Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lumen Learning - Next Generation Courseware Challenge Grant

Someone is missing an opportunity....


Nurturing Our Personal Learning Networks

Paul Signorelli's comments on the first session of Week 2 of Connected Courses, Trust and Network Fluency.

"Bringing value to our online interactions is essential..."

Here's the video,  Social Capital and PLNs: Discovering, Building, and Cultivating Networks of Learners...

"...this is a community of learning that is quickly connecting numerous personal learning networks around the world. And each individual learner is a node within that ever-growing network of networks."

And, that is another great reason to plug in to this network....

Monday, September 29, 2014

Trust and Network Fluency

Is my data showing?  The author explores the issues of building trust and data privacy, or lack thereof, in a connected world. 

A few key quotes, ' “Trust makes social life more predictable, it creates a sense of community and it makes it easier for people to work together.”

And, "Lack of trust inhibits civic engagement."

"In technologically connected societies we habitually share this seemingly inconsequential data by default."
"....as instructors and mentors in and of these digital spaces, if we don’t develop strategies and processes with our learners for mitigating possible consequences, then who will?"



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wrong Questions

Jordan Shapiro thinks we are asking the wrong questions about educational technology.

"We account for learning outcomes as if they were profit margins. We measure the dividends returned on technology and infrastructure investments. We see children as industrial resources evaluated according to their ability to download ‘workplace skills.’ And for some bizarre reason–and despite all evidence to the contrary–we continue to expect that these metrics will somehow correlate with intelligent, ethical, and responsible adult individuals. We’ve chosen the wrong perspective."

"Popular technologies have, in many cases, increased corporate productivity and profitability at the expense of the humans who operate them."

"We imagine that tablets and computers are merely tools that transmit unbiased academic content to students. On the contrary, they do much more than that. Embedded in every technological solution is a moral/ethical stance, an image of the good life, and a narrative of the idealized self. The worldwide success of Apple’s marketing is evidence enough that digital gadgets are not only tools with which we manipulate our environment, but also props in a performed identity narrative."

"Technologies teach our children how to make sense of the world, how to think about knowledge and information, and how to relate to themselves and to one another. Making sure we agree, in principle, with the tool’s implicit messaging is the most important question we can ask. Yet, it is the one question we most often skip."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rigor May Not Be The Right Word.....

Laura from OU Digital Tools responded to the previous post, and I responded to her, as well as adjusted my comment settings. (Thanks, Laura!)   In particular she noted the use of the term, rigor. Laura quoted the dictionary which had some interesting definitions and examples, such as severity of living conditions (the rigors of wartime), weather, or harshness, as well as scrupulous or inflexible adherence (the rigors of math.)

What I was trying to get at were the expectations of 'high standards' for students, as well as 'high standards' for faculty. All too often, I've seen courses in which little was expected from learners, less
from the instructor and not much connection fostered between them.

The Glossary of Education Reform has an interesting piece on the topic of academic rigor, including the notion that the term rigorous to describe 'learning environments that are not intended to be harsh, rigid, or overly prescriptive, but that are 'stimulating, engaging, and supportive.' Building and nurturing such environments takes effort, time and talent.  Where I work, we don't do a good job of training and developing the subject matter experts we hire to become the professional educators who create those environments.  One of my reasons to participate in Connected Courses and to blog about it is to foster those conversations among faculty, both full and part-time, academic and professional-technical, about tools and practices that enhance the teaching-learning experience.

Academically Adrift - More of the Why of Connected Learning

Why we teach?  Why our courses?  Why higher education?

Josipa says it, "Academic rigor pays off."  And, Richard talks about the importance of having well-structured group work and study sessions, not just 'sending 'em off to do group work.'  Rigor is not about difficult tests and failing lots of students.  Instead, rigor means well-designed and meaningful experience in courses that connect students with their colleagues, with the instructor and with the content, as well as the things that actually matter, the critical thinking and the literacy skills. Those are what make students successful in life.

We need to explain to students what the purpose of college is, why they are taking this course in this program!   Purpose-driven courses, rather than content or assessment driven courses, are how to address this.  The online world and digital tools can give a sense of real-world connection and relevance, IF WE DO IT RIGHT.

And another key idea...colleges are measured on enrollments, graduation rates, salaries/wages of graduates.  But, what about the "Changing Lives" metric? Mimi's 'normative rant' that starts about 48:00 about youth culture, working hard to get into college, and then the real social experience of college is well worth considering.

Finally, stay until the end.  Richard sums up the history of the purpose of higher ed in 20th Century USA society well.  Many colleges were founded by religious orders for a higher moral purpose, but that changed with post WW2 society and the Cold War.  That period saw the expansion of the state college and university system, with the purpose of creating the scientists and technicians to build an economy that could compete with the Red Menace.  In the absence of both of those imperatives, what is the purpose of higher education in the 21st Century?