Alec Couros, Chapter 6 “Developing Personal Learning Networks for Open and Social Learning”

August 22, 2010

Alec Couros is one of (at least) two educator brothers that are in my personal learning network (PLN). Alec is a fellow Canadian and I’ve found many interesting educational resources by following his tweets.

Alec is also the author of Chapter 6 in “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education”, a chapter that happens to be about “Developing Personal Learning Networks for Open and Social Learning” so the chapter is especially interesting to me because it reflects what I’ve been experiencing.

The chapter is about an open teaching project. An open course was developed to address the role of Social Media/Web 2.0 in education. The chapter deals with the theory and social justice premise that informed the project’s design, the development process and tools used for the course, the unexpected uptake, and, to me the most important part, the ongoing “authentic, dynamic and fluid” learning connections that emerged. I wasn’t a direct participant in the project described, but I was in contact with people who were and certainly my awareness of the project led me to add people to my PLN that I might not have known about otherwise – sort of a ripple-out effect.

If you search on Google for “EC&I 831” (this was the course identification) you’ll find many links to wikis, youtube videos and more that were part of this course and I believe that browsing through some of this material provides an insight into the flavour of what is described in the chapter itself.


This is from the “Elizabeth Tweets” series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts related to the new book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).

Emerging: A Re-conceptualization of Contemporary Design and Integration/Adventure Learning

August 15, 2010

Summer weather and a bit of vacation time has gotten me out of blogging mode for the last week or so.

But I am back into it now and not a moment too soon. I tuned into a talk radio show yesterday while driving, and heard some fairly bizarre opinions about online education spurred by the recent comments of Bill Gates (who has recently said that all university education will be online in five years http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/113251-gates-technology-can-lower-college-tuition-to-2000). Gates seems to be generating a bit of panic or at least misunderstanding of what learning at a distance can actually involve.

So… time to move on with my thoughts on the chapters in the Veletsianos book.

Chapter Five is the beginning of the second section of the book which focuses on “Learning Designs for Emerging Technologies”. Here we get to some specific examples. This particular chapter, written by The Learning Technologies Collaborative (Aaron Doering, Charles Miller and Cassandra Scharber) from the University of Minnesota, is titled, “Emerging: A Re-conceptualization of Contemporary Design and Integration”. The chapter maintains that how technology is used is what is important. The authors describe adventure learning (AL) as an example of a way of combining technologies to transform online learning, with a strong foundation in grounded pedagogical models and authentic context.  Already such projects have reached over millions of students (e.g. see http://www.polarhusky.com/ ) offering inquiry and experiential learning by connecting students around the globe to each other and to experts in the field.

I hope that descriptions of projects like this will soon reach the mainstream media and help dispel concerns that online learning is taking something away from education. The opportunities provided through adventure learning are disruptive in that they may not fit neatly into a learning schedule that demands regular standardized testing, but if the benefits can be seen by the average parent/citizen, perhaps there will be a call to re-think some of the established testing models.

As the authors mention, the governor of Minnesota has proposed that state and college students should take 25% of courses online by 2015 (not quite the Bill Gates schedule but along the same lines). I personally hope this means opportunities for new ways of learning. And it is exciting to think that even young students can be involved in collaborative knowledge building through projects like those described related to adventure learning.


This is from the “Elizabeth Tweets” series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts related to the new book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).

Chapter 4:”Beyond Distance and Time Constraints: Applying Social Networking Tools and Web 2.0 Approaches in Distance Education.”

August 6, 2010

More from the new book edited by George Veletsianos:

Chapter 4 of the new “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education” book is Mark J.W. Lee and Catherine McLoughlin’s “Beyond Distance and Time Constraints: Applying Social Networking Tools and Web 2.0 Approaches in Distance Education.” (note: the chapter may be freely downloaded via: http://www.aupress.ca/books/120177/ebook/04_Veletsianos_2010-Emerging_Technologies_in_Distance_Education.pdf )

This chapter provides a useful overview of the context of distance education including its function and its shortfalls — with social isolation, leading to demotivation, being one of the main traditional concerns. It is interesting to reflect on the impact of isolation from a scholarly community and this chapter clarifies and highlights the importance of social presence (and the culture of a learning environment) to the actual learning that will take place.

The authors then consider how Web 2.0 might address this and other issues for distance learners. With concrete examples of work being done with respect to social presence, reconceptualization of design and new pedagogical strategies, this chapter focuses on authentic collaborative activities for distance learners. The authors describe distance students working together to create meaningful content and support each others’ learning.

I would highly recommend this chapter as an idea generator for distance educators who want to incorporate Web 2.0 strategies, or as an introduction to those who may require a coherent overview of the possibilities to guide their decision, taking the history and the potential future of distance education into account.


This is from the “Elizabeth Tweets” series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts related to the new book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).

Imagining Multi-Roles… Learning with Emerging Technologies – Chapt 3 from the ebook

August 3, 2010

And now it is time to talk about the chapter that I co-authored with my colleague, BJ Eib.

First, a bit about us (BJ Eib and Elizabeth Wellburn).

BJ Eib

BJ Eib

Elizabeth Wellburn

Elizabeth Wellburn

We’re both instructional designers at Royal Roads University in Victoria BC. Canada — a place that focuses on distance/online learning. To do our daily work we’re immersed in Moodle, Elluminate, Wikis, blogs, etc.

Both of us have a long history of research and practice related to technology use for education (I wouldn’t want to add up the number of years), and we have K-12 experience in the classroom, online and at the curriculum/policy development phase (government). Also,  we’ve both worked at providing instruction about ed tech and distance learning to teachers at all levels. So we welcomed the chance to write about our take on Emerging Technologies in Distance Education,

BJ and I wanted to focus on how there are many traditional roles (teacher/learner, author/reader, amateur/expert) that almost any individual can embrace in new ways — perhaps moving towards participating at multiple levels — through social media. We wanted to explore the exciting and positive ways that these multi-roles might relate to both formal and informal education and to changes in society in general, but we didn’t want to ignore the accompanying concerns either. There’s no need to say a lot here about the ideas presented in the our chapter — it is freely available 🙂

But since our writing was largely directed towards the exciting possibilities, we’re glad that there are others who offer  critiques in the spirit of guiding educational social media use away from some of the potential pitfalls.

Veletsianos posted to his blog recently with links (and he is looking for more) to well-thought-out critiques of social media for education.

http://www.veletsianos.com/2010/07/27/social-media-open-education-critiques/

So while we hope that you’ll read and be inspired by our chapter and others in the Veletsianos book, we also hope that you’ll consider the issues raised by the authors he highlights in his blog post. Again, I won’t summarize too much because the links are available.  That being said, I’ll address a couple of issues from those critiques. Personally, I agree with Selwyn that in open education, it could be difficult for learners to determine where their learning gaps might be (how do you know what you don’t know?). Just the same I believe there will eventually be online assessment tools and other strategies that will address this. It does have to be considered though and educational policy makers need to acquire a good understanding of the environment to come up with effective solutions. And perhaps things are moving more slowly than the social media proponents want to believe but it doesn’t seem like a bad thing to be forward-thinking and prepared even if the potentially dramatic shift doesn’t quite materialize as envisioned.

I am less inclined to agree with Selwyn’s arguments about access in developing parts of the world because it seems that mobile is poised to become truly ubiquitous and the signs indicate that this will happen soon. Again, being prepared seems like a sound approach.

(b.t.w., how did the vote go at Ed-Media 2010 Toronto? – I tried to find the answer but couldn’t.)

And I think Tony Bates is correct when he speaks of admissions policies and the complexities of open education. Again, policy will have to be developed.

 


This is from the “Elizabeth Tweets” series of chapter-by-chapter blog posts related to the new book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).
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https://elizabethtweets.wordpress.com/2017/01/19/emergence-and-innovation-in-digital-learning/  – a 2016 revision.


Theories for Learning with Emerging Technologies – Chapt 2 from the ebook

August 1, 2010

Today I’m writing about Chapter 2, “Theories for Learning with Emerging Technologies” from the new book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).

The chapter was written by Terry Anderson, a distance education icon at Athabasca and editor of “The Theory and Practice of Online Learning” from the Issues in Distance Education Series (the same series as “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education”).

Clearly Terry Anderson’s scholarship in this area is impeccable and the chapter is an important summary of his ideas, including his look at three Net-centric theories (The Pedagogy of Nearness, Heutagogy, and Connectivism). He also discusses the value and “practicality” of theory and relates earlier theories such as Constructivism and Complexity Theory to the issues of new technologies, and talks about theory with respect to the goal of helping with the educational decisions. When should we use a particular technology? How do we guide these interventions and deal with unanticipated consequences? What about cost-effectiveness?

Perhaps a favourite quote of mine from his chapter is “These theories are useful today because emerging technologies are often applied to the same challenges and problems that inspired educators working with older technologies” (p. 26). I personally welcome his balanced approach of appreciating that there is much to be built upon as we explore the technologies that are new and potentially disruptive and I find much to think about when reading his view that “The Net, with its new affordances, seems to speed up and accentuate many of the ideas found in pre-Net learning theories” (p. 36)

Addressing the idea of accentuated pace (are we basically doing the same things here, but in a faster environment?) might well relieve some of the concerns of those who express fears about “our brains are being rewired” (well, isn’t that part of learning?) or “the internet is making us stupid”.  I truly have hope that we’ll embrace disruption, come to an understanding about when new roles and approaches make sense, and find a workable path. I think part of what is required to do so means paying attention to ongoing research based on established theoretical foundations.


Note that Terry Anderson blogs at http://terrya.edublogs.org/ and his July 3 posting about disclosure and surveillance is a compelling read. Unrelatedly, I had worked with Dennis Anderson for many years without realizing that the two men are brothers.