SHEEN Sharing

A Project of the Scottish Employability Co-ordinators' Network

Weekly drop-in webinar clinics/feedback sessions now booked on FlashMeeting

As we decided at the SHEEN Sharing Development Group meeting on April 6th, I got myself a “meeting booker” account on the Open University’s free webinar service, FlashMeeting.  Thanks to Tony Hirst, Chris Valentine and Pete Cannell at the OU for their help.

What is FlashMeeting and why are we using it?

We’ll be using FlashMeeting for weekly webinar sessions that you can drop into as you feel the need.  They can be used for support and help with the Web2.0 tools you will be trialling.  We will also use them to gather formative feedback on how the project trials are going.

FlashMeeting is easy to use in your web browser, as long as you have Adobe Flash 8 or later installed as a plugin.  It is “low-data” friendly, so you don’t need a massively high-spec machine or super-fast Internet connection to use it (although I probably wouldn’t recommend dial-up).  And it records our meetings so we can go back and look at them later, or share them with others in the ECN if they couldn’t come.

There is a brief introduction and feature list for FlashMeeting here: http://fm.ea-tel.eu/about.html.  You can participate with webcam and microphone so we can see and hear each other.  If you don’t have these, you can still see and hear everyone else if you have sound; if you don’t have sound, you can participate via live text chat during the meeting.  In this last case, I will make sure you can read live notes about what is being discussed as it happens.  There is also a whiteboard facility, and the ability to show slides and link to websites live.

When will we meet on FlashMeeting for our clinics and project updates?

I will be available on FlashMeeting every Wednesday morning from 9:00-12:00.  You can pop in at any time during that period.  You can log into the meeting as a guest user, or create an account for yourself in FlashMeeting, which gives you access to more of the functionality in FlashMeeting.

First SHEEN Sharing FlashMeeting

The first FlashMeeting will be this Wednesday, 29 April 2009.  I will send out the URL for the meeting using the ECN JISCMail list, as the recording of the meeting will also be available at that URL, and for privacy’s sake it’s best if I don’t make it public on this Website.

No need to tell me beforehand that you will be logging in, however, if a bunch of you decide to come along because of a trials group issue, a bit of forewarning might help as I have booked the meetings for a certain number of users, and if it looks like we will have more than that number, I will need to increase the booking.

If you know in advance that you have a specific topic you wish to cover, it will likely save us both time if you let me know beforehand also.  I’m keen at this stage not to set topics for the meetings myself, but if people come up with stuff in advance I will certainly let everyone know.  So, for instance, if someone wants to discuss the use of hashtags on Twitter and lets me know beforehand, I can email the JISCmail list and anyone else who is interested can show up too.

Getting Adobe Flash 8 installed if you don’t have it

To check what version of Adobe Flash 8 you have installed in your web browser, simply go to this URL and you will see a report about what version of Flash you currently have: http://fm.ea-tel.eu/version.html.

If you don’t have Adobe Flash 8 or later, you will need to install the most recent version of Flash from the Adobe website.  I understand from our initial meetings that some folk may have to request permission from their IT departments to do this, or even get someone from there to do it.  If you do have this problem, please let Cherie Woolmer and I know: we want to be able to support you and also report back to the Scottish Funding Council about un-necessary barriers in some institutions.

Getting started on FlashMeeting

You will only need to follow the meeting URL I send out, and click to accept the terms and conditions to enter the meeting.  However, if you want to check beforehand that everything is working as it should for you (Adobe Flash 8, webcam and sound), the folks at the OU have provided a VERY easy to follow checking tool, explained here: http://fm.ea-tel.eu/quickstart.html.

Guest user or getting a FlashMeeting sign-in account?

You may indeed be perfectly comfortable as a guest user and wish to join in that way at least to start with; you can access most of the basic functionality as a guest.  However, just FYI, if you are a guest user, you can’t use the whiteboard facility, upload files for others to see, use concept maps, or send private chat messages to other participants.  You also can’t access the SHEEN Sharing group page and save the events you are interested in.  For a full list of features available to different login levels look here.  If you want to use all the available features, go here to sign in: http://fm.ea-tel.eu/mxbooking/signin.php.  Make sure you read the terms and conditions first.

SHEEN Sharing Group on FlashMeeting

I’ve created a SHEEN Sharing Group within FlashMeeting, whereby you can access all of the group’s meetings, and download dates/times for all of them immediately into your calendar.  You need to be a registered user of FlashMeeting to be a member of the Group (again this helps with privacy).  To join the SHEEN Sharing Group, go to My Groups, then search “sheen” with “All groups” selected.  It should be the only group to come up; use the little people icon in the right-hand column to join the group.  I will need to confirm your membership.

April 27, 2009 Posted by | SHEEN Project Events & Meetings, Webconferencing | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Examples of NetVibes for project dissemination

We’ve all realised fairly quickly that a blog like this, while a good tool for project dissemination and a great way to get started as a sandbox and exemplar of using Web2.0, is not a good place for the complexity of knowledge-sharing requirements at SHEEN Sharing.  We need a space that can pull in resources in a well-organised and structured way, make them available to different interest groups, and allow “push” out again to other interested sites and services (e.g. HEA EvidenceNet).  That space needs to be fairly easy to maintain and self-sustaining, and it needs to be able to interoperate with all the other Web2.0 tools folk in the employability arena might be using.

We looked at Elgg, which allows you to create a website/portal type space pulling in a lot of different Web2.0 feeds, blogs, Twitterstreams, etc.  But Elgg requires a local server, and some technical expertise, neither of which are within the project scope.  Nonetheless, to see an example, look at this JISC-funded communities of practice project Elgg site: Emerge.

We’ve also looked at Netvibes and Pageflakes.  We have some great exemplars of NetVibes being used in the way that the ECN would like to use a space like this.  It can be organised into tabs by subject/interest area, or any other criteria, and it can very simply be composed of feeds and lists and bookmarks and Twitter feeds from all over the Web.  But don’t try to imagine it.  Here are some really good examples:

Connected Practice: Researching Social Services in the Network Society

This is the NetVibes page of Neil Ballantyne at IRISS in Glasgow; even though he has set it up to reflect his own interests, it really looks like a project site, and it is easy to see how the sort of structure he has given it could be used in SHEEN Sharing.  Note- all the “blocks” under all the tabs are dynamically composed of feeds from other sites: blogs, journals, etc.  Also, it looks pretty.  Neil is a one-man project!

Innovation in Public Services

This is a really pretty one; it looks like it’s had some professional design input.  It’s a neat example of the use of a NetVibes site to support a community of practice and provide a one-stop-shop both for the CoP to visit, and for it to push out things it is interested in (e.g. via blogs).  Worth a good hunt around: it should be fairly clear where things have been locally created and where they have been pulled in via feeds.  Really good use of feeds based on searches of blogs and Delicious tags too, so you’re pulling in stuff from all over the Web on a daily basis, not just the stuff you already know about.

The Rhizome Project

This Eduserv-funded project on digital identities’ NetVibes page is not so pretty, but nice and clean nonetheless (I like it anyway).  Just a good contrast to the above: a project using this tool to create something that will live on beyond the project’s end.

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Group Spaces Online, SHEEN Project Dissemination, Web2.0 Tools, Tips and Tricks | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SHEEN Sharing Trials

We had a well-attended SHEEN Sharing meeting on April 6th, with the remit of planning the Web2.0 resource sharing trials for the project. We were hosted most warmly by Pam Andrew at St Andrews University, which involved, for me, a lovely taxi journey from Dundee wherein I got to see a part of Scotland I’ve not seen before.

Slides from this meeting are available on SlideShare and Scribd (as a project document- also linked from the Scribd Project Documents feed in the far right-hand column). Part of what the slides show is a brief summary of the project’s findings so far. They also detail the project trial groups decided on at the meeting; we added details to the actual slides as we went. See the bottom of this post where the SlideShare version is embedded as a slidecast.

What follows is a list of the trials groups we came up with, the group leader or champion for each and a link to each trial groups webpage on this blog. What we need to do next is set up kick-off meetings for each group, where I will come visit the group, help them ascertain exactly what tools they will trial and how, and most importantly, get them set up and trained on the tools. If you are interested in being involved in one of these groups, please contact the group lead directly via email. We also welcome comments and feedback here on the blog.

SHEEN Sharing Tools Trials Groups

ECN Community Trial Group
Who will be lead? Sarah Currier, SHEEN Sharing Project Consultant, to the end of the project; exit strategy will need to be developed for after Sarah finishes. E-mail sarah [dot] currier [at] gmail [dot] com

Action Learning Sets Trial Group
Cherie Woolmer noted that she and several others would be attending an Action Learning Sets training the following day, and was interested in investigating whether anything SHEEN Sharing was doing would be able to facilitate this approach.

Who will be lead? Cherie Woolmer, Strathclyde University. Email Cherie at cherie [dot] woolmer [at] strath [dot] ac [dot] uk

Sharing Student Experiences Trial Group
Pam Andrew already has a wiki designed to support students in sharing their work experiences. She had a few ideas around getting SHEEN Sharing’s support in further developing this work.

Who will be lead? Pam Andrew, St Andrews University. Email Pam at pea1 [at] st-andrews [dot] ac [dot] uk

E-Portfolios Trial Group
Who will be lead? David McCall, UHI Millennium Institute. Email David at David [dot] McCall [at] perth [dot] uhi [dot] ac [dot] uk

Voluntary Sector Project Trial Group.
Fiona Boyle is leading this funded project, which has also recently appointed a consultant. Sarah met with Fiona prior to the Tools Trials Planning Meeting to discuss their requirements, and helped get Fiona started with a project blog and Google Group.

Who will be lead? Fiona Boyle, Queen Margaret University. Email Fiona at FBoyle [at] qmu [dot] ac [at] uk

PDP for Taught International Post-Grads Project Trial Group
Joy Perkins was not able to attend the Tools Trials Planning Meeting, so Sarah had a phone catchup with her afterwards about this project and how SHEEN Sharing might be able to help. Then project was in the process of appointing a consultant and a kickoff meeting still needed to be held. This would give the basis for deciding how SHEEN Sharing could support the project.

Who will be lead? Joy Perkins, Aberdeen University. Email Joy at j [dot] perkins [at] abdn [dot] ac [dot] uk

Slides from the Tools Trials Planning Meeting:

April 23, 2009 Posted by | SHEEN Project Events & Meetings, SHEEN Sharing Project | , | 1 Comment

Tips and Tricks: Getting Started with Twitter

Wondering what Twitter is, exactly? Not sure why you’d want to get started using Twitter? Wondering what the benefits might be? See my previous post on Twitter, and also my newer post on universities’ careers services using Twitter to disseminate to students and others.

First Steps
First, you need a Twitter account.

Then you need some people to follow.

Then, people will start following you as well. If everyone with an interest in SHEEN Sharing gets onto Twitter and starts following each other, we will have a nice web of communications.

Have a Look at SHEEN Sharing on Twitter
SHEEN Sharing itself now has a Twitter account that you can follow. Go to: http://twitter.com/sheensharing to see the SHEEN Sharing Twitterstream. The messages in the big central column are the Tweets sent by SHEEN Sharing so far. In the right-hand column you can see basic information about SHEEN Sharing and also who SHEEN Sharing is following and who is following us (see the “following” and “followers” links). At time of writing, Cherie Woolmer and I (morageyrie) are following SHEEN Sharing. I’m sending its Tweets out, but can easily give others access. HOWEVER: the idea is to give you something useful to follow on Twitter when you set up your own account!

How to Set Up Your Twitter Account

1. Go to http://twitter.com/.

2. Click on the “Get Started – Join” big green button (there’s also a helpful video you can watch from the main page).

3. Fill in the form to create your account.

4: Add some identifying details for yourself in Settings. A brief blurb so potential followers know what your interests are, or indeed can work out *who* you are; not everyone uses their real name on Twitter and once you have dozens of followers it can be hard to remember who is who! Uploading a profile photo helps too: it can be of anything but it means followers have a visual reference to remember you by.

5. Get started looking for people to follow, e.g.:

5a: Navigate to http://twitter.com/sheensharing and click the “follow” button (which will only appear if you are already logged in using your new Twitter account).

5b: You can also choose to follow me as an individual: http://twitter.com/morageyrie. You may find this useful or amusing or overwhelming or annoying: I use Twitter a *lot* (which is why I set up a separate SHEEN Sharing account). But you are very welcome to follow me: you can always un-follow me if it gets too much!

5c: Check who else is following SHEEN Sharing; click to follow them if you wish (there should be a “follow” button under their name in the list; if there isn’t you may already be following them). Most folk allow anyone to follow them, some folk may have their profiles locked so they have to approve your request to follow.

Learn a Few of the Tricks

*** Tweets must be 140 or fewer characters; it’s like learning to write Haiku!

*** You can Direct Message (or “DM”) people; only you and they will see these conversations.

*** You can reply to a Tweet and everyone who follows both of you will see it; you can get something very close to threaded discussions this way. Most Twitter tools let you click a “reply” button of some kind but you can also do it manually by typing @ then their username at the start of your Tweet.

*** You can also “mention” other users in your Tweet; it’s just again typing @ then their username; these mentions will appear in their @replies list so they will notice them easily! For instance, I might Tweet in response to SHEEN Sharing “@sheensharing thanks for the conference update. I wonder what @Cheriewoolmer thinks of that?” .. both SHEEN Sharing and Cherie will see this in their @replies section.

*** You can pass on Tweets you find useful if you think not all of your followers will have seen them. This is called “Re-Tweeting”, and the convention is to type RT: then copy and past the entire Tweet (including the original sender’s username). However, most tools now have a “Re-Tweet” button that will do all this for you.

Optional Stuff for the Really Keen

*** Set up your mobile phone so you can post to Twitter by sending a text. (You can also receive text updates if you are a Vodaphone subscriber). Go to Settings > Devices (instructions here).

*** Twitter is getting bigger so you can get marketing spammers and such following you, but it’s easy to block them when they do. However, you can set up your Twitter account so your updates are only viewable by those you approve. This means that, if someone clicks to “follow” you, you have to approve them (so they have to wait for that), and that your Tweets will not appear in any live Twitter streams anywhere, nor be searchable by anyone outwith your followers etc. Go to Settings and scroll down to the bottom, read the blurb and if that’s what you want to do, check the checkbox. NB: If you do this, your Tweets will not be visible anywhere to anyone except those who follow you; so, for instance someone searching for Tweets on “employability” using TweetDeck or similar won’t find anything you’ve posted.

*** Find a Twitter tool that makes it easy for you to keep up. TwitterFox is great for those using Firefox as a browser. If you have an iPhone there are various apps for that. You can get a newsfeed of your Twitterstream and read incoming Tweets in your feed reader (makes it hard to reply easily though). But you may wish to keep it simple at first and just keep a tab open in your browser with your Twitter account on it.

*** Set up Twitter to automatically update your Facebook status.. two birds with one stone.

*** Set up any number of tools (e.g. Delicious) so that when you post to them, a Tweet automatically gets sent to your followers.

There is so much more you can do! Just Tweet me or comment here with questions!

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Group Spaces Online, Microblogging, Social Networking, Web2.0 Tools, Tips and Tricks | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Easing our communications, sharing info, supporting each other: in praise of Twitter

Already know you want to get started with Twitter but not sure how? See my next post with tips and tricks here.

What is Twitter?
Twitter is known as a “microblogging” tool; think Facebook status updates without the rest of Facebook around them. Or tiny emails only from and to people you choose to be part of your own personal community. Or miniature blog posts appearing in your feed reader.

Each update (or “Tweet”) must be 140 characters long or fewer. You read the Tweets only of folk you choose to “follow”. There are many free tools for reading your “Twitterstream” (all the Tweets from people who you follow) – or you can just read your Twitter account in a webpage, feed reader or email inbox.

Why Twitter?
I was planning to avoid talking about Twitter during the early phase of SHEEN Sharing. I felt like it was currently being over-hyped in the media with consequent negative feelings running rampant (amongst those who haven’t used it that is). And I just wasn’t sure it would be useful for people just starting to explore this Web2.0y stuff.

I was wrong about all of that. In several meetings it has come up that people find the deluge of emails and managing information overload difficult these days. With the best will in the world, it’s really difficult for such a widely distributed and busy group to stay in touch and work together supportively (although the ECN folks certainly do manage well with the time they’ve got). Someone said that they wanted something like the way you chat to colleagues in the lunch queue at a conference.

How Twitter Has Eased My Working Life
Consequently, I often found myself explaining how I use Twitter for work and how it has eased my working life to a considerable degree, especially with regard to communications and support within my professional community of practice, and for getting relevant information in a very timely manner. Gradually those interested in SHEEN Sharing have expressed an interest in trying this wonder tool.

How is Twitter Useful?: A Personal View

Here are the ways I find Twitter useful:

1. Ease of integration into my daily work
I don’t have to log into anything- not even a separate webpage in a new tab. I use Firefox as my browser, and there is a free Twitter tool called TwitterFox. TwitterFox sits in the lower right hand corner of my browser window, and has a little number on it showing how many new Tweets have come in.

When a new Tweet comes in, a little balloon pops up, just at the edge of my eye-line, with the full Tweet text (140 characters) and sender’s name and icon in it. I can tell in an instant if I want to follow it up. If I want REAL radio silence (say if I’m writing something heavy duty), I can switch it off. If I want to see recent Tweets, I just click the icon and the balloon expands, but not enough to obscure the page I’m currently reading or working in. I can have it open while, for instance, typing this into our blog post editor online.

2. Choosing my community
I see messages only from those I want to be in communication with. I choose to “follow” people whose messages are of interest to me. I can un-follow them at any time. I can block people who I don’t want following me, or restrict my followers to only those I consciously approve.

3. Flexible configuration for different purposes
I can use a more flexible tool like TweetDeck to group Tweets according to my interests. For instance, I have a TweetDeck stream that only shows messages from colleagues around the world with an interest in repositories. If I’m working on repositories stuff I can look at that stream. Or, I can run a search in TweetDeck for “repositories” and get a stream that only includes Tweets that mention that word.

4. Amplifying conferences: being in many places at once!
I can keep up with conferences and other events or issues without needing to attend them. Conversely, if I’m running a conference I can make sure that it is “amplified” out to many more people than just those physically present.

People at a given conference (e.g. #altc2008), or interested in a current news topic (e.g. #G20) agree to use the same “hashtag” (a term with a # in front). Then, anyone interested in that topic can follow all Tweets that include the hashtag. I’ve followed numerous conference presentations from my desk in this way: people who are at the conference Tweet news, impressions, discussion points etc., and I can respond via Twitter and get further discussion and feedback from others- all in real time. Or, I can go back and read the Tweets later to catch up on what happened. Conference webpages and blogs can include Twitterstream feeds. And so on…

5. “Dear lazyweb” – accessing a world of expert advice and information
I can easily ask for help on a topic by typing a Tweet question, again in the lower right-hand corner of my screen, no need to navigate to a new page or log into anything. My question will go to those interested: firstly, all the people who follow me will see the Tweet (and ignore it if they’re not interested); and secondly, if I’ve included a useful keyword or hashtag in the Tweet, people from further afield might see it and respond. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gathered invaluable information that I’ve needed, generally within 5 minutes of Tweeting. This has also often led to new people joining me via me following them, or them following me, or both.

A good example of this was the SHEEN Sharing Trials Planning Meeting in early April. We explored briefly the idea of using something like NetVibes as a more permanent community web presence for SHEEN Sharing and the ECN. I only had the example of my own rather pitiful NetVibes page handy (I’d only put it together for our initial introductory workshops anyway; it’s not something I was familiar with in detail). Everyone was somewhat unimpressed. While we were at lunch I quickly sent a Tweet: “dear lazyweb: anyone got any examples of NetVibes used as project dissemination?” and within 10 minutes had four rather lush examples (more on that later), better than even I’d anticipated, and showing NetVibes being very close to what we wanted to achieve. When we started up after lunch, I was ready to go! And I still had time to eat.

6. Community membership and support
As a social tool for keeping up with ones community and feeling supported, validated, amused, informed, or just plain part of something bigger, Twitter is the best. I work alone at home, but I feel like I’m in a big, silent room, where I can stand up and walk about, ask if anyone wants a cuppa, ask a pertinent work-related question and get answers, hear some gossip or the latest news, or just tell people I’ve got a headache and get sympathy in response. Kind of like working in an open plan office that you can switch on and off at will.

The thing I can’t emphasise strongly enough is the ease, speed, and lack of intrusiveness with which this happens. And Twitter can now be integrated with most other web tools you might be using, including email, feed readers, blogs, wikis and other websites.

Worries
Usually at about this point (or rather, about two-thirds of the way through the above information), someone says “But there isn’t enough time in the world… ” or “How do you find the time… ” etc. All I can say is that it saves me time, as well as bringing benefits I can’t get elsewhere. There is still the problem of using anything like this as a distraction, or getting overwhelmed with incoming information and messages. I don’t think the need to manage these problems as individuals is going away any time soon!

So, the next post will be a HowTo specifically to get you set up on Twitter, and also an announcement: follow SHEEN Sharing itself on Twitter!

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Group Spaces Online, Microblogging, Social Networking, Web2.0 Tools, Tips and Tricks | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Principles of work-related learning

Dear all,
This is my first posting. Let’s hope it works.
I am writing to ask for your comments and feedback on a set of five “Principles of work-related learning (wrl) ” that we developed recently.
They are meant to present a clear definition of what we think constitutes wrl, give our academic colleagues in the schools some guidance in their efforts to embed wrl in their teaching and provide a benchmark for existing activities. There is a great deal of vagueness and imprecision when it come to deciding what is good practice and what is not. The principles are supposed to add some precision to the debate. They are intended to be as generic as possible without providing too many ‘opt-out opportunities’; i.e. people claiming they have embedded wrl – but there is no real evidence of it.
I would be really grateful if you could maybe pass the principles on to some of your employability champions in a wide variety of departments and subject disciplines and ask them the following questions|:

1. How applicable and realistic are the principles for learning and teaching in your subject area?
2. How can they be refined or enhanced?
3. How useful are they for your daily practice, module and programme design?
4. What have we overlooked?

5 Principles of Work-Related Learning:
Work-related learning activities should be designed so that they:

1…. involve students in authentic activities that match as nearly as possible the real-world tasks of professional practices in a given discipline

Reflective questions

• Are students involved in solving a real problem which stems from needs and activities in the workplace?
• Do the activities enable students to experience both good and bad examples of work they are expected to produce, processes they are expected to employ or behaviours they are expected to demonstrate in the workplace?
• Are the activities designed in such a way that students can only carry them out in collaboration with others?

2…. define learning outcomes that state what the students will be able to do in the workplace

Reflective questions

• Do the outcomes identify the standard of the expected performance rather than what the students will ‘know about’, ‘understand’ or ‘describe’?
• Are learning outcomes assessed authentically, i.e. through methods that resemble as closely as possible the ways in which performance is assessed in the workplace?

3….. are based upon students’ current state of knowledge and interest

Reflective questions

• Do the activities enable students to build upon, relate or apply knowledge and skills from relevant past experiences?
• Does the learning process demand the application and transfer of knowledge into a new professional context or setting, beyond the ones they worked on during the course?

4…… require students to take on an active rather than a passive role in the learning process

Reflective questions

• Does the task require that students demonstrate critical, independent thinking?
• Are students involved in risk-taking associated with new behaviours?
• Are they supported in coping with resulting levels of anxiety?

5…. accommodate cultural diversity

Reflective questions

• Are students offered a range of national and international work related learning opportunities?
• Do learning activities accommodate culturally diverse value systems, learning styles and modes of communication and interaction?
• Are students prepared for working in a multi-cultural work environment?

The reflective questions are designed to break down each principle into its different components.
If you are interested, please e-mail me and I’ll send you the Word document and the reference list.

Many thanks !!

April 18, 2009 Posted by | Employability Resources | | Leave a comment