Lurking or Legitimate Peripheral Participation

By Christy Tucker, CC/A/3.0

During the July 7 early #lrnchat about social media and social learning, there was a lot of discussion about lurking.

Can I Play?In response to the question “What are some ways you learn through social media that aren’t collaborative, with other people per-se?”

I replied:

I do a fair amount of lurking (ie “legitimate peripheral participation”)

I also retweeted this message by Colby Fordham:

We all like sharers, but there is a value in lurking. [You] have to [learn] the rules and important topics.

and Jane Bozarth replied

…and then stop lurking

Often, lurking is just a temporary phase, and you do jump in afterwards. But is that always necessary? I have lots of online communities where I sit on the periphery and lurk, long past the initial phase of learning how the community works.

A few examples:

  • YouTube: Most of the time on YouTube, I’m just watching. I’m not creating my own videos, commenting, sharing, or bookmarking. I have a few videos, but I’m lurking at least 90% of the time.
  • Kongregate: Technically, I am not a lurker on this gaming site by the strictest definition, since I do rate games. I read through the forums and chat  sometimes, but rarely jump into the conversation.
  • News: I don’t get a newspaper in “dead tree” format; I get most of my news online. I read several newspapers and blogs, all of which have commenting or community features. Most of the time I don’t even read the user discussions, and I never add my own comments.
  • Slashdot: I skim the RSS feed, but I don’t have an account and have never commented.
  • Wikipedia: At one point, I contributed quite a bit (2500+ edits), but it’s been over a year since I’ve been active.

I learn on all those sites. (Yes, even Kongregate: I learn game strategies on the forums. What I learn is of limited use in the rest of my life, but it’s useful for my goals when I’m on that site.) I’ll be honest; I’m not really interested in getting sucked into the high drama conversations on most of those sites. Wikipedia, for example, can be pretty intense and nasty. It’s the only place online I’ve actually been directly threatened (although there was no actual danger, it was still disconcerting). If I’m going to be part of conversations, I’d rather they be part of the learning community, or at least more productive than many of the conversations at the sites above.

Would I be a better gamer if I was active in the Kongregate forums? Most likely. But I’m not looking for a high level of expertise in gaming. So why should I expend my energy there, when peripheral participation gets me enough expertise to meet my personal goals?

In the #lrnchat conversation, Jane called this behavior “taking,” and she’s right—I’m reading and taking advantage of the resources without giving back. I give back here, but I don’t give back in every community that I use. My giving is very uneven, and sometimes I just lurk.

Is it wrong to lurk, or is it appropriate to have different levels of participation in different online communities? Should we exclude anyone from reading the RSS feeds of our blogs if they aren’t commenting,  bookmarking, +1-ing, etc?

In Digital Habitats, Etienne Wenger, Nancy White, and John D. Smith call lurking “legitimate peripheral participation”:

From a community of practice perspective, lurking is interpreted as “legitimate peripheral participation,” a crucial process by which communities offer learning opportunities to those on the periphery. Rather than a simple distinction between active and passive members, this perspective draws attention to the richness of the periphery and the learning enabled (or not) by it. (p. 9)

Do the people active in a community learn more than those on the edges? Yes, I do believe that. But if your goal isn’t to be an expert, peripheral participation may give you enough learning to meet your needs. You can learn via social media without it actually being social learning.

What do you think? Are there communities where you are in the center of the action, but others where you’re on the periphery? Is there a place for lurking in learning communities, or should everyone be an active participant? If we’re designing learning with social media, can we focus just on social learning, or can we also support use of social media for peripheral participation?

Image credit:

Can I play? by jaxxon

Two Rules for Teaching in the XXIst Century

By Daniel Lemire who has kindly licensed under CCA/NC-ND 3.o Unported , please note that his blog licenses commercial use under Creative Commons 2.0

Education in the XXth century has been primarily industrial: organize the workersstudents in groups under the supervision of a managerteacher.

We all have been in such systems for so long that we take it for granted. How else is anyone to learn? Maybe some can learn differently, but most can’t because they are unmotivated and lazy, they lack the critical skills to differentiate right from wrong on their own and they can’t assess their own level of expertise. At least, that is what I’m told, but I think it is unfair.

To me, this is like saying that we have to keep long-time prisoners in jail because they do not know how to organize themselves when given their freedom.

Indeed, if students who went through years of schooling cannot learn on their own, if they cannot assess their own progress, and if they generally cannot organize themselves without supervision, we have to wonder whether schools bear part of the blame. And I think they do: we enroll students in supervised and regimented systems where they are constantly told what to do, constantly tested by others and where they have to follow rigid rules as to what they should learn. It is no surprise that many students cannot work on their own when they leave school.

There are a few broken individuals who never really became adults. They have to be kept in check all the time because they could not survive on their own. But if these constituted the essential part of the human race, we would have gone extinct a long time ago. Our ancestors, not long ago, had to survive in small bands hunting small animals and grabbing whatever they could eat. They had to be incredibly resilient because human beings spread throughout the globe like no other animal species.

To put it bluntly, most people lack autonomy, they can’t be entrepreneurs, precisely because we have carefully beaten it out of them. I have two young kids and they are crazy. One of them is building a castle out of paper in his room. The project is huge and complicated and has worked on it for days, on his own, without anyone telling him what to do. He made mistakes (which he explained to me) and he had to fix them. How often do schools let students embark on self-directed projects? Almost never.

My sons are not exceptional. Like other kids their age, they behave in unconventional ways, trying crazy things on their own, having crazy thoughts on their own. Eventually, with enough schooling, they will settle down and do as they are told in a more reliable manner. They will become very good at following directions.

How good will they be at emulating someone like Steve Jobs, who repeatedly broke all rules? I fear for them that their sense of initiative and wonder will be killed by the time they finish their schooling. (Thankfully, I am a crazy dad with crazy ideas, so maybe I will mitigate the damage.)

Hence, as a teacher, I reject the industrial model as much as I can. I believe that, in an ideal world, we would not need any teaching at all. There is hardly anything you can’t learn through an apprenticeship. For example, if you just helped out Linus Torvalds for a couple of years, you could become an expert programmer. In fact, I suspect you would fare much better than if you just took programming classes.

The problem with apprenticeship is that it scales poorly. How much patience will Linus Torvalds will have for kids who hardly know anything about computers? How many could he coach? Would he want to have kids over at his house while he is coding?

We still use the apprenticeship model in graduate school. But to accommodate most students, I still haven’t thought of a better model than setting up classes. But should the classes be organized like factories with the teacher acting as a middle-manager while students act as factory employees, executing tasks one after the other while we assess and time them? I think not. My teaching philosophy is simple: challenge the student, set him in motion, and provide a model. I try to be as far from the industrial model as I can, while remaining within the accepted boundaries of my job. I have two rules when it comes to teaching:
•Focus on open-ended assignments and exams. Many professors are frustrated that students come in only for the grades. Probably because they focus on nice lectures and then prepare hastily some assignments. Turn this problem on its head! Focus on the assignments. If your students are not very autonomous — and they rarely are — give several long and challenging assignments (at least 4 or 5 a term). Do make sure however that they know where to get the information they need. Provide solved problems to help the weaker students.
However, keep the assignments open ended. We all like to grade multiple choice questions, but they are a pedagogical atrocity. In life, there is rarely one best answer: assignments should reflect that. In some of my classes I use “programming challenges”: I make up some difficult problem and ask the students to find the best possible solution. Often times, there is no single idea solution, but multiple possibilities, all with different trade-offs. Quite often the students ask me to be more precise: I refuse. I tell my students to justify their answer. Over the years, I have been repeatedly impressed by the ingenuity of my students. Many of them are obviously smarter than I am.

What about lecture and lecture notes? They are secondary. In most fields, the content, the information, is already out there. It has been organized several times over by very smart people. Books have been written on most topics. There is a growing set of great talks available on YouTube, Google Video and elsewhere. Your students do not need you to rehash the same content they can find elsewhere, sometimes in better form. Stop lecturing already! Just link to what is out there and encourage your students to find more using a search engine. Only produce content when you really cannot find the equivalent elsewhere. Please link to material beyond the grasp of most of your students: they need to know the limit of their knowledge.

The famous software engineering guru Fred Brooks agrees with me:

The primary job of the teacher is to make learning happen; that is a design task. Most of us learned most of what we know by what we did, not by what we heard or read. A corollary is that the careful designing of exercises, assignments, projects, even quizzes, makes more difference than the construction of lectures.

For my years as a student, I hardly remember the lectures. They were overwhelmingly boring. And I soon learned that even if a teacher was remarkably able and he could give me the impression that I understood everything… this impression was quickly falsified when I tried to work the material on my own.

•Be an authentic role model. Knowing that someone ordinary, like your professor, has become a master of the course material means that you, the very-smart-student, can do the same. That’s the power of emulation.
When Sebastian Thrun gave his open AI class at Stanford, tens of thousands of students enrolled. Sure enough, the Stanford badge played a role in the popularity of the course, but ultimately, it is Thrun himself, as a role model, that matters. He has now left Stanford to create his own independent organization (Udacity). Thrun must be confident about his success since he left his tenured position at Stanford, reportedly because he cannot stand the regular (industrial-style) teaching required at Stanford. One upcoming course is “programming a robotic car”. I have no idea how good the course will be, but it will be motivating for students to attend the class of the world’s top expert in the field of robotic car.

The status of the teacher as an expert has always been important. However, the ability of people like Thrun to reach thousands of people every year through his teaching means that there is less of a market for teachers who aren’t impressive AI researchers.

Unfortunately, as long as I teach within a university, there are a few things I am stuck with:
•Deadlines: Some students are able to go through the material of a class in 4 weeks. Others would need 16 months. Alas, universities have settled on a fixed number of weeks that everyone must follow. If you complete the course faster, you’ll still have to wait till the end of the term to get credit. If you need more time, you will have to make special arrangements. Of course, schools follow the factory model: we can’t have workers come in and finish whenever they want. But outside an industrial setting, I think that deadlines are counterproductive. If I take a class in computing theory and end up proving that P is equal to NP, but I end up my paper a few weeks after the end of the course, I will still fail. Meanwhile, the good student who followed the rules but showed a total lack of initiative and original thinking will go home with a great grade. What do we reward and what do we punish?
•Grades: Grades are a very serious matter in schools. Denis Rancourt, a top-notch tenured physicist at the University of Ottawa, was fired after refusing to grade his students. (He would give A+s to everyone.) Grades are effectively the quality control mechanism of schools, where students are the product. Somehow, we have totally integrated the idea that we could sum up an individual by a handful of letters. It sure makes managing people convenient! It all fits nicely in a spreadsheet. Of course, students have adapted by cheating. Schools have reacted by making cheating harder. But I cheated all the way through my undergraduate studies getting almost perfect score in all classes. How? I discovered a little trick: at the University of Toronto, all past year exams were available at the library. If you took time to study them, you soon found out that, at least in the hard sciences, a given professor would always use the same set of 10 to 20 questions, year after year. So all you had to do was to go to the library, study the questions, prepare them, and voilà! An easy A. But it is all rather pointless. In theory, grades are used by employers to select the best students, but serious employers don’t do this. We use grades to select the best candidates for graduate school, but I doubt there is a good correlation between grades as an undergraduate and research ability. I know two top-notch researchers who have admitted getting poor grades as undergraduates. For years, I have served on a government committee that awards post-doctoral fellowships: I am amazed at how poor the undergraduate grades are at predicting how well someone might do during his Ph.D. Conversely, I have seen many graduate students who had nearly perfect scores throughout their undergraduate studies who are totally unable to show even just a bit of initiative. They do well as long as you always give them precise directions.

Credit: Thanks to Michiel van de Panne for the reference to Brooks’ quote.

Further reading: Making universities obsolete by Matt Welsh, an interesting fellow who left his tenured position at Harvard to go work in industry.

Disclaimer: Many people are better and more sophisticated teachers than I am. And the industrial model does work remarkably well in some settings. Yet I think that they the skills it fails to favor are increasingly important. We have to stop training people for factory jobs that are never coming back.

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!

Impatient Futurist: Science Finds a Better Way to Teach Science

By Mind & Brain Learning, Discover Magazine

This article looks at whether traditional science lecture methods actually help students learn and reviews work beyond using handheld clickers to answer questions, towards more practical problem solving and application.

Full article

Eric Mazur – Confessions of a Converted Lecturer

Another brick in the wall? Reflections on higher education in the 21st century (#change11)

By Paul Prinsloo

 

[Image retrieved from http://www.nichefoto.com/view.php?id=4368 11 January 2012)

In this week’s focus in change.mooc.ca , Valerie Irvine and Jillian Code invited us to reflect on the future of “brick and mortar” universities in the light of some of the challenges these institutions face such as

  • diminishing funding
  • increasing competition
  • growing prevalence of online programs

The most important challenge, according to Irvine and Code, is the changes in the demographics where the “number of people aged 18-22 are smaller than in previous boom eras”. As a way to address these challenges, (especially the decline in the number of prospective students in catchment areas), they share an approach they adopted at the University of Victoria termed “multi-access learning” through which learners choose the delivery method they want for their studies.

In the South African context, our registration periods have just started and the daily press is filled with pictures of long queues of prospective students hoping for successful admission. I write this reflection in the midst of evidence of an unprecedented growth in students who want to enrol in higher education. Just yesterday a person was killed in a stampede in an attempt to register at the University of Johannesburg (link).

While higher education in South Africa also faces diminishing funding, increasing competition and the growing prevalence of online offerings (often by overseas institutions), changes in student demographics and profiles; we are facing the dilemma of too many enrolments, the majority of which are ill-prepared for higher education.

My immediate context is the University of South Africa (Unisa), a dedicated mega comprehensive open distance learning institution with more than 400,000 students. We are differently subsidised than residential “brick and mortar” universities and our students are spread throughout South Africa and the African continent with some students scattered across the globe.

For many students, Unisa is the last resort due to capping at residential universities, higher admission requirements, access and cost.

In general, many of our students would have opted for “classroom teaching” if they had a choice, if they could afford it, had access to and if their life circumstances allowed for the “luxury” of face-to-face tuition. So many of our students (younger, unemployed) want face-to-face tuition.

Despite ample evidence to the contrary, there is also still the widespread belief that face-to-face education is of a higher quality than distance or e-learning programmes. There is also the belief (despite contradictory evidence) that distance and e-learning are cheaper options (which explain the different funding formulas).

Back to our context: Though the majority of our students have increasing access to our learning management system the main delivery mode is still printed materials.

In 2012 our Senate approved a number of proposals that may be of interest for the current discussion. These are:

  • Up to recently we designed learning experiences with the emphasis on printed delivery while providing for and increasingly optimising the affordances of e-learning. From 2013 onwards all course development will be designed for e-learning while providing for a range of delivery options, including print.
  • We are in the process of moving towards device-independent delivery but the process is more complex and time-consuming than expected. The main purpose is to make learning available and possible no matter the choice of device from which learners access their learning and learning resources. We would therefore like to provide students with a variety of delivery and support options (with different pricing).
  • There are various initiatives to increase students’ access to the Internet and many of these initiatives will start to bear fruit in 2012.

In our context as a distance education provider, we will never be able to offer full-time face-to-face education to our students. That is one choice students will not have despite the fact that many of our students want face-to-face teaching. On some of our regional campuses there are more than 8,000 students per day using the library and a variety of venues for their studies. While we do offer a relatively extensive tutorial support programme throughout South Africa, most of our students cannot attend these and there is no clear-cut evidence to suggest that students who attend these tutorial support programmes perform better than those who don’t.

So, while there are some differences in the challenges we face in comparison to the situation posed by Irvine and Code – multi-access learning is a reality which higher education faces – no matter what the context.

We should however not underestimate the complexities of “multi-access learning” or giving students some choice on delivery options. Some of the challenges are

  • How we cost the learning – and ensure that the cost is just not transferred to students?
  • How do we ensure quality in a range of learning experiences aimed at achieving the same outcomes?
  • How do we prepare academics and teaching staff for the different challenges and opportunities of these different experiences? What skills-set and more importantly value-set should faculty (and our students) have?
  • How do we manage the fact that students may not know (when they enrol) which delivery option would be optimal for them? How do we manage the fact and cost if students want to change their initial choices half-way through the period?

In this reflection I specifically attempted to address the issue of multi-access learning as proposed by Irvine and Code. There is however the nagging question whether we still need “brick and mortar” higher education in the 21st century….

Is it not time to break down the wall?

Getting to Know You: How I make time for social, networked learning

By Liz Renshaw

“Ever wondered about the participants in Change11 and wanted to know more about them? I have sometimes pondered about these people from different corners of the globe? What brings them to Mooc- land at this moment in time? How do they go about managing their own learning in this open environment?

I floated the idea about doing participant profiles with the crew working on this blog calendar. The idea started to grow, and I tentatively approached some people in the Change11 network. With some guiding questions to help shape their responses everyone was willing to ‘give it a go’. Their posts attest to the rich diversity of life experiences that Change 11 participants bring to our network. They speak in open and honest voices and I hope that you find their stories as engaging as I have. A big thanks to all participants who have invested much time and energy in making these features possible.”

Today we welcome to the Blog Calendar world Brainy Smurf …………………..

Stressed out? Overloaded with information?  Never enough time in the day?  I am proud to say that’s not me and here’s why:

I choose to spend a fair chunk of my day wandering like a knowmad through the events and artifacts of #change11, #ds106 and #cck12.  I have no worries about juggling three massive open online courses at once.  I know that whatever I get out of each of them is exactly proportional to whatever I put into them.  A little taste here, more in-depth looks there, no problem.

Creativity through connectivity

Although I am a learning ‘designer’ in the public sector, I don’t think of myself as overly creative or artistic.  I tend to be more detail-oriented, linear and logical so reviewing The Daily Create assignments in ds106 is one way that I have purposefully immersed myself in the company of new people and new ideas, especially ones that seem like wild tangents from my own.  I am able to connect the dots in many new combinations now and that sounds pretty creative to me.

I find that connective learning repeatedly triggers serendipity that draws me back day after day: that delightful unearthing of little gems of insight that I likely wouldn’t have been exposed to by other means.  It’s the payoff for being open to learning and working as if I am sampling from a huge buffet prepared by dozens of chefs, not eating from a fixed menu.

Now that I’ve chosen to experiment with HootSuite and Diigo and live Twitter events such as #lrnchat, I find it hard to remember a time without these tools.  I feel nauseous at the idea of being restricted to email overload and cluttered shared drives as my only sources of knowledge.  How do people actually get anything done that way?  For me, a personal learning network that is driven by collaborative, customizable technology has huge Twimpacts on my week.  It’s like having a set of living encyclopedias at my desk that are always opened to a helpful page.

Five Things Students Want Their Teachers to Know about Online Learning

by the Innovative Educator

During the Connecting Online 2012 conference, a comment was made along the lines that currently teachers are doing a lot of learning as they are embracing new technologies but that students are being left behind and not learning anything / relating to others as well as they could.

In this post the Innovative Educator suggests five things that students want their teachers to know including the importance of relationships and learning together online. These include being able to see each other and encouraging them to use different technologies so that other students and teachers can get to know each other.

http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/11/five-things-students-want-their.html

#Change 11 – Halfway Point Reflections

by Jenny Mackness

Well it’s time to take stock a bit – not the ideal time – with Xmas looming and everything that entails and needs thinking about  – mostly food. Every year I cannot believe how much food is consumed :-)

But how much of Change MOOC have I consumed and what are my tentative and first reflections at this point.

There have been 14 weeks of presentations and activities and I managed to keep up with all of them but two (and I may yet get to the two I missed – that is the beauty of this type of course) :

Week 01 : Orientation
Week 02: Zoraini Wati Abas
Week 03: Martin Weller
Week 04: Allison Littlejohn
Week 05: David Wiley
Week 06: Tony Bates
Week 07: Rory McGreal
Week 08: Nancy White
Week 09: Dave Cormier
Week 10: Eric Duval
Week 11: Jon Dron
Week 12: Clark Aldrich
Week 13: Clark Quinn
Week 14: Jan Herrington

I have found it fascinating  and very enjoyable on a number of levels.

  • I have been intrigued by which elements of the MOOC have been changed and which have been kept the same as previous CCK type MOOCs and have noted that this MOOC has had more of a conference style than previous MOOCs.
  • I have really enjoyed the range of different presenters, with their different styles and the different tasks they have set. Although not many people, including myself, have responded to the tasks, I still think these are a very valuable part of the course, as they help us to understand what is important to the presenters.
  • Some of the MOOC presentations have fed directly into research I am doing to the point where I have been anxious about whether we (my colleagues and I) can get our research out in time, before it has all been said and discussed already. There has been the element of trying to keep up with the ongoing conversations and work out how they relate to our research – and consider whether our research is going out of date as we do it!
  • The MOOC topics have helped me to feel more abreast of current discussions and issues in relation to learning, networked learning and e-learning. Some of what I have learned in the past 12 weeks that I have attended has already fed into a research paper that has been submitted and accepted, and into a forthcoming project.

<!–nextpage–>

What have I found difficult or what would I change?

Despite my blog post ‘Doubts about slow learning’ there is no doubt that I am a slow thinker, reader and learner – not by choice, but simply by capability – so I have found the weekly change of topic very difficult to keep up with.  For most weeks I have managed to find the time – but for a couple of weeks, I gave in and recognized that other priorities were higher on my list.

On the other hand – you can’t get bored when the topic changes weekly – so there is a fine balance to be maintained here and I suppose everyone’s personal balance point will depend on his or her personal context.

What have I done differently this time?

I have now participated in 6 MOOCs and written 5 research papers as a result – either loosely or closely related. I realize that I am all the time slowly learning more about how to participate in MOOCs and each time I approach it a bit differently. This time, I wanted to make more of an effort to make connections across the MOOC network. I have not been brilliant at this, as I still haven’t spent enough time reading other people’s blog or Twitter posts, but I have tried to respond to anyone who has commented on my blog. If I’ve missed anyone it is because of lack of skills, organization etc. rather than intent.

Initial reflections

I am all the time reflecting on what it means to learn and participate in MOOCs and why I find this way of learning so intriguing. I notice that Heli (who I met in CCK08) is also thinking about this. What is interesting for me, is that in my ‘day job’, i.e. the job that earns the money – only a few have so far been interested in MOOC pedagogy as Heli calls it. But I sense that this is changing. I remember talking about CCK08 to a group of academics in 2009 and being met by a wall of blank faces. That group is now hoping to design a course on MOOC principles. Exciting times!

I think participation in Change11 has not been that high – but personally I don’t see that as a problem. As I have mentioned before in a post – a colleague once said to me that however small the numbers, those who are at the table are those who are meant to be there.  I always find that very helpful.

There have also been those who have missed having a central discussion forum, e.g. a Moodle forum as we had in CCK08 – but personally I am OK with no central forum – in fact I sincerely hope that Stephen, George and Dave stick to their principles of how they think learning in MOOCs should be modeled, demonstrated and exemplified and don’t get swayed by low engagement figures to cave in and provide more structured courses. For me – the whole point is to recognize that we need to learn in distributed open spaces and educators need to help learners to develop the skills to do this.

20-12-11 Postscript

Evidently I was wrong about the low engagement – which is good to hear. :-) Here are the figures that Stephen has posted on his blog today -

it’s not really that low, in my view: in addition to the more than 2000 people receiving the daily newsletter, we’ve had 38,000 visits and 135,000 pages read during the 14 weeks of the course – and that’s just on the main site, not counting all the Twitter and blog posts read on other sites. And the have been 1300 blog posts harvested and almost 2500 tweets – you can read 766 blog posts online.

Connecting, Sharing and Curating

by Keith Lyons

The New Year has prompted a range of posts about trends in connecting, sharing and curating.

Some examples I have found in the last few days:

Stephen Downes linked to Nick DeNardis’s post Why now is a great time to do an OAuth audit. Nick points out that “The beginning of the year is a great opportunity to start fresh and look at everything with a new set of eyes. Something that is easily overlooked is who (or what) has access to your social media accounts. It’s easy to change your password and revoke access from co-workers but it isn’t as easy to identify which websites and services have access to your accounts.”

Alistair Gray shared a link with the International Sports Management LinkedIn Group to a Dan Schawbel discussion of optimising use of LinkedIn. Dan identifies two fundamental principles of networking in his conversation with Jan Vermeiren, the founder of Networking Coach: the networking attitude (give and receive); and the Know, Like, Trust factor.

A Diigo Teacher-Librarian Group link from a Scoop.it page to an Apollo Research Institute Report (April 2011) on Future Work Skills. The Report identified ten skills “vital for success in the workforce”:

  • Sense-making: an ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  • Social intelligence: an ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  • Novel and adaptive thinking: a proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  • Cross-cultural competency: an ability to operate in different cultural settings
  • Computational thinking: an ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  • New media literacy: an ability to assess critically and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  • Transdisciplinarity: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  • Design mindset: an ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  • Cognitive load management: an ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  • Virtual collaboration: an ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team

Robin Good observes that:

By looking at the set of emerging skills that this research identifies as vital for future workers, I can’t avoid but recognize the very skillset needed by any professional curator or newsmaster.

This week’s presenter in the #change11 MOOC, Howard Rheingold has discussed five essential literacies:

I’ve concluded that one important step that people can take is to become more adept at five essential literacies for a world of mobile, social, and always-on media: attention, crap detection, participation, collaboration, and network know-how. The effects of these literacies can both empower the individuals who master them and improve the quality of the digital culture commons.

Stephen Downes shared a great link to Alec Couros’s end of year Social Media and Open Education blog post about student work. Alec notes that:

I wanted to use the last post of the year to share a few examples of the great work that is being done by my graduate and undergraduate students. I am so very fortunate to have creative & hard-working students who are committed to improving their knowledge of teaching and learning in light of our new digital landscape. I hope that some of these examples will inspire you to take up new challenges in your own context.

These examples included student projects using: stop-motion technique; Glogster; Freemind; Xtranormal; Screenr; Jing; Voicethread; TikaTok; Prezi; and Knovio.

SlideShare compiled 12 presentations that look at change in 2012. I was particularly interested in Skytide’s 7 Online Video Trends to Watch in 2012 and the discussion of Adaptive Bitrate Streaming. Skytide suggest “As adoption of adaptive bitrate protocols grows, providers of legacy streaming methods will find themselves under increased pressure to prove their added value. Witness the recent decision by Adobe to cease further development of its mobile FlashPlayer.”

I noted from an iSportConnect alert that the Philadelphia Wings Lacrosse team is using Twitter handles on its shirts (and following on a lead from two football teams (Valencia and Jaguares de Chiapas). Whilst looking at the Twitter possibilities I saw the Twitter blog post about New Year’s Eve activity. The post includes a video visualisation of tweets.

Phil Davis has written a post for The Scholarly Kitchen, Tweets and Our Obsession with Alt Metrics, that offers another perspective on tweeting. He discusses Gunther Eysenbach’s paper in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), Can tweets predict citations? Metrics of social impact based on twitter and correlation with traditional metrics of scientific impact. The comments on this post make for fascinating reading and raise some salutary issues for me about connecting, sharing and curating.

I thought I would end this post with a link to Tagxedo. It is a word cloud generator and I have used it here to summarise the content of this post.

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Connecting

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Librarian Action Figure