Future of Online Learning – Stephen Downes

We were very lucky to have had a conversation with Stephen Downes last night as he took us through his vision of the next 10 years in online learning. The presentation was based on Stephen’s insightful post from last November.

For the presentation, we used Elluminate as the “front row”. As well, I hijacked the Elluminate video/audio out to Ustream.tv for those that preferred a pure back channel. Even with this provision, the majority of the conversation remained in Elluminate (the front row).

The Elluminate recording is available here, and the Ustream recording is here. Previous sessions from this course (with various other presenters) are available in the course archive.

Thanks to Stephen for an excellent presentation, and one that will keep us thinking for some time to come.

Connectivism & CCK08

It was our great pleasure to have had George Siemens as our guest in EC&I 831 on January 20, 2009. As requested, George gave us an overview of the changing views of knowledge in society, talked about Connectivism, and described the recent CCK08 experience.

The full Elluminate session was recorded and is available here. However, I have extracted George’s session (minus some of the course-specific conversation) into both a video file, and an audio only version. See below.

I want to take this opportunity to thank George for once again offering his time and expertise on these very challenging topics, and for engaging us in this presentation.

Enjoy!

Edtech Posse Podcast 4.3

The latest Edtech Posse podcast has been released. The conversation provides thoughts on the recent TLT conference and edupunk. Dean Shareski, Rob Wall, and Rick Schwier were present. Heather and I were unable to make it.

More information and shownotes can be found at edtechposse.ca.

Busy Time Rants

I have been busy with a number of things these days. Here are a few thoughts on the what is happening.

re: TLT08

I just came back from the TLT 2008 conference in Saskatoon. It was an excellent conference, and much better than last year. Highlights for me include the amazing keynotes by Rick Schwier and George Siemens, and excellent presentations by Brian Lamb and Dean Shareski. Unfortunately, I missed the keynote by Stephen Downes, although I heard it was amazing. Luckily, I was able to catch breakfast with Stephen and Dean the first day of the conference.

I was a part of three presentations at TLT. First, I presented with Kyle, Vi, Tiffany, and Ashley regarding our Digital Internship Project. Second, I co-presented with the Edtech Posse (Rick, Dean, Heather, Rob) on “The Posse Round Up 2.0“. Finally, I presented again with Rob regarding the Graduate course we recently co-taught, EC&I 831. I am currently researching the process and outcomes of this course, and Rob and I presented some of our initial observations. It was great to have met, former students of the course, Cindy, Dan, and Shaun at the conference as well.

I was also very lucky to have finally met some terrific people for the first time face-to-face. Jen, Cindy, Brian, D’Arcy, Kirk and Kelly … you are all amazing people. It was great to finally meet you all in person, and I really hope I get the chance again!

I would also like to congratulate those that won awards related to course design at the conference. We have so many terrific instructional designers, multimedia developers, and instructors in Saskatchewan, and it is great to see many of you recognized for your hard work. Also, congratulations to the organizing committee for putting together a truly excellent conference.

On a less congratulatory note, to the people that continuously asked the question “what about the cyberpredators?” at almost every presentation, take some to read this or this or contact me, and I can help you get over this fear.

I would also love to have a conversation with the gentleman who voiced concerns (and then walked out) regarding teachers using decentralized funding to buy non-standardized equipment (as mentioned in Dean’s session) and the implications for sustaining technical support. I believe your point was that the purchasing should follow the institutional/division priorities. Here are my thoughts on this.

Start with division priorities that are focused on student learning and supporting innovation throughout the system. Let us forget the term “technical support” and focus on “innovation support”. Let us make the first term a misnomer. If a school division cannot (for instance) get Macs to play nice with a Windows network, your technicians are not doing their job, or they need to go back to training. Technology implementation decisions that are based on technicians’ lack of knowledge or vendor biases are not likely sound decisions. Divisions are learning organizations, and continual learning should be the expectation for all members. And if economics is the stated excuse, why not partner with other school divisions to increase cost-savings? Locking in to single vendor agreements to save tiny margins on the bottom line is ripping off your students, and IMHO, is inexcusable whether it is with Apple, IBM or CocaCola.

There is where I usually rant about open source software and free tools … but I will leave that argument for today.

re: ECMP 355
I am very happy to be teaching a May/June course to undergraduate students related to the appropriate integration of technology in the classroom. My students have begun blogging, and are starting to get the feel for it. Feedback and comments on their posts would be greatly appreciated, and you can subscribe to the ECMP 355 megafeed here.

For course interactions, we are using Moodle again. And, I do not believe it has been officially announced by the University of Regina is making a full move to Moodle from WebCT by Fall of 2009. I am happy to be currently testing the latest U of R release. If anyone would like to see the course, let me know and I will get you the guest password.

re: St. Louis
I am very excited to have been asked by Elizabeth Helfant to present at MICDS in St. Louis near the end of May. I will be speaking to English and History teachers (my original areas of study) regarding personal learning networks and technology integration. I can’t wait!

re: ICICTE in Corfu
I also have had my paper accepted for ICICTE in Corfu in July. I try to get back to Greece every couple of years to revisit my roots. This conference has been an excellent in the past and the venue is always on a Greek island. I highly recommend the country, the people, and the conference.

re: Life
Life is busy these days. I am currently in North Battleford, and teaching in La Ronge tomorrow (yes, on the long weekend) with our Community Based Masters of Education program. I am happy to have my family along with me for the rest of the trip and I am hoping to take some nice photos (and a few deep breaths) along the way. Northern Saskatchewan has much beauty to see. Here’s a shot I took near Battleford today.

Family @ Battleford Bridge

Yes, I am extremely busy with teaching, research, presentations, and family. However, life is good and as I reflected in my last post, I am a lucky, lucky man.

EC&I 831: Upcoming Ed. Tech Grad Course

I am really excited about this coming semester. About a year ago, I received a Technology Enhanced Learning grant to begin creation of an online, Graduate-level, educational technology course. The result is EC&I 831, and here are just a few of the details.

    - I am developing the course with the help of Rob Wall who we’ve dubbed the “social capital philanthropist” for this educational experience.
    - We have an enrollment of 30 students, about twice what is usually expected in an online Graduate course, so Rob’s role will be especially important (no pressure, Rob).
    - We are trying our best to use as many free and/or open forms of technology as possible. Blackboard/WebCT were never options for the course. Exposure to and use of open, free, and social tools is a priority.
    - We have a tongue-in-cheek course trailer made up entirely of public domain video footage.
    - There are both synchronous and asynchronous components of the course. The synchronous components will take place Tuesdays (presentations/conversations) and Wednesdays (hands-on sessions).
    - And probably most exciting is our amazing lineup of presenters for the duration of this course. Presenters will include (couple yet to confirm, in order of appearance) Darren Kuropatwa, Richard Schwier, George Siemens, Sharon Peters, Dean Shareski, Clarence Fisher, Stephen Downes, D’Arcy Norman, Brian Lamb, and possibly others. There were many more I wanted to ask, but I know I am so lucky to have these individuals participate.
    - All sessions will be recorded and available. The course will be entirely transparent and open.

Throughout the course, we will be looking for ways to participate within the edublogsphere. If you have an edublog that would be of interest, please add it to the wiki.

To find out more details about the course, check out the course wiki (more info to come soon), subscribe to the course blog, or contact me.

I have very high hopes for this course. Please wish us luck!

Teach, Don’t Preach

My friend Peter Rock at gnuosphere always does a great job at voicing important issues that I’m sometimes weary to touch. Peter is confrontational on many important issues of freedom, such this one.

Peter reacts to a post from Teacher Jay who writes on his reflections in his classroom as he teaches his students why it’s wrong and illegal to download music content. Teacher Jay writes:

When the concept was explained that they were obtaining a product that they did not pay for and it was essentially stealing from the artist and the recording company they (the students) seemed to understand […]

Peter reacts, writing:

They “seemed” to understand because they’ve been told a subtle lie. What students need “explained” is that they have violated 20th century copyright law in need of reform to fit our 21st century technology. Then they need to see the difference between physical objects and intangible information. Then they need to see how Big Media ignores this difference every time it claims downloading to be “stealing” and that “piracy” must be fought to “protect the artists”. Students need to see that the analogy with sensate “products” is deceptive propaganda used to encourage thinking of copyrighted works as “property” when nothing could be further from the truth.

I may get some bashing here, but I agree with Peter. If you decide to react, read his point carefully. To describe the issue of music downloading without bringing in the contextual issues of corporate power over creative processes (read: culture), and simply telling your students that “it’s stealing, it’s illegal thus it’s immoral” is theft in itself. In very real terms, you are denying your students the liberty and freedom to critique issues of power in our society. Instead, what about being critical of the very idea of “intellectual property.” Or, what about discussing the potential benefits of free culture? No matter how you approach the topic, whether from a copyright or copyleft approach, critical debate on this topic is necessary. The world is changing for our students, there are many challenges ahead, and they need the tools to solve these issues themselves.

Additional note: I just noticed that Downes mentioned the book “The Starfish and the Spider” today on OLDaily. I read this a while back, and chapter one does an excellent job of explaining the need for decentralized leadership, and uses the music downloading developments since Napster as a key example.