Thursday, November 27, 2008

The networked student!

Techticker linked to this great clip earlier. The fact that my teaching involves a project over 6 months, where students work independently, with little face to face teaching, and where I am not co-located with them has forced me to think about engaging new technologies faster than I would if I only taught students in our practice. But I wonder how much this approach should be used in medical courses even if our students are beside us. What does a medical student's personal learning environment look like?

It's worth it!!!!

Just had a student call in for a chat about his project. I asked if he had seen my course blog. You could have bowled me over when he told me that not only had he found it but he had clicked on the RSS feed tab and now got my updates directly through to his Vista desktop and wished that much more of Blackboard operated like this.
So my course blog is really a blog and students are starting to develop their personal learning environments. Yay!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Networks... can they be designed?

Are useful networks really only emergent? Can we design them? And how does a network emerge?
The NING communities I mentioned last month are not really emerging. Medical Education Evolution hasn't had a post for months. Is it because the function isn't clear enough?

I still haven't really found an online network of medical educators. But maybe it will find me first!

del.ic.ious !

I have to say I am really liking this. It's fascinating to check out the people who tag the same sites as you; especially if there are only a few of you. They might have a blog listed and you learn more. My network is small.... one other person, who intriguingly I don't know. Delicious does not pretend to be many thing but instead does one thing well! Yay!

I'm here.

"I don't know how to use a discussion board"

At a meeting this afternoon an academic rep said that quite a few students, including herself, didn't know how to use a discussion board. Discussion boards on Blackboard probably are a less intuitive than others I have used but it was interesting to be reminded that students are not automatically familiar with these technologies. I know this shouldn't be a surprise to me. I've done Gilly Salmon's course on emoderation. I know that 5o out of the 61 people who responded to my surveymonkey questionaire last month had accessed a discussion forum once or never. But sometimes you forget.

Three students turned up to my last minute drop-in session and it was really good to see just three students for an hour and discuss their ideas with them. This is obviously so much richer than what I can achieve online with 300 students. But maybe I can try to translate the conversations we have had into my course blog so that the others can benefit in some way.

I asked the three students if they thought that accessing a discussion board was a problem and they didn't think it was. I know that in past years over 50% of students will access and post on the boards. I'm sure it will happen again. It is still about giving students chances and opportunities.

I also heard about a service to text message students with new information. It occurred to me that I could have sent a text to all the students to announce my drop-in session. But the three who attended told me that when the texts arrive they are prefaced with 'urgent' and can make them panic! They also questioned whether a lecture being cancelled a week in advance really was urgent. So would I.

Earlier I introduced another student to social bookmarking. I set up a Family Case Study account last night on delicious. It would be great to see lots of students signing up and networking.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Is it worth it?

My course blog is still running but no students comment so it is a very uni-directional conversation. I'm not even sure that they are reading it.

They have started using the discussion forums again... some of them. If they email me a question directly I encourage them to post on the board instead so that the other students can see my reply.

But would I be better going the 2 miles down the road to where the students live day to day and booking a room for an hour once a fortnight and letting them know that they could come and ask me any questions they wanted?

Well, I've decided to try that too. So I've just booked a room in Biosciences. It was my first experience of using the online room booking system and I was surprised to find that only lecture theatres were available. That is because not only do I live 2 miles away but I am in a whole different school.

Anwyay. let's see who comes along!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today I started learning about...

.... intentional networks
.... practioner research
....Erica Frank
....Jean McNiff
....Berry Wellman

I also wanted to get a Del.ic.ious cloud tag for my blog but couldn't manage it. You can find me here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quality Counts

My colleague, Lynn Knight, organised a very successful one-day conference in Cardiff today. I was particularly interested in a keynote address by Glenn Regehr and a presentation by Alan Bleakely.

Glenn's presentation focussed on what I would call a complexity thinking approach to medical education. He was clear that just answering 'does it work' is not enough. Instead we need to know about the processes along the way which lead to our successes and failures. I can't help thinking that the format of journals and conferences at the moment do not really facillitate this kind of knowlege sharing and generation.

Alan's presentation "Medical Education Research at a Crossroads" discussed his work developing a new postgraduate medical education research programme at Peninsula Medical School. He predicted that we are moving towards a Multitude model of power, with power resting in the flows of networks and meshworks. I am still fascinated by how as an outsider one accessed and finds these networks. Without transparency it can not really be democratic.

If their presentations become available I will link to them.

Me at Machu Picchu, just a little exhausted and exhilarated.