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Week 22: Personal Learning Networks

    Ko & Rossen, Chapter 14: Taking Advantage of New Opportunities, the main ideas I got from this chapter are:
    It is a fact we live in a technological society and the evolution of technology is done by continue and really huge steps, so we have to understand that we need to learn during all our lives, our students and us are long life learners without exceptions. We need always to take adventage of new opportunities, like the tittle said, and so far networking is a ideal place to find these new opportunities and adventages .... are you ready ????!!! Let's do networking!!

    Dean Shareski, Sharing: The Moral Imperative
    I enjoyed a lot this video and some of the experiences showed are really good practices of sharing!!
    I agree with them about the tendence of the teachers to share and even about the affirmation: "Sharing has always been part of the teacher’s job". I think that if we share we can build better knowledge for our students and better experiences for them, sharing everybody is gaining!!

    Gardner Campbell, A Personal Cyberstructure  
    Good point the one Gardner show in this article that let us reflect about the power of building our personal cyberstructure to learn and share, to learn and create too. Gardner says that onliy if  what the professor truly wants is for students to discover and craft their own desires and dreams, a personal cyberinfrastructure provides the opportunity, they have to build it on their own with tools and help but discovering by themselves and creating by themselves... They have to guided but not in every single thing....

    Alec Couros, Teaching and Learning in a Networked World (2010) 
    In the field of career guidance in order to get a job, it is noticed the great importance of using the Web 2.0 not to look for the job, but to make the jobs can find  you... In this case this teacher is telling and showing us that Web 2.0 in education is similar, because you can use it to make your personal learning environment and also to let the courses and grades that you want to take, the knowledge that you need to reach is and are brought to you throw your  networks and Internet in general. 

    And I was trying to read the article: Martin Weller on The Virtues of Blogging as a Scholarly Activity (2012) the link in the page of Pedagogy First is wrong but I googled it and I find this: http://chronicle.com/article/The-Virtues-of-Blogging-as/131666/ 
    I think that use the blog in the classroom or as a professional tool to divulgate our work, our articles, our experiments, results and express our opinions about different topics is a really powerful tool which is able to open us so many doors but also it can be very hard.  To maintain the blog and to create quality post is not easy,  it is also difficult to differenciate between the famous post and the quality ones in a easy way sometimes, but I have no doubts that blogs are really good resources to work in class and beyond the classroom.


      Thought I might be able to catch up in the class… Not going to happen:-( Technology really isn’t my thing. I use it at work all day and love the many things it affords but the fact is, the students our school serves can’t afford technology and adoption of more and more tech mediated “schooling” is simply pushing them away. It might be that a new form of teaching growing from tech will help? Tech itself will remain a rich kids toy and out of our students’ lives for some time to come.

      That said, even here in the far north, technology is important and our best chance of getting some part of it to our marginalized students is by having their teachers introduce it in a way that pares it down to being affordable and relevant. Only… are the faculty actually interested? Up to now part of the reason we haven’t been able to connect to all the great things that might help distribute education is the lack of faculty interest in teaching applications that don’t reach “their” students. Most see no advantage and some refuse to adopt even Moodle use and this is a significant factor.

      Or I think that’s it. For years I’ve been feeding tech tips and free training courses like this one into the faculty development department system at work without any response or evidence of it being used. It’s frustrating and after years of it I was just deciding to give up and along comes our brand new dean of Teaching and Learning asking me to build all the information into a “Faculty Resource” in the shared folder area we use for cross-department messaging. (Turns out the new dean helped build a program in “Hope Studies” and nursing theory that I volunteered to help pilot a few years back through another college so not all free courses come to nothing).

      Not entirely sure what to include but I’ve got at best a month before the person who “runs” faculty training gets back from sick leave. In addition the person who’s been hired to help her comes on board soon too and the silo doors will slam closed again. This has to be done from home as there is too much work at work at the moment to stop work on current projects during paid time for this. Anyway, in the weird world of education I’m “not qualified” to do this and paying me challenges the notion that learning is strictly confined to the school room to be of any real value:-)

      Not sure where to start? Tutorials in Moodle come to mind as a beginning. We have two people to provide help with Moodle who naturally need to attend to the students first. Not sure why the instructional staff have been avoiding Moodle as every class we offer is either based in it or has a companion site tied into it. It could be that training allowances allow people to go away and PD happens on lunch breaks without compensation. (People are overworked and need their lunches).

      Doesn’t matter, with cut-backs our Moodle help will be dedicated to student needs only and faculty will have to train through PD–and now prove they have taken the training. By the way, this is a stage all schools will experience as cut-backs gut staff and all the informal relationships that sustain the organization (like my informal Moodle help services to instructors off the side of my desk) disappear.

      Time to start collecting Moodle tutorials. Already have a list to review and also think I’ll throw in some samples of quality sites for extra course content. We hired someone last year who collected thousands of mostly candy and fortunately this spring we have someone new who sends in great stuff. It might be worth doing a compare and contrast to explain the difference? Might have time.

      Speaking of this here is a good site for scientific images and short lessons:
      2012 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge
      > http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6119/518.full <

      And a good picture of street proofed Little Red Riding Hood:


      Let’s Hear it for Audio

      Program for Online Teaching Certificate Class – week 14


      This week’s blog post is more of an experiment than a contribution.

      Since its audio week, I recorded myself rambling on about audio learning. It’s an unscripted, unrehearsed talk that I did during my morning drive to work the other day.

      I posted it on Soundcloud, which provides embed codes, and embedded it below. If the embed doesn’t work out, here’s a link to the recording on Soundcloud;  you can listen from there or download it.

      I used Audacity to filter out some of the road noise and eliminate some of the longer pauses as well as some of the “ummm”s and  “ahhh”s.

      It’s about five minutes long.
      Audioruminations by wwnorm

      Are there any questions?

      Chapter 7 sort of

      This article came in just after Christmas:
      Research for Practitioners: How to Improve Knowledge Retention
      By Julie Dirksen
      December 26, 2012 http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/1080/?utm_campaign=lsmag&utm_medium=email&utm_source=lsm-news

      Article itself on a recent study of knowledge retention is behind a membership wall at the eLearning Guild. An alternate by the study’s authors’ is available here:


      Whole report here: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/331/6018/772.abstract?sid=3a378ac2-ba8f-4cab-82b7-4ebfe4eb3b07 (free, but requires registration).

      Quoting from the abstract:

      “Educators rely heavily on learning activities that
      encourage elaborative studying, while activities that
      require students to practice retrieving and reconstructing
      knowledge are used less frequently. Here, we show that
      practicing retrieval produces greater gains in meaningful
      learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping.
      The advantage of retrieval practice generalized across
      texts identical to those commonly found in science
      education. The advantage of retrieval practice was
      observed with test questions that assessed comprehension
      and required students to make inferences. The advantage
      of retrieval practice occurred even when the criterial test
      involved creating concept maps. Our findings support the
      theory that retrieval practice enhances learning by
      retrieval-specific mechanisms rather than by elaborative
      study processes. Retrieval practice is an effective tool to
      promote conceptual learning about science.”

      As someone with a history of crashing on tests, plus training in graphic arts, it has always been a wonder that mapping has consistently failed me as a study technique. Having been assessed a number of times as a “visual learner” the only conclusions are that I initially construct maps that already evidence misunderstandings. Or that my memory is like Swiss cheese—nothing, even visuals, stays there for long. Or, yikes! elaboration by visuals, metaphors or other cues intrudes on my verbal constructions—this is a principal of user interface design—and confuses the message?

      This topic also caught my attention because the majority of the tests and exams I load into online courses are purely based on recognition or recall. To my mind, neither of these methods of “knowing” gives evidence of learning beyond surface registry. There’s nothing lasting here. Which begs the question–why bother teaching things that are strictly temporary and then test at the shallowest level? How low can expectations go? Having two journeyman’s licenses in carpentry and gas fitting I understand that some abstractly “known” concepts need to be held for use later in the field (and even for passing exams) but when the whole of your learning experience is based on the promise of possible potential utility in an unknown future of shifting eventualities aren’t we skating pretty close to nonsensical knowledge?

      Anyway, according to the authors, the results of the study:

      “…suggests a conceptualization of mind and
      learning that is different from one in which encoding places
      knowledge in memory and retrieval simply accesses that
      stored knowledge. Because each act of retrieval changes
      memory, the act of reconstructing knowledge must be
      considered essential to the process of learning.”

      To me this is a clue to why blogging (or any sort of reflection on course subject matter) enhances learning. Ever time something is brought out it not only strengthens memory, it is learned again and likely from a slightly different perspective. As speculation it might be that there is an advantage in having things remain malleable rather than fixed in place by certainty or dogma? That learning is a continuum poorly appreciated by testing as we practice them now?

      Terms used:

      Retrieval practice: used here had student study a science text and then recall as much as they could. Later, they studied again and repeated the recall for a second time. This double recall practice is designed on the assumption that students are retrieving concepts from long-term memory, hence the term “Retrieval Practice.”

      Concept Mapping: considered an active learning task, vital concepts are written down as nodes then linked together by relationship to each other. Similar but not the same as mind maps and topic maps, concept maps attempt to graph whole systems by illustrating how various components (nodes) influence, modify or enhance each other. Very useful for science studies.

      Recall vs Recognition: recognition involves picking the right option from the list while recall asks the student to pull answers from memory.

      Week 2

      The questionnaire is done and depending on the students I expect to encounter my answer changed. Here I should mention that I’m not a teacher by training but have considerable experience working with construction industry apprentices. Having worked in a number trades it would be nice to say that the peculiarities of the task (carpentry or sheet metal for instance) or the conditions of work site are the defining differences in teaching strategy. In reality, my experience says the major differences are in apprentice learners. Being connected or disconnected to the apprentice counts way more than the task to be demonstrated.

      The advantage to teaching apprentices over a general selection of students who show up in class is that the apprentice is there to learn to replace you. What could be easier than transferring your knowledge to them like you were running a photocopy of all you know?

      • What you “know” is not always well understood or conveniently categorized
      • As a hands-on people, trades practitioners often have trouble transferring actions to words
      • Apprentices often come to you conditioned to struggle with content by the school system. The confident ones compensate by adopting an “attitude”, the others just go silent
      • Most times, as a journeyman you are expected to maintain or raise your level of productivity while training. No accommodation for the inexperience of the apprentice actually slowing you down and no recognition that teaching is any more complex than show and tell.
      In spite of all this the system somehow “works” to train the next generation of trades. That said, there being no real effort put into designing trades training, the whole process is best described as random human interaction that somehow produces some sort of result.

      Not all is hopeless though and my goal is to develop some strategies in this course to turn training into a more deliberate process.

      Why we blog

      MiraCosta Online Teaching Programme

      A month or two ago I was approached by Pilar Hernandez of the POT Cert team, asking me if I would be willing to make a contribution to the course in Week 22, which after some hesitation I agreed to do.

      This invitation has spurred me on to get involved with the POTCert class which starts next Monday 1st September and finishes at the end of April 2013.  Last night I attended a pre-course meeting in Collaborate in which the course convenors and a few course participants discussed why we blog.

      Recording of the Collaborate meetup

      The reason for this discussion was that a requirement for the certificate is

      • Weekly blogging on assigned topics, including viewing workshop videos and reading online articles about online teaching as a discipline — posts should include reflections, links, embedded elements.
      • Commenting on other participants’ posts as part of the online teaching community.

      Participants are also asked to tag blog posts with ‘potcert’

      It could be that some of the 22+ participants already signed up for the course have never blogged before, so how will they feel. This prompted me to look back at my first few posts on this blog (‘Jenny Connected’) to try and remember what I felt like and how I approached this new experience. I am surprised at how short some of those posts are and I can sense from the tone of them that I was writing for me, i.e. I was initially unaware that there is an audience out there. At that time I couldn’t imagine that anyone would be interested in anything I wrote. ‘Openness’ didn’t have any meaning for me, since it was outside my online experience. In fact it was a shock when I received a challenging comment on an early post -  quite a wake up call. After that, I persisted with blogging but became more careful about what I posted. I think that early experience, as well as my own personality and educational philosophy, determined the way I blog and my reasons for blogging, which are principally to keep a record of my reflections on my own learning, and more  latterly to try and share the interesting connections I make through making use of hyperlinks in my posts.

      This is a video that I made for the FSLT12 open online course that I worked on in June of this year, which explains a little about why I blog – but there are many different reasons for blogging and different ways of blogging and it was interesting at the ‘meetup’ last night to hear other people’s reasons for blogging and how they go about it.

      Here is a summary of some the ideas:

      • to serve as a substitute for a poor memory, by aggregating interesting ideas and links into one location thus creating a personal searchable digital library, e.g. Lisa Lane’s blog
      • to comment on and discuss other people’s ideas
      • to play with tools and ideas
      • for thinking out loud and working with others on half-baked ideas – see Alan Levine’s blog (this is how he described his blog – I am not being critical :-) )
      • to share academic writing – I have used my blog in this way
      • for role-playing
      • for personal and/or professional purposes, e.g. a cookery blog, a research blog
      • for developing a personal brand
      • for messaging and publication
      • for networking
      • as a place to openly make and share mistakes and collaboratively learn through this

      Blog posts can be as short or as long as we like. They can include images, videos, sound or not, as we prefer. They can minimize the use of text or be an ‘orgy’ of writing, or somewhere in between, as suits our personal learning styles. They can include details about our personal lives or focus only on professional topics, as we wish.

      There is no one right way to blog.

      For me, I look for sincerity, honesty, fairness and critical thinking around a topic that interests me in other people’s blog posts and that is also how I try to blog myself. I don’t let myself be intimidated by other people’s blogs – but I do explore them and try and learn from how others have done it. Everyone finds their voice and expresses it in a way that is unique to them – thank goodness. It’s the diversity in the blogosphere that makes it such a rich and rewarding learning environment.

      Tagged: #fslt12, blogging, blogs, learning, online, potcert