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366-366 posted. All has been said and done. January 1, 2013

Posted by IaninSheffield in Tools, Web 2.0.
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As 2012 unfurled, I began a 365 Project, though one with a twist – 366Web2.0. Here then are my reflections on the project.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Asja.: http://flickr.com/photos/asjaboros/6520949843/


In total, 366 AudioBoo podcasts (actually 368 because two applications merited extending to two podcasts) were recorded, representing almost 16 hours of audio. The reality was a little more demanding however since many applications were new to me and needed a degree of exploration prior to producing the podcast. Each podcast also required assembly of a blog post through which to deliver it and though brief, wherever possible a supplementary resource was sourced and added; sometimes a video, sometimes an artefact from the tool. All told then, preparation, recording and writing the blog for each post took between 15 and 30 minutes, sometimes longer. In other words, producing 366 occupied over 120 hours i.e. three work weeks.

Bang for buck?

Was it all worth it? Did the benefits outweigh the costs? I guess there were two beneficiaries: anyone who might have chanced on a post, found something of use, then took that away to develop further. Unfortunately I’ve no way of knowing the extent to which that happened since the viewing figures data from Posterous are notoriously unreliable and I find it hard to believe that any of the Boos I made attracted over 100 listens (The top Boo apparently got 832 listens!). Even then, with few comments posted, and there were few, it’s difficult to know if anyone found anything of value in the podcasts or blog posts. I must say here though I’m grateful to John Johnston & David Noble on Edutalk for their continued support and encouragement … and am honored to be included as a member of the Edutalk community.

I can write with a little more confidence about the second beneficiary – me. Right from the start I wanted to learn a little more about podcasting and whether I had the ‘right stuff’ to produce them. Well there’s no question that I learned something! I certainly find it difficult to speak with the ease and fluency that most of the other podcasters I listen to on Edutalk, EdtechCrew, Tightwad Tech, EdTech Talk and elsewhere seem to do. But part of that’s the format I guess; I’m not loquacious enough to talk into a mic. on my own for long (Couldn’t help but marvel at a recent podcast (Episode 397) from Wes Fryer where he spoke with clarity and focus for almost an hour solid … whilst driving home from a conference!). I guess I’m more of a listener and responder, perhaps better suited to dialogue rather than monologue.

I also learned a little more than I normally would about the new tools I came across. Usually I’d simply bookmark and tag them for future use, but if I was going to be talking about them in 366, I needed to explore them a little more fully. As a result I found several that have now become part of my ‘go to’ toolset that I return to and refer others to regularly; that rarely happens with tools I don’t take the time to explore more fully.

What might I have done differently?

Although I decided at the project outset what I ought to include in each podcast, I soon departed from that and tended to ‘wing it,’ often perhaps being more descriptive rather than as analytical or critical as I might have liked.  I sometimes wondered whether the supporting blog post was really necessary; could I have done the majority of it through AudioBoo by making greater use of the description and tag fields? AudioBoo have also recently introduced ‘Boards’ which can hold Boos having a common theme, a potentially useful addition for grouping my Boos, by tool-type perhaps. I did feel however that including a video with each podcast (where possible) perhaps provided a different perspective and also might have been more appropriate for those who prefer visual explanations rather than just audio.

Another area which gave me pause for thought was the attempt to try to categorise each tools using the SAMR model. Trying to pigeonhole a tool in this way is not without problems as the blog posts in the ‘About’ page explain. My hope was that offering a tentative level might spur debate about the ways in which the tool might be used, how that could be interpreted and challenge us to think beyond a surface level of simple usage to a deeper appreciation and understanding of how we might use it. Why am I using this tool and am I (and my students) getting the most from it?

End of the line?

The year is done and the project over. Or maybe not. Given the degree of commitment required to produce a podcast/post per day, I’m not sure I could sustain that into 2013; I also have other avenues I want to explore. However new tools continue to emerge and in order to better understand their potential, I do need to give them more than a cursory glance. Perhaps then this offers a way to extend 366 and use it to review and record Web2.0 tools on a continuing basis, albeit with a less demanding schedule.

Maybe there is life in the old dog yet?

100 Not Out! June 3, 2012

Posted by IaninSheffield in Musings.
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cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by sleepymyf: http://flickr.com/photos/myf/5119580963/

Having reached a century of blog posts, it seemed like an appropriate milepost to pause for thought and take a brief look back.

My first post in October 2009 set out why I made the decision to start blogging and what I hoped to gain from the experience … and those final few words sum it up I guess. ‘What I hoped to gain from the experience.’ I never assumed for one moment that anything I had to say would carry any import for anyone else. If by chance something I pen (keyboard?!) helps someone or challenges their thinking, then that is particularly rewarding, but if no-one comments nor even reads the post, then I’m comfortable with that. The overriding reason behind any post is to help me to crystallise my thoughts, to help resolve conflicting views, to bring order to a chaotic swirl of random ruminations or simply to organise and sequence a set of ideas.

As a brief summary, these one hundred posts:

constitute around 50 000 words (or more than the total number of words I wrote for both Masters’ dissertations combined)

  • have been viewed just under 10 000 times, averaging about 10 views a day and peaking at 152 on June 23rd, 2011
  • receive around 2/3 comments per post (half of which are my replies to people kind enough to take the time comment)
  • quite surprisingly enjoy the majority of their incoming traffic from Google searches, rather than Twitter (though that is a fairly close second)
  • are viewed mainly be readers in the UK

Locations of blog readersThe most popular post by some considerable margin and one which continues to attract regular views arising from Google searches is “30 Skills a Teacher Should Have” and there’s probably a whole post to be written on analysing why that might be.

So are those figures good or bad? Would I be graded Satisfactory or Outstanding? Well for me the figures are no more than a distraction. The value has always stemmed from and will continue to stem from the process not the product. [Would that our education system reflected a similar disposition?]

Mark Harai lists 6 key qualities of a good blog:

  1. Passion
  2. Openness
  3. Engagement
  4. Insight
  5. Encouragement
  6. Similarities

I hope I tick some of those boxes, but as I move forward, I’ll endeavour to maintain quality in areas in which I perform well and strive to improve areas where I could be doing better. Thanks for your company.

Edtechcc Assignment 8: Fin April 3, 2012

Posted by IaninSheffield in edtechcc, Musings.
Tags: , ,
end of the line

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo by Gene Bowker: http://flickr.com/photos/genewashere/3546914951/

We’ve reached the end of the Edtech Creative Collective then with this final task:

… summarise what you have gained or achieved through participating in The Educational Technology Creative Collective.

We could either do this in visual or audio format. A few months ago, there’s no question I’d have gone for the visual option, but having been encouraged in my new found enjoyment of AudioBoo-ing, there was only going to be one winner. And now I have to apologise to sensei Colin – has the Grasshopper learned nothing?! Straight into making an AudioBoo instead of considering the options: a comic or cartoon perhaps, a presentation in any one of a number of different formats, a photomashup from Aviary ImageMarkup or even linking the two as a photo-audio mashup in FotoBabble. Well in truth I guess I did consider those options, if  not quite long enough or in sufficient depth … but I’m getting there.

So here’s my thoughts:

Final impressions? Well I love the notion of professional development opportunities you can ‘buy’ into, that you choose of your own volition and out of your own interest. Has it helped me in my job? Undoubtedly, though untangling precisely how might take a longer post than is available here. I’d suggest though that anyone involved in the education of others needs to explore and test the boundaries of what it means to learn. Experiencing new ways of collaborating with other learners, enjoying a shared venture and yes, testing the limits of what you thought you were capable of is so important in reminding us what the students in our charge experience daily. Only ten short years ago, a learning experience of this nature in which geographically dislocated individuals can come together, learn together and from each other, would have been almost unthinkable.

Regrets? I’ve had a few. But then again ….
[A good job this bit wasn’t in audio. You wouldn’t have liked that!]

  • It was a shame that more folks who signed up right at the beginning weren’t able to see it through to the end. But that’s not uncommon in online ventures of this nature when initial enthusiasm gives way to the cold reality of commitment.
  • I’m still not quite convinced about working across so many different platforms and worry that the interesting creations become so widely spread that they’re hard to track and possibly even lose their impact … or maybe I’m missing the point and actually they reached a wider audience?
  • If I wanted to surface my contributions to Edtechcc through say an e-portfolio of some kind, then the content I created in my blog would probably be OK, maybe even my contributions to the Facebook page. But I hope I added some useful thoughts through commenting on other people’s blogs and I suspect that pulling those contributions in might prove rather more difficult.
  • I think we were all (understandably)  supportive and encouraging of one another and perhaps not sufficiently critical … in a ‘critical friend’ sort of way. I’m sure we’re all aware that ‘Good work’ written on an assignment from one of our students’ isn’t particularly helpful to them; maybe we needed to apply some of the principles of formative assessment with each other? Or maybe next time?

Final, final words? If Edtechcc (or something similar) comes round again – TRY IT!