Saturday, December 31, 2016

Crazy semester, crazy year, coming to an end...

So, vacation has begun! I've gotten out my movies, video games, and comic books that I want to read, play, or view in the next 20 days until school starts again!  Before that though, I wanted to have a quick look back, a year end review if you will, at this past academic year.  Wow... Now that was a crazy year!  Yes, there was a lot going on in the global and political arenas, but (just to be a tad bit selfish), let's put those aside for now and focus on me (hahaha...typical millennial, it's all about me, me, me... :p )

The year kicked off with EDDE 804, technically speaking my last course in the doctoral program I am in - but not really.  The course was a course in leadership in distance education (which reminded me a lot of my MBA days actually in terms of some of the discussions we had), and it was facilitated by Marti Cleveland-Innes (of CoI fame).  The course was interesting, challenging, and it definitely moved the doctoral ball forward. It actually got me thinking more about the connections between my (future) EdD (once I earn it) and my MBA, and academia in general. It also got me thinking more about the challenges of leadership (and management) of complex organizations.  It's easy to say "I'd do a better job" when confronted with problems of monumental proportion and complexity, but it's not all that easy (not, not a jab at the political arena, but it can apply there too).

Over the summer I took the option of brushing up on my qualitative research skills.  While I've been reading much on this topic for the past (more?) years, I thought it would be good to have a place where I could think out loud, get some peer review, and get some advice from someone who has a little more of a view of what AU expects of doc students in their dissertation.  It was a good opportunity to be in the same class as fellow students from Cohort 6, and a good opportunity to work on parts of my dissertation proposal.  Although, to be honest, I feel a bit like a slacker. I was aiming to do my literature review over the summer as well...but that didn't happen.

Fall came, and it brought with it EDDE 805. This is where the rubber meets the road, where dissertation proposal are initially formulated and feedback is given.  An old saying from our EdD orientation is something that came to mind: "we'll suffer together" (one of my cohortmates said this, but I don't remember who).   On the one hand, this seminar wasn't particularly hard.  But, on the other hand, it was quite hard.  It is where the rubber met the road in terms of us beginning the transitioning from students in a doctoral program to being doctoral candidates (after we defend our proposal). Decisions needed to be locked in, as far as what we might be doing, so we could move forward.  Sometimes that putting a stake in the sand is the hardest part of the process.

The year wasn't all about classes, however.  There were lots of  local, regional, and international events that I took part in.  Locally we presented with colleagues such as Alan, Carol, and Linda, regionally I co-organized our 3rd Instructional Design Symposium with my colleague Kevin, and nationally and internationally I worked with some really awesome colleagues like Maha, Aras, Sarah, Keith, Rebecca, Len, Autumm (and many more!) on papers, conference presentations, virtually connecting. Heck, I was even an on-site buddy for the first time! That was exciting to meet Brian, Stephen, and Amy in person (and get a better understanding of how hard on-site vconnecting buddying is).

So, despite how crazy the world in general is, I can always count on my academic buddies, at work, at vconnecting, in my cohort, to infuse a dose of sanity.  So...

Thank you for a great academic 2016. See you all in 2017 :-)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Conflict of interest?

I was thinking about this the other day...  I was reading the requirements for setting up review committees for my dissertation proposal and for my ultimate dissertation defense. One of the forms that people on committees need to fill out is a statement on conflict of interest.  This isn't unusual since I see it on the peer review side of things, be it in peer review journals, or (more recently) being on a conference program committee.

Normally I wouldn't have spend more time thinking about this, but I've been more active on social media as compared to some of my cohortmates.  Over the years I've met academics in my area on twitter, on google+, and even though I make it a point not to 'friend' people on facebook unless they are actually my friend (or family), I've added some academics on there who seem to be more active on facebook than other social media platforms.  And, of course, when I see something of interests on there I try to engage with them.  The same holds true for vConnecting.  I like going onto vConnecting because it's a way to see people I normally tweet to, but it's an opportunity to meet new folks and engage with them.  So, I started pondering this point.  If people get to know me better through social media before I reach the point of forming a committee, does this make my potential committee member pool smaller due to potential conflicts of interest?


Monday, December 19, 2016

The vConnecting about Cupcakes and Pokemon!

Another docublog from virtually connecting from a few weeks ago, at OpenEd Berlin with Alec Couros.  This one has the innovation of being the first "pop up" virtually connecting session.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Minerva? Why not Athena?!

The last virtually connecting session on my docublogging list.  In this episode we speak to Steve Kossly of Minerva.  This was from OLC Innovate 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The vConnecting/TOPcast crossover episode

Coming to your from OLC, this virtually connecting session is the vConnecting/TOPcast/ResearchInAction crossover!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Anatomy of a winter break

Happy winter break to everyone!  Classes are over and I guess I am supposed to start working on my candidacy exam...  This comic seems like it applies ;-)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Of Wearables diapers?!

A little more docublogging, this time from a virtually connecting session from the Wearables conference with George Siemens

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Academic Conferences: No change here, go about your business

I've been thinking about Rebecca's post for the past two weeks, the one titled What Trump means for academic conferences.  Now that the semester is over, and homework is off my plate (for another 35 days) it's time to commit some thoughts to (e)paper.  I'll say first that the whole travel advisory cited would carry more weight if it weren't coming from Turkey. There are things happening politically in that country that have nothing to do with Trump being elected (well, as of this writing there are 14 more days until the electoral college votes, so who knows...)

In any case, I would say that academic conferences, both those hosted in the USA, and those hosted elsewhere, are a venue for the academic elite, and in some cases those who are lucky enough to have a conference happening locally that they can either crash or find some other free means to attend. I don't think organizers will see the USA as a second tier place to host conferences.  Even if they did, for the sake of argument, move to Canada for the time being, the net result is the same: conferences are still geared toward the academic elite who can:

  • afford to pay conference registration fees
    • AAAL would cost me $325 to register.  The OLC Innovate conference in 2016 was around $700. The NMC summer conference is about $650.
  • afford to pay for travel 
    • for instance the AAAL conference in Portland Oregon would cost me around $500 if I were to attend. Orlando (OLC) is a little cheaper by comparison at $280. 
  • afford to pay for hotels while there
    • same conference would cost me about $1200 to stay at the conference hotel. Cheapest price I found elsewhere was $800 but I didn't map the distance from the conference venue, so let's call it a $400 convenience tax.
  • afford to take the time "off"
    • If you are on the tenure track, and expected to do these things, then you have much more flexibility to attend.  If you are an adjunct (and increasingly many in academia seem to be), or if you are like me - a professional but not full time in the teaching game - you need to use personal or vacation time to do this. If you work for a cool department, they might count it as a "work day" and it won't cost you vacation time, but not everyone has that luxury.

Even with the cheapest conference, the total cost for me would be around $2000 for a 3 day conference (more if there were plenaries I wanted to attend) plus whatever time off work I was charged.  While this might not be a lot of money to some, I tend to think of people who can attend a conference outside of their home turf as the academic elite. Having a new president of the USA won't change that, or make it more difficult for people internationally to come and present and meet with colleagues. 

Conferences were, and continue to be, a place where people with (at least some) privilege meet in person to do whatever it is they do.  As discussed in a virtually connecting session not too long ago (I forget which one) conferences need to evolve. Maybe the fear of a new presidency in the US will spur innovation in this arena. Maybe it won't. I think that we can't expect conference organizers (especially for long held conferences) to change their beat alone.  We (potential attendees) need to change the scene either with them, or without them.


Monday, December 5, 2016

On Open Dissertations

Trying to get back to blogging, and I'm going back through my backlog - so here is a quick post, documentation post really - from a recent Virtually Connecting session I sat in on on Open Dissertations.

Friday, November 4, 2016

EDDE 806 - Post VII - Now what was that about Open Ended Questions???

Last evening I joined 806 (which seemed to have a very small group of people attending) for their bi-weekly meetup.  I think that for this post I will write more about my 2 take-aways from the session in general, rather than recap both presentations.:

Take-away #1: Small sample sizes aren't necessarily a problem.  Both Tracy and Leslie (presenters of the evening) were taking about their work (well, the work they are gearing up to do), and they both have between 6 and 12 participants for their research.  I am thinking about my own dissertation process, my own "problem" (which isn't a problem, so I hate using that term, but whatever), and how many people can be my informants (at most 16, but most likely 10 or so will agree to be part of it).   I've been thinking that AU might have issues with such small sample sizes. However, considering that I am not aiming at generalization (and neither are the presenters from last night's session), I am encouraged to continue on my current path for a dissertation proposal.  It seems that AU is open to qualitative, small-sample, research for dissertations.  I had a fear that I'd be stuck in a qualitative, "you must have something generalization" nightmare - a nightmare because that's now where I come from in my own research views :-)

Take-away #2: Just like the boy-scouts: Estote Parati (Be prepared).  When you're doing interviews (live interviews) make sure you have a back-up.  Good advice.  I had never thought about it (perhaps because I am not at that stage of data collection yet).  I was considering using Google Hangouts and perhaps using something like Camtasia to record it.  This way I could (if there were video) also record any paralanguage that exists in our interviews and it could be an additional data point for analysis.

In terms of interviews and transcription, I was also thinking of outsourcing the transcription to a company.  Looking briefly into this, it seems that $1/minute (or $2/minute if the audio isn't that great).  If I assume that 8 people sign-on to be my study participants, at 2 interviews per person, between 40 and 60 minutes (making sure that I don't monopolize their time), the cost come out to around $1000 (wow!)   Comparatively, Dragon 13 Premium (the educational version) costs $100, but I'd have to go back and review everything and cross check text produced with audio. That is 1000 minutes of audio maximum, so if we assume 3 minutes of corrections for each minute of audio, that's 3000 minutes, which works out to 50 hours of work.  Hmm....  wonder if there is a grant to pay for transcription work ;-)  I think there is a benefit of having to do the hard work yourself - it makes you more intimately familiar with the data you are working with, but from a student's perspective (who is on the clock to be done with their dissertation in by year 5), is that the best place to spend your time?  I don't know, but we will find out ;-)

Some bits and ends:

  • IPA was mentioned in Tracy's presentation (Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis).  I just find it funny how acronyms bleed through to other disciplines.  For me IPA means International Phonetic Alphabet and it's associated with linguistics.  A good reminder to define your acronyms and your terms! (Thanks Tracy!)
  • Have someone interview you with your open-ended questions!  This seems like a given, but to me this was an "aha!" moment.  Since I am interviewing some potential colleagues for my dissertation research (on group/collaborative processes), and I was a member of those collaborations, it makes sense to have someone ask me those questions.  I was going to answer them anyway, from my perspective (researcher as the person being research, too!) but I think a dialogic approach makes a ton more sense (Thanks Leslie!)
  • Finally, Leslie's point about not sending transcripts to participants without giving them some direction as to what to do with them is important.  I wasn't even thinking about sending transcripts back for checking because I plan to bring in the participants' voices at many parts of the dissertation: case study approach, open document when I have more down, which will be open for commenting, suggestions, and corrections! So, I didn't want to inundate my fellow participants with too much stuff (granted it's all optional), but this gave me something to think about.
That's all for now - until the next 806 session :)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Mentor-Teacher-Hybrid Presence-course design...

This semester is turning out to be one that is quite busy.  It was a good idea to not teach a graduate this semester so I can focus on my dissertation proposal, however (like that irresistible desert at the end of the meal) various collaborative projects have come in to fill the "void" left in my schedule from not teaching (the one that is supposed to be going into dissertation prep), and these projects have me thinking.

First is the aspect of Hybrid Presence.  Suzan and I coined this term to describe something between Teaching Presence and Learner Presence for the most recent Networked learning conference.  We are currently working more on this topic for an upcoming book chapter.

Second is gamification.  A term that has come in and out of my list of curiosities that I want to play around more with.  I've done some work on this for school, and for professional organization presentations, but nothing big in terms of an article (in my ALECS proposal it was only part of the ingredients).

Finally, since I am not teaching next spring (how much do you want to bet that other papers will fill in the void, LOL), I've been thinking about the summer I usually teach in the summers.    I facilitated the transition from "Introduction to Instructional Design" to "Foundations in Instructional Design and Learning Technology" - a small word change, but the connotations of such a change were profound for the course.  Rebecca H and I have taught variations of the course, as well as variations of INSDSG684. For the past 4 years I've wanted to gamify the learning experience, which I have partly done through badging, although that seems to not have caught on that greatly.  As an opt-in experience it varies a lot. This leaves me pondering: is it wise to move from the gamification end of the spectrum to full-on gaming in an introductory course?  If yes, how do you do it?  The boardgame metaphor appeals to me, but there are other metaphors that do as well!

On another strand, there are students in the MEd program that I teach in that are close to graduation and that I've had in my class at some point or another.  Now that they are a little further in the program I'd like to invite them back, for credit, to be part of the introductory course.  But not as teaching assistants.  I think that's a waste of their time and money. Rather, I want them to be mentors who are developing what Suzan and I term a Hybrid Presence.  I'll be be around to mentor the mentors (while working on my own Hybrid Presence) but I want to tease out how that would work as a for-credit course.  Since I only really teach two courses per year (limitations of employment), my current puzzle to solve is this: I want to combine the transformgameation† of the introductory course with this mentorship model I want to develop. This way I am working on a gamefied design that's (maybe) more interesting, and it won't bore the mentees since will be part of something new.

What do you think of this idea?

† word I invented, transform + game = transformgameation, tell it to your friends, let's have it catch on.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

EDDE 806 - Post VI.III - The one with Sir John Daniel

OK, I am almost 'caught up' with the stuff I missed while I was on vacation (at least as far as 806 goes).  I remember receiving an email from Pearl indicating that Sir John Daniel would be presenting. Too bad the internet wasn't that reliable :-/  Oh well, thank goodness for recordings ;-)

Sir John Daniel seemed like a pretty interesting  person, and very knowledgeable (with over 300 publications to his name) and he must be a respectable human being because he wouldn't hold 32 honorary degrees from 17 different countries if people only liked him for his scholarship.  I guess the bar has been set for me (haha! :-) ). The only area where I surpass him is in the amount of MOOCs I've taken vs how many he's taken.  Even as a recording it was great to get to 'meet' such a distance education heavyweight (maybe I can email him and we can go for some coffee and discuss the future of DE next time I am around his neck of the woods in Canada ;-)  ).

In any case, there were some interesting connections drawn between Open Universities (OU) and MOOCs. The OU UK was created so that it would be Open to People, Open to Places, Open to Methods, and Open to Ideas.  MOOCs, as he argued, could be seen as Open to People (Massive), Open to Places (Open), Open to Methods (Online)...but what about the "C" in MOOC?  What about the course?  I ask what does it mean to pursue a 'course' in something?  And, does the course have some sort of assessment?  He discussed a little about badges (whether or not there is assessment), and he brought up an interesting question: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (who watches the watchers?)  This was brought up in reference to ePortfolios, and to badging.  It's a good question and I think it's quite pertinent to higher education in general as well.

We - as a profession - have put a lot of emphasis and currency (κύρος) in lots of old institutions.  As Sir John mentioned, MOOCs may not be the transformative change in higher education that they were (wrongly I would argue) claimed to be back in 2012, however they've made online education more respectable. After all, as Sir John said - if Harvard is doing it, it must be OK.  While I don't have anything against Harvard, I think that this type of attitude is potentially damaging to our field (in general, not just DE), because people don't pay attention to the good work done by DE researchers until Harvard starts paying attention... and even then, they do reinvent the wheel at times because they haven't been paying attention.

This type of blindness is replicated in the scholarly publishing industry (MOOCs and Open Access are good threads between this presentation/discussion and the one with Alec Couros). It's hard to break into established journals and OA, so any new journal has an uphill battle regarding their  journal's rank.  University rankings are based on where you publish (at least to some extent?) so that influences where people try to publish.  A bit of a vicious circle.

But, it's not all doom and gloom. I think we can make a dent, and make OA, and Open Institutions who have been doing DE for a while now, more 'respectable' - and perhaps have those institutions viewed in the same respect terms as Harvard when it comes to DE courses and programs.

One take away for me, as something to look more into, is looking into the African Virtual University.  I don't know much about it, and it seems pretty interesting (both from its history, and what it does now).

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

EDDE 806 - Post VI.II - Attack of the Greeks!

Now that I am back from vacation (was off to Spain, but spent a little time in Istanbul on the way to and from), it's time to catch up a bit on EDDE 806. On the day that I was flying out to begin my vacation Alec Couros was presenting....D'oh!  I missed the opportunity to be live in that 806.  Not only was Alec on, but there was also a fellow EDDE student who is also Greek.  It would have been glorious to have so many Greeks on on 806 session. Oh well - maybe next time :p

In any case, Alec's presentation was titled "The Making of an Open & Connected Educator" which was really interesting.  Parts of what he presented on were familiar to me because I've been following Alec since 2011 when I got into MOOCs, and I learned more about ED&C 831 (his open course). Parts of what he presented were new to me.  For instance I didn't know he was a school teacher before he got into his current career.  Props to anyone who is a school teacher - I don't think I'd have the patience for that line of work :-).   I find it interesting that he was criticized as a "techo communist" (maybe I should pull out my vintage soviet beret and join the band?) because he wanted to be out in the open.  I also find it interesting that his dissertation was the first dissertation to be available in an open access means.

This presentation reminded me of (and kicked into mental gear) a few of things:

1.  I was around for the kick-off of Linux (mentioned in the presentation), and I do remember a time before that.  However I also acknowledge that I feel like I am living in "internet time" where things seem much more compact.  Like Peggy Lynn wrote (in the chat) - we've already drank the kool aid when it comes to being an open educator, but it's also important to realize that just because we've subscribed to it, and we (well, I do anyway) feel like this open thing has been around for ages, it's actually still in an infantile form and still needs people to support it.

2. I've been thinking about taking the open access pledge (for lack of a better term) for my work but not being sure where I might end up after the EdD program I don't know how feasible it is at the moment. Whenever possible, and when I collaborate with others (my preferred form of working on projects) I often advocate for OA, but that's not always possible (most time it is).  I am wondering if (for younger scholars, and those before tenure) if publishing in a closed journal or book is fine, provided that you get a pre-print version into your institution's (or your own) repository.

3. Alec in this presentation, and friends and fellow collaborators through twitter, reminded me of how much is on my "to read" list that I've added onto it but forgotten about it (talk about digital hoarding, eh Alec!).  This makes me wonder two things:  (a)  Does my mind feel like a leaky colander because I am working on many projects at once, including my dissertation proposal? Or am I just getting old? Or am I just human and this is normal?;  and (b)  there are people in my network (some of whom Alex mentioned) that have written about topics that would fit into my dissertation research and I just need to be kindly reminded about them.

4. Relating to open access, and the open access pledge - this is a though that I have been pondering since I started 805.  In my research I want to privilege OA sources. This to me means getting as many of my literature review items from open access journals.  However, I worry that my committee might say "well AK, you've missed some really important stuff by not looking at ALL journals" (a valid point, it could be #yoda).  If I am to make my dissertation available via OA, can I reasonably (as a researcher) aim to only (or mostly) use OA journals for my literature review and have that be part of my perspective as a researcher? Or am I shooting myself in the foot?

I enjoyed the presentation by Alec.  Maybe we can have him on as a guest again so I won't miss the presentation :-)

Abstract Art Forms...

Back from vacation and I feel like there is so much to do by December 10th ;-)

Here is a most recent PhD comic that reminds me a lot of real life...

Friday, October 14, 2016

Thinking about the literature review...

This week, one of the discussion forums in my doctoral seminar had this question (well, it was part of the question, but I just pulled out this part):

How are you deciding what literature to review for your lit review? What determining factors direct you?

I think that my literature review is probably going to be a little challenging. My overall question is “why do people in MOOCs collaborate on non-assigned course projects?” The actual question will need refining, but this encapsulates the spirit of the question.  My thoughts are that I actually don’t know the why (this is why I am researching it), so I can’t really nail down a definitive list of research and researchers that will be all inclusive and ‘canonical’ if you will.

This to me seems to indicate that I need to be a bit of a cafeteria researcher with my literature review and formulate some hypotheses as to what might be relevant.  For example internal vs external motivation research from psychology might be useful.  Research into Personal Learning Networks (PLN), Communities of Practice (Cop), and the Community of Inquiry (CoI) might be interesting.  Another (informal) buzzword that’s come up in the communities is “FOMO”, or “fear of missing out” so I am wondering if this has been researched yet.  There is also the element of how people engage in MOOCs which has been researched since CCK08 (that original MOOC offered by Downes & Siemens).

So, where does this leave me with my literature review?  I am thinking that I will take on the persona of one of my research informants (I was in some of these groups of people that collaborated) and try to hypothesize what might be some of the reasons that people did so, and try to weave a narrative of factors that might impact the reasons for initial and sustained collaboration in this environment that might explain what occurred in these MOOCs.  This will provide some groundwork to frame the start of the research.  If additional strands crop up during my research, I think I will need to go back into the literature to try to explain what I find, and see if there are connections to existing literature as well.

Note: It's actually now a few weeks since I wrote this post, but for some reason it didn't post...but oh well, better late than never.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Schoolwork during vacation, and access to the web

It's amazing how much access to the internet is really woven into our daily lives.  For the past 2 weeks I've been away on vacation in Spain.  Before we left home I tried to be proactive, I scanned some of the book chapters that were due for my class while I was away, I got Assignment 1 done before I left, and I downloaded articles onto my Surface Pro so that I had reading material to go through while I was away.  Despite all this planning I still needed the internet because I had ideas which necessitated the use of Google Scholar and other library databases.  The problem?  Some places I stayed had slow internet. In other cases the internet, in addition to slow, was only accessible in a specific corner of the apartment (AirBnB).

Now, I really liked the places we stayed in, but the internet situation impacted my school work. When I had internet I prioritized emailing and Google Docs since those required less bandwidth and I prioritized getting work done (for that hour per day that I had budgeted since it's a busy time in the office) rather than going through Google Scholar.  This experience really gave me a different perspective on distance education.  I knew about these connectivity issues at an intellectual level, but I hadn't experienced them myself.  Now back to 'civilization' for the rest of the trip :-)(a day after the literature review was due... D'oh!)

Note: Cross-posted to my general life blog...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

EDDE 805 - Dissertation Critique

Well, the semester is rockin' and rollin'.  Thanks to @merryspaniel, and the fact that AU posts their syllabi on the web, I knew that I had an assignment early on where I had to critique a couple of dissertations that were already published.  This was also a perfect opportunity to read a dissertation the colleague George M. had send me a while back as an exemplar of a good dissertation in corpus linguistics.

Since I had a head start, and I was lucky enough to be able to get one of the two slots in the first presentation week (this week) one assignment is done! Woohoo! Now onward and upward toward the literature review of my dissertation proposal.

I've included the presentation component (which doesn't seem to want to embed well...) and the brief write-up.

The write-up was a little constraining in terms of number of words. It's hard to do a critique in 1 page single space of a dissertation (wonder if this is preparation for doing book reviews).  My main take-away from this is that I want to do a dissertation like dissertation #1, but I will be doing one that is similar to #2 (just better ;-) ) so that I can finish my EdD in a timely fashion. The first dissertation seems like a time-sink for now (save it for doctorate #2 perhaps? hahaha).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Pondering assigning groupwork...

The summer semester is over!  Well, it's been over for several weeks now and the fall semester is in full swing, but I am not teaching this semester (focusing more on projects that have been on the back-burner for a while). Taking a break from teaching actually makes me think more about teaching in an odd way (I guess out of sight, but not out of mind).

One of the courses that I teach is an intro course to instructional design and learning technology (INSDSG 601, or just 601).  Since this is a course that introduces students not only to the discipline, but also to the program of study at my university I though that it would be a good idea to give students some foundations in group work since this is something that they will encounter both in the "real" (aka working) world, but also in subsequent courses in the program and they need to be able to work effectively with one another.

The way the course assignments work is that there is a big project that last the entire semester which is individual, and there are several (4) smaller projects that are team-based.  These are a jigsaw activity and it allows students to become experts in one smaller area and teach others about it.

The first time around (summer 2015) I had students switching teams throughout the semester.  The idea was to give students more choice as to their group projects and the groups would be self-forming that way. The feedback that I got was that this was tiring to the students. I think that forming/performing/adjourning 4 groups during the span of 13 weeks was tiring, and it also didn't give students the space to actually get to know people beyond the scope of the project (which would have been useful as peer review for their projects!)

This past summer, I changed things up a bit and I formed the groups myself (an idea I picked up from Rebecca H.). Luckily I seemed to have a balanced group of K-12, Higher Education, and Corporate students in the class which made group creating a little easier. Taken one of each, wherever possible, and create a group. This way groups needed to negotiate which topics they wanted to be undertake as a group which potentially limited choice of topics for individual students, but on the plus side they got to know their team-mates, and there were semester-long pods which could in theory support peer review throughout the semester.  I didn't require it for grading, so I wanted to see if groups just shared individual semester projects amongst each other for review.

This worked out OK.  I would say that 50% of the class loved their teams...and 50% either passively disliked (you know, the mild groan) or actively disliked their team-mates. Whereas in the first attempt (2015) people seemed tired of the process, this second try at teamwork made people either love or hate their team-mates.  Those who loved their team-mates seemed to coordinate future classes together, and those who hated their collaborations...well, I didn't hear much more about it from their weekly reflections.  Those who seemed to dislike groupwork also had things happen in their groups; some things which were just not avoidable, like "like happens!" type of things, like unexpected family or work things.

One of the things that came up in both positive and negative experiences relates to empathy. In some cases of teams that didn't work out well, I got the sense that people were thinking along the following lines "I get that xyz happened to  student_name but that's does not concern me much, I am here to learn abc and I've got my own problems to deal with, so too bad for them, but I need to be done with some project here".  I think that if students could empathize more with one another they wouldn't have such negative reactions to groupwork.  On the other spectrum, even in well functioning groups, I got the sense that there were some people who had more time than others (just 'cause), so they tended to overwhelm the rest of the group with their eager excitedness.  That's cool (I like eager people!  I relate to them :-) ), but  at the same time it can create this feeling among some group members that they aren't performing at the level they should. The group level performance is much higher than what the project requires and this can create feelings of not failing your team-mates.  I think this is an empathy issue too.

While, on the whole, I think if I were able to control for those (uncontrollable) life issues, I think creating groupwork-pods for the semester worked out better.  But I am still looking to tweak the group experience in the course.  How do we increase communication, understanding, and empathy?  Do I require groups to meet weekly and submit meeting minutes (to make sure that they met)? Do I undertake a role-play at the beginning of the semester in a live session to increase empathy? And, how can groups be leveraged to support their fellow team-mates who might be falling behind for reasons that exist both inside or outside of class?


Friday, September 9, 2016

EDDE 806 - Post VI - A new semester

And so, this week, another school season kicks off!  This week  we had both the kick-off for EDDE 805 (dissertation seminar I) and EDDE 806 (dissertation seminar II). I decided that last to start attending EDDE 806 regularly (or as regularly as I can) so that my final class-based semester (next spring) can be focused more on getting my dissertation proposal done.

In this first session of EDDE 806 we mostly had a bit of a check-in (which is sort of what we did in 805 as well). There seemed to be some interesting strands that came came out of 806 last night.  First, Peggy Lynn (Cohort 6) is working on a project to translate the term OER (Open Eaducational Resources) into a variety of languages for a variety of reasons, but one of them is to make it easier to label, and search for, OERs that are in languages other than English.  If you want to help out please check out this page.  I did actually try to coin a term in Greek a number of years ago.  A few colleagues and I worked on a MOOC paper that we published in EuroDL and the nice thing about EuroDL is that they accept abstracts in languages other than English as well.  So, I worked on the Greek abstract and tried to come up with an acronym and translation for MOOC. The translation I came up with was Ανοιχτά Μαζικά Διαδικτυακά Μαθήματα  and the acronym I was going for was (ΜαΔιΜα) which, to a Greek would remind them of the homophone "μάδημα" which translates to 'plucking' (I did say I was going for the absurd, right?)  In any case, my acronym didn't stick (How did Cormier do it?!) and the term used now in Greece is Ανοιχτά Μαθήματα which translates to Open Courses.  Maybe my claim to fame will be the OER translation LOL.

Another interesting strand is the strand of scope for the dissertation.  Craig (also from Cohort 6) mentioned that he has a topic that he was passionate about, but it seemed a little too idealistic to implement - at least within the confines of a dissertation.  Pragmatism is something that has come up many times, and I think someone last semester in 806 encouraged us to be ruthlessly pragmatic.  Advice which I am taking to heart.

Finally,  there was the case of Viviane (Cohort 6) who is working on an OER-related project for K-12.  She discovered recently that someone at the open university of Portugal is also dissertating on a very similar topic.  I guess we've got a case of Tesla and Marconi :-).  Viviane mentioned that she is avoiding to look at this person's work for fear of being influenced.  For what it's worth I am not in that camp.  If someone were working on the same (or very similar) project as me (and I knew about it) I would definitely have a look at their work. I would have my own plan (ahead of time) even if it's a broad sketch of a plan, and I would deconstruct the other person's plan with a designer's eye.  If there were things I liked I would take (and give credit) and if there were critiques, I would mention that in my dissertation. Working in a vacuum doesn't seem productive to me, but we all have our own tactics to 'get through this' dissertation experience :-).  I think both approaches have merit, but my approach is definitely filtered through my preference of working with others.

This story, from Viviane, also got me thinking.  I know that historically dissertations are single-author.  However, what if they weren't?   For example, let's say I am working on an idea and someone else from Cohort 7 (my cohort) or someone from Cohort 6, or heck someone from the Open University of Greece, were interested in working on the same thing?  Would there be a possibility of working collaboratively on a team dissertation?  We could work together to setup the literature review, discuss the problem (from multiple facets if we are in different countries!) and we could all collect data at our respective locations.  Each member would collect and crunch their own data, and then we could compare our findings.  Hence, instead of me working alone, with one group of people  at my university (UMB) to collect data, we could collect cross-sections of data from the US, Canada, Greece (etc., depending on how many people on the dissertation) and we could jointly publish.

The tricky part I think would be the defense. Would you do this defense separately?  Or would you do it together?  If I were on an examination committee I would do it separately in order to make sure that it's not a frankenpaper (you do part 1, I do part 2, then we stick together, but we are unaware of each other's parts) and that the individual candidate can stand on their own. However, the research part and the monograph would be done collaboratively.  Does this make sense?  What do you think of this option?

Friday, September 2, 2016

On CVs...

Recently I came across a post by Josh Kim on whether LinkedIn will replace the traditional academic CV. My short answer to that is "no".  This isn't because I think LinkedIn is bad (it's not), or that the CV is awesome (it's not).  I've got a bone to pick with the traditional, paper-based, academic CV.

The common wisdom, as Kim alludes to, is that a resume is short and targeted, while a CV is longer and is meant to include everything (and the kitchen sink) in your career.  Resumes, for me, seem constraining. How can you adequately describe yourself in 2 pages, especially for seasoned professionals who are older than I am and have a wealth of knowledge and skills?  At the same time a resume is a creative puzzle to solve.  It's a tool for communicating what you will bring to the team you want to be hired into when you apply for a job. A resume encourages your to look into a company and a department, and tailor it to fit where you want to be. It fits a narrative.

By comparison, the academic CV is lazy.  It's just a list of everything, and you hope that it's well formatted.  The onus is on the reader to go through the (reams of paper that comprise the) CV and make sense of it.  Despite the CV being the lazy approach, I also think that the CV is also nothing more than a library index for your career. It's really just the headlines for what you've done, but it really lacks substance.  For example, let's say I am a member of 5 professional associations.  Great. There is a sub-heading on there for that.  But what do I do in those? Or, let's say that I have a section for conference presentations.  Great.  What was the presentation all about?  Is the presentation available on SlideShare (or on your website, if you want to keep it on your own domain)? Or is the recording of the presentation somewhere so I can listen to it?  Ditto for academic papers published. Now, of course, I could go out and find those and read them (I am privileged enough to have access to library databases), but that is detective work on my part, as reader of a CV, to do. Got grants?  Great!  What did you do in them? Who cares how much money you got? (well, I suppose a chancellor, provost, or dean might care...) - the important part is what was the impact and what did you learn?  It doesn't matter if you got a million-dollar-big-whoop-grant if you didn't use it effectively and nothing came of it.

Don't get me wrong.  I like to keep a private CV for myself. It is a nice reminder of the work I've done, the papers I've published, the awesome collaborators I've worked with over the years, but that's just a mental index for me. It could be meaningless to other people.  It seems to me that CVs are more about shock and awe, a "my CV is lengthier than your CV, hence I am better".  I find this a bit of an irony because one of the critiques I've heard from academics about LinkedIn is that the approach that LinkedIn takes is very quantifiable (in that you list, and list, and list) and it dehumanizes the person, but I see CVs being used in the same way.

I have a solution to this - but it's not pretty --> some form of linked data.  LinkedIn works well for non-academic jobs.  Sure, they've added ways of putting in your publications, but you end up having a scroll-a-thon of infinite screens whenever academics start adding in their publications.  So, keep linkedin for your non-academic jobs.  Use Publons to keep a record of your peer reviews.  Use Google Scholar to keep track of your published work, and have that work linked so that people can easily find it (publish open access and/or self-archive).  Use other services to keep track other relevant accomplishments.  The problem that I see is the third-party-ness of these services.  LinkedIn might be killed off by Microsoft. Publons might not turn out to be profitable and it's gone. might decide to merge with ResearchGate  - whatever it is, the point is that you don't have control of these services, and that's a problem.

I wish there were some sort of WordPress-style software that you could host on your own servers, keep your data, but at the same time be part of a global network that connects your work to others, so you could see who else was in my department at the time I served there, or what my co-authors went on to do after our collaborations ended, or what papers cite the work that my co-authors and I produced.  A single system, disconnected, just keeps the CV in another form. From paper to some sort of digital.  What we need is an evolution of the CV.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Academic literacy in another language

These past couple of weeks, along with some projects I am working on with colleagues, I am also trying to make some headway for my fall class, EDDE 805, which is the first of two doctoral seminars. From what I can see from the abbreviated syllabus (love that it's just posted on the web!) one of the assignments is an analysis of dissertations of people who are already doctors in our field.  The assignment is as follows:

Short presentations in two-weekly synchronous sessions facilitated by the instructor (schedule to be determined in week 1).

In each synchronous session between weeks 3 - 11, two students will present a review and respond to questions on these reviews of two outstanding dissertations relevant to their field of research, for 20 minutes each.

Reviews should include consideration of specific points of quality or lack thereof, the good/bad aspects, and what information, research processes, ideas, theoretical approaches or organizational structures could or couldn’t be used by presenters in their own projects. As a result of this review, each presenter should produce a list of distilled/deduced criteria for what constitutes a good quality thesis/dissertation. These criteria, together with a two page summary of their reviews should be posted to the Moodle site at least one (1) week before their scheduled presentation date to give other students time to read, reflect and prepare responses and/or questions.

In each of these sessions, other students will present a 5-10 minute oral review of an article they have read relevant to their project/area of research and present “work in progress” in their own research preparation, planning, implementation, analysis, writing etc. It is envisaged that the literature review and proposal assignments, as they are developed, will also form part of this presentation and discussion.

I spend some time a month or so ago going through the ProQuest dissertation abstracts, as well as the list of repositories that Debra H. sent us to prepare us for the course (thank you! :-) ) to find dissertations.  I found a dissertation of interest in English, and I was thinking of flexing my mind by reading a dissertation in another language.  My experience with reading dissertations† done by others is that there are dissertations that are just freakin' awesome, and others where you might wonder how that person earned a doctorate (given typos, logical argument flaws, and lots of weasel words - as George Siemens tells us to avoid).

In any case, I asked a colleague of mine, in Greece, who has been on viva voce (aka dissertation defense) examination committees if he happened to have a good dissertation, written in Greek, that he could recommend as an example of something that is well written, and kindly enough he shared something he considered as an excellent dissertation with me.  I was interested in something from Greece for three reasons:  (1) I wanted to compare a good dissertation from another country with what we generally accept to be good dissertations in North America. (2) I wanted to practice my academic Greek. (3) Even though my dissertation topic wont' be linguistics focused, I missed that topic these past few years working on MOOCs and Distance Education that I wanted to read a little about it.

(that was a long set-up, eh?)
So, I am sitting...and reading...and reading...and reading.  A dissertation written in English is something I would have finished by now, but this particular one, 2 weeks into the process, and I am only 1/3 of the way done (not including appendices and references in my page count).  While I am fluent in Greek, and it is one of my native languages, this register is not something I am as familiar with given that I completed most of my academic preparation (K-grad school) in an environment where English was the language of instruction. Some of the things that make my reading go slower are:

  1. Words used in the specific discipline: I am familiar with the English terms for something, but not the Greek ones, so when I come across the Greek term, I often stop, like a tourist, to see the sights (the English term is often given in parentheses when first used), so I take that moment to stop and smell the linguistic and disciplinary roses. 
  2. The sentence structure of an academic paper or dissertation is not usually the same as someone's blog post, or a news story.  It's not in English either (we're just used to those different registers and discourses) but it's a bit of a culture-shock for me.  It's a bit like 20 or so years ago when I returned to the US and I needed to re-learn English (in the sense that I needed to learn 'school English')

 As I am reading this dissertation, I am wondering what is considered an appropriate length for a literature review without feeling like you are just repeating what some other person wrote in their own literature review for a related dissertation.  The literature review in this one seems to be about 80 pages at 1.5 spacing (if you exclude references to the literature in what appears to be the discussion section further into the dissertation).  As much as I am enjoying reading through this, it seems like a little overkill to me. I wonder what others think (those of you who read dissertations and maybe have completed one of your own).

Another thing I am wondering is this (and this is for all of you bi- and multi-linguals out there): Chances are that your published work is probably in English.  I am wondering how much practice you have, academically speaking, in your discipline, with languages other than English.  How hard is it for you to cultivate this?  And do you see value in it?

I personally see value in cultivating my Greek (and hopefully later on my French) academic discourses, but I don't know how widely read my work is going to if I choose to write in a language other than English. So, while I see value in it, I am wondering if there is greater bang for the buck when it comes to just writing articles and book chapters in English (another type of Hegemony I guess).  Thoughts?

† In EDDE 802 we had pick some dissertations, read them, share them with our cohort and provide a brief review for them, so this isn't the first time I've looked for, and read, dissertations ;-) For 802 I tried to pick ones where I had more positive things to say rather than just lambast what I perceived to be poor ones :-)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Long time vBuddy, first time sBuddy

It took a while for me to get this post started.  Conferences are great, but between being physically tired, and having to catch up on other work (that wasn't done while at the conference), it means that some things that require more bandwidth get kicked a little further down the road :-)

In any case, I thought I would write a little bit about my first time being an onsite Buddy (sBuddy - "oBuddy" seemed weird as a term) for virtually connecting. I've been a virtual buddy (vBuddy) quite a few times over the past year (or has it been 2? I don't remember), and I thought it would be cool to be an sBuddy at Campus Technology and AAEEBL this year.  I did not expect it to be a lot more work than usual, however I learned that being an sBuddy is actually much more work (or at least I ended up making it much more work, even if it isn't).

For quite a few years (7 years by my count) I've been attending Campus Technology and AAEEBL on a press pass.  First, as a guest of my university's student newspaper and then as part of the CIEE journal. Sadly, this year, was the last year I am going to campus tech and AAEEBL because CT is moving to Chicago next year (and I think conference centers are booked a few years in advance, so it probably won't be coming back to Boston any time soon), and AAEEBL is no longer co-located with CT.  Too bad.  I found that combination to be a dynamic duo!  Oh well - I digress.

So, press pass confirmed, I started looking at who is presenting, who is keynoting, and who would be interesting to have conversations with (both on-air for vConnecting, and just for my own personal interests).  The truth is that there are too many interesting folks to talk to (considering that it's 2 conferences), and not enough time.  So, for the prep-work, instead of trying to create virtually connecting sessions for each and every interesting person, I wanted to do two things:

  1. gauge the interest of the virtually connecting community, to see if my own interests coincide with theirs.  No need to book a vConnecting session if I am the only person interested. I can always have lunch/dinner/drinks with these folks and not record the sessions (much easier)
  2. For the people who seemed interesting to a broader audience, I could try to cluster people with similar or complimentary presentations and interests together into one session.
Once all was said and done I had 3 sessions confirmed: 2 keynote speakers, and 2 local edtech gurus.  So, my early lesson learned is that even though you might try to get in contact with presenters ahead of time to see if they want to vConnect with you, even in academia there are people who fathom themselves rockstars and don't know why you'd want to converse with them since you can read their published work (they are too busy for conversations) - hahaha. OK, lesson learned.  Not everyone is friendly and approachable :-)

The days of the events were a little tough in terms of space. Trying to find a space that had power, ample wifi signal, and was available for a vConnecting session was a little challenging.  I did end up finding space (thanks to the giant banners outside of each conference room telling me what events were scheduled there and at what day/time), but it required some legwork, and I often felt like a squatter. It got the job done, but I felt bad for not having concrete information for our guests well ahead of time.  The lesson learned here was that it would be good to work a little closer with the conference organizers to get a space for these things.

I think that working more closely with them would have helped avoid some misunderstandings. While I attended the conference on a press pass (not by virtue of vConnecting, but by virtue of a campus gig I have), it seems that there were some crossed signals.  On the one hand the twitter mavens of CampusTech were willing to assist me in getting in touch with some speakers for a vConnecting session (which I ended up not being able to make happen anyway), but on the other hand I got an email from my main PR contact who thought I was recording sessions (which I wasn't doing), and that's something that (apparently) I was not allowed to do on a standard press pass.  This was a little confusing for me.  I should get in contact with my main PR contact to do a post-mortem, but at this point, with the semester looming, it's not high on my list of priorities. The lesson learned: the person on twitter you're interacting with at the conference is not necessarily the person you worked with to get your press pass...

In any case, despite the few snags and misunderstandings (and lots of walking - according to my pedometer in my smartwatch) this was an enjoyable experience.  I'd do it again...but until then, I'll be vBuddying :-)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Praxis of Virtually Connecting workshop at #DigPed UMW

From the Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute at University of Mary Washington this week :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

vConnecting with Rebecca Petersen at AAEEBL

A little self-archiving here for a couple of vConnecting sessions that we did last week at Campus Technology and AAEEBL in Boston.  This particular one is with Rebecca Petersen.  Enjoy :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

vConnecting with Amy Collier & Stephen Downes at Campus Technology

A little self-archiving here for a couple of vConnecting sessions that we did last week at Campus Technology and AAEEBL in Boston.  This particular one is with Amy Collier, Stephen Downes, And Abby Machson-Carter.  Enjoy :)

Monday, August 8, 2016

vConnecting with Bryan Alexander at Campus Technology

A little self-archiving here for a couple of vConnecting sessions that we did last week at Campus Technology and AAEEBL in Boston.  This particular one is with George Station and Bryan Alexander.  Enjoy :)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Instructional whatnow?

A number of threads converged last week for me, and all of the threads exist in a continuum.  The first thread was one that began in the class that I am teaching this summer, INSDSG 601: Foundations of Instructional Design & Learning Technology. One of the things that we circle back to as a class (every couple of weeks) are the notions of instructor and designer.  Where does one end and the other begin in this process?  It's a good question, and like many questions, the answer is "it depends".  The metaphor that I use is the one that calls back to two sides of the same coin.  In order for instruction to ultimately be successful you need both sides to work together.  An excellent design will fail in the hands of a bad instructor, and a bad design will severely hold back a good instructor (assuming that there is an instructor and it's not self-paced learning). There is the other side too: as instructional design students we were told that we would be working with SMEs (subject matter experts) to develop training, but how one works with SMEs is not clarified.  A good friend of mine, working in corporate ID, told me recently that communication with a SME is through an intermediary acting as a firewall and it's hard to get the information necessary to work on good instructional designs (now there is some organizational disfunction!).  The key take-away here is that you can't really separate out these roles. Both need to be informed from one another, and communication is key to successful training interventions.

In another thread, I was chatting with Rebecca (at some point or another this summer) about assessments and grading in the classes that we teach.  Another layer to this design and instruction challenge was added. You can have a really nice design, with lots of learner feedback and continuous assessment, but the situation might be untenable.  Take for example the case of an adjunct instructor (like me or Rebecca).  At our institution we are paid for 10 hours of effort per week for a specific course (each course counts as 25% FTE, and assuming a 40 hour workweek, each course is about 10 hours of work). These 10 hours include design maintenance work, synchronous sessions (if you have any), discussion forums, and assessment & feedback.  The design of your course might be awesome, but it might require more time on the part of the instructor than the organization has budgeted for.

So the question is how does good design sync up with organizational norms and constraints?  Organizational norms are something we've talked about in the class as well. Instructional design does not exist in a vacuum.   For the course that I teach in the summer I made it a little more "efficient" by using a ✓/✘/Ø grading for all assignments (submitted and passing; submitted and not passing-can revise; nothing submitted) which has addressed the issue of haggling for points to a large degree. This still leaves 43 items per student to be graded (and some level of feedback) to be given to the student.

I know that I am still spending more than 10 hours per week on the course, so the question - from a design perspective - is this: What is the most efficacious way of giving learners feedback on their projects and other aspects of the course while still staying within organizational constraints, and while adhering to sound (and researched) practices of pedagogy? In other words, what design options give you the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to teaching presence and learner outcomes?  Given that I've been more than happy to spend the extra time each week on the class, this is not a "problem" I need to solve for myself right now, but it is a design challenge for other colleagues!

The final thread in this came from twitter, when (out of the blue?) there was a twitter burst discussion on instructional design when Maha wrote:

@KateMfD how do u design a priori for someone you have not met??? Duh
@KateMfD to this day, I don't understand how Instructional Design begins w "needs analysis" before we ever meet the students!

JR added to the discussion by tweeting:
@Bali_Maha @koutropoulos @KateMfD but in a similar way, how do we know what courses we are going to teach prior to meeting Ss on day 1?
@Bali_Maha @koutropoulos @KateMfD not always a great starting point, but often attempting to benefit the organization, learner comes 2nd

I've been thinking about this and I've been trying to come up with a metaphor that makes sense. The metaphor that came to mind comes from the world of clothing and it's the dichotomy of Tailored versus Mass Produced clothing.  The textbook that we use in my program is the Systematic Design of Instruction, by Dick, Carey, and Carey, using the Dick & Carey model.  The textbook seems to indicate that as designers we have a ton of time to conduct a needs analysis (is the training needed), and a learner analysis (who are the learners), and a context analysis (where learning will take place), and to design a breakdown of what exactly needs to be learned.  And, sure, if we were instructional designers for the rich and famous, on retainer, we'd know a lot of this stuff ahead of time, and if those rich folks wanted to learn to paint, or water ski, or whatever, we'd have the luxury of knowing our learners, environment, constraints, and needs, and we'd be able to do something about it (we'd also be paid the big bucks!). This is what I call the tailored model - we have the luxury of taking all the measurements we need, and the client is willing to wait for the product.

The environment we work in, however, is the mass produced environment. In our day to day work as instructional designers we do our due diligence and try to do some needs analysis, but we also work from educated guesses of who our learners might be.  This is something that we've discussed (either on air or off air) at campus technology and AAEEBL this week with different colleagues.  How does one decide what programs to offer?  What courses fit into those programs?  What are the requirements for the program, and how each course's requirements fit into that puzzle?  Who are the learners who come into those courses?  The answer to that last question is an educated guess.  You might design a program, or a course, or a set of courses with a specific learner group in mind, however that persona is in-fact an educated guess.

Hence, using assumptions to start the process for that which is mass produced and we change it (or adapt it) on the fly as we get to learn who the learners are in our classroom. There are constraints in place to make sure that  the variation is "manageable" - and for a college program (at the graduate level anyway) that constraint is admissions.  By managing the admissions process faculty and departments know who is coming into their classes, and they can be prepared for that adaptation.  Further adaptation happens in class.  It's not complete adaptation since there are constraints, but adaptation exists (or, I argue, should exit). This way we're taking something that is mass produced, and tailoring it to the needs of the individual (to some extent anyway).  This is where design and instruction meet again - two sides of the same coin.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Getting my CALL on!

Εύρηκα! (eureka)
There is nothing like a deadline to get you going - that's all I have to say!  A while back, like last January or something, a colleague asked me if I would be interested in presenting at an IALLT webinar on a topic of my choosing - it just had to do with technology and education.  I generally don't have a problem with coming up with topic to talk about, but this particular topic gave me pause to ponder.  While I can talk about pedagogy and technology in general, pedagogy and technology in the context of a language classroom is not something I actively think about. I know, it's a bit odd since I have both an MA in Applied Linguistics and I work for a department of applied linguistics!  My own research ponderings have taken me away from the linguistic side of things, although like dark side it's alluring and I often think about it.

Anyway, I couldn't really come up with a topic then and there because EDDE 804 was taking up all of my brain's bandwidth at the time. That, and the NERCOMP Instructional Design Symposium last April meant that I deferred the presentation until April 2017.  Since I was remiss in providing any substantive details to my colleague (and with the kind reminder on her part :-) ), I needed to put something together.  What came to me immediately was resurrecting a topic that I had toyed with in the past as a potential dissertation topic.  The topic was  using MOOCs for language learning.  I had also presented a poster about it at the annual NERCOMP conference (our local Educause affiliate) a few years back).

I was particularly sick that day. I only really attended because I wanted to present the poster and engage with folks about it :-).  Anyway.  MOOCs kind of cooling off for me now.  I still like open learning, and the idea of MOOCs, but I think the concept is tainted. So, sitting out on my balcony, I was thinking to myself - what is it about this topic that really lit my fire?  Was it the (c)MOOC itself? Was it OER?  Was it the unknown?  Perhaps it was being outside, in nature(ish), or perhaps it was the lack of screens, or that I was reading about lurkers.  But it came to me!  What really was interesting was networks.  MOOCs are a conduit for networks, and the idea that appealed to me was not the MOOC, but rather the idea of language learning in a network - and how networks can be developed and supported in a language learning classroom.  There might be a little bit of a rhizome in there.

So, here is my  proposed title:  Language Learning in Networks: Tools and Frameworks for Open Language Learning

And my description: Networks are all around our.  Our classrooms are small, transient, networks of learners, but we don't have to limit ourselves (and our learners) to the networks that exist in our classroom.  Using technologies which allow us to network, open learning tools and resources, and fellow language learners around the globe, we can enrich our language classrooms, and the classrooms of our colleagues in other places.  In this session we will discuss networks and digital citizenship, how it is relevant in the language classroom, and what types of tools can be used to enable language learners to gain a glimpse into the emic perspective of the language and culture they are learning.

What do you think?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

CLMOOC week 2 - the remixening

I wasn't particularly inspired by week 2 of CLMOOC least no muses were speaking to me.
So cleared my mind
    and went through CLMOOC's timeline
on Facebook
with an empty mind
and submerged myself in the stream.
A posting by Stephanie Loomis popped out  -
an article
on Hybrid Pedagogy.
I read it.
It was interesting.
You should read it.
I remixed the image.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Text-based blog...feels like forever ago!

It feels like forever ago that I actually posted something by text on the blog. This summer has been much more action packed than I had anticipated.  Between teaching, virtually connecting, and taking my own course, MDDE 702, there hasn't been a dull moment!

I am actually quite happy that I ended up taking the refresher course on qualitative research methods. While the concepts weren't new to me, I did love the opportunity to actually work on part of my dissertation proposal and receive some feedback before I actually start the seminar in which I develop the first good draft of my proposal (EDDE 805). I also liked being the same course as members of other cohorts. This gives me both an opportunity to see what's a little down the road for me, by observing and talking to people in the cohorts ahead of me, and it gives me an opportunity to relive some of the things that I already went through these past few years, via cohorts that started after my own cohort started.

So, this summer I worked on getting my research methods chapter done.  Well, there is much more to be done (can't base a research methods section only on one textbook!), but the foundations and rationales are there.  I ordered a couple of books on Case Study as a method since that's where I am heading at the moment, which I will use to bolster this chapter either in the fall, or next spring as I am taking EDDE 806. The current version of the chapter is 15 pages.  It expect to the adding 5-6 more pages of background once I get to reading the additional books on case studies, so that page count seems respectable. I think anything beyond that is just overkill. There is no reason for a dissertation chapter on the research methods that is more than that.

One of the interesting pieces of feedback I received had to do with potentially having to discuss (in my methods section) why I didn't pick other methods to explore my problem.  It appears that the constitution of my committee will ultimately be the deciding factor as to whether or not I need to say why I didn't pick ethnography, discourse analysis, phenomenology, or any other method to explore my questions.  At this point in time it seems rather odd that I would be asked to say why I didn't use other methods. It makes sense to defend why I picked the case study approach as it provides a boundary and a rationale for my choices. However discussing other methods in details and why they don't work seems rather pedantic and unnecessary. Your thoughts?

Now, time to go off and start my literature review for chapter 2 of my proposal...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

#DigPed PEI with Amy Collier

I am not sure why my Surface Pro 3 camera decided to hyper correct the lighting in my home office, but it seems that the only way for me to be properly lit was to look at my secondary monitor, which gives the appearance of sidetalking...  Oh well.  It was a good session nevertheless :)

Monday, July 18, 2016

#DigPed PEI Unconference with Robin DeRosa and Daniel Lynds

Just a little documentation of some audio-visual texts that I was part of this past week.  Lots of fun, and mentally stimulating, despite the technical issues I had :-)  Here is a session I buddied for last week with Robin DeRosa and Daniel Lynds  from DigPed Lab PEI

Friday, July 15, 2016

Academic Social Network #facepalm

Over the years I've tried out almost every social network I could get my hands on. What can I say, I love tinkering and trying new things :-).  However, on source of irritation these days are networks like ResearchGate and  I like listing the few things that I co-author (or author for that matter) in a variety of places because (let's face it), most people aren't going to find you just by looking at your blog or website.  That said, when you're listing your fine work on these sites there is an option to upload the file itself - to make it easier for other members of that community to access your writing.

I don't mind putting up a pre-publication version of what I write but I do mind needlessly uploading PDF files of articles that are published in open access journals!  The whole point of publishing in open access journals is so that you don't have to upload copies elsewhere (and for people to be able to find them for free!). Yet, social networks like and ResearchGate do not allow me to provide a URL to the open access journal, or my website, where I can point people to without needing to upload one more thing :-/.  So, as a consequence I were emails telling me that some user requested a copy of my paper on xyz.  I would normally send them a kind email pointing them to the open access resource, my website, or the institutional repository I contribute to, but I don't even know if these requests are even legitimate.  After all, social networks like LinkedIn and (way back when!) said that people (former classmates or business acquaintances) were looking to connect with members, but those were actually false and meant to get more people to sign up. Hence, I look at some of these social networking emails with a bit of a skeptical eye. I don't want to upload my papers in a gated community when the open access option is perfectly viable!


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Digital Storytelling session from DigPed Lab PEI

Just in case you missed it yesterday, here is our Virtually Connecting Session from DigPed PEI, on Digital Storytelling, from yesterday :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


I decided to try something different as an introduction to CLMOOC this year.

Wonder how long it will be before I go back to lurking :p

Friday, June 24, 2016

NMC Session (last one?) - from last week with Michael Berman

One last session that I was in last week.  Fascinating discussion, and definitely some food for thought on membership-based organizations!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Graduate Teaching Education

While the DigPedChat on the topic is a month behind us, I am only now getting to it ;-)  So, after reading this post by Sean Micheal Morris on Digital Pedagogy I thought I would tackle some of the questions posed for discussion.  Feel free to leave a response, or link to your own blog post via comment :-)

What does it mean to perform teaching? What does it mean to perform learning? 

These are some pretty complex questions, which makes then juicy topics for discussion!  Performing Teaching has looked differently to me depending on where I look at it from, and what my own stage of development has been at a time.  As an undergraduate I would tell you that performing teaching looked like a sage on the stage. Preferably TED Talk style where the person is really engaging and he keeps yours attention focused on the subject. In the end, once the experience is complete or concluded you are left with a "wow" feeling.  As I've grown, and have been more and more on the doctoral and independent learner end of the spectrum I am not  all that certain that the sage on the stage is really what performing teaching is, at least not in all instances of teaching.  Teaching can take on a variety of shapes, forms, modes, and means.  However, I would say that the result is the same: at the end of a successful teaching performance I am left with a wow aftertaste.  I want more.  The teaching performance blows me away, fills me up, and leaves me to eagerly anticipate the next learning opportunity.  It's fine dining, where at the end of a meal you are full and content, but you foresee coming back to that establishment.

What does it mean to perform learning? I know that the programmed answer is:  As an instructional designer the "appropriate" response is that performing learning leads to a measurable change in knowledge, skills, (and/)or attitudes. However, the answer for me, really, is that "it depends".  As human beings we never stop learning.  There is formal learning that happens in schools and organized venues, or as described the other day by Gardner Campbell this could be called "study", and learning that happens every day.  When I drive through an intersection, on my way to work, and there is roadwork happening there that makes me late, I learn that I should avoid that intersection (or leave early).  While this is a change in behavior, albeit temporary while the roadwork is happening, no one taught me that.  I received some data (sensory, societal, communications, emotional, etc.) and I made decisions based on those factors. The key thing here is that performing teaching and performing learning don't necessarily have to happen in the same spatiotemporal nexus.

What does the role of a student who is also a teacher look like in a college classroom?

I assume that this question is aimed toward doctoral students who are concurrently acting in the capacity of TA (teaching assistant) and are the teachers of record for certain undergraduate courses. However, I think I'll take a more philosophical perspective and say that all teachers are students of something. Even once my doctoral degree is done (and assuming I won't go for a second one) I will still be a student.  I will be (hopefully) continuing to conduct research, and read, and write, about topics in my field.  I won't necessarily be in a classroom, but I will be a student.  That said, I think that we all wear many hats in life, in general.  So, in the classroom I can be a teacher, and outside of my classroom I can be a learner. However, I do think that (1) there are many opportunities for us, as instructors, to learn from our own classrooms, through our interactions with our learners, and through observing our learners interact; and (2) it's important to let our learners that we just don't know everything.  We are human beings, we tends to focus on things that pique our interests, and while we might know more about a specific topic compared to our learners, we can always learn more about it.  Knowledge is not finite, and as such it is important for us to acknowledge that.  We, as instructor-learners should be humble in that we don't know everything, and jump at the chance to learn with our learners as situations arise.

Should graduate teachers be made aware of their potential future in the job market? Should they be encouraged to be part of the dialogue of labor practices at the university, the community college, and in their own departments?

Reply Hazy. Try Again.  In all seriously though, I think that the actual prognostication of job markets isn't that great.  Instead of focusing on future markets which we don't know about (I for one did not think I would be where I am today back when I was an undergraduate student), we should focus on current aspects of the market, and look at those with a critical eye.  This means that graduate students, students in education, need to be part of the dialogue that takes place around the labor practices, environment, sustainability, and employability in their related fields.  If you are a PhD or EdD student and your goal is to be a professor, tenured, in higher education - you need to know that tenure track jobs don't come up that often (or so it seems to me), that adjuncts appear to be the majority of the workforce, and they are not paid that well.  Starting with your own department is not something that I would start with.  Perhaps I'd keep it in mind, but depending on how open that department is, it's potentially setting up some bad vibes between the student and the people that have power over you.  I am a firm believer in getting done with school first, before risking upsetting mentors (in case mentors are thin skinned).  Looking at academia in general, and institution second, would be my way of approaching a dialog over this. No matter how you approach it, a dialog must happen so that people have a five year plan (even if it's hazy).  They can't believe that they'll go on the tenure track if there aren't jobs on the tenure track, and we can't - as profession - be saying "Oh, they'll get a job if they are good enough" - because that severely impacts your reputation.  Why take someone into your program, and invest the time and energy to mentor them (and take their money) if you don't believe that they are good enough to get a tenure track job? Food for thought.

How can graduate teachers prepare to be pedagogues in non-teaching careers?

That's a good question.  I actually don't have an answer for that. My mental gears are turning, and I am thinking of community-based organizations, volunteering, and advocacy options - but I simply don't know at the moment.  What do others think?