Thursday, January 10, 2008

Further thoughts on the Computer Mediated Social Networking Conference: Dunedin 2008

Leigh Blackall and I am thinking about submitting a paper for the Dunedin International Computer Mediated Social Networking Conference in June. Leigh and I have been thrashing some ideas around and we think we'll base our paper on the course Leigh ran last year in conjunction with Bronwyn Hegarty.

I have to be honest and admit that I was a little confused as to exactly what the conference wanted from submissions. It is probably because I am being a little thick, but to me there are a mish mash of ideas so I think the best thing to do will be to submit a paper and see how it goes. Suffice to say, there were a few words and concepts from the conference web site that have stood out: collaboration/cooperation, rules, collective knowledge, sharing, construction of knowledge, integration of web 2.0 tools.

The italics are Leigh's words with some extra thoughts from me.

I’m a little put off by the tone of the conference though, and a bit at a loss as to how we might go about packaging what we know about that experience up into a presentation of some sort of “research” for this conference.

I don't think we should worry too much about that. Whilst this course wasn't a research project as such, there is data that has been generated in the form of blogs, wiki entries and student feedback. However, I do think we should get some sort of permission from the students before we use their data, even the blogs.

I do know that there are quite a few things about our experiences that the conference attendees would find interesting, starting with the things Sarah points out such as personalised learning through blogs and wikis, and open access to the course and how that resulted in a better learning environment and fee paying enrollments.

I certainly agree that the open access approach to education using social networking is a concept that should be explored and fits with the conference question of 'rules'. Our experiences have been that it is a positive thing, resulting not just in development of networks that otherwise would not have happened, but also enrollments.

I would like to extend the proposal to talk about open content, the difficulty of negotiating the participatory expectations of such a course with the traditional educational models of ’stand and deliver’

I think we'll have to be careful we don't get too carried away with the teacher/facilitator discussion but again it fits in nicely with the whole concept of 'rules'.
  1. The set up and maintenance of the Facilitating Online Learning Communities course
  2. Experiences of the participants and examples of how their new learning is being used in their work
  3. Outstanding issues and considerations arising from the course
  4. Further work we will do in developing education generally at Otago Polytechnic using socially networked media and communications.
  5. Frank and honest discussion on the probable and existing issues with this vision and Otago Polytechnic
Another thing to add to the 'results' discussion is how the virtual network supported or enhanced face-to-face networks, especially for those of us who work at OP.

I think it would be good to beam the likes of Sue Waters and some of the 10 minute lecturers in on the day as well, to get their impressions and reasons for participating on the air… as I think they played a very significant part in the course that we have not really captured yet.

I totally agree about the value of the 'outsiders' but wonder if the 'beaming' would be too ambitious. However, as far as the paper goes, we can certainly include their feedback.

Now some practical considerations.

1. How to continue from here - I agree a wiki is probably the best way to go.
2. Who else do we want/need to collaborate on this with?
3. Permissions from students? Can we use their evaluation forms? Do we need permission to use material from their blogs?
4. Thoughts from the 10 minute speakers and others.

The submission process looks off-putting to say the least so we need to decide whether this is to be a 6 page or 12 page paper.

Image: 'Frosted web' Bill Tyne


Leigh Blackall said...

Hi Sarah.

I've started a wiki and tried to get the things we would like to talk about under the topics that they would like us to talk about. See what you think. I vote we strip away their academic speak and bring it down to earth and practical... meaning, as few pages as we can get away with. I'll try and make contact with the organisers and establish what planet they are on. You reckon you could make a little start under the headings you identify with..

Sarah Stewart said...

Thats great, Leigh. I have to say that I am very relived to read your comments on the conference web site - the language was off-putting and actually a barrier to me submitting an abstract.

Leigh Blackall said...

yep, but conference aside, I think this little exercise would be good for us both. Good for you as you preapre to use these tools in your teaching, good for me to review the course we ran and rejig it some.

Carolyn said...

Just a wee thought you guys. if you are going to do this as a research project do you not need to submit a proposal for ethical approval before you get too far into it. I think you could still submit an abstract even if you do not have this all teed up completely. My experience has been that the ethics committee can deal with these things quite quickly if necessary. I think you will do a great job and knock the sox off the 'academic elite'.
You are a busy little conference bunny aren't you Sarah.

Sarah Stewart said...

Good comment Carolyn and I think it will depend how it is seen - research or evaluation of a course. Anyway, I do agree that we'll need to run it by the Ethics Committee as an informal query at the very least.

As for being a conference bunny- look who's talking - I'm not the one going to Glasgow to present a paper at the most important midwifery conference in three years!! For those who do not know, I am talking about the ICM in June: