Learning to Fly

Will Richardson explains how as a child he used to watch planes by lying on the roof of a car and seeing them O’Hare airport taking off above them. He describes how he decided to learn to fly and what was important in the learning process.

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MIT launches free online ‘fully automated’ course

by Sean Coughlan, BBC Education Correspondent

In this article, Sean reports on MITx which is a free open online course available with assessment and MIT certification.

“This is not a “watered down” version of the campus course or “any less intense”, says a university spokesman.

The main difference is that the MITx version has been designed for online students, with a virtual laboratory, e-textbooks, online discussions and videos that are the equivalent of a lecture. It is expected to take 10 hours per week and will run until June”

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#change11 teacher roles and MOOC

By Jaapsoft, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 Non Commercial Share Alike

Who are my teachers in this MOOC?

  • Jenny Mackness does ask “who is the awesome teacher?’ for sharing thoughtful observations.
  • People who comment on my blog and ask questions or add better answers.  (I cannot name you all, I thank you all)
  • People who write blogs in #Change11 (and outside) and tell facts or do make me engage and give me gumption. Some of them are:
  • lucidTranslucent for showing different views.
  • Nancy White because she did not only ‘preach’ but cooperated.
  • Dave Cormier;  because of his intriguing ‘rhizomatic learning’  and his fine answer to my questions.
  • Stephen Downes for the OLDaily,, a source of information for looking sideways.
  • and many others. It is shared ‘teachership’  (compare ‘shared leadership’) and I tried to find some traits of this shared ‘teachership’ in this list of teachers.

Teacher roles:  from “Teaching in Social and Technological Networks” (blog of George Siemens) 1)

The following are roles teachers play in networked learning environments. And all of these roles are played by students too :

1. Amplifying, (drawing attention to signals (content elements) that are particularly important) (italics are mine) All participants in the MOOC facilitators, presenters and active students do a lot of Amplifying, in Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, participants draw attention to content and visual styles. Most of my teachers from the list do amplify. 
2. Curating, ( The curator arranges  elements  in such a manner that learners will “bump into) All participants do curate, maybe not consciously, add new elements, views opinions. Some comments made me ‘bump into’ and most presenters. Serendipitous Discovery.
3. Wayfinding and socially-driven sensemaking (aid the wayfinding process) Technology is a great help in wayfinding, receiving automated messages from blogs etc. In a MOOC the leadership aspect of teaching seems to be diminishing.
4. Aggregating (reveal the content and conversation structure) Participants do aggregate and connect information. They make sense and combine information and add new meaning. All of my teachers from the list are aggregating. 
5. Filtering (Filtering resources is an important educator role) Most filtering is done by the student, by choosing connections and messages. Other participants do influence this filtering.
6. Modelling (To teach is to model and to demonstrate) Participants define roles and rules and norms and demonstrate. All of my teachers demonstrate a model or a style of MOOC’ing, being human.
7. Persistent presence (“to make a home, a place to learn”) Participants  do their part to connect and to build “the Place of Change11″.  All of my teachers from the list do connect to build a network. 

In my view these seven roles are roles both of the Change11 Organizers, George, Stephen, and  Dave and  of the other participants: students and  the guest speakers. We could ask if the teacher in a MOOC is still a central node in the network or one of the nodes.

In the discussion around the Lurker in the MOOC these active ‘teacher’ roles of  participants seem to be an argument in favour of a more active role of participants.

1)  I did not find two articles with the same Teacher Roles.  Looks like there are a lot of different descriptions of teacher roles. cf. Changing Teacher Roles, Identities and Professionalism: An Annotated Bibliography Ian Hextall, Sharon Gewirtz, Alan Cribb and Pat Mahon.

image: Schoolmeester met kind, Co Westerik, 1961.

Another Nail in the Lecture Coffin

By Sidneyeve Matrix

As reported in U Connecticut’s Daily Campus newspaper, N. Katherine Hayles, a professor at Duke University, recently gave a lecture on the impact of everyday digital media use on university students. The bottom line: the perpetually connected lifestyles of today’s students means they are coming to the classrooms with significantly shorter attention spans than previous cohorts. Professors can ignore that, stay calm and lecture on — or we can respond by adjusting our teaching styles.

Hayles suggested:

“If the environment is highly technologically engineered, humans become technologically savvy but also dependent. Some cognitive scientists have realized that GPS technology has changed our sense of direction and left us more dependent on getting around, since no one will have to read a map anymore.”

Similarly, back on campus it follows that:

“Students nowadays are increasingly multitasking. No longer do students go to the library to write their papers; they’re watching T.V., surfing the internet, listening to music, and viewing webpages. All of these aspects influence their research and essays.”

In her research Hayles “toured many colleges and heard a lot of professors say that young people nowadays can’t read whole books, so they assign chapters, and students can’t read whole novels, so they assign short stories.”

All things considered, Hayles concluded:

“The challenge for educators is to build bridges between the rapidly changing generations of students with newly integrated learning through other forms of digital media, ending the traditional lecture which is becoming outdated.”

Another nail in the lecture coffin. Interesting.

For a very similar perspective on swapping lectures for more interactive techno-teaching, see Twilight of the Lecture — describing the groundbreaking work that Eric Mazur is doing in the classrooms at Harvard.

All of which leads me to wonder: in the age of TED talks, which we can’t seem to get enough of, why is the university lecture doomed?

The Emerging Science of Connected Networks

by KFC, Technology Review by MIT

This article looks at the study of networks and how single or individual networks cannot reproduce the emergent behaviour found in networks of networks, looking at models with loosely linked networks such as with the spread of diseases and the challenge for complexity scientists.

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See also

 

 

Making universities obsolete

By Matt Welsh, an engineer at Google

This post looks at traditional higher education and the recent commercial launches such as Udacity, Khan Education (both Google linked offerings) and looks at how technology can increase access to education but whether ‘online’ education is a substitute for real university as potentially perceived by employers in the current certification system. He looks at videos as an example and the advantage with the opportunity to replay as many times as you need, but questions whether this is deep learning.

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Social Networking In Schools: Educators Debate The Merits Of Technology In Classrooms

from The Huffington Post

Some critics are calling for social networking to be removed from classrooms because of privacy, bullying, harassment and inappropriate materials. The article looks at a variety of studies which are finding positive benefits in using social software making learning more relevant and connected. It looks at some initiatives which are trying to create safer environments and communities

The comments on the post feature different perspectives from students, teachers, IT / technologists working in education and others interested with some in favour of using social software, some looking at concerns relating to the issues above.

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How not to write a PhD thesis

In this article Tara Brabazon explains how she is guilding three students nearing their submission deadlines. She discusses the weird and wonderful of examiner comments.

It is a joy to nurture, support and help the academy’s next generation, but it is a dreadful moment when an examiner realises that a script is so below international standards of scholarship that there are three options: straight fail, award an MPhil or hope that the student shows enough spark in the viva voce so that it may be possible to skid through to major corrections and a full re-examination in 18 months.

When confronted by these choices, I am filled with sadness for students and supervisors, but this is matched by anger and even embarrassment. What were the supervisors thinking? Who or what convinced the student that this script was acceptable?

Therefore, to offer insights to postgraduates who may be in the final stages of submission, cursing their supervisors who want another draft and further references, here are my ten tips for failing a PhD. If you want failure, this is your road map to getting there:

Tips

Could this Radical College Change the World Economy?

Alyce Lomax, Motley Fool describes how Earth University students teaches sustainable agricultural techniques, gives seed money to launch their own companies, design the business and execute it:

An education is about more than what one gets; it should also be about what one can give back to neighbors near and far.
Over the long term, EARTH University alumni are doing well by doing good and catalyzing change in the world. More than 60% now work in the private sector, and 20% of those run their own business or a family business. Most report having made a positive social or environmental impact, and alumni who graduated more than 10 years ago have created an average of four jobs each.

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