#etmooc – Let’s Get Started!

In mid-August, I wrote a post to gauge interest in a possible Edtech-focused MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to begin January of 2013. I received a handful of responses on my blog, dozens of Twitter replies (captured in this Storify), and (to-date) 142 individuals stated their interest in participating via this Google form. I believe there is more than sufficient interest in an Edtech MOOC, and so I am very happy to begin the development process. I am looking forward to those who have expressed interest and those we are likely to pick up along the way.

I thought I would share my ideas for the course. These ideas are informed by my initial thoughts on the MOOC (from my experience running #eci831 & blended courses), the growing body of literature on MOOCs (especially the cMOOC variety), informal conversations with individuals (theories, practitioners, students), and the many responses received through the process mentioned in the above paragraph. I also hope to make as much of the planning & development of the MOOC open & transparent so that others can understand and learn from decisions made around tools, technical processes and pedagogy. Thus, I will be doing my best to gather documentation, and I invite others to do so as well. I hope that the ‘making of’ the MOOC will be as valuable as the MOOC itself.

Ideas will be shared below. I will then copy the headers into an editable Google Doc so that facilitators/participants can write, edit, add feedback or sign-up for key roles.

What should this MOOC be about?
I am hoping that this MOOC will be developed on the topic of educational technology & media, a broad-ranging and continually expanding area of study. I believe that this MOOC can be relevant to all educators (P-12 school teachers, instructors, professors) and learners across a number of educational systems. As well, it is my hope that the MOOC is accessible and relevant to participants across the globe, wherever there is access to Internet technologies.

Some possible topics may include, but are not limited to the following (in no particular order):

  • History of educational technology in teaching & learning.
  • Relevant educational theories & integration models.
  • Overview (how-tos & critique) of current gadgets, resources & web tools.
  • Connected/networked learning and personal learning networks/environments.
  • Mobile learning overview, strategies and resources.
  • Learning management systems, overview & critique.
  • Copyright, copyleft, mashups, remixes – overview & practical use.
  • Digital citizenship, digital identity, footprint, ethics.
  • Privacy, edu. business models, terms of service – what to know about web services.
  • Digital storytelling & other non-literary modes of expression.
  • Memes, viral videos, and how information spreads.
  • 21st century literacies (whatever that means).
  • Openness in education (Open educational resources, MOOCs, etc.).
  • BYOD initiatives, responsible use policies, and other ed. leadership topics.
  • Future of … (technology, schooling, education).
Again, these are just a few suggestions. I’m looking for your feedback. I think that once we refine the list, we can start scheduling and finding individuals willing to facilitate these topics (and others that have not yet been suggested).
Beyond the content itself (outlined above), I am hoping that the greatest benefit of this course will prove to be be participants developing resilient personal learning networks, forming the habit of connecting with others to facilitate independent learning goals (both planned & serendipitous), and nurturing online communities based upon sharing & transparency.

How should the MOOC be organized and/or facilitated?

It feels traditional, but I assume we will need to come up with a time-frame for this experience (start & end date, semester framework?) and methods of facilitating content/connections (e.g., live seminars, networked writing spaces, microblogging, newsletter, etc.). Other logistics needing to be discussed may include:

  • the bridging of educational sectors (K12, university, tertiary).
  • development of global nodes of activity, time-shifting, & having localized events.
  • assessment (peer assessment, do we need assessment?).
  • credit (badges, peer developed, localized approaches, no credit?).
  • type of assignments (maybe something like DS106 assignments model?)
  • development of peer mentorship relationship (support participants at various levels).
  • involving the less connected (e.g., teachers at schools who would have never heard of a MOOC but could be supported & encouraged locally/globally).
  • development of participant blogging (or other publishing) spaces to decentralize the learning environment.
  • development of a common hashtag (#etmooc?) and other ways to aggregate data (such as Downes’ GRSShopper or tools like http://paper.li)
  • a central aggregation site for course information (like http://eci831.ca)
  • development of a research agenda/protocols/ethics for those wishing to study this experience.
  • getting people interested & involved & sustaining participation & engagement to avoid MOOC dropout.

What do we need to make this happen?

  • What tools & processes will we need to develop the content? Timelines? Responsibilities?
  • What tools & processes shall we use throughout the course?
  • Who shall we invite to facilitate? How do we develop localized nodes?

Who’s going to help, and what role will you play?

In the online form featured in my first post, I broke down participation into four major roles: development/planning, session facilitation, online mentors, participants. Obviously, individuals could choose more than one role. Am I missing anything?

For those who would like to help planning/developing this MOOC, consider signing up for the #etmooc Google Group. If you have a suggestion for a better place to collaborate, please let me know.

Thanks to everyone who is considering some form of participation in this experience. I look forward to working with you and making this experience beneficial for those interested in exploring technology & media in education.

 

Need Your Help (Again) – unKeynote/Keynode 2012

Two years ago, I was asked to do a co-keynote with Graham Attwell in Barcelona for the inaugural PLE Conference. At that time, Graham and I decided to crowdsource our ‘unkeynote/keynode’ and to invite participation from anyone who wanted to contribute to the live conversation. The original call is found here. The contributions from others were amazingly creative and generous, and we both felt that the experiment was a success.

This July 12 to 13, Joyce Seitzinger is organizing a PLE Conference to take place in Melbourne, Australia (concurrent to the European strand) and I have been asked to participate as one of the keynote speakers. I am hoping to facilitate something similar to the 2010 unKeynote/Keynode experience.

So, if you have a few spare minutes, this is where I could really use your help.

The question that I am hoping to facilitate is, “Why do (social) networks matter in teaching & learning?”. To help answer this question, I am hoping that people will do one of the following things:

  • Submit a short video or audio clip (between 30 seconds and 1 minute in length) that helps to answer this question.
  • Submit a single PowerPoint or Keynote slide or image that in some way represents your response.
  • Respond to this question on your blog or similar personal space.
  • Respond to this question via Twitter using the hashtag #WhyNetworksMatter.
While I am happy if you respond in any way possible, I would love to have at least a few video or audio responses so that I can feature these during the presentation. And respond in any way you wish – whether it’s very personal (from your own experience) or something more ‘academic’ – the key question is broad and ambiguous to allow for multiple interpretations and responses.
To submit, use a medium of your choice (e.g., Youtube, Soundcloud, blog, etc.) and send me the link at couros@gmail.com. OR, submit the file directly to my Dropbox folder using this link with the password ‘pleconf’ (this option will only work with files that are 75MB or less). For Twitter responses, I’ll likely use Storify to archive and arrange your tweets.
And, because the conference is coming up very soon, I am hoping to receive your responses by July 8, 2012 so that I can sort and arrange your work in some meaningful way. Sorry for the short notice!
So are you willing to help? Please?

Student Work – Winter 2012

As I’ve done previously (see 20092010 and 2011), I wanted to share some of the best examples of student work from my ECMP 355 (Technology in Education) undergraduate course. These students are all preservice teachers and they range from being in the first to the fourth (final) year of our program. If you have any questions about the work featured here, please comment below or email me. I hope that you will find these projects valuable.

Final Projects: The goal of these projects varied – essentially, they were either of the ‘build a learning resource’ or ‘learn something of significance using the Internet’ variety.

Blogfolios: Students were tasked to create blogfolios in the class as a means to strengthen their digital identities, and experience an important form of alternative assessment.
Summaries of Learning: These summaries of learning are typically a 3-5 minutes reflection/presentation/celebration of what students learned throughout the course.

Open Access Course: Social Media & Open Education (Fall 2009)

I will be facilitating an open access graduate course this Fall titled EC&I 831: Social Media & Open Education. I expect about 15-20 registered (for credit) students, but I am opening up the experience to all other interested not-for-credit participants. This will be the third time I have run the course, and it has been quite successful in the past. I have rethought a few pieces, and I am hoping that this offering will be the best yet.

The course wiki is available here: http://eci831.wikispaces.com. The “synchronous sessions” page is slowly being filled out as I work to schedule presenters and appropriate weekly topics. Additionally, I have set up a Google Form to gather information about those who would like to participate as not-for-credit students. Quite a few people have already signed up, and we’d love to have you participate as well!

Participation is quite flexible. This can mean simply joining in on the weekly synchronous sessions (these run every Tuesday from Sept 15/09 to December 08/09, 7 p.m. Saskatchewan time). You could also help inform our reading list by tagging relevant articles & media as ‘eci831readings‘. You could respond to the weekly lectures through your blog, or whatever media/site you choose, and tag these as ‘eci831responses‘. Or, you could comment on student blog posts (feed/links will be available after Sept 8) and expect other participants to engage you in your writing spaces. And, I am sure there are many other ways to participate, create, and collaborate that we have yet to discover.

If you have any questions about the course, feel free to contact me. And if you are interested, we would love you to join us in this upcoming, collaborative learning experience.

Five Recommended Readings?

One of the Associate Deans at my workplace has asked me to recommend five readings (e.g., books, articles, blogpost, etc.) that would help inform his understanding of current changes regarding social networks, knowledge, and technology in education. Rather than develop the list alone, I thought it appropriate to (at least attempt to) crowdsource responses from individuals in my network.

So, what readings would you recommend to an educational leader responsible for faculty development in a teacher education program? Any responses are greatly appreciated.

Edtech Posse Podcast 5.3 (Winston’s Pub Edition)

The Edtech Posse recorded the latest, extremely raw, podcast in the ambiance that is Winston’s Pub in Saskatoon. What did we talk about? I guess you’ll have to listen to find out.

Voices include: Myself, Rob Wall, Rick Schwier, Dean Shareski, Clarence Fisher, Kyle Lichtenwald, Kathy Cassidy, Dean Loberg … several others (sorry if I missed you, please let me know).

What I Want For My Children

Cindy Seibel just linked to an excellent video at her blog “Technology for Learning“. Cindy says, “Every parent and teacher will be moved by what this parent asks of teachers and challenges other parents to do.” For me, this video is particularly important to me as my own little girl started preschool this year.

We bring our kids to school with so much hope, so much love, and so much fear. We ask and expect so much from our teachers, and this is why I feel so lucky to work directly in teacher education. I get to help shape the futures of our teachers with the hopes that they will benefit all of our children.

There was at least one piece of the video that was not agreeable to me. At 5:42, the video encourages us to “always believe that teachers want what’s best for our children.” At the more generalized level, perhaps. At an individual level, I do not feel that such blind faith would always be wise. For instance, I have had some teachers that have (seriously) scarred me for life. And I am not the only one. As parents, I think we need to use the other good points (like asking questions) to validate our hopes and beliefs for our chlldren.

The creator of the video is Heidi Hass Gable, do check out her blog. She’s done a great job here.

The Write Stuff – K12 Online Conference Teaser

My very talented colleague, Dr. Patrick Lewis, and the amazing Kathy Cassidy have put together a trailer for their upcoming K12 Online Conference presentation. Here it is:

Cathy and Patrick have done some amazing stuff to bring stronger connections between students in our teacher education program and young children in the field. I am really looking forward to their presentation.

Edupunk, Meaning, Identity

I have been wanting to jump onto the topic of edupunk for quite a while now, but I am happy that I waited. Since Jim Groom’s initial post, there has been a lot of debate around the term … but I won’t get into that. This post is really not about entering into that conversation. The term resonated with me, so please let me indulge in this bit of selfish, and very incomplete, introspection.

Edupunk Version 1

D’Arcy Norman proclaimed me an edpunk, and I am in excellent company. This proclamation resulted because of the work I did with my recent graduate course, EC&I 831 where I (with the help of Rob Wall) broke a lot of rules regarding course “delivery”. I have spoken about the course quite a few times since it has formally ended, and the question I am asked most often is “how did you get away with that?”. To Rob and I, the facilitation model came naturally, it made sense to be open and transparent. I hardly remember there being another way. Yet, I do not fully understand how I came to see the world this way.

The term edupunk comes to me at an ideal time. It is a term more relevant to me than most people would realize. I spent my teen years and early 20′s heavily into the punk scene, and I have vivid memories of these times. I have met dozens of punk and alternative band members over the years, many of whom are still my rock heroes. This post is not about generalizing what edupunk means to any one else. I am writing because I want to better understand how these musical, political, cultural, and social experiences have influenced the educator I am today.

So, here are the things I learned from punk, and why I embrace the term, edupunk.

Non Conformity - Yea, I know, I am a professor at a University, with several degrees including a terminal one. What would I know about non-conformity? But I wasn’t always this way, I was the kid with a mohawk in Grade 10. I spent a lot of time in the principal’s office. I missed a LOT of school. I had a list of speeding and traffic violations before I turned 17. I didn’t do anything bad, I just wanted to be noticed, and I wanted to be different. Well, different enough to get noticed. I was also very lucky to have been born gifted both academically and musically. I excelled at everything I attempted and my grades were at the top of the class even though I missed a lot of school. But I was bored, so incredibly bored.

And while I could go on and list dozens of punk rock anthems that deal with non-conformity, I’ll take a turn here. Rather, I’ll refer to Angelo Patri’s “A Schoolmaster of the Great City”, a book I read a few months ago. Even in the early 1900′s, Patri saw the issues of school conformity and student engagement.

Many parents believe that this is education. They covet knowledge, book knowledge for their children. Rich and poor alike want their children done up in little packages, ready to show, ready to boast of. They fear freedom, they fear to let the child grow by himself. Because the parents want this sort of thing, the school is built to suit – a book school – one room like another, one seat like another, each child like his neighbor. (p. 37)

I could not be sedated then. And while I have conformed in many ways to trade off the security that comes with this, I better understand dissent in society. And I rebel and innovate when I feel it is best for the learning experiences of my students, and for my own personal and professional growth.

Do-It-Yourself Culture - If I were to use one phrase to describe my approach to the design of courses, it would be DIY. While DIY culture was not born specifically of the punk movement, this is where it was exposed to me. My University gives tremendous support for course design and development. And while I do lean on these terrific people from time to time for graphic and multimedia design, I have done almost all of my course development myself. I am what Bates would call a Lone Ranger. And I have thought about it from time-to-time. Why don’t I just get the help available to me, to produce some really nice course materials? Why do I resist?

From Wikipedia:

According to Holmstrom, punk rock was “rock and roll by people who didn’t have very much skills as musicians but still felt the need to express themselves through music”. In December 1976, the English fanzine Sideburns famously published an illustration of three chords, captioned “This is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now form a band.”

When it came to course design, this is how I felt. I didn’t have the skills to begin with, but the more I pushed myself, the better I became. I learned, discovered my art, had fun, and witnessed my students learn along with me. And this I discovered in bands like the Ramones, where none of the members were talented in any technical sense, but the band was able to influence the music scene and forever change the world.

Critique of Power Relationships … – For my PhD dissertation, I defined the term open thinking as follows:

… the tendency of an individual, group or institution to give preference to the adoption of open technologies or formats in regards to software, publishing, content and practice. Open thinkers critique, question and seek to reject technologies or formats that compromise the power of adopters, especially in the freedom to use, reuse, edit and share creative works and tools. Open thinkers value group-based problem solving and give preference to tools that enable social collaboration and sharing. Open thinkers actively strive to replace adopted technologies and formats with open alternatives. Open thinkers advocate for the adoption of open technologies and practice. (2006)

For the past 7 years, I have been a strong proponent of free and open source software, and then later, free and open content. As you can see in the definition above, my approach has been to critique and question the tools, content, and formats educators use on a daily basis, and to look for free and open alternatives. While much of this influence comes from more contemporary sources (e.g., Stallman, Torvalds, Raymond, Lessig, Downes, Lamb), for me this is only a reawakening of ideas I first discovered through punk rock.

In closing this post, I am going to take Jen’s advice seriously when she says about edupunk “Don’t dissect the metaphor“. Edupunk, if nothing more, has got many people talking, exploring their beliefs around education, and in some cases, reminiscing of day’s long past. The educational community is much too diverse, as it should be, for anyone to cling on to one single metaphor for meaning. I learned the lesson of community complexity when I studied meaning within open source communities. Gabrielle Coleman’s quotation still resonates with me:

The meanings, aims, visions, and aspirations of the open source community are difficult to pin down .… closer inspection of the movement reveals a cacophony of voices and political positions: anarchic ideals of freedom, “tribal” gift-economy rhetoric, revolution, Star Wars imagery, web manifestos, evangelization to the corporate sector, the downfall of the “Evil Empire” (a.k.a. Microsoft), grass roots revolution, consumer choice and rights, community good, true market competition, DIY (Do it Yourself) culture, science as a public good, hacker cultural acceptance, functional superiority, and anti-Communist rhetoric are but a number of the terms, images, and visions promulgated by and attached to the open source community.

The discussion around edupunk has forced me to think, and inspired me to write. Whether you agree with the term or not, it’s brought you this far with me. Thanks for reading.

What Can Education Learn From Zappos?

I just read a story about the business practices of Zappos, an online shoe retailer. The company seems incredibly focused on customer relationships through the hiring and nurturing of engaged employees. The following paragraph reports a very interesting and unique approach to their initial training and hiring process.

It’s a hard job, answering phones and talking to customers for hours at a time. So when Zappos hires new employees, it provides a four-week training period that immerses them in the company’s strategy, culture, and obsession with customers. People get paid their full salary during this period.

After a week or so in this immersive experience, though, it’s time for what Zappos calls “The Offer.” The fast-growing company, which works hard to recruit people to join, says to its newest employees: “If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.” Zappos actually bribes its new employees to quit!

While this is interesting in itself, I am also drawn to the larger policies and philosophies apparent in the management of this company. Take some time to listen to the following video, an interview with Bill Taylor who has recently studied the company. In your mind, try to replace customers/employees with students/teachers. There is something powerful that education can learn within this framework.

Bronx Student Discuss Obama, Politics, Race and Their Future

Regardless of your political views, I think that most caring, thoughtful humans should find something wonderful in the conversations by young, Bronx high school students.

This is a wonderful example of a teacher taking on the topic of race in his classroom. The students seem engaged and speak intelligently and thoughtfully on issues of race and politics.

Now, since this appears on the Obama08 Youtube channel, I am wondering about the behind-the-scenes editing, production, and whether or not this production was directly funded. In any case, the production is well done, and leaves the viewer with hope for the future.

Letting Go

Bob Cringely of PBS (thanks Keith) recently wrote something that resonated with me. His was one of those articles you find every once in a while that helps your mind coalesce scattered fragments of thought and helps to give clarity to an important idea. He begins:

There is a technology war coming. Actually it is already here but most of us haven’t yet notice. It is a war not about technology but because of technology, a war over how we as a culture embrace technology. It is a war that threatens venerable institutions and, to a certain extent, threatens what many people think of as their very way of life. It is a war that will ultimately and inevitably change us all, no going back. The early battles are being fought in our schools. And I already know who the winners will be.

Now without reading the article, do you know what he is talking about? Do you see it? If you are reading this, you are likely closer than most of your colleagues to understanding it. Now read this:

Here, buried in my sixth paragraph, is the most important nugget: we’ve reached the point in our (disparate) cultural adaptation to computing and communication technology that the younger technical generations are so empowered they are impatient and ready to jettison institutions most of the rest of us tend to think of as essential, central, even immortal. They are ready to dump our schools.

Now read it again. The idea has been an underlying notion in the edublogosphere for a number of years, and of course, it has a much longer philosophical history. Whether the approach is schooliness, deschooling or School 2.0, I do not think we are anywhere near in understanding what the future holds for the education of our children, and theirs.

And I think there is something big here for me. After reading this article, it wasn’t that I was surprised. I felt guilty. Really guilty. As a professor of edtech and media, i have the opportunity to effect hundreds of preservice and practicing teachers. I have typically focused on helping improve technological competency, media literacy and instructional practice with these individuals. This seems OK, doesn’t it?

But what if you know it is just a band-aid? What if you know deep down that schools need to change drastically or cease to exist at all before there will ever be any significant change? What if you feel you are just prolonging the inevitable, and simply giving temporary life to a model that is clearly in its death throes?

It is about honesty. It is about being truthful to our students about the flaws of our educational system. It is essential that we open a dialogue with our children to help them design their educational processes. Together we can do more than simply patch the existing system, and we need to do it soon.

The walls are crumbling, but it’s OK. The future is in good hands.

Related: While you are here, check out Mr. Winkle Wakes, “an amusing, animated retelling of a popular educational story”. Thanks Matthew, this is a nice conversation starter.