Do you like Cheese? Polls for the masses – Twitter gets interactive

“Do you like Cheese?” one question on everyones lips.  I knew that they were coming but wasn’t sure when, then over the weekend, I saw a Tweet via @EricStoller who drew my attention with his tweet poll.

I’d seen the links to Twitter Polls but not been able to do this myself (it wasn’t available) but then they arrived over the weekend. The first problem, what question to ask? I’ve been working with academic teams who have tonnes of questions that they wanted to ask their students, but I had nothing. Seems like I wasn’t the only one. There were plenty of tweets that reminded me of the early days of twitter.  The equivalent of the “What are you doing?”  prompts that create typical responses, hence the “Do you like Cheese?” question, always my goto question when I don’t know what to ask.

I pulled in a collection of responses here: TwitterPolls

I think these will pass and in particular, having asked my own question on the use of Open Badges, there were a couple of things that struck me.

  1.  Your networks are even more important now.  Following people on twitter that are like minded, or have something useful to contribute will mean that any question you ask will get better results.
  2. Engagement – through the one question on open badges I had responses from people that I wasn’t aware were interested.  My one and only qualitative response from the British Museum wouldn’t have happened, had I not asked that question.  It seems to me that the more interesting the questions the better the engagement.
  3. It’s not just for brands.  Of course, social media marketing gurus will see the potential and there is nothing wrong with that,  if you are following people that just push information at you then you probably should have a think about what you are trying to get from your networks.
  4. Education wise – have a poll for feedback on the session; who would you vote for?; What is more important?;  Is this answer right or wrong?;  the possibilities are endless.  Unfortunately, the customisation options are limited but that will improve.
  5. Value:  What is the value of the question?  Think about your responses and what you can do with it.  For in session discussion?  It won’t replace polling software like Socrative or Poll everywhere but it could be a good way of experimenting with this type of interactivity with students.
  6. Use images and other twitter usernames and hashtags in your question if you are trying to get a wide coverage.  That could stimulate further questions and could open up questions that you hadn’t thought about.
  7. Don’t over use it.  Golden rule: Everything in moderation.

Community of learning – final day for #epforall

The final day of the EPIC 2015 Conference was as interesting and exciting as the first.  The theme for the morning was focussed on Humanitarian organisations, Medicin Sans Frontier and Disaster Ready spoke about how they intend to use Badges to represent skills and competences for their staff. The best bit about this was that these are organisations who recognise the value in bringing communities of practitioners together. They are looking at bringing communities together which is the value in these badges.   As a collective group they could create badges with criteria that suit the organisation and can be transferred across to other similar organisations.  Thereby saving time, enabling skills to be transferred which is good for the organisation, efficient and could save lives.

A strong thread this morning was the use of badges to provide levels of ability within organisations, including colour coding,and community development. The Open Badges passport could be used as an enabler to allow groups of people with the same badge together.  They can view who has the same badge as them, so imagine in an organisation where you want to get people to share experiences and skills and they already have something in common, thereby creating a community of practice. Instead of having broad based communities built on approval from an administrator, your access is granted by evidence that you have met via set criteria.  This could bring together groups of people in a much more useful and valuable way.

We also heard from City and Guilds Patrick Cravens who had some wonderful slides courtesy of Bryan Mathers.  City and Guilds are interested in developing partnerships and offered consultancy for developing assessed badges. Made me wonder if the QAA were going to 1)  Look at the Badges as part of the process of assurance (as they have looked at employability awards)  2) Offer their own Badges.

There were also some really inspiring presentations that were so useful and gave me so many ideas.

Two were from US institutions, Indianapolis and Oregon.  Interestingly they had both let students use non-institutional tools to create their ePortfolbestrios which meant that they personalised them, owned them and then carried on using them as a reference for other students.  One used WordPress multi-site and the other use a combination of Wix, wordpress and their Institutional tool (one instance!) and that was not so good (they said) in terms of flexibility.

The final talk was from Simone Ravaioli of Bestr.  He is part of an Italian intiative to ‘close the skills gap with Open Badges and ePortfolios.  It was very inspiring, he showed a video and you just wanted to clap at the end of it!  This wasn’t the video but this one is quite good and gives you an idea of what they are trying to do

He was very good and I could see the potential for using this system across nations.

I have to say Italy had a strong presence and some great examples – University of Bologna were well represented and it would be lovely to hear more.  Overall it was such a useful and engaging conference, I would highly recommend attending the next one.  The people were friendly and everyone was interested in each others aspects of use of Open Badges and ePortfolios (even if they haven’t invested in a institutional system)  It was the learning rather than the tool that was important (Yay!)

5 takeaways from #epforall Expanding the learning environment

catalonia plaza hotel with sign outside advertising the Epic ConferenceImagine you are not in any way involved in online learning or the development of education and training.  Have you heard of Digital Badges? At the ePIC 2015 (@epforall) conference in Barcelona we have been hearing from educators but also from organisations who are interested in developing their staff through the use of online open badges. The world is changing.  There are so many reasons why an organisation should use open badges, but today we heard lots of exciting ideas and experiences from people all over the world who are exploring and engaging with digital badges for extending the learning environment.  It’s just day one (8-10th June) Programme for ePIC forum conference.

1.  Its all about trust and value (and quality).IMG_1145 2

The theme for today has been about trust and value.  Trust the people issuing the badges, trust the recipients (earners) of the badges to display what they value.  If a badge has no value to the person you earned it then it won’t be shown anywhere.  It will die.  I think we established that badges could and should be issued by anyone, for any purpose.  So if a student decided to issue themselves a badge they could.  It may not hold much value for anyone else but if they wanted it and and could evidence that they warranted getting the badge, then maybe they should have it.  If an employer looked at it, then it may qualify as useful or not, depending on the value that employer had for it.  So its all about value and trust (in context).  I found that interesting.  I was looking at badges from an institutional point of view.  In the way we issue awards we might issue a badge.  But the beautiful thing is, we don’t have to.  If the evidence behind the badge leads us to demonstrate capabilities and it was issued by an institution or a individual respected in their field, then that is good enough.

2. Badges don’t make you awesome.

You make you awesome.  Just like technology doesn’t make you a great teacher.  You have to be good, it just helps you out to make your point.  If you have a collection of badges that really don’t tell anyone much other than you showed up to a few events, maybe you scored highly in test or everyone liked you on a Monday, then these are not going to do you any justice.  Find and create badges that allow your students or your employees to develop.  We talked about employers defining levels of badges for their employees and that was interesting.  This came from the question about values (again) but if you could measure or define levels of competences through badge attainment, supported by evidence you provide a 3D view.

3. Tools for issuing badges are getting easier.  

IMG_1141 3I heard about the Open Badge Factory and the Open Badge Passport.  We heard from Gemma Tur (@Gemturfer) who trialled their use with her ‘Digital Seniors’ I thought she was talking about seniors in high school but it turned out that she had taught a class of seniors as is aged between 55 and 67 years. They had all gained their Digital Seniors Badges. Her model was similar to the iChamp model, in that it was smaller badges building up to an overall (or Uber) badge.  She wasn’t familiar with badges and neither were they but using the systems above she taught her class and issued the badges to recognise their achievements.  They valued it and were engaged with their learning experience.  I had a look and it looks easy.  I created an iChamp badge very easily.  Just a few tweaks and we will be there.

4. Community matters

All through the day we discussed how models of power have changed from the institutions to the learners.  This was apparent in cMOOCs where barriers to learning through classrooms walls have come down.  Badges have the same appeal.  Social interactions can raise the value of a badge.  Ranking badges; rating the badge (“yes, I think you can do that” etc).  We also discussed how there was great value in sharing the badges within a community of practice.  Bringing groups of people together from across a range of organisations and institutions highlights groups with specific skills sets, makes sense of badges.  This could be of value to employers.  The impact of community was referred to a lot and I think that this could be a great feature of the social aspect to badges. Building a community of credibility through demonstrable skills sets is important and may offer a new approach to recruitment.

5. It’s all in the (Open) data  

Inevitably, when you talk about badges you must mention data.  The data is what makes a badge because without it, it’s a picture of a badge.  The data holds information about trends, location, skills, etc.  We heard from Adam Doyle (MyKnowledgeMap) who talked about repositories and how they could be useful (with permission) for employers.  This reminded me of the early MOOCs conversations when looking for business models. I think it was Udacity that suggested that they could sell their learners profiles to employers, suggesting that they had demonstrated aptitude and abilty and may be worthy of interviewing. Not that this is what is happening but it has potential – the data aspect of badges, along with communities provides groups of interesting data that can provide learning organisations with useful info.

So there you have it.  Five things to take away from #epforall.  There was lots more but applying what we heard about today to HEI’s and organisations would be a huge step and a big change.  Possibly that would be awesome…

Up Persicope – Adventures in Wonderland

On Wednesday I decided to try out Periscope, the live streaming app that allows you to take your phone and turn it into a live broadcast.  Have a look at their website – “see the world through someone else’s eyes” that’s pretty powerful stuff.

Although I’d had it on my phone I’d never actually felt the need to share anything live with the world.  I thought I have nothing to say, but then that was me thinking like an old fashioned regular person.  Then Stephan Caspar (our Media guru at University of Southampton) inspired me with his enthusiasm for it. He warned me it was ridiculous. He told me, “anyone can comment, they say the weirdest things”.  So I thought I’d give it a go. Stephan records walking to work. Yes, really, like the early days of Twitter, when people tweeted about washing their hair and drinking coffee, he records walking into work.  But it’s actually not really about that.  It’s about interacting with people.  It’s actually great fun, I recorded a few on Wednesday during our conference, but I’d not given it much thought. What I should have done is planned it out and live streamed one of the sessions, but that will come.  The first part of all of these innovations is playing.  I’m in the playing stage and I think it will be successful.  After all, I understand that the tool itself is only as good as the person using it.

So things move fast in my world and the lovely people at Persicope put me in touch with another creative genius on the other side of the world called Clare Edwards (@ClareEdwards76) she wanted to hook up with educators to try out Periscope. So I’ve got in touch and I think we can bring the Champions together to see how we can broaden the reach of this into education (my wonderland).

Watch this space, Stephan and I will talk about it for a podcast and I’m planning to write up what we do.  There must be something here about student engagement, maybe even more reflection, you never know.

I’m off down the rabbit hole.