Archive for August, 2009

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose

August 31st, 2009

Some of you will have seen this on Remote Access. Clarence’s comment is “A lot of teachers won’t like this.”

Pink has some really interesting ideas in this but the key one has to do with application of intrinsic motivation. We’ve been enamored of Maslow’s “drives-based” theory that we lose track that motivation has some other theories as well, including an instrumentality theory that really addresses intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in a meaningful way.

How do these three ideas – mastery, autonomy, and purpose – relate to education in general? How do we take advantage of this motivation as teachers? And, an important consideration for the Games class, how do you see these three factors feeding into what makes a “good” game?


(Thanks, Clarence. Great Find.)

Distance Education

August 29th, 2009

Some of you have found the post already, but for those who’ve missed it, it’s time to reveal my own perspective on the phrase “Distance Education”

The phrase “distance education” is redundant. All education is done at a distance. The problem is that we’re so close to the issue — and so fluent in certain technologies — that we fail to recognize one existential truth. Education involves two people — the teacher and the learner. As soon as you’re dealing with more than one mind, you have a distance that needs to be bridged and the only bridge we have — barring the psychics among you — is technology. The distance is almost always due to physical displacement, but may also involve temporal shifts.

via phaedrus » Blog Archive » On Distance Education.

Go check out the whole post. Tell me what you think of it.

Generation F

August 27th, 2009

Here’s an interesting take on management that lists 12 characteristics that managers in the 21st Century need to keep in mind.

I compiled a list of 12 work-relevant characteristics of online life. These are the post-bureaucratic realities that tomorrow’s employees will use as yardsticks in determining whether your company is “with it” or “past it.” In assembling this short list, I haven’t tried to catalog every salient feature of the Web’s social milieu, only those that are most at odds with the legacy practices found in large companies.
Via Gary Hamel on Managing Generation F

These are interesting ideas if we substitute the Business and Industry context for an Educational one.

How do these play out in school?

(Hat tip to @shareski for the link on twitter. Thanks, Dean.)

The Average Gamer?

August 25th, 2009

The link to this article came across in the Twitterverse this morning and I thought it was worth looking at:

Debunking videogame stereotypes, but not necessarily in a good way, a new study into gaming habits has revealed that today’s average games player is not a pallid skinned, socially backward teenager but rather a 35-year-old couch potato prone to bouts of depression when not submerged in the escapism of virtual game worlds.
Via The Tech Herald

As we begin examining some of the so-called findings, it’s often important to look critically at primary sources. The title of this article is catchy, but not exactly accurate. Read the whole story to find out where the mis-leading bit is. And given the red-flag on credibility, one has to wonder what the original study has to say. The article itself doesn’t have a link to the primary … Wonder why.

Compare that story with this one from Yahoo. There’s still no link to the original story, but there’s a very different feel to reporting and even offering ancillary links to amplifying information.

It’s important to keep in mind that most research does not impute causal relationships, merely correlated factors. Do games make you depressed or do you turn to games to fight depression? Weight and depression are often linked but which came first?

Keep a critical eye on this kind of reporting. It’s seldom what it really appears to be.

Learning to be Learners

August 25th, 2009

One of the questions that we should be considering is “What are we doing here?” After the first week’s technology flood and the running start, I suspect not too many people have had a chance to actually consider it.

There’s actually a method in my madness. Go read that article for a short explanation of what I think we’re doing here.

One of the axioms of teaching is that teachers teach the way they were taught. The goal in this class is not to teach you how change classroom teaching into online teaching, but rather to show you teaching online as a discipline in itself. You need to learn how to learn using the tools that aren’t available in the classroom and combined in ways that classrooms cannot support. You need to learn how to learn using these tools so that when it comes time for you to teach others using them, you’ll have the insight you need to be more effective in your practice.

That’s not a trivial step because most teachers know how to be students. Students know that a course is finite, that the information flows from point A to point B. They know there’ll be a test at the end and that success is measured in grade points.

You need to get over that.

Learners learn. They don’t worry about grade points. They don’t think about the test. They learn. They follow leads and think about ideas. They are active in their learning and one of the things they do is tell themselves explicitly what it is they’ve learned. They participate in the communities of practice that hold the knowledge that they pursue. That’s why you’re writing in your blogs. That’s why you’re building a network in your aggregators. And the thing about learners? When they operate alongside students in educational environments, and they’re a little careful about their focus, they inevitably out-perform students.

Learn to be learners. Learn to learn with these tools and stop periodically to think about how that learning is being accomplished for you. Observe it in your fellow travelers.

And there will be a test over this material, but the test will come long after the course is over, and I won’t be grading it.

Anatomy of a Good Post

August 21st, 2009

We’re going to be using the blogs as communications channel this semester and I’m asking all my students to write about things. It occurred to me today that I haven’t really explained what I consider a “good post” might look like. I’ve been modeling them for a couple of years now and, frankly, as instructional technique, it leaves a lot to be desired. So I’m going to do a kind of metacognitive wrapper around what I think of as a good post and explain the critical parts.

So a good post should start out with an explanation of what the heck you’re going to talk about. Now, I’ve done that in the paragraph above, but in a “normal post” I’d probably be talking about something interesting that I found in my aggregator. In that case, I’d start the post with a bit of an intro, then cite a bit of the original post, include a link so you can go read the whole piece, and, after the citation, offer a commentary on what I think are the take-away points. Something like this:

Clarence Fischer up in Snow Lake is one of those people who is constantly using these technologies in his daily classroom practice. He’s in a permanent metacognitive mode about how the tools work, how they influence his practice, how his students relate to them, and the social implications of how that use changes who we all are. Here’s an example from one of his latest posts

Web 2.0 technologies allow us to think about moving the latest, most up to date informtion both in to and out of our classrooms, but we also need to think more dynamically about the connections we are able to make, the networks we can forge and the people we can have the students in our classrooms meet.

via Web 2.0 – For So Much More Than Publishing | Remote Access.

He’s absolutely on the money here. We have to stop thinking that education is about content and start working on the idea that learning is more important than institutions. The problems arise only if we believe in an economy of scarcity and, as Clarence has learned, the real problems arise when trying to organize the avalanche.

Now if my post-citation commentary seems a little obscure, even dense, or perhaps even unrelated, maybe it’s because I’ve written about the whole piece and not just about the bit that I cited.

Or it could be that I think that he’s identified a valid issue with regard to content and that I’m extrapolating from his point on content to an observation about the systems within which that content is (mis)used.

Or it could be that I have my head up my butt and I really have no clue what I’m writing.

Or, perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle, and this whole metacognitive experiment in demonstration is actually an example of what I think might constitute a good post.

How might you tell?

We Deliver …

August 19th, 2009

The third day of class is about the time when meltdown becomes a real possibility.

Toward that end, I’d like to offer a bit of rationale for what the heck is happening and why I’m asking you do to things.

Several of you are probably wondering what is this ‘feed aggravator’ thing and why do I care?

Go read the article for today and I’ll explain it.

A bit.

Fine Dining

August 18th, 2009

The thing about exploring new places is that you frequently encounter new sights and sounds, new aromas and new foods. Right now some of you are a bit overwhelmed by all the new sites and sounds. And I suspect more than a couple feel like you’re Eating an Elephant.. Go read that post and it will explain a bit about what some of these new tools are about.

Adventure … It's a Wonderful Thing

August 17th, 2009

Welcome to a new adventure. Of course the thing about adventures is that they’re really only exciting to the people who read about them, not those who are actually up to their armpits in alligators.

My traditional greeting to students in the Principles of Distance Learning is “Good Morning, Mr. Phelps.” Go read it and then check in on Blackboard for today’s Mission: Impossible.