Malleable Musings

July 13, 2010

Chatham House

Filed under: International Student Recruitment, strangely uncategorised — Brendan @ 8:06 pm

I was up at the University of Nottingham on Friday. Unfortunately there’s no sensible train route from where I live to Nottingham, so I had to drive and that morning the A453 in to Nottingham was blocked solid. It took me well over two hours to cover the 45 miles. Thankfully I’d allowed myself plenty of time, as I was hoping to do a bit of work in the Library, before the event I was going to started. As it was I arrived with seconds to spare – just managing to grab a coffee, pick up my delegate pack and walk straight in to the session. On the plus side I did get to listen to this excellent recording (mp3) of Chuck Hester talking about Linked In. Linked In is a network that I visit once in a while but am certainly not resident in. I’ve never really used it that actively. Many years ago I tried it, I even answered the odd question but I didn’t really manage to connect to a many people. However I think it’s undergoing a bit of a revival. I’ve noticed in the past six months or so that a lot of people seem to be using it more. I don’t know if this is due to the economy (people wanting to make sure they are visible for employment purposes) or if it is down to mobile devices with Linked In Apps becoming more popular. However, Chuck’s talk has made me resolve to give it another go.

The event I was at was called the International Partnership Development Forum, it’s set up as a sharing platform for staff within International Offices who deal with educational partnerships that their Universities enter. I always enjoy meeting people from other institutions who work in a similar arena to myself. Interestingly they have their own Linked In group but it’s not very active yet.

In terms of the session, I may be being overly critical but it seemed to me to be very Partnerships 101 / International 101. I suppose I learnt a few things but I’m not sure it was really worth my time.

What I found interesting, but not surprising about the event, was that we were told the Chatham House rule was in operation. Oh great I thought – more secrets to keep. However I discovered after the event that for the past however many years I’ve misunderstood the Chatham House rule. For some reason I’d always made the assumption that it meant that whatever was under discussion stayed within the room. In fact it means nothing of the sort and you can even tweet.

May 28, 2010

Did I just describe a PLE?

I had an interesting phone call last week from someone in the COI. The COI, in case you don’t know, are the UK Government Central Office of Information (COI) – the Government’s centre of excellence for marketing and communications. They do some excellent work providing guidance on all aspects of marcomms.

Anyway, the person who rang me was carrying out a research study for The British Council. They were wanting to identify the media habits of professionals who work in the area of international education.  In particular they wanted to understand potential media which actively engage in issues related to higher education and how these were used.

So during the phone call I was read a list of media titles.  I’d heard of more or less all of the titles mentioned although there were a couple of more obscure titles (journals) where I wasn’t quite so sure.  In discussing the traditional media I explained that print-only media is more or less invisible for me.  The only thing that I receive in hard copy format that I even flick through is the COL newsletter.

So online media is really the only way I access this sort of specific news of information.  I also explained that I wasn’t that likely to visit a particular website to get my news, although I might use an online database, library or datastore if I knew what it contained.

I reflected back and thought about the professional networks that do exist.  They often provide meatspace opportunities but I recognised that very little news was ever highlighted to me offline.  Okay, I’d occasionally find out a little titbit of information in conversation with colleagues from other institutions especially at conferences but it was usually soft anecdotal stuff rather than news or hard information.

This lead to a bit of a discussion about what I thought NEWs was and an explanation from me that I was only really likely to look at NEWs if it was sent directly to me as an email newsletter or highlighted to me in another way, through an RSS feed or crowdsourced by a brand I trusted (either a corporate brand such as the chronicle or a personal brand) or if it hit a search filter of some type that I’d set up.

I also explained my reticence to paywalls and the problems I have with sites that have registration walls (e.g. the FT).

It was a quite an interesting conversation that had me reflecting quite a bit about my current media habits and how they have changed over the past few years.  Two or three years ago I would have given very different answers and even a year ago my thoughts were quite different and search seemed much more important to me.

I didn’t talk about the details of how I get my NEWs these days but whilst I was on the phone I kept thinking have I just described a Personal Learning Environment.

In terms of the details of my PLE, for the past six months or so I’ve relied on my6Sense to keep me updated.   My6Sense is an interesting iPhone app that pulls together your social and RSS feeds.   The idea is that the more that you use it the more it understands your interests and starts to surface the things that you’ll find relevant.  I usually check it a couple of times a day and so far I’ve found it to be pretty good.  Of course, I don’t really know what I’m missing however for some reason it feels better knowing I’ve flicked through a couple of pages of my6sense recommendations than seeing the thousands of items that I never got around to looking at in Google Reader.

I do also occasionally dip in to Twitter and Friendfeed.  Twitter lists, and friend lists on Friendfeed help me catch up on things that particular people have said that I might have missed and I also use Friendfeed to bookmark things to go back to read later when I have more time.

I certainly don’t feel that I’m really part of an international education network.  If an online network does exists for the people who are interested in these aspects of international education then either:

  1. I  haven’t really found it yet (although I have found lots of people who offer some really interesting points of view);  or
  2. I’m too much of a visitor and not resident enough – also read I’ve been too much of a lazy slacker and haven’t worked hard enough to become part of that network yet.

However, I do feel that I’ve got the beginnings of a personal learning environment.  It’s a learning environment that I know will definitely change over the coming years, months and days in ways that I can only dream of, but it’s still my very own PLE isn’t it?

February 24, 2009

Gone quiet: Toilet Humour

Filed under: strangely uncategorised — Brendan @ 8:01 am

I honestly haven’t been neglecting this blog – I’ve several posts in private draft that I just haven’t managed to finish / send public – I’ll probably publish them in date order of when I originally wrote them.

But in the meantime here’s a quick shot of a men’s urinal no.5 at Hong Kong PolyU (I think it was Building S).

I’d love to know what the sense is in numbering urinals?

The only thing I can think of is that the cleaners have a check sheet!