Feedback and Support for My Students?

As many of you know, I am teaching two online courses this semester. These courses are ECMP 455 (undergraduate) and EC&I 831 (graduate), both which are focused on educational technology. My students are all blogging, and I’m starting to see some real improvement in their writing and reflecting on topics related to the course.

I have tagged my student blogs in Google Reader, and shared the public pages below:

I know that many people in my PLN have already begun engaging my students, and commenting on their blogs. Several of my students have commented on how inspiring and motivating this interaction has been for them.

For those interested, I would love if you could subscribe to the feeds above and follow my students through their journey. They could definitely benefit from your encouragement and insight. And, interactions like these are important for them to understand the benefits of a personal learning network.

Thanks if you are able, and always greatly appreciated.

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.

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.

History of Educational Technology (pre-computer) by Schwier & Wilson

Dr. Richard Schwier and Dr. Jay Wilson were our guests in EC&I 831 on the night of January 13, 2009. They gave a wonderfully entertaining and informative presentation on the history of educational technology before the introduction of the computer. Below is the captured video of the presentation, taken from Elluminate. The full Elluminate session is also available here.

A couple of my favourite insights voiced in the comments during this presentation were (a) where did teachers get the time to do things this way?, and (b) the idea that teachers often hoarded the resources they created. The first point is quite interesting as I find it still the most frequent complaint from teachers using technology today. The second point interests me as I feel that the hoarding mentality may have been necessary at an earlier time in history, but I am not sure education in general has really adjusted to this perceived “age of abundance” in relation to resources and information. Or, perhaps I am just being naive.

Also related, do check out Dr. Schwier’s presentation from last year on the history of educational technology where he takes a different approach, and focuses on the people of educational technology vs. the tools.

Rick & Jay - History of Edtech

We’re Back!!!

I was fortunate enough to teach EC&I 831 last year. It’s an online, open graduate course focused on educational technology. I had a wonderful group of students registered in the course, and before long, we had a wonderful network of informal learners that became an important part of the course experience.

And, we’re back! In fact, I have two open access courses running this semester. See ECMP 455 (undergrad) and EC&I 831 (graduate). In both courses, one of the main assessments is based on the reflection and development of a personal learning network (PLN). I am hoping that I will be able to help students build their PLNs, and have them reflect on the types of activities and experiences they have. I am hoping that their discoveries will help us understand more about PLNs, how they form, and their implications for teaching and learning.

In terms of the open access, in a nutshell, I am in a process of “thinning the walls” for my students. We began with private conversations about connectivity and networking (this is new for most students), and I am hoping that students will slowly emerge themselves in the more public spaces. Some have already taken the plunge and can be found on Twitter and in other spaces. If you look in the “participant directory” of each course site, you will be able to see their shared biographies. Some have already developed short introduction videos (posted to Youtube).

There will be synchronous events that may be of interest to many of you. To start with, in EC&I 831, Dr. Richard Schwier will be joining us Tuesday (Jan. 13/09), 7 p.m. (CST) to take us through a brief history of technology in schools. From my discussions with Rick, he’s got some really neat things up his sleeve and I know this will be a great session! I’ll be information on how to join this event (for those interested) via Twitter shortly before the session.

I invite you all to help, and would love if you could engage these individuals, help them with their questions and concerns, and support their learning. I am hoping that this will be an important experience for all of us!

The Personal in PLNs

I will teaching two open online courses next semester, and I have been brainstorming a number of ways to do things a bit differently. In both courses, students will go through the process of forming their own personal learning networking. “Their own” is key here and is something I have been struggling with. In the past, I have just given students a list of people from within my network, but I am beginning to think that this practice may be problematic. First, is this not a bit contrived? Or is it? Is this an accurate way of representing how learning networks form? Maybe. I am not sure. Second, does this not just lead to replicating well-formed, existing networks? Or, does this contribute to the dreaded “echo chamber” effect?

Sure, I know that if I give a short list of network contacts to my students, they are not by any means going to form the same exact network that I have, but I would bet these would be very similar. And I am not by any means trying to criticize the members of my own PLN. In fact, I wouldn’t be connected to you if I did not feel that it was a positive connection. But I am curious of what I am missing. I want to understand personal learning networks not only by the connections that form, but also by those that are absent.

So, help me out here. What if I gave each of my students a single point on the the network, a single individual (probably via a blog address), and made all attempts to keep these points as unrelated as possible (yes, quite difficult in our x degrees of separation world). What networks would students form? How similar would these PLNs be? And what could we learn about how educational PLNs form?

Most importantly, if I used this approach with my students, would this in any way disadvantage their learning opportunities?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Behind Every Tweet: K12Online Presentation Teaser #2

My K12 Online Conference Presentation 2008 will be released one week from today. The conference has already started with Stephen Heppel’s Preconference Keynote and there are so many great presenters scheduled. To keep you interested, I thought I would release my second teaser. This one looks at the mystery behind every Tweet.

If you missed teaser #1, here it is. You may also be interested in the original teaser for my online graduate course.

I’ll link to my K12 Online Conference presentation when it goes up. Thanks for watching!

K12 Online Conference 2008

I am happy to be one of the presenters for this year’s K12 Online Conference. The 2007 conference was one of my favourite educational events as there were so many excellent presentations. The conference is an example of open education at its best: open, transparent, free, and of high-quality. I am hoping that I can help add to the success of last year’s event.

Below is the official marketing flyer for the event. Please pass on the information to the teachers in your school, or other interested individuals.

K12 Online Conference Flyer

Many of the presenters are putting up teasers for their sessions. I will not have time to put one together, but I can offer the trailer created for EC&I 831, the course that will be the focus of my K12 Online presentation. Apologies to those who have seen it before.

I hope you can attend the conference. My presentation will be titled “Open, Social, Connected: Reflections of an Open Graduate Course Experience.” I hope it will give insight into the challenges of creating a networked learning experience for university students while sharing some of the real successes of the experience.

Check out what some of the other presenters are planning.

EC&I 831: Island Hopping Cruise Ship

I’m finally getting a chance to go through some of the data collected from the study of my EC&I 831 graduate course. I absolutely love this passage from former student, Cindy Seibel, who describes her learning experience in the course.

To me this course was a personal journey loosely coupled in a community. I liken it to an island-hopping cruise ship. When we were on the ship on Tuesdays and Wednesdays there was an array of activities for us to participate in. Then we would stop at an island, get off and go on a personal investigation. We could sit on the beach and reflect, or go off an investigate something that had been triggered for us on the last ship’s activity. Our reflections and learnings were captured in our blogs and we would seek out each other through those expressions. Others outside the course would also participate in the same way, joining us randomly on the island or the ship. Then we would get back on the ship on Tuesday for a new buffet. So could we have done that with a closed LMS? I don’t think so. The public blogs were absolutely key to this experience. The open wiki was important as it forced us to “put ourselves out there”. That was an important part of the experience. We learned that there is a network out there if we choose to participate. The tools are almost secondary. Connecting to the network was key.

I love the cruise ship analogy. As well, I want to pay close attention to Cindy’s description of a “personal journey loosely coupled in a community.” It is an important distinction.

Draft of Article: Open, Connected, Social

I will be leaving to Greece shortly to attend ICICTE in Corfu. The following is an early draft of a paper I wrote for the conference that outlines some of the processes and early feedback I received regarding a graduate course I recently taught, EC&I 831.

Comments are welcome and encouraged. Keep in mind that this is an early draft and there are likely many errors. It was a paper written a while ago BEFORE I had much of the new data in (which I am working through right now). I have only shared it at this point as I enjoy making my writing processes as transparent as my teaching.

EC&I 831 – Voicethread Reflections

Hi everyone.
We have now completed the official EC&I 831 experience, and I am hoping to follow up with research around the course experience starting with some course reflections from students, and from anyone who has been affected by this course in any way (e.g., connected with students via blogs, participated in Elluminate/Skype/Ustream sessions, etc.).

I will be on the conference trail for the next while talking about my course, and I would LOVE to have your reactions to the course! Thanks so much for your time. I am really hoping that I have something to support the format of the course (open, transparent) and the learning experiences that occurred, both inside and outside of the formal pieces. Please help by contributing to this voicethread.

Conversation with Chris Lehmann

Chris Lehmann, principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, was last night’s guest in EC&I 831. Chris shared his experience as a progressive educator/administrator, and provided many valuable insights for our participants.

The recorded Elluminate session is available here.

Ustream version available below:

And finally, Rob has provided an mp3 version.

Thanks so much for presenting Chris. This was an excellent way to round off a great group of presenters!