Archive for February, 2009

Big Idea

February 23rd, 2009

It happens again, and again, and again, and again …

John Pederson is a fellow twitterer – one of the almost 700 people I follow on Twitter – but I had to go to Remote Access to find a comment he left on one of Clarence’s posts, which brought me to THIS post on his blog.

It’s a learning project. It’s not a social networking project. It’s not a Web 2.0 project. It’s not an online community or a virtual world. Teachers need to experience and learn online learning. It’s built through a collaborative model of online learning and teaching. We aren’t building virtual schools or training more teachers. Leave that to others. This new collaborative model becomes the network around the network.

via ijohnpederson » Blog Archive » Idea.

It’s eerily similar to what *I* said just the other day about teachers and learning. An idea that’s been brewing here for a few weeks surfaced in a completely different form from a completely different vector.

This synchronicity is endemic and it’s one of the ways you know you’ve got a network.

For me, the really fascinating meta-moment here was when I remembered a post I made about a year ago about having different people pop up with the same idea almost at the exact same time.

Ironically, just a few weeks later, Will and I were talking about the same things at the same time again.

Guess what it was!

This is what we mean when we talk about having a personal learning network. It’s having ideas, and seeing them validated (or occasionally invalidated) through the serendipitous application of the network. Note that neither John nor I are saying anything radically different here than Will Richardson and I and many others were saying last March.

What’s different is that we’re refining the ideas over time. We’re constructing a common belief structure — distilling it out of experience into some stronger spirit than simple practice.


Give Peas a Chance

February 21st, 2009

There seems to be an imperialism involved with this topic of equity. Everybody has to be equal. That’s only right, right?

Except, does equity really mean equal?

Can we all be equal but still have inequity?

I’m seeing a lot of people who seem to think that if the student doesn’t leave the classroom knowing exactly what every other student knows, then — somehow — that’s not equitable.

I left a comment on a student’s blog post about equity and peas. In it I made the point that equity didn’t mean that every student ate the same number of peas, but rather that every student had the opportunity to eat the peas he or she wanted.

Notice I’m using the term “wanted” and not “needed.” How many peas do you need, after all? One? twelve? a thousand? Sure, I’m willing to accept that in a well ordered society, we might need to put some kind of reasonable limit on how many peas you get. Beyond that number, it’s up to you to figure out how to deal with your legume habit, but up to that number, it’s pretty reasonable that you might want to have peas now and again — with, perhaps, a nice meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

Maybe we live someplace were peas aren’t really that common and we need to try to find social rules for sharing out the peas among those that like them most. Some people might be willing to trade a share of peas for some green beans — or even venture into the cruciferous and try brussels sprouts.

So is it equitable? Does everybody have to eat their allotment of peas? What about those that don’t like them? Or perhaps have an allergy?

Does this seem kinda silly?

Then when we approach things like education, why are we talking about equity in terms of making sure every student learns the same thing?

I’ve been harping on this “one size fits all” problem for awhile in variety of contexts. I see it as part of the overall picture in Education. Standards work great when you wanna plug in an electrical appliance and be sure that it will work and won’t burn the house down in the process. Standards and Education are a bit more troubling because by adopting standards you’re saying everybody has to know the same thing. Or at least some of the same things. And when you assess based on standards, what you get are measures of the things you’re looking for but not necessarily the things you need to know.

You find out how many peas I ate. But you don’t find out that I gave half of them to my sister who likes them better.

In the first case you find out how well I conformed to standards.

In the second you find out something about me.

Where’s the equity?


What's the Problem?

February 19th, 2009

We’re getting ready to ask our institution here to support the creation of a professional development institute. This morning we’re going to the dean in the next step of gathering support. I made this video over the weekend to support that bid:


Find more videos like this on Fireside Learning: Conversations about Education

It started life as a presentation which served as storyboard, then I saved the slides as images and imported them into MovieMaker and added music and transitions.

Comments? From a cultural perspective? Technical?


Cultural Antithesis

February 17th, 2009

Clarence Fisher up at Remote Access needs to be in your aggregator.

Contests and rankings are easy. They let us know who comes in first, second, and so on. Even if the results aren't valid, they still give us results that are easy to work with. How do we rank collaborative abilities? How do we see who has the strongest sense of working with others and of cultural understanding? It can be done, but it is a process that is more time intensive and based on portfolios, discussions and interviews. But put simply, things that take time are expensive and systems don't like words like that.

via Competitive Learning (245).


Media Literacy Presentation

February 11th, 2009

Thanks, Alec, for doing my lesson for me today:

Media Literacy Presentation

Tonight I presented “Popular Issues in (Digital) Media Literacy” to my EC&I 831 students. The presentation covered various topics such as: offensive content (bad taste, sexuality), viral videos & memes, misinformation (satire, hoaxes, scams, phishing), safety & cyberbullying, hate (racism & violence), social networks & privacy. It was very much a survey approach to the topic in hopes that my students will understand the broad scope of related issues.

via open thinking » Media Literacy Presentation.

Class? Do you have Alec Couros in your ‘gators? You should. This is why.


Intended Consequences

February 8th, 2009

Tim Holt is an educational podcaster who often has some interesting things to say:

What happens when a teacher comes up against a textbook company and it’s intellectual property protection clause?

In this case, the teacher is left with little help from their education “partner” and is left to fend for herself.

via Intended Consequences.

There’s an audiofile associated with this post (yes, it’s a podcast. There’s a feed). Go listen to it and see if you think this teacher should be allowed to do what she says she wants to do with Houghton Mifflin’s copyrighted materials.

This is an exercise in listening. Don’t listen to what you think she means. Listen to what she says she’s going to do.

Discuss.


Sound familiar?

February 8th, 2009

Myself, I’d never go so far as say “You all get A’s.” This guy did.

“Grades poison the educational environment,” he insists. “We're training students to be obedient, and to try to read our minds, rather than being a catalyst for learning.”

via globeandmail.com: Professor makes his mark, but it costs him his job.

My attitude is that every student starts with an A and then slowly gives up points by being students instead of learners.

But I’m that kinda guy.

Hat tip to D’Arcy Norman.


That's Interesting …

February 8th, 2009

Periodically, I like to step back and take a meta-cognitive look at how the class is going. These are some of the key ideas that have shown up in my ‘gator:

Production Models and Learning
I think that this is proof that in order to be successful in teaching we must met our targeted audience’s interests.

Whether we’re looking at the issues of technology, education, and culture, or multimedia production, this is a key element. Think about how what and how we teach.

And speaking of what and how we teach, several of you had comments like this one.

GIMP
I really think figured out what Dr. Lowell was trying to do, because what seemed to be a simple assignment took a lot of digging to figure out, and in the process I learned alot of other things you can do with the program. So for me, it was worth it. I don’t mind spending time on things I enjoy, and this was like a puzzle for me I could not put down.

I suspect more than a few of you hit this level of engagement — just judging from the number of people who were writing about the frustration and still going at it. This is a key element that we need to pay attention to when dealing with “gaming in the classroom.” It’s important to create real, authentic puzzles in our instructional games in order to get the deepest engagement.

It’s also telling the number of people who said, “I thought I knew how to use this tool…” That’s a direct commentary on the reality of levels of knowledge. If you don’t know something very well, then you don’t know what you don’t know and the probability is high that you think you know a lot. This is true in every domain. I’m a Ph.D. and it’s amazing how little I actually know. I used to think I had a handle on stuff, but as I moved up thru the ranks of academe, I kept getting stupider and stupider. Now, I’m pretty sure I don’t know very much, but I’ve got an interesting clutch of questions.

Finally, from the “Catch a Cluetrain Department,” several of you were on track with this. This is only one of several comments …

Cluetrain Manifesto
I suppose you could replace business with schools/universities/teachers and replace consumers with students. If you do that, then you come out with the Internet creating an open classroom style.

And for a very cool remix of Cluetrain, see what my friend Scott Adams cooked up years ago.

These ideas aren’t going away.


I Tweet Therefore …

February 6th, 2009

Alec Couros is one of the great cohort of “Canadian Content” folks that I follow regularly. This post is one of the reasons why.

Digital Storytelling Resources — Couros Blog.
With a well-established network of educators, it seems easy to solicit responses from educators who are willing to share favourite resources on various topics.

We’ve talked about Twitter in this class before and I regularly hear questions like “Why?”

I have trouble answering that because I think a lot of these “Why?” questions really depend on what you’re trying to do. Sometimes “Why?” is related to “I really just need to play with this to see what I might be able to do with it that I couldn’t do before.”

The problem comes when we don’t have enough time to play – or think we don’t. It’s sorta like saying, “I don’t have enough time to eat.” Sure, sometimes you have to eat peanut butter toast while standing over the sink because there’s just not time to cook anything, but a solid diet of that will soon have your body doing unfortunate things to you.

If you don’t take time to play, then your mind starts doing those same kinds of things.


Morality

February 4th, 2009

Stephen Downes has this take on culture and morality. He’s linked to an “Inside Higher Ed” article by the same title.

It’s Culture, Not Morality
People often blur the distinction between legality and morality, reasoning (oddly and incorrectly, in my view) that whatever is against the law or even against the rules is also immoral. But rules do not reflect morality, they reflect culture, and culture changes with time.

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