Thursday 17 January 2013

Personal Learning Environments and Innovative Leadership

Back in November 2012 I was contacted by Yusra Visser, who is one of the guest editors for a special issue of the Quarterly Review of Distance Education, inviting me to contribute to it by participating in an interview about innovative leadership and PLEs. I was honored to be asked, and the idea seemed very attractive: to discuss the role of PLEs as tools for innovation in education; so of course I said yes. So about three weeks ago, I was interviewed by Bruce Campbell, who had the patience to listen to me for over an hour. It was actually a very interesting experience for me, as I reflected on some of the projects and initiatives I have been involved in, including the PLE Conference and my PhD dissertation.

Besides the paper, that is now on the final stages to be sent for publishing, there is an audio file with the whole interview. Yusra and Bruce asked me to post it somewhere so it could be accessed, so I proposed to write a short post and upload it here. I plan to revisit this post soon, and maybe produce shorter files, roughly following the questions I was asked during the interview. That way, if anyone wants to listen to that section, they don't have to download or listen to the whole file.

Anyway, here's the interview.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

The PLE Conference 2012: one week later

I have yet to write a post on the conference itself; there's just too much to process, but in the meantime I wanted to aggregate some of the posts that have been inspired by it. I know I will be checking those in the future, so maybe someone will find it useful as well. For now, these are some of the links (will update as required), and a nice picture of Aveiro ;)
  • José Mota's post on the 2nd day unkeynote and his answers to our questions
  • José Mota's wrap-up on the conference
  • Grainne Conole's post on preparing the unkeynote and a summary of the content and discussion
  • Steve Wheeler's reflection on the 2nd day unkeynote
  • Mark Smithers' reflection on the conference
  • Frances Bell's post
  • Malinka Ivanova's post
  • The Sapo Campus-based site for the conference
  • The official site for PLEConf (note that there are individual pages for most of the sessions, with additional references and resources - thanks to Linda for the reminder!)
  • The ScoopIt! site curated by Gemma (thanks!) that collects blogposts by unkeynote speakers and PLEConf site
  • My own post asking participants for their input and comments on the 4 questions we proposed and used as the starting point for our unkeynote
  • Discussion posted on Cloudworks, with several contributions
  • The YouTube playlist with videos contributed by colleagues/researchers/friends (thanks again to everyone!)
  • Find the conversation on Twitter around the hashtag #PLEConf
  • Pictures on Flickr that were tagged with #PLEConf
  • Linda Castañeda's pictures
More to come, most likely!

Cais dos Botirões, Aveiro by torresk
Cais dos Botirões, Aveiro, a photo by torresk on Flickr.

Thursday 5 July 2012

Crowdsourcing the (un)keynote

"The Fellowship of the PLE"...this is what Linda calls the bunch of us; I'm not sure whether she came up with the idea or is someone else's, but I'm guessing it was hers, so she takes credit for it. First time I heard her using it was last year, while we were planning our session for TIES2012; there, we ran a symposium on PLEs, together with Jordi Adell, Oskar Casquero and Ismael Peña López.

It came to mind because next week we will be meeting in Aveiro (and Melbourne, although not both, sadly), for the third edition of The PLE Conference ( and, @PLEConf  and #PLEConf on Twitter). There's a lot of innovation this year: the two venues, the badges and the 2nd day keynotes;  an exercise in crowdsourcing, the two keynote speakers for the second day of the conference were chosen by the "Fellowship"

Honestly, it was a shock to learn that I was one of the keynote speakers for this year's conference, together with Grainne Conole: a double honor, to be chosen by my peers and to be sharing the stage with Grainne! I hope we'll do it justice. We have been busy thinking and planning, but the conference is getting closer and closer and I have to confess I'm getting quite anxious about the whole thing.

No spoilers here, but we have been thinking about three main topics: the 'VLE vs PLE' debate, 'going back to basics' and the evolution of PLEs. So now we are crowdsourcing the keynote itself, calling for participation and ideas. A couple of days ago I 'ran' into Alec Couros on Twitter, doing the same thing for his keynote in Melbourne;  together with Graham Attwell, they followed that approach (with huge success) to prepare their keynote at The PLE Conference 2010 in Barcelona (for which I was local organiser, and which was then called PLE_BCN).  So, if you are interested (Yes, you are. And no, these are not the droids you're looking for), drop us a line, create a short video, or comment on this post and help us with these:

  1. What is your personal digital learning environment and how do you use it?
  2. What are the main obstacles for building and maintaining a Personal Digital Learning Environment?
  3. How has your use of technologies changed in the last five years? 
  4. What are your views on the PLE vs VLE debate? is the VLE really dead?
It would be great to have your input about these topics! So, who's first???

Wednesday 4 July 2012

I'm back...

Well, it's been a little over a month since I last posted. The usual excuses apply, but this has really been a hectic month: end of semester and Masters programmes, what looks like the last session for our project (at least under that name), The PLE Conference next week and, well, life. I even stopped posting 1picxday photos for something like 5 days, which had not happened before.

 July promises to be a quieter month, so I can try and relax a bit, catch up with stuff and continue writing my PhD dissertation. I have been learning how to say 'no' and I plan on not being available for anything between July 16th and 28th, at least. Let's see how that goes!

 Just a short update for now; will start my PLEConf-themed post now, and hopefully get it published tomorrow!

Monday 28 May 2012

1 pic a day 2012, May 26th: Swiss chard rainbow

Swiss chard rainbow by torresk
Swiss chard rainbow, a photo by torresk on Flickr.

When we bought the seeds we were indeed promised a marvelous display of colored stalks. But this is way more impressive than I expected. There were white, red, yellow and even some orange ones. Hope they are as tasty as they look; they will be sautéed in a few minutes!

Friday 25 May 2012

1 pic a day 2012, May 25th: Towel Day

Towel Day by torresk
Towel Day, a photo by torresk on Flickr.

This one requires a bit of an explanation, if you're not a Hitchhiker's fan. A Towel is, according to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or HHGG, the most useful thing interstellar travelers can carry with them. HHGG is perhaps the best-known book by Douglas Adams, and there have been radio series, a TV series and a movie based on it. One of my favorite books by DNA is Last Chance to See, about endangered species. A must-read!

The date was picked by fans two weeks after Douglas Adams died, May 11th 2001, and has been observed ever since. I became a fan a few years before he passed away; it's too bad we won't get any more genius works by him. Even The Salmon of Doubt, posthumously published, is brilliant, although it's unfinished and doesn't make a great deal of sense.

I'm not saying that the rest does, either. But it is absolute genius!

1 pic a day 2012, May 24th: Easter Cactus

Easter Cactus by torresk
Easter Cactus, a photo by torresk on Flickr.
There is a lot of confusion surrounding Easter and Christmas cacti, apparently. If I understand correctly, Christmas cacti are Schlumbergera while Easter cacti are Hatiora. Mr. Subjunctive has a great profile on Schlumbergeras.

I'm pretty sure this is an Easter cactus; the timing is right, and the shape of the flowers matches what I have read. These have radial symmetry, as opposed to Christmas cacti, which show bilateral symmetry.

Anyway, the flowers are gorgeous. You can see the similarity with "traditional" cacti; I posted a picture of Mammillaria a few days ago, and the flowers look almost the same, except for the size.