The WELL is one of the oldest online virtual communities. This video from 1989 features interviews from WELL members. It is an interesting look back at the experiences of pioneering virtual network participants. One could replace “the WELL” from the audio with Twitter (or another popular social network tool) and it would hardly be noticeable.
I spoke briefly about Ustreaming my Graduate course on EdTechWeekly last Sunday (Feb 24, 2008). This short audio clip was captured and synchronized to a screencast of the course site. I assume this was done by either Jeff Lebow or Dave Cormier.
I think this captures a bit of what I am experiencing with the course. The delivery mechanisms are somewhat complex but much more in tune to the principles of “open, connected & social” than a WebCT/Blackboard-based course could possibly be. I hope that the students are enjoying it as much as I am.
Ulises Mejias has developed a pen-and-paper game to help students better understand the Attention Economy. The game is developed as part of the course, “Friend Request Denied: Social Networks and the Web”.
How do new bloggers gain recognition? Why are some people in MySpace or Facebook more popular than others? Why does one YouTube video get seen by thousands of people, and another by just a few? What does it mean that “on the internet, everyone is famous to 15 people”? Can the subject matter of the content we post to an online network make us more or less popular?
This game is an accelerated simulation of the process of gaining attention online (acquiring more readers, friends, hits, etc.). The goal of the game is to collect the most attention. The game tries to condense a process that can take weeks or months into about an hour. It is intended for people who are new to the study of online social networks, but anyone can play. The game can also be used to teach some basic characteristics of networks, such as the role of hubs or connectors in scale-free networks. Players are asked at the end to critically reflect on the values that drive this Attention Economy.
This looks like a great idea, and I wish I were as creative. While I feel many of these concepts are best actualized/experienced online, a game like this could help students gain a deeper understanding of their own online relationships within the greater networked context.
See also The Attention Economy by Goldhaber (1997). It is a bit older but still a very relevant read.
Professor Wesch and the Digital Ethnography Project, the group that brought us The Machine is Us/ing Us, have released two new excellent videos on Youtube.
Vision of Students Today:
This is a short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.
Download higher quality wmv:
This video explores the changes in the way we find, store, create, critique, and share information. This video was created as a conversation starter, and works especially well when brainstorming with people about the near future and the skills needed in order to harness, evaluate, and create information effectively.
These will be excellent videos to show my colleagues and my students.
It’s already an incredibly busy semester. Here are a few of the projects underway.
ECMP 355: I regularly teach an undergraduate course to preservice teachers focused on the integration of technology in teaching and learning. I’ve taught it since 1999, and I can’t believe how much it has changed. Originally, we focused so much on user-centric apps, presentation tools, MS Office productivity tools and flat HTML web resources. Today, the social/semantic web is a key focus. I promote the plethora of free, open and social tools available to students. Students are able to collaborate with others, and with each other. Blogs, wikis, podcasts are common resources.
Some things haven’t changed much though. Electronic portfolios have always been an important part of the course. Only the methods in which they are created has changed. The same goes for digital storytelling, a mainstay in my course from the beginning. And most importantly, critical technology and media literacy remains a common theme that binds the entire course.
This year, I’m happy to announce plans to collaborate with Darren Kuropatwa’s highschool students. Mentoring and collaborating with high schools students from a distance will be an incredibly powerful and meaningful activity for my preservice teachers.
If anyone’s interested in checking out the ECMP Moodle site, go here, but you’ll need to get the passphrase from me.
EC & I 831 Graduate Course – Open, Connected & Social in Education: I am currently developing an online Graduate course to be offered Winter 2008. The course will focus on the open and social technologies in the classroom and appropriate pedagogies in the connected age. Rob Wall will be helping me develop this course, and I’m already excited to have his input. He’s got some great ideas, and I think this course will be the best I’ve offered. I’m excited. If there are people out there that would like to be a part of this experience, I’d love to have you participate. I know I am going to rely on the edublogosphere a great deal for this course to be a success.
Digital Internship Project: We have chosen 34 interns this year to be “digital interns”. These students are provided with a laptop, other special equipment, edtech-related professional development and specialized support during their internship. The students are part of a Ning virtual community, and have just begun to share their stories and successes. I’m looking forward to seeing these students become excellent teachers and gain wisdom in the use of technology in teaching and learning. We hope that this experience will allow these individuals to become educational leaders in their future schools.
If you would like to see what’s going on, or join us, come to digitalinterns.ca.
Good Spirit School Division EdTech Projects: I’m also working with the teachers of Good Spirit School Division. There is a very keen interest in improving educational outcomes in the division, and educational technology is one of many thrusts to achieve this. This project is in its infancy, but good things are beginning to happen.
aTEPnet: There are many aboriginal teacher education programs in Canada. These programs are doing wonderful things for aboriginal education, but there is not much of a connection between these programs. The Canadian Council on Learning has funded us to help develop an online social network (aTEPnet) that will connect ideas and individuals across these programs.
Web-Based Learning Resource Development Evaluation: Saskatchewan Learning has funded the WBLRD project in the province since 2000. This project has given teachers time to develop rich web-based resources for the benefit of themselves and other educators in the province. We have been contracted to evaluate these resources, the value of the process and provide direction for the future funding of similar projects. Stay tuned for the results later this year.
Looking at this list makes me a bit overwhelmed. Yet, I’m realizing how much the “network” comes into play into just about everything I am doing these days. This is the biggest change to me, and the change that has made the most difference to me in my own learning, my teaching and my educational philosophy.