Need Your Help – unKeynote/Keynode

Graham Attwell and I have been paired together as co-keynotes at the PLE Conference in Barcelona, Spain, July 8-9. The organizers have asked us to do something different than a typical keynote, so we previously asked for feedback on the format. Here are some of the ideas that emerged from that process.

Today, Graham and I met, went through all of the responses, and decided to go with format outlined below. However, to make this work, we would really love your responses. Please help!

How (We Think) the Session is Going to Work:

We have put together a a list of questions (see below) and are inviting your responses. We will put together a joint presentation based on your slides.

We will present the ‘keynote’ together but will be encouraging participants – both face to face and remotely – to contribute to the keynote as it develops.

Where We Need Help:

  1. We’d like you to respond to one or more of these ‘key questions’ found below. We suggest responding through the creation of a (PowerPoint) slide, or creating a very short video (less than 1 minute?). Or, if you can think of another way of representing your ideas, please be creative.
  2. We’d like you to provide questions for us. What did we miss? What are some of the important questions for consideration when exploring PLEs/PLNs in teaching & learning.
  3. Please send your responses to (and cc: by July 6/10.]

Key Questions:

  1. With all of the available Web 2.0 tools, is there a need for “educational technology”?
  2. What are the implications of PLEs/PLNs on traditional modes/structures of education?
  3. What are the key attributes of a healthy PLE/PLN?
  4. What pedagogies are inspired by PLEs (e.g., networked learning, connected learning)? Give examples of where PLEs/PLNs have transformed practice.
  5. What are the implications of PLEs/PLNs beyond bringing educational technology into the classroom, and specifically toward workplace/professional learning?
  6. If PLEs/PLNs are becoming the norm, what does it mean for teachers/trainers (or the extension: what does it mean for training teachers & trainers)?
  7. As our networks continue to grow, what strategies should we have in managing our contacts, our connections, and our attention? Or, extension, how scalable are PLEs/PLNs?
  8. Can we start thinking beyond PLEs/PLNs as models? Are we simply at a transitional stage? What will be the next, new model for learning in society? (e.g., where are we headed?)

We’d love to get as many responses as possible to make this work well. It doesn’t have to be much, or anything comprehensive. Just pick up on one of the pieces and let us know what you think on the matter. Again, we need these by July 6/10.


Ning Alternatives, Collaboration, & Self Hosting

Ning announced today that it plans to “phase out its free service“. What this means for the educators who use Ning for free (or even pay for some services) is uncertain at the moment although it was stated that a detailed plan of the new services will be released within two weeks.

Right after the announcement, Twitter was buzzing with people wondering about viable build-your-own-network alternatives. A few services were mentioned and retweeted, but I felt that something more proactive should be done. Seeing that Google Docs has gone real-time, I thought it would be great to collaboratively build a document with Ning alternatives, including examples and comments on services other have tried. I created a new Google Document and tweeted a call for collaboration.

Twitter / Alec Couros: OK, with all of this talk ...
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Within minutes, we had several pages of options for both hosted and self-hosted social networking services. Six hours later (the time at which I write this), there have already been hundreds of collaborators/viewers and hundreds of edits. There is now a good list of alternatives for those that would like to migrate to or use another service. As well, those involved were able to see first-hand the power of real-time collaboration. From my perspective, this process was truly awesome!

I have noticed that Ning’s announcement has made some people angry which has caused others to temper concerns until more is known. No matter what the outcome, or the options within Ning’s new pricing plan, there is a more important issue here. I do not see a future where there are more free (of charge) services available. It is more likely, at least for the short term, that more Web 2.0 companies will focus on premium services. For the many teachers who have benefited from the wealth of free services available over the last few years, this ‘less free’ reality becomes difficult, especially when schools are increasingly budget-conscious.

This is why the F/OSS movement becomes important (again). With all of the free services that have been available, fewer educators have likely felt that the time and expertise needed to install, maintain and host open source software is worth the trouble. However, with this impending shift, I do believe that this is the time for schools & educators to (re)consider and (re)discover the importance of F/OSS and self-hosted software.

Update: Sylvia Curry made a screencast of the “Ning Alternatives” document being edited in the first few minutes. This process really was quite incredible.

Roots of Connectivism – Siemens

George Siemens presented “Roots of Connectivism” to our EC&I 831 group on September 29, 2009. George provided a basic understanding of various theories of knowledge & learning (e.g., behaviorism, cognitivism, social constructivism, constructionism, neuroscience) as he led us toward a theory of connectivism. I warned my students beforehand that the presentation would be theoretically heavy, and our presenter (no surprise) provided us with the challenge of (re)thinking of our assumptions on learning.

As an aside, a tweet from one of the participants summed up what I have noticed about George’s presentation style. Great session by @gsiemens underway at . GS is attentive and handles an online audience with unusual dexterity.

Greater detail of the presentation within the context of the course can be found at the EC&I 831 wiki. The presentation was facilitated via Elluminate and the recording of that session, including the chat, can be found at this location. Slidedeck and audio-only version (MP3) are available below. Enjoy!

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: 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.

CBC Radio Interview: False Amber Alert

I was interviewed by CBC Radio today regarding a false Amber Alert message that was being forwarded via SMS throughout Saskatchewan, especially in the Estevan area.

From the Leader Post:

REGINA — Saskatchewan RCMP are advising the public that a text message Amber Alert circulating around the province relating to a missing child is a fake.

RCMP detachments and various municipal police services have fielded a number of queries since Tuesday night from concerned citizens throughout Saskatchewan in response to an Amber Alert text message they received on their cellphones.

The text message read: “Amber Alert 3 year old girl taken by a man driving a new silver truck plate 72B831. Keep it going so they can find her.”

It looks like other versions of this false Amber Alert have been going around since last February and have been reported in several other States.

The piece from CBC Radio (Blue Sky) is included below. My interview starts about 7 minutes in.

Keynote: Harnessing the Power of Social Networks

I gave a keynote presentation yesterday titled “Harnessing the Power of Social Networks in Teaching and Learning” at the University of Delaware. Below, you can find the archived video and my slide deck.

I want to thank all of the good people at the University of Delaware who invited me, greeted me with wonderful hospitality, and let me be part of their excellent summer faculty institute. It was a terrific experience!

Microsoft’s Vision for 2019

Microsoft’s Business Division president Stephen Elop recently unveiled the latest vision from Microsoft Office Labs, a piece titled “2019″ (via Started Something). Take a look at this possible future.

<a href=";playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:a517b260-bb6b-48b9-87ac-8e2743a28ec5&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=shared" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

There are some very interesting technologies pictured here, many that really do not surprise me, although I am not sure that Microsoft will be the company that pulls this off (the absence of BSODs *did* surprise me though). What do you think? Did anything impress you? Is this where we are headed? What’s missing?

The five minute version of this video is available within this post.

Animal Abusers Caught

About 17 hours ago, I came across a video on Youtube (referred via Reddit) of a teen in a face mask being videoed as he abused a cat. I immediately sent this tweet:

Twitter / Alec Couros: So how exactly does someon ...
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A few of us discussed it on Twitter, reported it to Youtube, and within about 15 minutes, the video was taken down. We wondered at the time if the people involved would be caught. I am happy to report that this is the case, and this news report outlines what happened.

It is great to see that members of the Youtube community were able to act quickly and identify the perpetrators.

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.

The slide deck is available below:

The Elluminate recording is also available for viewing.

The End of Alone

While I do not agree with all of the assumptions regarding human connectivity in this article by Neil Swidey, the main point of this article has me thinking. Are our tools of ubiquitous connectivity “dulling our very capacity to ever be alone, or alone in our thoughts”? I know it’s not a new idea, but certainly one I am becoming much more sensitive to. Maybe you are experiencing similar feelings?

If you are interested, I would recommend the article and viewing the supporting video (below).

And, I’m thinking. Currently I’m leading a group of students toward greater connectivity and networked interactions. I strongly believe that connections and the supporting network are important for educators to experience, and can be potential transformative for teaching and learning. For most of these individuals, the concepts and practices are quite new, and critical resistance is anticipated and supported. As educators, we should wonder if we will find ourselves 10 years from now teaching courses on how to disconnect from the masses, and reconnect to one’s self, and to our local communities. Let’s try to avoid this future. Teach critically, adopt cautiously, and reflect constantly.

See also “The End of Solitude” by William Deresiewicz.

Social Learning & Sharing

The learning continues in EC&I 831, and since I haven’t had much time to blog, I though I’d offer a 2-for-1 post with links to the most recent presentations for the course.

On January 27, I offered a session on the Age of Social Learning. The full Elluminate session is found here, and my slide deck is available below.

And, last night, we were very lucky to have had Dean Shareski join us as he presented “How to Be Lazy and Still Get Paid” aka “The Value of Sharing”. The recorded Elluminate session for Dean’s presentation is available here, and his slides are available below.

I really want to thank Dean for his excellent presentation last night. The participants (registered students & everyone else) have expressed gratitude for Dean’s time and wisdom on the topic.

The above presentations work well together, as do the concepts of social learning and sharing. These are ideas, when implemented, that have enormous potential for changing the shape of (online) learning. And, I’m happy to say that these are ideas that continue to shape the courses I teach and that support my ongoing belief in the power of open education.