Blogging, tweeting and being a #PGCE student

This post forms part of a blogging carnival organised by Danny Nicholson. I haven’t taken part in a blog carnival, but I really liked the idea (and seems a good way to thank Danny for the inspiration I get from his whiteboard blog).

I am a primary PGCE student. Before I started my transformation into a teacher, I worked in educational technology, particularly the field of plagiarism detection. I started blogging for my EdTech work and due to the reflective nature of teacher training seemed natural to carry on. I had thought I would put my weekly course reflections here, but in fact I’ve discovered that much of my reflection as a trainee feels distinctly personal and so I’ve been selective in what I have shared publicly. My experiences as a learner (see the perils of electronic note taking as an example) have had quite an effect on me. The course has made me consider the nature of learning and how uncomfortable it can be to recognise that you don’t understand something.

My personal learning network is massively important to the way I learn. The people I follow provide support, inspiration, encouragement and challenge me to reflect on my learning. Serendipitous discovery through twitter is an amazing way to find out things you didn’t know you needed to know (like this fabulous list of blog post prompts for teachers from Alec Couros @courosa). My PLN give me feedback on my understanding and interpretation of everything from teaching theorists to assessment for learning. I have shared reliance on twitter with my fellow students.  I am organising a TeachMeet  with Josie Fraser, which I never would have dreamt was possible whilst I was still a PGCE student.


I’ve been thinking about using different online tools with children in my next teaching placement. One idea is a to use! as way of curating sources of information and posing questions for children to hunt for the answers from the links. I’ve started with some ideas for the Terrible Tudors, I’d love to hear how other people are using! in the classroom.


My PLE evolution into 2011 and beyond?


PLE version 4, Dec 2009



I’ve been tracking the evolution of my Personal Learning Environment since Jan 2008. I’ve  found this a useful way to reflect on how I work, consume and produce information online. In my last post about my PLE in December 2009, I noted:

‘The other main difference which has influenced my PLE this year, is the use of an iPod Touch. With wifi at home and work, mobile apps for twitter, mobile access to friendfeed and services like evernote have changed and probably extended the way that I interact with these services.’

Alan commented that he thought I had moved away from content to communication. Thinking about my PLE has become my turn of the year ritual (and I think more productive for me than a review of my year or resolutions for the new year ahead). So, I pulled up PLE v 4.0 from December 2009 and started to modify it for PLE number 5. Apart from adding posterous (which I missed off by mistake last year) and changing delicious for Diigo as my bookmarking service, there really isn’t much to change.

At first I wondered if this meant that I hadn’t developed the way I learnt over the last 12 months, as I thought that this is what my PLE was about. However, I don’t think that this is the case and that Alan’s comment from before should have alerted me to the fact earlier that my PLE is actually a Personal Learning Network. The tools I use may change and my workflow may develop and become more refined, but what I learn is about who I learn it from, not the tools I use to discover it. Over the last year I’ve used communication tools to separate the audiences I interact with, twitter for work and Facebook for friends.

‘Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring… It’s when a technology becomes normal, then ubiquitous, and finally so pervasive as to be invisible, that the really profound changes happen’ Clay Shirky, Here comes everybody, 2008

A little slow to the party, but hey, at least I’ve arrived in time for  #cake 🙂

Why don’t I blog there?

Keith has just asked if I’m switching to posterous to blog, I’m not, I’m still blogging (sporadically!) at wordpress However, everytime I use posterous I remember how much I like it and how easy it is to post. Perhaps I need to make that effort to blog as part of my thought process? Posterous is almost too easy to use, doesn’t require me to actively think ‘I’ll write a post about that’, then think of images to go with the post, links etc. I wonder if trying to post here on posterous would lower the barrier to me blogging and get me doing it more often? Would it change the nature of what and how I write? I might try it and see!

PLE evolution part 4

What started as an exercise to show students what a personal learning environment was has turned into a way of me tracking how I interact with people and information online. I’ve commented on the evolution of my PLE before but I thought it would be worth expanding on it for a meeting we have coming up next week.

This is how my PLE has evolved over the last two years.

PLE in Jan 2008
PLE in Jan 2008

then twitter came long and changed everything, by July 2008, twitter crept in

PLE in July 2008
PLE in July 2008

 Then by the end of 2008, twitter was becoming more central to everything I was doing.

PLE in December 2008
PLE in December 2008

Flock was one of the main ways I kept track of lots of sites and services, but I stopped using it earlier this year when it stopped auto-updating and broke horribly. Looking at my PLE today (december 2009) I think it has become more refined and is beginning to reflect the different audiences I communicate with online. Facebook is isolated in this diagram as I took a decision over the summer to keep this for friends and family, with only a few work colleagues in my friends list. Just as I have a twitter community and a friendfeed community, facebook has developed as a third space.

The other main difference which has influenced my PLE this year, is the use of an iPod Touch. With wifi at home and work, mobile apps for twitter, modile access to friendfeed and services like evernote have changed and probably extended the way that I interact with these services.

PLE in December 2009
PLE in December 2009

PLEs at HEA Annual conference

I presented our work on Personal Learning Environments at the HEA Annual conference in Manchester on 30 June 2009. This project was funded by HEA Centre for Bioscience Departmental grant and took place in 2008/09 with a cohort of 220 first year undergraduate students. The project team was led by Alan Cann with assistance from Stuart Johnson and me.

Review of my 2008

Sounds like one of the myriad of TV shows that grace our screens in the that weird period between Christmas and new year when they aren’t sure what to put on, but yes, it is time to look back and see what on earth I have done in the last year.


Overall this has been a year of trying new technology on and offline. Web 2.0 has transformed the way I work. I have lost count of the number of services online I have signed up for (I have 35 listed in my clipperz account, but that is only a fraction of them!). Some have come and gone, others are now part of my daily life:

Twitter: I now have a community of twitterers to help me. My first tweet was in December last year, but it was March before I started using it seriously and June when it became obvious that twitter had become a major channel of communication for me. The experience of a lively twitter back channel at a social Learn event for the OU was amazing. Tweetstats shows your usage over time (my stats are here) – you can see the impact of school holidays.

Blogging: I’ve started two blogs this year, this one and one for the School of Biological Sciences.

PLE: as part of our research project on personal learning environments, my own PLE has undergone quite a shift over time since January 08 and now looks something like this.

PLE version 3
PLE version 3

Delicious: (jobadge) I’ve been using delicious much more over the last year.

Publications 2008

Badge, J. L., Dawson, E., Cann, A. J., & Scott, J. (2008). Assessing the accessibility of online learning. Innovations in Education and Training International, 45(2), 103-113.

Bevan R, Badge J, Cann A, Willmott C and Scott J (2008) Seeing eye-to-eye? Staff and student views on feedback Bioscience Education E-journal 12-1

Willmott C and Badge J (2008) Ethics and Plagiarism: helping students write right The Biochemist 30:12-15


Suffered from overkill in conference season this summer. Still, made a good impact and put Leicester on the teaching and learning agenda nationally 🙂

list of conferences attended and presentations made

Badge, J. L., & Scott, J. (2008). Plagiarism policies: Looking for intra-institutional consistency. Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, Harrogate.

Badge, J. L., Yakovchuk, N., & Scott, J. (2008). Consistent policy into consistent practice: A case study from leicester University . Keynote Paper presented at the Second Meeting on Institutional Polices and Procedures for Dealing with Plagiarism, Oxford Brookes, May 2008

Badge, J. L., Yakovchuk, N., & Scott, J. (2008). Academic culture in transition: Are honour codes a viable solution? Paper presented at the Third International Plagiarism Conference, Gateshead.

Badge, J. L. (2008). Electronic detection of plagiarism. Paper presented at the Preventing and Designing Out Plagiarism HEA Centre for Bioscience, 8 April 2008, University of Leicester.


lots of success this year with Alan Cann 🙂

HEA Centre for bioscience departmental grant: £15k to revolutionise the way we teach first year undergraduates about IT and numeracy using web 2.

TechDis HEAT 3: 10 iPod touches

Roberts fund: small world networks for postgraduate students.

Academic Integrity: continuation funding for research assistant to March 2009


All about the voting this year! Lots of problems with using the electronic voting system on cfs. now time to get it publically written up and move on to embed it’s use in the first curriculum. Interim report from first year of implementation.


I was introduced to SocialToo by a direct message from a new person I followed today.

We have a couple of projects running at the moment using Twitter for support or for creating networks (smallworlds and PLEs) and having struggled with ways to keep track of new people signing up to the service at the beginning of each project and automated way to do this would be great.

SocialToo allows you automatically send a DM with a message (written by you) to anyone who follows you and can be set to automatically follow them back. This was the first time I had had a DM from someone I had followed and it made me feel all warm and happy and wanted, especially as David followed it up with a DM of his own asking me something simple about my work based on my twitter profile statement. Very smart, great way to build a network.

I could see this working with our students, if they have just signed up to twitter and accepted the default settings, a DM would generate an email to them, pulling them back to twitter and it would be a personal contact.

You can only associate one twitter account with each socialtoo account, so haivng created multiple twitter identities for our different audiences, we would need matching social too accounts. Having said that, it is a one shot deal, set up the account and leave it to work automatically.

You can also set the account to automatically unfollow anyone who unfollows you, though I am not sure we would want this with students on our undergraduate course. SocialToo also has a survey tool which can be used to post surveys to twitter, could be useful for getting quick and dirty feedback on topics, issues etc.