Academic Digital

Flexible, Open, Social Learning: Communities & Collaboration #FOS4L

“Proponents of collaborative learning have long heralded the power of well managed group-based interaction as a means of promoting positive interdependence, individual accountability, social skills, and group processing. In this third topic we will encourage learners to explore aspects of collaborative, cooperative and community learning especially in relation to networked online spaces for learning, personal learning networks and environments and discuss the relevance of peer learning and the development of learning communities in the context of self-directed and self-organised learning within and beyond institutional boundaries (formal, informal and non-formal learning).”

Scenario – developing a new online masters programme – what is required, and how much time will it take?

Pick one of the following activities:

  1. Responding: Create a response to the scenario in collaboration with others based on the discoveries you made together through investigating this. Remember, you could use FISh. (ilo-1)
  2. Reflecting: Reflect on the concept of learning communities within your own practice.  (ilo-2)
  3. Making: Create a comic that captures your thinking around collaborative learning and community as it is developing. (ilo-3)

Today, just going to refer people to this article I co-published with David Rush.

Students arrive at university having grown up in an individualistic/competitive context, so group-work can be hard, particularly once you put that online. Online need to choose appropriate materials/tasks as in face-to-face, and need to set up a sense of group-bonding – responding to queries suggesting others to connect with to prompt groupwork.

Try Wiggio or Huddle for groupwork – such software leaves traces which enables those who contribute more can have their marks adjusted, whilst the whole group also benefits.


Collaborative Authoring?

As someone who is keen on ‘sharing’ to move knowledge forward, I’m all for collaborative authoring …

Collaboration should not be a dirty word in the arts, says Stephen Mumford

Why isn’t co-authorship more prevalent in the arts? At a recent promotions committee meeting, I was struck by the extent to which sole-authored publication remains the norm – even though there can be genuine intellectual benefits when collaboration succeeds. Typically, authors can write something better together than they could have produced alone. Even if the benefit is only marginal, isn’t that justification enough?

Ploughing a lone furrow can make a researcher’s life tough. A single-authored book is an enormous commitment. Even if it delivers a 4* return in the research excellence framework, the author can still struggle to write three other items of equal quality. Perhaps it’s time to consider whether our approach in the arts, humanities and social sciences is self-defeating.

The case for more collaborative work can be made. Indeed, most of us do it already, to some degree. We tend to discuss our ideas with colleagues and seek trusted opinions. We present talks at conferences and seminars, and use the feedback to develop ideas before publication. We solicit comments on drafts. Colleagues share a research environment that, if it is effective, contributes to the quality of all output. Yet when the work appears, the standard model is still sole ownership. A colleague could have given a lot of input, discussing ideas or providing comments on early drafts, yet their accepted reward is only to appear in the list of acknowledgements. This seems a paltry return on what can be a considerable amount of effort, an effort that is obviously a degree of collaboration. Perhaps one tries to mitigate the paltry reward by extracting a reciprocal amount of uncredited assistance in return.

Read full story.


A Winning Pair @timeshighered

I really enjoy working collaboratively with others, finding the space to be challenged in my thinking, sparking ideas off each other, and being accountable to a co-editor, so really enjoyed this piece in the Times Higher Education:

In these early partnerships, we quickly discovered that one of the great beneficial outcomes of successful collaborative working is confidence: that such an arrangement could not only be made to work but could add all kinds of value in terms of depth of knowledge and the creative generation of ideas. Far from acting as a constraint on originality, joint working produces much more spark than solo efforts: with a trusted co-author you can float the wildest ideas and, with luck, some will be jointly honed into fresh insights and new perspectives. Having complementary areas of research expertise means that writing partners are able to enrich each other’s contributions so that the whole work becomes more than the sum of the parts.

Read full story.

Academic Digital Reviewer

Book Review: Networked, A contemporary history of news in transition

Networked Book Cover

Looks like an interesting read, reviewed by Tim Luckhurst, who wrote an article in a similar vein the other week:

In the vortex of angst generated by scandal at News International and the complicity of Britain’s political class, it is cheering to read a book that makes one feel a little more optimistic about the purposes and future of journalism. Networked hits the mark.

Adrienne Russell sets out to analyse a time of transformation in the history of journalism, from the era of professional mass media to a future of horizontal collaboration between networked citizens. Her research confirms grave shortcomings in 20th-century editorial culture, but offers reasons to hope that technology and the participation it permits can illuminate a brighter future.

Russell knows her territory and she surveys it confidently. Her comparison of coverage by US news outlets of the 1991 Gulf War with their treatment of the 2003 invasion of Iraq should become compulsory reading for students of conflict reporting. It reveals precisely why George W. Bush could not repeat his father’s trick of massaging the message, 12 years after Bush senior expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

By 2003, unidirectional top-down communication by professional journalists to a rapt audience of passive patriots was not possible. At websites such as, through video diaries and on personal blogs, Iraqis and dissenting Americans held official orthodoxy to account. Public interest watchdogs challenged unbalanced reporting of the war. Those great beasts of US “old media”, The Washington Post and The New York Times, were shamed by critical email campaigns.

Read full story and buy the book.

Digital Event Life(style)

T-Mobile Welcome back (thanks @simonjenks)

What a lovely video… almost makes me want to go back to T-Mobile (still have 6 months on contract!)

And wow… look how much effort it is to arrange a real flashmob!!