Thursday, November 19, 2009

Scaffolding and online synchronous communications

Steve Wheeler has just posted something interesting about the ZPD and scaffolding in his 'always worth a read' (©Sarah's Made-Up-Taxonomy of blog types, 2009) blog. Anyway, he posted it and it reminded me that I'd been interested in just this thing a few months ago when I was doing my research project to finish off my MEd. I was interested in the impact of a tutor when students were learning in an online synchronous (chat) environment. I wanted to know what happened to any conversation and associated learning... and whether or not the tutor's presence enriched the experience.

Anyway, I ran my research project and got some interesting results. Although the activity itself was fairly carefully constructed so as to provide a light scaffolding for the main body of discussion and the environment was controlled so that I was able to compare both sessions - how each discussion evolved was up to the participants. Different types of reflection were evident in the session with the tutor present and that which took place when just the students were around. The flow of the conversation altered. The type of questions and responses changed. Students seemed to be more passive in the tutor-led session and although there was plenty of conversation, the expectation seemed to be that the tutor was in the driving seat and the ownership of that communication shifted noticably.

If, having read the above blurb, you'd like to read the full report of the research I carried out, then feel free!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Twitter lists as online identity

In the last few weeks, Twitter lists have appeared on the scene. I've seen a few useful bits and bobs about the lists and how they might be used (Mashable has some good ideas) but the thing that surprised me most of all was that Twitter lists are an interesting tool to discover a little more about your own online identity. All you need to do is to see what lists you're on by clicking on the 'listed' link on your profile. Simple, huh?

It's interesting to see other people's perceptions of you. Me, I seem to feature on a fair few elearning / ed tech lists (as well as my favourites so far 'fab education folk' and 'geek girls'!) as well as a few Open University ones. It's interesting to see where you're being placed and how much control (or not!) you have over your online identity. It reveals, also, your main purpose for using Twitter. I tend to use it to communicate with others in ed tech. There are other places where I might talk about other bits of my life / personality... but I've always been fairly purposeful where Twitter's concerned. Other people may find that they feature on a wider variety of lists... but either way... have a look... it's really interesting to see where you fit in to Twitter's strange patchwork of communication!

PS Until someone puts you in a comedy list and you think 'Eh? How did that happen???!' :o)
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