Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Twitter from a User’s Viewpoint

Twitter just went public. Some may be mystified by how it will make a profit. Others may remain skeptical. I and I suspect many other content contributors just want it to keep on doing what it does for us.

How I use Twitter (the short version) :

1. As an outlet to express myself
2. To connect with others I identify with
3. To explore topics I care about
    A. Get information about these topics from other fans or people in my communities (knitting & instructional design)
    B. Engage in conversations with these audiences & subcultures
    C. Find out what others are thinking saying about my interests using hash tag searches
4. Getting the word out about topics and news I care about to the communities or individuals who follow me
5. Finding others who can relate to my own (perceived or not) weirdness.

image

How do you use Twitter?

I’m attracted to Twitter because it was one of the first social networking sites where I really could reach out to an extended community. Also it met my needs and did not prove to be as annoying and invasive as FaceBook. You can get in and out quickly and it satisfies my need to connect or engage online. Plus I can be selective or inclusive about whom I follow as I wish.

Digital Artefact: The Future of Learning #edcmooc

I think I’ll have more time to reflect and comment on my artefact and the experience of making it in a few days, but for now here it is.

http://prezi.com/eaixra1t5vnf/future-of-learning/

Frontpage of digital artefact for #edcmooc

Digital Artefact for my “Elearning & Digital Cultures” class

 

Clarke’s 3rd Law #edcmooc

Added yesterday.  Got my imagination going to think of what I think would be magic…

What is magic to you? Will it be magical to your grandchildren?

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.

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

My Technological Timeline #edcmooc

I’m still working on this and probably will have more comments on this subject, but as I was watching all the ‘utopian’ videos I thought about Arthur C. Clarke’s third law & wondered how advanced does technology have to be for it to appear to be magic to me. This started me thinking: how much has technology developed since I was born.

By the way I admit, I’m no graphic artist and I put this together  in less than 30 minutes using Google Docs. It’s my way of sketching because I can’t draw :) Also, I’m not claiming that this timeline is historically precise or accurate, after all it’s based from my memory.

 

Click on the image to see an easier to read version

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 7.29.08 AM

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.

Lost in Utopia? Found in Dystopia? #edcmooc

I’m taking the Elearning and Digital Culture Course via Coursera.

We were asked to evaluate the following films and describe if they are depicting a technological dystopia. I’ve decided to respond by giving short descriptions and reactions to the films.

BENDITO MACHINE III:

Dystopia begins with the

Idolatry of Technology

We are charmed by what we perceive to be the magic that technology brings me

Technology has been used to manipulate us…

It tells us what we should buy,

how we should live,

makes use feel paranoid & inadequate,

But in the end what we worship mindlessly

becomes obsolete,

and a new technology takes it’s place.

It begins again.

INBOX:

I feel that this video has both utopian & dystopian messages. Perhaps in watching the story of a man and women who become attracted to each other by way of two paper bags with a magical connection and with the help of pens and post-it notes. The charming interchange between the young couple points out the magic of the Internet and connective technology that we use, yet at the same time it reminds us how simplistic connection can be. Before texting on cellphones we had notes carefully folded in origami to be passed beneath desks or left in strategic places for the recipient to find. In watching stories like “Inbox” we’re also reminded how the Net and cellphone texts can encourage shy and antisocial behavior. Perhaps this can be seen as dystopian if you feel that making physical connection and interacting in the ‘normal’ social manner is threatened by excessive use of texting.

THURSDAY:

The message of this film seemed to be tied into the importance of being connected to the natural and real world. In this film the characters’ lives seem overrun by technology from being constantly connected to instant messaging or depended upon technology that can be disrupted by the simple act of a bird mistaking wires for food or nesting material. I have to laugh because as I heard the sounds of bird tweeting in this film, I remembered that a few weeks ago, I heard a duck quacking somewhere and I reached for my cellphone thinking it was the duck quacking ringtone. Like the couple in the short, technology has replaced some of the natural things in my life. And like them, every now and then I need to attempt to get a bird’s eye view of things to realize how little things like a cellphone and it’s constant connection affect how I see and treat others in my life. I have tantrums if I have no connection. Am I wrong but did that couple get it on after having the earth view inspired epiphany?

FILM 4: NEW MEDIA:

I like Jellyfish but something about this film gave me a creepy feeling. I was reminded of that film District Nine. Obviously this is a dystopian view of technology that plays on the fears that technology will evolve into this alien lifeform that will take over our lives and society.

ABOUT ALL THE FILMS & IDEA of DYSTOPIA & UTOPIA

I feel the same way about dystopic parables as I feel about armageddon stories. They both seem to be coping mechanisms for our fear of change as well as ways to play out the guilt of living in a civilization. Sometimes we ask ourselves in the backs of our minds, like some drunken kid in their twenties just waking to a lucid moment of clarity… we can’t go on living like this forever? How is our civilization held together? Could it simply fall apart or be threatened as in the “Thursday” film by a small animal ready to wreak havoc on a network that we depend upon for daily life. Or maybe our anxiety stems from intuition or hunches that something is inherently wrong in the systems of culture, economics, politics, and codes of behavior that seem to keep us all safe and in line? When has our legislature actually done something in our best interest a s a people anyway? Stories and films about dystopia and the crumbling of civilization allow us to play out the fantasies of ‘just what might happen’ if it all fell apart. Thus, art and literature present us with emetics that can help us both express and extrude our fears and unmanageable thoughts and perhaps make sense of it all (or not).

And utopia, I hate to be a realist, but it’s nice to shoot for and everyone needs pie in the sky goals. But there are examples of Utopia in application. I think of any city I’ve lived in including the one where I am now that had the foresight to develop park spaces for their people. Living in a country where for the most part we don’t have to pay off the DMV just to get our license or grease the hands of the beat cop.

Technology always brings the potential for utopian possibilities but like any tool at can be use for both negative and positive purposes. On one hand Internet technologies can provide us with seemingly limitless ways to learn, gather information, and connect with others. A good example of this is this online course. Who could imagine that over 40,000 people could engage in an online learning course with each other.  On the other hand, this widespread connection can render us too visible. Diving into the pool of social networking many of us forget that when we share our feelings online they’re no longer private. As people make embarrassing YouTube videos or become part of a petty bitching party online they might forget that this can put an indelible mark on one’s character. My original dystopian view of technology painted a world where people become increasingly desensitized to what it means to act like a true asshole or jerk. But gladly, I’ve been continually surprised by how many online communities are quite civil and supportive of each other. Flamers and bullies usually get snuffed out by others, or simply the people who don’t want to put up with this behavior just move somewhere else online.

In other words, utopia is what you make of it. Dystopia can be brought about by acting upon your worst fears.

Lessons learned from my Twitter activity in the past few months

I’m sure some sage individual in the past has noticed that humans are most excellent at making order out of chaos as well as vice versa.  For most people who first encounter Twitter, when they hear that it’s just about people barking statements in less than 140 characters about the goings on in their lives, they immediately decide that the tool amounts to nothing but horsefeathers and mindless chatter.  A little over two years ago I too was skeptical about using Twitter. Now I have a great appreciation of what a powerful tool it is for connecting with people who are interested in the same things you are. More than that it’s a great way to learn from others and find people in your field to learn from.

While others may lament the 140 character limit, I believe that the limit forces you to ‘prune your words’ or carefully think out what you will share.  The medium itself is, after all, only designed for short bursts of conversation. If you want a longer discussion that’s  less constricted go find a forum on the same subject.  The great thing about Twitter is it’s a large body of information sharing, but you can still make relative sense of it by using the search or accessing what YOU want to hear or learn about by using the hashtags (examples: #baseball, #knitting, #instructionaldesign). You don’t have to dig through individual communities and forums to find what people are saying about a topic.

Again it’s difficult to engage in a deeper conversation from just following the hashtags, but groups can hold guided discussion by centering the Twitter exchange around a set of guiding questions which people in the group respond to individually. In the next few posts I’ll be sharing more about my own attempt to learn how to use Twitter as a tool have an ‘actual conversation’ with like minds. I’ll review the preparation &  steps needed to hold a Twitter chat, and I’ll also take some time to analyze the benefits & drawbacks of this format of conversation. Finally, I would like to take a deeper look at some of the Twitter tools out there that help both faciliators and participants.

Using twitter as a conversation tool can still pose challenges and seem restrictive, but if you leverage it’s strengths and adopt a Zen approach to absorbing with wave of content and thoughts from others, it’s actually a great window into how others feel about the topics you care about.

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:


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