Saturday, 29 December 2012

Anticipating edcMOOC

There is a lot going on with eLearning and Digital Cultures. First twitter, then the map, flikr, blogger, facebook and google. Exchanging papers about eLearning. Trying out new online tools. Writing, thinking, reading, creating, buying (yes, bought two books and two movies) communicating, sharing, helping, being helped, imagining. This is digital culture.

So maybe we're not all learning online, but for those of us who are, in the here and now, it can be as big a mind space as we choose to make it. I've moved on from the tools, I'll get back to my google exploration later. For now, I've gone all existential, exploring thoughts of simulation hypothesis, and what it means to immerse oneself in the virtual realm. I watched the Matrix and found it catapulted me even further into the headspace.

It pays to understand Simulation Hypothesis. Such questions, about the nature of knowledge and reality,  well and truly predate cyberspace, and it can give us not only some deeply interesting thoughts on which to perform mental gymnastics, but perhaps may give us cause for reflection on the online reality, the space in which we wish to engage with others to learn. Not everyone wants to embrace this place. People create their own realities where they are comfortable. Social constructivism may not be something people want to "knowingly" participate in.

Anyhow, this is just a short post in which I want to embed a Prezi: "Anticipating the Mooc".  A few questions that are arising for me as we come closer to our official start date. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Current State of Online Learning: the Pregnancy Analogy

Take 2:

Have you ever been pregnant? Didn’t it seem as though nearly every other woman of childbearing age was pregnant too? Amazing.

Ever enrolled in a MOOC? Everyone with an interest in education (students and teachers alike) seems to be doing one. In fact, everyone's online, isn't that the way all education, at every level is heading?

My coursera experience has taken me down a path where I was starting to think that anything face to face or slightly blended was just so 20th century and that I’d better pick up the pace before I was left behind, even though I already teach a fully online graduate course!  

My EDCmooc conversations were beginning to consolidate those thoughts, with every day, new links on twitter about pedagogy, classrooms of the future that are already here, ink and paper now obsolete…..

The first article which really started me thinking I was behind the eight ball with connectivism was  “Learning technology through three generations of technology enhanced distance education pedagogy”, a great read on the evolution of distance education pedagogy. One line in particular, which I have quoted several times since reading, mainly in response to those who are overwhelmed with the accelerating pace of life in general and fear for things that may be lost to technology:

From  1928: “Students today depend upon store-bought ink. They don’t know how to make their own. When they run out of ink they will be unable to write. This is a sad commentary on modern education.”

I wonder for how long that particular educator continued to insist on ink making lessons in their classes?

The next twitter link to impact on my worried mind was “12 YouTube Videos Every Online Educator Should View”, specifically, an animation titled “The Voice of the Active Learner”. I was starting to feel that things had moved ahead much further than I had been aware of. Time to panic?

By the very nature of my post graduate course, most students are adult, ranging from mid 20’s upwards. Perhaps being digital immigrants, they set the pace and now we’re in trouble, becoming dinosaurial before our eyes?????

Then our facebook discussions with Eric on the use of iPads in education made me think about iPad classrooms and bring your own device, which will be happening in 2013 for my 9yo son. And next to thinking very hard about my own experience and that of my offspring. I've helped fundraise for the school to provide funky coloured iMacs in the classroom at a ratio of 1 for every 4 students in 2000, then change to PCs as soon as the Macs became obsolete. I've seen netbooks provided in the Digital Education Revolution Scheme of 2008 not only diminish the online experience for secondary students, but now 4 years on, become ewaste. The next great thing is but a fleeting experience in the 21st century.

As for my own children: they range from digital native (my 9yo who has advanced skills with powerpoint, publisher, word, photo editing, image editing, edmodo…OK, minecraft, and well everything really) to digital refugee (my 23 yo honours student daughter who has steered away from social media and still attends face to face lectures in preference to just learning from the downloaded versions) with everything in between. None of them use digital cameras, all still shoot on film and process their own. But are far from Luddite.

So their verdict?

My youngest watched the animated video with me and remarked that he would still prefer a pen and paper because it feels more real, and that edmodo is fine as long as the teacher only makes them use it occasionally. He thought the vision did not represent his reality. The 23 yo, well of course she is a major beneficiary of online education tools and technology, but she really can’t see any benefit in it over the analogue world. Nice to be able to pick and choose, although I’d like to see her sequencing genomes without pyrosequencing…..

And all on the iPad? Well one only has to look at the stats on any of your blogsites to see where the views come from. And it sure looks like Windows is still the dominant point of entry for this blog, with only 2% of views on iPads, maybe because we are “mature”, but what the heck, I own a tablet…

So what is really happening? Sure, we live in an age of accelerating technological advancement where space time compression is an unavoidable reality. I’m really into reading about the singularity, and can’t wait till the trans-humanists start uploading their consciousness onto their iPad25s. Who needs a body. 

But until then, the future for online education is a certainty, although whether it will play out any more predictably than it has in the past is unlikely. Who knows what will happen with MOOCs. My guess is as good as the next. Perhaps they will head to the digital black hole where napster and myspace ended up or morph into another form like iTunes or Facebook.

In the meantime, I’m applying my Pregnancy Principle to online education. Despite being totally immersed in the cutting edge online education experience myself, I just have to remember that it's not a pressing reality for everyone...yet!!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Here Goes: Quadblogging with Nigel, Willa and Kelcy

Have you ever been pregnant? When you are, everyone else is pregnant too. Amazing. 

Ever done a MOOC? The whole world seems to be doing one. In fact, everyone's online, isn't that the only way we all want to learn now?

I'm here to find out how we learn by doing it this way. I just have to remember that it's not a reality for everyone...yet!!

I'm part of group 2 of the EDCMOOC foundation quadblogging brigade. Very sensible, beginning 7 days before Christmas. Luckily I have decided on a non consumeristic approach so the fact that I have not bought any presents to date shouldn't pose a problem for combining blogging with (lack of) preparation this year!

So that in mind, hi to Nigel, Willa and Kelcy, my fellow first time quadbloggers.

I live in Australia (born in Scotland, Aussie accent), about 100km south west of Sydney in a picturesque district called the Southern Highlands. Cool climate, European gardens, slow life, rural, conservative, safe. In another life, I was a molecular biologist, then a restaurateur for a short while before my husband embarked on a 16 year career in the media (in which I played a major supporting but backstage role) which led to all things TV, publishing, teaching, travel, marketing and the superficial fluff that comes with the territory. 

A determination to head back to academic life led me to Integrated Human Studies and the decision to do a PhD, something I almost embarked on before changing tack all those years ago. 

I am now part of a teaching team of 3: Prof. Neville Bruce, Mark Paynter (fellow PhD candidate) and myself, co-ordinating the only fully online course at the University of Western Australia, in which a bit like Coursera courses, we have graduate students from all over the world drawn from a wide range of professions: from medico's to barristers, to professors at other institutions, dancers, artists, scientists, engineers, film producers, town planners... you name it. And in keeping with the whole online experience where distance exists only in the mind, I live on the other side of the continent to Neville, (a 5 hour flight to Perth) and Mark lives a 5 hour drive south of Perth. We've all met on more than one occasion, but that seems immaterial. We are in daily contact with each other and with our highly engaged student community.

So, I am educating the well educated, and educating myself at the same time, social constructivism in action.

I have done one MOOC, Introduction to Sustainability, which I did in tandem with a friend from ANU, and we both loved. It filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge for the content I am teaching in IHS, and gave me a student perspective of the MOOC experience. EDC is my second MOOC, and I'm not sure if it because I want to wallpaper my office with coursera certificates or whether I just love the brain stimulation, but I've enrolled in several more for 2013. Who needs a PhD anyhow...

Like most of us off and running way ahead of time, the sharing of ideas, resources and the whole social experience is giving me a lot of food for thought. My blog is initially a learning journal, now morphing into a quadblogging tool and eventually whatever it is required to be after January 28. 

I have several wordpress sites, so thought I'd try blogger this time. It's a little cluttered and homely. I prefer the sleek lines of most wordpress sites and not really drawn to blogger, not even my own, and I keep changing the theme, hoping for a miracle. But still boring. 

So as an introductory first quadblog, I hope this gives you guys an idea of my eLearning background. In earlier posts, maybe the storify one, there are links to flickr, other blogs and links if you are interested.

NB: I wanted to comment on this post but it won't let me. So... fellow quadbloggers, I've just read it the next morning, with a critical eye. I would tell my own students, what was the point of this post? Did the introduction engage the reader to keep going? Did it have a conclusion? By my own writing criteria, this is a pretty poor effort! I never returned to the original concept.

What can we learn from this:

  1. writing with some real people in mind might help create a more disciplined approach to writing..dont know if this is good or if it will impinge on free flowing thought
  2. if one is to take up space, be it bytes, brain energy, paper, time slots, it should done be with some  considered thought, not some self indulgent, poorly planned, badly expressed random stuff
  3. stick to one point in a post, give it a beginning, a middle and an end
That's it, I'm going to resubmit, but later!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Exploring Google: Google Sites

I bought two books to read on a flight this week, W.K.C. Guthrie's "The Greek Philosophers: From Thales to Aristotle" and the 2012 "Ultimate Guide to Google".
Sadly, I read the google guide in between being elbowed by the rapid fire antics of the 40yo guy next to me playing Pirates of the Caribbean on his iPad.  ( I think it got really hectic when he was having a sword fight). I'm not sure which of us was the biggest dork....

So....back to getting the most out of free services google has to offer: all the basics of course with the chrome browser, google docs and drive, picassa for cloud storage and sharing of images and videos, blogger, youtube and google+. I guess the main advantages are single sign on, everything synchronised across all devices and simplicity (even if you can only choose a few fonts).

The NEW thing I discovered in this mag is Google Sites, which was JotSpot in a previous incarnation. It isn't on the gmail menu, even the dropdown menu under "more". Which is odd. You have to go to it separately.

  1. Google Sites . It is GREAT and I can't believe I didn't know it existed. It is google's offering for creating collaborative structures: a  web and wiki creation tool. There are lots of templates and themes: I created a test wiki in minutes and I'm going to develop it to see if I can then use mine as a template for students who can further personalise it. The template I used already came with many useful features such as a project timeline page and several widgets all which can be edited or discarded. Much easier than the wikispaces setup process and no need for a separate account and yet another password. The annoying things are the same annoying things wikispaces has, like image sizing, no CSS and limited html use, however, it is what it is. I'll post my wiki here in a couple of days when I work out a few more useful features.
  2. Historypin. This is a collaborative project between google and a community based intergenerational project where you can pin historical photos onto a google map. It is all user generated and has about 30,000 images already. I don't have an educational use for it right now, but I like that sort of thing.
  3. Google Voice etc....A way to make calls to phones but when I tried it, it diverted to skype and wasn't free. So not impressed today. There were also lots of business applications and some useful tips for analytics which I must remember to employ.