Monday, October 31, 2011
Credo che molti, non sola la mia amica Serena, quando hanno letto la mia idea per il sistema di "notificazioni" pensano a la scuola, i controlli, e le segnalazioni. Io non li colpa di essere ansiosi perché questi metodi di educazione e di docimologia sono metodi di educazione molto strutturati, senza immaginazione, e molte volte la docimologia è punitiva.
Nello stesso tempo, quando qualcuno parla della partecipazione, molti pensano a la discussione, o forse un blog post, o qualche cosa visibile a molti come qualcosa scritta a twitter. È vero che questi sono topi di partecipazione ma io credo che la partecipazione ad un corso MOOC deve essere ripensata perché un MOOC non è come altri corsi, allora la docimologia, e allora che voglio dire "partecipazione"' non funziona funziona allo stesso modo.
Come persone che lavorano in educazione, come pedagogisti, deve che noi rompiamo le vecchie strutture che non funzionano più in questa nuova forma di pedagogia; deve che noi problematizziamo le definizioni che esistono; e deve che noi ripensiamo il nostro ruolo e cosa facciamo nel mondo della pedagogia MOOC e non-MOOC. E finalmente, spero che, l'apprendimento sarà divertente e attraente, e non abbiamo più questa ansia che viene dalla pedagogia punitiva :-)
Spero che questo post è comprensibile, non ho scritto qualcosa in Italiano per dieci anni (wow!)
Friday, October 28, 2011
Tony writes (and this is not the only thing he writes so read his entire post):
There could be all kinds of reasons for the shortage of comments on this week’s topic, but I was more struck by the form in which they occurred. Participants did not comment directly to my post for this week, but within their own blogs. I call this the syndrome of the selfish blogger. We all do this. If we have something interesting to say, we’d rather say it on our own web site than someone else’s (it would be nice though if the post was also copied to the site that originated the topic). I had to go and cull all the comments from the #Change 11 newsletter and from pingbacks to get them into one place, so I could comment on them as a whole.I have to say in MOOCs where an LMS (example: LAK11) or a Google Group (example: MobiMOOC, eduMOOC) were used and there were discussion forums, I really did find it obnoxious when people created (or responded to) a discussion post with something like this:
Oh, I wrote something about this very thing in my blog the yesterday day with regard to insert-MOOC-name. Check it out here: http://wwww.myfabulousblog.com/myfaculousMOOCpost.As a matter of practice I did not bother going to those people's blogs. There was enough content in the discussion forums to keep me occupied without having to sidetrack. What I did find very considerate was when people copied and pasted their blog content into the discussion forum with an attribution link. I think this is the best of both worlds, because as Jenny states, she post on her blogs because those are her reflections on a topic (and reading between the lines here:) not something that is necessarily a response to some discussion somewhere. If we have something that is our reflection on something BUT at the same time fits into a discussion, then the considerate thing to do, as far as I am concerned, is to copy and paste the entire post in the discussion IF it fits in.
Personally, I didn't take offense to Tony's selfish blogger comment. I think the key theme posed by Tony "Can change come from within, or do we need to re-invent new forms of higher education that are de-institutionalized?" is what drove me, and others this week. I did post twice on the subject, once in English and once in Greek, with different content in each. Of course I don't expect Tony, or others, to speak Greek, but at least something was there.
Now, as far as forums, blogs and comments go - for me at least, these are three different cognitive processes. If a MOOC has all three (like MobiMOOC, eduMOOC and LAK11) I tend to stick to the forums for most things, and to blogs for personal reflections. If a MOOC has gRSShopper, like CCK11 and Change11, where all your content is harvested into a daily newsletter, then longer pieces (like this one) where more time and thought go into it and/or I am referencing more than one source go into a blog. If I see something interesting on a blog, and I want to add a quick reply, thought or comment then I do indeed post to that blog and comment. I don't see comments as a venue for discussion, even though threaded comments have become the norm these days, the form is still limiting for longer posts like this one. Mini-discussions are achievable if you keep it to 2 paragraphs or fewer per comment.
Why not use the gRSShopper system for blog comments? I did try that with CCK11, but I found that
- I wanted to maintain "authorship" of my comments, and many blogs have disqus, which allows me to do that
- comments on gRSShopper, for me, are disconnected a bit from the blog content.
- Could I have done something that would have resulted in more comments, more discussion and more integration of the discussion in this MOOC?
- Or is the topic itself the problem – just not of interest to most people in this MOOC?
- Or are people just too busy to go beyond the webinar and a short response?
- I don't think so. I think you are limited by the distributed nature of this MOOC. It's neither space bound not time bound. Much of the content is all over the net AND the MOOC-fathers have already setup an expectation that there aren't forums on here, so it's hard to break apart (I think) from an distributed expectation and try to corale people into a forum for a week. It's also a fact that some people are a week, or two behind, or some people skip a week in MOOCs. This type of freedom makes it a bit difficult for facilitators.
- For me the topic wasn't a problem, but then again I work in academia, in IT, so I know the issues. Perhaps other participants may have had a harder time getting started with this theme because they didn't have the required social capital to tackle it right from the gate.
- Some people will be too busy, for sure. I am pretty sure that most people are not. I think a lot of MOOC participants take time to read many (if not all?) the facilitator provided materials and do respond via their blogs with their thoughts on the subjects...and then comment back to others via comments (for short comments) or longer expository blog posts (for longer "comments"). I know that there are many people who are on here whose native language is not English. I really like reading blogs from people like this (like Serena for example in Italian and Jaap when he posts in Dutch) because it adds another dimension to the MOOC. If English isn't your native language this takes time, and if a MOOC has been established to not be as strictly time bound as traditional courses, then it will take people more than the "allotted time" to get their thoughts and comments out :-)
In other news, it seems like the MobiMOOC research team is big in China :-) We were contacted yesterday by PhD students (under the direction of their advisor) to see if we would consent to have our mLearn paper translated into Chinese for publication in a core Chinese academic journal - this is both a great honor and über cool!
mLearn 2011 (BeiJing) Conference Proceedings
Thursday, October 27, 2011
If the point of change (change in education in general, not just Change MOOC) is to get away from the sage on the stage and seek out our own peer learning groups, aren't Massive synchronous sessions antithetical to that? Why would I want to attend a Massive synchronous voice chat (where only one person can speak at a time)? My voice would be drowned and I wouldn't have an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation and learn something. As Tim Owens argues, it becomes (or actually is ) a broadcast, so why not take pre-recorded questions for the experts and have them do a radio show?
As anyone has observed in massive gatherings, people tend to cluster together. They move from group to group until they find a suitable topic for them to explore with others. Instead of one Massive synchronous sessions, it would be better to develop smaller SIGs, throughout the week and then MOOC participants can elect to attend (or not attend) any SIG they want. The Massive in MOOC works because it is distributed throughout the time frame of a week (it also works because previous weeks become OER, so people can access them whenever they want event after the cohort has moved on). Massive in synchronous does not work because it is time and place bound. :-)
Update: I know that I used the term experts above. Expert is really a loaded word, with certain connotations of putting someone on a pedestal and pointing to them as the authority. I have problems with that word - especially when people call me an "expert" because I simply don't know everything - but it's also a problem in MOOCs because most MOOCs that I have been part of seem to go with a Freirean approach to education which doesn't privilege anyone in particular. Perhaps "guests" would have been a better term, but that also doesn't really get to why one "guest" gets picked to broadcast over others. More to discuss later I guess :-)
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Why does it even matter how I learned to perform as long as I can do the job well ?!”I think that you're not allergic to assessment (or measurement) but rather you are allergic to crappy assessment. The easiest way to think of assessment is to gather some sort of number - clicks on a link, or amount of time spent in a discussion forum, or number of paragraphs in an essay or number of correct answers in a multiple choice test, heck the multiple choice test is itself an instrument of assessment.
Now, just because you have a hammer, not everything is a nail, and this is where crappy assessment comes in. Numbers gathered are meaningless in a decontextualized environment - so who cares how many people have clicked on a link and "read" an article if they can't apply what they read? Multiple choice tests are equally bad outside of appropriate environments (I would say that multiple choice tests are bad the majority of the time, but that just me).
I think that if there is authentic assessment, as you mentioned "if you can perform...", then congrats, you've actually passed the test :-) ! Assessment, in my opinion, should be authentic and unobtrusive. Once assessment becomes obtrusive it becomes a problem and many of us have an allergy to it. Why? Because (in most cases anyway) it ceases to be authentic assessment and it becomes decontextualized "bad" assessment.
It reminds me of a time I was in a graduate class in project management. I really loved the class, and we (looking back at it) had a lot of assessment opportunities in the class throughout the semester. Students did case analyses (which are assessable), students performed a semester-long project management project where they planned, analyzed and presented every angle of a project that they were to manage (all that needed to be done after that was implementation) and students also lead class sessions - again all of these were assessable.
At the end of the semester what did we have? A final exam, 3 hours, sit-down, in class, that was multiple choice and short answers. Why? because the department required it. A blanket rule that you needed to have a final exam in all your classes, regardless of what the content of the course and what the instructional strategy was. This is an example of bad assessment, and luckily you're not the only one allergic to crappy assessment, we all are :-)
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I have to say that personally I have a love-hate relationship with OCW. I love that OCW exists; I think it is an awesome concept because not only does it open up academia, it offer cross-pollination opportunities with other colleagues in other schools (that you don't necessarily know of), it makes courses more transparent to your current and future students, and it offers opportunities for people to self-study if they can't come to your institution or can't afford your institution. I often look for OCW content in my own disciplines to see what other institutions are doing. One such example is Utah State. I think it's great for universities and individual faculty to want to put their stuff out there and it's something we should encourage.
Of course, there is the "hate" aspect of OCW as well. Well, OK, hate is a strong word to use, and I actually don't hate the OCW, just the politics, apprehension and misinterpretations about it. Let me take each one of these individually:
Misinterpretations of effectiveness of OCW content
I did see this in the articles about MIT's OCW. The idea went as follows: if you put your material online, in OCW, you are (potentially) helping the poor get out of poverty by retooling and providing a means for an education. Sure, that may be possible, but do the poor always have access to a computer and the internet to access OCW? Do they always have the prerequisite literacies to be able to self-direct their studies based on OCW materials? Are the materials that are placed on OCW free and open source (including all the readings) - in other words is it just the course outline that is open? or are the readings there as well? Look at this MIT course for example, unless you've got access to a college library to get them for free some of this material is straight out of pocket.
Don't get me wrong, OCW is great, but at the same time it's not a panacea or a catalyst for social change - it's simply one element that must work in concert with other elements to make things happen. Content without instruction and/or mentorship is not easy for everyone - it's an acquired skill.
Apprehension about putting your materials online
As a student I always wanted to know "what's next" in my curriculum. There were two reasons: (1) I wanted to know how things I am doing now connect with future things and (2) I wanted to use my "free" time in between semesters preparing for subsequent school semesters so I could make better use of my time (and take more classes than one normally would).
I was fairly resourceful and if professors didn't give me a sample syllabus (and many did), I was able to ferret things out from fellow classmates. This preparation helped me in my studies but not everyone does this. Having asked some faculty to post materials online for future students I get a look of apprehension. They feel great about teaching the courses, but they don't want to put their materials out there ( I should point out that these faculty are tenured faculty and thus don't fall under my adjunct exception rule that I articulated in a previous post) - part of it is that they feel self-conscious about the materials - someone will discover a typo for example or will be a harsh critic of their pedagogy; Other times they feel like it's their copyright and they don't want others to have their materials.
What I really dislike is that as academics we sometimes have a duplicitous nature. We will beg/borrow/steal from other colleagues' syllabi and course outlines to enrich our own, but we don't put our stuff out there to be used (or improved upon!) by our colleagues in other institutions. Now, not everyone is like this, so don't think that I am painting with a broad brush, but there are enough people like this that it makes me wonder about academia. We need to #changeAcademia ;-) Perhaps one should #adoptAfacultyMember and help them get their stuff out there :-)
Politics and the new and shiny thing
Finally, from a programatic end of things, the nuts and bolts of the OCW operation. I know that our OCW project was started with grant money when OCW was new and shiny and everyone was ooohing and aaaahing about this and everyone was saying how we should get onboard right now! From what I understand the seed money (being seed money) is running dry and it's now up to institutions to fun the maintenance and expansion of OCW projects (like MIT is doing!) The problem that I've come across is that people aren't necessarily really interested in OCW as an "open" tool, but rather they were interested in OCW as the "new and shiny thing" or "the new toy". Now that this shine has worn out and grants won't pay for it, those initial OCW champions seem to be on the hunt for new grants for new and shiny things, instead of taking a stance and really fighting for keeping OCW alive and expanding on campus.
Anyway, those were my initial thoughts for this week - what are YOUR loves and hates about OCW?
Monday, October 24, 2011
I just got around to listening to the presentation by Tony Bates. Toward the end Stephen made reference to the surveys that many institutions give to students at the point of graduation. Not surprisingly these are usually very favorable, as the respondents have self-selected according to their favorable feelings toward the school.
It made me wonder (again) how we get evaluations in a MOOC from those who only participate at certain points in the overall schedule. Especially since we want to affirm that sporadic or episodic participation is a successful approach to MOOCs, how do we get summative evaluations when the end point for an individual participant can be anywhere during the course of a MOOC, or event beyond the official end of it?
While I don't have the time right now for an immediate answer, I intend on coming back to this later on this week. I also wanted to get it out there because I think that some form of evaluation is important - both learner assessments if you are accrediting people in your course and course assessments to make sure goals were realized. I am interested in what other people think about this issue :-)
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Pour moi, les RELs, comme une idée sont intéressants, mais (de mon expérience) c'est trop difficile trouver des RELs qu'on peut utiliser sans pain dans leur cours. La majorité des RELs sont très spécialisés ou ils sont trop général, alors on doit faire un peu de massage pour s'adapter ces RELs dans un autre cours. Je suis ravi de lire les réactions des autres participants dans ce MOOC cette semaine.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Υπάρχει μια άλφα τεχνοκρατία στο πανεπιστήμιο που αν δεν θέλουν όλοι (ή τουλάχιστον πολλοί) μια ριζική αλλαγή, αυτή η αλλαγή δεν γίνετε. Πιστεύω πως τα πανεπιστήμια τώρα έχουν τον χειρότερο συνδυασμό του παλιού "ακαδημαϊκού καθεστώντος" και ενός συστήματος επιχειρησιακής διοίκησης που κοιτά μόνο αριθμούς, "παραγωγικότητα" (όπως και αν μετριέται αυτή σε ένα ακαδημαϊκό περιβάλλον) και κοιτά μόνο τα έσοδα και τα έξοδα αλλά μόνο για τους "μικρούς" - τα μεγάλα κεφαλιά που πληρώνονται τα πολλά λεφτά που παίρνουν τις αποφάσεις και διοικούν τα πανεπιστήμια ως επιχείρηση δεν εξετάζουν τους δικούς τους μισθούς και της δική τους "παραγωγικότητα". Απο τη αλλη πλευρα, το παλιό ακαδημαικο καθεστως χαρακτηριζεται απο ακαδημαϊκά σιλόείναι με τον κάθενα να κοιτα μόνο την τσέπη του (ή τη φήμη του). Έτσι όπως φαίνονται τα πράγματα η εσωστρεφεις αλλαγη λίγο δύσκολη μου φαίνεται εμένα αλλα όχι αδύνατη!
Τώρα απο το ελληνικό σύστημα δηλώνω άγνοια. Έφυγα απο την Ελλάδα όταν τελειωσα το γυμνάσιο οπότε το πως είναι το Λύκειο και η ανωτάτη παιδεία στην Ελλάδα είναι ολίγον μυστήριο. Ξέρω κάτι λίγα απο φίλους αλλα αυτά είναι απο ζητήσεις με καφέ μετά τις εξετάσεις που το μυαλό ίσως να είναι λίγο θολό. Με ενδιαφέρει να μάθω παραπάνω για το ελληνικό σύστημα ανώτατης παιδείας και τι νομίζετε εσείς, εσείς που εργάζεστε σε κάποιο μέρος του ελληνικού συστήματος παιδείας ή εσείς που είστε φοιτητές. Αν είστε στη Ελλάδα τι νομίζετε; Αν πήγατε στο εξωτερικό για σπουδές γιατί; Τι δεν σας άρεσε στην Ελλάδα και τι σας έφερε στο εξωτερικό; Αν είστε στο εξωτερικό τι κριτικές έχετε για το σύστημα που είστε; Και φυσικά η μεγάλη ερώτηση: μπορεί η αλλαγη να είναι απο εσωτερικούς παράγοντες ή όχι και γιατί;
Friday, October 21, 2011
A big thank you to Rebecca, Michael and Nilgun for representing our team at mLearn in Beijing (wish I could have gone but oh well, looking forward to meeting the rest of the team in person one of these days :-) ) I wonder if the presentation was video recorded.
Inge has uploaded our paper at Academia.edu for anyone who is interested and the conference slides up on SlideShare (link bellow).
I have to say that I really enjoyed working collaboratively with the MobiMOOC research team both on this project and on projects we are currently working on. While there is still place for solo-research activity, I think that research is strengthened by having a diverse group of people come together for a common goal.
What we see however (not all the time, but enough times) is that technocracy takes hold in institutions. The process of getting the technology and justifying it is much more important than the need for it. Take for example a technology which we already have access to, but it is not enabled. We don't need more money to access it, the button needs to be pressed for it to be enabled. Even to just press a button, we need to go through the motions of providing justifications, work flows and other rigamerole to gain access to it. Learning management systems (LMS or VLE depending which country you're in) seem to be a sore point in many institutions. These things are expensive so we're in VHS vs. Beta Max debates again and again. Once a technology has been adopted, there is a push to get more people to use it, even if it's not the appropriate technology. I think this just shows how problematic change is within the IT department.
I think that change in the university will occur form within, but it won't come from the IT department. I think that change will come from the faculty and students themselves. In a recent CIT (center for the improvement of teaching) forum I heard a faculty say that they don't count on technology being present because they don't know what the school supports and what they don't. At the same forum another instructor indicated that they don't use Blackboard (our LMS) because it is too complicated. At last year's EdTech conference I saw faculty who were openly flaunting the fact that they don't use any IT supported by the campus and instead opted for free Web 2.0 alternatives for their Web Enhanced classes.
If campus IT is providing tech that is hard to use, or is erecting barriers for their use, the non-tech savvy people are not going to use them and the tech-savvy people are going to find other alternatives. One thing is clear: technology which is paid for won't be used. Wouldn't it be better to return to basics and (1) examine the current pedagogical needs on a class-to-class basis and recommend tech based on those needs, and (2) make ourselves friendlier and more flexible to our users needs...or else we'll go the way of the mainframe and remote terminal.
Image retrieved from: http://www.offthemark.com/cartoons/1995-01-25.gif
Thursday, October 20, 2011
One of the ways in which MOOCs are reported to be open is that MOOCs allow the participants (learners) to define their own learning goals and learning outcomes and what this translates to, generally, is an "everything goes" attitude from MOOC participants.
I don't disagree that having learners have their own personally meaningful goals is important. After all many research studies have shown that if a learner has strong internal motivation (as exhibited in MOOC by having your own set goals), then the learning is much more meaningful to the learner and they take away more. This is great, but in my opinion it doesn't absolve the instructor, the instructional designer, and the facilitator from their duties to the course. A course is not, nor should it be (IMHO) a hodgepodge of loosely connected (or worse, non-connected) topics. While I don't ascribe to the notion that a course needs to be in class (virtual or physical) for X amount of weeks with some sort of uniform exam in order to be called a class, I do think that there is a programmatic element to the course, it is designed, it is meaningful by itself but extensible by the learner and there is some sort of assessment.
I keep coming up to the blog post from early in Change11 titled The C is for Conference. I am more ready to accept the dip-in-jump-out mechanism for MOOCs, the loose structure and the over-reliance of participant personal goals versus a balance of personal-goals and programmatic course goals IF we say that MOOCs are NOT courses but rather prolonged web-conferences. The nature of the conference allows it to be somewhat more programmed but mostly fluid compared to the format of a course. It may seem like semantics to most, but I think that in most people's minds there is a distinction, and people looking for Courses may signup and never participate simply because of this disconnect.
This line of thought went along a view that compared to the traditional classroom; in a traditional classroom students register for the course, they can attend classes for a week and then decide whether or not they want to stay with the course or not. If they do stay with the course they know that there is a certain amount of "lurking" that they can get away with, but they do have to participate a certain amount. This is what makes traditional classroom analytics easier. You know exactly how many people registered, how many people dropped the course (early in the semester) or withdrew (late in the semester), and you know how often people participated and the quality of their participation. There is also some artifact involved with their participation that indicates their mastery of the topic.
In contrast, most MOOCs (that I've been a part of), have open enrollment, the dip in-jump out aspect seems to be a big thing, there are many lurkers and many people who've signed up but don't come back (not even as lurkers), and for most registered users there is no artifact that shows their mastery. I am not saying that the that I want to eject people from any MOOC I create (like jupidu I want to give people an opportunity to participate), but the question is - how does one collect meaningful learner and learning analytics when there are so many no-shows in a MOOC? Perhaps a "snooze" button would be a good idea for measuring lurkers.
If people don't participate for X period of time, they get a notification by email. They can choose to "snooze" by saying that they are a lurker (and X weeks later they get notified again), or they can cancel the alarm by saying that they decided to opt-out of the course. If they decide to opt-out we can find out why. If they decide to lurk, we can find out how often they lurk, what topics they come out lurking for, and we can figure out if there is a lurking-to-participant or lurking-to-drop-out rate (and why).
Some questions I will leave you with:
- Should MOOCs continue with this come-and-go as you please policy? What are the implication of either approach?
- Should MOOCs actively interrogate/poll lurkers and drop-outs to figure out why the MOOC isn't to their liking? After all, a MOOC cannot be all things to all people.
- What are ways to conduct a learner analysis in MOOCs? After all, you can't design a course if you don't know your audience.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Le thème est trop intéressant pour moi parceque je travaille comme technologue éducatif pour dix ans et mes opinions autour la technologie éducative change le plus que j'apprends sur la technologie éducative et le plus que je m' expose à la bureaucratie universitaire.
- Posted using BlogPress from my Newton 3000 (iPad)
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Paul seems to diminish the curation aspect of teaching. From what I gathered, Paul doesn't really see the collection and curation of a set of materials (yes, other people's scholarly output) as something that is worth while recognizing. I think he is dead wrong! The design of a class does need to take into account what material is needed and how it fits in with the learning objectives. You can't just take five journal articles on any topic from any journal and use them in your class and claim that the class will be the same as when you carefully read, evaluate and incorporate your materials, and other people's materials into your course. I think that this design aspect to education is a type of activity that is undervalued by Paul and others, and it's really not fair. Designing a good class is as much work (if not more work) than teaching the course. So yes, I see a professor's (or lecturer's) output as both teaching and curating materials for their course. That doesn't mean that I don't think those materials should be openly available, it just means that I value them and other people need to value them too if they are ever to become available under some sort of open license. If you don't value these materials, and by extension the people that created them, then those people won't release those materials (why should they?)
The second thing that I disagree with Paul about is that he doesn't seem to distinguish between those people who are tenured faculty and those who are adjuncts. For tenured faculty, I think that their institutions should require that their academic output be made open, after all they are academics for a reason. The people that Paul doesn't factor in is the many, many, many adjuncts that are teaching courses in the US these days (I don't know how things are abroad). The adjunct's life isn't that great - as many articles on insidehighered.com and chronicle.com, as well as many blogs, can attest. Adjuncts also don't generally get any money for developing a course, they only get to teach the course, and in some institutions the institution requires that the instructor to hand over this material (even though not paid for this labor of creating something).
I think that it is indeed true that instructors don't get paid for their course creation and content curation skills, but some instructors do get paid for intellectual output. Those instructors are tenured, and that intellectual output can be a course that they created or an article they wrote. If institutions are paying for that output, it should be public. But, if an institution is not paying for the output, as is the case with adjunct faculty then I completely understand why those faculty don't want their materials out in the wild. It is, in a sense, one element of their competitive advantage (the other being teaching). If they spend countless hours developing a course, handpicking other people's work, and creating their own from scratch, so that they can teach the best class possible (and they are not paid for this prep work) then it's not fair to paint them with the same brush as full time faculty because those people do get paid for this labor.
Friday, October 14, 2011
In any case, the story behind this artifact comes from my days as an MBA student. It was in one of my Human Resources courses, Labor Relations to be precise, that this artifact was generated. In this course we were broken down into teams of Labor Leaders and Managers and we had to negotiate a new union contract because our old one had expired. I have to say that this was and interesting and useful experience despite the fact that it was a mock negotiation. The card was given to me by one of the members of management (quite a character that classmate!) when I had brought up an alternative to their suggestion in the course of negotiations. He took the note card, wrote something on it, and either slid it across the table, or tossed it at me (I don't really remember, it was 2005). I looked at it and chuckled. If this were a real situation he wouldn't have done this (it would have been a token of bad faith on the part of management I believe) and I wouldn't find it funny.
I haven't kept many incidental or impromptu tokens FROM learning experiences over the past years like this one, but this one I thought worthy enough to pin to my pinboard. I wonder why? (perhaps it the Matt Groeningeque handwriting)
Η αλήθεια είναι πως βασικά δηλώνω άγια για το ελληνικό σύστημα παιδείας επειδή ήρθα στην Αμερική μετά το γυμνάσιο οπότε ούτε λύκειο έβγαλα στην Ελλάδα, ούτε πανελλήνιες έπρεπε να δώσω, ούτε ξέρω και πως είναι τα πανεπιστήμια στην Ελλάδα. Ότι γνωρίζω το γνωρίζω από τις εμπειρίες φίλων και γνωστών. Εδώ στην Αμερική τα βιβλία που χρησιμοποιούν τα σχολεία είναι όλα από εκπαιδευτικούς εκδοτικούς οίκους, οπότε οι εκδοτικοί οίκοι έχουν τα πνευματικά δικαιώματα, και τα βιβλία αυτά δεν τα βρίσκεις ποτέ (νόμιμα) σε δωρεάν ψηφιακή μορφή. Απ' όσο γνωρίζω, τα σχολικά (και πανεπιστημιακά;) βιβλία στην Ελλάδα είναι κάτι που το κράτος παράγει και τα δίνει δωρεάν (ή με λίγο κόστος) στους μαθητές - σωστά ή κάνω λάθος; Αν είναι έτσι, γιατί το κράτος δεν έχει και ψηφιακές μορφές στο διαδίκτυο, δωρεάν, για να μπορεί και η ομογένεια στο εξωτερικό να τα χρησιμοποιεί;
Η ανοιχτή παιδεία είναι κάτι αρκετά ενδιαφέρον, και φυσικά αν το κράτος δημιουργεί εκπαιδευτικό υλικό, τότε τα πνευματικά δικαιώματα είναι τύπου public domain, οπότε λογικά πρέπει να βρίσκονται κάπου δωρεάν για τους Έλληνες πολίτες και κατ’ επέκταση τουλάχιστον σε άλλους Έλληνες παγκόσμια (εγώ πάντως θα έλεγα οτι θα έπρεπε να είναι δωρεάν για όλους). Το θέμα ανοιχτού λογισμικού είναι αρκετά μεγάλο στην Ελλάδα, ή έτσι τουλάχιστον μου φαίνεται όταν διαβάζω και ακούω τα ποντκαστ διαφόρων Ελλήνων geeks. Αναρωτιέμαι αν υπάρχουν άλλοι και στην Ελλάδα και έξω, που ενδιαφέρονται να «ανοίξουν» την Ελληνική παιδεία, ιδικά την παιδεία στα πανεπιστήμια. Θα με ενδιέφερε να δω ανοιχτό υλικό από Ελληνικά πανεπιστήμια, και βιβλία, αλλά και OpenCourseware, καθώς και ελληνικά αντικείμενα μόρφωσης (learning objects)
Κατ’ επέκταση αυτού του ανοίγματος, υπάρχουν Έλληνες ακαδημαϊκοί μου ενδιαφέρονται να αρχίσουν ένα Ελληνικό MOOC;
Thursday, October 13, 2011
I have realized for a while now that instructional design and knowledge management go hand in hand however I had never bothered to actually put anything to formally bind them. At times instructional design can seem very rigid, after all it is a systems view of learning, and there is a process to getting things done (also known as "a method to the madness" ;-) ).
What Wiley & Edwards posit in this paper is that the collective knowledge one find in forums (fora), or places like slashdot are good examples of Learning Objects. Now, from a 30,000 foot view, I do agree, that these nuggets of information (and a helpful community that will disambiguate and augment what's there) are examples of Learning Objects. Even thought I am a big fan of Let Me Google That For You (where's my tongue-in-cheek smiley when I need it?) and teaching people how to be self-sufficient in troubleshooting their own problems (or at least trying to find the solution online first before they talk to someone else) I am still having a hard time calling stored knowledge somewhere a Learning Object. By that rubric, are libraries not containers of learning objects?
I think my main sticky point is one of semantics - what does one mean when using the terms following terms?
- Open Educational Resources (OER)
- Learning Objects (LO)
- Open Content (OC)
So one side of the brain acts in the persona of the student. As a student (and I've been a student for a very long time), I am all for open content! I wanted to see the professor's syllabus before the semester started. I wanted to know what the course content would be so I could prepare for the course in advance, or just figure out which courses would work well together. I also wanted my professors to have their content as open content because it meant that I didn't have to keep reams of printed paper material (not always searchable) but I could find it on the web (something like a school repository). Alas, this didn't really happen on the departmental level, so in a rogue fashion I created the PocketID (Pocket Instructional Design) wiki, which contained thematic outlines for each course in my instructional design program, as well as other useful information for students. Not many faculty took to it, but I am still advocating for its use and for open content on campus. I also advocate for people to put their content on our campus OCW (but that also is an uphill battle).
OK, now let's switch sides! I will take on the role of faculty or instructor. This coming spring I am scheduled to teach a new course on research methods for the instructional design program (yay!). For this course I am developing everything from scratch - content, syllabus, objectives, rubrics - the whole thing. Provided that the materials I use are not copyrighted I plan on posting them on PocketID, so they can be there for all. For any copyrighted materials (like journal articles) I plan on putting a proper citation and then people can use their library subscription to get the stuff. Then this past weekend I was thinking to myself oh no! What if I have typos? What if some of these sentences make sense to me, but not others? What if someone takes my stuff but doesn't give me attribution?
Now, I won't be posting rough drafts, but still there may be typos, or things that I discover along the way that need fixing. I also don't expect to get paid for people using my materials under a creative commons license, but I would like some attribution. I had to come to terms with the fact that things will never be perfect, there can always be a better revision made. In the end, things will have to be good enough to go online, and then update them as needed. After all, if someone finds a typo, they can tell me and I can fix it ;-)
As far as attribution goes, I decided that I didn't care much - for one reason: an idea (or intellectual output) cooped up is an idea that's no good. No idea is borne out of the mind of one person and eventually someone else will have it and show it to the world - so to hoard some intellectual output is counterproductive for everyone. It's better for things to just be out there and to be used, than withheld for a very long time and then find another avenue out.
As an aside, I am not sure if this was shared somewhere in the #change11 MOOC, but I came across this Guardian piece the other day on OER. Personally, most OER that I have seen is too specific for the uses I wanted (so they don't fit into my own course development) or they are too general (so they aren't that useful). Someone else on #change11 posted this paradox but I found that it perfectly described my issues with OER content up to now :-)
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
First, Brainy Smurf wrote an interesting post about the process (or perhaps the indicators) which are necessary for him to write a response to something he finds online. I have to say that he's hit the nail on the head with most indicators. I do dislike errors in blog posts - but I do take certain into consideration: if I read something that has errors in insidehighered.com or chronicle.com, then I am less likely to respond because I feel like the bar is higher - those people are not my peers. If I read something in this MOOC, despite any minor grammar issues I am more likely to respond because I see MOOC participants as peers.
As far as profiles go (i.e. does the profile provide any info on the person), that's not are as a high factor for me because I've been used to seeing anthropomorphic avatars - after all, for the longest period of time the BSD Daemon was my avatar on the forums (or fora? ;-) ) that I participated on :-) I am not saying that it's not important, it just depends on context. I think that the issue of online identity is very important to people, as one can see from John's posting on the topic,
It is a personal choice, and although I am in favor of openness, I could understand that openness is not viewed as a nominal practice for many professions. This is especially so, for certain professions like medical profession, where duty of care, professional accountability and responsibility comes before any disclosure of incidents or experience that relate to patients or medical care. Exposure of one’s true identity (both as a professional, an educator or student) might have an impact on one’s professional identity, personal security and privacy – like those working in sensitive professions – in defence or police operations. I also think there are significant issues not addressed when debating about political or social aspects in public which may relate to individual organisations, especially when such debates/discourse could be viewed and judged by the public, present or potential employers.
Here I think this is where the virtual identity can interfere with the real world identity. Sometimes the two are the same, however sometimes they are in opposition to one another; or you may be considered "an expert" by your peers, but your company or institution may not appreciate you spending your time (at work or at home) evangelizing, sharing your expertise, or airing certain political opinions. If you are in the US, read Speechless: The Erosion of Free Speech in the Workplace. It's a fascinating book and the bottom line is that if you are working in a right-to-work state, you have no free speech. If you employer doesn't like what you do or what you say, even on your own free time, they can summarily dismiss you. I think that's why it's important to give some people some slack on their online identities. Then again, as John writes if you are contacting a company you expect someone eponymous, of if you are following some company on twitter or facebook, you expect a real person there.
So where does this leave us with the whole issue of knowing? I think that there are many facets to examine, and there probably isn't one simple answer, but it would be an interesting thing to explore with other people who are interested in this: "What does it mean to know someone in the digital realm in our Web 2.0 world?"
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Hansen (the author) argues that MBA programs were places that people went to learn hands-on knowledge but at some point in time (50 years ago as quoted by an HBR article) business schools shifted from practice to science - measuring and learning. As a result MBA students tend to be directed toward the numbers and an analysis of a situation but not act on this info; and the criticism is that soft skills aren't offered.
Now, I have to say that I am of two minds on this. My first reaction is that Graduate schools aren't workshops. I think that the point of graduate education is to get you acquainted with a few key sets of facts, figures, laws and mechanisms that are pertinent to the profession that you elect to pursue. It's also a graduate school's job to make sure that you can fend for yourself - in other words the oft quoted "teach a man how to fish." Graduate school classes, in this capacity, can help you connect the dots in some limited fashion; however they can't connect all the dots for you, nor should they! Students should be trained to sniff things out on their own and connect their own dots.
The converse to this is, and I agree with Hansen, that MBA programs can seem a bit disconnected. After all, an MBA is a generalist degree, with the aim of getting practitioners familiar with the many different facets of a business, including operations management, marketing, IT, finance, accounting, statistics and economics (among other things). All of these are disciplines in an of themselves, so the connection-making may not seem that obvious. I have to say that I was lucky because of the path I chose for my MBA. In addition to taking the required MBAMGT 650 (Organizational Analysis and Skills for Managers), or as it is affectionately known Bootcamp. In 650 we do get those soft skills that Hansen alludes to and it's up to the students to carry through, use, and perfect those skills in each and every course that they take in the MBA program. Instructors aren't meant to handhold you and cover group dynamics and other such topics each and every semester.
For me, my luck comes in three fold: First I opted to have one of my specialties be human resources management, and those courses were very enlightening as far as management of people goes. Second, the college of management at UMass Boston has (what seems to be) a ton of guest speakers from the industry come and speak to students that are new to the game. Sometimes students are pulled out of class to go, but most times it's really up to the student to make the time to go to these events and learn from practitioners! Finally, as far as putting it all into practice, I worked full time, as did most of my classmates, so when projects came up where we had the option of choosing our own company and project, I could always dip into my workplace for a true cornucopia of topics and projects that my team could work on and help get off the ground.
The theme that becomes apparent to me is this: Leadership isn't taught - for that matter even if leadership were taught it would be up to the student/graduate to make things happen. I took a few of the opportunities offered in the my MBA program, and I created some of my own. A successful students does not just depend on the instructor, they need to do some (or a lot) of the leg work on their own.
Do we need to know each other when we are sharing knowledge and collaborating?This is a case where I had an immediate response, then I thought back to my own personal examples of sharing...and then I ended up with no answer at all, but rather I was left with a giant question mark (i.e. this needs some research)
My initial answer, without giving it much thought, was: of course we need to know one another to share information! - This reaction came from my own preferences when meeting and talking to people. If I don't know someone I tend to size them up before I offer up any information. They also tend to be the conversation initiators.
Then, I had to take a step back and evaluate my online interactions, examples of which would be on forums like macosx.com and howardforums.com. In my online interactions I have initiated conversations, both in the forms of questions (example: how do I unlock my Ericsson T28w?) and in the form of comments (example: Nokia just released the Nokia xXx, the phone for extreme sports fans!) I also jumped in conversations, with unknown people, when I read things that were factually incorrect, or incongruous with my own knowledge and experiences. So in fact it does seem like I don't need to know someone in order to share...But Wait!
What got me into philosophical trouble is this: what does it mean to know someone? Could my standing back and observing conversations or going through the backlog of discussions in online message boards allow me to know someone in a certain way that it would enable me to converse and share with them? In that case, what constitutes knowing someone? What are the criteria that need to be met? There are obviously shades of knowing as we can see from our relationships with other human beings and the langage that we use to describe them. Some people are in our close circle, others are in our extended circles, some are family, others friends, others best friends, others acquaintances. All those to me seem to indicate some level of knowing.
The question then becomes not only do we need to know someone to share or collaborate with them, but also at what level do we need to know them to collaborate and share successfully.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
While the creation of a social object is indeed something to think about - take for example my (and possibly your) many, many, many group experiences where you needed to come together to produce something - in my case it was homework and school presentations during my Masters programs and various projects at work.
I think that this work-based view of what binds us is limiting and I think it's incorrect. I don't think that as a species our imperative, our raison d'être, is to produce stuff. I think that this is potentially a sign of our consumption-based society; and you can't consume something if there isn't something to consume (well, you could consume time to make that "something" but then you might be getting into a circular argument). In any case - I don't see a shared object as something that binds us. The shared object may be something in the workplace but it's not something in the overall field of learning.
In the US we tend to view education as a way of getting a job, so we've "jobified" inquiry and curiosity and massacred it with standardized testing. So one could see education as an social object based outcome which necessitated collective learning, but this is the wrong way to frame education.
So what does bind us to collective learning? I think that it is our social nature that predisposes us to collective learning. We are naturally curious as a species (even if it does get beaten out of us by poor educational practices which stifle this inquiry). We are also (generally) social. If we find other people who are interested in the same things we are we light up, we become more talkative and we share more information. This is shared enterprise (satisfying our curiosities) is the basis for our collective learning in such communities of practice. Physical (or virtual/digital) objects may come out of this shared scratching of the curiosity itch, but it's not a necessary reason why we come together to learn.
Some early personal examples of collective learning is my long term participation in forums like macosx.com and howardforums.com. I did spend a number of years discussing and learning when I was active on those sites, and I probably taught (or provided info for) many other members then, and maybe even now since the archives of those discussions are available. I also spent time (admittedly less than these two forums) on topics like PDAs, PocketPCs, and in communities like the NewtonTalk community. Again, through participation and through lurking I learned a lot.
Even in the pre-internet era (yes, I was there before the internet) collective learning occurred in our playgrounds when kids in our playgroup were helping each other learn new skills - they may have not been all that useful, but they were skills nonetheless. In school, too, we experienced collective learning when professors put us in workgroups and asked us to complete a task.
I guess what I have arrived at is this question: is this a different name for an activity that occurs in many different settings, including certain type of pedagogies and in communities or practice? What does "collective learning" bring to the table that isn't already there?
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
I have a few blog post to dos on my list for the next couple of days (which require more text and brain power than I have now...otherwise I'd get crackin' on writing those thoughts down right now) but I had this idea for gRSShopper: a digg feature for blog posts. If you really like a participant's blog post (or diigo submission or tweet or whatever) you could +1 them. Then top posts could rise up at the end of the MOOC as something to revisit if you didn't get through them the first time around.
OK that was the idea. What do you think?
- Posted using BlogPress from my Newton 3000 (iPad)
OK, the change in tagline happened last spring, but I thought I would record it now (better late than never).
When I first started the blog the tagline was "blogging about my education, one class at a time." I think my inspiration was the cooking show "Mexico, one dish at a time."
Since I graduated I though the tagline was no longer fitting so I changed it to "traversing the land after the Masters degree and before the PhD." I am not sure what my inspiration was but I am pretty sure I was channeling Will Farrell and the movie Land if the Lost.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
I guess it was great that a former boss called me a "loudmouth with big ideas"...even though he didn't know it at the time ;-)
Sunday, October 2, 2011
I have to say that I am a bit behind on my self imposed goals for this week in Change11. I had intended to read all of the Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice, but I was only able to read about 4 chapters some were "assigned" through the MOOC, and others looked interesting enough for a side track. The book remains in my ReadItLater list on my iPad so I will probably finish it this week anyway (it's interesting and easy to read, so it shouldn't be a problem).
The thing that kept coming to mind while reading the certain chapters (and the chapter devoted to publishing) was the academic carrot or stick: tenure and promotion. If committees that determine your tenure (or non-tenure) and your promotions and merit raises don't value digital scholarship, but rather value the traditional journal, you (as a young budding tenure track faculty member) might be tempted to forsake open scholarship in favor of the closer "norm" for your own professional sake. Once you get tenure (and your position is safe) might come back to it back those are 3-7 years of lost scholarship that enriches everyone. Personally I think that if students saw that their professors blogged and posted on YouTube about their research and about the cool findings they had (and how it applies to the student's life), you might see more students interested in education - beyond the "I am going to school so I can get my BA and get a job..."
An interesting parallel came to mind when I was reading the tenure and promotion committees part (I forget which chapter it was) - it brought me back to my MBA days! Weller writes that tenure committees have essentially outsourced their responsibility to objectively weigh their colleague's contributions to the profession by just looking at one indicator: how scholarly is the scholarly journal in which they have published in (OK, I am really boiling this down, but this is the gist that I got from it). This reminds me of countless discussions I've had with colleagues about hiring managers and human resource departments.
A lot of times (it seems) like hiring managers and HR departments get rid of applications of perfectly good candidates because they don't happen to fit a specific mold; usually this entails having some sort of specific degree, and a certain number of years in the industry. An applicant's experience and education may be perfectly good for the position, but the hiring managers outsource that critical evaluation of candidates to the degree granting institution by requiring a certain degree type. One example of such a profession is Librarianship, where if you don't have an MLIS degree (Master's in Library and Information Science), you will not be working as a librarian.
I think it's time to embrace our inner open scholar and publish a certain percentage of our intellectual output as something that is open and accessible. It doesn't have to be all of what we produce...baby steps!
As a side note, I was going to do my weekend review as a video...but I didn't have enough guinea pigs to go on camera for me :-)