Cloudworks is no longer accepting new user registrations, and will be closing down on 24th June 2019. We hope to make a read-only archive of the site available soon after.

A Cloudworks virtual fieldtrip

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Hello welcome to our virtual field trip through Cloudworks. My name is Rebecca Galley. I am a Curriculum Design Project Officer on the Open University’s JISC-funded OULDI project and a member of the Cloudworks development team. And I will be your virtual tour guide today.

Cloudworks (Cloudworks.ac.uk) is a social networking site designed for sharing, finding and discussing learning and teaching ideas and experiences. The site has been developed in the belief that one of the key challenges in encouraging more innovative learning design is getting teachers to share designs and ideas. Cloudworks aims to support participatory practices (peer critiquing, sharing, user-generated content, aggregation and personalisation) within an educational context, and promote reflective professional practice and development.  In this virtual field trip we will take you through the key concepts of the site, emerging patterns of use and suggest strategies for finding your way around.

The site was launched in July 2009 and already we have over 4000 registered users and over 65,000 unique visitors.

A Cloud can be anything to do with teaching and learning so...an idea for a project, an educational tool, a resource, a lecture or a paper.

Clouds can be grouped together into a Cloudscape for example you might decide to group together Clouds which relate to eAssessment (discussions, research papers, examples and case studies, and e-Assessment tools).

You can keep up to date with activity on the site by looking at the activities streams for the whole site, or people of Cloudscapes you are interested in.

You can vote for things you like and by doing so, indicate to others what might be interesting to them.

You can set up an RSS feed to your reader for almost any page (just scroll down to the bottom of the page you are interested in). So if you are interested in things tagged student experience for example you can search for that tag, and then set up an RSS feed to alert you if anyone adds anything with that tag.

You can follow people or Cloudscapes and click to say that you are attending a conference or event.

There are several different ways to navigate round the site but the home page is a good place to start. From here you can link to activity streams to see what’s just been added, search for tags, people or events

You can look or add past or upcoming events on the event page, and register your interest.

Cloud pages are logically laid out with the title at the top. The description next and discussion towards the bottom. You can see how the Cloud has been tagged on the right and add tags if you want to. Here you can also see which Cloudscapes this Cloud has been added to, and add things yourself.

Clouds can be improved in a variety of ways by any one. You could add a link or embed a slideshow, image or even a video  

It’s worth saying at this point that Cloudworks is not a repository. This means that it is not possible to upload files to the site. We decided to do it this way for a variety of reasons, not least because of issues our users have around keeping multiple versions of files up to date and managing their copyright or permissions. Cloudworks supports the embedding of media from a variety of well used sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Slideshare, etc.

You can easily follow and favourite the things you find interesting and see who else has done the same.

 

On Cloudscapes pages you can add and view Twitter steams relating to themes or events, and move Clouds into different categories for easier navigation. Clouds appear in alpha-numeric lists so they can easily be found. 

If you scroll down to the bottom of the Cloudscape page you will be able to see the activity stream for the Cloudscape.

 

We are starting to see a number of unexpected and interesting uses of the site. We see the ELESIG community using the space to discuss and share Readings.

Similarly, individual researchers are using the site to bookmark, collate, share and openly discuss their readings and research

Right from the launch of the site people were using it to provoke heated debates and discussions, and we have seen an interesting cross-fertilisation of discussion from Twitter to Cloudworks to Blogs and back again.

More recently the site has been used to hold spotlight debates, where an expert in the field presents on a theme and asks a series of key questions. The audience responds by text in the discussion area or through video.

 

And there are a number of active Open Reviews where people from across discipline boundaries can share knowledge, experience and literature relating to a theme – this one relates to the use of Web 2.0 in HE

There is plenty of support and guidance for using the site, and a good place to start if you haven’t visited the site before is the ‘Using Cloudworks’ Cloudscape. Where you will find introductions, FAQ and starter navigation activities - Just type in ‘Using Cloudworks’ into the search box.

If you would like to, you can now take the Cloudworks Cloudquest Challenge. This activity takes you step by step through the site.

Click on URL www.cloudworks.ac.uk. Type in Cloudquest Challenge to show how to find it

 

If you have any specific queries about the site contact the team on Cloudworks@open.ac.uk

Any questions? Please post them below.