Tony Harrison – Reflections of a ‘Lurker’

I’ve thought about blogging before, but never really got round to doing much about it. Possibly because the one I set one up a few years back for my PTLLS group failed abysmally  [on reflection probably ‘blogger’ wasn’t an easy platform] Anyway here I am posting to the Y&H blog.  

Why? Well a series of events, completely unconnected to each other, have led me to it. 

 Firstly, I took part in the ‘Thinking Differently’ project where tutors from East Surrey College, Northern College, and WEA explored some of the issues we face when teaching short courses and have started thinking about ways to address them.

 A major part of this project was the use of ‘Yammer’ to communicate as small working groups following a two day conference in May where we all came together to thrash out some of the issues and we all face.

Secondly, I damaged the ligaments in my knee playing one of my twice weekly racket-ball games. What’s that got to do with it I hear you ask?? Well it gave me a bit of space to start my ‘lurking’ as defined by Lou Mycroft in her May blog @ I was able to sit back [literally!!] and think about something that has interested me for some time. That is the use of and new technology and social media in Education and how we might make use of it in the WEA and Adult & Community Education more broadly. 

Thirdly, this week I took part in The BYOD4Learning [Bring Your Own Device for Learning] for students and teachers who would like to develop their understanding, knowledge and skills linked to using smart devices for learning and teaching and use these more effectively, inclusively and creatively

 The learning outcomes are that on successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

Reflect on how smart devices can be used within their learning and/or teaching context.

Discuss opportunities and challenges which influence more widely the use of smart devices in Higher Education for inclusive practice.

Trial a specific BYOD intervention for learning/teaching in own context based on an informed rationale.

The five day event sought to encourage participants to publish their thoughts and engage in discussions on five topics, which were accompanied by a blog post published each morning during the week. The topics were (1) Connecting, (2) Communicating, (3) Curating, (4) Collaborating and (5) Creating

So, here I am on Friday afternoon posting a blog and sharing what I’ve found through my ‘lurking’ activities. I haven’t tried all the platforms yet and would really like to get a group together to ‘test drive’ them.  So if you’re interested get in touch. 

‘Yammer’ is a Private Social Network that brings together people, conversations and content, in a single location. 

I’ve been using this in the ‘Thinking Differently’ project and think it has potential for the way we work in the WEA. I would really like to explore this further. As an example a new Arts & crafts practitioners group has just set up following a F2F [face to face] event and want to explore how ‘Yammer’ can help the group to communicate and be used for posting resources. If there are other ways you think we can make use of this facility let me know.

‘Poll Everywhere’  What is it? On the surface, Poll Everywhere is a simple application that works well for live audiences using mobile devices like phones. People participate by visiting a fast mobile-friendly web page for your event, sending text messages, or using Twitter. 

‘Vittle’ Vittle is a free iPad app that lets you easily narrate and annotate your photos and PDF slide decks to create highly engaging videos.

‘’ is a one click video meeting system without the need to install any plugins. It makes it really easy to start a video meeting for up to 8 people. 

So there you have it, the noble art of ‘Lurking’ and three unrelated events that led me to explore the use of ‘smart devices’ and their potential. I’m sure there are many more out there for whilst the Social Web is not new, mobile devices enabling connections to be made, in the words of the old Martini advert, “anytime, anyplace, anywhere“ are relatively new to me and offer me, and hopefully us, new opportunities and challenges.  The question is how do we make the time to research and explore a confusing array of potential? Well I’ve helped you make a start by giving you the links above but you could also try a bit of ‘Lurking’ yourself!!

Tony Harrison 18/7/14 


4 thoughts on “Tony Harrison – Reflections of a ‘Lurker’

  1. Trevor Parsons

    Hello Tony,
    I am Trevor Parsons, I’m a WEA Tutor for Doncaster & Scunthorpe, teaching ICT.
    I also enjoyed the Reflexive Programme with Lou & Kay at Norhern College & the Teach Different Conference on 4 July. I was intrigued by the concept of rhizomatic learning & I contributed to the various platforms during the 4 weeks of #tdreflex14. I got involved as much as possible but I also became a lurker, just looking in at the contributions of others in the Google+ writing room & taking interest in the variety of quality pieces of writing. I would be interested in joining you in your Yammer project if I can contribute anything.
    My new interest also involves smartphones & tablets. I teach iPad for Doncaster MBC AFCL & I attended the Jisc festival of teaching & learning at Leeds recently. I was introduced to Alternative Reality & I think I could transform the way in which I produce some teaching resources, as well as some assessment tasks & evaluation methods with some research & development. If I can be of assistance to you I am willing.
    Kind regards,
    Trevor Parsons B.A. (Hons)

    • Hi Trevor, thanks for your reply. You’re one of two that replied to my blog [the other was from BYOD4L] so it suggests there isn’t a plethora of interested bodies out there. Nothing yet has happened about getting together to ‘test drive’ various devices and platforms but I think David Sutton – Jones and Adam Roe would be interested in exploring how we can take this forward. I know David is busy finishing off the ‘Thinking Differently’ report currently but I’m not sure what Adam is up to. It’s also a strange time with people on holiday etc so probably won’t really make much progress until September. I’ll email you to establish a contact and keep you posted of progress. T

  2. Hello Tony,

    Lovely to discover your reflections on BYOD4L. We are very pleased it has been a useful experience for you and wish you all the very best for the future.

    Chrissi @chrissinerantzi and Sue @suebecks
    from BYOD4L

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