Saturday, May 16, 2009

Facing fears while exploring new tools....

Friday 15th May saw Vickel and I facilitating our second Turnitin workshop - this time with faculty from Early Education. Learning from the last workshop we took a spare projector and speakers, which is just as well as the sound wasn't working in the lab!


Everyone arrived with varying amounts of trepidation. After an initial icebreaker activity to find out what everyone was hoping to get out of the session we moved onto the first hands-on activity. Having logged into the Moodle Turnitin site, participants typed their definition of plagiarism into their Moodle blog along with why students might plagiarise and how they could be supported to avoid it, andthey then checked each others' postings. There appeared to be a sense of enjoyment around sharing postings and ideas that led to a discussion around other types of plagiarism that included collusion, images, diagrams, and a quick overview of creative commons licensing.


The group watched a Fox News clip around Turnitin and discussed their reactions to it. This segued nicely into a hand over to Vickel who took everyone through the steps of setting up accounts, demonstrated how to read a Turnitin report, and then encouraged people to submit a piece of their own writing.

The session closed with a lively discussion around the potential of the Turnitin as a formative teaching tool, as well as around some of the considerations and issues it raised.

Librarians and the changing education landscape...

A popular vote!

After much discussion and research with Fran Skilton and Donna Salmon, on Wednesday May 13th a group of groundbreaking librarians met at Unitec NZ to delve more into what the learners of today could potentially be using for their research.

We started with an overview and introduction to the Moodle site that had been developed, and then moved into an icebreaker which included discussion around favourite food types (given that we were heading toward lunchtime) - there seemed to be a majority vote for chocolate!

After discussing Web 2.0 and what it is, we moved into the scenario of Susie, and then heard an excerpt from David Lankes "You are the Future of Libraries: No Pressure" who speaks about the future of libraries and the changing 'shape' of information literacy.

After some discussion about Susie and the video, the participants then organised themselves into groups of between 2 and 4, with a laptop per group and logged into Mindmeister. The remit was to mindmap issues, concerns, opportunities, potentials, required support around the library and meeting the needs of students such as Susie. After some initial hiccups with setting up Mindmeister accounts, everyone got up and running, and soon the mindmap started to take shape on the screen in front of us as people edited synchronously. It was superb to walk around and listen to the discussions that were happening around the mindmapping exercise, and also see what happened as people gained confidence – both in skills with the tools and communication within their group.

After a quick overview of the minmap, each group logged into the Libraries of the Future Ning community.

Summarising some of the key themes from the mindmap, people summarised their thoughts and added discussions, and then went on to add to other people’s discussions and started to answer some of the questions that had been posed. Hopefully, some of the other people in the international Ning community will also add to the discussions.

There are now discussions around a day-long retreat (with chocolate on tap) to explore the Web 2.0 tools, and to discuss potential initiatives for Unitec NZ library.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Information Literacy and Web 2.0 – the Scenario of Susie

I have just finished working on a mindmap that tells the story of Susie and her use of Web 2.0 tools to conduct research for her assignments. The mindmap: Susie Web 2.0 Research is designed to give an idea of the complex web of information, ideas, sharing, evaluation and analysis that can go on (in an ideal world) when the potential of the Web 2.0 is exploited fully.

The Scenario

Susie is studying at Unitec NZ for a Bachelor of Architectural Studies. She is in her second year and has just received the rubric for her next assignment, which is a paper that focuses on analysing architectural sites, discussing a hypothetical development, which demonstrates, for example how to ensure the environmental sustainability of the project.

Susie and her classmates initially sit around with their laptops and discuss strategies, ideas, and deadlines. They set up a Mindmeister mindmap and make sure that it has been shared with everyone in the group, and then they brainstorm into it while also consulting Wikipedia for insight into some of the key terminology and concepts, as well as for inspiration. Susie meanwhile Tweets a couple of questions out to her Twitter community (several of who are architects) around environmental sustainability. Before the group sign off they also set up a PB Works wiki site, and a Twine account to collaboratively bookmark any of the useful resources they find online. A discussion around key tags and categories, along with the necessity for annotation plus a brief evaluation, helps ensure that the resources they discover are actually useful. Finally, the group members check that they have Skype contacts and mobile phone numbers for each other.

Over the next couple of weeks Susie starts her research. She searches Google with some of the key words and phrases that she brainstormed with her classmates, and brings up a host of tools and resources. She explores an online community of architects, and finding someone whose work she likes, Susie emails her with some questions about design. She also watches some videos around the subject, attends a couple of Webinars for architects, accesses a metasite that collates urban planning links specific to New Zealand, searches Flickr for designs, takes a tour of Paris on a site that uses a mashup, and logs in to Second Life to visit the Architects Community and the virtual library. During the time she is doing this, she publishes some of her initial thoughts in her blog and receives some comments from around the globe that challenge some of the ideas, or give suggestions how they might be expanded. She is also able to access some raw data made available in open databases around soil and geology, which she collates and displays in Gapminder – an online tool that transforms the data into a dynamic longitudinal representation of soil erosion tendencies. Every time she discovers a resource she thinks is useful she adds it to the group Twine, and she and her group have read, summarised and referenced three journal articles each and added them to the group wiki.

Finally, she pulls all of her ideas together into a mindmap that forms the framework and structure for her assignment (using the notes function on the mindmap tool to help her remember key points and sources). She types up her assignment adding links, images, and references as she goes. Her last steps are to add her reference list (which she has been keeping online in Noodle Tools), and then to run the assignment through a free online plagiarism checker tool to check for unintentional errors.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Turnitin Workshop with Landscape Architecture...

Sandra Potier
Sandra Potier

May 4th dawned sunny and cold - an auspicious start to a day when Vickel and I facilitated our first Turnitin workshop with faculty from the Department of Landscape Architecture. Little did we realise - we had checked the room out the Thursday beforehand but Gremlins appear to have been mucking around with the projector... The fun began. We set everything up, only to find that the projector would not work with either my laptop or the desktop. Fifteen minutes later and everyone was getting restless (six of the participants having arrived). We decided to go for plan B and wing it. We logged everyone into computers (some of which were not working - and we didn't have the passwords for the Macs), got them into the Turnitin Moodle course and into their Moodle blogs.

The definition of plagiarism was not tough, and most people came up with something, and checked each other's blogs out - which seemed to go down reasonably well. However, as there was no screen,

Penny Cliffin
Penny Cliffin

and it was difficult to summarise and segue into the next topic area - avoidance of plagiarism. Same thing - participants looked at the task, popped their ideas into Moodle. Shared, and I showed them where to look at the resources. I need to think of a way to celebrate their knowledge of plagiarism, and tie the session closer to Turnitin...any ideas? :-)

Next everyone watch the Sky News video around the student who sued for having his work put into Turnitin. This led to the most animated discussion so far, and we talked about the ethos of creativity, ownership and sharing. Some of the issues identified led into Vickel's practical bit that followed.

Everyone set up a TII account for themselves, created a course and set up an assignment. Unexpected 'learning' bonuses came with some of the experiences from hands on tasks. It was great to have two facilitators as one of us was able to help participants who were facing problems, while the other continued with the session.

All in all, not too bad a session all things considered. We got some great feedback about the session itself, and what we can do differently next time we offer it.

Moral of the story - always take a portable projector with you :-)

Leslie Haines
Leslie Haines