Thursday, 31 January 2013

DNLE and other relationships

Well fellow etmoocers, moocmoocers and DNLE alumni I passed the DNLE course and have my certificate in my hands (I'm old school- I printed it). So how am I feeling right now? Elated! Yes DNLE did evaluate my work, yes there were issues with the course (but now I realise that there are issues in every course, online or off- the challenges are just different to overcome) but I wouldn't be wending my way through the mooc world and having these amazing conversations about learning, educating, philosophy and other subjects (I use Pinterest and yes I post recipes!) if I hadn't started there.

While DNLE was not the first mooc I had taken, DNLE was the start of my true adventure in online education and the wonderful thing about it is it just keeps giving back. Yes I worked hard, handed in my assignments and thought deep thoughts but I also connected with others who continue, through our ongoing dialogue, to influence me today. And that is what sharing and accountability responsibility are about. As a fellow etmoocer Jeannine St. Amand mentioned in her blog we are all part of the etmooc river.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A little something from DNLE

So Ioanna from DNLE posted this up for discussion in the DNLE alumni site so I thought I'd share. As always Ioanna has posted a question to get us thinking. and for the original source of the graphic.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Corporate Education

Sorry I was writing this post last week and then was felled by a bad cold.

"So I read this article and it strikes me that I don't disagree with the overall thrust of the conclusions: that the current education system is outdated in its use of technology, that people need to be problem solvers and become producers of knowledge.  I think what irks me about this article is the tone, that the purpose of education is to create workers, that somehow we've been short changing our youth. What I get from this article is that the purpose of education is to create a stable of ready made plug ins for the new knowledge economy. Versatile plug ins, but plug ins just the same. It seems to be endemic in the discussion of the new way to educate with the goal of  creating knowledge workers with a specific end goal of being productive. But productive for whom? To the individual? To the employer? To society?

There are some fundamental ideas that need to be discussed. I think this idea that the school system does not produce innovators and people capable of change is ridiculous. That somehow the dearth of jobs for the young is our inability to prepare students for life. How have we managed to be innovative today if that versatility is not already inherent in ourselves and nurtured within a school setting? Is the school system we have now perfect? Absolutely not. Does standardized testing improve problem solving ability or show the worth of a student? No. Does some of the content in the curriculum bore students and teachers alike to tears? Yes to that too. But almost all of us in this forum are products of the current school system. We are enrolled in this course of our own volition, continuing to learn and push forward new ideas.My children, graduates of the current system, are grown and continuing on with either school or professional opportunities. I see them volunteer in the community and passionately argue for issues that matter to them. Some of this wish to engage with the community stems from our influence as parents, but some of it stems from the impact of teachers and the social networks within schools. What social media does is extend and expand the conversation beyond our physical geography, not eliminate the need for a physical gathering space to exchange ideas. Learning will now involve both our physical environment and the digital world. Notice how many of us in our videos situate ourselves by placing ourselves in our physical environment, our homes, gardens, outdoor spaces, showing our pets and treasures that surround us and make us feel secure in our identity. That environment is where so much of our learning occurs.

The problem is the disconnect between learning and education within the teaching profession itself. We forget that education is a system and structure, of how and where we create learning opportunities primarily for people under 25 and that education is not the act of learning. We all agree that the new technologies have already revolutionized how people connect, share and acquire information through all age groups. The question is how to use them to revolutionize the system of education. It is why we are discussing moocs as a possible platform for future education.

But if we are going to really look at the education system isn't it time we look at the purpose of the current system at the same time, not just the how but the why? The real reason why we as a society want to educate our young? Have the societal/economic reasons underpinning the current education system's purpose changed?  And if they have, how do we take what is good about the system and preserve it, while reaching out to innovation to meet the needs of students more fully? Is the purpose of the system still to create employees (as it was at the start of the industrial revolution)?  Or is it to create learners who understand how to find, analyze and respond to new knowledge? I believe that the time of answering to corporate needs is past, especially since people change jobs so frequently and old idea of the benevolent corporation that will employ people for life is gone.

Sadly this article comes under the heading "WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education) Building the Future of Education."  and has been written by an educator. The idea that people are not qualified for jobs is corporate spin that we, as a society, have been told to believe. Corporations, who have cut their training budgets over the years, continually try to have society pick up the tab for the cost of educating future corporate workers. Notice how governments fret about education curriculum when business chimes in? Instead corporations should pay qualified people more and offer more training in house rather than place this burden on the public education system. Allow the system to introduce children to many topics so they can explore, analysis and synthesis."

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Sea change?

So I've spent the day reading articles people have tweeted (courtesy of Cathy Davidson) and watching the first archived Blackboard collaboration. And maybe I'm in a cyclical rut right now but I just feel like we've been down this road before. The Renaissance and the Reformation led to great social unrest (including the witch hunts) and was premised on new ideas and access to those ideas. Our global society is undergoing a similar upheaval. New ways of making a living exist that were not around when I first went to university, there are new ways to communicate, share, group and connect that bypass the traditional educational venues and traditional communication methods. Governments can be toppled by Facebook and Twitter communication. Laws are archaic and often framed to protect the interest of organizations and businesses that are knowledge hoarders, not knowledge sharers. We're in the middle of a sea change and I hope I'm on the right boat!

I have, as usual, no solutions, but a whole pile of questions.

Renaissance of Education?

So several thoughts crossed my mind this morning as I was preparing for work. First is the idea of a digital persona and the idea of cheating and accreditation. This was in response to a tweet by Cathy Anderson, discussing biometrics to stop cheating in moocs. It makes me wonder if we can offer old school type accreditation in a mooc, but is cheating new? And is the idea of "cheating" cultural as well since these courses are global? Or is this a western idea? If I ask for help in a xmooc, and the answer is given to me, is that cheating? If I use the communication tools at hand I can ask the crowd to collaborate. Isn't that what we are hoping to do here? So is that cheating? Why is it in one type of mooc we look at collaboration as a positive and in the other as a potential source of abuse? I believe moocs are being tainted by trying to apply the old way of educating (and making money) to a new process of learning. I was also thinking about copyright and the idea of making money from human produced content. The books and printing press responsible for the Renaissance were not copyrighted which allowed for widespread dissemination of classical texts. Now we have wide spread dissemination of information through newer mediums (albeit sometimes violating copyright), so might this be the dawn of a new Renaissance? A new way of thinking? And a new way of making a living? As the printing press changed how people made their living (being able to write down their ideas instead of being a troubadour or storyteller) and the record player (CD, itunes) changed how singers made their living (live vs recorded)  are the new ways of communicating changing how we make a living from teaching and writing? (since if you have access to the internet you can create and upload content, you can teach from home, you can study from home.) Can we crowdsource higher ed? And if this happens, how do we re-imagine accreditation? Will we need the infrastructure to support education in the same way in the future if collaboration can be done from a location other than a central physical location? May educational institutions go the way of empty churches in Canada, as spaces to be re-imagined or torn down? I believe we are watching a great cultural shift in education and communications that began with the telephone and radio.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Masks, hats and other musings

I've been thinking about many things just lately. A few days ago someone kindly posted an interesting article about digital personas and how people feel they have two personas, digital and real life. This raises a point that I thought I would share, that of masks. A mask hides the real self from others and reduces inhibition. So is our digital self less inhibited than our real selfs? Is this the reason for the rise of cyberbullying- the mask or distance that technology allows us. We don't see how our words hurt others because we're not there. We do not feel the shame of the act.

But  does this also mean it it easier to share online than in person? Our reservations are stripped away and we are prepared to share more of ourselves than we might in a face to face professional or academic setting. And isn't this the point of etmooc, to share? But then, how much of it is our real self or is it our digital self?

I have yet to see the Blackboard session and I am looking forward to that. I believe it is about storytelling which was one of my favourite activities to do with students. This was especially true for aboriginal students, for who storytelling is the preferred way of communicating knowledge. I loved teaching the exercise with hats. Firemen, police, rain hats, straw hats, hats from other countries, all sorts of hats! Every student, including myself, would take a hat and wear it for an hour or so. We would spend some time wondering about the person in hat. What was their name? Where did they live? What did they do? What was the story of the person in this hat? And we would write the story of the person in the hat, including myself. ( modeling writing is a powerful way of teaching writing) and then read them out loud. It was always lots of fun and very successful.

It is also why I used Shakespeare in the elementary classroom because if anyone knows how to tell a story it was that man. Plus Shakespeare is surprisingly accessible for children (they know a good story when they hear it.) I would often take picture books for the younger grades and make them into plays for the students to act out. For the older students, I would have them convert Greek myths into plays and have them perform them in the classroom. Because the art of storytelling is not just the writing of the story but the performance.

Finally, I've been thinking about educational technology and how sometimes, in our rush to try new stuff, we forget the user. This is nothing new in education and anyone whose ever been enrolled in the public school system has been a part of the ongoing educational experiment. I have been enrolled in various moocs and I feel that moocs are not centred around the end user but the people designing them. Is this because they are so new? But online courses have been around for a while so has online education always been this poor? The xmoocs I have participated in have varied in their approaches to the student, from an environment of no support without even a TA to supervise the discussion forums (which soon degenerated into a free for all with pleas to the professor for help, harassing postings, posted answers and crudity- oh wait there's the mask idea!) in the Coursera platform to a broken peer review process in Designing for New Learning Environments.So perhaps it isn't the content that is poor but the "classroom management techniques" that need to be refined. And can cmooc benefit from improved online classroom management? Hopefully by the end of the course I might have an answer.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Bah Humbug redux!

So of course I posted this in the blog I created for moocmooc using Word Press thinking to myself " I am sure I can use the same blog and just change the categories section to etmooc. How hard can it be?" Every time I begin to get the least bit smug about my increasing ease in the world of online communication something happens to keep me humble, such as my inability to follow easy directions (no matter how many times I put in etmooc into the category section it remained unmoved by my pleas! Plus of course the internet deciding to be temperamental today.) As you can see, I've resigned myself to creating a separate blog for etmooc.  I believe in the end I will probably create an ode "Why I detest WordPress and other communication technologies," wrap myself in a warm blanket and cry into my cocoa.

Sensibly this time, instead of blindly using WordPress (it's so easy everyone says, ha!) I actually researched which blogging software might be better for someone of my limited online capabilities. So here I am in blogger, wondering if I'll abandon the postings in WordPress, creating more internet junk. I wonder how big the landfill is in the land of lost digital communication? Where does it all go when we've finished using it? Does the internet get full? ( I just checked on Google and yes I believe it does. Does this mean I have to clean up this as well as do housework?)

Needless to say here is the post I posted earlier in WordPress. I think this is the third time I've tried to put this up.

"So introductory week for etmooc and I already missed last nights discussion on twitter or blackboard or where ever it was! So looks like my first introductory etmooc post is going to be a grumpy Karen post I guess. Or a "maybe I'm burnt out from cmoocs" post? So my name is Karen, from Canada, specifically Kingston and I am a middle aged instructional designer, who got here by way of elementary teaching, museum education and then museum administration, who continually, every decade, has gone to school to upgrade and re-certify. So this is not my first mooc as I have taken classes with Coursera and Venture Lab as well as the January 2013 cmoocmooc. I had hoped that with this one I would spend a little less time lost and a little more time connecting (unlike the moocmooc where I spent a great deal of my time lost, and connected a bit [I now follow 8 people on twitter-ha!]), but perhaps I am expecting too much of myself and this course. I should be used to the online confusion that cmoocs generate but for this course I am looking for some clarity which is why I liked the longer timeline.

What do I mean about clarity? I need time to digest all the conversations, to think about what I have read, to ponder over what I have watched or heard. I expect that I am one of those people who does require that I "turtle" when I am trying to make sense of new learning. I am all for engaging, exchanging ideas, conversation, etc. but when it comes to the big ideas, organizing it in my mind and making connections I need distance from the noise. And this is the problem for me within a cmooc I guess. The noise is the constant twitter stream, blogs etc which is where these new ideas emerge. It is the same as a discussion within class. You have a discussion, through the interaction with your peers, you suddenly have a new perspective or insight into a problem or idea and what do you need to do? You need to go and write it down, reflect and refine.

So I feel like I am in a catch 22. I need to immerse myself in twitter and reading blogs etc, but I also need time to think about things, which means I am not reading blogs and twitter, thereby cutting myself off from the constant conversation with the "class" and perhaps missing that crucial aha moment (and yes I know there is an archival stream for twitter for etmooc.) I expect I am in the orient phase and I have got to decide what my boundaries are for participation. I just saw a twitter post that said "drinking from a fire hose takes practice and skill," and I am only used to a tap! So I guess this cmooc is going to refine my fire hose handling abilities and bring some clarity to the process.

Perhaps this aspect of the online community is the toughest part for the learner to overcome? It seems that the majority of students decide to exit from the course, either by becoming a permanent lurker or leaving the class entirely, in the first two weeks. As educators, perhaps we first need to think less about the contents of the mooc and more about the structure of how to manage "the fire hose" so learners aren't intimidated by the flood of information. And as a new twitter user you can't help but be intimidated. While the introductory week activities are great (I am still working through them) where was the twitter meet posted? I obviously missed it. And if it was posted in twitter isn't that self defeating for those who are just learning twitter? But is this just because I am not a digital native?

So for digital natives who use twitter regularly, where is their pain point for mooc communication? Have they already learned how to manage the "fire hose?" As my children's generation are much more comfortable with online technology, with <strong>seemingly</strong> less need for face to face communication to satisfy their need for socialization, would they not embrace the opportunity to learn online? Do they have the same drop out rates for moocs and if so why? Is the pain point for digital natives the self regulation required to complete the course? The ease in which you can leave a course (so you don't really have to commit)? The idea of not getting a mark or not having it count towards a degree?

Even though I am grumpy about missing the first chat (and I see it will be done again today at 1:00 while I am in a meeting) I'm glad to be here in the digital maelstrom."