Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-04

  • U.N. Report Declares Internet Access a Human Right | Threat Level | #
  • #saahe2011 officially over. It was a wonderful conference made possible by the participation of health educators from all over the country #
  • Papert Being a revolutionary means seeing far enough ahead to know that there is going to be a fundamental change #
  • Papert The impact of paper in education has led to the exclusion of those who don’t think in certain ways #
  • @dkeats When people are “experts” in a domain they can be blinded to great ideas in other fields and so miss opportunities to drive change #
  • @dkeats Agreed. I’ve had to work really hard to convince people in my dept that I’m not the “computer guy”, I’m the “education guy” #
  • Innovation is about linking concepts from different fields to solve problems, its not about doing the same thing with more efficiency #
  • “How do you learn enough of the words to make sense of the discipline?” #saahe2011 #
  • Presentation by David Taylor on the use of adult learning theories #saahe2011 #
  • Jack Boulet speaking about the challenges and opportunities in simulation-based assessment #saahe2011 #
  • Mendeley Desktop 1.0 Development Preview Released #
  • Social media is inherently a system of peer evaluation and is changing the way scholars disseminate their research #
  • @dkeats Wonder if the problem has to do with the fact that much “ed tech” is designed by Comp Scientists, rather than Social Sci? #
  • @dkeats Also, people have the idea that LMSs have something to do with T&L, & then struggle when it can’t do what they need it to #
  • @dkeats To qualify, the problem isn’t resistance, its misunderstanding. The conversation always ends up being about technology #
  • There’s a huge difference between “learning” & “studying”, not in terms of the process but ito motivation & objectives #
  • @thesiswhisperer conf is for health educators, mostly clinicians, many of whom are amazing teachers but for whom tech is misunderstood #
  • In a workshop with David Taylor, looking at using adult learning theories #saahe2011 #
  • Blackboard is a course management system, it has little to do with learning. Use it for what its designed for #saahe2011 #
  • Trying to change perception that technology-mediated teaching & learning isn’t about technology. Not going well #saahe2011 #
  • Just gave my presentation on the use of social networks to facilitate clinical & ethical reasoning in practice contexts #saahe2011 #
  • Deborah Murdoch Eaton talks about the role of entrepreneurship to innovate in health education #saahe2011 #
  • Social accountability is relevant for all health professions ( #saahe2011 #
  • Charles Boelen talks about social accountability at #saahe2011 keynote, discusses its role in meeting society’s health needs #
  • First day of #saahe2011 over. Lots of interesting discussion and some good research being done in health science education #
  • Concept mapping workshop turned out OK. Got a CD with loads of useful information…a first for any workshop I’ve attended #saahe2011 #
  • Many people still miss the point when it comes to technology-mediated teaching & learning. Your notes on an LMS is not teaching or learning #
  • At a workshop on concept mapping, lots of content being delivered to me, not much practical yet #saahe2011 #
  • Noticed a trend of decreasing satisfaction from 1-4 year, even though overall scores were +. Implications for teaching? #saahe2011 #
  • Banjamin van Nugteren: do medical students’ perceptions of their educational environment predict academic performance? #saahe2011 #
  • Selective assignment as an applied education & research tool -> gain research exp, improve knowledge & groupwork #saahe2011 #
  • Reflective journaling: “as we write conscious thoughts, useful associations & new ideas begin to emerge” #saahe2011 #
  • Change paradigm from “just-in-case” learning to “just-in-time” learning #saahe2011 #
  • Benefits of EBP are enhanced when principles are modelled by clinicians #saahe2011 #
  • EBP less effective when taught as a discrete module. Integration with clinical practice shows improvements across all components #saahe2011 #
  • Students have difficulty conducting appraisals of online sources <- an enormous challenge when much content is accessed online #saahe2011 #
  • Looking around venue at #saahe2011 10 open laptops, 2 visible iPads (lying on desk, not being used), about 350 participants…disappointing #
  • EBP isn’t a recipe (or a religion), although that is a common misconception #saahe2011 #
  • Prof. Robin Watts discusses EBP and facilitating student learning. EBP isn’t synonymous with research #saahe2011 #
  • “A lecture without a story is like an operation without an anaesthetic” Athol Kent, #saahe2001 #
  • Kent drawing heavily on Freni et al, 2010, Health professionals for a new century, Lancet. #
  • #saahe2001 has begun. Prof. Athol Kent: the future of health science education #
  • Portfolios and Competency Really interesting comments section. Poorly implemented portfolios aren’t worth much #
  • @amcunningham I think that portfolios can demonstrate competence and be assessed but it needs a change in mindset to evaluate them #
  • @amcunningham will comment on the post when I’m off the road #
  • @amcunningham Can’t b objective as I haven’t used NHS eportfolio. Also, its hard 2 structure what should be personally meaningful experience #
  • @amcunningham Portfolios must include reflection, not just documentation. Reflection = relating past experience to future performance #
  • @amcunningham Your delusion question in the link: practitioners / students not shown how to develop a portfolio with objectives #
  • @amcunningham Also spoke a lot about competency-based education and strengths / limitations compared to apprentice-based model #
  • @amcunningham Very much. Just finished a 4 day workshop that included the use of portfolios as reflective tools in developing competence #
  • Final day of #safri 2011 finished. Busy with a few evaluations now. Spent some time developing the next phase of my project. Tired… #
  • Last day of #safri today, short session this morning, then leaving for #saahe2011 conference in Potchefstroom. It’s been an intense 5 days #
  • Papert: Calling yourself some1 who uses computers in education will be as ridiculous as calling yourself some1 who uses pencils in education #
  • Daily Papert 10 years ago, Papert warned against the “computers in education” specialist. How have we responded? #
  • Daily Papert Defining yourself as someone who uses computers in education, is to subordinate yourself #
  • YouTube – Augmented Reality Brain When this is common in health education, things are going to get crazy #
  • @rochellesa Everyone needs some downtime, especially at 10 at night when you’re out with your wife ūüôā Seems like a nice guy, very quiet #
  • @rochellesa The large policeman he’s with isn’t keen tho. Mr Nzimande has asked 2 not b disturbed. Understandable when u want to chill out #
  • I’m sitting in a hotel in Jo’burg & Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande walks in and sits down next to me. Any1 have any questions? #

Thoughts on social networking with 3rd year physio students

Earlier this week I ran a workshop with our 3rd year physio students, as part of my SAFRI project where I’m looking at how participation in a social network can impact reflective learning practices in a community. Unlike the other workshops I’ve run, I’m going to be running this assignment, which will see the students posting 2 reflective pieces based on ethical dilemmas they’ve experienced while on their clinical placements. I was struck by a few thoughts as I was going over some of the activity I observed both during and after the workshop.

This group is by far the most technologically sophisticated group I’ve run the workshop to date. As we were setting up their profile pages, some of the students were logging into their Facebook accounts to pull in those photos to add to our social network. Most of what I was explaining wasn’t new, and even for those who have no experience with any other social networks, they caught on pretty quickly.

I learned that at least one of them enjoys photography, and not only enjoys it but shares his fantastic pictures on Tumblr. I would probably never have learned that about him if it wasn’t for this little experiment of mine. I think that that’s one of the enormous benefits of social networks…that we might actually engage with students in ways that would never come up in class. I mean, how many times do we ask students what their hobbies are? And even if we do, and they choose to mention it, will it ever match up to being able to see it? After exploring some of the photos from this student, I came across one of his short posts, which is one of the most inspiring things I’ve read in a while.

It was quite exciting for me not to have to listen to any moaning when I introduced this assignment. I also haven’t read anything negative about either the assignment or the network, which is refreshing. I did have one student report that the “workshop sucked”, although he hasn’t yet responded to my request for any suggestions for improvement. We still have issues with some of them not having computer or internet access at home, but I think that being on campus for at least a short while during the week is enough time to participate.

I have one more workshop to do with the first year students, which I’m hoping to finish sometime next week. Then it’s just a case of waiting for the assignments to finish running, survey the students to determine their experiences using the network, and finally to analyse their activity to see if there was any reflection / community building going on. I’m going to actively facilitate this group, as opposed to the relatively passive stance that other lecturers took when their assignments were running. I’m interested in seeing if this group has a better experience with active facilitation, as opposed to just being left to their own devices.

Reflections on SAAHE 2010

The SAAHE conference has come and gone for the 3rd year running. It’s been an interesting and engaging 3 days, and since I’ve already posted all my notes, these are just a few thoughts on what it’s like having a conference in South Africa. And it’s the last post, I promise.

To get the negative stuff out of the way, there were two things that really disappointed me, and which I’ve mentioned at every conference I’ve been to (in South Africa), and they are:

  • A lack of dedicated wireless access, even though internet access is not an issue at tertiary educational issue
  • No video or audio coverage of any of the tracks, not even of the keynote speakers (I’m sorry, but uploading presentations just doesn’t cut it)

As a collection of South African health educators who say they to participate in a global, regional and national conversation on these issues, how can you possibly do it if you have no voice? I can’t think of any reason not to provide dedicated access in all conference venues.

Piggy backing on this idea of what we could do with access, I had an interesting conversation with a colleague when we were trying to decide which presentations to attend. We realised that we were trying to situate our own work within the broader context of what was happening at the conference. Where does my work fit in with all the other work that’s being done in my own (or a similar) domain?

It seems to make sense that if all attendees (or a significant proportion) were tweeting, blogging, waving or otherwise engaged in providing their own personal experiences, perceptions, insights, etc., we would have multiple streams within which we would be able to situate our own work. Not that we would necessarily watch the streams while presenting (although that would be an option), but it would be nice to reference the work of others that you’d already seen in the stream. These referrals could be aggregated after the conference to see who’s working on similar ideas (or who should be working on similar ideas) and make it easier to build national networks for collaboration.¬†What topics are most common? Who seems to be involved in the most conversations? Who are the “qualitative” people who can give me the insight I need for my own work?

Unfortunately, this won’t happen anytime soon. It’s not a technical problem (all the infrastructure and technology is there), but rather the complex human component. Besides a resistance to learn new things (“I’m a busy person, I don’t have the time”), most health educators aren’t technically savvy.

Finally, during the last half of the last day, we had a power outage across the campus and we had to continue outside. Interestingly, most people seemed quite amused with the experience. We got to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather and have a more informal (if a bit rushed) discussion. It was also refreshing for me having to present my work without a presentation on a computer. I felt a bit more connected with the audience, although being in such close proximity could also be a bit daunting. See below for our “conference venue”.

All in all, it was a great conference, I learned a lot and the organisers should be proud of what they achieved.

Google Wave in higher education?

I just got my invite for Google Wave and I feel like a little kid with a new toy, only I don’t know what the toy is, or how it works, or what (if anything) I’m supposed to do with it. ¬†Apparently I’m not alone (keep hitting Refresh to get different comparisons). ¬†I’m not going to try and describe Wave, because others have done that to death. ¬†I’m more interested in the educational use case/s, which I’ll try to discuss briefly.

Possible use cases in higher education

I read a comment from a high school student that Wave could be the one “master notebook” that all students could contribute to and validate. ¬†I’m thinking of the subject readers that we hand to students in the beginning of the module…hard copies and difficult to modify. ¬†How about using Wave for each course reader, with staff commenting on improvements, and students making contributions? ¬†Images and video can be embedded into the Wave. ¬†Does anyone know if data can be exported from the wave, and if so in what formats? ¬†I’m sure that with Wave being an open platform, it’s only a matter of time before writes an extension that allows users to export content in a variety of formats.

To take this further, how about using Wave as a curriculum template, with physiotherapy educators and students from around the country working collaboratively to maintain and improve a standard curriculum? ¬†Not everyone would need to teach or learn from the same modules, but everything could be available as “extras”. ¬†We could even include additional modules that are not necessarily part of the curriculum but that students (and staff) might find useful. ¬†For example, as part of their final year, our students must complete a research project that involves working with large documents. ¬†Most of them have little or no experience with this and lack the skills to automate the more tedious tasks (many of them create Tables of Contents manually). ¬†Other problems are teaching them effective search strategies using multiple online sources and methodologies, which will be immensely helpful for them but which will definitely not be approved as part of the official curriculum. ¬†Using Wave to design the curriculum seems like a great opportunity to be innovative and dynamic in what we can provide for our students.

Planning conferences also seems like an area that Wave would be useful, not only for conference organisers, but participants.  You could submit abstracts into the wave, with the potential for comments and feedback directly.  Imagine submitting an abstract and being able to have a conversation with participants (or those unable to attend) before and after the conference?  Maps and venue photos could also easily be placed within the wave.

Surveys and feedback mechanisms seem like a useful fit for Wave, which is essentially a collaborative authoring environment. ¬†Students could begin waves on topics they find challenging, or even departmental procedures that they find problematic. ¬†Other students’ comments would aggregate in the wave, lecturers could respond and (hopefully) resolutions found through discussion. I have come across this collection of posts that discuss the use of Wave as a scholarly document editor, and the conclusion seems to be that it isn’t that promising, at least at this early stage.


The user interface for Wave has been called “universally confusing” and makes me wonder how our students will engage with it. ¬†I have enough trouble trying to teach colleagues and students about blogs (forget about micro-blogs) and wikis, without trying to talk about waves too. Not all of our students have internet access at home (although everyone has access on campus), which would almost certainly place some students at a disadvantage.

Additional resources to help you figure out if Wave in education is useful, or a load of hype:

Technology in the classroom: can we make it work?

I’ve been trying to think how to use technology to enhance both my teaching and my students’ learning and it’s proving more difficult than I’d initially thought.¬† I like to think that laptops and internet access in every classroom give students real-time access to related content while they engage in meaningful discussion, but this will never happen.¬† Their Facebook profile and IM conversations are far more interesting than the “Pathology of stroke” or “Justice in access to healthcare”.¬† And that makes sense in a bizarre kind of way.¬† Even while they (or their parents) pay vast sums in tuition fees to have the privilege of attending university, most students (in my very limited experience) see studying as inherently boring.

Some studies in American classrooms have all but proven that the distraction of the Internet in class is too strong for students to ignore and that most of the lesson is spent checking email, catching up with friends and even shopping.¬† Now, after that initial foray into “embracing” technology”, it seems as if there’s a move towards banning laptops altogether.

This is the kind of about-turn I’d like to avoid.¬† E-learning, while I have no doubt will be a revolution in education, is not the idea that technology for it’s own sake is the way forward.¬† Just because it’s possible to have Internet access in class, does it mean that we should?¬† Rather, teachers must take an approach whereby technology is used in a way that enhances it’s advantages, while minimising the disadvantages.¬† Just because I put the course reader online doesn’t make it “e-learning”, and neither does having a student blog.¬† The technology in itself doesn’t enhance learning in any way, but how you use it can have powerful implications.

I’ve been toying with the idea of using a wiki to manage a course, whereby any change to either the course content, test schedule or mark availability can by syndicated through RSS to all the students in the class.¬† Students will have to, as a course requirement, both add to and edit course content (obviously moderated), which can also then be tracked.¬† I think that this may be one way to encourage them to actively engage with the content, as well as introduce concepts like peer review, referencing and drafting, which may also improve their reading and writing skills (another huge problem).¬† The point though, will be to make the learning outcomes apparent from the beginning, so that students know what’s expected of them.¬† Merely creating a wiki and telling students to “Go forth and create content” isn’t enough.

I think that technology will fundamentally change the way we teach and how students learn, but not just by throwing technology at the problem.¬† The trick is to figure out how to use technology to facilitate deep learning by getting students to actively engage with the content.¬† A bad teacher will continue to teach badly, no matter how much “technology” they use.

Link to the article that inspired this post: