Author Archive

What my PLE looks like…in Week 1

While checking out the readings for this week, I was grateful to find Scott Leslie has compiled the Mother of all PLE diagrams list.

I thought a good week 1 task would be to check them out and then make my own.

Except…I stumbled across a perfect one on his list, created by D’Arcy Norman:

Categories: PLENK2010

Practical Considerations

I like practical things...

In this post, Dave addresses (among other things), the whole challenge of assessment and grading in formal education if using PLE/N approach (yes, it’s an issue to be dealt with, no, it’s not insurmountable).  In this video, Stephen Downes talks about a new tool/system that could effectively support the PLE/N way of doing things (easy ways to create and distribute all kinds of content in all kinds of formats/ways).

Both of these are important to me in understanding/integrating these ideas into real terms. For those of us who are –  or work with –  instructors, these practical considerations are really, really important.

It’s not uncommon for students to use wikis or blogs for course work (either within an LMS, or outside of it because the within-LMS tools are generally lame). But the problem of staying on top of all that content (especially if using multiple 3rd party tools – I use WP, you use Blogger, this other person uses pbworks, and so on)  either keeps instructors from trying it, or keeps learning communities from going the distance and forming an integrated network if they do try it. it’s just too much of a pain.

I would love to use a system like Downes describes – could be huge!

Categories: PLENK2010

PLENK 2010 – Back to School!

September 12, 2010 2 comments

PLENK 2010 begins tomorrow! Yay! Back to School!  Kinda. (Back to MOOC?)

Back to MOOC!

Back to...MOOC?

I’m taking it because I got so much out of cck09.

And, it will make

me blog, i.e., reflect differently about work, my field, etc.

Tonight I’m setting myself up (creating tags, categories, etc and organizing my blog to house my thoughts in the coming weeks).  Hmph…”back to school” used to mean new pens, paper, books, etc.  Perhaps I’ll buy myself a new pen anyway.

As an instructional designer/educational technologist/someone who works in post-secondary education, I love the whole grand experiment of a  MOOC (Massive Online Open Course – 1149 participants!).

As a learner, I’ve already encountered the feeling of being overwhelmed I had at times in cck09, but I’m going to manage it differently this time.  Like, I’m going to give myself more permission to speed-skim and/or pass on things like 100+ postings to the Moodle Introduction forum before the course even starts (yoiks)!  It’s a bummer because that’s the network. But it’s too much to read,  and honestly, forums are about my least favourite tool.  So I’ll find other ways to connect.  That said, my speed skim did pay off for my task of getting organized tonight…this fantastic guy kindly laid out all the PLENK links in a nice list, so I added them to my blogroll in their own category for easy reference.

I think one good strategy for connecting in such a massive group would be a video intro. Dave’s was really helpful, and I want to know what tool he used to do that!  I’m going to opt for getting a jump on reading instead, though, at least for the moment.

Categories: PLENK2010

OERs – giving vs. sharing…and a hope for the future

I’ve been doing this ed tech thang long enough to remember the beginning of the “Learning Object Repository” thing, and watch it evolve into the Open Educational Resources movement.  It’s a good thing.

At the recent etug conference, I attended a session where the idea about the difference between GIVING and SHARING was raised. I’ve been thinking about this a lot.

Giving, I think, is lobbing a bunch of stuff over the fence. Reams of content: there you go, there’s all our stuff –  have at ‘er.   This approach is what got this party started, and so this isn’t meant to be a disparaging comment. But I think we need to evolve the practice.

Sharing, I think, is making useful stuff available in a thoughtful, easy-to-access way. Thinking about what might be of USE to the broader community (what do we have in common?). Keeping it up to date. Including help/suggestions/ideas for implementation, pedagogy.  There are certainly people moving in this direction, and people like BC Campus who are supporting people to move in this direction in real ways. It makes so much sense.

Sharing is harder, of course. My hope for the future of OERs is we all share fewer, higher quality things well. Such loaded terms (fewer than what? what’s quality? what’s “sharing well”? ) I know, I know.  But it’s my hope, dammit. And I have faith that we can work it out.  We Education people are used to dealing in things that are not an exact science.

Categories: ed tech

Share the Love Thursday

Colleague and chum gotcurls wrote today about feeling the love for her professional community – ME TOO!  How lucky, lucky, lucky we are to work with people and in a field so diverse, creative, interesting, supportive, fun….well, you get the idea. I don’t want to get all misty on ya.

The etug conference was just GREAT.  The theme was “3 Cups of T: Teaching, Technology & Transformation”.  But I’ve been calling it “3 Cups of Awesome” because it just WAS.

3 Cups of Awesome

And because I got distracted by a shiny thing or a comment from the audience while I was saying thanks and goodbye at the end, I want to give a special blog-o-riffic shout out to LEVA LEE, who is just the most talented, smart, knowledgeable, gracious, thoughtful and tireless wonder woman behind the scenes – Thanks Leva!

Categories: etug

Community metaphor: Popcorn

Not sure if  it’s because I’m a gardener or not, but gardening metaphors always seem so apt.   I’m thinking about metaphors for community right now because of an activity we’re doing in ISWO where we all gather images and words to represent community. I pushed myself past the first (garden-related) metaphor that came to mind, and came up with popcorn.

Now, first I have to tell you, I’m a traditionalist in the popcorn realm. No microwave bags in my house – it’s all about the pot, the oil, the cold naked kernels under a clear glass lid, and watching for the first brave ones to explode.  And then the satisfying cacophony as the rest of the kernels erupt into their potential.

That’s kind of what it’s like at this point in the course: we’ve laid the groundwork, provided  support  for people to get a strong jump on the course…and we wait perched over the glass lid.

And the first brave kernels are exploding already!  The course hasn’t officially begun and I’ve already been inspired this community in its very early days. There are new technology things I want to try, and new people I’m looking forward to getting to know better.

It’s going to be a great 4 weeks. Even if this metaphor takes corny to a new level. badum bum.

Categories: iswo

Blogging in Courses

Two things are happening which should get me blogging more regularly again:

  1. I am co-facilitating the ISWO (Instructional Skills Workshop Online) – it’s an intense, 4-week online course about online facilitation.  And this time, we’ve added a blogging component.
  2. My copy of Digital Habitats has arrived!! Awesome! (See previous post – this could be on my list of Things Awesome:  “when order arrives!”). Anyway, this book will give me lots to think about, I can tell already.

So, about the course blogging.  As an instructional designer who works for a university that has a LMS (Moodle) which has a lot of great tools to support a variety of learning activities (except the blog, unfortunately, is meh)  – why add an external blogging component?

There is lots written about this;  I don’t need to be convinced of the educational potential of blogging. It’s more the logistics.  There is an instructional design pro/con thing to weigh here – on one hand, blogs are a great tool for reflection, they have a life outside the course (i.e., the blog belongs to the blogger,  they can take it with them and continue engaging in reflective practice, it evolves as they do, etc), and hopefully, people will hook into and experience the benefits of the network as they connect with other bloggers.

On the other hand, they are outside the course. This means we all need to go find the blogs, and all the discussion/sharing no longer takes place in the course/forums. Part of me says, “so what?” This happens in f2f classes – people talk and think outside of class hours (we hope).  Still, the “one stop shop” argument is a strong one for busy people who want all the course stuff in one place.

However, I am confident for a few reasons:

  • we have plans for making the blogs easy to find (Moodle rss block and a list)
  • the blogging activity is framed as a tool for personal reflection and learning.  We ask for one reflective post about their learning per week, but aside from that, they are invited to do (or not) whatever they want. And there are forums, wikis, polls, surveys, quizzes, etc,  in the course for topic discussions/activities and practice facilitation by participants (the heart of the course) – so lots of reasons to be in the course.
  • my experience with “required” blogging in a course (cck09) was really positive. I liked that I “had” to do it, and got a lot OUT of doing it. There is something powerful about publication of your ideas; you try a bit harder
  • but MOST importantly, we have a dedicated blog steward.  A live person,  who is a passionate, dedicated educator who is excited and knowledgeable about blogging and PLNs, who will support the blogging activity running parallel to the course.

Can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

Categories: iswo

Look for the Awesome

CBC interviewed Neil Pasricha today – the man behind the Book of Awesome and the website.

The “awesome” things are simple, free quirky little joys we can encounter every day (e.g., bakery air, putting on warm undies right from the dryer, picking up a Q and U at the same time in Scrabble).  Sure, it might seem corny.  But whatever,  we need stuff like this to balance out the endless barrage of bad news in the world.

But more to the point, it encourages us to be (optimistic) observers.  And grateful.

So, how can you lose? Awesome.

Categories: Personal

Hype Cycle!

Alan Levine is circulating a 2-minute survey recently about Virtual Worlds (i.e., what’s happening with them?) – you should fill it out.  In it, he references Gartner’s Hype Cycle:

With respect to Virtual Worlds (in fairness, my only experience is Second Life), I’m in the Trough of Disillusionment, and don’t expect to see the Slope or the Plateau. I’m just not interested – neither for fun, nor learning.

However, I find it interesting to think of other technologies in terms of this Hype Cycle. For example:

Synchronous/Web Conferencing: Peak to Plateau?

At my institution, we recently got Elluminate.  It’s awesome!  My hope is, that with great support, training and modelling (for instructors/moderators, in particular…and we do have this in place), we’ll skip the sad Trough of Disillusionment altogether, and just go from the Peak of Inflated Expectations to the Plateau of Productivity.

Why I think this: Elluminate is obviously and immediately useful to people in our context.  It’s exciting technology, fun technology, it’s technology that brings people together. It’s not difficult to log in/participate or to moderate.  There are a lot of options, but you can start out small/simple.  It gets transparent pretty quick (ie., instructors can get on with designing useful/active sessions and stop worrying about buttons)

Google Wave: Perfect Example of Hype Cycle

Hey Kids! Remember Google Wave? Right. I forgot too, until someone mentioned it the other day.  So here’s a great example of the Hype Cycle:  Peak of Inflated Expectations? CHECK! Followed by the Trough of Disillusionment? Checkety Check.  Waiting (optimistically) for the Slope….Check.

Mobile Learning: TDB

I’ve got a toe in the Trough right now with respect to mobile leeeeearning. My research project is in its very early stages (TCB: Ethics Review, Lit Review…i.e.,  haven’t torn into the fun part yet).  This is probably a GOOD place to be starting a research project, actually (open-minded skepticism).

However, here’s what I notice in my own recent shift between being a Smart Phone “have not” to a “have”:   I love it.  Really. It’s fantastic for  productivity/keeping in touch. Love the apps.  But that’s personal/professional use…not learning/course use.  I find I generally/naturally avoid text heavy pages (i.e., lots of content, discussion forums…you know, typical course stuff). I don’t  “surf” or “read” much on my phone. That may just be me, we’ll see. Anyway, it raises questions about design for m-learning – it may not be enough to simply ENABLE m-access on your LMS (which is cool, and the point of the research). So, a toe  in the Trough for typical courses NOW. Still more in the Peak of Inflated Expectations in considering about what could be.

Categories: ed tech

And so it begins…going "m"

December 17, 2009 1 comment

I’ll admit, I’m extremely, unfashionably late to the smart phone party. I’ve made do with my talk-and-text phones, plus laptop for the last several years.  Telecommuting (for me, anyway) has meant being much less mobile (more at home=work) than I was in my regular commuting days. But sometimes I wonder: would I get out more if I was smart-phoned?  I guess we’ll find out! Meet the new love of my life….

we barely know each other, but I love it....

we've only known each other for 4 hours, but I love it....

So this came about due to an awesome initiative at Royal Roads University (for whom I work). There are tech grants available that are designed to get instructional designers and faculty working together on new/innovative uses of technology. Sure, we do this anyway (it’s our job), but the grants helped to nudge people into directions they may not have been able to pull off before. It’s been really effective – there are lots of neat projects in the works, with support from these grants for books, equipment, conference attendance, whatever.  So there’s a fun researchy buzz going on, and we’ll all get to learn about each other’s projects in the end.

So one of mine relates to m-learning. We are going to explore how courses can be accessed  on mobile devices. Years ago, when I first heard of the idea, I thought it was crazy. Who would want to read pages of course content on their phone?  I still think that, but my thinking has broadened somewhat. We’re going to start by looking at communication and content in an undergrad business course.  And I’m interested to see what kinds of mobile learning activities might emerge from this.

So for the next while, you can expect to hear about me becoming blackberry savvy, and how that project is coming along.

So far, I’ve got to say, the thing is wicked easy to set up. I just about fell over when the multiple email setup just worked and how you can delete messages from the phone AND your inbox.  I know, I’m an executive member of the Centre for the Easily Impressed…

Categories: ed tech Tags:

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