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Running free online courses as part of the build-up to f2f conferences seems to be spreading as a powerful strategy to open up the conversation as widely as possible, and generate energy (and light!) prior to meetups. Here are two that I’m involved in, one MOOC and one forum…

With many thanks to Networked Learning 2012, I’m hosting one of the Hotseats in the build-up to the conference — a week-long discussion entitled Learning Analytics: Dream, Nightmare or Fairydust? It kicked off yesterday, and participants are now pitching into the debate after replaying an introductory presentation. It’s free to sign up, so come and join in what’s already a lively conversation!

This meshes nicely with the multi-week MOOC on Learning Analytics, also running as a pre-conference build-up to the 2nd International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge at the end of April. This evening sees the final live webinar (20:00 GMT) looking at the recently formed Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) to promote a research-oriented approach to LA adoption and use. I led last week’s discussion with an introduction to the SoLAR White Paper arguing for the need to develop an Open Learning Analytics Platform — Webinar replay (launches the Blackboard Collaborate client)

July 1st, 2011SocialLearn@EdMedia2011

This week sees one of the largest gatherings of the technology-enhanced learning community at EdMedia2011, the World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications, (Lisbon, June 27 – July 1).

The Open University’s Andrew Law (Director, Open Media) is keynoting today on the topic of Bringing the Social into Learning with Open Media, in which he will present a range of the OU’s strategic initiatives and projects at the crucial intersection of Open/Social/Learning, part of which is of course SocialLearn.

Here’re some follow-up resources for those of you interested to know more:

SocialLearn beta site currently deployed with selected OU communities and with research partners. Watch the movies, and register your interest in learning more as a learner, educator or researcher.


Social Learning Analytics — part of the fast emerging field of Learning Analytics – we’re helping to run the 2nd International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (Vancouver, April 2012)

Navigating and Discovering Educational Materials through Visual Similarity Search — SocialLearn was in another EdMedia session, where Suzanne Little described how KMi’s multimedia R&D is now feeding through into an innovative SocialLearn tool

Researcher in Learning Analytics & Recommender Services — We’re hiring! Right now we need a top calibre technically-oriented postdoctoral person. Another similar research position will be advertised shortly, focused on social learners’ user experience and the application of the learning sciences — watch this space!

SocialLearn provides an ideal testbed for researching online social learning in diverse contexts. To explore the possibility of joining us a research partner, feel free to contact Simon Buckingham Shum informally with some background on your interests.

The 1st International Conference Learning Analytics & Knowledge will be held February 27-March 1, 2011 in Banff, Alberta. This is an extremely exciting development, reflecting what in many people’s view is going to be a key dimension to future learning environments, with a strong Open U. presence in the steering committee (join the Learning Analytics Google Group).

From the conference announcement:

The growth of data surpasses the ability of organizations to make sense of it. This concern is particularly pronounced in relation to knowledge, teaching, and learning. Learning institutions and corporations make little use of the data learners “throw off” in the process of accessing learning materials, interacting with educators and peers, and creating new content. In an age where educational institutions are under growing pressure to reduce costs and increase efficiency, analytics promises to be an important lens through which to view and plan for change at course and institutions levels. Corporations face pressure for increased competitiveness and productivity, a challenge that requires important contributions in organizational capacity building from work place and informal learning. Learning analytics can play a role in highlighting the development of employees through their learning activities.

In enterprise settings, information flow and social interactions can yield novel insights into organizational effectiveness and capacity to address new challenges or adapt rapidly when unanticipated event arise.

Thirdly, as we witness the expansion of learning and knowledge work beyond formal institutional boundaries, myriad platforms in the cloud hosting the activity of individuals will be providing/exchanging analytics.

Advances in knowledge modeling and representation, the semantic web, data mining, analytics, and open data form a foundation for new models of knowledge development and analysis. The technical complexity of this nascent field is paralleled by a transition within the full spectrum of learning (education, work place learning, informal learning) to social, networked learning. These technical, pedagogical, and social domains must be brought into dialogue with each other to ensure that interventions and organizational systems serve the needs of all stakeholders.

Learning Analytics 2011 will focus on integrating the technical and the social/pedagogical dimensions of learning analytics.

Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs

We’re into Day 1 of the Open U’s annual learning tech conference! The theme is Learning in an Open World, and practising what we preach, for the first time, it’s open to the world, and rather than being f-f at the OU, it’s 100% online (sync stream in Elluminate / async in Cloudworks). Kudos to conf chair Martin Weller for leading the way.

In this narrower bandwidth medium, giving talks and fielding questions is a reasonable experience (but missing the more subtle audience feedback like laughter and attention levels, and the sense of the speaker’s presence). The key challenge is how good people feel the social interaction is, which is after all an essential part of what a conference is.

I gave an update on progress with SocialLearn (slidecast below/PDF/PPTX) which points to the beta2 website at where you can play with an interactive demo and register to get news as soon as we open the door.

June 21st, 2010EDUCAUSE webinar

On June 7, I gave an EDUCAUSE webinar, in which I told the story that’s slowly emerging from thinking around Social Learning, Sensemaking Capacity, and Collective Intelligence. I follow through some of the forces that are shaping the social learning contours of the emerging landscape, specifically around the need for sensemaking when confronted with increasingly complex, unfamiliar dilemmas.

Many thanks to the EDUCAUSE-ELI team for the chance to share this work. Some of the videos of tools, which I didn’t get time to show, are blogged here. The slides are below, and on EDUCAUSE [or here as PDF], but the full replay only to EDUCAUSE members for a few months.

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