BYOD4L Day 2 Communicating

Dictating into an iphoneI’m still using my iPhone but instead of typing onto its tiny screen I am writing this blog entry by dictating into Siri, a program on the latest iPhone that converts speech to text.

I can’t work out which I prefer as a reader. Whether I prefer to read text or to listen to somebody’s message . Sometimes I prefer one and sometimes the other. I wish I could dictate into this program and also make a recording so I could leave you the reader with the option of listening to what I am saying. Unfortunately I don’t think it allows that and although I could figure out a way of doing it with two programs I just haven’t got the time now.

So today’s topic is communicating and the scenario that I would like to think about is the one of the mature student who has a busy job and family life and who is not very well organised and doesn’t feel as though he is spending enough time with his fellow students and developing himself by doing so.

This is the scenario I know well.

FAIL!!!!  

I’m now on my PC. Reason being that Siri stopped working, not sure why, network connection seemed OK, but I am in a big rush to get this done and get out of the door for I am sure, if you watched this morning’s video, you will be aware that my chauffeur is a VIP.

So where was I? yes, I know this scenario. I think about it often because many of our students have busy lives, they have jobs (often more than one), they are carers, or perhaps they live at home and have responsibilities there. They are not having the university experience that I was lucky enough to have, of taking threes years out, of going to live on a campus somewhere and devote myself to my studies, having fun and ‘finding myself’. A great privilege.

No, many of our students just come into university to attend lectures and seminars and then head off home again or to work or wherever. It doesn’t mean they are disinterested or that they don’t seek more contact. And this is where I think technology can help bridge the gap between university life and private life.

In my institution we encourage all module leaders to establish general chat forums (I can;t bring myself to say fora) on our Moodle (VLE) courses and the university has a Facebook page and my department also has a FB and twitter presence. However, we have not been successful in creating a vibrant university social network. Years ago I looked at the University of Sussex’s online community on the elgg platform and I tried to introduce it here, but fears of what students might post on our servers and the damage that might be caused to our reputation resulted in management shying away from establish such a platform. I’m still convinced creating online networks for modules, courses and for the institution as a whole can benefit students socially and academically and result in better retention, but facilitating such supportive networks is difficult.

But back to the individual student in our scenario. What could he do? If his institution does not supply ready-made networks he might try to create his own, He might ask his fellow students if they want to join a group – maybe on FB or Google plus or he might broaden his catchment and look to the global student population to see if he can join others studying the same thing elsewhere. Whatever he decides, for him to see any benefits he must engage, he must post and comment, otherwise he is still not connecting or communicating. I’d advise him to speak face to face with fellow students, to share his concerns and see if others want to join him online. It could be that they will be able to meet synchronously online, maybe in a Google Hangout or Skype later in the evening – maybe they could find a common convenient time – otherwise asynchronous communication will probably serve him and his fellow students better.

Pity I couldn’t do that on my phone 😦

Just out of curiosity – if I had simply dictated it and uploaded an Mp3 would you have been more inclined to read it? We’ll never know I guess because you’ve read my question. Stop! My ride awaits!

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