Sunday, April 25, 2010

R685 Week 15 Networks of personalized learning

I was looking for a final word to add to my blog for the semester this morning. It's not easy to sum up a semester filled with so many outstanding learning moments. A final word is a hard thing to do.

I suppose the final word is that there isn't a final word.

As our class syllabus listed this week as networks of personalized learning, I realize that fits my journey this morning. I opened Google and selected blog. I was going to reach my blog this way but instead was stopped by several items that caught my eye.
  • The Hubble space satelite was one that's at the top of this blog. I opened the link and learned something about time/distance. It mentioned that someone might be looking at us and what they would be seeing today was what the Earth looked like at 5940 BC.
  • I found Dr. Bonk's blog and was reminded of the Breeze session we had with Stephen Downes.
  • I went to Stephen Downes blog next.

I suppose my point is that I've learned about learning this semester using the web as a window to a immense source of information, knowledge and collaboration. I did not know this in January, but am beginning to understand now. Thanks Dr. Bonk.

Monday, April 19, 2010

R685 Week 14 Podcasting

This week's Breeze session focused on using podcasts in an English as Second Language class in a university in Tokyo. The professor shared her tactics and asked the R685 class for ideas for using podcasts in other learning scenarios. It was an excellent discussion.

I continue to be impressed with the quality of the Breeze sessions. Not only is the content timely, very appropriate to the class, the forms delivered are truly narrowing the gap between face to face and virtual. Video of the presenters is useful because it personalizes the meeting. Note the laughs shown in the attached picture above. Audio remains clear and with no time delay.
I also believe I'm seeing evidence of the value of a technical steward, in this case it has been Seolim. Her work has helped stabilize each meetings' presentation, guest speaker connectivity plus she keeps an eye on participants questions. I think this role is a value-add to virtual meetings and one I'll attempt to incorporate in my future web-based meetings, particularly when there is collaboration planned.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Week 13 R685 Educational blogging

The week started auspiciously with Dr. Bonk live on NPR. He was part of the Apple Does It Again discussion. The flexibility of the iPad to reach seemed appropriate to this week's class discussion about educational blogging.
We had an outstanding chat session this week with Stephen Downes presenting. I gained a new appreciation for personal learning. Stephen's delivery was very open and very interesting. I couldn't help thinking that he learned because of his blogging activity. He mentioned others might gain insights with his blogs and that was good, but I also sensed that the act of blogging was an educational experience for him. An interesting thought. It was as if the blog helped organize his thinking.

And it was really neat to hear my professor "live" on national news!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Week 12 R685 Synchronous vs Asynchronous

Yesterday I had a very interesting, rewarding email exchange with Dr. Bonk. It started after I explained my question about tidbit project delivery date. This led to a series of emails, almost conversational in delivery over the next hour. You can see the email string above.

What I realized afterwards was the quality of the conversation was equal to if not better than if we'd been on the phone or together in an office. We've talked about asynchronous communcations allowing time to reflect before responding and that was the case here. We had a few minutes between "posting" to think about what each had said previous and to build on those ideas. It was pretty neat and the pauses let me frame my ideas and questions in ways that allowed Dr. Bonk to help.

For example, I mentioned an amazement at how Dr. Bonk could keep all the Web 2.0 pathways organized. He seemed to be able to pull up specific examples almost at will whenever a classmate had an interest. (He'd done that for me a number of times this semester.) Within a few minutes, Dr. Bonk sent me comprehensive list of web-based links to my area of interest. This list will be very useful but at that instant I realized we'd had a learning moment. I hadn't planned on learning something like this when I first emailed Dr. Bonk but the outcome of our emails was just that. I learned. I thought then that this was a bit of "constructivism" at work.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Week 12 Google my blog

I found out that Web 2.0 could find me. The screenshot to the left shows two hits, one from my blog another from Leesa a R685 classmate!

The real lesson ties back to a theme Dr. Bonk has stressed throughout the semester about capability to find knowledge and learn from the web.

This example is evidence of that idea.

Week 12 R685 Community of practice

Dr. Bonk helped me contact two consultants with experience developing community of practices (CoP). I spoke with Josh Plashkoff and John Smith and I've read Digital Habitats co-authored by John Smith. Here are some things that I learned from these conversations:
  • CoP are mislabeled as teams. This assumes the group has a particular set of tasks that are part of a team. CoP's are more like neighorhoods where individuals have shared interests, live and work together and provide mutual support. Individuals get together to talk, share ideas, learn much as neighbors do over their backyard fences.
  • Technology is just a tool that CoP's use. There were CoPs before computers.
  • CoPs are all about relationships. Face to face can help establish relationships in a dispersed group. But relationships involve things like trust, personal disclosure, common interests. Friendship can be part of CoP characteristics.
  • CoPs occur around a domain or a practice. What do they talk about? What issues do members share?
  • Both Josh and John suggest that CoPs can't be created by management decree. Rather they occur naturally but can be helped through facilitation to evolve, grow.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Week 12 R685 Mobile, Wireless and Ubiquitous Learning

My definition of learning has changed this semester. This week's discussion pushed the envelope even further. We had a lunch chat in Breeze that included the class, Dr. Bonk and a professor knowledgeable in mobile learning who joined from England! It was an amazing experience to be able to interact with such ease across such distances.

More importantly I realized that learning had another dimension. In January, I'd defined learning largely through formal higher education experiences. There were familiar structures to this form of learning. Sage on the stage, textbooks, independent study on a topic, occasional team projects with specific time lines, grades, diplomas......

Over the weeks I've come to see learning in other forms. Informal learning, collaborative learning, learning on demand, learning for the sake of learning instead of job task-based.

This week's discussion added more to the definition. Mobile can mean informal but it also can mean projecting the learners closer to the real context they are studying. Mobile can also mean reaching across vast distances that don't have infrastructure to support more traditional learning environments. Professor Traxler's slide that showed a tribesman in Africa holding an iPhone said many things. For instance, I saw knowledge conduits that extended well beyond historical ranges. And the knowledge pipeline could be two ways.

We have several more weeks in the semester. I wonder how my definition of learning will change?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wek 11 R685 Alternate Reality Learning

I'm still grappling with how to utilize this Web 2.0 in a corporate setting. Last night's chat with Intellagirl and Dr. Evil talking about Second Life was fascinating. It's clear that virtual reality tools can be adapted for learning. The business school marketing course example is only one that Intellagirl mentioned.

I asked about simulations and Sarah mentioned that Second Life had a learning curve for users and might be limited to business use for ongoing training.

I wonder if a virtual reality might be developed for a specific business setting and used for problem-solving not unlike that used for training airline pilots but in this case for company-specific applications. Need to ask Sarah's thoughts on this.

Week 10 Interactive and Collaborative Learning

Another interesting topic this week.

It came at a time when I have been exploring communities of practice. I'd read several articles on CoPs as part of my mid-term assignment and found quantitative evidence of the benefits of CoPs. One involved a construction company building a bridge across the sea between Denmark and Sweden. They measured the momentum of quality issues as an indication of the effectiveness of CoPs and found direct correlation with declining quality issues and CoPs. Neat!

I see this as one result of collaboration and learning.

I wonder how to adapt this to virtual CoPs, those that don't have a face to face element?

Week 10 R685 YouTube and Online Video

This has been a fascinating week of reading and shared ideas in class. I had not realized the scope of video content that was available and am still gaining a toe hold in this body of knowledge that is available.

Interestingly I'd learned to google "how to" topics earlier this year for house projects often finding help from amateur videophiles on techniques through YouTube. After this week's class focus, I see the use of video even more broadly.

Using video as anchors, enders, etc makes sense from our class chat and discussions. John Keller ARCS comes to mind with video but also the notion of dual coding. I've seen Sonoco personnel's eyes become "anchored" to the screen with some of my prototype video clips so I'm convinced of the power of video to gain attention and transfer knowledge.

I'm going to use this idea in my final R685 project. I've begun scripting several videos of quality systems elements for several North American facilities. I think these will be very effective and I wouldn't have considered without what we learned in class.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Week 8 Wikis and collaborative writing

This week involved looking across the landscape of online collaborative tools focusing initially on Wikipedia. We discovered that there were multiple forms of wikis for different applications but equally important that tactics in using wikis for collaboration needed to be considered against the cultural values of the participants.

One article in class talked about wiki responses across international groups using their norms for social interaction. For example, cultures where there was strong central authority (China) tended to have a different type of wiki collaboration than countries that were more individually-independent (Netherlands).

I see the principle of culture applying to corporate settings. In fact, I think this explains differences that I have observed within my company to people working with wikis.

Related to cultures, I made contacts with a couple of practitioners this week in communities of practice. What I am hearing is that relationships are key to CoP success, effectiveness and sustainability. This has the tone of paying attention to "culture" that I mentioned above. I'll continue my conversations with these CoP experts and see where the dialogue leads.

Week 7 R685 Connectivism and participatory learning

This week's class chat involved role playing several of the authors in the week's readings. I was assigned to be Nicholas Carr who wrote an article questioning whether the ease of access and ease of use of search devices like Google were degrading our learning. He was concerned about superficial learning and talked about the importance of time to reflect versus power browsing where learners just skimmed material.

I realize there needs to be a balance between the two and the exceptional functionality of Web's capability to open up knowledge sources is quite profound, but I was struck by this idea of superficial learning mirrored behaviors I had seen in my corporate world. Terms like "keep it simple, don't worry about the details, just get it done...." troubled me in that their tone was similar to those that worried Carr.

I'm not sure where I stand on this question right now. Connectivisim is here to stay and can make substantial inroads to learning. I think what will happen is that society will learn how to use these capabilities, to gather information, store it rapidly but we will still circle back to it to think.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

R685 Week 6 OpenCourseWareOCW and OER thoughts

Our class readings placed a lot of emphasis on sustainability of OCW and OER. Interestingly, this wasn't just about providing new content, there was a great deal involved with financial issues.

I hadn't given the cost of OCW or OER much thought. But the quality of knowledge, the methods used to store content on the web and the infrastructure costs can be much larger than I'd assumed. This is a distinction between volunteer-type Web 2.0 sites. Sites like MIT's are genuine knowledge repositories with all the functionality of commercial web sites. This sites and others like it don't just gather quantities of knowledge and place it in a folder for the user to sort out. Instead there is design in how this is done. Really good OER sites can cost well into $000,000,000 to develop and maintain. This is big business!

I don't have answers for how this can be maintained from a revenue standpoint. We've read about a number of different models, foundations, host organizations, subscriptions, etc.

But I think once the word really gets out to the value and learning capability of sites like MIT, use of the sites will be so significant that revenue will find a way. I think lack of visibility for OCW and OER is one of its biggest constraints.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Week 6 R685 Open Educational Resources and OpenCourseWare

This is my first post this week and pulls a thought from several weeks ago.

Our class has talked about using Web 2.0 as a learning platform that offers global scope. I'm seeing evidence that this idea is true. Learning can happen anywhere, anytime by anyone.

Unfortunately, I'd looked at Web 2.0 from the perspective of a college student. We talked about Web 2.0 Learners, digital literacy skills, E-Books and E-Book Readers, blended and fully online learning, Open Source Software. All of these have been show to contribute to individual learning, some in significant ways.

What I hadn't considered until last week is that all of these characteristics can contribute to organizational learning, not just individual learning in a post-secondary setting. Organizations can take advantage of the same range of Web 2.0 capabilities that an individual student can. Reading how organizations collaborate, innovate with individuals outside of their organizational boundaries in Don Tapscott's Wikinomics is just one example. In the end, organizations can build intellectual property/knowledge with the same Web 2.0 tools/techniques as an individual student.

I'm going to start asking two questions as the semester continues to unfold. One is how can an individual learn from this Web 2.0 concept, but the second is how can an organization learn.

Week 5 R685 Movement toward Free and Open Software

This week our class focused on open source as a strategy. Several of our articles were written around 2004-2005 as open source began to penetrate higher ed. Comments made by thought leaders predicting the direction of open source served as thought-provoking backdrops for what has happened during the last 5 years.

Communities of practice were identified as an important element of open source success.

I'd originally viewed these communities as primarily developers; individuals who could improve the original source code as well as develop new applications. However, I see communities differently now particularly in an educational setting using open source.

There are still developers, but also administrators who help establish strategy and objectives for the open source applications. There are also users within these communities who provide feedback on the designs. A final group within the community includes individuals who coach/advise users in how to apply the open source assets. In a commercial software product these coaches would be technical support resources.

I think a successful open source initiative will depend on a number of ingredients. The original code needs to work, and there needs to be value-adding problems that can be solved by the open source content. But I see multi-layered communities as a prequisite for open source now. It's not just about writing code. It's about solving problems.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blended learning

Week 4 of R685 focused on the growth of blended learning as well as describing its various forms. Although I had been exposed to early forms of blended learning, i.e. WebCT synchronous chats through distance learning while a student at Mercer University, I have noticed a significant change in the richness of the blended learning experience during the last several semesters in Indiana's IST master program.

We use a sychronous chat software called Adobe Connect/Breeze which resembles virtual meeting software that I utilize at work (WebEx, WebMeeting, GoToMeeting) but the level of sharing and dialogue within Breeze has changed to the point it is almost like being in a face to face setting. Lectures are supplemented with visuals, often better than face to face classes. In addition, students are increasingly interacting with the professor and with each other using audio and chat forms. There are multiple learning levels during these sessions more so than is possible in traditional face to face classes. Often these parallel discussions need to be placed in a "parking lot" in F2F to avoid distractions from the lecturer, but in the virtual classroom, both conversations can occur without significant degradation to the knowledge sharing.

What I see happening is the level of interaction is growing, in part I think through growing skill sets for students and professors. We're learning how to use the technology.

A couple of years ago I speculated that the biggest force working against synchronous virtual learning was the size of the "pipe" that carried information between participants, but I underestimated the degree everyone had to learn in order to more effectively use the new technology. Now I see those learning curves paying off and the "pipe" isn't as much of a constraint as I'd thought.

For my money, I'd rather have a well planned synchronous virtual class where students understand the rules of discussion and are interested in sharing with the professor than a traditional F2F lecture.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week 3 R685 Web 2.0 - Ebooks

This week's course readings were a series of articles related to the emergence of eBooks and readers.

One of the articles e-Book News contained news clips of multiple types of e-reader technologies. Given the prices for some of them, buyers should be careful to pick one that has a potentially long life from a technological platform standpoint. Sony Reader Daily Edition, Eco Reader, Samsung SNE-50K, Merlin, iRex, Astak Pocket Pro..... The list of available options is pretty long. Which is best, which will survive, which technological platform will survive?

E-readers seem to offer a lot of PC-based technical features allowing users to manipulate, annotate, store, search. I see these features much the way I see music libraries, playlists on an MP3 player or iPod. Lots of potential, but I still see a gap in usability regarding reading as you would with a paper book. Screen size, contrast still aren't equivalent to reading a book. But these technical gaps will likely be overcome. In class chat this week, Dr. Bonk mentioned user interface designs that might fold out. We also talked about designing e-Books so they were adapted to a user interface instead of converting paper-based books to digital formats. Interesting thoughts.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I've continued to develop my understanding of the implications of Web 2.0 via the R685 course forums and chat. I'm beginning to appreciate the enormous quantities of information and learning opportunities available.

Recent readings point out that learning will include significant amounts of informal, on-demand events. This is a departure from the structured, formal, university course scenarios I've grown accustomed to over the years.

But I now see informal, on-demand not necessarily meaning just surfing the web and finding cool stuff. Instead informal can have a general learning objective and the learner can use the web to add to that objective incrementally with nuggets of knowledge gathered throughout the web.

This afternoon I read an article by Dr. Bonk called " An Open Letter to the Learners of This Planet." In it he suggests that so much is happening that "traditional learning is integrated into the virtual and informal......" I wonder if there will be universities that provide less formal instructional content to their courses but provide credentially to students and evaluation once students satisfy learning objectives by gathering instruction directly from web sources?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Week 1 R685 Web 2.0

This is my first post in an Indiana University Instructional Systems Technology graduate course on Web 2.0.

This will be my first experience trying out web 2.0 technologies like blogs, video blogs, podcasts, wikis, etc. The class has 11 people most having worked for some years so we'll be able to share work experience and discovery during the semester. It should be a lot of fun.

The course R685 titled the World is Open with Web Technology is starting at a fast pace with lots of options for weekly readings. Professor Bonk recently published a book called The World is Open. It is a very interesting read reminding me of the World is Flat by T. L. Friedman. Dr. Bonk speaks of enablers for the web being "pipes, pages and a participatory culture." Dr. Bonk describes these events in Friedman terms as "triple convergence." I'm hoping to understand the implications of this thought as the semester progresses.

This week represents two mileposts for me, my first blog and first FaceBook page. I hope to experiment with the other web 2.0 technologies as the semester progresses. More later.