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POT Cert Week 22: POT Cert, PELeCON and Personal Learning Networks #potcert #pelc13

It’s neat that the title of this week’s POTCert class is Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), seeing as I’m off to PELeCON this week and looking forward to meeting up with people that I consider to be a significant part of my PLN. 🙂

pelecon 4

I’ve mentioned before on this blog how it was a combination of Steve Wheeler’s, or rather @timbickteeth‘s “trivial and terrific tweets” that alerted me to the potential of Twitter, but I’ve not mentioned before that I was “Jenny-No-Mates”, the only student on an on-campus taught masters course about technology who desperately needed some classmates to learn with. And that’s what a PLN gives you, class mates to learn with!!

Connecting with people online has enabled me to go on and build a really useful PLN. How otherwise would I have learnt of Lisa Lane’s open online course, Pedagogy First?

Coming back to which, one of the readings for this week’s class is an article by Gardner Campbell (2009), entitled A Personal Cyberstructure, where he calls for students to be instructed and supported in developing the infrastructure of the Web to develop a personal learning environment of their own. This resonated with me completely; in fact, I was thinking of calling this post something like “this be the verse”, that is, until I realised that I could get what I think is commonly referred to as a “twofer”, and use it as a precursory blog to PELeCON. Anyway, here’s what Gardner Campbell says,

in building that personal cyberstructure, students would not only acquire crucial technical skills for their digital lives but also would engage in work that provides richly teachable moments ranging from multimodal writing to information science, knowledge management, bibliographic instruction and social networking. Fascinating and important innovations would emerge as students are able to shape their own cognition, learning, expression and reflection in a digital age, in a digital medium. Students would frame, curate, share and direct their own “engagement streams” throughout the learning environment.

It sounds like a pretty awesome digital learnscape to me, and which just so happens to be the strap-line for this year’s conference as well. What’s more though, Gardner Campbell goes on to say that educators should lead by example, “students must be effective architects, narrators, curators, and inhabitants of their own digital lives”. Here. Here. That’s why, in the last year, I’ve heeded the advice of Martin Weller regarding “The Virtues of Blogging as a Scholarly Activity” and I’m trying to go some way towards Alec Couros‘ vision of “Teaching and Learning in a Networked World”, both of which form part of this week’s reading as well. Incidentally, Alec Couros spoke at last year’s conference. At the time though, I didn’t really understand his message. I just recall that he was passionate about taking photos of his everyday life and sharing them online. I get it now, it’s about promoting openness and taking charge of your own digital identity… and, I’d also like to think, your own destiny as well.

Entitled, “Taking Advantage of New Opportunities”, the final chapter of the POT Cert course textbook, which is also signposted reading this week, starts

Because online education is a relatively new enterprise, you have an opportunity to make a positive contribution to this growing field. To take full advantage of this new opportunity, you would do well to keep yourself informed of the latest trends and issues and to continually improve your skills and knowledge.

Well, that’s what I’m endeavouring to do. You see, I live in a beautiful, yet ultimately peripheral location in rural Ireland, but I’d like to think that I could expand my horizons and take my passion and insight for digital literacies and social learning online, so if I may, I’d like to share a few slides with you (1 min), introducing myself and where I live. Originally, I intended to put this together as my digital introduction for #etmooc, but I never got round to finishing it on time, so hopefully it will serve nicely as my networking introduction to what looks like is going to be a great conference.

As always, I’ll keep you posted #pelc13 #POTCert


Campbell, Gardner (2009) A Personal Cyberstructure. Available at:

Weller, M. (2010) The Virtues of Blogging as a Scholarly Activity. Available at:

Ko, S. & Rossen, S, (2010) Teaching Online: A Practical Guide, Third Edition. Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

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Hospitality: a promising philosophy for designing online courses & fostering critical digital literacies #moocmooc

In addition to POT Cert, I’ve enrolled on a few other MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). The first of which, entitled MOOC MOOC, takes a look at the phenomenon of MOOCs themselves…, naturally.

And it was here, within the customary introduction stage of the course a reference by Kate Bowles @KateMfD  to “hospitable pedagogy” immediately caught my eye. The reason being that only last week I read “Critical Digital Literacies as Social Praxis” where, in the chapter by Anna Smith and Glynda Hull, I came across the concept of hospitality as an aspect of Cosmopolitanism (p.63-66).

On first encounter, the notion of hospitality really resonated with me (see why), and it did so again when it emerged in a #moocmooc Twitter chat as an associated concept of Internationalism. Ironically though, I missed the chat itself because of what might be considered the inhospitable pedagogical design of the MOOC MOOC course (time-zone grief!!).

Get a snapshot in Storify.

Hospitality forms a crucial part of cosmopolitan philosophy as it foregrounds our relationships with guests, outsiders, foreigners and others, and as such is significant for online participants in a global and digital age. As Kate points out, every online host is sometime a guest and every guest can be a host somewhere too. Furthermore, there are increasing opportunities for people of diverse ages, nationalities and socio-economic positions to engage with new kinds of texts in the digital sphere and make comment on social issues, provide entertainment, produce news or engage in learning activities. Increasing reciprocity between authors and readers and the fact that texts are virally distributed through the web and across networks gives increased possibilities to encounter “distant, unknown, imagined others” (p.64).

In a media sense, hospitality translates to an obligation to listen, which in turn translates to thoughtful openness towards pluralist meanings and to the inhibition of  prior assumptions. Consequently, in order to anticipate and accommodate not just issues of global housekeeping but also diverse cultural interpretations we must adopt not only new creative learning designs but new dispositions too, cosmopolitan practice in fact.

That’s what I’ve learned from my MOOC MOOC experience. Plus, I’m coming to think that it’s not so much the massiveness of the MOOC that’s important just as long as it’s open and online, and that a community may be preferable to a course. That’s why I’ll continue to call by and say “hello” to the good folks of the Hybrid Pedagogy community from time to time.


Smith A. and Hull G. Critical literacies and social media: fostering ethical engagement with global youth. In: Avila, JA and Pandya JZ eds. (2012)  Critical Digital Literacies as Social Praxis, Peter Lang Publishing, New York

It’s your text life – digital literacies in the digital university



Context: higher education, general 
This blog post has been prompted by my attendance at the 10th Galway Symposium on Higher Education (#celt12), which focused on the written word in the context of higher education and where, in the opening plenary entitled “Literacy in the Digital University”, Mary R. Leaentreated us to “step back and take a critical lens to changing knowledge making practices and the implications of these for understanding academic literacies in today’s digital university.”


In the first instance, it must be acknowledged that literacy can be variously conceptualised, with each conceptualisation signalling different concerns and approaches:
  • literacy as cognitive/transferable skill – reading and writing
  • literacy as capability (in anything) – e.g. computer literacy, emotional literacy, scientific literacy
  • literacy as situated/social practice – cultural

And further, that literacy is always changing, becoming redefined through historical moments of technological change. 

Indeed, largely to beget the production of texts, technologies have always been involved in learning. Thus, within higher education, an institution whose primary function is to produce and validate knowledge, textual production and the practices that support it are of paramount importance (Goodfellow and Lea, 2007). However, with digital technology now integral to society and valued knowledge becoming increasingly communicated in digital forms (Beetham et al., 2010), the nature of texts is changing and the concept of ‘digital’ becoming increasingly significant to higher education. Even so, given the centrality of texts, it seems to me that caution needs be exercised so as not to unduly valorise technology as the driver of change.

Moreover, an academic literacies perspective (Lea and Street, 2006) positions reading and writing as a set of social practices pertinent to the situated context of higher education and what is more, considers the relationship between texts and how both academics and students make meaning through these practices. Texts, and the technologies that produce them, embed ideologies and epistemologies. After all, knowledge is not just out there; it is always represented in and through the choices made in the production of texts. Consequently, the texts and supporting practices that become valorised within higher education must by implication valorise the ideologies and epistemologies therein. 

Thus, digital literacies are as much about one’s “text life” and what this represents as they are about one’s technology use. 
Beetham, H., Littlejohn, A. and McGill, L. (2010) Beyond competence: digital literacies as knowledge practices, and implications for learner development. LiDU (Literacy in the Digital University): Seminar Programmes, Seminar 2. 
Goodfellow, R. and Lea, M. R. (2007) Challenging e-learning in the university : a literacies perspective. Maidenhead: McGraw Hill Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.
Lea, M. R. and Street, B. V. (2006) The “Academic Literacies” Model: Theory and Applications. Theory Into Practice. 45(4), pp. 368–377.