Wednesday, July 21

Using Twitter to Amplify Connective Learning and Sharing at ICEL 2010

"If only one person knows it, nobody knows it!"
Ludwig Wittgenstein

I have already written a post about the story behind this Twitter experiment, but if you missed it, here is a visually stimulating clarification:

If the picture above makes no sense, then perhaps you can find some time to watch this 5-minute video tutorial:

Besides this, I would like to highlight that if you are an active Twitter user, Monitter might not be the ideal tool to monitor/track a word, phrase or hashtag (e.g. #icel5). Instead, you might as well use the 'Search' function in Twitter, and then save the search, which you can follow.

Another tool you might want to consider (among several) is TweetDeck, which provides you a host of excellent features to track whatever you want, and also enables conveniently to update your own Twitter world. If you are using an IPhone, you are probably going to love the TweetDeck application.

Alright, so did the #icel5 learning stream idea work?

But, before going into that, I would like to thank everyone involved with the 5th International Conference on e-Learning (ICEL 2010) for making it a sizzling learning adventure (Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia 12-13 July 2010).

Also, I would like to give a special thanks to Prof. Rozhan M. Idrus (Conference Chair) for inviting me personally, and making it a memorable and exciting learning adventure throughout, starting from Japanese sushi to promoting my blog (Say no more!).

In addition, Frashad Shah deserves a big thank you for picking me up from the airport and making my trip to the hotel smooth and easy. Yes, he will be joining IMU e-Learning team next month, and I am sure we can fuse our brain waves to innovate and inspire our University's e-learning ambition to new heights. Can't wait!

Besides this, Sue Nugus (Organizer), Issham Ismail (Programme Chair), David M. Kennedy (Keynote Speaker), Laura Czerniewicz (Keynote Speaker), Brant Knutzen (Best Speaker and Swimmer!!!), and Ben Archer (Best Twitter #icel5 user, heads down!) were amazing. In addition, I got to tickle Philip Balcaen's 'Critical Thinking' brain a bit, which was kind of fun.

There were around 100 participants from 19 countries that attended, and that certainly made it more exciting. I probably chatted with at least 60% of the participants, and learned too much to babble it here...!

Out of around 100 participants at the conference, only nine (9) joined (including me) or shared tweets using the #icel5 hashtag. I believe many in the audience were kind of new to Twitter (or were clueless). Prof. Rozhan Idrus did a great job in promoting the #icel5 hashtag (and my blog) during his opening speech.

However, next time we should perhaps facilitate a 10-15 minute Twitter tutorial (unless everyone is already using Twitter) to get more participants involved.

Here is a sizzling visual illustration of all the people that contributed to the #icel5 learning stream:

If you notice, you will actually notice that around 30 people (3 times more!!!) from the Twitter world (gray icons) also contributed to the #icel5 learning stream, one way or the other. Did we invite them to join? Of course not! They probably saw some interesting tweets while following our tweets, and then simply gave us their piece of mind, or retweeted interesting stuff here and there. Interestingly, a few of the tweets were even translated into Spanish (example).

So, was it a success?

Difficult question to answer! Below is a bird's eye view of all the #icel5 tweets (230+) shared over the 2-day e-learning conference:

Cool graphic, but I want to review and learn something from these 230+ #icel5 tweets; Not just bells and whistles (and a octopus!)? No, problem! Here we go:

Not, bad! Surely, it could have been more participation, but overall it did generate some really interesting connections, ideas, reflections and resources. From a personal learning point-of-view, tweeting kept me busy thinking and pondering throughout the conference. I only felt sleepy towards the end of the whole conference. Usually, you will see me practically sleeping before the 2nd speakers is done (unless the presenter is awesome!).

So, what did I learn?

Here are 10 interesting things I learned during this e-learning conference:
  1. Paul was right!
    Yeah, Paul the octopus (above) guessed 8 out of 8 matches during the 2010 World Cup, but would he have predicted that we would start an e-learning conference four hours after the World Cup final. What were they thinking? Luckily, I managed to survive the first day, thanks to a bit of yoga breathing exercises and a 1000 ml Vitamin C tablet.

  2. IPhone is a sizzling mobile learning device!
    Alright, I am surely going to pursue an IPad once the price goes down a bit, but the IPhone is not a bad alternative. I did actually bring along my notebook, but it was never used, because I was able to do all the necessary learning and sharing activities using my IPhone. For example, I used the IPhone to tweet, take pictures (upload them using Twitpic), reply e-mail, read online newspapers, play games, listen to podcasts, search, moodle, etc.

  3. Might not make the British swimming team for 2012 Olympics!
    I got hooked on swimming last year (2009), and have ever since been swimming 2-3 times week. For the sake of fun, I have set an audacious goal (Nothing is impossible) to make the British swimming team for the 2012 Olympics. And I thought I was on track (seriously!), but then I got into a 50 meter freestyle race with David Kennedy (Australia) and Brant Knutzen (USA) at the hotel (Equatorial). They were going to race (for fun), and I thought why not test my ability against these two 50+ year old dudes. This should be easy, right? I went all out, but within 25 meters, Brant 'Phelps' Knutzen was propelling his feet past my face, and I was crushed as badly as England was against Germany during the 2010 World Cup. I suppose I'm kind of British after all! Anyway, I am not targeting to make the sprint team, but instead I will go for the ultimate manhood test: 15oo meters. The world record is around 14.35 min. and I am currently capable of 36.53 min. (was 50 min in April, 2010). It looks bad, but I still got two (2) more years to go. Yes, I am certainly British :)

  4. Mahoodle could rock!
    What? You get a Mahoodle, when you mash-up Mahara with Moodle. In pedagogical terms, you combine these two tools to facilitate both teacher (Moodle) and student centred (Mahara) learning, according to David Kennedy. It looks promising, and if you want to know more, just CLICK HERE.

  5. Free Internet Access is a Fundamental Human Right!
    Actually, I have been babbling about this before, but after listening to presenters from several so called 'developing countries' it would simply be amazing if we could make Internet as easy to access as National radio and TV channels. Or think of it as a Digital Democracy, whereby not only do we have a right to vote, but also a right to free access to the Internet, or learning resources around the world (Explore Laura's reflective Keynote: Digital Native in a New Era: Apartheid or democracy). Why not? Within five (5) years, I believe the world will be fully wired, but will it be a better one (or more learning friendly)? With an accessible free global network, we might be able to do some amazing things together. What do you think?

  6. Resistance to E-Learning is still Global!
    You would think that lecturers in countries like England and Australia would not be so resistant and negative to implementing e-learning at their learning institutions. But, the truth is that it is probably as common there, as it is here in Malaysia. But then again, if they have been exposed to crappy e-learning content and environments, how can we blame them (or us)? So, who do we inspire first to adopt e-learning, the students or the lecturers? Do we really need e-learning? Perhaps, we should just call it LEARNING. What do you think? I got some great ideas (I think), but let's discuss them in another post.

  7. Highly interactive discussions through small learning groups!
    In the past we wanted to use self-paced e-learning to train millions at a time. But, today we are increasingly realizing the power of learning through small groups, whether online or offline. Brant Knutzen discovered through his research that 4-5 members per group is ideal for facilitating dynamic online discussions in terms of getting more responses and replies. Any thing to add?

  8. Be PREPARED! Seriously, be prepared!
    Besides listening to some amazing keynotes and paper presentations, there were a few that made me wonder...What were you thinking? For example, one presenter shared her findings exploring Mobile learning with 20 students, by simply showing a table with 20 rows of raw data (comments by students). And she summed up that most of the participating students didn't like mobile learning. Interestingly, a person sitting next to me, summed up within seconds that 70% of the students didn't like mobile learning, by simply looking at the table. Worse yet, when I asked her what kind of mobile devices these 20 students were using during the research, she couldn't even answer that question accurately, and fumbled... 'I think... Worse yet, when you look at the first student's comment in the table, it basically noted that the student had no Internet coverage. I mean, who would enjoy mobile learning without Internet access. Worse yet, the presenter was an Associate Professor, and you would expect that if you have reached that level, you would have at least an analytical or scientific mindset, but I suppose that is not necessarily the case. In short, if you are going to present anything, be prepared, and try to explore all possible scenarios and questions for whatever you are researching. If you question yourself and what you are doing, it is not so difficult. Oops, I might be wrong!

  9. Prezi is not so great after all!
    Interestingly, three (3) of the presentations I attended used Prezi to present their story or research. Yes, it is really cool, trendy, and you kind of get swooshed away with no slides and amazing zoom-in-and-out elevations through a big learning map, or may I say a Picasso painting. However, after viewing a few Prezi presentations, you kind of get bored with it (They all look the same, just like PowerPoint!). Well, I do. And one presenter summed it up nicely, by saying, 'It is a real headache developing one" (if I heard it correctly!). Whatever tool you use, the bottom line is substance. If you have substance, then design makes sense. But design without substance, is a joke. But, if you have both substance and design, then WOW! And I would argue that PowerPoint (2010) is a more complete tool (including picture editing) to sizzle. I know, Apple dudes are going to scream, 'Keynote'... Whatever! It is fun experimenting with tools like Prezi, but until they have real Power, like PowerPoint 2010, then forget it. I am not joking!

  10. Mobile Learning is the FUTURE!
    Period...! We should not ignore this, but instead embrace the amazing possibilities to reach out to billions of people out there around the world. I used my IPhone for all my learning and sharing activities during this 2-day e-learning conference, and it was simply an amazing tool for learning. I am now dreaming of an IPad, and imagine students not needing to carry a heavy bag full of books, and having instead an A4-sized learning device enabling them to read, interact, play and connect with learners all over the world. What are we waiting for?

In conclusion
, I have to admit I didn't learn so many new things during this conference. I suppose when you subscribe to OLDaily and RSS most of the top learning professionals around the world that is a difficult prospect and mission.

But then again learning is so much more than simply learning new knowledge and following trends, whether it Web 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 or 10.0. Looking back, I am really excited to have connected with some amazing learning professionals, and hopefully I can continue to learn from and interact with these geniuses.

Finally, you can say what you want about Twitter, but for me, it rocks for learning! Why? It rocks, because it empowers me to connect, interact, and learn from people all over the world. And using a hashtag (#) to connect and collectively think (out loud) makes it even more convenient and dynamic. What do you think? Any better alternative (besides a Facebook wall!)? :)


alwyn said...

Hello Zaid,

This is Alwyn; I was doing the Web 2.0 stream (I believe you corrected my note about where George Siemens was from!).

I think i was the one who said that Prezi can be quite a headache to prepare - or even if I wasn't, I'd agree.

Too bad I didn't get to hear you talk. Keep in touch.

Zaid Ali Alsagoff said...

No worries mate,

Because I didn't give a talk during the conference. Just invited by the Chairman to make some noise :)

Yes, I am the one that corrected you :)

Have a great time learning, and never give up the enthusiasm you have for learning and exploring... :)