Friday, 27 February 2009

Facebook commenting could get you fired

Yep, over on the BBC News website I happened across the headline "Facebook remark teenager is fired". 16-year-old Kimberly Swann from Essex described her job as "boring" on her Facebook page - it's not clear from the article there whether or not this was a status update or something she had added to her profile.

In any case, the remark got her fired. You can read the article yourself of course; what I thought was interesting about it was the contrast in attitudes towards Swann's comment and towards social networking in general.

The report gives two points of view. Steve Ivell of Ivell Marketing & Logistics in Clacton justifies the company's decision to sack Swann with this:
Had Miss Swann put up a poster on the staff notice board making the same comments and invited other staff to read it there would have been the same result.
While TUC general secretary Brendan Barber had a different attitude:
Most employers wouldn't dream of following their staff down the pub to see if they were sounding off about work to their friends.
Note the contrasting metaphors. The boss sees the social networking site as a noticeboard - note that his problem is not even that the site is online and the comment potentially a public one. While the union secretary sees the site as providing something akin to a chat down the pub, a facilitator for the comraderie colleagues may feel when complaining about work.

So, would the boss object to his employees complaining about work down the pub? Probably. But it's out of his ability to control this and it would be unreasonable for him to fire someone on the basis of something overheard outside of the work environment. His choice of metaphor - the noticeboard within the workplace - makes the action seem more justifiable since he makes it sound as though something within the workplace has been disrupted.

So which metaphor is closer? And were the company right in sacking her?
is trying out (for work).

Thursday, 26 February 2009

TDA Project Climax

On Tuesday morning, my colleague Robyn and I went over to Bulmershe campus to run a focus group with a PGCE course convenor, Judith Davies. This was the climax to a project Robyn and I have been working on with Judith since before September.

Robyn and I had been asked to look at the wealth of Web 2.0 tools out there, select a bunch of them and match them up against criteria which we had drawn up previously. The idea being to find at least one Web 2.0 tool that would fulfil a newly qualified teacher's portfolio needs.

Throughout the project, we kept a wiki within Blackboard (using the Learning Objects tool) to analyse tools and compare them with one another. When the New Year began we looked at all the information we collected and we picked two tools (and a spare) that we were going to focus on. We also prepared a slideshow (embedded below) and several handouts to make the day run more smoothly.

The idea of the presentation was to present these findings to a group of teachers who Judith had paid with funding to take a day's leave and give them a lunch while we were at it.

We took what I thought was a fairly "radical" approach to the slideshow - that is, there's hardly any text and the focus is more in images and making an impact with these to mark different parts of the morning. This was inspired by talks I've seen given at conferences recently and was an attempt to remedy the Powerpoint fatigue I've been afflicted by recently. When it came to the tools themselves, we simply logged in and did a live demo, showing some examples that we'd prepared earlier to inform them further. You can see the examples we created below:

And while we were eating lunch we recorded the discussion that we had around the table - about e-portfolios, their shortcomings, or rather the current lack of an adequate tool, and what they thought of the tools we'd picked out.

Robyn and I have yet to go through the feedback but as we do, I will try and post some of our findings here and perhaps some of the wiki notes we made in early on in the project too. All in all, it was a successful morning - so much so, that I'm now trying to take the same "radical" slideshow approach with the workshops that we run here and with future presentations.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Clouds obscuring the stars...

... or revealing them?

I've not had time to update my blog of late but I saw this and had to post it up as it relates so much to my last post. These, if you didn't realise already are word clouds, not tag clouds. If you're a mainstream-movie-buff or simply a lover of celebrity fluff, you'll probably enjoy guessing who's is who's... I didn't get any of them right.

Not one for my account then but definitely something for the blog - a distinction I'll maybe talk about sometime (if I find any). Where to put resources, items, links, etc...

So tired. Be back soon.

Monday, 2 February 2009

TinyURL, Tagging and yet more Obama

I used TinyURL for the first time today. I'd known about it for a while (of course!) but I'd never had to use it, what with and Facebook and everything else making things easier in that respect. However, writing an article for our Centre's publication Teaching Matters this evening, I came across a webpage I simply had to share with my readers. The URL being way too long, I popped over to TinyURL, put it in and got a much shorter one out. As demonstrated below:

Original URL:

Tiny URL:

And the article? Well it's on tagging and I'm just finishing it up as I write this post. It has to be short-short: around 350 words, which is a real struggle for me (as evidenced in most, say all, of the posts below). And there are also some sardonic references to U.S. Presidents Bush and a kinder mention of Obama (yes, he is President of the United States; it's still weird for me too).

Anyway, I'll keep this uncharacteristically short and leave you with the teaser of my upcoming article, generated on Wordle (another useful site!), in the form of... a meta-tag cloud?