Sunday, 9 November 2008

Story Telling

To begin my MUVEnation story, I'm going to respond to the following sections :

A. I am your friend. I don’t work in education. You are talking to me about the idea that we all learn from each other, in all kinds of contexts, and that this can often be richer than more formal classroom based learning. I am sceptical. Tell me about an informal learning experience you have had online in which collaboration was involved, show me a concrete example to help me to see what you mean.

Well, dear friend, I know you could never understand why I sat in front of a screen which wasn't showing "Eastenders" or "Coronation Street" at the time. You didn't know anything about computers and didn't want to know but I did want to know all those years ago although I knew nothing about them at the time. I just felt I had to be in on the party that had already begun years before I even got to the venue! So I jumped in, blindfolded! Learning was really steep at the beginning as I was on my own and at times didn't understand the terminology whether it was in English or Chinese! But I loved discovering and feeling that 'YES' when I could solve a problem.

Internet, search engines and mass computer use and bandwidth now have helped me in what was my personal and lone struggle. All I have to do now is ask someone online for help or search forums and I've got the solution to the problem and I help others too.

I'm definitely still learning as we all are in today's technology driven society but the good thing is that you, dear friend, have literally just got your first computer, a laptop! It took me years to get a laptop :-( But of course, in the meantime, it's all become easier and concerning laptops, a lot cheaper! This is today's life - Internet, quick access to information and online sharing ... and being mobile! It's strange that you've had a cell phone for two years, isn't it?

I could tell you many stories of online collaboration but one which you may appreciate is when I had real problems with my desktop (yes, they still exist in 2008) and I was tearing my eyes out as I had a meeting to go to. I searched all my online contacts and we had a conference call and then I shared my desktop with them and they walked me through the problem in voice chat to the solution. As a consequence, my face-to-face meeting was a success.

I am normally 'visible' in one chat tool or another and people will just ping me for translations of difficult texts. I do likewise for technology related issues. I was recently pinged to help set up an online conference in America in which an online colleague was presenting and they wanted to have a trial run. We did it and the online conference went marvellously. Oh by, the way, I still don't watch "Coronation Street" on the television nor the computer but my students gave me some wicked links for TV serials so you can watch them on your laptop if you want, just ping me and I'll show you how. Also, when you're ready to open that email inbox now that you've got your own email, let me know and we'll set up a blog for your family. Multiply is my favourite.

B. We all explore new technologies, some grab our attention more than others, some seem revolutionary, others simply bore us. Tell us about that new tool, or set of tools, you have just discovered that really excites you, talk about the potential it has to change your work. What do you want to do with it?

I love discovering new tools. If someone out there wants to offer me this as a full-time paid job - I accept! Discovering new tools is one thing, using them appropriately and fully is another and this all requires time. When your working environment does not provide that 'learning/training' time (which mine doesn't), it is very difficult. Hence, I tend towards what I call the 'dirty quick click' solution type tools. To better organise myself as I am in front of the screen, I've used Protopage, Pageflakes, Netvibes, Webwag, iGoogle but have only just discovered the Firefox add-on Speed Dial for my pc (from Opera) and I love it for this course. Each page has 9 boxes and you can make different pages and within each box you can add several urls. Each box is a view of the active web page. I'm a very visual person and this does the trick for me, rather than a text list of urls. It's also very fast.

Another one is Flowgram. Again, being visual, this is down my street. You can tell a story with a flow of information and each image is live and the reader can branch out at any point within your story to find out more in depth and come back to the main story as the flowgram pauses automatically when you hit a link. These can be embedded into your website, blog or wiki easily or sent by email to others.

Working synchronlously online with globally distributed corporate employees, I am always looking out for new and good web conferencing tools and Openhuddle is a favourite but still in beta.

Coveritlive is a tool I discovered in January and it's great but my work doesn't really call for this but it's excellent for live blogging.

C. Do you see yourself as a pioneer? Do you think you are more innovative than others in your organisation? Do you think your organisation is lagging behind? Tell us how you feel about this?

I wouldn't consider myself as a pioneer at all but as someone who is not afraid of diving into a deep sea. Within the organisations I work in, I have been and am definitely more innovative concerning technology enhanced learning and use than others but I am now seeing slight personal innovations from others as opposed to institutional innovations. A bit like the friend and her laptop in Section 1. These organisations are definitely lagging behind in both terms of equipment and mindset. How do I feel about this? Frustrated all the time and more and more resigned to the fact that things will not/cannot move 'fast' in huge old institutions. However, and there is always hope - I do see more progress. Albeit small and very slow, it's there, so again, like the dear friend with the laptop in Section 1. In my freelance work, I can put all the wonderful tools to good use.

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