By David Wells, editor at Surviving the OU

In this installment David delves into social networking tools, twitter and mobile learning devices

Hello everybody! If you’ve missed any of the previous posts then find them here: Entry 1, Entry 2Entry 3Entry 4, Entry 5Entry 6Entry 7, Entry 8 and Entry 9.

Week 18: Social Networking Tools

This week we revisited Web 2.0 and explored questions around whether we are in the midst of an Education 2.0 as well. I’m not going to list out all of the keys themes and issues as there were quite a few but here is a snippet:

  • What are the material changes that constitute the digitised world of new tools and forms of learning and scholarship known as Web 2.0?
  • Web 2.0 has the potential to make activities, which might have been individual or private before the arrival of Web 2.0, become social activities – for example the ways in which people can use Web 2.0 in order to engage in activities that are playful, expressive, reflective or exploratory.
  • When directed towards learning, digital tools have the potential to influence key dimensions of the scholar/teacher and the learner’s practices.

In Activity 1 we read an eBook by Martin Weller on Digital Scholarship and why it matters. It’s a Creative Commons works so you can read it for free here. We then looked at Education 2.0 and the next phase of education as it moves increasingly digital and online. This raised two key questions:

How are universities and other educational and training institutions making use of social networking tools?

Having gathered information on this issue, what do you think it says about how roles, curriculum, assessment and institutions should be reconfigured?

Activity 2 focused on social networking tools and a brief look into Diigo and then Twitter. Activity 3 was about the read-write web: networking and creating. Activity 4 went full on into microblogging and the curious world of Twitter. We had to join Twitter but I’m already a member and have an account created so didn’t need to do that. One of the videos explained Twitter in plain English to the uninitiated and was fairly entertaining. It only lasts two minutes.


That video explains the basic principles that still apply but like much on this course it is outdated. I hear they’re going to update a lot of the materials and re-jig the module next year, in time for the next batch of new starts. Activity 5 was back to Diigo again and searching using social bookmarks. If you aren’t familiar with Diigo then you might find it useful for academic pursuits.

The final portion of this week was using social networks for research, which is on the rise, as you might expect.

Week 19: Mobile Learning

With smartphones, iPhones, Samsung’s etc becoming more visible in everyday life it’s no coincidence that education is finding its way over to these platforms in the form of apps and mobile friendly software. This week was not as heavy on the key themes and issues this time so here they are:

  • Research suggests that users’ ‘mobile practices’ – and their reactions to individual devices – differ widely and are intensely felt. You will explore this within your own group, and in your reading this week.
  • Mobile practices can blur the distinction between users’ personal and professional lives – again, something you will explore in a reading this week.
  • Further research is needed into how far mobile devices support learning. There may be considerable opportunities for practitioners in harnessing mobile practices.
  • Questions about Mobile 2.0 lead into questions about how far students ‘own’ their learning – an issue you will explore in an OU Live tutorial and in TMA04.

How often do YOU use your mobile device? That was the question in Activity 1 and I found myself admitting to being a heavy user of apps like Facebook Messenger and What’s App. In Activity 2 we read an article on mature students using mobile devices in life and learning. This was particularly interesting to me as I had focused some of my efforts in this area on the last TMA, looking at how some of our mature students in work dealt with searching for things. Activity 3 we had a discussion in our tutorial group about how we used mobile devices and how the line between learning and teaching can be blurred by said devices.

Activity 4 was about location based learning; Activity 5 about Mobile 2.0 (all of those 2.0’s infiltrating our lexicon) and we had an article to read on how mobiles are crossing the border into formal learning. Activity 6 was finding out more about mobile phone practices. Do you find yourself doing any of these things on your mobile phone, as described below in the image?

Activity 7 was an OU Live tutorial on mobile-enabled learning. There were two options for this tutorial and I Preferred the 8-9pm option on a Thursday evening. But, due to the fact that my son’s sport’s night was the same night, I had to go with the 7-8am on the Sunday morning! Yeooo….hardcore learner 🙂

Activity 8 was a theory of mobile learning which took us in the direction of this academic paper and wasn’t as dry or boring as you might imagine. Activity 9, finally, was more up my street: continuing with Twitter. Find us here by the way if you’re on the microblogging site.

Towards the end of this week we have been focusing on TMA03 which is due very soon. I’ll tell you all about that in the next entry. We’ll be back in two weeks’ time for that and it’ll be Entry #11 so stay in touch.

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