At last! PressED a WordPress conference on Twitter

As those who follow me on Twitter or have read my old blog will know, I’ve been a keen fan of WordPress and advocated that it can be a useful tool in higher education.  I’ve found having a blog on WordPress has been a great way to think out loud and share ideas.  It’s helped me connect with academics and individuals involved in using technology in learning and teaching all over the world.  Tweeting links to my blog posts has also fostered lots of rich learning conversations.  The challenge for me at the moment is finding time to finish writing blog posts, I’ve so many saved in draft that will probably never see the light of day!

Having worked with colleagues in the Medical School at Dundee to use WordPress as a VLE to support the undergraduate medical curriculum and encouraging students to use it to support reflection and record their learning I’ve frequently advocated WordPress to other lecturers and to students who want to do something that they can’t achieve in a typical VLE.  Along with other colleagues at conference workshops on open education practice and the use of social media I’ve similarly promoted WordPress as a versatile tool that can support different learning and teaching approaches and objectives. You can use it to create online learning tutorials, to curate useful resources and to sign post students to helpful websites, videos etc, to share workshop resources that participants can then reuse in their own institutions, to support scholarly discussion and reflective practice.  The list is endless.

Back in 2012 following some discussion on Google+ I shared a post asking whether we should run a WordPress in UK higher education event.  There was a reasonable amount of interest and if memory serves me right there were even some emails exchanged as we tried to see if Jisc or someone else might support such an event.  Nothing really came of those discussions but periodically over the past 6 years Pat Lockley and I continued to chat and see if we could get something organised.  The key challenge has been not having any funding.  We thought we’d cracked it last year but it didn’t quite work out … until Pat was inspired by the Public Archeology Twitter Conference  and suggested we run the conference on twitter.

So at long last Pat and I are delighted to be co-organising PressED – an international WordPress conference hosted on Twitter that’s free to attend and open to anyone.  You can find our more on the PressEd website and follow #pressedconf18 on Twitter.  The conference will start at 10.00hrs (GMT+1) on Thursday 29 March and run through the day into the late evening.  We have a series of keynote speakers, the 3 confirmed so far are Gurminder Bhambra, Mark Carrigan and Jim Groom, with details of others to be announced soon.  We have an open call for abstracts at the moment and if you work in higher education and you’re using WordPress to support different pedagogical approaches, research or scholarship, open practice, help nurture communities of practice or any other innovative uses why not submit a proposal.  Presenters will have up to 15 tweets to share their work and tweets can include links, images, videos, slides etc. There will be time for discussion along the lines of a typical tweet chat after each presentation.  By running the conference over the course of the day we hope that our higher education colleagues across the globe will have the opportunity to contribute and participate.

We hope you can join us!


Gearing up for #AMEE2017: Barcamps and Open MedEd practice

This weekend I’m off to the annual AMEE conference in Helsinki.  It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since last year’s meeting, it’s been a busy year, but a quiet one on the blogging front.  Apart from a couple of short posts the last substantial post was my review of my personal highlights from last year’s AMEE.  One of those highlights was the double Barcamp session and I’m delighted that we’ll be running this again in Helsinki.  A key feature of Barcamps  is the participation of all participants with everyone invited to suggest topics, questions, or outline problems that they want to explore and discuss.  One aspect that individuals appreciated about last year’s Barcamps was having time to think and reflect and a number of us having had a positive experience have gone on to use the format in various activities in our own institutions. At Dundee we used the Barcamp format to kick off our Global Health Challenge last autumn and we also adopted it to shape discussion in one of  our e-assessment community of practice meetings. If you’re going to AMEE I’d recommend coming along to one of the Barcamp sessions which are running Monday afternoon and if you’d like to learn a little more about what to expect check out the helpful introduction to the barcamp approach which my colleagues have published in MedEdPublish.

My other key involvement at AMEE this year is with a couple of pre-conference workshops one looking at developing as an open medical education practitioner where I’m teaming up with my colleague Annalisa Manca.  Together we’re also working with Meg Chisholm to run another workshop looking at social media in and as research.  I’m also delighted that another of my colleague’s Amy Arnold, from Robert Gordon University School of Pharmacy, is going to be presenting some of our work on interprofessional learning with medical and pharmacy students.

One of my reflections from last year, prompted by Andrew Coggin’s blog post Pearls from the AMEE 2016 Conference, relates to  the general lack of mention of FOAMed – free open access meducation. Annalisa and I ran a workshop on FOAMed a few years ago but open education practice doesn’t really seem to have taken off in mainstream medical education in the way that it has in other disciplines in higher education.  Within medicine FOAMed has taken off most in emergency medicine, radiology and paediatrics but is perhaps still little known in other specialities.  We’ve got 35 people signed up for our pre-conference workshop on Sunday and we’ll be building on some of the work that we do with our students on our Doctor as Digital Teacher SSC as we introduce participants to the world of open medical education.  I’m in the process of putting some finishing touches to a blog that we’re going to use to support the activities in the workshop and I intend to keep the site going afterwards so that it can be reused as an open educational resource (OER) beyond the workshop.  Before it goes live I’d welcome any top tips other FOAMed advocates might want to share with  those just beginning to think about developing as an open medical education practitioner.  The hashtag for our open meded workshop will be #AMEE2017 #PCW18.

All being well I’ll be posting some reflections on AMEE and hopefully I’l manage a few more blogs posts over the next 12 months.



Up and blogging again

Welcome to my new digital home and my new blog.  Having had a bit of hiatus in blogging, (it’s almost a year since I last posted!) it’s time to get blogging again and particularly so as I’ve finally made the move to get my own domain on Reclaim Hosting.

I first started blogging in 2008 (over on e-LiME) and I’ve been struck in the past year by how often I refer back to some of my old posts, both the published ones and those that have remained as eternal drafts!  I was never a prolific blogger but I found blogging was a good way to support reflective practice and think out loud. Some of my old posts are full of questions and were an attempt to gain the views of others and often they generated helpful learning conversations on Twitter, others through comments posted on individual posts.

When I moved to a more central University role two and a half years ago I found it quite a challenge to blog. My previous post was an academic one and I think I felt freer to blog and share some of my thinking,  Moving to a professional service puts you in a slightly different position and I guess there’s perhaps been a sense of feeling more wary of blogging.  The other challenge has been time, I’ve written lots of blog posts in my mind but they’ve never made it to being spelled out on my keyboard.  Recently though I’ve realised that I’ve missed blogging, there’s almost something cathartic about it, but I think importantly for me blogging was a way to reflect and support my own personal learning.  So I’m back blogging and I’m still learning about higher education, open education, the role of technology in learning and teaching and good old medical education.