Reflective Notes: International Online Collaboration in Project Work

educalogy blogs about recently participating in an online collaborative project to create an educational handbook with learners from Estonia, Norway and Finland. The project was completed entirely online using virtual classroom / meeting tools, shared online documents, wikis, facebook and other tools. the author writes about how the group dynamics developed and being able to participate in a joint presentation. The ability to participate in live sessions and the distribution of tasks are reviewed with mixed levels of participation as the project developed. There’s an interesting video embedded in the post from one of the presentations and their own presentation using Prezi.

mastery-oriented students in the group will always work for a good result and will all too often do literally all the work for a group’s presentation – as the social norm of not reporting the fellow student’s inactivity is still holding strong – which it should be. I think it is in the responsibility of the course designer and instructor to establish ways of monitoring and controlling a fairer distribution of work in academic collaborative learning groups

In full

 

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Closing the gap on aboriginal education

Brian Tompson writes about the exclusion of indigenous students and communities in education. He explains how teachers have looked at issues such as misbehaviour and absenteeism and attributed a lack of achievement against an indigenous label.

If we are to help our students learn then we need to look at student-centred classrooms and learning techniques that encourage learning. It is recognised that Aboriginal students learn best by doing rather than by theory. Neil Harrison recognises that students learn by imitating others (Harrison 2011). Teachers need to differentiate their teaching methods which include avoiding the overuse of textbooks and provide authentic learning experiences which deal with real life situations or themes that students can relate to.

He stresses the role of collaboration with the local communities and parents in developing a meaningful education and have a more informed cultural awareness, moving away from textbooks and other formal learning materials

In full

How can blogging help you learn?

Richard Gresswell reflects on how blogs help him and describes his understanding of how digital technologies can help people communicate after watching someone who was hard of hearing use video on Skype. He left a comment on another blogger’s post and she replied back, inspiring more questions.

it fuses together those everyday encounters and connects me with others and their knowledge and experiences. Learning through blogging takes place at this nexus of our online and offline lives, the two are inseparable, they are connected.

In full

Creativity-based Research: The Process of Co-Designing with Users

Caroline Naranjo-Bock writes for UX magazine about the practice of co-design and the different stages – taking account of what the research goals and questions are; who the audience is and what tools they can use; the users invited to participate; running workshops with different methods; trying a pilot and analysing the results. These don’t have to be done in a face to face setting.

New forms of co-design have emerged that take advantage of digital technologies to allow hundreds of users to co-create a product or service regardless of their location. Most of these co-design efforts come in the form of contests or collaborative online platforms that encourage users to submit ideas directly to the company and to collaborate with their peers.

Open innovation and crowdsourcing initiatives are open calls to a broad community of people for help with the design of a company’s next product or service, or for ongoing ideas that might be considered for real production.

In full

 

Whether the digital era improves society is up to its users – that’s us

Danah Boyd writes in the Guardian Battle for the Internet series. She looks at the impact of fear and notes how it can be a mechanism of control, how people are responding to overwhelming information through their online connections, where psychological warfare is being used to try and capture and maintain people’s attention. She questions whether radical transparency is worthwhile and mentions how people are

How do these impact people’s online experience through their networks. She notes that people have access to more people through more networks with more visibility and wonders about the implications in terms of their relationships.

it’s high time we examined the values that are propagated through our tools. We all need to think critically about the information we create, consume and share

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Is blogging and tweeting about research papers worth it? The Verdict

Melissa Terras started a project in October 2011 to make all her articles available via an open access repository.

I decided that as well as putting them in the institutional repository, I would write a blog post about each research project, and tweet the papers for download. Would this affect how much my research was read, known, discussed, distributed?

Did it work? She writes an insightful post on the result.

The verdict

The myth of online community

There has been a lot of research looking at real and metaphorical online communities as more and more people have started using the web and interacting with others through their connections and interests. Dr Mark William Johnson examines what is a community and whether online ones really exist (beyond their software definitions)

The conflation of the word ‘community’ to create equivalence between the online community and the ‘face-to-face community’ is particularly suspect. So much more happens when people are together: the life-and-death realities of existence are encountered in direct and practically ineffable ways. Online, and the nature of ‘community’ is reduced to text messages made in a strategic way by individuals seeking to maintain their position within the ‘online’ (and face-to-face) community.
I think it’s a mistake to think of such a thing as an online ‘community’. What happens online is strictly ‘strategic’. My tweeting of this blog entry is a classic example: I seek to gain the attention of those I know, and I wouldn’t be so bothered unless I could see some strategic advantage in it for me. I don’t believe I am alone in this egomania!
A very interesting take on community was provided by Stephen Downes in the #change11 week he led : Knowledge, Learning and Community

The 21st Century Curator

Sahana refers to Harold Jarche’s presentation ‘Network’ and reflects on how curation has become a buzzword where she has noticed that one post in five refers to it. She reviews several articles and posts on curation

A little reflection reveals that curation is a way of life for all of us—we are all curators. How we put our curation skills to use is what makes us unique. We are curating when we pick the books that will adorn our shelves; we are curating when we choose our furniture; the store keeper is curating when s/he selects and arranges the display. We are also curating when we choose what to share with our Facebook friends. And in each type of curation, what comes across are unique perspectives, a sense of pattern and a representation the curator wants the world to see

In full

If You’re Human, You’re a Slow Learner #change11

By Andrew Neuendorf

Sometimes the Web can make a beautiful, serendipitous nexus. Whilst pursuing two seemingly separate lines of thought in two seemingly separate universes (integral philosophy on Beams and Struts and education theory on the Change MOOC) I discovered a connection that makes me a little less schizophrenic and a little more dialectic.

Here’s my little self-absorbed tale of discovery: Jeremy Johnson commented on my Beams and Struts article (“The Singularity is Near-Sighted”) and recommended William Irwin Thompson’s wonderfully-titled  “The Borg or Borges?” Here Thompson revisits one of his key concepts from Coming Into Being, that consciousness is a delay-space where different inputs from the senses are cross-referenced and their interactions stabilized, giving rise to a unique emergent self-awareness. Time is sort of slowed-down so that some of its components can get to know each other, exchange echoes, and establish a perspective.

In other words, human consciousness is the result of slowing down.

As Thompson so eloquently puts it:

Fast is fine for the programmed crystalline world of no surprises and no discoveries, but slow is better for the creative world of erotic and intellectual play.

This fits nicely with Clark Quinn’s Week 13 presentation on Slow Learning. Quinn writes in his opening blog post:

Really, I’m looking to start matching our technology more closely to our brains. Taking a page from the slow movement (e.g. slow X, where X = food, sex, travel, …), I’m talking about slow learning, where we start distributing our learning in ways that match the ways in which our brains work: meaningfulness, activation and reactivation, not separate but wrapped around our lives, etc.

Slow is the way to go. We’ve gotten so used to outsourcing our cognition to machines, to opening multiple tabs, and craving faster connection speeds that we’ve overlooked the exquisite work of evolution. Some see the brain as a vehicle for rapid computation. Perhaps that steam pouring out of our ears isn’t mere by-product. Maybe we’ll slow down and see it’s really the driving spirit, and we’ve been blowing it off and letting it dissipate as waste. Not the ghost in the machine, but the ghostly machine.

Forget machine. Forget ghost. We could call it, to paraphrase Yeats, a sustained glimpse out of Spiritus Mundi. Or it could simply be the dance of complexity teaching its steps to the dancer, inviting improvisation for the first time.

Thompson says it best, in conjunction with John Keats:

The field of consciousness has more to do with slowness and a higher dimensionality, even beyond the three of the physical volume of the brain, in which hyperspheres— or some other higher dimensional topology — involve simultaneity in a neuronal synchrony — in a pattern. A mind, in the opening words of Keats’s ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, is a ‘still unravished bride of quietness’, a ‘foster-child of silence and slow time’.

And now for the ironic part: I have made this connection between the cultural historian and mystically-mind Thompson and learning technology strategist Clark Quinn because of the internet, because I was taking on more than one field of study at once, and because of Twitter, blogs, and .pdf files.

In other words, I’m writing about slowing down because I’ve been living fast.

If there is a lesson here, it’s that we need a new term and a new understanding for how a person can live and think and create in relation to technology without having to adopt one of the two polarities of Luddite or Techie. If you’ve read my Beams and Struts article you know I’m skeptical of The Singularity. Still, our lives are interconnected with technology, and likely made better because of it. It’s a matter of how one stands in relation to technology. Is it a tool, or are you?

The writings of both Thompson and Quinn suggest giving precedence (and prescience) to human consciousness over its hyper technological extensions.

Challenging Traditional Assumptions and Rethinking Learning Spaces

 

Tables always need to face the front. Learning an individual activity. Classrooms need to look the same each day. Learning always happen at fixed times.   These are just a few of the traditional assumptions that are examined in the article Challenging Traditional Assumptions and Rethinking Learning Spaces written by Nancy Van Note Chism  and published in Educause. Having looked at the barriers and opportunities to creating different learning spaces Nancy then provides some fascinating examples of intentionally created spaces and how they better reflect the learning needs of students today.  

By the way what do you think about the informal seating at City Campus in East Northumbria University in the featured photograph? It shows a multipurpose area for independent study in which students can choose from a variety of settings using different seats and table tops.  They can opt for different views and locations depending on their needs. The room is fully wireless enabled and the colour palette is fresh and cool, with heaps of natural light. Makes you want to go there!