I was introduced to StumbleUpon by Matt with this wonderfully pointless piece of web art. Essentially, StumbleUpon is an extensions/add-on for your browser that adds functionality. In this particular instance it is a toolbar that enables you to surf web content that has been identified as of interest to you through software that “combines collaborative human opinions with machine learning of personal preference”.
The developers claim that it is a way of automating word-of-mouth referral by the development of online social networks of like interested people. This may or may not turn out to be the case but it is at least a relatively simple to install and good fun if nothing else.
This is an example from the bizarre/oddities category.
Browsing through You Tube brought home to me just how much things have changed for the better in the world of technology and new media over the past 5 years. Throughout the Tesco Schoolnet2000 project (1998-2000) there was a heavy dependence upon a team of 40 advisors to help children get still digital images and online as part of a national school’s Internet project.
Back in December 2001 Ultralab released its first DVD of Summer School workshops. The format was simple, young people were given a creative brief along with technical equipment (digital cameras, computers, software, etc.) and a framework of activities designed to help them produce their own short video over a period of 3-4 days. The young movie makers also received a lot of technical support followed up by a significant amount of effort put into producing the DVD and developing a website.
Just 5 years later there are many examples like You Tube that showcase the kind of work arguably pioneered by Ultralab but with the technology to shoot, edit, and upload movies now being readily accessible and intuitive enough to use by the ‘general public’ without the need for expert support.
The Ultraversity project set out to develop an innovative approach to wholly online supported, workplace learning. A BA, Learning, Technology & Research degree pathway was developed aimed at students who are working full time and want to study their chosen work role. A list of some of the Key ingredients of the experience (assembled by Gina Revill) includes:
1. Inquiry-based learning
Action research methodology, learning at and through work
2. Personalised learning
Negotiation of study focus though module by module individual learning plans and PDP
3. Online community of inquiry
Peer review, expert witnesses, challenge and debate, support, sharing findings, critical feedback
4. Assessment for learning
5. Exhibition as dissertation
Shared research findings with stakeholders replaces the ‘common’ format of dissertation
In an exit survey of cohort 1 (65 respondents from a possible 140, June 2006), the charts below show the response to the following question “In your opinion, what has been the impact of Ultraversity on your career development? – status, salary, and role”
These are an encouraging set of results for a work-based degree programme that is squarely aimed the key government agendas of both widening participation and lifelong learning and seeks to develop individuals in their chosen work role.