About kgawali10

Learning Technologist; OU Student

Reviewing Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk

Amanda Palmer: Art of asking

Amanda Palmer is an artist/musician. In her Ted Talk she describes her journey from being unknown to having a fan following. Her ambition to recreate some bonding and human connection she felt as a street artist in her use of social media and the internet resulted in being able to self fund her latest album and distribute her music for free.

I enjoyed this talk because of Amanda Palmer, her delivery was good and her storytelling was engaging. I don’t find it surprising or something ‘new’ in this idea of fans and people in general paying for something they enjoy. Especially in the arts field, that is what I would expect happens.

Having said that I’m not sure if her point about letting fans to pay and crowdsourcing can be applicable to education. But then people do pay for ‘lectures’ and ‘lectures in conferences’. If education can be paralleled with the arts the MOOCs are perhaps a form of crowdsourcing? Once again the ‘art of asking’ has been there for some time. Isn’t it very much the same when you donate to Wikipedia or adopt a book in the British Library. The web tools widen the network and potential donors that is all really.



Openness. One could put it dramatically : it’s a war of ideologies. Is education and learning for all citizens. If this is a basic right as a human being then it makes sense that as much as possible is shared widely amongst professionals increasing value for society from any knowledge that is gained and discovered.

Weller (2014) is no doubt a highly successful open scholar himself and argues for openness and I do agree with several of approaches he promotes. However with his conclusion that openness makes most sense and that overwhelmingly researchers understand the value of openness I’m somewhat doubtful about that.

Adams (2003) argues that there are issues with authentication and privacy settings that makes being openness inadequate. I think there may be some issues with that but not to the extent as since these articles there have been greater technical advances and security is high on the agenda. I think most researchers find the spontaneity in conflict with the research being accurate and peer reviewed. So for academics I have worked with the reputational risk seems high on the agenda making social media a no go. This has been one of the issues Mann (2009) raised as well, the perception of open journals not being ‘scientific’ enough putting researchers off.

I also think that researcher’s and other professions my struggle because the style of openness lending itself to influences and presenting ‘ work in progress ‘ ideas goes against that profession’s standard of working. In my opinion academics like to see finished ideas and products, have strong sense of ownership and this matters in a complete different way. Whilst working with other learning technologists it is more fluid; things can change drastically , goals or projects altered or a new tool can make whatever I make redundant.

My positive stance on openness derives from benefitting from openness. So many times other’s OERs have saved my day or fulfilled last minute requests from staff. I hope to contribute to any community I belong to. But also take a pragmatic approach and I will require working within a closed setting and use other situations where I don’t . If I did publish a paper I would like to think my choice would be an open journal, this is hypothetical. Nevertheless the advantage of today is you are able to present and blog about the things you write without involving publishers. You can use the copyright agreements open creative licensing to your advantage.


Adams, A and Blandford, A (2003) ‘Security and online learning: to protect or prohibit’ in Ghaoui, C. (eds.) Usability Evaluation of Online Learning Programs, London, Information Science Publishing. Chapter 18. pp. 331–359.
Mann, Florian, et al. “Open access publishing in science.” Communications of the ACM 52.3 (2009): 135-139.
Weller, M (2012) Digital Scholarship: 10 lessons in 10 videos 2 April [online]. Available at: http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/ no_good_reason/ 2012/ 04/ 10-digital-scholarship-lessons-in-10-videos.html (Last accessed 20 October 2015).
Weller, Martin. Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. 2014.
Xia, Jingfeng. “A longitudinal study of scholars attitudes and behaviors toward open‐access journal publishing.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 61.3 (2010): 615-624.

H818 so far

I looked forward to the networked practioner course ( it’s my last in the MAODE). So far I think this set up is my kind of ideal course. We get to focus on a project of our choice. There are some stimulating themes around the resources (articles and blogs), and an interactive group of people in comparison to other courses. Twitter is being used as a backchannel and networking tool I guess. The only thing I’m undecided about is Open Studio. I need to get to grips with it more but it seems quite similar to portfolios. I think it disrupts the flow somewhat as a learner when sometimes the conversation is being held in the forum and other times in open studio not to forget several class mates are using their own blogs. Maybe it is just a matter of getting used to.

In terms of networking Twitter is definitely my favourite. I have tried used to using delicious and scoop it. But perhaps just using lists in Twitter is enough. I’m  nspired by some other course members I have decided to have a go at blogging agin. 🙂 Maybe this time I will crack it. 🙂

Encouraging innovation

I have moved to a different role so not sure if I’m ready to evaluate innovation in my new workplace but will have a go at comparing FE with HE sector for fun!

Q:Do you sense that your innovations (as supporters of learning) have been valued, encouraged, supported?

Yes in my FE roles we were certainly asked to think creatively and phrases like ‘blue sky thinking’ , ‘no budget limitations’ , imagine 2050…well certainly trying to encourage innovation …In my HE role the support is there more on managerial level with a lot of encouragement, also there is a direct link between being innovative and receiving funding to develop project ideas so definitely innovation is required and valued on all levels.

Q:How widespread is innovation in your organisation?

I think generally the education sector has gone through a lot of changes and face all kind of pressures from society and government. Innovation is encouraged both for high quality and problem solving purposes within FE and HE(what I can see).

Q:Are there policies or statements that relate to innovation? If yes, how are they implemented?

In FE the innovation was part of staff development programmes and implicit, no specific policy. In the HE institution there are statements around being innovative, pioneering, ground breaking etc.

Q:What implications, if any, does this have for your attitude towards innovation?

My attitude towards innovation derives from that I believe its what’s expected and what society demands . Its perhaps not something new but things are certainly chaining in a quicker pace so in terms of learning you have to be prepared to learn and relearn and come up with solutions that work with whatever is on trend…as long as there is a positive air about it i don’t mind and enjoy having the ability to be innovative and creative in my approach and try new things…new ways of doing same things…

So I guess the differences are not really there ,most likely because I remained in the education sector, it’s encouraging though on reflection that innovation is encouraged in  this sector too…


I believe iSpot is a good example of where technology is supporting ‘learning communities’ and citizen science where participation is captured for the benefit of all and the actual subject. It’s innovativeness lies in using both experts and novice naturalists to discover and identify species and fauna with uploading of pictures and easy ways to verify  classifications. Traditionally experts and laymen have not shared spaces as such as explained by Bonney et al. (2009).

iSpot supports innovativeness as it supports the challenge of utilising the amount of data that is being collected to inform/educate its community.


Researching articles on innovation, open learning and learning 2.0

I was supposed to write a blog post about my research experience but due to lack of I’m just reiterating some of the material I found, will have to conduct the actual research later….

Pioneers in open ed, MIT still run the Open Ware project. I went on it and found a course on educational technologies to promote creativity, it may have some interesting insights??

Mitchel Resnick, and Karen Brennan. MAS.714J Technologies for Creative Learning, Fall 2009. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), http://ocw.mit.edu (Accessed 16 Feb, 2015). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

I stumbled upon or more correctly Twitter suggested I attend an event in sussex. Whilst it pretty unlikely I can go it’s interesting as an anecdotal evidence that OpenEd and academics use of blogs helps them t define their research areas etc.


Sheila’s blog


To Blog or not to Blog

Whilst I absolutley enjoy reading blogs with their more informal tone and options to engage with the blogger I am not much of a blogger myself. So far I have preferred to blog only as part of my OU course activities. There are argueably some benefits of blogging as an academic and student.

Reflective writing is a common requirement in many workplaces and in academia it has become a way for researchers to develop as ‘Digital scholars’ , someone who uses digital, networked and open approaches to demonstrate specialism in a field. Academics can ‘test the waters’ before publishing their research, by sharing their analytical process they can engage with a wider audience and research community (Weller, 2011).

A blog can function as a learning journal aiding reflective writing. Reflective writing is also a common requirement in education.  In a learning context it allows students to create deeper meaning and understanding of the content they are learning (Michaud,2015). One model that is widely used and has been around from some time is the cycle of reflection published by Professor Gibbs in Learning by Doing (1988).

  • Description – What happened?
  • Feeling – What were you thinking and feeling at the time?
  • What was good and bad about the experience?
  • Analysis – What sense can be made of the situation?
  • Conclusion – What else could have been done?
  • Action plan – What needs to be done next time?

Also of relevance is the concept introduced by Schön (Moon , 2013) of ‘reflection in action’ and ‘reflection on action’ and wether there are different levels of reflection. I believe as a learner it’s pretty hard to be reflecting in action especially if the subject area is new. Another element is what forum and technology/tool you wish to use. From a web 2.0 angle I guess you could compare the two tools Twitter and Blogs having certain affordances for certain reflection styles . Models like Gibbs’ are then more useful for blogging too.  It will hopefully assist me in blogging more often.

Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. Oxford: Further Educational Unit, Oxford Polytechnic.

Michaud, M. (2010) ‘Reflective Writing for College Students’ [online], Campus Life @ suite 101, http://suite101.com/ article/ reflective-writing-for-college-students-a205546 (last accessed 15 February 2015).

Moon, J. A. (2013). Reflection in learning and professional development: Theory and practice. Routledge.

Weller, Martin (2011). The Digital Scholar: How Technology Is Transforming Scholarly Practice. Basingstoke: Bloomsbury Academic.

Thoughts on PLEs


I have been looking into the ideas and use of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and the differences that exist as compared to VLEs (aka LMS).

Amongst some of the compelling arguments for utilising PLEs in education (as practitioners and learners) I sympathise with:

  • It’s not about the technology/tool used but more about the concept; creating , maintaining and contributing to a learning environment.(Sclater , 2008)
  • Collaborative/social learning is increasingly the norm and not a trend – several examples in literature , the blogosphere and scholarly articles are pointing to a change in education that emphasise constructivistic approaches fuelled by web 2.0 tools
  • Allowing students to use the tools they want does empower their learning and enhance their experience as well as improve engagement.

I agree with Sclater (2008) that there are still issues around accessibility, assessment and technical support that have to be looked into when making use of web2.0 tools supporting students individual PLEs. Another important point which I have been pondering upon relates to how educators can use web 2.0 tools compromising privacy? Can institutions ignore the fact that “free tools” normally involve a risk to students privacy? In a recent conversation with a colleague of mine it seemed that creativity/media rich features are prioritised over privacy issues. Basically the argument goes that it’s too late, everybody leaves a digital footprint all over the web and an individualised web (semantic web) is the future. (By the way if you wish to hear something with a wider approach to privacy listen to BBC Radio 4 – Privacy Under Pressure  http://bbc.in/15ytS7w, I found the comments about Google glass very interesting)

Back to the topic of PLEs. I guess looking closer at how I manage my learning using social media and other online tools  I see that I have tried to sustain some kind of boundary between work/leisure. So my PLE is not quite as blurred as Weller (2007) describes his to be. I use Facebook only for friends and LinkedIn only professionally. However when using Twitter I have blurred the areas of leisure and work ; following both course relevant, professional/personal interests. But I keep my tweets very educational. Whilst Weller wanted to only include online tools he himself contributed too I decided to have a mix  (perhaps because I am more of a consumer) and more importantly try to illustrate the flow . As seen from the diagram my iPhone is really the key component in the transfer/exchange and organising of information/knowledge. By creating this diagram I quickly realised that making an exhaustive list of all the software and tools I use was too time-consuming. I have clearly reached a peak in using social media/ web 2.0 tools fuelled by studying the H800. I also thought about what I used to use few years back and included things that I have moved on from just to have a contrast. I found that as my workplace does not really support social media (no mobile phones on sight etc.) I must include physical resources as I still have some reliance on them and think their influence should not be underestimated.

As I said above I consider PLE’s to be more of a conceptual idea than a system hence think that VLEs are something different. In other words I don’t think we will see VLEs being completely replaced overnight or in future. Sclater hit’s it on the nail in his statement:

“…the shortcomings of LMSs may, however, have as much to do with institutions’ lack of understanding about how to facilitate learning with them as with the inadequacies of the systems themselves.”

No system or tool can be perfect but it is increasingly important that the tools we decide to use have a purpose to fill. I agree with Weller and Sclater in their prediction that LMSs will become a background system which will involve a higher degree of incorporating students individual PLEs (OU, 2013).I think a few years from now it will probably be possible as like the search industry have been left by Google as the dominating engine we will be able to see a few years from now a few social media tools becoming equal to that activity. This may well resolve some of the technical support issues mentioned as a reason not to use social media in education. I personally would have really benefitted if the Open University system could ‘talk’ to my twitter account. I would have been able to share tweets/resources in the forums more easily. What do you think, is the integration of VLEs and PLEs possible?



Sclater, N. (2008) ‘Web 2.0, Personal Learning Environments, and the Future of Learning Management Systems’, Educause Center for Applied Research, Research Bulletin, vol. 2008, no.13.


Weller, M (2007) ‘My personal work/leisure/learning environment ‘, blog entry posted 6 December 2012. Available from:http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2007/12/my-personal-wor.html (accessed 20 July 2013)


Open University (2013) Sclater/Weller podcast debate introduced by John Pettit [online], https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=237027&section=5.5 (last accessed 20 July 2013).

Issues with Technology Enhanced Learning

Building with utopia signphoto credit: {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester} via photopin cc

It’s understandable that some get caught up in an utopian bubble with regards to technology enhanced learning; YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Blogs, Diigo, podcasts, smartphones, tablets etc. are increasingly being used and promoted as useful to incorporate within educational settings. In times like these where there is a real technological push it can be helpful to take a critical stance and stop for a moment and question the reasoning behind what we have done.  Well in other words in this weeks readings (mostly written a decade ago) we got the chance at looking at some of the (imagined) negative effects of using technology in eduction and how certain scholars predicted a somewhat gloomy future for the HE sector due to computers and technology.
The readings included Cuban (2001) who looked at the use of computers in teaching in Silicon Valley and unveiled that Stanford University professors only used computers for administering / preparation purposes and only a small enthusiastic number used them for teaching purposes. Lecturing and the idea of knowledge dissemination was dominant. Another reading that stood out to me in times of austerity was Noble (1998). He predominantly raised arguments about how replacing face to face teaching with online “counterfiet” leads to ” lower standard ” learning experience for students and that the rethorics used to bring technological changes derive from the interest of money saving not in the student / learning. Noble argued that this commercialisation of education was a threat the principles of higher education. In the article by Hara and Kling (1999) some light was shed on students frustrations with online learning. There were mainly two aspects that were problematic. First one was technological including lack of students skills, poorly chosen media and bandwidth issues. The second aspect was in areas of communication with the tutor including slow response and poor instructions. I guess it is pretty obvious that any type of learning whether online or not needs more than just tools to harness the potential learning outcomes.
Amongst the readings Brabazon (2001, 2007) provided a case for the lecturers/academics fighting the problems of increased workload as well as student information illiteracy. Brabazon’s writings included elements I could sympathise with and recognised therefore they stood out to me.
“The key question is whether or not valuing flexibility above all other attributes is actually a stable foundation for our higher education sector.”
I guess this is not just a question for HE but for the whole education sector and libraries too. Are there types of learning that should not be flexible?
”Internet–based learning is a response to consumerism and the reduction in government funding. This has been an unfortunate context for the expansion of online pedagogy. The language of computer–based systems — cost savings, efficiency, and productivity — has masked the public interest and investment in information technologies. For example, while outlay in computers increased an average of 24 percent per year through the 1980s, investment in other business equipment declined. Technology is driven by the competitive business sector and while it simplifies the management of educational tasks, the Windows environment poses very specific challenges for university teachers. This technocratic consciousness has meant that, as Aronowitz and Giroux have realised, “the central question regarding learning is reduced to the problem of management.” In this environment, a teacher’s behaviour has to be controlled, scrutinized and evaluated. Radical ideas and expansive research are crushed into modules, criteria and bullet points, being rendered consistent and predictable.”
Well in times of austerity the above rings more true than ever. This argument can perhaps even be applied and linked to the developments of the MOOC trend we see.
“The long–term consequence of computer ubiquity is that organisations and individuals are committed to banal tasks and (jacked–in) skills. Such activities have transformed teachers into managers of information and designers of Web sites”.
I think there has been no doubt pressures on academics and their ability using new technologies. Some teachers are harnessing the opportunities technology can offer and perhaps don’t mind ‘banal’ tasks. However I am also aware of eLearning professionals / Learning technologists who do provide the additional support and know how required to deliver blended learning and learning online. Having said that I believe some teachers will argue that there is a pedagogical interest for teachers to remain involved in the development of learning management/web designing.
“This powerpointing of knowledge and the decentring of critical thinking will result in the systematic mark(et)ing of the sciences and economics over the humanities. The information line replaces the poverty line. The illusion of access promoted by computers provokes a confusion between the presentation of information and the capacity to use, sort and interpret it. Students have difficulty matching research needs with indexes: such a difficulty is only intensified through databases.”
I could really see myself agreeing to Brabazon’s decade old arguments, time has not narrowed the gap but issues of poor research skills, critical thinking and general lack of study skills are prevalent still today. Students I work with can exemplify this confusion about presenting text as opposed to understanding it. Then we have issues of plagiarism and a behaviour of trying to find shortcuts for instance reading reviews about books rather than actual books. One of my concerns is if this “misbehaviour” carries on until university much more is it at risk in terms of money and future. Do we have sufficient time to bring a change in sixth form? I believe no hence  information literacy has to be part of secondary schooling throughout the years. I also agree with Brabazon that there needs to be a public debate, criticism and critique of our education system.
So past experience is telling us about what consequences HE/ Education faced when adapting to technology. I believe that whilst some of the issues are outdated there are some  actually worth being aware of even today:
1Lack of time and resources
It’s a valid question to ask why lecturers should infact be pressed to also develop online modules as part of their lecturer duties. It makes more sense to either let information technologists do it or just be involved with the online module development, dedicating yourself to that type of eLearning professional role. There is clearly an underestimation with regards to of time and costs involved with developing multimedia learning. Interesting blogpost on this issue by Everitt (2013) sheds further light on this matter.
2. Using technology to deliver pedagogically grounded learning
If universities become consumers then ultimately they are not in control of the tools but only of ways to implement them into learning situations. This may also raise credibility issues as if certain technologies are used due to sponsorship or special deals. Or the other way around if technology is used to deliver poorly designed learning.
3. Poorer student learning experiences
It has been recognised that student voice is an important aspect whilst developing learning experiences and there are certainly more research being carried out with regards to this.However  uneven  distributed access with issues for interntional students and students with disbilities. Students are not all ‘digital natives’ and some lack adequate skills required in online learning as well as HE in general, this information literacy gap has to be adressed.
Having gone through the possible negative issues with TEL I presume that there will be both good and bad examples of technology implementation in the education field.I believe that there is no stopping of this development that we see as ultimately (web 2.0) technology can provide the means for collaboration , knowledge building, community based learning, flexibility etc. Students as consumers will have a say by going where they get value for money as well as the type of learning experience the seek.
Brabazon, T. (2001) ‘Internet teaching and the administration of knowledge’ [online], First Monday, vol.6, no.6, http://firstmonday.org/ htbin/ cgiwrap/ bin/ ojs/ index.php/ fm/ article/ view/867/ 776 (last accessed 18 June 2013).
Brabazon, T. (2007) The University of Google: Education in the (Post) Information Age, Aldershot, Ashgate Publishers.
Cuban, L. (2001) Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, ch.4.
Hara, N. and Kling, R. (1999) ‘Students’ frustrations with a web-based distance education course’ [online], First Monday, vol.4, no.12, http://firstmonday.org/ htbin/ cgiwrap/ bin/ ojs/index.php/ fm/ article/ view/ 710/ 620 (last accessed 18 June 2013).
Noble, D.F. (1998) ‘Digital diploma mills: the automation of higher education’ [online], First Monday, vol.3, no.1, http://firstmonday.org/ htbin/ cgiwrap/ bin/ ojs/ index.php/ fm/ article/ view/569/ 490 (last accessed 18 June 2013).


Not everyone is a fan of mind maps and because they are quite individualistic it may be tricky to utilise them. Nevertheless I think it’s good to allow students to practice this form of thinking. In the  words from it’s “inventor” Tony Buzan:

‘A Mind Map is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlock the potential of the brain. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills – word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness – in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain.’

There are several mind mapping software out there. One of them that is free to use is Bubble.Us.

Mindmapping software

Bubbl.us mindmapping software

I have used it in my information literacy lessons with Year 7 to help them define a search query about a topic. It’s simplicity is it’s strength and I have found that it works fine within the time constraints of a lesson. Having 30 students starting a new account and using a software for the first time and to be actually manage to produce something can be a far fetched idea at times. This doesn’t have to be. We have also used it to allow students to present their findings from a research activity around their name. The students seem to appreciate the simple fact of being the focus (parent bubble) ( no surprises there). And in terms of the software they definitely like the colour scheme. Like one of them said ” It reminds me of candy Miss”! Below is the mind map we use to get them started. Any comments welcome! Image