Archive for September, 2008

Reflections on week one of CCK08

September 13, 2008

I’ve spent quite a bit of time surfing around CCK08 this week, and for me the highlights so far are:

  • Finding some very knowledgeable and helpful people (and sheep!) to learn from.
  • Playing with some great new tools as recommended by the course leaders or participants, for example Bubbleply (to add comments to videos) and Wordle (colourful word clouds)
  • George’s expression ‘the digital love-fest’ which is surely a key word to end all keywords and will do wonders for our Technorati status J
  • I also liked the way Antonio Fini turned his learning from the week into a story which was an entertaining and  non-threatening way of presenting some quite heavy material.
  • Observing the range of online communication skills (or lack thereof…) on display. It’s amazing how quickly you can get a sense just from a few words on a blog or forum if someone is helpful, knowledgeable, being constructively critical, likes the sound of their own voice too much, or is just plain rude…. one of the findings from our Punch Above Your Weight project was that people who were effective face to face networkers were also good communicators online, and it seems that the converse may also be true…

A lot of people have commented on the volume of material to plough through – this was not too much of a problem for me because I really don’t care if connectivism is a theory or not (sorry Stephen and George!) so I have skimmed many of these discussions. My interest is in finding out how learning and teaching are changing in our networked world, and what this means for how we can structure and conduct our courses to engage with our students most effectively. Looking forward to week 2…

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First thoughts on the value of CCK08 online course

September 6, 2008

Wow. Recent postings suggest that 1700 people are now signed up to CCK08 from all around the world. Thanks to The Clever Sheep, http://tinyurl.com/6gurgv you can see at a glance where we all hail from. The focus of the course is on how effective learning takes place in a networked world, and by actively participating in the experiment we get to experience such ‘connectivism’ for real. I’m particularly interested in how we can use new tools and techniques to improve the learning experience for our students who are about to begin their traditional ‘chalk and talk’ University courses, and what we need to change about the way in which we organise ourselves and perform our role as tutors.   

Even just reading all the introductions and blog postings from everyone is impossible. While I’m used to running online courses with large volumes of time-critical postings, this is on a different scale entirely. My proposed strategy for managing time while maximising the benefit from the course is as follows:

1.      Dip into recent postings and comments a few times per day via the RSS feeds which I’ve pointed at my Google page.

2.      Write up my thoughts and key learning points as I go along on this blog

3.      Skim the reading list rather than get left behind (even the pre-reading consists of 4 hefty pdfs, 50-70 odd pages long…)

4.      Remember that term starts in a couple of weeks…

Let’s see how it goes…

Anyway, here are a few thoughts on what I’ve learned so far:

The ‘digital divide’ is now less about access to the web and more about whether we understand how to participate. Those who have the skills, time and confidence to navigate the chaos will gain access to new opportunities, find audiences for their work and enrich the lives of others. The rest will not – because they will be trapped on the wrong side of the divide.

 

We are moving away from a world in which an ‘elite few’ produce content for students to passively consume, towards one in which everyone has a more active stake in shaping the production and updating of that content. This ‘participatory culture’ has low barriers to expression and civic engagement, and strong support for creating and sharing the material, facilitated by a tutor acting as informal mentor rather than expert gatekeeper to pre-set and ‘approved’ content.

 

Learning in a networked society involves understanding how networks work and how to deploy them effectively, whether the task be to complete an assignment or  dissertation, obtain a new job, promote a business or build a personal brand.  It involves understanding where information has come from and when to trust (and when not to trust) others to filter and prioritise relevant data.

 

Food for thought…

e-learning as it should be

September 5, 2008

I’ve joined this free online course http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/connectivism/ and will be reporting on progress via this blog over the next 12 weeks. It is run by the University of Manitoba in Canada and called Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, exploring the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning. The course outlines a connectivist understanding of educational systems of the future. Watch this space…