Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Future skills

It is not always immediately obvious to my students (or to my friends & colleagues) why I like to use internet based tools for research, presentations and portfolios in my teaching. Many I am sure think I spend all day wasting my time on Google+ and Twitter. Others regard the tools I use as a form of modern day magic and treat them and me with a mixture of awe and fear - then promptly turn away and get back to business as usual. It can be a bit lonely and a bit disheartening (if it wasn't for my virtual personal learning networks that is ☺). It is nice then to come across a piece of work that explains exactly why it IS worth trying to engage with the weird and wonderful world of the web.

Future Work Skills 2010 describes 6 key skills that tomorrow's employees are going to need.

  • Sense-making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  • Social intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  • Novel and adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • Cross-cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings
  • Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • New media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • Transdisciplinarity: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  • Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  • Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  • Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team

It is interesting that my journey into teaching with web 2.0 began with an exploration of Virtual Collaboration - leading virtual teams and developing the skills needed to operate in them. It was a reality of working life for the students I taught in the Scottish Health Service. More and more Health and Social Care  organisations everywhere are tuning into the power of social media to transmit health messages. The other skills mentioned, it could be argued, are developed using a range of teaching and assessment activities in traditional University teaching, but what is interesting is the focus on using tools for Cognitive Load Management. That is exactly what bookmarking sites like Diigo are designed to do and of course it is also what the PLE is all about. 

So, despite the obstacles, technical and psychological that I often run into, I think  Keep Calm and Carry On is my message to myself for 2012. 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

VLE wrangling - again....

I love my VLE, no honest, I do! It has all sorts of lovely features which I am still getting to grips with and I have not given up on it entirely - I intend to try out some new tips and tricks which I learnt at our recent staff development day. But I also get damned annoyed with certain little issues which irritate and sometimes totally confound students.

Things like links not working properly or having to download stuff when you want to view it, or only being able to view stuff when you want to download it. I don't pretend to understand what goes on under the bonnet so I resort to all sorts of inventive and long winded workarounds.

And then there is this lovely little facility that allows me to link a "Learning Room" to an external url, so now I am rebuilding a lot of content into a wiki which students can access from the VLE. Why? Well, a) it is a damn sight more attractive b)it allows for student contribution and collaboration (it's a wiki after all) c) links are clearly links to external websites and not previews d) lots of yummy widgets available without lengthy and unstable workarounds.

I just hope the students like it....