Posts Tagged '#edcmooc'



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.

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How Technology Can Fuel a Culture of Lifelong Learning #edcmooc

In another assignment or response to the resources for this course we are asked to choose which of the perspectives below most resembles our views on the relationship between technology and pedagogy. We are asked to answer the question:  Can you point to instances in society or in your own context where this stance is necessary or useful?

  1. Uses determination: technology is shaped and takes meaning from how individuals and groups choose to use it. Technology itself is neutral. An example of this way of thinking can be seen in the educational mantra: ‘The pedagogy must lead the technology’.
  2. Technological determination: technology ‘produces new realities’, new ways of communicating, learning and living, and its effects can be unpredictable. This is the position Chandler explores in detail in our core reading.
  3. Social determination: technology is determined by the political and economic structures of society. Questions about ownership and control are key in this orientation.

The Pedagogy must lead the technology or do we find the technology and use it as we see fit?

This sounds about as stuffy and patronizing as a grammarian berating you for ending a sentence with a preposition. But if I take the view at face value it really means that the needs of the students to achieve the stated learning objectives must drive the design and use of the technology. Online learning has really been through some experimental phases in the last ten or so years so it actually seems that stance #2 or the idea that “technology produces new realities” (or learning environments is the case.  Let’s take the example of online forums and chat and their adoption as learning environment tools. Forums and chats were really developed more as a way for people online to carry on social conversations. One only needs to recall the days of the AOL chatrooms as places to meet like-minded folks. Developers of online learning courses adopted these tools as areas for discussing course topics and content. Later as the Internet became the spawning ground of many social sharing tools like YouTube, SlideShare, online communities, wikis, blogs and self expression tools like Glogster many tech savvy teachers saw the potential use for these tools as ways for students to develop expressive content in response to whatever they were learning. So it seems that both teachers and learners online were adopting the technologies as they existed rather that requiring that technologies be designed to meet their needs.  Most of the time pedagogy and the need to educate formally was NOT requiring or driving the formation of these tools and widgets.

Technology is determined by the political & economic structure of society. Copyright is King. So What’s a Mashup Maker to Do?

The third position maintains that technology is determined by the political and economic structures of society.  You could rephrase this in the argument that the market demand or the government may determine the development in one area of technology. One might argue on one hand that in a society where the government regulates application of technology via patents, is stifling innovation. On the other hand this same government could be protecting the interests of those who invest their resources in research and development of these technologies.  I’m of the view that stringent control will only stifle open exchange that leads to more innovation. Great ideas and the next disruptive innovation will most likely be based on ideas or products that are already out there, and to plant the seeds for this innovation the ground needs to be fertile with exchange, exploration and application of existing technology. Some of the most innovative and creative works are often derivative of past works and content, as Kirby Ferguson so effectively points out in his video series, “Everything is a Remix.” As Ferguson illustrates film makers such as Quentin Tarentino often borrow and reinterpret classic movies that inspired them early on. Tarentino’s Kill Bill series references many of classic Asian Martial Arts films while the recently released Django Unchained re-imagines and brilliantly combines elements of both Spaghetti Westerns and 70’s Blaxsploitation. Both Kill Bill & Django Unchained are remixed products that are completely unique and do what film should do & they do it well: they entertain.

But the creative process that relies upon being able to reference, re-hash or remix older works may be under threat. As content has become more easily shared on the Internet and corporations learn that there’s a demand for this content some may see opportunities in mining for content that has potential. As the European powers staked out land for their colonies entertainment corporations will lay claim on classics in the public domain. Watch out Dickens fans. Currently some major music labels are claiming copyright on public domain songs. Lobbyists for the copyright industry continue to push for laws that extend copyright claims.

Online resources for public domain works that provide a rich source of educational resources such as Project Gutenberg may be at risk in the future, and so is the ability to use content on the Internet creatively to learn. Several years ago Internet sharing helped give birth to the Mashup which allowed many people including students to do some remixing of their own.  If I were still teaching in a classroom, Mashups present the kind of learning opportunities that would excite me as an educator. They allow the student to really internalize the content and reinterpret it, which if I’m not mistaken prove that learning has occurred on the higher end of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  It makes a lot of sense that in this Coursera class, we’re being asked to create a Digital Artifact as our final project. It’s a way of proving whether we got the major points of the class, but not in some old fashioned way like writing an essay. We’re embracing the new way of measuring learning: making our own content to express and demonstrate how we’ve internalized what we learned.

While intellectual property laws are meant to protect everyone who creates content, it seems that eventually the only parties that IP laws will benefit will be the companies that have the resources to bankroll the legal teams it takes to enforce and defend. I could be wrong, but it seems that these opportunities for engaging in creative learning experiences may be at risk.

Which position do I lean towards?

Perhaps the question isn’t worded correctly or at least to my liking. I don’t feel like I lean towards any of these positions. Seven years ago, I felt that the Internet and sharing and content creation technologies opened a wonderful playground for learners, the kind of playground that would get people to fall in love with learning.  The tools and access to information and material allowed people to engage, learn and create their own content. But I have to admit I felt that we were living in the “Wild West” where possibilities were endless. It also seemed that my biggest wish as a child had been answered. From a very early age, I wanted an “Answer Genie.” This would be a genie that could answer any question that I had. The Internet seemed to provide me with something that’s just about as good, a philosopher’s stone. But this technology is changing me and everyone. As the economy and markets drive corporations to claim ownership of more, I can’t help but see them as this Leviathan that will sweep us away.

I can’t predict how things will develop. However, unless more people become more active producers of content instead of passive consumers of it, or if they realize the potential the Internet has as a learner’s gold mine, then we may not be able to take cues from anyone other than the companies that claim to own the content.

Kirby Ferguson Points Out: Nothing is Original

Additional Reads:

Copyright Monopoly Trends and Predictions for 2013

Discussion: Major Labels Claim Copyright Over Public Domain Songs

Technological Determinism is Beside the Point #edcmooc

A number of my fellow students in this course have been taking a similar stance when it comes to Technological Determinism.  As I noted in my previous post about dystopian views of society and technology, such thoughts are fantasies. These fantasies originate from fearful reactions that technology may change our world and ourselves for the worse. These fears stem naturally from our apprehension of the unknown possibilities that new and unfamiliar technology pose.

In Technological or Media Determinism, Daniel Chandler argues that Technological determinism can lead us to develop erroneous conclusions that insist that technology plays the driving role in the development of society and culture.The theme of Technological Determinism’s negative effect can be seen countless times through human history each time a disruptive technology appears on the scene. From Socrate’s lament that writing would ruin human thought and reason to today’s pundits claims that obsessive texting renders youth into socially retarded bumblers, the an establish and usually older group takes up the  argument that a new and attractive technology will have deleterious consequences on the normal function of people and society.In most cases, new technologies are adapted from generation to generation despite the railing of the older folks and the establishment.  Despite the reticence of some to adopt technology, it advances.As educators, we need to objectively determine if any claims that new technology may have a negative effect on our students and how they learn. Though in designing online learning experiences and environments, we need to always aim for helping students achieve mastery of the topics we teach and not be dazzled by the potential of technologies.We need to test these technologies on ourselves and explore learning via these tools and platforms and assess whether or not they will work.

One of the major complaints around online learning is the overwhelming stream of discussion as well as information overload that comes with having seemingly unlimited access to information… not all of which are reputable resources for information. Thus, it’s our responsibilities as educators to help our students, young and old develop the skills and ability to be both discerning consumers of content as well as effective curators of what they find online.

Ia this where we're headed?

Is this good or bad? What do you think? Image found here

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.


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