Education in 140 Characters or less

May 15, 2011 at 10:24 pm (Twitter, Web 2.0) (, )

Recommend going full screen for the presentation


Al-Khalifa, H. S. (2010). Finding a Place for Twitter in Higher Education. eLearn, 2010(5).

Chamberlin, L., & Lehmann, K. (2010). Cultivating Twitter. eLearn Magazine, 2010(8). Retrieved from

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Horton Hears a Tweet. Educause Quarterly, 32(4). Retrieved from

Kearsley, G. (2011). Situated learning (J. Lave). The theory into practice database  Retrieved 15 May, 2011, from

Schulten, K. (2011). Ask Teachers about Twitter and microblogging in the classroom. The New York Times. Retrieved from The New York Times website:

Twitter. (2011a). Twitter is the best way to discover what’s new in your world.  Retrieved 11 May, 2011, from

Twitter. (2011b). The Twitter glossary.  Retrieved 11 May, 2011, from

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Wiki’s in more depth

May 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm (Web 2.0, Wiki, Wiki)

This is post is in reply to Kay’s comments on my initial post Collaboration +Communication= Wiki. Kay had some pertant questions (in italics)  regarding wiki’s that I will attempt to answer below.

You wrote:
“…formed within the group can also be tested against ‘real world’ conditions. While this may expose students to extreme views of society it also can act as a mirror to the group perceptions especially those that don’t conform to social norms while at the same time providing an opportunity to examine those norms.”

Can you give an example of this?

Muijs, Ainscrow, Chapman & West (2011) highlight  that constructivist theory assumes that  individuals or groups are ‘sense making’ systems and as such create understanding using existing perceptions or interpretations. In extreme examples this understanding may be skewed from societal norms. An  example of this would be gang members in modern society who some believe struggle with applying lower-class cultural norms to those of the middle class majority (Thornberry, Krohn, Lizotte, & Smith, 2003). In a classroom environment these perceptions would hopefully not be as extreme but may still be present.  If we apply Kolb’s Experimental Learning Model (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2005), students may create flawed abstract concepts which could become concrete if not fully validated in a new environment. An open wiki like Wikipedia can enable this ‘validity’ exposure which may be lacking from internal group dialogue.

 You wrote:
“…personalisation as one of the stand out features of a wiki when used for students
who don’t fit into the educational middle ground (either under or over achievers).”

What do you see as the implications for the under and overachievers in wiki use?

Wiki’s and other Web 2.0 applications by their very nature allow the personalisation to individual requirements.  Students can add, delete, or alter content whenever they wish. They can create content in a variety of formats that suits their own learning style. It is this access to resources, ‘material and human’ that Knowles et al (2005) point to as an essential component of effective learning. For motivated learners (over achievers), the Wiki format offers a chance to explore their own creativity providing them with a challenging learning environment that includes an element of feedback (Adams & Hamm, 2005).  It is this feedback, in the form of external editing of their posted information that can enable critical thinking that may not be possible in a traditional learning environment. For underachievers the Wiki format allows them to explore learning using methods and content that they are more comfortable with. Videos, audio, and pictures all offer alternative ways learning can be expressed by learners that may struggle with text based methods.  The challenge of using a wiki or any other Web2.0 application is that the curriculum needs to be adaptive enough to allow these applications to be utilised and assessed.

You wrote:
“…a wikis ability to utilise, embed and interact with other Web 2.0 tools means that it may outlive some of the more recent application developments.”

I was wondering what the more recent applications are that you are referring to and why they will not last as long as a wiki.

With the use of technology in education comes the risk of obsolescence.  This is very relevant with software, and especially with Web 2.0 applications whose developers rely on the masses to interact with their product to provide a revenue stream and ensuring the application continues to exist . The difference that I can see between a Wiki and some of the other applications, is in the way in which they are utilised. Applications such as Twitter, and Facebook,  are  social tools first and educational/business tools second. The continued existence of these social applications is dependant on whether people still use them.  MySpace and Bebo are two examples of social-based applications that have quickly fallen by the wayside. In contrast wiki based applications like Wikipedia,  are used as on-line references and as such are independent of social trends and to me this implies longevity.

Isn't the collective noun of 'dude', dudes?

Overall I see you are well aware of the benefits. What are some of the barriers to implementation that you might see requiring guidance from the teacher?

As I pointed out in my previous blog post, the greatest asset of a Wiki, its openness, maybe also be its weakness.  Ideally a Wiki would be left open to allow content to be changed, updated, or corrected. This however can also allow ‘Wiki Vandalism’ (McGlynn, 2011) where content is changed to something humorous or slanderous, or just plain incorrect. If this vandalism is repeated then the student may feel bullied and may become less inclined to participate. If the Wiki is part of an assessment this could result in the student failing or receiving a lesser grade than they deserve.  For the facilitator the use of Wikis may mean that they would have to establish some ground rules before the students start to utilise them in an educational setting. Using real names, correct referencing, and reporting any acts of vandalism, are all rules that could be applied however this will not stop external users (or covert group members) from committing the same acts.

The use of any Web 2.0 application can be fraught with danger and as educator we need to understand the downsides of any technology we use. This should not put us off utilising them however, because ultimately it is these technologies that our students identify and feel most comfortable with. And by using them we can continue to create the engagement and participation that is the objective of education.


Adams, D., & Hamm, M. (2005). Redefining Education in the Twenty-first Century : Shaping Collaborative Learning in the Age of Information   Retrieved from

Knowles, P. D., Malcolm S., Holton, I., Ed.D., Elwood F., & Swanson, P. D., Richard A. (2005). The Adult Learner : The Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development   Retrieved from

McGlynn, K. (2011). The funniest acts of Wikipedia vandalism ever (pictures)  Retrieved 14 May, 2011, from

Muijs, D., Ainscow, M., Chapman, C., & West, M. (2011). Collaboration and Networking in Education. London: Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg.

Thornberry, T. P., Krohn, M. D., Lizotte, A. J., & Smith, C. A. (2003). Gangs and delinquency in development prespective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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A KFC Education Model?

May 9, 2011 at 9:11 pm (Web 2.0) (, , , , , , )

It only cost $7.90 for a heart attack?, book me in for a bypass!

As I sat watching a segment on Campbell Live tonight, I couldn’t help wondering how we could make education as popular as KFC’s new ‘Double Down‘ burger?

The key it seems, is to always have something new and exciting on hand to engage the students. KFC hasn’t kept trying to sell the same old burger (originally just chicken) to its customers all these years, if it did it would have probably gone bankrupt a long time ago.  Instead KFC, or Kentucky Fried Chicken as it was formally known, constantly reinvents itself to meet the changing requirements of its consumers. And so it is with education. The latest classroom technology can quite quickly become old and stale to our students reducing their engagement. Who remembers OHP’s, printing whiteboards, and reel to reel projectors? To your students these devices become part of the furniture, useful but boring.

What does this mean for educators? Unless you are one of the early adopters, and even they get it wrong sometimes, get used to being on the technological back foot.  Just as your parents use of the word ‘groovy’ signalled that it was uncool; when educators start getting comfortable with the latest You/Twit/Face app, your students have already started to move to the next big thing.

So what is the next big thing and how do we use it? Nobody knows, well actually your students probably know but they won’t tell you for fear that it will become uncool. However, you have a secret weapon…. your training. When KFC create a new burger or a delicious chicken treat, they don’t replace the staff because they only know the old products. No, instead they up-skill them, providing them with training that builds upon their existing knowledge of KFC products and methods. For educators this means your knowledge of pedagogy and its application to adult education remain the same. The application of these skills to new technology may however require some ongoing re-training.  Fortunately it is now easier than ever to up-skill yourself into the world of Web 2.0. If you have the internet at home then you’re already halfway there. So why not explore the current raft of applications available to you; Twitter, Wikis, Facebook, YouTube, WordPress are all examples of new education applicable technology that is free to use.

Just remember its not the method, its the message. Oh and here’s the link to the inspirational ‘burger.’

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Collaboration + Communication = Wiki

May 8, 2011 at 7:09 pm (Web 2.0, Wiki)

I edited Wikipedia the other day. It was easy. I simply found a page that interested me, switched to edit mode, and updated the information. Now millions of people around the world can view the updated and corrected information that I published. Or was it correct? Perhaps I changed some of the content to misrepresent the facts, altered history slightly or wrote some slanderous comments about someone or something.

The same qualities that make a Wikipedia an ideal reference source, (its openness and collaborative nature) can prove to be its downfall. There have been numerous instances of Wikipedia hoaxes; in one example an Irish student published a fictitious quote on the wiki entry for a recently deceased composer. This quote was picked up and subsequently appeared in several world newspapers (Grergely, 2009). If anything this serves as a cautionary tale regarding the use of open media such as Wikipedia.

Brian struggled to find his wiki entry

The word ‘wiki’ is believed to have come from the Hawaiian word for ‘quick’. Early wiki’s were primarily text based sites that allowed content to be edited by specified users. Wikipedia is the most widely known and used form of a wiki however there are numerous examples of wiki’s in use on the internet. A number of sites (google, wikispaces, and wikidot) offer free wiki creation so that interest groups or individuals can create their own. Also some company intranet sites allow the creation of wiki’s for internal use by staff.

So how can we use Wiki’s in education?

One definitive feature of a wiki is that it allows communication and collaborative in a digital environment . This provides the tools that allow students to create, edit and update information and in the process create knowledge. Although their social nature  is not immediately apparent, wikis  allow asynchronous collaboration between students, teachers, and the wider world.  It is this creation of knowledge in a social context that Van Harmelen (2008) points to being a central theme of social constructivism; a theory that fits into modern pedagogical practice.

Another feature of a wiki is its widespread use. By utilising a wider platform, like Wikipedia, the perceptions and interpretations (Muijs, Ainscow, Chapman, & West, 2011) formed within the group can also be tested against ‘real world’ conditions. While this may expose students to extreme views of society it also can act as a mirror to the group perceptions especially those that don’t conform to social norms while at the same time providing an opportunity to examine those norms.

Finally the digital nature of a wiki enables students to become more creative in their development of new knowledge. The ability to utilise and embed a variety of traditional and more modern technologies into a wiki allows the students to personalise their interactions with the subject. Teehan (2010) points to this personalisation as one of the stand out features of a wiki when used for students who don’t fit into the educational middle ground (either under or over achievers). A wiki establishes a free flowing platform on which these students and teachers can freely experiment, which may in turn help create, maintain and provoke the engagement that is missing from traditional methods.

In summary, Wikipedia is the biggest example of a wiki. Its widespread use by digital natives and immigrants alike has made it one of the most widely known and widely referenced sites. This familiarity, together with the collaborative and communicative nature of wiki’s in general, make them valuable tools in the educator’s toolbox. Although one of the first Web 2.0 applications to appear; a wikis ability to utilise, embed and interact with other Web 2.0 tools means that it may outlive some of the more recent application developments.

All that is required now is for teachers to work out how to use them… so why don’t you give it a go here,


Grergely, A. (2009). Irish student’s Jarre wiki hoax dupes journalists. Reuters. Retrieved from Reuters website:

Muijs, D., Ainscow, M., Chapman, C., & West, M. (2011). Collaboration and Networking in Education. London: Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg.

Teehan, K. (2010). Wikis: The educator’s power tool.  Santa Barbara: Linworth.

Van Harmelen, M. (2008). Design trajectories: four experiments in PLE implementation. Interactive Learning Environments, 16 (1),  35-46.

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Wrestling with video!

May 2, 2011 at 10:08 pm (Video, Web 2.0)

A quick video about my struggles with technology and video in general – I don’t think I’m cut out for TV!

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YouTube in Education

May 2, 2011 at 9:26 pm (Video, Web 2.0) (, , , , )


Kearsley, G. (2011). Social Learning Theory (A. Bandura). The Theory Into Practice Database  Retrieved 26 April, 2011, from

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Muitimedia Learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

TED (Producer). (2011, 2 May). Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education. Retrieved from

Vygotsky, L. S. (1997). Interaction between learning and development. In M. MGauvain & M. Cole (Eds.), Readings on the development of children (2nd ed.). New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.

YouTube. (2011), from

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So why do people blog?

April 28, 2011 at 10:32 pm (Blogs, Web 2.0)

Writing a blog seems to appeal to a broad cross section of the population who perhaps would not have considered recording their thoughts in an online forum before now.

So why do people blog?

One reason identified by Bonnie, Diane, Michelle, & Luke (2008)  is the use of a blog as a method of developing thinking around a topic.  Similar to a diary, a blog enables abstract thoughts to be clarified allowing the writer to reflect on themes (Driscoll & Carliner, 2005)  within their work.

This clarification of thought parallels that of journal writing and the benefits that this brings. Boud (2001) noted that journal writing provided a means to ‘enhance reflection and reflective practise’. Some reflection must take place to create a blog post but the advantage of a blog over traditional journal writing is in its ability to allow feedback. In an educational setting feedback can give legitimacy and inspiration to the writer however as it is uncensored in nature, negative comments may also serve to inhibit the writer’s future posts harming their reflective process.

Another reason people blog is because of a blogs ability to build a community (Nardi, et al., 2008).  The establishment of communities of practices (CoP) in education are well known and expected in traditional face to face learning. Early in the program, a number of SLT students  expressed their frustration at the lack of a similar community forming (Hammond, 2011). The perceived cause of this was the online nature of the course which seemed to precluded normal social interactions. It quickly became apparent that these fears were unfounded and that a small  CoP did form consisting of students sharing similar frustrations, problem solving and feedback posts (Twitter, 2011). The newly formed CoP extended from its initial Twitter form into individuals blog comments and back again and now exists across several Web 2.0 applications.  It will be interesting to observe how this CoP integrates into the (perceived) non-participatory group at the next face to face meeting.

The free-flowing nature of blogging and the subsequent comments can allow further development of the writer’s ideas, aiding reflective practice. It also has the potential to inhibit the writer’s thoughts if negative comments are received. The use of blogging for educational ends  allowing the reinforcement of learning through collaboration and social ‘connectiveness’, more than outweighs the risk of negative feedback. What may start out as an individual journal entry can quickly become a fully collaborative and interactive (Westberg & Hilliard, 2001) experience providing a more depth to any subject material.


Boud, D. (2001). Using journal writing to enhance reflective practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2001(90), pp 9-18. doi: 10.1002/ace.16

Driscoll, M., & Carliner, S. (2005). Advanced Web Based Training Strategies : Unlocking instructionally sound online learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Hammond, K. (2011, 26 April). Session One (post 2 of 2).  Retrieved from

Nardi, B. A., Schiano, D. J., Gumbrecht, M., & Swartz, L. (2008). “I’m blogging this” A closer look at why people blog.

Twitter. (2011). Social learning technologies twitter posts:  , from!/search/%23slt11sa

Westberg, J., & Hilliard, J. (2001). Fostering reflection and providing feedback: Helping others learn from experience. New York: Springer Publishing Company, Inc.

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How do students create understanding? Part 2

April 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm (Uncategorized)

An Audioboo response

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How do students create understanding?

April 23, 2011 at 3:42 pm (Concept, Web 2.0)

In an attempt to find the underlying education theories behind this question I utilised a Concept Map (Cmap). A Cmap is a graphical tool that allows concepts and the relationships between those concepts to be explored.

The focus question, ‘How do students create understanding? ‘,  is very broad with a multitude of underling pedagogy concepts that intersect and overlap each other.

Concept Map

Concept map of creation of student understanding

Motivation is a core requirement of education; without it learning does not take place. Students may be intrinsically motivated or alternatively seek out extrinsic motivation from the classroom environment. In either case, the absence of a structured learning sequence may mean that these motivational requirements are not met and students could become de-motivated and disillusioned.  Pintrich (“The role of expectancy and self-efficacy beliefs.,” 2011) and others called this the expectancy construct, which revolves around the principle that students will not continue to engage in a task if they have the expectation that they will fail. The collaborative nature of Web 2.0 may manage this expectation better than traditional face-to-face classes however the use of these applications still needs to be structured according to good educational practice to maintain motivation.

Identification of collaboration, with peers and staff, to create understanding falls within Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) (Newman & Holzman, 2005). The student is able to assess their skills against their peers and staff highlighting deficiencies in their performance and potentially leading to an increase in learning. This collaboration ‘zone’ can also lead into an informal Community of Practice (CoP) (Wenger, 2006) that enables learning to take place in a more of a social environment.

Presenting new information to students using various methods conforms to standard VAK philosophy but also provides the opportunity to utilise a Germane (relevant) cognitive load theory (Clark, Nguyen, & Sweller, 2006) to learning. This attempts to replicate more closely what a student would face outside of the learning environment by spreading the cognitive load across different forums leading to an increase learning efficiency (Clark, et al., 2006). As the students that I teach are already operating in a working environment this particular theory has direct relevance to my teaching practice.

Recognition, collaboration, and sense of achievement concepts can all be related to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If the basic physiological and safety requirements are met, Maslow (1943) (as cited by Green, 2000) identified that Belongingness (collaboration), Esteem (Recognition) and Self-Actualisation (Sense of achievement) are all sort to fulfil a persons higher needs.  It could be argued that communities of practice theory subscribes to Maslow’s Needs as it simultaneously fulfils the Belongingness and Esteem levels.

Pedagogy Theory behind the Cmap.

The concepts behind how students create understanding are constantly evolving. A Concept Map is useful as it clarifies the base information behind the concept and identifies linkages between the pieces. A Concept Map should be viewed as a living document, forever changing and updating as new concepts are discovered.


Clark, R. C., Nguyen, F., & Sweller, J. (2006). Efficiency in learning: Evidence-based guidelines to manage cognitive load. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Green, C. D. (2000). Classics in the History of Psychology  Retrieved 22 April, 2011, from

Newman, F., & Holzman, L. (2005). Lev Vygotsky : Revolutionary Scientist. London: Routledge.

The role of expectancy and self-efficacy beliefs. (2011).  Retrieved 22 April, 2011, from

Wenger, E. C. (2006). Communities of practice: A brief introduction  Retrieved 22 April, 2011, from

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Web 2.0 vs. The Tradesman

April 9, 2011 at 6:24 pm (Web 2.0) (, , )

"On the internet, nobody knows you're a plumber"

Web 2.0 technology has been around for at least the last five years. Although not yet considered mainstream, Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have become accepted words in the social vernacular.

These applications typically lend themselves to informal collaboration across multiple social worlds (McLoughlin & Lee, 2008), seemingly replicating everyday human interactions.

But how does this apply to the offline tradesmen? Are the benefits touted by tertiary institutions applicable to graduate trade training?

A self-employed electrician may have little requirement for external collaboration in order to complete a task, however when the task requires the use of specialist tools or knowledge it can be certain that some collaboration takes place. In the modern world it is not just computers that are changing at a great rate; trade knowledge and skill sets are constantly evolving creating specialised subfields (Surowiecki, 2004) that make it harder for one ‘master’ to know everything.

Collaboration is key and Web 2.0 tools like blogging, YouTube, and Facebook (forums) allow people with similar interests to exchange ideas. These online communities of practice contain users who volunteer their time and knowledge to help others (Casarez, Cripe, & Sini, 2008), and in doing so create specifically tailored information for the individual. Contrast this with Web 1.0 (webpage’s) technology where generic, broad topic information is ‘pushed’ out to the user and the attraction of Web 2.0 technology is obvious.

Becoming involved in these technologies may not be a day-to-day necessity for the average tradesman but as a tool for their own development and the development of others, Web 2.0 may be the ultimate collaborative tool. Perhaps this form of information ‘philanthropy ‘ may become the new charity of the modern age …


Casarez, V., Cripe, B., & Sini, J. (2008). Reshaping Your Business with Web 2.0. New York, NY, USA: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing.

McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. W. (2008). The Three P’s of Pedagogy for the Networked Society: Personalization, Participation, and Productivity. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 20(1), 10 – 27.

Surowiecki, J. (2004). Wisdom of Crowds : Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. Westminster, MD, USA: Doubleday Publishing.

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