Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Planted into a MOOC Garden

Dave Cormier took us on a field trip through a “garden” to see how “rhizomatic learning” grows as he facilitated week 9 of MOOC change11: Rhizomatic learning- Why do we teach?

Giulia Forsythe threw out a challenge:

So, I’m issuing a remix challenge. Record some audio for my doodle: using your PC, Mac, mobile, soundcloud, YouTube, etc. (your tool of choice, etc.), while watching the video and post it here for me. Or download the video using MPEG StreamClip and do whatever you like to it! (Update: I’ve made a version without audio for easier remixing)

Of course, feel free to take your own nomadic rhizomatic learning path. Cuz that’s cool too.

I decided to take her up on the challenge even though I had very little time to put it together. I’ve added music to it (Nomadic Fusions Bonus Track – Dub Caravan Project). The music conjured up images being constantly on the go, wondering and not bounded to any particular time or space- very nomadic. I’ve also added some graphical embellishments to some of the doodles as the path of the nomad is being traced out.

Here’s my take to Giulia’s animated doodle:


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If you forgot to have your cup of coffee to get your day going, then participating in Nancy White’s presentation to kick of the “Triangulating, weaving and connecting our learning” MOOC #change11 week was the rush of adrenaline that was need. Or maybe Nancy was the caffeine?!! Then again, maybe it was the giddiness from a few too many taste samples of Halloween candy before the little goblins ring the doorbells! Whatever it was, Nancy’s presentation was a complete deviation in style to what we have seen so far in #change11… and it was good- at least for me!

Nancy is a master facilitator who absolutely amazed me on several fronts. First and foremost was her authenticity which was so evident when she ho and hummed as she pondered questions out load. Next was her welcoming spirit as she invited us to write and draw- to grab a seat in the circle and join in- to be equal participants in the learning journey. And the interjections of silence… <shhh… can you hear that? Yes, you’re not hearing ANYTHING… that’s the point!> to give us a chance to pause and transition (and for Nancy, probably a chance to breathe and catch up on the chat discussions) were absolutely brilliant… and risky. Risky because unless you are disciplined in the art of pausing, meditating, quiet stillness, etc, you are really at a loss as to what to do! If you don’t believe me, try being absolutely still- no thoughts entering or fleeing your mind, no moving, and no speaking for 2 minutes. It took me lots of practice to get to 10 whole minutes of complete and utter silence and stillness… now it’s my “go-to” place when I’m overwhelmed, stressed, or can’t focus.

Nancy launched us into the topic of change. Hmmm… chairs and “How do you feel when things change around you?” If you missed the first intro bit, then jumping in at this point you might have thought that it was a group counselling session! But I digress…

Change… what a frightening yet at the same time exciting word! I’m the type of person that loves change which comes as a surprise to many since I tend to be more of an introvert. I love to be challenged to try new things. Actually, I get pretty bored with the same-old-same-old routine. My curriculum vitae weaves a tapestry of change; not in who I am but where I have been and what I have done that is somehow all interconnected. And all of these instances of change are threads that make up who I am.  But I would be lying if I said that change doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I’m very fearful of change especially that which is external and that I cannot- or have no- control frightens me leading me to question and start the “what-if” dialogue in my mind.

At the end of Nancy’s session I was drained! So much interaction, so much involvement in the whiteboard and the chat, so many questions… definitely in need of a nap before processing what took place. Yikes… and THIS is the week of MOOC sessions that I proposed to present to my Athabasca University course peers?!!!

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Can banter ever be considered collaborative learning? I believe so when you have a MOOC #change11 session that is as animated as the one of today.

There was a recap of the week that had passed an encouraging open question and answer time. I did not spend long and like the rest of the participants in this session, I left the room to join in a live session with Rory McGreal and Dr. Wayne Mackintosh in their presentation for Open Access Week.

Looking forward to this session!

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Revved up and ready to go for this week’s MOOC #change11 session with Rory McGreal on “OER for learning”. Recommended materials read (heck of a great deal this week!), key documents printed and marked up with notes and questions, and additional research done to better understand copyright issues.

I was looking forward to learning more about common copyright as it applies to Open Educational Resources (OERs). All set for the synchronous session today with McGreal when suddenly… DETOUR! Yes, McGreal did speak about OERs but I felt that OERs were circumnavigated and suddenly the discussion was on OER universities. Nevertheless, I found the discussion extremely interesting (including the side chats) and left the quick passing hour long session with a desire to dig deeper and research independently the concept of OER universities even further.

I thought I as well prepared for this week but now I am faced with a new- and welcomed- detour in my learning this week.

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Chalk vs Technology

I have spent the week thinking more about the question:

Should technology enhance or transform higher education?

When I was first encountered this question, my initial answer was “it depends”. In other words, on one hand I felt that it should enhance higher education (in environments where technology is already heavily relied on and being utilized properly) but on the other hand  it should also transform higher education (as in the case where technology is not being used). Obviously I had to give it much more thought…

The problem that I see is that irrespective of which way one sides in debating this question, the issue becomes that of money. Technology costs much more than chalk or white board markers. And it is not solely the costs associated to the procurement of technological devices but also the maintenance, the insurance, the support staff for troubleshooting and setup, and the training required for maximizing the technology. Both sides of the question debate will be faced with these issues so maybe another angle  needs to be explored.

What are learners (the “customers” of the academic institutions) actually demanding?

I remember being bored to tears by instructors who droned on through their lectures. The one class that still stands out to this day was the one whereby various technologies were employed to not only enhance learning but to more importantly transform our way of thinking  and help us to escape from the cubic mind frame of a rigid academic environment. Wow, being challenged and forced to think, critically analyse, and evaluate multiple possibilities! Looking back, this would not have been possible without the use of technology. There was no possible way that what we saw, heard, synthetized, and retained could have happened as freely as it did if all that the instructors used was a blackboard or chalkboard. Our “guinea pig” class contributed to the development and ultimate acceptance of a new degree program at that particular institution. In this instance, technology transformed higher education.

I go back to my previous blog posting where I left off pondering of the question was more contextual in nature. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) and its newer development of One Tablet Per Child attempts to bridge the gap in communities where technology would otherwise be inaccessible for young learners. And it is these young learners of today who will be demanding for technology based learning of tomorrow. I believe that technology should transform education but we have to start somewhere and maybe that somewhere begins with baby steps called “enhancement” before it can become truly “transformative”.

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Sleepless Night

I had a hard time falling asleep because my mind was processing yesterday’s MOOC #change11 presentation by Tony Bates on “Managing technology to transform teaching”. The question that had me thinking was:

Should technology enhance or transform higher education?

I can’t speak from the perspective of an instructor at a college or university but I can speak from the perspective of the student. I need to spend more time thinking about this question this week although I am leaning towards transforming… but then again, maybe it’s more of a contextual issue.

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It was interesting to be exposed yet again to another presenter in MOOC #change11 who has opened my mind and eyes to think outside of the box. This week it was a privilege to learn from David Wiley and to listen to him speak of open textbooks. I was particularly attracted to the discussions (you can hear them here) that we were privy to regarding FlatWorld Knowledge which is “world’s largest publisher of free and open college textbooks”.

A few years ago when I was moving, I came across a box of my undergraduate program textbooks that I had forgotten about. It was time to finally time to get rid of them. I felt just as bad about having to throw them out (no, not even used book stores wanted my calculus textbooks!) as I did about buying them (I spent HOW much on that one book?!!) only to discover as the year progressed that the professor insisted that we buy the book only to use two or three chapters out of it (he insisted that we buy 4 textbooks that year!). What made matters worse was that the following year, he selected all different textbooks so I effect, rendering our textbooks obsolete and unsellable as second hand books to the next calculus students. Even if those many moons ago there had been such an alternative
as FlatWorld Knowledge, I do not believe that my calculus professor would have been a supporter of open textbooks.

Though that calculus professor would be typically of those vehemently opposed to the concept of open textbooks, I see the full benefits of it! Maybe it is a direct result of my experiences in developing countries where textbooks are terribly expensive or even not available. I also remember the stories of my mother and how as she went through her graduate program in education where she had to share the few textbooks that the library had with the rest of her classmates. She would spend sleepless nights copying the course material by hand. Open textbooks would have definitely made her life easier and allowed her to learn as opposed to memorize. Of course this would bring in another dimension; making sure that learners are equipped with the proper devices to access the open textbooks. But this is another discussion for another topic…

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