Totnes Healthy Futures Project Community Garden

2 May 2011

Whilst I was visiting Totnes recently I visited the Totnes Healthy Futures Project Community Garden located in Lamb Garden between Cistern Street and Leechwell Street.  The project and garden was created originally with an aim to help people with mental and phyiscal disabilities and difficulties.  The garden is maintained by volunteers and was funded by a variety of sources, including Greater Dartmoor Leaf (Local Enterprise Action Fund), Leatside Surgery, South Hams District Council and the Big Lottery Fund.  The project garden offers growing sessions providing volunteering opportunities, learning how to grow fruit and vegetables, physical exercise as well as heathly eating information.  During my visit a selection of vegetables, fruit and herbs were developing, including different varieties of mint (apple mint, moroccan mint, black peppermint and garden mint) (as pictured in the gallery below or by visiting my Flickr set).


Social Media Networking Learning Session

13 March 2011

This blog post discusses the Social Media / Networking learning session I recently delivered as part of a research project.  The sessions delivered had an aim to increase learner’s IT literacy skills through utilising Social Media as the vehicle to develop IT skills and at the same time introduce Social Media / Networking topics, skills, knowledge and understanding.  Learners were able to become informed about the various Social Media sites available and benefits as well as the meaning of the various jargon and terms associated with Social Media.

The sessions allowed learners to learn the essentials, providing a taster to explore further if desired.  Through participating, learners were able to gain confidence, develop their skills, knowledge and understanding of both general computer use and Social Media.  Activities included communicating via different Social Media / Networking platforms and services, editing profile information, registering own accounts if desired, searching for people or groups of interest, searching for topics of interest, adding people as well as sending tweets and messages.

During the sessions, Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps, Street View and Skype were used for a variety of reasons, including work and personal interest such as sharing recipes, saving money, keeping up-to-date with the latest news and general communication with family and friends.  Learners were able to become familiar with Social Media terminology and see the relevance for their life.

A summary of the sessions are below:

Session 1: Introduction to Social Media tools and services (discussion), benefits of Social Media, introduction to Facebook and demonstration, introduce and discuss Twitter, Twitter activity (communicating via Twitter, find and add other group members, guess which group member by asking questions via sending messages), Twitter basics (tweets, retweet, hash tags), activity (search using keywords, find people of interest, search for topic(s) of interest / interest groups), upload picture, conclusion (terms / glossary / definitions, discussion point / questions)

Session 2: Introduce session objectives via Skype video conferencing, recap previous session, introduce VOIP services, Skype activity (instant messaging, video call), introduce and demonstrate Google Earth / Street View, activity (find and explore places of interest)

Session 3: Introduce session, recap previous session, saving money using the Internet, activity (find vouchers or sites relevant to needs), saving time using the Internet, activity (route planner, maps), conclusion and recap of sessions

Following the sessions, outcomes and findings included learners found sessions enjoyable, were motivated to move on to further learning or courses, felt confident to use IT and computers, although at first learners thought it may not be of interest and were reluctant about Social Media.  Throughout the sessions, learners could see the benefit and relevance of using Social Media, which encouraged them to register and use Social Media as they had a genuine reason to use it since having it explained, demonstrated and trying it themselves.  Other comments included “these sessions have really given me genuine reasons to use Social Media…”, “I spend enough time on the computer already and now this means I’ll be on it more!”, “this has given me the motivation to go on to further computer courses” and “I will be registering an account as soon as I get home”.

In conclusion, the sessions were successful in effectively using Social Media as a teaching and learning tool to deliver sessions covering Social Media / Networking concepts and activities as well as increasing IT / computer skills through utilising Social Media as the vehicle to develop IT and Internet skills.  The session objectives were made relevant to their needs and life in order to understand how Social Media tools and services could be useful as well as being able to gain, practice and improve computer and Internet skills.

An example of a few of the Tweets sent during the session are included below: