Has sueg gone a bit quiet?

It doesn’t look as if I have been posting much this academic year – what’s that about? On the academic front, sueg continues to reflect on and develop ideas related to online learning and research methodology. Much behind the scenes work on supporting Tony Greenfield in the editing of the third edition of Research methods for Postgraduates, to be published by Wiley in September this year – some solo written and co-written chapters in there, plus a great deal of further learning about research methods from respected writers in the field. I am looking forward to being an invited panel member at the ENBIS conference in Sheffield in September talking about making statistics understandable for students and non-statistical specialists. Great chance to go back to Sheffield where in 2014 we celebrated a 40 year reunion with fellow graduates. I know, I’m far too young.

And there’s a new undergraduate blended learning course in business, which I have been developing along with colleagues at Brighton Business School – due for validation later this year. Exciting opportunity to put our experience of the theory and practice of blended learning into action.

And an invitation to deliver a keynote at the third European Conference on Social Media to be held in Caen this summer. Having helped to host the first of this conference series in Brighton, it will be great to meet friends and colleagues and share rapid advances in thinking around social media and learning. The recently published Leading Issues in Social Media Research, which I edited along with Asher Rospigliosi, identified some great content from that first conference.

Meanwhile, weekly editorial meetings and from time to time producing editorials for the journal Interactive Learning Environments keeps me in touch with a wide range of quasi-experimental and qualitative research studies and updated reviews of the literature in the field of technology-enhanced learning. We have just published a special issue on Mobile Learning which is attracting attention, and because we are producing bumper issues this year (total of 8), I am currently writing an editorial for the May issue of 18 new papers.

Earlier this academic year, we produced the latest publication from Brighton’s Learning and Teaching Conference 2014, in which I wrote about flipped learning from a practical and a theoretical perspective. And of course there is the series of weekly podcasts for business students during term-time which keeps me busy on top of teaching on a Monday.

So just a few things in relation to research passions to keep the aged brain ticking. Of course, just now there are a few other things to think about – external examining, teaching, supervising, grandchildren’s birthdays, Heydown lambing, leading and preaching at services in Old Heathfield and, just very occasionally, housework?


Research conferences 2015 so far

Stimulating collection of conferences so far this year. As always I tweet (@suegonline) to pick up key moments, to record useful points, and sometimes question them, and to offer links mentioned by speakers. Tweeting and retweeting keeps the interesting stuff available to me for reference. It’s also great to follow conferences I can’t attend through Twitter. Case in point was the second European Conference on Social Media this week, held in Portugal. Some helpful live blogging and tweeting meant I didn’t miss too much, and noted this slideset from presenter Athanasios Mazarakis which looks at tweeting at scientific conferences. Interesting approach. With all the data arising from social media, and analytics becoming a hot research topic, it’s surprising there is not yet so very much appearing at elearning and learning and teaching conferences.

My conference attendance follows repeated patterns – I use Evernote to capture detail on notepad and smartphone to tweet and take pictures. Thankfully battery life is no longer the problem it used to be. After the conference I try to produce a summary blog here on WordPress. These are my key support apps.

The Pedagogic Research Conference at University of Brighton in February began the year with yet more discussion of learning styles (are they really important? Coffield et al seemed to put a dampener on this and these days I’m inclined to regard context/authenticity and face validity/relevance to student as more important particularly in blend or online). Then there was Talis Insight in Birmingham where I was invited to speak about academic use of software – always good to attend conferences in which I’m in a minority role – focusses the mind on other perspectives of what we do.

Then EDiNEB hosted by Brighton Business School was a fine small conference looking at innovation in business teaching – not all about technology thankfully, and for me and for colleagues a chance to reflect on our role as innovators – the highs and the lows. As we approach the final year of our latest innovation, the BSc Business with Enterprise at Hastings campus – a problem-based learning course, we continue to reflect on a potentially wasted resource which may have been set up to fail.

The International Conference on E-Learning in Nassau was a great chance to review and critique the hot topic of flipped classrooms and flipped learning – not always the right answer, just great in some contexts. I also came away with ideas for our proposed blended learning degree around gamification (in small doses) and informal Facebook groups. And, this week, term has come to a close with the annual Learning and Teaching Conference at Falmer for UoB. Lots of fresh approaches to old problems, a chance to find new and useful reference sources, and develop my thinking on research supervision which is now taking more of my energy and time.

Every conference I attend I get chances to review abstracts and papers and chair sessions – there is no better CPD than forcing the mind to find interesting questions to challenge authors, whatever the subject or approach.

What’s left this year? I am looking forward to presenting with Sandra Huskinson at ALT-C in Manchester in September about our Student Social Media Showcase, so far scheduled for Tuesday 8th Sept, and later that month I’ve been invited to speak at a small research conference on ICTs in Education in Czech Republic, hosted by the University of Ostrava. My talk will be on peer-t0-peer and collaborative learning. Long live the easyCPD of the conference season!


Student Social Media Showcase 2015

#2015SSMS launched 3rd July online this year to some social media buzz. Great response, especially from Digital Marketing students at Brighton Business School. All 33 of the selected video presentations are online at the website and will stay live for 3 years with the main intention of enabling these talented students to link to them in their online CVs.

But more than that, the videos offer us some insights into the use of social media for research and corporate marketing impact. Students, companies and academics can gain something from this site, and the ongoing commitment we have at Brighton through the Business ELearning Group to support and stimulate dissemination of student work.

The Showcase started last year as a pre-conference event prior to the inaugural European Conference in Social Media, hosted at Brighton Business School, and which this year will be held next week in Portugal. Social media is not all about good news as any open communications medium can share bad as well as good intent, which is a good reason for academics to learn more about it. There is an excellent reading list at this link from LSE.

Our experiences with the SSMS both as a physical event in 2014 attended by uni students and local schoolchildren and online this year will be discussed in a forthcoming paper at ALT C 2015 in Manchester, and we look forward to updating and offering an event again in 2016. Email S.L.Greener@brighton.ac.uk if you would like more information nearer the time. Meanwhile it’s worth exploring the site at blogs.brighton.ac.uk/SSMS 

brief report of ICEL 2015

Set in the translucent seas between US and Cuba, Nassau gave us a conference setting which eased the mind and surrounded us with warmth and courtesy. The island seems focussed on its near future, with the hopes of the College of the Bahamas fixed on becoming a University shortly, and the hopes of the Government fixed on solving the delays in the latest tourist spot, Baha Mar, where four towering hotels built by Chinese workers with Chinese funding stand almost ready but stalled for the want of final agreed conditions and money.


So too in ICEL 2015, there were clearly established visions of distance learning enabled by learning technologies and pedagogies using all the current phrases – flipped classrooms, learning analytics, social media and audience response systems for interactive learning and gamification, yet the overriding sense was of teachers around the world still enthralled by gadgets, testing the latest projects from the big publishers desperate to infiltrate classrooms and colleagues who shared enthusiasms but often failed to bring other teachers into an awareness of online learning potential.


The keynote on day two, Dr Edward Bethel, spoke a good deal of common sense about rapid product development cycles which left us chasing our tails as implementation was just starting when the whole landscape of technology would shift again. As teachers we are still in the blind spot of consumerism rather than working alongside tech developers, so tossed much of our learning into the filing tray as new media and student practice trended ahead of us. He also underlined the digital divide as little to do with technology and a lot to do with the persistent and possibly growing social divide. We might well see a sea of smartphones in student hands but learning and business practices remain sticky, resistant to change. The smartphones, without an understanding of learning and the huge access to potential global knowledge they offer, were likely to be used primarily for selfies and fast chat with existing friends.


My paper was a critical review of the literature to date on flipped learning as this is a topic of the moment which is attracting such interest. I rather suspect that, despite its potential, in practice relatively few teachers will implement it fully. There are challenges, few of them technological, more of them to do with engagement and good teaching and learning design for the class sessions, which many will avoid. My conclusions suggest that there are particular circumstances, such as heavy cognitive load and considerable factual detail, where students can benefit from flipped classrooms, but this should be used with care. Inevitably the novelty of a flipped classroom approach will pall with students if over-used. Also the model works to some extent against constructivist and self-directed learning, by imposing considerable teacher control over input, rather than opening up search and evaluation opportunities offered by the Web.


What did I personally take away from this conference? Some good guidelines on learning game design, continued enthusiasm for the amalgamation of problem based learning with online tools and a framework for online course design from Carroll and Burke (2011) – all of these gave me food for thought as I continue to design and innovate where there is a serious need for improved engagement with learners. But let’s not throw the interactive lecture and class- based workshop away in the process, these continue to prove their worth with learners and good teachers.

DSC00288 the table at dinner, great colleagues, great food!

The other things I bring back are a wonderful warm sense of the healing power of sea, sand and sunshine, and a precious hour-long conversation with an inspiring Junior High School teacher from Nassau. She made sure I saw the real Bahamas, its closed society with continuing poverty, its paid for masters degrees rife across those with power and influence and its continuing lack of opportunity for women. She will be someone with whom I want to keep in touch.

Proceedings at https://www.dropbox.com/s/gywhsdbn02b8ntn/ICEL_2015_Proceedings-dropbox.pdf?dl=0


Second European Conference on Social Media

Following the success of the inaugural ECSM in July 2014, there is now a final call for papers for the 2nd European Conference on Social Media – ECSM 2015 which is being held at the Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Portugal on the 9-10 July 2015.

Social media is present in our everyday life, influencing the way we communicate, collaborate, learn, do business, build relationships and understand society. As a result of the rapid adoption of social media there is a need to reflect on the practices and identify improvements and seek solutions to overcome barriers.

This Second European Conference on Social Media seeks to establish a platform for researchers and practitioners with a wide range of approaches to engage with the impact, use and potential of social media across disciplines. Drawing on best practice in social media we will call on interested parties, be they practitioners, scholars or doctoral students, to bring together and share examples, cases, theories and analysis of social media.

For more information please go to: http://academic-conferences.org/ecsm/ecsm2015/ecsm15-call-papers.htm

Advocates of the use of social media in student research, please note that the Business eLearning research group at the University of Brighton will again be running a Student Social Media Showcase in July 2015 in Brighton, UK. Please do encourage your students to submit 5 minute videos to the SSM Showcase – we plan a great event involving university students and school students on FRIDAY 3rd JULY 2015 – same venue, Huxley Building, Brighton. More details in the New Year.

Gorg Malia book on The Social Classroom

This book is a collection of chapters for which I enjoyed reviewing as a member of the Editorial Board.

Great experiences often begin with conference conversations – this one at an earlier ICICTE.

Mahara UK14 conference hosted at University of Brighton

After a week of social media at ECSM2014 and SSMS2014 hosted at Brighton, just a few days later Mahara UK14 also brought its conference to UoB.

Being on leave and trying to draw breath after the months build-up to SSMS and ECSM, I did wonder what had possessed me to offer a presentation at the Mahara conference. And having presented at the end of June at the UoB IS conference with Craig Wakefield on creative uses of both Talis Aspire and Mahara as technologies for learning, I also wondered to whom the Mahara conference would be addressed – just technologists?, IS people? academics?

In the event it was clearly a good decision to go to Mahara UK14 since ECSM had already demonstrated the liveliness and engagement of mixed role audiences. This was no exception as delegates included those intimately involved in creating, developing and using and applying Mahara. Developers need to see what teachers and learners need from software, and teachers need to work with and be inspired by the creativity of developers.

I presented on the second conference day on Supervising Research students with Mahara – in our UoB world studentfolio. The audience was keen to discuss and ask questions – giving rise to more ideas about good quality research supervision. Prezi can be found here

Various lovely artefacts via storify, Pinterest and epilogger from this conference as for SSMS and ECSM – see previous blog posts.

one storify

One delegate take on Pinterest, thanks to Linda Pospisilova from Pardubice here

Another delegate take on storify thanks to Domi Sinclair here

Epilogger link re this conference hashtag: here

JISC implementation toolkit for eportfolios here: here