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...