Pre-work – is it work or isn’t it

Laura Leyton James posts about activities that may be required to be completed before attending training of some kind. She mentions how there is often no direction or timescales (other than before a course) and how it is often perceived as optional. She looks at how technologies have produced blended learning and speculates on the role of these kinds of activities:

Work is either work or it’s not.  And if it’s not ‘work’ what is it?  Is it reading?  If so, reading is something you do therefore it’s work!  Is it watching (a video)?  If so, it’s still doing ergo work.  There’s nothing ‘pre’ about it.

In full

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My Feelings during PLevy week in Change11

Thanks to Heli 

My purpose was first to tell about my learning but it is better to say ‘feelings’ – I can’t yet tell what I learned. I have a strong feeling of awakening, the activation level inside my mind has changed and I have enjoyed greatly. Thanks for this possibility to grow and broaden my consciousness. I have become aware about some limits in my mind that I did not know earlier – and I have recognized many old principles I’ve found with my friends in 1970′s an every decade after that. I have age and never begin from tabula rasa.

The hardest question I ask myself is today: why haven’t I lived through those principles I already knew? Have I betrayed myself and why in the world? Pierre Levy is an seriously working scientist, his life is an example of intellectual marathon, I can trust and admire him. I am retired now and I could safely and freely, independently implicit my intellectual marathon. I could do better -this is my basic feeling just now.

I try to tell about my findings: in 1970′s dialectical materialism and pragmatism – international student movement was a real university of innovative practice while science university gave basic knowledge. I studied psychology until licentiate degree and then left university. I was not strong enough to become a researcher after the student movement disappeared – I learned a lot about its death, it returned to hierarchies, conservatism actually. We had the right theory of democratic open equal discussions but we could keep it living, in practice only some years. Shortly I could say that since these times I have believed MIND to be the main concept for understanding mankind development – and mind has materialistic roots both in brain and society and culture through socialization.

My scientific studies in psychology and other social studies help me to understand parts of Pierre Levy’s articles. Philosophy and mathematics are challenging and only partly followed, but in some way I enjoyed reading them too. Reflective practice and conversations in communities have been the content of my working life many decades. Practical orientation has strengthened from year to year, criteria for success are found in ‘good practice, working practice’. Truth is always subjective and contextual.

Linguistics were studied during the course Critical Literacies in summer 2010. I have written many blog posts here during the hot summer and tried to understand the basic concepts. Now I have a feeling that Levy helped me to understand the whole picture better than earlier. I want to read articles many times in the near future, my interest to modelling cognition returned.

Another point of connecting something old to this networked life in the web was the concept rhizomatic learning. Of course it was known from psychology and education: human growth happens in many branched ways and it is seldom linear. I liked to follow Dave Cormier’s discussions but I could not combine it as well as Levy did. – Oh now I am telling about my learning, fine. Feeling and learning go hand in hand – Levy needed the concept B for saying this.

Still I have to remember my earlier ideas of research. It was autumn 2009 when I wrote the principles of mindware as the entity and qualitative narratives and case studies as a method. My beautiful image is found here. List of the main concepts is fine. The next questions concerning research principles comes from LAK11 conference, spring 2011. I was worried about quantitative data analysis, pondering if it will be the main issue. I could repeat these worries after reading Levy’s articles. I have to follow LAK12, it is coming soon. BUT first of all I have to ask myself that where is my research after 2009 meeting? I follow others’ research and comment to them, but my own story is still obscure. Why? What can I tell publicly? The story is linked to many people. I don’t want to tell negative sides of communication, or assess other participants’ personalities etc. So I have been silent.

This week has been important. I notice that others are writing their pondering, Jenny Mackness helps me again an jupidu (Twitter name) is a new interesting person to me, one blogpost here. In the FB group I followed questions and answers, professors of philosophy or mathematics have been active. I have understood Levy’s answers anyway. My questions are still sleeping, have to find myself first.

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!

The Changing Landscape of Higher Education

In an interesting post on the changing landscape in Higher Education, David Staley and Dennis Trinkle identify 10 fault lines which have the potential to create dramatic change in the university sector in the US.  These fault lines look not only at technological trends but at the wider context and environment. As the writers say ‘consider this article advanced warning of the potentially tectonic shift’….   Although this post focuses on the US higher education sector the comments have implications for higher educational institutions worldwide.

SMOOC half way point

By Lisa, on January 2nd, 2012

I am going over the mid-year surveys from our Pedagogy First! SMOOC (Small-to-medium open online class), and looking for patterns. It was a Google spreadsheet survey, so the summary isn’t very user-friendly, but here it is because it has pretty pie charts [pdf]. 42 people filled it out.

An overview of what’s up:

93% believe the class so far has been a positive learning experience. This is very high!

In terms of objectives, 62% are taking the class to improve teaching skills, and 21% to increase their knowledge of online tools for teaching.

In terms of goals, 62% intend to earn a POT online teaching certificate, while 24% are following along but intend to post only occasionally.

About the certificate, 38% are earning it to fulfill their own expectations, and 24% to advance their employment options. This is despite the fact that the certificate is an informal badge, issued by the volunteer Program for Online Teaching faculty, not an accredited institution of any kind. 36% are not going for the certificate.

So far, 29% have fulfilled the entire syllabus, and 17% plan to make up missed work.

31% started off well but personal or professional conflicts meant they stopped participating. This is of the 42 answering the survey, but the original number of participants was about 90, so most people have dropped. This was expected given the attrition in other MOOCs.

In terms of community, about a fifth feel strongly connected, and a fifth feel only partly connected. More interestingly, 38% say they feel only partly connected and that’s fine – we have a number of independent learners.

The sticky post we use for each week at the top of the blog is helpful to 76% of those surveyed. 88% felt the weekly email was helpful. So it may be that doing both is a good idea.

57% participated to some extent in the Facebook group, but 36% didn’t by choice. I know that several participants are leery of Facebook because of their horrid privacy policies, but given the 38% that don’t want more community connections, 57% is pretty high!

Although 48% are happy with the colleague connections, 24% want more emphasis on commenting on each other’s blogs. This is interesting, since everyone has been encouraged to do this, and doing so is up to the participants. 21% want a Google group or more formal place for discussion (only 3 people want to use Facebook for this). If we set something up, of course, the risk is fewer blog comments, so….

Mentors have been very or somewhat helpful to 53% of participants, but 21% didn’t get help and didn’t ask for it, and 26% didn’t know who their mentor was. We might want to put out a list so that mentors feel more responsible and participants know who to contact. We relied on mentors to contact their 4 or 5 mentees, but there may have been a communication gap.

45% see online teaching as a mode of delivery, which is probably the most basic definition. 24% see it as a separate discipline. Others didn’t choose either, or believed they were combined. Only 14% saw it as a subset of teaching in general.

74% claim to have gained confidence in selecting tools for online teaching. This is excellent.

81% feel ready to build a class around their own pedagogy instead of being led solely by the technologies they’re using. Also excellent!

Concerning class design, 60% like it the way it is, with assigned readings/viewings, required posts, and participants blogging in their own space. Comments indicate participants want more about designing discussion, building community, and creating assessments, with an emphasis on reflection. 12% (five participants) wanted less work overall.

Participants have enjoyed blogging, reading the Ko and Rossen textbook, trying lots of tools, and interacting with a community. Concerns mostly revolved around participants not having the time they hoped they’d have to participate more fully, and some felt there was just too much, especially too many tools to try. Since one of the things they most enjoyed was trying the tools, and one of the biggest concerns was too many tools, these may cancel each other out.

Seven participants (17%) indicated they would have liked less tool exploration and more emphasis on the reading in the first semester. Although this isn’t very many articulating this, I saw evidence that this was a problem in other ways, including frustration with tools in the first several weeks. This was exacerbated by people needing help and time setting up their own blog. We may need to provide more time for that in the first few weeks.

The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons

By Ronnie Burt on TheEdublogger.com / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Lately, we’ve been hearing more and more about digital copyrights and fair use in the news and online – particularly with the whole SOPA/PIPA uproar that recently swept the web.

Also, we on the Edublogs support team have been getting more and more complaints and official requests to remove copyrighted content that users have placed on blogs.

The legal jargon with respect to digital copyrights can be confusing – especially since different countries have their own laws and regulations.

With this post, we hope to dispel a few myths and pull together a complete list of resources for teachers and students to use when blogging and working with content online.

Rule #1: You Can’t Use Everything You Find On the Web

Dexter the cat hates those that steal his photos…

This may seem obvious, but judging by the notices we have received, many teachers (and especially students) are under the impression that if it is on the web, then it is up for grabs.

Edublogs News – The International Blog Directory

Have you added your blog to our international blog directory yet? Or you can visit to find blogs to follow by subject, age, and location!

If you and your students keep rule #1 in mind, then everything else should be fine.

Rule #2: There Are Resources You CAN Use

One of the myths out there is that you can’t use any image, video, or content from another website on your blog.

That simply isn’t true, and we’ll cover our favorite sources of “fair use” and “public domain” sources at the end of this post.

It is troubling that while copyright is important to protect the hard work of others, it can also stifle creativity and hamper educational goals. Though SOPA is effectively dead at the moment, there is a legitimate need for newer laws that are built around the open and free-sharing nature of the web.

Understanding Fair Use

You might be aware that as educators, we have a few more flexible rules, called “Fair Use”, to play by.

That is, in some cases, if an image, text, video, etc. is being used for educational purposes, there might be more flexible copyright rules.

For example, a video that was purchased in a store can usually be shown in a classroomwhen the video is tied to the curriculum being taught. Otherwise, showing a class full of students a video would be considered a “public performance” and would be against the law.

The trouble is, most of the laws and rules that cover fair use and education were written well before the invention of the web.

While a textbook or curricula resource might allow for photocopying for classroom use, it most likely isn’t going to allow you to make a PDF of the document and put it on your class blog or website for students to print themselves.

The end result would be the same, right? A student would have a printed copy.

But make sure to check specific copyright restrictions before uploading anything you’ve scanned to the web!

For more, check out the Fair Use FAQ for Educators here from the excellent resource site, TeachingCopyright.org.

What Can Be a Violation?

Here are the most common types of content that we have been contacted about and asked to remove on our blogs:

  • Images – mostly found through google image search
  • Curriculum docs – especially handouts and student activities
  • Text and quotes – copy/pasted from other websites (even with a link or attribution it still may not be legal)
  • Music – usually mp3s that students have uploaded to share on their blogs

But I Won’t Be Caught…

If only that were true.

Google makes it incredibly easy for companies and content creators to seek out those posting their work on the web.

Sadly, we are also noticing more and more “law firms” and organizations out there looking for copyrighted content as a way of generating business. They then contact the copyright holder offering their services to get the content removed (for a fee of course).

It is a ruthless (and apparently profitable) practice, and we’d be lying if we haven’t argued with a few that contact Edublogs about how they are hurting the education of students. But let’s keep on topic…

What If I Am Caught?

Little did Dexter know, but he was going on this flight anyway…

Well of course in this case a good offense is your best defense. Check your blogs and class websites for any potentially offending material. If you find anything, just remove it.

The law requires copyright holders to give you (and the host of your site, such as Edublogs, WordPress, etc.) an official notification. Take these seriously and act quickly to remove what they want if you are in the wrong. That should be the end of it.

We were recently notified about a teacher with a blog on Edublogs that had a harmless world map image on his blog that he had presumably found using Google image search. When we contacted him telling him why we had removed the image, he asked if he and his students could write an apology letter to the copyright holder.

It was excellent – turning what could be a bit of an embarrassing mistake into a teachable moment for his students! Now this teacher had a good reason to discuss copyright and creative commons with his students…

So What Is Creative Commons?

One thing to look for when figuring out if a resource (ie. image, video, text, etc.) is free to copy or embed on your blog, is a Creative Commons license.

For example, look at the bottom right corner of the sidebar of this blog. You’ll see that we license all content on this blog as “Attribution – Non-Commercial – Share Alike”.

That is fancy talk for letting you know that you are free to use anything on this blog as long as you:

  1. give an attribution or credit that lets others know where you got the info with a link,
  2. won’t profit in any way from using our content and use it for non-business purposes only, and
  3. anything you create with our content, you must use the same license.

Luckily, the CreativeCommons.org website has a ton of excellent information and makes it easy to grab the license you wish to have on your own blog. If you (or your students) have blogs, then it is a good idea to choose the most appropriate license and make it visible on your blog.

In our case, we pasted the code they provided into a blank text widget in our sidebar.

Where To Find The Goods

We found our dog, Durango, wandering the busy streets of Durango, Mexico!

Images

Creative Commons Search – Search many sites at once *Our Favorite!

StockVault.net – Free images from photographers around the world

Kozzi.com – One free photo per day

FindIcons.com – Huge resource for avatars or small images

Flickr Advanced Search – Use advanced search filters to show only CC licensed images

Videos

You are free to embed any video from YouTubeVimeoWatchKnowLearn, etc. on your blog or website as long as it gives you the embed option.

That being said, you (or your students) can’t necessarily use parts from videos on YouTube (or other sources) to make mashups or as part of another video. Be sure to have permission to use any video that you are cutting, making changes to, or adding to a project.

Curriculum and Text

Wikipedia – Quote away (with a link back) to any information you find on Wikipedia

Curriki – An open curriculum community

Collaborize Classroom Library – A growing resource for discussion questions, lesson plans, and more

You won’t be able to add student resources from most textbook companies or purchased curriculum – so be careful and make sure you have permission before doing so!

Related Posts and More Info on Copyright

TeachingCopyright.org

CreativeCommons.org

Copyright.gov

How To Attribute Copyrighted Works

Larry Ferlazzo’s Best Lists: Learning about copyrightbest places for images, and best places for audio

What Do You Think?

Have we missed any important tips or good sites to find resources that are free to use?

Let us know in the comments below and we will be sure to add it to the post!

Castells debate os dilemas da internet

By OutrasPalavras

Discussing mass self-communication, government and corporate influence on the Internet

“Os meios de comunicação tornaram-se ao mesmo tempo globais e locais. Com a transmissão digital, podem-se recombinar meios diferentes. O que antes era uma comunicação muito local e em que havia poucos canais e poucas formas de difusão de mensagens, transformou-se numa enorme constelação que está em todo mundo.

Mas a grande transformação foi produzida nos últimos dez ou doze anos, quando começou a se difundir a comunicação horizontal. Ou seja, não mais aquela que vai de um a muitos — e sim a que vai de muitos a muitos. Com cada um emitindo e selecionando suas próprias mensagens a partir da internet. Isso abriu as fronteiras. Qualquer pessoa pode organizar seu próprio canal e suas próprias redes de comunicação.

Portanto, estamos em um sistema de comunicação duplo, em que os meios de comunicação de massa já não reinam sozinhos. Surgiu o que chamamos de a “auto-comunicação de massa” — a comunicação que nós mesmos selecionamos, mas que tem o potencial de chegar às massas, ou àquele grupo de pessoas que definimos em nossas redes.”

Full article, translate

Creating the Connectivist Course

By Stephen Downes

Creating the Connectivist Course

When George Siemens and I created the first MOOC in 2008 we were not setting out to create a MOOC. So the form was not something we designed and implemented, at least, not explicitly so. But we had very clear ideas of where we wanted to go, and I would argue that it was those clear ideas that led to the definition of the MOOC as it exists today.

There were two major influences. One was the beginning of open online courses. We had both seen them in operation in the past, and had most recently been influenced by Alec Couros’s online graduate course and David Wiley’s wiki-based course. What made these courses important was that they invoked the idea of including outsiders into university courses in some way. The course was no longer bounded by the institution.

The other major influence was the emergence of massive online conferences. George had run a major conference on Connectivism, in which I was a participant. This was just the latest in a series of such conferences. Again, what made the format work was that the conference was open. And it was the success of the conference that made it worth considering a longer and more involved enterprise.

We set up Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2008 (CCK08) as credit course in Manitoba’s Certificate in Adult Education (CAE), offered by the University of Manitoba. It was a bit of Old Home Week for me, as Manitoba’s first-ever online course was also offered through the CAE program, Introduction to Instruction, designed by Conrad Albertson and myself, and offered by Shirley Chapman.

What made CCK08 different was that we both decided at the outset that it would be designed along explicitly connectivist lines, whatever those were. Which was great in theory, but then we began almost immediately to accommodate the demands of a formal course offered by a traditional institution. The course would have a start date and an end date, and a series of dates in between, which would constitute a course schedule. Students would be able to sign up for credit, but if they did, they would have assignments that would be marked (by George; I had no interest in marking).

But beyond that, the course was non-traditional. Because when you make a claim like the central claim of connectivism, that the knowledge is found in the connections between people with each other and that learning is the development and traversal of those connections, then you can’t just offer a body of content in an LMS and call it a course. Had we simply presented the ‘theory of connectivism‘ as a body of content to be learned by participants, we would have undercut the central thesis of connectivism.

This seems to entail offering a course without content – how do you offer a course without content? The answer is that the course is not without content, but rather, that the content does not define the course. That there is no core of content that everyone must learn does not entail that there is zero content. Quite the opposite. It entails that there is a surplus of content. When you don’t select a certain set of canonical contents, everything becomes potential content, and as we saw in practice, we ended up with a lot of content.

Running the course over fourteen weeks, with each week devoted to a different topic, actually helped us out. It allowed us to mitigate to some degree the effects an undifferentiated torrent of content would produce. It allowed us to say to ourselves that we’ll look at ‘this’ first and ‘that’ later. It was a minimal structure, but one that seemed to be a minimal requirement for any sot of coherence at all.

Even so, as it was, participants complained that there was too much information. This led to the articulation of exactly what connectivism meant in a networked information environment, and resulted in the definition of a key feature of MOOCs. Learning in a MOOC, we advised, is in the first instance a matter of learning how to select content.

By navigating the content environment, and selecting content that is relevant to your own personal preferences and context, you are creating an individual view or perspective. So you are first creating connections between contents with each other and with your own background and experience. And working with content in a connectivist course does not involve learning or remembering the content. Rather, it is to engage in a process of creation and sharing. Each person in the course, speaking from his or her unique perspective, participates in a conversation that brings these perspectives together.

Why not learn content? Why not assemble a body of information that people would know in common? The particular circumstances of CCK08 make the answer clear, but we can also see how it generalizes. In the case of CCK08, there is no core body of knowledge. Connectivism is a theory in development (many argued that it isn’t even a theory), and the development of connective knowledge even more so. We were hesitant to teach people something definitive when even we did not know what that would be.

Even more importantly, identifying and highlighting some core principles of connectivism would undermine what it was we thought connectivism was. It’s not a simple set of principles or equations you apply mechanically to obtain a result. Sure, there are primitive elements – the component of a connection, for example – but you move very quickly into a realm where any articulation of the theory, any abstraction of the principles, distorts it. The fuzzy reality is what we want to teach, but you can’t teach that merely by assembling content and having people remember it.

So in order to teach connectivism, we found it necessary for people to immerse themselves in a connectivist teaching environment. The content itself could have been anything – we have since run courses in critical literacies, learning analytics, and personal learning environments. The content is the material that we work with, that forms the creative clay we use to communicate with each other as we develop the actual learning, the finely grained and nuanced understanding of learning in a network environment that develops as a result of our working within a networked environment.

In order to support this aspect of the learning, we decided to make the course as much of a network as possible, and therefore, as little like an ordered, structured and centralized presentation as possible. Drawing on work we’d done previously, we set up a system whereby people would use their own environments, whatever they were, and make connections between each other (and each other’s content) in these environments.

To do this, we encouraged each person to create his or her own online presence; these would be their nodes in the course networks. We collected RSS feeds from these and aggregated them into a single thread, which became the course newsletter. We emphasized further that this thread was only one of any number of possible ways of looking at the course contents, and we encouraged participants to connect in any other way they deemed appropriate.

This part of the course was a significant success. Of the 2200 people who signed up for CCK08, 170 of them created their own blogs, the feeds of which were aggregated a tool I created, called gRSShopper, and the contents delivered by email to a total of 1870 subscribers (this number remained constant for the duration of the course). Students also participated in a Moodle discussion forum, in a Google Groups forum, in three separate Second Life communities, and in other ways we didn’t know about.

The idea was that in addition to gaining experience making connections between people and ideas, participants were making connections between different systems and places. What we wanted people to experience was that connectivism functions not as a cognitive theory – not as a theory about how ideas are created and transmitted – but as a theory describing how we live and grow together. We learn, in connectivism, not by acquiring knowledge as though it were so many bricks or puzzle pieces, but by becoming the sort of person we want to be.

In this, in the offering of a course such as CCK08, and in the offering of various courses after, and in the experience of other people offering courses as varied as MobiMOOC and ds106 and eduMOOC, we see directly the growth of individuals into the theory (which they take and mold in their own way) as well as the growth of the community of connected technologies, individuals and ideas. And it is in what we learn in this way that the challenge to more traditional theories becomes evident.

What we’ve learned – at least to me – is that cooperation is better than collaboration, that diversity is better than sameness, that harmony is better than competition, that openness is better than exclusivity, and that understanding complexity is better than reduction to simplicity. These are, to my mind, the opposite of the bases on which traditional education is designed. Does that make connectivism a theory? In a real sense, that question is irrelevant. ‘Theory’ implies principles and abstraction; connectivism is, in practice, the opposite of that.

If that all we’ve learned, that’s enough. But I think, as we read what follows in this series, that the learning is just beginning.

1: What is the Blog Calendar?

Calendar showing January 2012 in navy blue and white background

Aren’t all blogs calendars?

Yes. We would like to publish an open, non-profit blog which features 365 different blog posts from around the world. As thousands of people are choosing to learn through massive open online courses in and around the web, this blog will tell a story of how new ways of connecting with each other online are irreversibly changing education.

How will you fit all the text in one of the small date boxes?

This will be fun to figure out as we go along. If you would like to contribute a post, please see the guidelines but we recommend 1000-1500 maximum words.

Where can I get hold of a copy?

You can subscribe to this blog throughout the year. At the end of 2012 it will be published in print and digital format as a calendar.  So you can also share these experiences with anyone who does not have access to the internet. And if you are looking for new year presents to give your relatives, friends, colleagues…

Can I join in?
Yes of course, Join has more information and guidelines:

  • Writing a post – you can either write it directly into this blog or tag it with #blogcalendar or an easy way to find it.
  • Editing posts – proofreading, checking links and permissions.
  • Finding posts – making use of curation, bookmarking, content discovery and evaluation tools

What license are you using?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

How do I contact you?

Please leave a comment or get in touch via Contact

What else do I need to know?

Please add your thoughts into the comments below.


Photo 2012 Calendar with thanks to danielmoyle on Flickr, available at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/danmoyle/6601589893/in/photostream/