Caring about sharing January 11, 2015Posted by IaninSheffield in Musings, Resources.
Tags: Resources, sharing
In a recent discussion with a colleague regarding our learning platform, I was brought up short by a comment they made. One of the affordances of the platform is the capability to share resources and ideas both within our school and between colleagues in sister schools, which strikes me as only a positive thing. Not so perhaps. The colleague observed that whilst sharing and collaboration are fine in principle, the reality is that the performativity demands placed upon individuals, departments/faculties and schools, mean that we are in competition with one another. As individual teachers we compete for recognition or recompense; we strive for things which make us stand out from our colleagues so that we can meet the criteria which allow us to jump through the next threshold hoop. Departments are continually judged against one another by the exam results our students achieve, the approaches we adopt and the opportunities we offer beyond the formal curriculum. League tables and competition for students place schools in competition with one another, rather than encouraging co-operation and collaboration. I was minded of a conversation I had with a colleague a few years ago about an interesting resource they had developed. When I asked how she was going to share that with colleagues, the reply was guardedly unequivocal; whilst we might have a general principle of sharing with one another, she felt she needed to retain sole access to certain interesting resources so that in the eyes of the students, she would be able to stand out from the crowd.
How depressing. When combined with teachers’ hesitancy or reluctance to make their materials open; the possibility of losing rights and control of their materials; concerns over quality judgements of their resources; and possible copyright claims against embedded content that they have downloaded and reused (Davis et al 2010), it’s perhaps a wonder that any ideas or resources are shared at all. But there are indeed teachers out there sharing and sharing generously, as successful repositories1 like TES Teaching Resources, Jorum, MERLOT, and the OER Commons attest. Or indeed by the exchange of ideas and materials that takes place continually through social media platforms like Twitter and Google Plus.
Why then should this be? Perhaps these teachers have found ways to overcome the organisational, cultural, legal and technological barriers (Charlesworth et al, 2007)? Or perhaps they recognise the value of participating in a community of sharing which delivers benefits including:
- exposure to models of interesting practice;
- conservation of time and effort by avoiding duplication of resources;
- scaffolding and mentoring for teachers new to the profession or to a different curriculum area;
- Inspiration for teachers wishing to redevelop or redesign the curriculum.
(Philip & Cameron, 2008)
For me though, it’s simple moral issue; one of reciprocity. The Internet and the connections it brings has provided me with a never-ending stream of resources and ideas from which I continually draw. I can trace this right back to a website which provided so many worksheets, teaching ideas and wonderful links to support me in my Physics teaching and my students in their learning. Amazingly it’s still going strong under the name of its author – Andy Darvill’s Science Site, Andy being a Physics teacher and early pioneer of using the Web to provide online resources. It inspired me to do the same for my students (and anyone else who dropped by), though my site is no longer around (other than through the WayBack Machine). I gained so much from Andy and others like him, I felt obliged to attempt to pay back some of that generosity, if not directly, then to the community at large. That’s the way it should work shouldn’t it; the more we gain, the more we contribute? Surely we can do better than 90 9 1?
And so it begins … November 28, 2010Posted by IaninSheffield in research, TELIC, Tools.
Tags: Compendium, dissertation, Masters, mindmap, research, Resources, TELIC
Well to be fair it’s actually been going on for a while now. What?! Ah, sorry, I’m referring to my dissertation/extended professional project (EPP) for my Masters. (haven’t yet decided on which is likely to be the best route for my final study … but it’s getting closer!)
I actually began laying the foundations way back at the start of this year, the spark having been ignited by a single tweet, which all developed into a pilot study. Momentum began to gather as the final year of the course started, although the summer break provided some opportunities to get down to the requisite desk research which, despite setting off in what’s transpired to be an unproductive direction in one sense, nevertheless proved quite compelling. Having settled on a grounded theory approach and with the data gathering process in full swing, I’ve been casting around for some mechanism for recording ongoing thoughts, resources and references which may prove pertinent, developing lines of enquiry, whilst assembling and cross-referencing them all in a meaningful way. Previously I’ve simply started with a Word document, produced the chapter titles and added notes to each section as I went along, refining them as the study progressed. For this study however and having elected to attempt grounded theory which utilises “simultaneous data collection and analysis, the constant comparative method used at every stage of analysis, ongoing theory development, constructing codes and categories from data rather than from preconceived hypotheses, memoing to refine and elaborate categories and their relationships’” (Babchuk, 2009), I clearly needed a more supportive and informative system.
Having considered and discarded the usual mind/concept mapping suspects which were just too limiting, a web search threw up “Compendium” from the Open University which appeared to tick many boxes. Having already downloaded it (no, this one’s not in the ‘Cloud’), this week I installed it, checked a couple of their tutorials and commenced the process of transferring what I’ve already produced into its database. When I say database, that’s the architecture which underpins it, but the user front end is purely
graphical and simple to navigate.
The basic building blocks are ‘nodes’ – think bubbles on a concept map. There are different types of node enabling you to express different ideas: questions, answers, lists, notes, references etc., all of which support the discursive, reflective process through which your study develops.
As one would expect, nodes can be linked; they can also be tagged enabling powerful search and filtering as the complexity of the map develops. To ensure the view doesn’t become too cluttered, each ‘map’ node opens a new window so topics can be provided with more space in which to develop lines of thinking. Bringing in the resources (links, quotes, research papers, images) couldn’t be easier – just drag and drop. I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve done so far, even though it’s early stages, but I think there are two areas where Compendium will really help me:
- Gathering together the snippets of ideas I have along the way, discarding others which don’t bear fruit and making the formal process of writing the dissertation that much moe efficient.
- Perhaps more importantly, tracking the ongoing development of theory using memos about the data and how they are gathered, informing adaptations to the process to better refine the theory. Tagging, sorting, and filtering will be cricual here and I’m hoping the features Compendium will enable these processes to take place more effectively. All the while emerging findings will be linked in with the rest of the project.
Maps can be exported in xml, web (html) and jpeg formats, although I’m not up to the task of creating a dynamic link between my local maps and the web-based version, so to show any updates, I have to re-export them manually each time. However I do like that the links and pop-ups are all live, providing a degree of interactivity for the viewer. The option for viewers to provide feedback or ask questions would be useful, but I guess that could be achieved if the maps are hosted in an amenable location.
Oh and did I mention it’s free! [This software is freely distributed in accordance with the GNU Lesser General Public (LGPL) license, version 3 or later as published by the Free Software Foundation.]
Babchuk, W.A., Grounded Theory 101: Strategies for Research and Practice. In Proceedings of the 28th Annual Midwest Research-to-Practice Conference in Adult, Continuing, and Community Education. Chicago: Northeastern Illinois University. Available at: http://www.neiu.edu/~hrd/mwr2p09/Papers/Babchuk01.pdf [Accessed November 27, 2010].
Do we reeeeally need all that stuff? February 27, 2010Posted by IaninSheffield in Inspiration, Management, Resources, Tools.
Tags: equipment, iPod Touch, lessons, reducing costs, Resources
In a given school year, how much ‘stuff’ does a student need to support their learning? I’m thinking about books (both for writing and reading), equipment they find in their pencil cases, resources used in lessons (equipment used in Science, Music, Art, Geography etc etc), AV equipment and so on.
Well here’s a list, which I certainly wouldn’t claim to be exhaustive, together with some notional costs, taking into account that they wouldn’t necessarily need sole acess to all the items:
Grand total – about £300 . . . or twice the cost of an iPod Touch!
Each of the items listed in the above table could be replaced by the device itself, or an App, a free App at that. Now I couldn’t claim my knowledge of Apps is that extensive, so I’m sure you could think of other things which could be replaced (perhaps you might make any suggestions in a comment to this post). We might also be able to find App alternatives for some of the full applications running on the PC? And let’s not forget all the other free ebooks that an eReader App would provide access to. It might even be worth . . . dare I say it? . . . buying a few Apps if needed.
So even if we took the computer out of the above list, the Touch would pay for itself in the first year. Surely that’s a ‘no-brainer’ then?
Post Post: Wouldn’t normally update a post, but become aware of another couple of apps which could replace physical devices and just had to include them. There are a few apps which allow you to use the Touch as a remote input device (mouse, keyboard) or better yet, gyromouse or slate – these devices retail at approaching £100, so that’s quite a saving. The real corker though is an app (iResponse) which turns theTouch into a response device (‘clicker’) . . . which means another £30 saved. In other words, replacing the items in the list now buys us 3x Touchs!