Reflections on project development

H818 Activity 7.3

The project concept has been consistent from the start of the course in October 2015, however, significant improvements have been made due to the constructive feedback from the networking practice undertaken in H818.

Early feedback comments considered issues such as the longevity of current social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) and how this might impact on the currency of the platform. I have addressed this by having my platform to act as a hub which also includes links to popular Web 2.0 tools, so if a current popular tool ( e.g. Twitter) falls out of favour it would simply be a matter of adding a different link and removing that one.

How to ensure that not just appropriate content can be linked into a platform but also user generated content created in a collaborative way has also been addressed by inclusion of a user editable Wiki on the platform. Collaboration through engaging users in discussion can be achieved through the use of the built in comment system for each learning outcome resource and also an open forum which can further develop discourse.

A rating system for comments is available, however, at the moment I have kept this feature turned off.

If changes are made to any learning outcome page a user can be informed after having clicked the RSS button. If they have any particular interest in a feature they can they be made of new content without having to physically come to the platform to check.

What I wanted to capture within the platform design and deployment was:

  • an open area that would allow for quick access to social media platforms so users could quickly access their accounts to retrieve useful links for posting onto the site,
  • subject matter that could be developed within my own industry (i.e. the turfcare / groundscare industry) on a topical issue – a new Apprenticeship Standard
  • an ‘immersive’ platform that would ultimately result in return visits,
  • the ability for teachers to facilitate learning, but also for learners to determine how and what they are going to learn to achieve the desired learning outcomes. This is very important as there is definitely a need to engage adult workers into taking a more lifelong approach to learning and heutagogy is a concept which I consider could act as a useful approach to motivate and engage, if not enthuse, adult learners. The current, typically pedagogic and andragogic, approach has not created the necessary impetus or interest for many, if not the majority, of employees in the industry to engage in life-long learning.
  • features which would allow for the quick sharing of information, and also features that would allow for more comprehensive sharing and collaboration through the inclusion of a wiki,
  • allowing for direct engagement in discussion within the platform was also important and this has been facilitated through inclusion of a forum

With the platform being coded in HTML 5 it is arguably easier to ensure web accessibility features are included, plus in addition the platform is a responsive design which readily adapts to the hardware – desktop, laptop, handheld, smartphone – being used to access the platform.

The use of software modules and features to create a customised and integrated platform was seen as important for the rapid development of this project. For example, the platform host provides for the inclusion of a Wiki and Forum within a customer’s  project, so having investigated the use of the particular applications I added a Forum and Wiki as an integral part of the platform which saved a considerable amount of time when compared with trying to adapt different other packages.

Poster development

The poster to promote the presentation developed through trialling several tools, Microsoft Sway, Slideshare, Powtoon, Screencast-O-Matic, Popplet and Padlet in particular. I found all of these to be useful, but had to narrow it down to one. I initially started to focus on Popplet, which is really easy to use and created a MindMap as the poster. This captured the essence of the presentation, however, even after a couple of significant amendments during November and early December it didn’t achieve the impact needed to generate user interest. Padlet then seemed to be the obvious choice for me as it allowed for the inclusion of multimedia elements and also allowed for mirroring a traditional representation of a poster. Time was also a consideration in that the poster would need to be developed and finalised as part of the TMA01 submission date of 7th January 2016: 4 weeks, including the Christmas break.

The Padlet poster developed from comments received, addressing issues such as better navigation, imagery, sentence structure and querying the need for some multimedia inclusions. For the latter I had some interesting embedded slideshare presentations and vimeo videos, which upon reflection and in response to some comments I removed as these could be included within the presentation itself as an example of signposting to further reading and viewing material.

Progress

The timeframe for the project development is progressing well and is on schedule.  A search feature is being planned to be added to the project platform, whilst additional enhancements for ‘immersivity’  could also include quizzes, polls and also a weather widget as with the focus of the platform being on workers in the outdoor environment this would be a useful addition.

One of the risks that I identified early on was the ability to encourage assistance in the testing and trialling of the platform. This is an area that still needs to be progressed.

Another risk was ensuring that the range of Web 2.0 tools that were to be selected were adequately integrated and functioning. These have all been deployed, tested and are working appropriately, with a separate MySql database being used for each of the comment system, wiki and the forum.

To facilitate the promotion of the platform I created a Twitter account and started a blog in October and these are regularly used to promote the platform. Increasing my activity on these will help to pay further dividends in promoting my engagement as a networked practitioner.

Part of my immediate focus now needs to be on creating the delivery material to talk about my project for the presentation on 17th February 2016. I’ve already created the headings that I will cover and it is now a matter of ensuring the content captures the essence of the project title “Open Turf: The effective use of Web 2.0 technologies in creating a collaborative platform for self-determined learning”.

EMA Parts 1 and 3

I will be building up a critical review of my project and critical reflection of my development as a networked practitioner over the next six weeks (EMA submission deadline is 3 March). I will revisit Unit 1.2 on reflective writing, especially the critical stance category: “Having a critical stance involves being aware of problems and being able to identify or diagnose such problems. Being critical is about questioning assumptions and opinions, analysing and evaluating problems, judging situations, testing the validity of assumptions, drawing conclusions and making decisions.” (H818 Unit 1, section 1.2 Introduction to reflective writing). I need to be critical and not descriptive.

EMA Part 2

The two people whose presentation I will follow, which is based on the comments I’ve been making as they have progressed their project, will be Sarah as a self-determined learner and the motivation needed to succeed, as well as Anita who is looking at an Open platform for sharing tutors and teacher’s scholarly activity, which can offer complementary perspectives to my project. These provide a contrast and comparison with my own project. It has been a difficult choice because all the projects are worthwhile and many look extremely interesting, but just like in a judging contest you have to make a decision and not sit on the fence.

I will also follow two other projects in lesser detail, Nicki and one as yet undecided. The numbers have been influenced by Simons response to a comment “I have to advise you that what you suggest for 4 could be a very wise move when it comes to the EMA, and also following one project producing something similar to what you are producing, and one producing something totally different.” (Conference forum, ‘Narrowing down the projects to follow’, response made 16 Jan 2016, 17:03).

Timescale

I need to wrap all of this up in a 6-week timed plan to ensure a successful EMA is produced.

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