Archive for the 'Learning' Category

CEOs: Scratch the learning from the past. Embrace lifelong learning in your workpace

This environment did not train the workforce we need today and tomorrow:

OldSCHOOL

 

We need to start fostering a learning environment and culture within our own organizations that encourages life long learners. Without this culture & environment we will not be able to generate the innovation and solutions that allow us to be leaders in the market yet alone keep up the pace demanded by changing technologies and a public who demands inter-connectivity via technology. 

Learning organizations both grow and attract star innovators and performers. Organizations that refuse to change wisely & rapidly often fade or fail. There are no magic bullets when it comes to developing a learning culture and environment. It’s really damn hard work, that doesn’t seem to pay off immediately, but it does require a vision and courage to change.

 

Slideshare: Meeting the Needs of a Rapidly Changing Workforce with the Learning Organization of the 21st Century

Voice added to presentation on what the best online facilitators do

I was able to add some audio to this presentation. Admittedly it was recorded & edited in a hurry. And naturally after listening to it for the 3rd time I think I’d cut down the text by more than 1/3.

The Dying Art of Liberal Arts Education & the Failure of the Human Education Project #edcmooc

The following includes my response to the Fuller talk posted in the Week3 #edcmooc materials: Steve Fuller – Defining Humanity.

1. Why does Professor Fuller say (almost as a joke) that education is ‘a dying art’?

Fuller is speaking of education in the classical sense. Education, as in Liberal Arts. He’s referencing the ‘humanities’ project of educating young people at the university around a prescribed classical curriculum. This is a curriculum very similar to the one of my undergraduate education which was developed around what are called “Great Books.”

I’ve been raised to think that a balanced and rich education included learning the content and philosophies in these classic works, and not just interpreting the works and their original intent but looking at the current world and interpreting what we saw through the lens of these texts. More than this my education seemed to suit me because it espoused and preached the value of exploration of the world around me via constant inquiry.  The key to benefiting from these ‘classical’ texts is having professors and peer who help you interpret and understand them not just in the context in which they were written, but to understand how the messages of these text apply or don’t apply to current day living, and perhaps I’ve outed myself as a “Classics Curmudgeon,” but I will stand my my defense of understanding these texts as necessary to developing critical thought.

Now, if you choose to measure the success the Liberal Arts  by whether or not it’s able to educate universally among all peoples and classes, then yes, it is a failure. And if you consider that most universities no longer offer Liberal Arts as an option because the market has demanded that graduates emerge from university with skills directly applicable to the workforce, then, yes, it practically is a dying art.

2. He talks about the ‘modern artifice’ of enhancement: how might this notion of becoming more ‘fully human’ via enhancement impact on the project of education?

The definition of what is human to the educators of the “Classical” period, as Fuller states, was not achievable by every person.  It’s still not achievable by everyone, but does it mean that it’s irrelevant?  It could be that I’m misinterpreting this question so I’ll restate what I think it’s saying: How does the notion of becoming more human impact the project of education? (to be frank I really don’t like how this question is worded and I feel that it could be framed much better. For example, How does the notion or goal of improving ‘humanity’ impact the project of education. Have we been able to attain any improvement, if so to what extent? ).  It really depends upon the current definition of what is human. I agree that social values and norms surrounding the definition of humanity, for example, ideas such as democracy and equal rights that are supposedly espoused as ‘ideal values’ that modern societies try to uphold are more broadly applied than they were in Plato’s day where class and social status determined if you were ‘human’ or not.  Having a whole class of ‘inhuman’ people made open slavery possible.

If you look at the dismal failure of NCLB in the United States, clearly this attempt to improve public education for all has really done nothing to improve the levels of education for students in the US. In fact, it’s done more harm than good by placing a greater emphasis on memorization and thinking within the context of the tests rather than helping students develop stronger creative and critical thinking skills that will help them participate in the a marketplace that requires higher level and innovative thinking to remain completive.

3.Professor Fuller argues that there’s historical precedent for considering only some homo sapiens to be ‘human’: what are the political implications of this in contemporary times? And how might such a notion position education?

If you think of the fact that basic human rights to regular nourishment, water and shelter are denied to billions of people then yes we haven’t even begun to successfully humanize the rest of the population. His argument is a painful reminder that this definition of humanity may still be only accessible to people in the more affluent nations. In our own times and as nations suffer from conflicts over the scarcity of resources, this idea that only a special few can reap the benefits of this world, only a few can become educated. If you want to continue to assume that humanity is a special club for a network of people. It’s no secret that the struggle to become human has been inextricably intwined with the struggle to conquer nature and become prosperous.  But in a world where a population of over 10 billion people could become a reality in the next century, this idea that we can all live these idealized prosperous lives becomes more and more preposterous. The idea that the world that exists in Graphic Novels about Zombie Apocalypses becomes more realistic than fantasy.

In "The Mark of Gideon," episode Star Trek envisioned a world that was so crowded from overpopulation there was no place to sit & think

In “The Mark of Gideon,” episode Star Trek envisioned a world that was so crowded from overpopulation there was no place to sit & think

4. He suggests that we are questioning the very existence of the ‘human’ because we have failed in the humanist project (for example, we are far from achieving racial, gender or class equality): do you believe this?

I think it’s still possible for people to obtain or achieve this version of ‘ideal humanity’ on a universal basis. However, there are structures in place, economic & societal that make this difficult to achieve. On the other hand this vision of perfect humanity being represented by the erudite and highly educated seems like an elitist paradigm. After all we can’t all become those ‘philosopher kings’ that have nothing to to all day but learn and figure out what’s best for the rest of humanity ;) Maybe that’s why this old ‘human project’ is outdated. The object should be to educate a chosen few but offer the fertilizer to a greater part of the field and then help those who flourish become the new leaders of tomorrow. Think that recent history especially in the 20th century is replete with example of this in scholarships. But the MOOC allows even more people than those few underprivileged who win scholarships.

5. In claiming that ‘the old humanistic project should not be dropped’, Professor Fuller links his talk to our key theme of re-asserting the human. His stance seems to be that ‘you can only be morally credible’ if you are addressing issues of human freedom and equality. Thinking about education specifically, might we see MOOCs as an example of an ‘old humanistic project’, particularly in the promise they appear to offer for democratisation, equality of access and so on?

MOOCs are part of the democratization of the passing down of knowledge. The fact that it’s accessible to anyone is indeed democratic. The fact that a good many poor people around the globe still don’t have access to the Internet is not so democratic. But I prefer to see Fuller’s suggestion as a warning to change this view of ‘higher education’  and adapt the “Classical” curriculum as well as how and whom we deliver it to. Specifically the world is changed and world views have changed somewhat therefore, the works that are read. In India, a core group of educators is trying to educate one of their lowest social groups: Women. The argument, educated women defer childbirth and have less children. With less mouths to feed and less competition for jobs, the people as a whole become more prosperous.

Photo attribution: Mark of Gideon – http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Mark_of_Gideon_(episode)

Technology Can’t Replace Teachers – Week 3 Image #edcmooc

An attempt at a digital image for Week 3. I was inspired by Week 2’s Twitter Chat’s question:

Q2: Is the future teacher a computer or a human?

Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 4.36.52 PM

How to Build A Strong Online Classroom Community in a MOOC (A Beginning) #edcmooc

tag: #edcmooc

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have recently exploded on the Internet.  Currently participating in the “Elearning & Digital Cultures” Coursera MOOC has been both an exciting and enriching experience so far. Many of my classmates have noted that it’s difficult to connect or even find what you need. I see that. If I haven’t had experienced both participating in and designing smaller online courses, I think I might have run screaming from this class. I decided to take this class to learn more about the MOOC experience and because I knew a course like this would attract a great many folks who can teach me more about online learning and collaboration. And I’m not just speaking about Digital Vikings or Digital Experts ;).

To some extent, online learners do have to take a bit of responsibility in learning how to use the tools, discovering the rules of etiquette and how to use the content creation options (Storify, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Prezi, Storyline, etc.). It’s like taking Dr. Who’s advice about Time Travel… it “ is like visiting Paris. You can’t just  follow the guidebook. You’ve got to throw yourself in, eat the food, use the wrong verbs… “

Part of the fun of engaging in an online course is taking a few risks. And because we don’t get the interpersonal and facial cues from being in a classroom, you have to adapt and sometimes overcompensate when communicating with others online.

I have a few suggestions from my initial experience in this MOOC, and as I continue to take this course over the next few weeks I’m sure I will have more:

1. Provide a digital tour  with a facilitator narrating it that walks through the major places to contribute in the course. This can include guidelines for  using the forums and subforums correctly. You’re not going to prevent everyone from posting to the top threads instead of using the search to find the appropriate ones, but you’ll cut down on a great deal of the clutter and chatter

2. Provide a way for the newbies to practice using and develop confidence using the communication tools.  At the TCC Education Technology Conference they allow all participants to play in ‘sandboxes’ in Illuminate. This allows them to get comfortable with the tool and engage. In a former life I designed a chat activity for our LMS chat tool that incorporated an online scavenger hunt. Students were directed to share thoughts and links on a topic and discuss. Integrating the learning about the tool in an activity that uses it while allowing students to practice helps them both master and become accustomed to online modes of communication.

3. Leverage the skills of  the Digital Natives & Proficient Digital Immigrants to help get the newbies up to speed.

4. Have a learning manifesto that defines what you feel the learning should look like. Encourage the students to contribute to it. It looks like the University of Edinburgh has one... but I didn’t see it linked in our actual #edcmooc. Having a manifesto personalized by the facilitators & students of the course can help everyone start.

5. Provide a mechanism or place in the course for people to join cadres where they stick with each other throughout the course. Provide some general guidelines for providing support in the cadres. If possible have folks who are more experienced with tech volunteer to lead each Cadre. Give them guidelines to help start conversations. Encourage fun competitions between cadres that help build team spirit.  I know this can be rather challenging in a course with tens of thousands of people, but I think perhaps setting up the space and modeling the behavior for the cadres is a start. I see that in our course there are some self-generated study groups, but how do they know what to do or even study online without some amount of guidance?

6. Require that students have a blog. They can build one specifically for this course or use one that exists already. The blog is a way for folks to reflect and have larger thoughts about their experience with the course and topics.

How about you? Add your ideas on how to improve the MOOC Experience at this Wall on Wallwisher

Screen shot 2013-02-02 at 9.52.37 AM

Go to the wall and add your own comments.

Future Think for Educators

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8]

Great film that helps us envision education and learning in transition. Some things educators, policy makers, parents, teacher, curriculum developers should all be getting excited about…

  • Cloud Computing - In many cases you don’t need to have software installed on your computers.  Content development tools such as Google Docs and many others make it possible to create and share documents, materials, etc. on the web. Students can track changes, add notes or comments and truly author pieces together.
  • Mobile Devices – Mobile devices and smart phones are definitely here to stay. Yesterday I realized that I only use my laptop if I’m working on something complex or lengthy. All other materials for reading or immediate access are funneled through my mobile. Educators can search out or even design learning enhanced by or using Mobile Devices – Why not create or develop learning activities where students can enhance their learning by connecting to materials and resources while they’re learning, or on a field trip? In a previous post I shared a number of different possible learning applications for cellphones. Several are quite ingenious and fun. You can view a detailed mind map of the lecture notes from the presentation where I got those ideas.
  • Leveraging Social Networking and Media Sharing Tools – Students and educators can learn from social networks that have pods or communities built around the topics they are interested in.  I found this great community on Learning Physics Online. You could even find or start communities on Ning or other similar networking site. Students (and or their teachers) can create videos, film projects, and presentations to put up on ‘safe’ sharing sites such as TeacherTube or YouTube. Check out this group of student’s retelling of the Boxer Rebellion. Love how they cleverly used recognizable styles and characterizations from Hong Kong  & martial arts cinema. I shared this some time ago, but I never get tired of watching it.
  • Alternatives to Written Papers – While I still think this skill is absolutely necessary to have. I don’t think the essay is the only way to test someone’s knowledge and grasp of content anymore. Students can put together podcasts. Writing the content and putting together the interview questions for the podcast as well as engaging in the discussion and interviews can help reinforce the content they are learning. Sometimes writing a script for a film, story boarding, and coordinating the filming is way more labor intensive than writing a term paper. Plus you’re actually using far more skills that can transfer to real jobs and life (… outlining, drafting, planning, writing, coordination, directing, … ummmm project management. I actually heard somewhere that film school is the new MBA :))
  • Ethics & Security Education for Parents and Students – yes the web can be a scary place, but so is the street. If we train students  (and parents) to be aware of the dangers and learn guidelines for avoiding them then that’s half the battle. It would also be in our best interests if we teach the younger generation appropriate netiquette.

More resources:

Schools aren’t teaching innovation? Parents to the Rescue

In part of this interview, Godin asserts that our school system is designed to develop factory workers and that we should be angry about this.  How do we change schools? Or should we even try? It’s awfully hard to change institutions. You can make your best shot, but maybe it’s better to take on the challenge of building more innovative minds on a smaller scale.

I think there are things that parents can do outside of school and at home to help model innovative and collaborative behavior to their children.

1.) Try learning new things. Make taking a class or even a workshop part of your family activities. I remember my mother actually taking cooking classes, macrame, even public speaking. Both my brother and I were often dropped off at the community center to take a crafting or nature class during the summer months. We often looked forward to doing this.

2.) If you’re failing at household tasks… point it out.  Not everyone is Martha Stewart perfect at the things they do. You don’t have to engage in huge creative projects.  Build a small pond, arrange your picture frames, experiment with colors when you knit a mitten.  If it doesn’t work out… it’s okay. I meet so many adults who are so afraid of doing things wrong they get so wrapped up in making things perfect. They’re not really paying attention to what they’re doing along the way or how they got there. This neurotic compunction to make things look just right seems like excessive self-flagellation to me. Modeling this neurosis for our children can stunt their willingness to experiment or try new things.

3.) Tinker, tinker, tinker. My father-in-law owns a machine shop so it isn’t surprising that he found a way to make his car run with propane during the Oil Crisis in the 70’s. It’s also not surprising that he now has two sons who aren’t afraid to creatively solve design problems or develop tools or products. My husband eschewed the customary IKEA setups when designing our kitchen and instead designed a the layout in 3D in Blender to fit our odd shaped pre 1950’s house. My brother-in-law designed a built a salt-water tank with specialized lighting that mimics sunlight in a reef setting specific to a part of a globe. Don’t ask how and why… he just did.

4.) Work with other adults on a project where you’re solving a creative problem. I remember people coming to my house as a child to work out problems with my dad. Whether it was building a deck or fixing the car. Working together to piece a quilt and even solve out the design with others is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate this ability to work with other adults to solve a creative problem.

Now I’m only providing a few suggestions here, but you probably get the picture. Children are keen to pick up on adult behaviors and when you’re modeling the type of ‘compliance’ Godin refers to or even fear of trying new things, there’s a good chance that they’ll be influenced by it.


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