ways of Responding“), Anson spoke about the merits of a goal-based model of writing which includes response and revision. As we all know, academic writing is challenging and we rarely achieve perfection in the first draft: as a creative activity, academic writing requires revision, redrafting, rephrasing and polishing often over several drafts. Anson spoke about how “the writing struggle” which many of us have is at the heart of learning but it is often unsupported. (For another take on the writing struggle see this post from Professor Pat Thomson: Good academic writing – its about revision not editing.).

So how do we support revision?

We looked at three methods of supporting the revision process:

1. Group-based peer review (45 minute face-to-face session): Students are randomly allocated into groups of three. Each student should have written a short paper in advance. Each students’ paper is circulated to the relevant group in advance of the face-to-face meeting and students are expected to have read it. Students are also given access to a discussion board for pre- face-to-face discussions. During the class time, each paper is allocated 15 minutes for peer review discussion and feedback.

2. Self review: where each student reviews their own work with a critical eye supported by guiding questions/rubric. With this strategy it is important that the tutor provides a set of questions or rubric outlining what he/she is expecting that piece of writing to accomplish. (Click here for examples of rubrics for assessing/evaluating academic writing.)

3. Teacher review: Anson focused on this traditional review method and looked at a number of tools that can be used to enhance the quality and effectiveness of feedback.

FEEDBACK TOOLS

Text expanders: these automatically replace abbreviations with frequently used phrases, making the process of giving written feedback quicker. See for example aText for Mac.

Speech Transcribers: these allow you to dictate your feedback by just using your voice. The software then transcribes your feedback creating a text document for the student. See for example:

Screencasting/Audio feedback: although the concept of audio feedback is still relatively new, there is an increasing body of research which points to its effectiveness and particularly to the benefits over written feedback. Some of the benefits noted by Anson included:

  • Ability to communicate on a more personal level.
  • Feedback tends to be more supportive and encouraging (as opposed to critical/negative which written feedback often is.)
  • Feedback is more accessible. (Consider those with visual impairments, dyslexia or any student struggling to read illegible hand-writing!)

As for screencasting/audio feedback tools, there is a wide range available, both free and license-based. See my curated collections below for more information. (Note these are a work-in-progress!)

https://edshelf.com/shelf/paulinerooney-screencasting

https://edshelf.com/shelf/paulinerooney-audio-feedback/

 

Dublin eLearning Summer School 2015

It’s that time of year again!

Register now for the Dublin eLearning Summer School 2015, taking place from 22- 26 June 2015 inclusive. This year the event will be hosted at the Dublin Institute of Technology’s Bolton Street Campus. For more information on this year’s programme and registration information see at http://dublinelss2015.wordpress.com.#elss2015 flyer

#ELSS is for anyone interested in experiencing, exploring and learning more about existing and emerging learning technologies: through its unique combination of keynote speakers, seminars and hands-on workshops, participants get an opportunity to immerse themselves in learning technologies, supported by elearning experts from across the Irish higher education sector. With its emphasis on collaboration, discussion and social learning, #ELSS also gives participants an opportunity to develop their personal learning networks as they discuss meaningfully, with like-minded peers, how technologies could be utilised to enhance learning, teaching and assessment experiences.

Join us this year for what promises to be a great event!