Archive for the '685' Category

The hidden curriculum…

October 23rd, 2009

I’ve been noticeably absent from posting these last few weeks. I wanted to see if you’d develop a discourse without me. You did … if it’s not exactly the discourse I would have liked to see, I’m still impressed that it developed in what was largely a vacuum.

This is by way of introduction of this post that came to me via retweet from @dpeter a few minutes ago …

This led me to the conclusion that few 21st century learning priorities are less about technical skills, tools, services, software or hardware but far more social, cultural and behavioural as they relate to states of being, thinking, feeling and acting with technology.

via » The hidden curriculum of 21st century learning.

It echoes a lot of what I’ve been saying early on in the class, but also takes it the extra step forward. When we hear about a “hidden agenda in education” it’s most often referencing a social agenda involving faith and values — and here’s a fresh take on that idea.

What do you think?

Advanced Tools: A Summary

September 28th, 2009

I wrote about some Exotic Tools when we first started out here and I’m not sure the list has changed much here either. These are tools that can be used to augment the tools that already exist, or in some cases to provide a specialize function.

Podcasting is one of the new tools to make it into the educator’s lexicon — if not the way I’d like to see it. I wrote up an explanation of what the issues are back in ’06.

Podcasting didn’t exist before September, 2004. I first got interested in the technology in November of 2004 when I started listening to Adam Curry’s “Daily Source Code.” At the time, there were, maybe 200 podcasters. Today, there are thousands.

My biggest problem with educational use of the term “podcast” is that mostly they’re not podcasting. They’re just using digital audio archives to augment instruction. This is a good practice and I approve of it, but it’s not podcasting. I have some experience with podcasting on a personal basis and my problem with the way educators use the term is that by ignoring the reality of RSS delivery of content, they’re forgoing the benefit of using that distribution channel — which is really where the power of podcasting resides.

The use of immersive environments is another tool that I think many educators get wrong.

As we consider spaces like SecondLife, or Oddessey the value of those spaces is not as “virtual classrooms.” Remember that my belief is that classrooms are for teaching and not for learning. The last thing I want to do is take these opportunities for interaction and turn them into lecture halls. There is no value in creating a 3d space with 3d desks where 3d avatars (digital puppets) can sit and see a 3d teacher use a 3d projector to put a 2d PowerPoint-analogue on a 3d screen at the front of the 3d room. This is just pointless. It’s such an egregious misuse of the technology that I just don’t understand why so many educators believe that this is a Good Idea.
Immersive Environments

There’s a lot of information in that post about MUDs and MOOs that some of you might be able to use.

Finally, tools are tools. Their effectiveness is directly related to two aspects and both aspects need to be taken into consideration when selecting and using them. First, how suited is the tool to the task. Driving screws with a hammer is possible, but not recommended. Likewise trying to use a screwdriver on a nail can be a frustrating experience. Second, how proficient you are in the use of the tool makes a huge difference on the effectiveness of that use. It doesn’t matter how well suited a Bridgeport Milling Machine is to the creation of an aluminum fitting if you have no idea how to program the Bridgeport to do what you want. The difficulty here is one of incremental understanding. Most of you wouldn’t attempt to use a Bridgeport because you’d have a hard time finding the on switch. Your understanding of that particular tool is so low as to preclude your attempting to use it. What about other tools? Do you really know how a blog works? What we do with it to foster learning? How about a threaded discussion? Or a whiteboard? Or a textbook?

Are you sure?

Basic Tools

September 16th, 2009

Everybody has had a chance to put up a set of tools.

I posted mine in 2006 and the list hasn’t changed much.

What I didn’t put in there was what purpose I think each tool serves and why I’ve included it. Those are questions I’ve left to you.


September 12th, 2009

Scope is one of those awkward topics. What do we mean by scope?

The normally accepted mantra of the distance education community is “anywhere, any time.” Never content to allow the status to quo (because we all know “the status is NOT quo”), I’ve rephrased that to “everywhere, all the time.” This puts a drain on teachers who wind up being “on duty” 24/7 unless they’re willing to tell their students, “No, sorry, my time is more important to me than your learning is.” Of course, nobody’s online 100% of the time. Not even me. But as we consider scope, it’s important to keep in mind.

via phaedrus » Blog Archive » Scope Redux.

There’s a trail there to be followed, back through to 2006. Do you think things have changed?

What Do We Do With This?

September 11th, 2009

Here’s a recycled article from the first year I taught the class.

In our examination of the scope of distance education, we want to spend a little time talking about what we aren’t doing — or aren’t doing very well. Almost 20% of people older than 25 in the US don’t even have a high school diploma. Is that ok? One in five? Only 23% have a bachelors degree or higher. In the US economy that’s the base level credential that lets you apply for a job. But three out of four people don’t have one. So what? When you finish your MA’s you’ll be part of the rarified group (6%) of the population with an advanced degree.

via phaedrus » Blog Archive » Why NOT?.

I’m very aware that most of the people in the class are immediately and directly looking for information they can use in their classrooms. There’s some data.

How can we deal with this issue of an uneducated populace? Should we?

Wall Flowers

September 5th, 2009

I won’t single out the individual who identified this “disadvantage” of ‘distance education’ – you’ll find it if you look, I’m sure, and there’s more than one person who’s made it. It’s an excellent point:

I think that a major disadvantage is the lack of personal connection.

Here’s the problem.

I’m sure we’ve all been in classroom situations where there’s a guy who rushes in 30 seconds before class, says nothing unless asked a direct question by the teacher, offers no word of greeting to the students around him, and leaves as soon as the bell rings, never to be seen again until the next class meeting.

That person lacks “personal connection” but is it the fault of the teacher? The structure of the classroom experience? Something with the way the school is organized?

No. It’s because that particular student chooses – for whatever reason – to have no personal connection with anybody in the classroom.

I will grant that Blackboard is designed to keep you isolated from each other. It’s the classroom management thing where they want you “in your seat and paying attention to the teacher” and not socializing with your neighbor. There are no mechanisms built into Blackboard to enable that kind of conversation. They do that on purpose. Teachers want you focused on the content. Yes, you could use the chat room, but to find out if anybody’s there, you have to first log into Blackboard, go to the chat and wait to see if anybody joins you.

This class, however, breaks all those walls down. I have given you the capability to connect to each other with email, instant messenger, and blogs/feeds. I’ve taken you into Tapped In and shown you how to use it to chat. You have access to a listserver where you can invite everybody in the class to join you if you like simply by sending email to the list. You can have full conversations with the whole class that way, altho nobody has.

Furthermore, I’ve given you plenty to talk about amongst yourselves by forcing you to consider technology in ways that are totally foreign to you and the people around you. I’ve put you in positions of cognitive dissonance where some of your most closely held beliefs are being debunked before your eyes.

So you all have stuff to discuss. You all have the means to discuss it with your peers (and with me if you want). You all have *more* opportunity for “personal connection” than you have ever had in any class in your lives. That opportunity extends outside the four walls of the class, beyond the bounds of the classroom period, and gives you the opportunity to see who – exactly – is “in the room” with you every time you log in.

If, after all that, you still feel the lack of “personal connection” – and it’s an ongoing theme in this class – then I suggest to you that the fault is not with “distance education” but rather that personal connection is not possible unless you’re willing to make it yourself.

Even in the classroom setting, your personal connection is not with everybody in the room, but rather with those 3 or 4 (or 5 or 6) people with whom you have broken the ice and started talking with before, after, and even during class. You broke that barrier in the classroom because you recognized a fellow traveler on the road to the Final Exam by virtue of their sitting next to you, or behind you, or parked next to you in the parking lot.

That little green dot beside their name in the IM window is the person sitting next to you. I’d bet they’d love to talk to you, too, but somebody has to talk first. All of you people who are complaining that we’ve got too much reading and not enough doing?? Do something. Talk to your neighbor.

And if you haven’t added at least a few people into your IM Buddy list for the class, do that. It’s not an academic exercise. Note that you can only add people if you have an account on their service — MSN, Yahoo, whatever. But the idea isn’t to make a personal connection with *everybody* in the class – any more than you would a classroom based class.

The point is to explore how these tools – when used correctly – create a rich and connected environment that in many ways is better than this mythical classroom personal connection experience so many of you seem to be desiring.

Stop being wall flowers. Join the party.

A Different View on Classroom Instruction

September 2nd, 2009

I love twitter because sometimes I see links to things like this:

It's interesting that face-to-face instruction is still the measure by which all other forms of instruction are evaluated. As the standard model of instruction for decades, it's often assumed to be the proven method, while other methods have yet to prove themselves. This assumption is not only misleading, but it might also be helping to diminish potential opportunities of better learning for our students.

via 5 Ways We’re Diminishing Learning by Assuming Face-to-Face Instruction Is Best — THE Journal.

How many of these assumptions do YOU hold?

History of "Distance Education"

September 1st, 2009

Most readers of this blog know that I think the term distance education is terminally flawed, but it continues to be used in the common vernacular so we need to address it. One problem is that many practitioners today think the the terms “distance education” and “online education” are equivalent. We need to address that by examining the history of “distance education” and see where “online education” falls on that timeline.

In the beginning there was the word. In my perspective – one that’s not generally shared in the field, I should point out – distance education began with the first technology that allowed the relatively accurate transmission of instructional messages from the teacher to the student. In this case I’m referring to physical distance but synchronous mode, that is both people are able to exchange communications in real time. It’s the “I-talk-you-talk” model we’re most familiar with. That first technology is spoken language. The codified collection of symbolic utterances which follow rules of pronunciation, grammar, and syntax represents a technology that is used to bridge the physical distance between teacher and learning. This is thought to have occurred sometime before 30,000 years ago. Whether it occurred simultaneously with the evolution of Genus Homo or shortly thereafter, is open to speculation.

The next milestone in the development of “distance education” occurred with the development of a tool that allowed the communications channel to become asynchronous – that is, separating the teacher and learner in time. The teacher speaks. Sometime later, the learner hears. The learner speaks. Sometime later, the teacher hears. They don’t need to be together in time for communications to occur. That milestone is “written language” and the earliest known use of written language is about 5,000 years ago.

It’s significant to note that without the precursor technology, spoken language, writing technology would have had no basis upon which to be developed. The encoding of the spoken word sounds and the grammatical ordering of those encoded sounds into words, sentences, and paragraphs depended on having the system of sounds to encode.

After these two technologies, all other contributions to “distance education” are largely just new ways of transmitting either spoken or written words. The invention of print – and eventually moveable type – was just the next step in the mass production of the written word. Mail, telegraph and teletype are ways to move those words across large distances. Telephone and radio move spoken language quickly and expand the range of a speaker’s voice from in-the-room to around-the-world.

In our timeline of “distance education” the generally accepted beginning of the use of these media for instruction in a mode which has become known as “distance education” occurs with the advent of the “correspondence course” in the early 1700s when a Boston teacher is reputed to have offered the first class using the mail service to send and receive lessons. This laid the groundwork for the modern model of so-called “distance education” and represents, in my opinion, one of the first instances of an educational use of language to corrupt meaning by assigning a general term – “distance education” – to a specific application of technology – “correspondence course.” We’ll see this again.

An anomaly on this time line is the use of graphical materials. Earliest man used drawings and graphically symbolic representations of the world to record and explain what he saw around him. From the three dimensional renderings of Stonehenge or the Anastasi arrows to the cave paintings in Europe, this graphical representation of the world has been around for a long, long time. The use of diagrams and images is probably most famously documented in Da Vinci’s notebooks where he drew meticulously accurate renderings of this ideas. The key element of the diagrams – at least in terms of an educational use – is the text and explanation that went with them. While it’s true that an image carries meaning unto itself, from an educational standpoint, one really needs to make that meaning as unambiguous as possible in order to be sure that the messages that are being exchanged are the messages that are intended. This application of graphical recording was expanded to photography – a process of mechanically reproducing an image from the world and rendering that image more or less permanently onto a page – in the early 1800s.

Media convergence began almost as soon as there were media that could converge. Earliest printing sometimes included drawings and sketches. In the 1800s we began to see the convergence of synchronous media with the advent of movies. Movies permitted the encoding of moving graphical images and written language. This is a significant development in that it led to the rise of “talkies” that merged spoken language with moving graphical images, permitting a more natural appearing rendering of the world that could be manipulated for the purpose of instruction. The primary purpose of film for this discussion is the invention of the documentary. Short films of a documentary nature were produced in the late 1800s, but Nanook of the North (1922) is considered to be the first example of the modern documentary.

Television permitted the synchronous distribution of pictures and sound in a broadcast mode — that is, you needed to be watching when the message was sent in order to be able to receive it. That quickly changed with the invention of video tape. Video tape permitted the sender to record his message and store it for later transmission. That same technology was eventually available to the receiver which permitted a true asynchronous application of broadcast media. This medium had the draw back of being one-way. They could send but in order to respond, you needed a separate channel — usually mail or telephone — to send your messages back.

In later half of the 20th century that all changed with the advent of teleconference and the ability to have two way, live, communications between two locations. This gave rise to a huge program of linking in “remote campuses” across the US. These networks are still in use today.

Eventually, near the end of the 20th century, the invention of the personal computer, the evolution of computer networks, and the convergence of telephone and computer technology has given rise to one of the single most powerful forces for social change since the advent of the automobile — the internet. By using digital modes of encoding and transmission, almost any form of media can be sent and received across a global network. The communications options include both synchronous and asynchronous modes, the use of video conference, text, audio, and even real time handwriting and drawing.

This evolution of correspondence course to online delivery has led to the next conflation of general term “distance education” to the specific application of technology — “online course.” These are not simple splitting of semantic hairs. As I have made clear here and in other postings, I believe the term “distance education” is redundant. All education is, by definition, at a distance. The term “distance education” in the modern vernacular has been applied to the system of teleconference and other remote delivery modes as an omnibus term intended to relegate all such modes of mechanical transmission of instruction as somehow different — a semantic segregation of “distance education” from “real education.” This is, I believe, a deliberate attempt to maintain the educational status quo without consideration of what that segregation means to the field.

By making “distance education” something other than “education,” it robs practitioners of the opportunity to use established educational research as a foundation. “Well, that was classroom based instruction and that tool hasn’t been validated for use at a distance.” As long as “distance education” is different, that becomes a valid obstacle. In return, by failing to recognize the continuum of technology used in the classroom setting, educators forego the opportunity to fully realize the potentials by not being able to see how those technologies might be manipulated and leveraged to take advantage of the opportunities.

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.