Wednesday, November 9, 2011

?Week 10 - Why do I want a website, I've got a blog?

For the past 2 years I have been sporadically blogging; usually depending on which course I am completing. When I considered the option of a website I was a little confused as I don't have a business to advertise or promote, I am just a person, why do I need a website?I have a blog. then I took the time to watch Pilar's video on Google sites, how easy is it to create a site, and with the assistance of 'templates' I could see why and how I could use a blog.

 This time next year my family (my husband, 2 sons aged 8 yrs and 2 yrs) and I intend to travel from the east coast to the west coast of Australia, over a 3 month period. The details are still coming together but my plan is to support my son in keeping a blog as a daily or weekly record of where we travel and what we see, this way our friends and family back home can see what we are doing. When I saw the templates on Google sites I realised that we could have a website, that would serve to house photos, show a map record of our journey, countdown the days - the possibilities are endless!! and we could have our blog feed into the website.

It never ceases to amaze me at how creative people can be when you give them the opportunity. Often in my job I will be in a discussion with someone about a project they are working on and I will say that I saw a great tool that I think would work really well for them in what they are doing. I am slowly realising that you can't give others your vision, you have to put stuff (tools) out there and let them take what they need, when they need it. following on from what I have just said, and considering this weeks reading re:online activities I think that an important thing to remember when developing or creating online tools is to maintain a level of diversity and variety in the activities as different activities might suit different learners at varying stages in their development, so the trick is to not get stuck on one 'tool or technique' like - discussions (as I considered in my previous post) but rather mix it up and trust that some activities will be liked 'less' than others but perhaps this makes the preferred activities all the better.

So in consideration of this weeks task - What might be the advantages and disadvantages of using a class blog or student blogs for your class? Could a Google Site or web page make a good welcome for students?
A web page, class blog or wiki are all effective tools to welcome and layout a clear path for students to commence their learning journey. I think a key point is to gauge the level of pre-existing skill and exposure a particular learner has had to the technologies being used and then introduce the tools gradually, as we have been exposed to various tools over the weeks. I think that having a fabulously busy website with a plethora of technologies could be overwhelming for some learners and as we all agree put the pedagogy first and don't get caught up in the fancy tools and technologies. Try new things and see what works for your content delivery but also remember that new learners may respond to new tools so always be open to something new. The nature of change in our society is fast paced and as presenters of information and learning we need to 'keep up' with what's new. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Week 10 - Focus on discussions

Image: Nuvola apps discussion

Of the several activities that Ko & Rossen outline in chapter 7 I am going to focus on discussions, as I have been thinking a lot about this over the past few days.
When I facilitate in a face to face environment with learners who are usually new to the concepts that I am delivering, I find that I can tell them or get them to read but often it is not until they verbalise the concept themselves that 'the penny drops'. This may relate specifically to their learning style, but it is a very neccessary part of their learning. Discussion is a key component in face to face training and I have seen some trainers sabbotage the learning by taking over the explanation and delivering the answer, rather than letting the learner think it through (out loud) which leads them to the answer.
Whilst I am familiar (& comfortable) with discussions in a face to face learning environment I have been thinking about how(& where) these discussions would take place in an online environment.
There are 'discussion boards' available on CMS (course management systems) which I have used before and have found them to be very useful if the facilitator interacts regularly and draws out the ideas and discussion going on.
Social Media such as Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter provide a forum to conduct discussions. Many groups will conduct synchronous 'tweetchats' which uses a particular hashtag and they meet regularly at a specific time and communicate on Twitter using this hashtag. I have not seen many egs of this lately. Using a hashtag always allows for an asynchronous chat, but I think the synchronous sessions allow for a more lively discussion.

On Saturday I participated in the Blackboard/Collaborate session presented by Eric Robertson on how to use Twitter. He showed us how to sign up for Twitter, Tweet using a hashtag, Retweet and direct message. The session was very participatory and allowed for an active discussion within the chatroll. I always find the opportunity to ask questions and comment in the chat to be very 'comfortable'. You don't need to run audio checks to ensure your mic is working and constantly worry that you have not muted yourself. So there is another forum for discussion. During this chatroll discussion I commented that I have been using Twitter more to read tweets, since I have it available on my phone, rather than tweeting myself. I was asked why this is the case, and it made me think of an answer. I know that last sentence sounds ridiculous but it was actually very relevant to me as I realised that this is another benefit of a discussion - you are actually asked questions, which stimulates your thinking. It stimulates your thinking more than if you were provided with a list of questions that have to be answered before or after a class/learning session.
I have considered many times studying using OER course schedules and pacing myself through the readings and answering the questions in ordder to solidify the 'stuff' (information) into my head, this is so static.I always seem to come back to MOOCs or online courses that offer some form of group interaction, and now I have a better understanding as to why....because it is interactive, engaging and it is 'lively' or 'alive'. The group that participates in the learning brings the material 'to life' by sharing their thoughts and interpretations, commenting on each others blogs and asking each other questions. Therefore I believe that 'discussion', in whatever form the facilitator (or the group) decide - whether synchronous or ashynchronous, is a key component for any online course.

As an aside....
Currently there is a lively debate going on about discussions conducted within Change11 MOOC. Several podcasts that I subscribe to (COOLCast & EdTech Weekly) have raised the issue. I have found this interesting and it has made me consider how I will conduct 'discussions'. From my limited understanding there is debate about which platform is the most appropriate to use when conducting weekly discussions with (guest) facilitators and multiple participants (as I understand it sometimes up to 70 people). I do not expect that I will ever have to contend with participants in excess of 20 in a course, so this is an interesting debate to watch develop as it could determine the success of MOOCs going forward.

Note: I still have not addressed this weeks requirements ....What might be the advantages and disadvantages of using a class blog or student blogs for your class? Could a Google Site or web page make a good welcome for students?

I am very taken by Google sites and am very appreciative for Pilar introducing these, I still really have to play around with the tools that Google offers and I know they have some great tools for discussion forums too.
This is my next task but I had to get the above blogpost published as it has been swishing around in my head. 

Image: Flywheel by Creative commons licensed

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Can Voicethread build community online?

The plethora of tools and technologies that we are offered in this course may be somewhat overwhelming at times but I think it is important to remember that as an online facilitator we aren't obliged to use all of the tools. You may use some of the tools as a learner to keep up to date in your field (I find Twitter particularly useful to pull in information) you may choose tools to collate information (bookmarking tools like Diigo and delicious) but I think Voicethread is a perfect tool for engaging learners and building an online community.

However, that said, I have not had much success engaging learners previously. See one of my previous blog posts Evaluate facilitation of my Voicethread asynchronous activities

Regardless of my lack of success, following are some examples of how Voicethread can be used to very effectively build a discussion online.

Take a look at this Voicethread presented by Michelle Pacansky-Brock The first slide contains many comments (both written and recorded audio) which may seem like a lot, but make sure you listen to the first 4 comments as this will also give you the opportunity to see how Michelle has visually recorded herself making a comment, which adds another dimension to this tool.

This Voicethread addresses Managing multi-membership in Social Networks, and offers some useful tips. (Note this Voicethread was linked in the blogpost referred to above)

I invite you to participate in How can you use Voicethread? even if you just make a comment as to whether you have ever seen Voicethread before or have you used it, maybe how you think you could use Voicethread in your practise.

If you are interested in creating your own Voicethread simply follow these instructions.....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One small step for Kim

One giant leap for me learning how to use tools and technologies.

Check this out! you may need to click on the playline to restart the video

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.
 I am not 100% happy with the layout of the Prezi and the voiceover is low, with background sounds (ie my dishwasher) but at least I have a presentation with voiceover that I can embed in my blog.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Journey to...?still not being able to upload a presentation, but working on it!

I have been very indecisive this past week. As I expressed in my last post, I realised that I need 'something' to work with - a syllabus, but I have since been inspired, so many times, to revert back to my original idea (which I am very passionate about) of creating an online course about learning online. However I think that my mistake (remembering that they are not mistakes, if they become learning opportunities - Sandra agrees with me on this one) has been thinking that I need a syllabus, maybe I just need a 'bunch of stuff' (resources and references) which I will pull together and then sort into some order.
So what if I am going about this a 'different' way, let's just enjoy the Journey!

I have created a Prezi titled 'Online Learning Journey' which I wanted to record a voiceover on, so that I can upload it into this blogpost, however,  I could not afford the time to play with various recording tools. I have watched Todd's instructions on the recorded synchronous session, so I am going back to that as my guide.

After reading about various students challenges faced in doing this, I can now sympathise, there are plenty of tools, but you need to use one to get the other to read the first thing you started with, to make it upload. aaarrghhh!

 In the interests of saving time and my sanity I decided to use an old screencast that I have recorded on creating a Voicethread. I used Screenr but I could not get it to save on my drive to allow me to embed it in this blog. Then I used Jing.....what an easy to use tool, I am a fan. That said I am still unable to upload the recording (swf file) that Jing allowed me to save to my drive.
I am  so good at this technology thing...NOT!

Watch this space, I am determined to upload a video. However if you are at all interested in any of the 'recorded stuff' I have included links in the blogpost. I can appreciate how embedding a video for students is much more convenient than having to click on a link and be taken to another site. 
Warning: the above video link does not work, definitely, go ahead try it! see nothing

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Syllabus

I have had all good intentions to compile a syllabus to conduct an online course about online learning, as a personal venture. I started work on compiling a syllabus on Saturday morning and recognised, by Sunday afternoon, that this is a massive project.
I watched Lisa's video on how to convert a syllabus into an online format, and it dawned on me that to modify a syllabus into an online format you need to have a syllabus - to create a syllabus is 5 steps backwards.
So, that said, I have resigned myself to use my current work induction program as my 'syllabus' and initiate a sharepoint site to post the information which can be used for conducting induction in an online format, or partly online program. The program will not be on the open web, but rather behind the confines of a firewall within my workplace intranet.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

week 3 - consideration of IMPLEMENTING THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES: Technology as Lever

I am posting late and I would have liked to over-analyse this post far more, however, time does not permit. Life got in the way this week.
 I would be interested to hear if you agree with my comments under each of the points. Maybe I can over-analyse in the comments.

1. Good Practice Encourages Contacts Between Students and Faculty
In Tamara's most recent blog post The Professor behind the curtain she makes reference to The Wizard of Oz and likens him (The Wizard) to the professor (behind the curtain) and shares with us her realisation that she was not "connecting with students like I did in the classroom". 
I must say that I share Tamara's joy of "human interaction in the pursuit of knowledge"
As I stated in my previous blog post, I believe that it is imperitive for learners to connect on a human level with the person delivering the information. So many tools and technologies that we have at our disposal for use in learning online take away the 'human' behind the curtain and I believe it is our role as facilitators of learning to connect personally so as the importance of this connection is not overlooked or forgotten.

2. Good Practice Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students
I find myself reflecting back on my days at Uni (as a student) and now recognise the lack of reciprocity between myself and fellow students. Perhaps because I was a mature aged student who already had a life (and two jobs) outside of Uni. Life sometimes gets in the way. 

As an active online learner (learning about learning) now I find that I connect with other students in my day to day life ie. mums at my kids soccer/school who are studying part-time at Uni, because I am learning about learning I ask them questions about how they learn, and make recommendations for podcasts to listen to. This face to face networking is a way for me to put into practice what I am learning and get a better understanding of how other individuals learn. 

3. Good Practice Uses Active Learning Techniques
I agree that when you are learning something you need to touch it, feel it, smell it, taste it, get your hands dirty with it. There are so many methods to actively learn via the internet that it can sometimes be overwhelming but that is where I have found following a facilitated course keeps me 'on track' (even though most of the courses I participate in are very informal) and then I am still able to run off on tangents with my own self-directed learning. 

I must also comment that I also like to have a variety of options ie. written, auditory, video to have a choice of method but it also allows me to reinforce the learning eg. written paper (blogpost,article, publication) and a recorded interview with the author and a video on a topic that relates then I need to 'output' - think about it and write about it. As a facilitator this will offer another challenge to provide this variety of methods.

4. Good Practice gives prompt feedback 
I think the key word is prompt, there certainly needs to be an agreement of what this word means for the facilitator as they set the standards and clarify with the learner a timeframe that they will commit to in providing the feedback. 
There are also certain learning activities that require more immediate feedback, eg skill development, for the learner to then progress to the next stage/step in the learning. To avoid frustration on behalf of the learner I would expect that more synchronous methods of communication may be required when learners are conducting skills practice or alternatively if the facilitator effectively troubleshoots the potential errors that the learner may encounter and they create or compile references to answer/assist the learner eg Lisa's instructional videos that she posted in the introductory weeks to assist in setting up a blog, also Todd's elluminate session to troubleshoot setting up a Wordpress blog.

5. Good Practice Emphasizes Time on Task
Yeah, how long is a piece of string. You can set out timeframes all you like but they can only ever be used as a guide by learners. I know there have been many times that I have spent countless hours trying to 'fix' something, only to give up, go to bed and wake up with the answer. I agree with all the examples, of how technology saves time, that Chickering and Ehrmann refer to in their article, however sometimes the use of the technology is what takes the time. Sometimes there is no getting around it the learner simply has to take the time to 'get their hands dirty' with the technology.

I think we also need to consider the context of this article, written in 1996 when there were many technologies available however not as many, or as many newly introduced technologies as we have today. 

I like the opening sentence in this point "Time plus energy equals learning", because often if you dedicate the final hour of the day it may not be the most productive use of time because your energy levels see you working at half pace. this is why I really like the use of time saving techniques like listening to podcasts while travelling to and from work because it is simply efficient and effective use of time, because I am focussed (no kids in background).

6. Good Practice Communicates High Expectations
Hmmmm! I know that a facilitator needs to set a standard and why not set it high? Sure, but I think we need to be considerate of the fact that learners will have external factors that impact on their learning (life gets in the way) and if we don't want to lose them forever we need to allow flexibility for these times. We need to allow opportunity for learners to get back on track, as this in itself indicates a strong will to succeed if they come back following a setback. 

7. Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning
Certainly many learners bring a diversity of skills and talents, however I think the learning environment needs to allow the learner to be comfortable to encourage them to express their diversity. I think that making the statement that diversity is respected in the initial stages of the course/journey goes a long way to creating that comfortable learning environment. 

Do you disagree? because I would like to hear if you have had a 'real life' experience with online learning where you have evidence for or against any of these 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Engaging readers means you have to give, of yourself

I have taken the opportunity to read some of the blogs that have been updated on Pedagogy first website. I like the way all individual blogposts with the tag potcert11 feed into the website.

I really enjoyed the honesty with which Bonnie told her personal story it really engaged me, and I think that is the key for blogging, I now have some work to do reading Wesley Fryer’s ebook ‘Playing with Media’. Giving of yourself, to engage your audience. It takes a while to gain the confidence to ‘put yourself out there’ ie write your personal story on a blog that could potentially be seen by anyone but I think that the more you ‘give’ the more you get.
As a trainer I have come to realise that it is you and your ‘honesty’- being yourself, that people connect with when you are training. They can smell an imposter a mile off. If you give of yourself, whether it is your perspective or your story you will engage them, then you deliver the content.
How do we do this online? Just the same as we do face to face, but we have more time to think about it – don’t overanalyse it though, as this takes away the – individuality.

When I first started blogging I was guided by Sarah Stewart, she is a midwife based in New Zealand who was facilitating FO2010 an online facilitation course (which is also being offered in 2012). She gave (& still gives) very personal perspectives, experiences and stories. At first I considered this a little too personal, I suppose I expected her to be more ‘serious and sensible’. In retrospect I can see how her style; both on her blog and in online interactions (to date I have not met Sarah face to face) is ‘her style’. Sarah truly reflects who she is and that’s okay, in fact that is better than okay because she engages me. If I have 100 blogs to read on Google Reader I will check Sarah's latest posts. Another key techique that Sarah does in her blogposts is ‘ask questions’ she prompts readers to comment so as to generate, what I believe Brandon calls, ‘distributed conversations’.

I think Todd engaged us in the Blackboard Elluminate tutorial because his introduction showed us where he is, the physical space around him, the office. Who cares what Todd’s office looks like? Not me, but yes me. I didn’t need to see Todd’s office to understand how to blog better but it engaged me as it was how he invited me into his personal space.  In many ways we can make an online connnection more personal than if we were in a face to face environment.

How do you connect personally and engage your audience?

Alec Couros gave us a personal insight to himself, with family photos. I would suggest that the You Tube viral videos he showed were so popular because the subjects give an insight into themselves, whether it is their sensitivity (to being bitten on the finger by their little brother 'Charlie) or their silly side.

So what am I getting at here? Good question! I think I am trying to say that regardless of the tool, you need to find a way (that is yours) of being you. We can learn all the tricks and techniques for blogging, or tweeting or Googl+ing, but you need to make it work for you….whether you are feeding in (reading, listening, watching) or feeding out (blogging, sharing, recording, facilitating, training).

I am interested to hear your thoughts, do you feel that giving a personal perspective engages readers or is it too risky to put 'yourself out there' into cyberspace?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Alone, together - in my PLN

Here we are at the end of Week 2, what happened to Week 1?, I blinked and missed it. I have spent spare moments throughout yesterday catching up on reading and watching.

I enjoyed watching the keynote presentation from Alec Couros, it inspired me to finally put pen to paper and illustrate my PLN (Personal Learning Network) which is now a work in progress.

Something that struck me was the story about the girl who contacted Eric Whitacre (composer) and inspired him to create The Worlds Largest online choir . Eric used his online network to put forward a challenge which to date has seen him receive 2052 responses "it was all about connecting ....all around the world...these individuals alone, together". The phrase .... 'Alone, Together' made me realise that this is exactly what an online network allows, as it is a window for one person to connect to many like minded individuals.

Couros refers to Twitter as "one of the best professional development opportunities", I would certainly agree with this. I remember when I first connected to Twitter (March 2008) and I was sadly dissapointed because I was expecting to be able to make connections with many learning professionals - I followed 2 people, I tweeted twice then gave up.

When I connected again under my current profile kimmy_mc I was participating in an online course and had the opportunity to connect with a few people (followed a few people that they follow), I read a few things (so followed the authors), saw some retweets that I was interested in (and followed them) ...and it took off ...exponentially. Now I follow 155 people (not very many in the scheme of things) but I struggle to keep up with the volume of information that comes at me when I log onto Twitter. It is professional development in the palm of your hand. (literally, now that I have an iphone). Admittedly I am a lurker and I should share more, I will share more...just watch me!
As a result of creating an illustration of my PLN I was inspired to review my earlier posts on my FO2010 blog to reflect on 'where I came from' in those initial steps of my online journey.

Inspired by Alec Couros' family portraits, I included the above image. Also as an illustration of something that is so big you need to look for the finer detail, if you look closely you can see my tiny 1 year old (at the time) son sitting at the base of the tree. This was taken in the beautiful Queenstown Botanic Gardens in New Zealand on a family holiday - very happy memories.

I also watched the recording of Fridays Elluminate-Blackboard session. Todd did a great job explaining how to use Wordpress effectively as a blogging platform. What I would have given to have that type of instruction for Blogger when I first started blogging. I still have 2 seperate blogs as I am unable to merge blogs on Blogger - a bone of contention with me ... so if anyone has any suggestions please enlighten me.

A key take-away for me from Todd's presentation was to keep blog posts concise, or was that Lisa's recommendation? Clearly I need to work on that ! So many development opportunities. Speaking of which, I have not even addressed the questions that Lisa had re: Alec's presentation, perhaps these are becoming 2 seperate blog posts. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pedagogy first - my introduction

I stumbled upon this course when reading one of Stephen Downes' OLDaily newsletters (always a wealth of information about educational technology and many other topics).

I am keen to be involved in another MOOC and share ideas in an international forum. With the focus on pedagogy, I am hoping that the course content will relate to my interests in adult learning online. I wonder if many of the participants will come from the perspective of teachers in a classroom environment K-12 or adult ed, even so, I am confident that I will still be able to actively participate and contribute.

I am working in the Insurance Industry, predominantly training new staff however I am keen to become involved in more skill development of existing staff and leaders. I will be able to contribute a corporate perspective from a highly regulated industry (that sounds exciting, doesn't it?)
Image: Learn by Mark Brannan
(cc some rights reserved)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Opportunities to learn and develop yourself can arise in many different forms

Some months ago a good friend asked if I would like to help her out at a Trade Fair in Melbourne, I was keen to familiarise myself with her new product range and an opportunity to spend a couple of nights in Melbourne with good friends, I said "Sure, that sounds like fun.".

When it came time to go, I struggled in more ways than one, I had to drop everything at work, and we are so busy, I had to leave the family (who were very understanding) and it took half a day to get there and half a day to get back, but sometimes the things that are the most challenging are the most worthwhile.
My trip down to Melbourne was exciting, with my backpack filled, I caught a bus to the train which took me to the airport to catch a plane, then I caught a cab to arrive at my destination. It took nearly every mode of transport to get me to the Exhibition Centre in Carlton, Melbourne. I felt like I was 25 years old again trekking around the country, however on the trip home it was clear that I am not 25 years old any more.
So, what did I learn and how did I develop?

I learned that people are the same no matter what industry you are in. People want to be engaged and interact.
I wanted to challenge myself with something new to remember that feeling of uncertainty in my skills, as you are when you are introduced to a new industry. I spend so much of my time as a trainer, reassuring learners and telling new job-starters that it will take a while to learn everything and feel confident. You see the uncertainty in their eyes and your words of reassurance seem to wash over them with no effect, well that uncertainty was in my eyes on Thursday morning as I prepared to throw myself in the deep end and answer questions and take orders on a product range that I was not fully familiar with. But, as I suspected, the challenge of something new was invigorating and  there is nothing better than 2 days at a trade show to familiarise yourself with a product range. I am very grateful to my friend who trusted me in her new business and I will go back to work and be able to confidently say, "I know how you feel and it will get easier".

Life Instyle is an amazing trade show and it was fabulous to be around beautiful products of such high quality and brilliant design, from bags and jewellery and clothes to toys and ceramics. It was just a shame I couldn't spend a small fortune.
See the fabulous products that I got to know over the last few days at Ornamenta and Heaven in Earth

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lunch n Learn Webinar - Instructio​nal Design for Live, Online Learning

Corporate personhood by

Yesterday I attended a one hour mini-workshop - a Lunch and Learn webinar, conducted via Citrix online by GoToTraining. I am not sure how I got my name on the list of subscribers but I have been receiving invites to these sessions for a few months and have been keen to try them out. I did have to register but I only registered moments before the session as I knew I would be available then.

Speakers during the session were Roger Courville, author of The Virtual Presenter's Handbook and Karen Moloney (moderator) from LearnX Foundation. The session was obviously targetting a 'corporate' audience. The look and feel was more 'corporate' than any of the other OER sessions that I attend.

I really enjoyed Roger's style, he was clear and moved through the concepts at pace but allowed several opportunities for participants to interact. He used several techniques to encourage participation. The first was very clever, he assumed that participants were taking notes and directed them on how to set out a diagram to follow the diagram that was being completed by him throughout the session. Being a visual learner this enticed me to neaten up my notes and I quickly transferred from pen to pencil and grabbed a ruler, interesting human behaviour. I am going to try this one in the training room, because everytime I suggest participants take notes I get a blank stare as if to say "but You are the one doing the work, I'll just get a copy of that later". Roger also enticed participants to answer questions using their mic's, he used a copy of his book as the incentive.

Throughout the session Karen acted as the moderator and fed questions that were coming in via the chatroll. It was not clear how many participants were in the session and I could not see the questions coming through, but I could see messages sent 'To All' from Karen, so I can only assume that participants were directing their questions directly to the facilitators, rather than 'To All' in the group.

The topic of the webinar was considerations when designing online learning, in particular taking existing modules into an online environment.
In the email brief they explaint that ...The challenge is to move beyond 'talking over PowerPoint' to designing an interactive learning experience that engages and educates learners. Courville offers some very practical steps to adapt exercises for a virtual classroom.

GoToTraining offer the use of their webinar (GoToWebinar) service (at a cost), they also have GoToMeeting and GoToTraining but offer a free 30 day trial on these services. I found the Citrix online platform very user friendly, it did not cut out during the session and the images and audio were very clear. The follow up emails sent to me offer a recorded copy of the session, which will come in handy as there were several interruptions during the session - baby waking and husband coming home.

Overall I really enjoyed the session and will be keen to involve myself in more of these sessions and perhaps delve into Roger's written work when I come to sit down and transfer material into an online format.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Joining mobiMOOC to share m-learning hints and techniques

Silver spring by Katmere
So here I go again, into another MOOC.

PLENK raised my awareness about my learning journey, CCK11 sent my head into a spin, but I think mobiMOOC will be a platform for sharing ideas about m-learning.

Why am I keen to be involved?
I am most recently the proud owner of an iphone 4. I was uncertain (for months) about making the 'financial' commitment but when my 'old' (very old) phone failed me several times over, I had no choice but to move into the future, and I have been surprised by the convenience that the iphone offers. Linking to my google calendar (one calendar in my hand!!!), reading and deleting emails while waiting for my son to come out of his Taekwondo grading.

Now I find out that I can take photos and have the immediately upload to flickr, I need to get me some more of these m-learning hints....and I have found where I can source this wealth of knowledge...Mobimooc.

In researching which phone to purchase (ie. asking everybody I know, who has a mobile phone, what they like about their phone) I was surprised to find that there is an 'in-balance' of information, if this is the right way to express it.

Let me explain...

I particularly targetted the Gen Y'ers, thinking they would know so much more than me about all things 'online', but some did not know what an RSS feed or an Android was, I was bamboozling them with my technical knowledge. It reinforced yet again (how many times do I need to learn this lesson) everybody else does not neccessarily know more than me but everybody knows many things that I do not know. That is why learning online is about sharing information and that is what I hope get and give in this course.

I am an avid podcast listener, previously I was maxed out on my 1Gb Ipod (which I still cannot part with) but now I am armed with a 32Gb Iphone - the possibilities are endless.

Angry bird coaching by Nick Chill
 I am developing my skills as an online facilitator but in my own online learning journey I am keen to develop techniques to work smarter as an online learner so that I can pass these on.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Enough enemies in my learning network?

Sworn Enemies Nesting Dolls
Sworn Enemies Nesting Dolls
Abdullah's question, from Fridays elluminate session, "what if the network you created provides you with irrelevant or incorrect information/knowledge?" led to an extended discussion, in the elluminate chat roll, about enemies within a (your) learning network.
I have copied the chat roll into a google doc
 NB:I have deleted many comments that did not relate to this particular discussion.

there were several great points, for example....
Lisa directed the conversation to the need for 'diversity within a network' to avoid the 'echo chamber' effect
Mira pointed out the recognition of authority on a topic relates to traditional learning as much as it does in a  networked learning environment.
Simon pointed out that the individual learner is the 'agent' but the knowledge does not wholly reside within the individual in networked learning (I would be interested to explore this further)
Larry's response to Simon's comment was that there is both individual and network knowledge.
Many people then commented on the need to connect with or block 'enemies' (those we disagree with) in our networks. (another interesting point that I trust will be raised again).

I have reviewed the progress of the discussion to get it straight in my head and it has got me thinking....
Is my learning network diverse enough to allow me to gain a variety of perspectives on particular topics?
I believe that I follow (twitter, RSS feeds) many people who have inquiring minds and encourage dialogue of disagreement. But this leads me to wonder if I seek out disagreement or questioning enough in my inquiries, perhaps it is this 'difference' that will support my learning in understanding what something is by gaining a clearer picture of what 'it is not'. Am I getting all too philosophical now?

From this I have been thinking about the corporate culture that I am about to re-enter. I sometimes feel that corporate culture breeds agreement and often does not support or encourage open dialogue. The idea of 'open forums' can put a culture of agreement at risk (or it can reinforce the agreement, but it is a risk) and this is why I question if I will ever see a truly 'open' platform for communication and dialogue like  'twitter' (and now I am questioning if twitter is a truly open platform) adopted within a corporate culture.

Does anyone know of any examples of businesses that have successfully introduced internal 'social media' platforms? (or even an internal network or LMS that has discussion forums, individual blogs)

On re-reading this blog post I think I am turning into a .....critical thinker, and it's only Week 2. Hurrray!!
Happy Australia Day to all!

Image: Sworn Enemies Nesting Dolls 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Out of week 1 into week 2

I surprised myself by attending Friday's CCK11 live Elluminate session (Sat morn 4am), I am finding that I am getting a lot from joining live. I might even type a comment in the chat roll one day.
There was some great discussion and a couple of points that I want to pick up in this blog (blue text) over the next few entries/posts.

Nina asked Can we apply connectivism in non-technology environments?
This again made me consider my perspective of connectivist learning as the method by which I developed my parenting know how.
Being a first time mum I was 'overwhelmed' at my inadequacies in one moment and then overcome by instinct in the next. There were so many aspects of looking after a tiny baby that I knew I was completely underqualified many parents have been surprised that the hospital allows them to take this tiny human being home to care for it independently - medical care, feeding, sleeping, holding.. all of these skills do not come 'naturally' they are learned.

There are many skills or knowledge that must be known by a parent but soon after the knowledge or learning is forgotten because the sleep issue is overcome then you have to move onto the cause of the wind (or colic).
When it comes to the second time around (next baby) you are a little more relaxed (at least I know I was) but there are many learnings that you have forgotten, now you have more of an idea about who to contact to get an answer, support or advice. You have built a network of experts - probably contained in your head, but you know where to go or who to ask. This practise has been going on for years (and years) with parents drawing on their network of experts to assist and support their efforts in raising babies into toddlers into children.

I believe this is what George Siemens refers to, in his blip tv presentation 'CCK11: Quick overview', as 'connected specialisation' where "A single individual, because of the complexity of the tasks, isnt able to accomplish them on her own, so instead we have to rely on being connected to people who have the ability to amplify our knowledge or at least to make us intelligent in a different way than we are as individuals."

Another example I have been considering, having read many books on wealth building over the years, is the way entrepeneurs build their fortunes when they are not experts in their chosen area/field. Many use the technique of surrounding themselves with the best people in their specialist fields eg. accountants, technicians, advisors/agents. I propose that these are two valid examples of connected specialisation.

With that said I am thinking that the concept of 'connected specialisation' is, in fact, an ancient method of learning however all of the examples provided by George relate to technology in some respect (vehicle maufacturing, flying a plane) so I am thinking back to Nina's original question if connectivism can apply to non-technology environments. I wonder if I am on the right track?.

In my next post I will consider Abdullah's question "what if the network you created provides you with incorrect information", which led to an interesting discussion in the elluminate chat roll about 'enemies in a network'.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Finding Waldo, I think he is on the back of a Turtle - The truth is out there

I attended the first CCK11 session this morn (4am Sydney time) and was encouraged to hear that confusion is all part of the process (that's the way I am interpretting it anyway), so I have started off on the right foot.

Another point I took from the session...
My "distinct perspective" will develop according to the sources (blog posts and references) I select (to read) and the topics that I choose to "curate"

I learned about turtles

So I have a clear perspective on what I want to achieve during this course, I plan to enjoy myself and the learning that comes out of the next 12 weeks, in my attempts to find Waldo.

I am going back to bed is 5:17am

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Starting Out on CCK11

The decision has been made to commit myself to completing CCK2011, from January 11th. I look at the commitment I have made to my own self-directed learning, which has not progressed as speedily as I would have hoped, but that's okay.

So now I am committing to CCK11 and returning to work in a few weeks. Am I setting myself up for failure...I don't believe so, simply because any amount of 'effort/output' that I put into CCK11 will measure how much I get out of it. The pressure is off, unlike a standard course where I have to get this or that done and submit bits and pieces, with a MOOC I can go with the flow, as long as I put my thinking out there.
Weekly Elluminate meetings - Wednesdays at 4am guest speakers, Friday at 4am faciliators discussion.
I am not soure exactly how many sessions I will be able to participate in (4 am wake ups are not healthy for me) but I will certainly listen to the recordings.

I have done a bit of prep by listening to Dave Cormier's What is .., Knowledge in... and Success in... a MOOC, while I was in You Tube I also checked out George's presentation for TEDxNYED from June 2010.

I commenced the readings for Week 1, about 'Connectivism ?' (the question mark is very appropriate). I thought I had an understanding of connectivism, I read George Siemens' "Connectivism; a learning theory for the Digital Age" and I started to align my experience with connectivist learning/thinking ie. I am considering that the way I learned to be a parent was achieved by connectivism, I am still thinking more about that.
I read Stephen Downe's 'Half an hour' blog which explains his perspective on "What connectivism is" and now I am not so sure I get connectivism. Let me say I really enjoy Stephen's writing because he writes the way he talks and I can hear him saying the words as I read it. Maybe by the time I do some more reading and participate in/listen to the elluminate sessions I'll 'get it' again or maybe not, let's get started, I'm keen.
NB: This blog will not continue to highlight my confusion throughout the course, I just wanted to get it out in the open to start.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reflecting and setting goals

Okay, okay!
Everyone has been reviewing the year gone by and many eager beavers are setting their goals for 2011, what do they think it is a New Year?

So it got me thinking about where I have been and where I am going.
The year (and a half) has been spent being a mum, looking after others' needs but in my own way - I'm the boss. I make the decisions and I run the show (even though I sometimes allow others to think they do have some control).
2011 will see me return to the workforce, which is exciting and challenging all at once. I will be looking after others' needs but I am not the boss (I'll still be bossy - in a nice kind of way) I'll need to keep my customers happy and work within a team again. With these upcoming changes I consider setting my goals for 2011 and realise that I am moving from a very autonomous role back into a team environment and in a different kind of way I'll be a 'negotiator'.

Reflecting on 2010
I am really satisfied with the technologies' (too many to list) that I have familiarised myself with, the listening and interacting that I have done (even though I do need to put myself out there a bit more - blog commenting).
I am so happy that I participated in FO2010 which has been one of my greatest professional achievements for last year. It has really provided me with the direction that I needed to continue my learning journey and individual development.

My goals for 2011

I really want to maintain interaction with my current personal learning network, which includes reading and commenting on blogs and connecting via twitter.
Read more text which may include purchasing ebooks to develop my understanding of elearning, instructional design, training, learning, OER and all that stuff.
Continue listening to learn. Podcasts have become yet another addiction and in my mind they epitomise 'mobile learning' because I can do all the other things that have to be done in daily life, hanging out washing, cooking dinner and exercising etc. I have an ever growing list of podcasts that I subscribe to but I am also working out how to cull those that are not maintaining my interest.
Further study which (as per my previous blog post) I have decided will be undertaken independently via the web rather than formal/enrolled education.
Creating a manifesto is something that I am working on including my mission and vision but as there is no hurry for this I am going to wait for the inspiration to ensure I get it right.

So I have set five goals as an independent learner but without any specific consideration of my role as a Trainer. Perhaps I need to wait until I am in the thick of it and it will come to me. It is interesting to consider that when I was previously working as a Training Coordinator my professional role was all encompassing and I found it difficult to set personal learning goals. I wonder how things will change when I am back at work.