Everyone's narrative of an experience will be unique and selective - like my narrative. Through the presentations and the conversations I had, and my general knowledge of what is happening in higher education I can see that there is much interest and experimentation in the use of social media and many universities are developing frameworks, strategies and capabilities for supporting the use of digital technologies influenced by many of the people who were at the MELSIG event. These are the key to systematically incorporating social media into teachers' and learners' ecologies for learning and achieving.
My sense is that a creative teacher who is confident with the technology and willing to experiment, can find many ways of using social media to enhance their students’ experience of learning but that, for some contexts it might seem artificial to do so. So choosing the right context and having a clear understanding of why social media are being used within a pedagogic strategy, and communicating this to students and securing their involvement, are all essential. Using social media highlights the importance of the process of learning and using technology to assist in generating, selecting and making sense of knowledge. This means that attention has to be paid to the process and experience of learning (HOW & WHY), as well as the content (WHAT) of learning. Something that higher education is generally not very good at.
James Walker, in his excellent presentation of his 'Dawn of the Unread' project, quoted someone as saying 'if the 20th century is about knowledge the 21st century is about experience', and the way we convey our experience and the personal knowledge and wisdom we have gained from it, is through the stories we tell about it. It seems to me that we don't do nearly enough in higher education to encourage our students to tell their stories of how they have learnt and why they have learnt what they have learnt. Narratives are not just annotated content they are the story of the how we developed our understanding of this subject or situation. I felt that James, and other presenters, offered insights into how this might be achieved but we need to adapt the outcomes of a student learning experience accordingly if narratives of learning and achievement are to be recognised and valued.
#melsigntu was a most enjoyable experience with lots of interesting perspectives, useful ideas and practical examples offered in a warm and friendly spirit of collegiality demonstrated by participants' willingness to share their own resources. Well done to the NTU digital practice team, Andrew Middleton and all the contributors for providing such a good experience.
Image credit - great cartoon posted by Simon Rae https://twitter.com/simonrae_