Social:Learn – a new OU philosophy ?

social learn

I attended a workshop where the OU sought views from OU staff, students, and alumni about the Social:Learn project. I haven’t been so enthralled by a workshop in years and I have been pondering why that should be. I think there are two main reasons:

  1. Content
  2. Connections

The social:learn project is fascinating. It started in response to the nightmare scenario of someone picking up the best of the free web2 tools, social networks and some dynamic Associate Lecturers to make an online university to compete with the OU. The social:learn team have tried to do the same, but for the OU, instead of against it. The result is not just another tool, but a way of thinking about higher education that provides a place for a learning network online. Martin Weller’s slideshare explains it fully. There will be tools, which I will write about in another post, but the glue is a place to organise, share and record learning online in a social way. This may sound like nothing new, but the revolutionary part, for me, was the premise that although the ‘glue’ will be OU, the tools and services interacting with the system will be chosen by the students. The big question is: will students grok it?

I had already ‘met’ several of the conference participants through twitter, seesmic and the closed ning network set up for the workshop. Meeting them in person was great, but our previous use of web 2 social networks lead to an amazing back channel during the workshop and presentations. There was plenty of social chat, mostly about the free chocolate, but rather than a distraction, this added to the general conversation and thought processes, with ideas being discussed in real time in the room and being added to the ning network or picked up later in question sessions. If we could get students this involved in their lectures could it revolutionize the way they learn? Reingold has suggested that we make use of the back channel and engage with it which is exactly what was happening here.

ajcann tweet

A poor commercial move

Alan Cann and Nigel Gibson have both blogged about how TALMOS have threatened blogger Doug Belshaw for making unfavourable comments about their product on What:

What a poor commercial move by a company looking to sell to the education sector. In education we generally like to learn from our mistakes, criticism is part of the learning process. It is a shame that TALMOS doesn’t have an educational ethos as a company.

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Posting from eeepc

Having ventured bravely into the world of the terminal (konsole) last night to rectify a problem with accessing our BT home Hub wireless over WPA, I thought I had better do something useful and try a post from the eeepc.

Apart from awful typing, as I still get used to the keyboard, the layout of wordpress is fine on the eeepc screen (unlike MS outlook access for my work email which involved too much sideways scrolling!). I have used kwout for the image (by installing the firefox add-on), mostly using jing for screen captures at work or the iMac.


I am in guatemala

Just checking out some of the links from Alan’s blog post on evaluating our small world networks, and twittermap told me I had moved to Guatemala. Can’t think that Guatemala and Leicester are all that similar, but perhaps global warming is having more of an effect than I thought!

Twitterlocal did a good job of finding my colleagues in Leicester, so perhaps this is a better bet!

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Dawkins on twitter


I have been trying to convince my better half that I am not just frittering my time away using twitter but doing something useful. He doesn’t seem to believe that anyone of any real intelligence would use such a medium. Salvation came when last night (via my twitter network of course) I discovered that Richard Dawkins joined twitter. Over the last 48 hours, the growth in the people following him has been amazing. The two shots below were taken just over 24 hours apart. I will wait and see what his reaction to twitter is, he certainly isn’t having a conversation just yet, but it is early days….


update: following a busy weekend, the followers have gone through the roof and I am pleased to report that Dawkins does appear to conversing in good trivial twitter style, and some more serious stuff too.