Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing


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Open for Learning

I have been thinking about open learning for some time.

The open online course CCK08 accelerated and focused my interest.

Since that course Stephen Downes’ OLDaily has nourished my thinking. (See for example his link to Jenny Mackness’s post today, The place of ‘the teacher’ in relation to open content.)

News of Sebastian Thrun’s development of Udacity (“We believe university-level education can be both high quality and low cost”) has added to my interest as did the video of his talk at DLD. (See this update.)

Matt Welsh ponders the “failings of the conventional higher education model for a minute and see where this leads us, and consider whether something like Udacity is really the solution”. Matt looks at three failings of ‘conventional’ universities: exclusivity; grades; lectures. Matt suggests that online universities bring to the table: broadening access to higher education; and leveraging technology to explore new approaches to learning. He observes that:

The real question is whether broadening access ends up reinforcing the educational caste system: if you’re not smart or rich enough to go to a “real university,” you become one of those poor, second-class students with a certificate Online U. Would employers or graduate schools ever consider such a certificate, where everyone makes an A+, equivalent to an artium baccalaureus from the Ivy League school of your choice?

I have been wondering how to offer sufficient rich experience to overcome the value laden and static nature of education credits. My aspiration is to encourage a collaborative approach to sharing and learning that personalises everyone’s learning environment and journey.

At present I am thinking about four stages in Open for Learning:

  • Invitation
  • Provocation
  • Transformation
  • Realisation

I have been wondering too about all this work being shared through Open Access, Creative Commons licensed material.

Participants in this Open for Learning model would:

  • Choose their level of entry
  • Follow any course without charge at whatever pace they wished
  • Decide whether they would like formal credit after successful completion of the course
  • Pay an affordable fee for a credit to add to their portfolio

My aspiration is for all these learning opportunities to have a fractal quality. Each learning opportunity would be scalable but would contain the principles of all other opportunities, particularly as learners moved to the realisation phase.

I see enormous benefits of using work integrated learning models for Open for Learning and I am particularly interested in the recognition of prior learning.

I liked Matt Walsh’s observation about grades:

Can someone remind me why we still have grades? I like what Sebastian says (quoting Salman Khan) about learning to ride a bicycle: It’s not as if you get a D learning to ride a bike, then you stop and move onto learning the unicycle. Shouldn’t the goal of every course be to get every student to the point of making an A+?

In my thinking getting an A+ grade is not a chronological event. It is, I believe, a kairological experience.

Just as I was completing this post I noticed this ABC post about homeschooling:

As a new school year begins, more than 50,000 Australian children will be home-schooled and in most cases, their parents are doing it illegally. It is compulsory to send children between the ages of six and 16 to school, or register them for home schooling, but more parents are opting out of the traditional school system and keeping their children at home. However, thousands of parents across the country are not registered and that means they potentially face prosecution.

I wondered what would happen if wherever we learned we were at home and overwhelmed by the interest someone took in us as a learner rather than a commodity.

Photo Credits

Primer in the Classroom

Private Wallace Tratford arrives home on leave


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Open Educational Resources: The Writing on the Wall

I admire immensely Stephen Downes’ work.

Each weekday and Saturday morning here in Australia starts for me with a read of OLDaily over coffee.

Each day I find something that takes me on a journey of the imagination and to new connections.

Today I have been reading Stephen’s post on Open Educational Resources.

Stephen defines Open Educational Resources (OERs) thus:

Open educational resources are materials used to support education that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by anyone.

Stephen’s post elaborates how he came to define OERs. I noted in particular:

  • “it avoids needless redundancies. Specifically, it avoids phrases like “digital or non-digital’ which, on examination, mean the same as “everything”. It also avoids formulations like “OERs are resources that…” because this has the form “resources are resources”, which is not helpful.”
  • “What makes material used for learning an OER is not the license it carries with it, but rather, whether it allows anyone to access, use, modify and share the material.”
  • “the purpose of a functional definition – one based on the ability of a person to access, use, modify and share the resource – is that it enables a simple empirical test. Instead of metaphysical discussions about the nature of an object, we simply ask, “Can a person access the object, can a person use the object, etc.?”, and on being shown that they can, conclude that the resource is open.”
  • “The purpose of the word ‘freely’ in the definition is intended to stipulate that the resource may be access without conditions.”

With Stephen’s guidance and Leigh Blackall‘s help I have been keen to explore open sharing in my work at the University of Canberra. Recently, the #HOPAU project with the Australian Paralympic Committee  has given me opportunities to explore openness in a very practical way.

Stephen’s post today has helped me clarify the essential characteristics of this project. This is a writing on the wall time (about aspiration and country)!


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Fossicking in the Social Web

According to Wikipedia, fossicking is a term found in Cornwall and Australia referring to prospecting.

“This can be for gold, precious stones, fossils, etc. by sifting through a prospective area. In Australian English, the term has an extended use meaning to rummage.”

My engagement with the social web is akin to rummaging but through trusted networks I do find rich seams of resources and opportunities.

Recently (thanks to Diigo) I have rummaged through:

This morning (thanks to Stephen Downes) Crocdoc and Osmek.

Of late I have not been visiting Twitter or Facebook but know that they are there. I have started to use LinkedIn much more and have joined some new groups: ICALT, Sport for Development, Sports Performance Analysis and World Class Athlete Development.

Fossicking is a very popular activity in my village. It is an old gold town and there are hidden treasures. It seems very apt that I should be rummaging around too!

Photo Credits

Gold minehead

Bernard Otto Holtermann


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Blogging, Sharing, Sociabilty

I have been blogging with WordPress since 3 June 2008.

Since that time I have written 350 posts on topics linked to learning, teaching and performing.

Many of these topics are stimulated by links shared by Stephen Downes through OLDaily and were given impetus by a remarkable group of participants in CCK08.

A few days ago (10 March) Stephen posted about blogging and followed up the next day with a link to the self-organising social mind. I was mulling over both these posts when Kent Anderson posted about Kevin Kelly.

All three posts arrived at a time when I was completing an open tender on Wikiversity, making some plans for a visit by Nancy White, and reflecting on an observation by Graham Attwell about “the existence of multiple information and knowledge flows” through the ability of anyone to publish.

Stephen’s link to Luis Suarez’s post Making Business Sense of Social Media and Social Networking – Is Blogging Dead? and Luis’ link to Scott Monty’s Blogging is Dead exemplify the power of blogging to me. Kent Anderson’s post about Kevin Kelly and his link to Kevin’s presentation at the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference provides an interesting context for the vibrant bloggingscape.

In his talk, Kevin points to six verbs that characterise how we interact with information, how we make and present information:

  • Screen
  • Interact
  • Share
  • Access
  • Flow
  • Generate

George Theiner’s review of John Bolander’s book The Self-Organizing Social Mind starts:

Sociability is one of the most fascinating traits of our species. As human beings, we create and participate in complex social structures with a flexibility of group membership which is unparalleled in the animal kingdom, and we are capable of entertaining a seemingly endless variety of social relationships. What if underneath our dappled social world lies a deeper kind of simplicity, which can be explained by the physics of symmetry and its breakings, akin to the processes which are at work in the formation of a snowflake or a spiral galaxy? In his insightful new book, John Bolender argues that such a view is indeed suggested by contemporary science rather than a figment of social romanticism.

I like the idea of sociability and simplicity. Blogging is a part of this relationship and I have seen it from the outset as a purely volitional activity on the part of the author and reader.

I post to share information and explore wayfinding. From early on I saw blogging as a way of developing a cloud presence that used WordPress as a vehicle for Kevin’s six verbs. I had not anticipated that anyone would read my posts.

I was delighted recently when my daughter Beth started blogging. I read her posts avidly. I have an immense amount of paternal pride and an overwhelming admiration for her desire to share information and experience. I think she has the essence of blogging that Stephen, Kevin, Luis and Scott point to.  I see Beth’s posts as another example of the resilience and relevance of blogging.


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Treasure Trove

Introduction

Last week was another treasure trove week for me. It started with my daughter Beth’s first blog post and concluded with news of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) running at present.

Treasure Baskets

Beth’s post about treasure baskets set me off thinking about the possibilities of guided discovery in play. I thought too about the personalisation that might occur in learning as teachers and coaches adapt the idea of a treasure basket to their own learning environments. A treasure basket is a collection of everyday objects chosen to stimulate the different senses. I followed up on Beth’s discussion of the role the basket has in heuristic play.

Elaine Lambe notes that heuristic play “is the term used to describe play for babies, infants and toddlers that actively encourages exploration by using and developing their senses.” As with all treasure troves one discovery leads to another and through Elaine’s post I found Elinor Goldschmied‘s work. Valerie Jackson has provided a great insight into Elinor’s work. I liked Valerie’s observation that:

Elinor understood the importance of accepting every child as a unique and gifted individual. She didn’t waste time trying to categorise or label children as having special needs, additional needs or anything else. They were all children and we were all the people tasked with the responsibility to encourage and raise good citizens.

She understood that learning to negotiate and compromise are positive skills to allow children to develop so that friendships grow and become strong in the nursery years so that the process of maturation and finally reaching adulthood becomes less arduous and isolating. If a child has one particular adult with whom they can develop a positive relationship during their time away from family, such as in the nursery, then their stay is less traumatic and their play and learned behaviours become more positive. From this, the idea of a key person has evolved and is currently promoted by the Early Years Foundation Stage in the United Kingdom.

Elinor worked with Sonia Jackson to write about People Under Three. I think their work has enormous implications for all learning. I will follow up on their key person ideas. “The key person makes sure that, within the day-to-day demands of thesetting, each child for whom they have special responsibility feels individual, cherished and thought about by someone inparticular while they are away from home.”

MOOC

The concept of a key person was reinforced for me this week with news of two MOOC events. Learning and Knowledge Analytics (LAK11) has been underway for a week. After my participation in CCK08 I have viewed George Siemens as a key person in my learning and trust implicitly his making sense of the world. I am impressed constantly by George’s energy as a guide and catalyst for learning. I will struggle to be an active participant in LAK11 and hope that legitimate peripheral participation is acceptable. There are some great resources available at LAK11 … a wonderful trove. I liked Dave Cormier’s post this week about the roles that can be played in a MOOC.

Stephen Downes is another key person in my learning. I have been writing about Stephen’s work from the origins of this blog. Many of my posts are inspired by links Stephen shares in OLDaily. Stephen is facilitating CCK11 with George Siemens. The course outline is here and week 1 news is here. I was interested to read George’s observation that “We are doing away with the central-space of Moodle – our final break from the LMS and will be using only the commenting feature within gRSShopper. While it might not seem like a huge change on the surface, it is probably our most significant experiment to date.” I found a newer version of Kroc Carmen’s post about RSS via a link in OLDaily.

Both courses are treasure baskets for me. It is great to start the day in Australia with news of goings on in Canada. I have an opportunity to explore ideas some fifteen hours ahead of convivial discussion in the Northern Hemisphere.

Conclusion

Sonia Jackson points out that Elinor Goldschmied’s first job was “in the junior school of Dartington Hall, the “progressive” school in Devon, where she stayed for five years. Dartington in the 1930s provided an exciting cultural and political environment which changed her view of the world.” The post that started me off on this reflection on treasure trove was written by a pupil at the Park School, Dartington. Beth was at the school in the late 1980s and like Elinor has been profoundly influenced by the possibilities of play in learning.

I am immensely proud of Beth’s entry into blogging. Her vision is to find ways to share knowledge and connect parents of young children. She, George and Stephen have a great deal in common in the altruism of connecting.


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A Perfect Mess: on-line communication

I was driving home last night and came across an interview between Michael Duffy and David Freedman on Radio National’s Counterpoint. David Freedman is the co-author of A Perfect Mess. In the interview David outlined his view on the messiness of life. The book “demonstrates that moderately messy systems use resources more efficiently, spur creativity, yield better solutions and are harder to break than neat ones.”

As I was listening to the interview I was thinking about how messiness has contributed to my learning. In the last couple of years, particularly post CCK08, I have accessed a variety of on-line sources to explore learning possibilities. Occasionally I try to collect these sources here in this blog. As I was sifting through my early morning feeds today I happened upon a delightful post on the ABC’s Drum Unleashed page by Helen Razer. Now that I have read her post, Twitter quitter, I lament that I have not been organised enough to find her work!

Helen discussed her decision to delete her Twitter account and contemplate Catherine Deveney’s removal from the pages of a Melbourne newspaper. She observes that:

Derailment becomes possible with the invention of the locomotive. The air disaster becomes possible with the birth of aviation. I don’t know what to call the spite, rage and fervour that unfolds every second on Twitter, but I no longer want any role within it.

You might think professional writers would exercise a little more caution with this push-button publishing. The fact is we don’t. We’re right down there in the mud of the populaire rolling around like malicious, attention-hungry hogs.

This is a medium that has seen journalists of national reputation call me, sans any personal provocation a “Druggie”, “Shameful” and “A crap writer”. The last of which was re-Tweeted by a former editor with whom I’d never differed.

Helen’s post was published on the day she appeared on ABC’s Q&A’s discussion of the Future of the Internet (on a panel that included Kaiser Kuo and Brett Solomon.) I missed that too but caught up with that this morning. Helen’s Drum Unleashed post had received sixty-four responses by the time I read it.

One of the comments was from Beagle:

In the early days of the internet, I used an electronic term to describe what I experienced in my quest for information on “the net”. I equated my experience in locating specific information about a topic in terms of signal to noise ratio. Think about it as if you are in a car, listening to the radio. As you drive away from a rural town, the further you get from the transmitter the less signal you get and the more noise you hear. Eventually, you hear mostly noise and very little of the signal that is being broadcast.

In the beginning, the internet was very noisy (95% noise and 5% signal). My impression as we moved forward into the 21st century, was that companies like Google got much better at how they interpreted our requests and actually gave us a better signal to noise ration (50% signal – 50% noise). That relationship is drifting back towards more noise and less signal as companies like Google give us “Ads” dressed up to look like signal, when they are actually just plain noise. As an example, try searching for something you want to go out and buy, but are looking for local stores close to you that sell it. Almost impossible! Most “hits” you get will be for companies selling something online.

Twitter at the moment is (99% noise and 1% signal), Why anyone would put up with so much noise beggars belief.

The way I overcome the noise in my messiness is to have trusted sources. I find Stephen Downes’ OLDaily an essential part of my day and his links give me enormous opportunities to explore and connect. I have reduced my use of Twitter but follow 332 others who act as my guides in that space. Recently I have added The Scholarly Kitchen as a source of information and was delighted with the synchronicity of two of its feeds today:

I resisted the temptation to follow links from the XML paper but did pursue a fascinating link from Kent Anderson’s Facebook post. I found Ashwin Machanavajjhala, Aleksandra Korolova, Atish Das Sarma’s paper on On the (Im)possibility of Preserving Utility and Privacy in Personalized Social Recommendations. Their abstract concludes that “We … show that good private social recommendations are feasible only for a few users in the social network or for a lenient setting of privacy parameters.”

This connectedness is a perfect mess for me and one that is invitational and volitional. I take from Helen’s post that each of us can choose how we share our thoughts and that we enter any forum with our eyes wide open. I am attracted increasingly by slow blogging but realise that the remarkable efforts of others makes my blogging possible … now I need to understand XML to savour the prospect of semantic connectedness.

Photo Credits

Phone-wire tangle

World Class Traffic Jam


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Vicarious Learning and Reciprocal Altruism

I follow 257 people on Twitter and am moving towards 500 tweets. Whenever I access Twitter I find a treasure trove of links and discussions. Twitter has accelerated for me the connectedness that Stephen Downes offers in his work. My access to Twitter, Stephen’s work and my aggregation of blog posts has transformed my reading, thinking and practice (CCK08 was my tipping point). Leigh Blackall‘s arrival as a work colleague has added to this momentum.

It has led me to think how vicarious learning (ambient awareness) can promote reciprocal altruism.

This post is a twenty-four hour snapshot of some of the sharing that came through my personal learning environment.

On Sunday I came across a link to Tom Davenport’s post about Forwarding is the New Networking. I checked in to Twitter a little later to find Typeboard‘s (1,011 tweets) link to Online Content Plagiarism at its Best.

Shortly after reading that article I came across Malinka‘s (1,863 tweets) tweet about tag clouds. This post reminded me very much of Rose Holley‘s observations about tag fog.

Kate Caruthers (26,180 tweets) tweeted about Social Media 2009 and Beyond. (I caught up with Steve Wheeler’s Networked Naughties too.) Shortly after following up Kate’s lead I found some tweets from Alec Courosa (32,697 tweets) about his students including Kelsi McGillivray and Bradie Mann. They demonstrate wonderful social commitments to reflection and sharing. (In the process I found their shared a Prezi.) I think Alec’s students exemplify some of the characteristics discussed by John Sener in his review (via Harold Jarche 6,792 tweets) of Disrupting Class:

individualizing instruction, situational research— as a means for building alternative systems which truly are student-centered and utilize online learning technologies, but also individualize student inputs and outcomes while enhancing the teacher’s role in the process, while utilizing rigorous and flexible assessment methods.

I noticed a link to the European Graduate School in another tweet and read carefully the disclaimer at the bottom of the front page that included:

This website uses Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. Google Analytics uses cookies, which are text files placed on your computer, to help the website analyze how users use the site. The information generated by the cookie about the use of the website, including IP addresses, will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States. Google will use this information for the purpose of evaluating the use of the website, compiling reports on website activity for website operators and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage. Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on the behalf of Google. Google will not associate IP addresses with any other data held by Google. The use of cookies can be refused by selecting the appropriate settings in the web browser, however please note that if you do this you may not be able to use the full functionality of this website. By using this website, you consent to the processing of data about you by Google in the manner and for the purposes set out above.

Mark Drapeau (via Iggy Pintado 8956 tweets) provides some interesting insights about How to Win Friends and Twinfluence People. By coincidence I found a Graham Attwell (1.960 tweets) tweet drawing attention to Howard Rheingold’s (May 2009 post) Twitter Literacy. I have been following Howard Rheingold’s output since his guest appearance on CCK08. I liked his observations that:

  • I think successful use of Twitter means knowing how to tune the network of people you follow, and how to feed the network of people who follow you.
  • You have to tune who you follow. I mix friends who I know IRL (“in real life”) and whose whereabouts and doings interest me, people who are knowledgeable about a field that interests me, people who regularly produce URLs that prove useful, extraordinary educators, the few who are wise or funny.
  • When it comes to feeding my network, that comes down to putting out the right mixture of personal tweets (while I don’t really talk about what I had for lunch, the cycles of my garden, the plums falling from my tree, my obsession with compost and shoepainting do feature in my tweetstream), informational tidbits (when I find really great URLs, that’s when Twitter is truly a “microblog” for me to share my find), self promotion (when I post a new video to my vlog share the URL – but I do NOT automatically post everything I blog on smartmobs.com), socializing, and answering questions.

Perhaps reciprocal altruism can transform the reliance on a small number of people to transform thinking and behaviour. George Siemens (4,016 tweets) links to this Onion post about ‘the four or five guys who pretty much carry the whole Renaissance’.

Just as I was concluding this post I received Stephen Downes’ OLDaily that contained an apology:

December 20, 2009

Better Late Than…
———————————————————————————–
Well – there’s a first. Though I wrote some posts on Friday, I actually forgot to publish the newsletter and send the emails. First time ever. So, here it is, a couple days late, but intact. Enjoy.

Stephen’s news is an important marker in my day and usually initiates the sharing that Tom Davenport extols. His news arriving was a great end to a day of thinking about learning and sharing. I am off to read Seth Simonds’ post Bye with a Warmly Huggs.

Photo Credit

Nature and Technology

Hidden Treasure Explored