Thursday, October 6, 2016

Managing Social Technologies

Social technologies have been described as a 'third platform' comprised of social media, mobile computing, data analytics and cloud computing services. (Gartner, IDC) I'm increasingly finding this to be a useful framework.

Many organisations are moving to a more mature and strategic use of social media, mobile computing and cloud services informed by careful use and analysis of data and analytics generated by these services.

Staff and students are finding it relatively easy to create online social and learning networks for sharing, collaboration and advocacy using social technologies. However social technologies bring risks as well as agility, innovation and opportunities for creativity.

Privacy, security, ownership and control of social technologies must be understood to minimise the risks and maximise the potential benefits. Creative Commons licensing, information management and account/password management become important tools and processes.

I'm looking forward to a rewarding journey of digital transformation as we strategically navigate this space while focussing on organisational priorities to innovatively deliver key outcomes.

Friday, September 30, 2016

2016 ePortfolio Forum Day 2: Digital footprints as ePortfolios and open badges

For me day two reinforced the message that students are choosing to use a range of technologies beyond those provided by their educational institution to support their learning.

In general students are not bringing social (Facebook/Snapchat/Instagram) content into institutional ePortfolios but they are taking learning artefacts and reflections from institutions (and work placements) into personal social technologies.
  • What are the privacy implications of this blurring of the personal and institutional?
  • What are the copyright and IP implications?
  • What are the learning, teaching and assessment benefits and risks?
Some courses in higher educational institutions (medicine, health, education) raise awareness of privacy issues, scaffold student understanding and model best practice. But what about students in other courses who are capturing their learning in personal social technologies? Are the risks lower in other courses?

A student's digital footprint or online presence could be seen as a collection of learning and social artefacts - an (unintended?) 'ePortfolio'. These collections can be made visible through search engines.

Institutional ePortfolios provide a controlled environment and risk mitigated processes to construct an online folio. Are students aware of the potential benefits and risks of the personal (and often unplanned) 'ePortfolio' that arises when someone puts their name into a search engine?

Increasing numbers of students are engaged in both formal and informal learning. Can online open badges provide a way for students to raise the status of their informal learning in the eyes of potential employers and educational institutions?

Do open badges provide a way for students to bridge formal and informal learning across their chosen social technologies and into institutional ePortfolios?

Should the My Education ePortfolio facilitate the presentation of open badge backpacks?

How do we prepare students in years 7-12 to safely and effectively navigate institutional and personal ePortfolios?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

ePortfolios Australia 2016 Forum - Day One Reflections

I'm attending an eportfolio event for the first time in 5 years.

Five years ago I was working on eportfolios for learning and assessment with TAFE students and teachers using Moodle/Mahara.

Today part of my focus is on the safe and effective use of social technologies within a new Tasmanian government My Education program.

Within this program the eportfolio agenda has shifted to
  • support career assessment, guidance and planning (My Education and Kuder Navigator for years 7-12)
  • provide an external link for potential employers and further education (Kuder Navigator)
  • support students to safely create a professional, responsible and respectful online presence through their chosen social technologies (plus LinkedIn for students in years 9-12)
  • support student learning and parent engagement
  • provide ongoing access to the above ePortfolio (Kuder Journey available to school leavers and the general community through libraries)
In this context my takeaways from the sessions I attended on the first day of the 2016 ePortfolio Forum (principally for higher education) are:
  • ePortfolios appear to have found some implementation niches - work-integrated learning, student centred/directed learning, continuing professional development, authentic/transdisciplinary learning, wicked problems...
  • Employers are looking for deeper insights into and points of difference between applicants - the focus is more on soft skills, creativity, marketing... An eportfolio (and social media) provide a window to these.
  • Learning artifacts and reflections are now more easily captured at the point of learning via mobile devices.
  • More ePortfolios reference employability/capability/CPD skills providing meaningful frameworks for students and employers.
  • ePortfolio-based tasks count for formal assessment.
  • Students are using social media for learning, uploading, sharing and peer review/critique.
  • Students are choosing cloud services and apps for learning and productivity tools.
My keyword to describe eportfolio use and implementation is now 'wicked' :-)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Strategic Online Presence for Secondary Students

Students may have an online presence distributed over a number of services and created over a number of years. Some may no longer be in use - even forgotten. These present a risk to identity and reputation management.

A strategic approach is needed that will help create a purposeful and professional online identity and reputation.

Students need a safe and secure online presence that they can control and which will populate web searches with positive content.

As seen in the previous two posts students seeking jobs, scholarships and more... also require an ePortfolio, a LinkedIn profile, an online resume and compelling evidence that showcases their knowledge, skills and interests.

An eportfolio could be used as a space to showcase evidence via selected social media as well as displaying a resume and other more formal evidence.

Two or three social media services such as YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn could be selected and managed to host compelling evidence for a job application. These could be linked or embedded inside an eportfolio.

A resume, assessment results and certificates/prizes could also be uploaded to the eportfolio.

The eportfolio owner could then generate a private URL which would be sent to a potential employer.

In this way a student could begin to strategically manage their online presence and reputation.

However, while a student can manage eportfolio access care needs to be exercised with the selected social media services. Potential risks and strategies to deal with these will be examined in the next post.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Social Media is a Window to Your People Skills

100 years ago research showed that 85% of job success comes from well developed people skills.

Today many employers and recruiters believe that social media provides a window onto a person's people skills. They look for evidence that a potential applicant is displaying the following attributes when interacting with others on social media
  • Positive
  • Helpful
  • Respectful
  • Responsible
Evidence of creativity and a range of interests is also considered important.

Employers don't hire candidates when they find:
  •  provocative or inappropriate photographs
  • information related to drinking and drug use
  • candidate bad-mouthing a co-worker or former place of employment 
  • poor communication skills 
  • discriminatory comments

A poor online reputation can affect a student's friendships, relationships and job prospects.

So, students need to be proactive in creating a positive digital identity and reputation across social media.

They need to post content that showcases their knowledge, skills, interests and people skills.
They need to delete unwanted content - if possible.
They need to think before they post - particularly if passionate or emotional or tired.
They need to ask themselves how they may be perceived by others when they join particular groups or 'like' particular jokes.
They need to be comfortable with their privacy settings and understand the difference between the social and the professional.

Otherwise they may never get a return call - and not understand why...

This is a lot to ask of growing teenagers...
How can we as educators help?

One might be tempted to advise not use social media or to make everything private but having no online presence can also be risky: Does this person know how to use social media? Does this person have contemporary technology skills? What are they hiding?

It can also mean missed opportunities when recruiters proactively search online for potential applicants.

Resume bots and other challenges facing students today

I'm working with ePortfolios again after a break of a few years - and some things have changed.

Students in years 9-12 are now being advised to join LinkedIn, create an ePortfolio, manage their reputation across social media and write resumes that will get past a 'resume bot'.

In other words to have the best chance of being shortlisted for a job students need to take a more strategic approach to shaping their online presence. More about that later.

And it's not just about job opportunities. Two thirds of people Google and search social media before beginning a relationship with someone new. Sports administrators scan social media before taking on a new player. Parents Google potential babysitters.

In many ways Google search results are as much about reputation as information.

Back to the resume bot. This software scans resumes for keywords and rejects those that don't make the grade. Resume bots are increasingly used by large organisations in Australia to help process the high volume of online job applications they receive. A resume submitted for a job may never be read by a human.

So one challenge for students today is to know how to get past a resume bot so that they get shortlisted.

My next post looks at the social media challenge facing students.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Embedding Images into your ME Online ePortfolio

The ME Online ePortfolio can be customised to include banners, images and other design elements using 'embed code'.

To add a banner to your eportfolio you need to have access to an online image URL that is licensed for public use. This may be a picture or graphic of your own, a Creative Commons (CC) or Public Domain (CC0) image.

Use this Creative Commons image search to locate a suitable online image - or watch this video on how to locate Flickr Creative Commons images.

If you have your own banner image you need to upload it and get the embed code.

Flickr Method: Creative Commons Image

STEP 1: Locate the image you wish to use (ensuring it is licensed for re-use).
Select the 'Share Icon'.

STEP 2: Select 'Embed', choose a size and then copy the code.

STEP 3: Paste the embed code into the 'About Me'  'Summary Paragraph' section of your eportfolio.

Note that when you move your mouse over the image in your eportfolio the necessary attribution information appears. If you don't include this part of the embed code then you need to add the required Creative Commons attribution yourself.

Image: Andrii Slonchak CC BY 2.0

Google Blog Method: Own Banner Image

Another way to do this is to create a Google Blog and upload the image to a post.

STEP 1: Select the picture icon and upload your banner image.

STEP 2: Switch to HTML code and copy the image URL (from https://   to .JPG as shown)
NB You can copy the entire section of code if you don't want to use the image as a banner.

STEP 3: Paste the above IMAGE-URL code into Notepad (or any text editor)

Copy and paste this code into Notepad:

Copy and paste the IMAGE-URL into the last line.

STEP 4: Copy and paste the last line into the 'About Me'  'Summary Paragraph' section of your eportfolio.

Save and Publish your eportfolio and Preview.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Alpha Release of a Possible Bookmarking Solution - Part 2

This post was created for a Yammer post.

ME Online Bookmark Links

Click the HTML icon to view a simple public webpage of ME Online Bookmarks with a contents table.

Click the OneNote icon to view a Notebook of ME Online Bookmarks.

(Access for Department staff only.)

These OneNote bookmarks can be customised by the user.

Click the Evernote icon to view a public Evernote Notebook of ME Online Bookmarks. You can view the Notebook without signing up for Evernote.

Evernote is a free bookmark and research tool – these tagged notes can be imported and customised by the user.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Alpha release of possible bookmarking solution

For 15 years the Department has maintained a collection of bookmarks to useful curriculum resources for teachers. The bookmarks are accessed as URLs coded into intranet webpages. The content is located across various Department systems and in multiple external storage/services. Access to these bookmarks has dropped in recent years and many bookmarks have become outdated or broken.

This service is now being reviewed to meet new needs:
  • accessibility - mobile devices and open access
  • resource discovery - effective searching and browsing
  • content curation - sustainable and quality assured

One possible solution is to move all the bookmarks to a social bookmarking service that includes tools for sustainable content creation by multiple users and provides opportunities to develop QA workflows.

Captured bookmarks can be tagged in a way that facilitates research discovery and mobile and desktop apps provide accessible across devices.

Following agile development methods such those outlined by several NextGen Government presenters earlier this year a decision has been made to quickly develop an 'alpha' product and begin user testing within 6-8 weeks. A few topics have been selected to bookmark and a preliminary workflow has been established.

Evernote has been chosen to host the 'alpha' product. Evernote is a well established service with the required feature set to meet the needs identified above. Some staff currently use Evernote.
Bookmarks will be migrated from Evernote into OneNote which is used by many staff. OneNote doesn't have the same functionality as Evernote but will provide an adequate service.

Bookmarks will also be exported from Evernote to an 'HTML Bookmark' web page accessible across all browsers.

Users will also have the option of importing and customising Evernote and OneNote bookmark notebooks to meet specific needs.

The diigo service was tested for importing the HTML Bookmark file but tags, descriptions and graphics did not import so this part of the solution was not implemented.

My Education and specifically ME Online has been chosen as one of three topics for early 'alpha' release and feedback.

HTML Bookmarks webpage

Evernote ENEX import file (unzip before importing into Evernote)

OneNote ME Online Link (Department staff only at this stage)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

EduTECH 2016 Day 2 - Possibility and Creating Preferred Futures

Jane McGonigal Presenting

For me Day 2 at #EduTECHAU 2016 was about possibility.

Anthony Muhammad began the day speaking passionately about the endless possibilities that arise when we make conscious - and then question - the mindsets and assumptions underpinning our educational processes and structures. 

Jane McGonigal closed the day by showing how a futures perspective can open up a space to think about possibilities in the present. She provided a forecasting  framework to help imagine education in 2026 so that we can create preferred futures.

I resonated strongly with these messages. 

Muhammad's words sit comfortably within the holistic and integral frameworks I use that highlight the importance of culture - and question our implicit assumptions and world views. He questioned the often self-fulfilling 'bell curve' mindset.

McGonigal's words reminded me of the importance of social foresight, creating preferred futures and my time playing Evoke six years ago. Her work has helped shape my educational practice over the last decade.

At #EduTECHAU McGonnigal's ideas had close links with Larry Johnson's (now ex-NMC) presentation which asked if our strategic thinking is based on a world that no longer exists. Both spoke about the future already being here - but not evenly distributed. They both mentioned Bitcoin and Blockchain - and the importance of asking 'what if' questions.

Viv White's presentation on how students excel in Big Picture Schools reminded me of the times I taught Student Directed Inquiry (SDI) in years 11/12. Students followed their interest/passion for a year which made up 20-25% of their course load. 

White spoke of recent agreements for Big Picture School students to bypass traditional tertiary entrance which opens up new possibilities for students who become deeply engaged in and responsible for their own learning. I remember an external assessor from university commenting that many SDI students were performing better than her 2nd year students. 

When you tap into student interest and passion the genius within blossoms.

I wasn't expecting to hear these views at an educational technology conference. 
For this I have to thank the #EduTECHAU conference planners for their visionary leadership.

It seems to me the educational technology agenda is about to move on. I'm looking forward to participating - and this might start with a visit to Jane McGonigal's Learning is Earning game to collectively imagine education in 2026.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

EduTECH 2016 - Day 1 and a Decade of Reflection

EduTECH 2016 has been my first general educational technology conference in over a decade.
My first reaction was that not much has changed - these were the same or at least similar messages to those I heard 10 or more years ago. 

Greenfield's presentation was sensational although also a little sensationalist when it came to online games and social media. Since 2005 I've used Blogger, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook and never posted about cats or lattes :-) And my experience of students and online games has little in common with Greenfield's notions - even if they are peer reviewed.

Vamvakitis from Google presented on engaging VR tours in education and showed pictures of students high on Greenfield's dopamine :-)

The Google presentation reminded me of tools I was using with students 10 years ago. 

In later sessions I heard again about the need for 'problem solving' skills - problem prevention is also important. It was good to hear one speaker mention wicked problems - we need more of this. 

Then as the day unfolded I began to understand why this #EduTECHAU is different - at least for me.
  • The delegates aren't just the early adopters - and they aren't mostly IT teachers.
  • The examples are not just what a teacher is doing but what whole schools, regions and even state systems are doing.
  • The 'congresses' are diverse - teachers, administrators, school business managers, librarians, IT managers, higher education, vocational education...
As I attended sessions across these groups I realised EduTECH 2016 provides an opportunity to view similar issues through different lenses. To discuss different approaches to common challenges. To meet the next ten years of rapid advances.

I think we need more of this kind of networking - or congress.
I'm looking forward to day 2.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Next Gen Government - Day 2 Takeaways

A small edit to the Waterforms International Water Vortex while waiting for departure at Canberra Airport. Somehow it feels appropriate for this post... See quote at the end.
These are some random thoughts I'm taking away from the second day of sessions at #NexGenGov in Canberra. These mostly relate to our current Department issues/projects rather than a comprehensive report on what was said - or who said it.

Innovate on service delivery not technology. 

Focus on customer events, circumstances, their journey...
Identify services with the highest impact. 

For many external clients (and even staff) your website 'landing page' is the Google search results page. 

The Department has Google+ pages for all schools and this has been very effective.
How might we influence/customise Google search results for the Department's main public online web and other online spaces? How could we use Google Ads and APIs?

Does current navigation make sense to the user when they drop deep within our website/CMS from an external search engine?
Need for a rethink...

The 'Internet of Your Things' offer opportunities to rethink aspects of service delivery.

Young people (including young adults) do not generally go to a government website for help.

How do we reach out to this group? Go to the platforms and places used by your intended audience.
Social media? Which platforms are being used by your intended audience? What value can you bring?

Gamification? Mobile Apps?  See Party for Your Rights.

The notion of a 'one stop shop' may become the 'one stop pop-up shop'.

Proactive Organisation - provides a product or service when it is needed rather then after it has been requested... 

Innovation SPRINT - 10 days - Discover, Define, Develop Ideas, Deliver Alpha.
Trans-departmental teams, design thinking, blue-sky thinking by 'digital natives'.
Leave space in thinking, processes and solutions/products for innovation.

Drive rapid iteration.

Overcome the fear of failure - "fail fast, fail cheaply".

3 steps to making 'good mistakes'
1. making mistakes after due care and attention
2. acknowledging mistakes
3. not repeating mistakes

Common current drivers are fear and hope - fear of disruption/disconnection/disengagement - hope for transformation.

Launch Alpha to selected audiences - even public- and then move to 'perpetual beta' or launch Beta and then move to ongoing interative development.

Gartner predicts 75% of digital organisations will 'build' not 'buy' by 2020.

See the US Digital Services Playbook - "Today, too many of our digital services projects do not work well, are delivered late, or are over budget. To increase the success rate of these projects, the U.S. Government needs a new approach. We created a playbook of 13 key “plays”...  "

Social Media

Think about archiving social media - have information management policy/procedures for social media. Think about minimum meta tags for social media.

See national Digital Continuity 2020 Policy and actions/dates.

Open Source, Open Data, Open Culture, Open Government

Open source is about much more than software. 
Tasmania has a new Open Data Policy

In what ways are we benefitting from and contributing to the staten national and globalopen agenda?
During 2016 the Department will be seeping its adoption of Creative Commons Licensing. How might this facilitate a more open culture and enable changes in service delivery?

AI, natural language and the user interface

How far away is a Siri/Cortana user interface for organisations?
"What can I help you with?"

Digital Identity and Authentication

Biometrics is delivering higher confidence authentication

One identity and login for multiple government services...

Watch MyGov, MyTax, My Health Record over the next few months and years...

Google ID, Apple ID, Facebook Connect... are already international IDs and logins.

Blocks to innovation and faster development.

A focus on fully tested perfect solutions delivered years into the future.

A focus on how to monetise assets rather than what we can do that's best for citizens/clients.

Being risk averse about privacy and security issues rather than using 'Privacy by Design' principles, getting it right, and then moving on. 

"Silicon Valley is a state of mind not a place."

Jack Welch

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” ― Jack Welch

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

NextGen Government 2016 – My Day 1 Highlights

I’m attending the NextGen Government 2016 sessions at a time when our state Education Department is taking a step back and reviewing online services before moving forward.

This review is shaping up to be a little different from those in the past for a number of reasons:
  1. There is general acceptance that a review is necessary
  2. There is an enthusiasm for participating in the review
  3. There is some appetite to do things differently
  4. The review is a collaborative project involving IT services, marketing, communications and digital media, and an external consultant.
Within this local context my takeaways from day 1 of #nexgengov were as follows.
  • User expectations have changed – largely driven by the commercial sector.
  • Users want online services to be simple, accessible on mobiles and satisfying.
  • Use client language  - not the language of compliance.
  • 55% of users can’t find what they are looking for.
  • Users want search to work, easy navigation and click-to-chat.
  • Most users enter websites deeply via Google – not via your front page.

  • Technology disruption is now largely seen as a positive thing – this is a big change and an opportunity to create the future.
  • Move focus from procurement to servicing user needs. User-centred design.
  • Spend twice as long talking to users as other activities when preparing business case.
  • Start by telling the user story – then expand the story and join the dots. Explain the level of pain.
  • What is it really like as a user? Follow the human experience. Get on the ground and see how things work.

  • Agile. Agile. Agile. Smaller projects with rapid iterative development. Larger projects should not take such a long time to get to launch – if they do you are too late because things have moved on.
  • Public access and testing of Alpha, ongoing Beta iterative update.
  • Iterative design and iterative development is an explosive combination.
  • Culture. Culture. Culture. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Eliminate blame culture.
  • Service to others is a key driver for staff.
  • Keep good people by doing interesting work, creating things that make a practical difference.
  • Collaborate. Collaborate. Collaborate. Collaboration is about giving up something to make someone else successful. Consider In-sourcing AND Out-sourcing.
  • Talk about values, needs, courage to take risks.
  • Openness, honesty, transparency generates trust and respect.

  • Benchmark what happens now.
  • Think through intended and unintended consequences.
  • Create once publish everywhere.
  • Citizen design – get users involved in design.
  • Gov 3.0 – customisable services
  • AI and data layers
  • If your data isn’t being openly shared you are missing out on opportunities - and soon the future of online services
  • Innovate. Innovate. Innovate.

While much of this isn't new to our organisation I'm not sure it's deeply understood.

Much of what was discussed today fits within a simple 4 quadrant model from Integral Theory from a few yeas ago. The key message is that the left hand side cannot be ignored.

Image: Dr Sue Stack

Looking forward to day 2...