Thursday, December 18, 2014

Open Letter to "Mapping the Future..."

Cathy Davidson's post to the students in the Mapping the Futures of Higher Ed post contains a great description of what she labels, The Big Why?, why we are doing all of this....

Key quotes, 'First, we believe higher education is crucial to a productive, happy, independent, socially responsible adult life. '

'The interactive, adaptive methods we will be using in this class are based on research directed toward promoting student success: student study groups, peer-leadership, interest-driven learning, systematic un-learning, peer-mentoring, public contribution to knowledge, and constant feedback on learning progress.  NB: These methods work for everyone, from doctoral students to economically disadvantaged middle-school students.  The best research on the efficacy of study groups for educational success was undertaken at Harvard and replicated in Chicago urban public middle and high schools.'

'Higher education needs to be revitalized and transformed for the contemporary world of cultural diversity, technological complexity, and constant change.'

More here at the Futures Initiative....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

12 Principles of Peer-Led, Connected, Interactive Education

Cathy Davidson writes about an upcoming course entitled, 'Mapping the Futures of Higher Education,' in this post from HASTAC, and cross posted here at CUNY's Academic Commons Futures Initiatives pages.

Here are those main principles of Connected Learning:

  • Learning is teaching.  
  • Learning is research and research is learning.  
  • Learning is institutional and socially-engaged learning changes institutions. 
  • Learning together is key—in class, in study groups, online.  
  • Learning is a formative test–not a high stakes summative one
  • Learning makes a public contribution to knowledge.  
  • Learning in public requires digital and data literacies, being aware of how, why, and by whom one’s knowledge is being used.  
  • Learning is a social activity and social responsibility.
  • Learning is interest-driven–and even fun.  
  • Learning opportunities are everywhere;
  • Learning is vocational–in a good way.  
  • Learning is about access, equity, and equality. 
  • Learning is sustainable.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Crash-only Thinking

Came across something called Ribbonfarm, where there was a great piece on Crash-only Thinking, about transitions and changes.

Key phrase, 'Crash-only means there is no such thing as gracefully starting and stopping non-trivial parts of your life or business.  You have to crash what you’re doing and recover in a more promising direction. The fact that it is a crash means that, unlike normal decisions, there is a sharply increased probability of not coming out the other end.

Crashes are traumatic, high-entropy, messy ways to achieve transitions, which is why transitions in life and business are so hard. We want clean, smooth turns that smoothly and isentropically shed momentum in one direction and accumulate it in another direction.....It doesn't happen.'

Strong identities, brands, compelling narratives and self-talk that run counter to what's really happening contribute to the crash-only state, necessitating a clean start, a reboot and refresh.  

Is that what's happening here in education, at our institutions, in the state-supported systems?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Good, Bad, Very Bad, Really, Really Bad

And, then, there's the perspective of Maha Bali, an educator and Connected Courses standout, from Egypt.

Key quotes, 'BUT when someone over here in Egypt talks about safety online, it’s along the lines of possibly getting arrested, jailed and possibly tortured for your political beliefs.'

And, 'Something crossed my Twitter stream the other day, with a question “Are our schools worth dying for?” and a reference to Malallah. Umm. Not sure what the link is for, but I’m guessing, assuming here, that I’m sure Malallah’s school, the quality of it, was probably not worth dying for. It’s possible most schools even in the developed world are not worth dying for. The situation Malallah found herself in, that’s the REALLY REALLY bad. That’s not my country. Yet.'

Is that the situation where I work?  Where others, teachers, students, their families work, live, eat, sleep?   Are our schools worth dying for?  What if we approached our work believing that our schools were worth dying for?  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Rebirth of Cool: Trust, Tech, and Dystopias

Tressie McMillan Cottom writes about joining in a MOOC and discusses the tools that participants are using there and in the classes she teaches and observes.  Lots of DIY here and emphasis on what works that is appealing.

Key phrase  "They don’t much like your top-down ed-tech tools. They use the tools they already have in service of what they need and want. They are making spaces that institutions do not provide them. They are adapting those spaces relative to their social locations and I suspect the differences are partially about who and what they trust."

Here's the complete post.

tressiemc is worth following!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Future of Education: Programmed or Programmable

Audrey Watters nails it in this transcript of a talk at Pepperdine.

Key quotes, 'The readable, writable, programmable Web is so significant because, in part, it allows us to break from programmed instruction. That is, we needn’t all simply be on the receiving end of some computer-mediated instruction, some teacher-engineering. We can construct and create and connect for ourselves.'

'One of the most powerful things that you can do on the Web is to be a node in a network of learners...'

"Do we want programmed instruction? Do we want teaching machines? Do we want videotaped lectures? Do we want content delivery systems? Or do we want education that is more student-centered, more networked-focused. Are we ready to move beyond “content” and even beyond “competencies”?'

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Thanks for the Change!

Change in sclerotic institutions is soul-sapping and energy-intensive.   And when you work in a state-funded educational system where the basic constructs were formed in the 19th Century (amount of learning, course structure, compensation and incentive system, budget process, labor-management relationship) as defined by the credit hour, a 'Carnegie Unit,' the paradigms don't work any more.   We run the risk of being irrelevant, like Tower Records, and ignore the future that will change how and where and why and for who we do business.  

For those who believe that, the conversations can be frustrating, especially when you have seen other paradigms that could be fruitful and others don't or won't.   When you push, you feel like you a rowing upstream with lots of water coming over the bow, doing the same dad-gum thing over and over again, having the same arguments, asking the same questions, and hoping against hope that you'll get different answers.

@EacherVeggies wrote about this frustration last week, asking the question this way, "how do I create a connected experience for people who are satisfied with boxed macaroni and cheese?"
The responses to that question are wonderful, crowdsourced advice and encouragement, full of fresh fettuccine, romano and asiago, giving more evidence to the value of the Connected Courses community.  

She's right, you know!

I Can Tell the Future, Just Look What's in Your Hand

Key phrase, 'Everybody gets a pocket supercomputer.'

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Alec Couros on Networks, Connected Learning, and Making Learning Visible

Networks matter in education, which is not just, well, duh, but actually is at the heart of how value is added by teachers to students, by plugging them into a network, and being a connector/distributor node in that network.

Craig Newmark on Trust, Integrity and His Moral Compass

Key phrase, 'it’s about time for people of goodwill to reassert their idea of what’s right and what’s wrong.

Who's Afraid of Teaching Online?

Adeline Koh's collection of thoughts and comments about teaching and learning, from Unit 4 of Connected Courses, focusing on Diversity, Equity and Access.

Key phrase, 'I have not found a replacement for the instructor’s in-person energy and charisma in the online environment. '

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Human OER

A Human OER.....amazing piece by @mdvfunes


Design Patterns and the Coming Revolution

Mike Caufield gave the keynote presentation at the  NW eLearning Conference this year.      

Here's a key quote that shook me up, 'We are moving to a future where every minute of every day of a grade school teacher is precisely scripted by a textbook company in collaboration with a district. I have zero doubt that unless something changes this will be the fate of much of higher education as well.'

And, 'We are in dark days. Everywhere I look I see the exuberance of the mid-aughts being crushed by processes and requirements and specs that don’t fit. And where I see signs of hope, it’s all cowboys and mavericks, stuff that will never mesh with our institutions, that sets itself up as in conflict with the very institutions in which it is trying to root.'

The Connected Courses conversations are bringing light to those dark days.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Unit 3 - Nuggets

There were so many nuggets, inspirations and threshold concepts that arose from the two keynote videos/hangouts from Unit 3 - Connected Courses that I’ll develop my nugget from those, rather than from the readings.

Besides, I’m reading E.B White, and Bill Bryson, and a John Brockman compilation, ( I know, lots of white guys), plus this community read right now as well as this from the same group of high school students. There’s a lot of reading material with active bookmarks on my end table, so the provocations will come from the videos.

First off, recognizing the difference between the internet and the web and the acknowledgement that living on the internet is something that all of us do carries profound implications for educators and learners.  Laura’s imperative of community, the creation of opportunity to connect with many of share a common interest, in a many-to-many community is intriguing.  The attempts that I’ve seen to do just that have been both clunky and fruitful, and worth exploring further.  Kim Jaxon’s comments  about the huge potential to connect students to communities of practice in the world resonated particularly well, given her classroom experience both as a connected teacher and learner.  And Gardner’s impassioned ‘rant’ (at the beginning of the first video) about the web as a distributed publishing system owned and operated by its users, plus the importance of digital community, and our responsibilities as archivists and curators as educators and citizens, was inspiring.   

These other threshold concepts resonated:Network effects and the power of the network, coupled with the core competencies of reading, writing and participating on the network.  We need to teach and promote web literacy, really citizenship in the digital age.   What does it mean to be a member of an open, digital, rip and remix culture?  

The more we use open platforms and resources that don’t look like school, the greater the opportunity to reshape what teaching and learning really looks like.  Kim raises the big fear that without a change in teaching practices (what takes place on a daily basis in the classroom, among students, between students and teachers and organizations), open courses, indeed using the Web to teach, will be just another ‘solution.’  As educators, we buy into solutionism, purchasing turnkey content, platforms and assessments from vendors, and by doing so, miss the opportunity to create our own in collaboration with others across the Web.

Networks are complex ecosystems, and how learning works in a complex organism is different from the linear fashion in which courses, programs and colleges are designed and assessed. Do you have to learn by steps?   Is there developmental work to teaching and learning how to use the Web?  Probably,  but Gardner posits that teaching and learning, building community on the web just may be a way of being that you learn by doing it.   I’m struggling now to figure out how to support faculty to move beyond learning little steps, beyond how to just use hardware and applications, and toward how to use judgment and talent to engage and empower students, and to connect them with stronger bonds in a wider network than just the classroom.

How many and why not?

How many English Comp classes started at schools, colleges, universities, academies etc across North America this fall?  How many Pre-Calculus, Intro to Psychology, Intro to Business, Intro to Whatever Studies did the same?   How many world-wide?

Answer:  A lot did.

How many of the students and teachers in those classes would benefit from communicating with each other, sharing content, objectives, activities, examples, ideas?  Would not those be truly Connected Courses?

Why isn't there at least an informal network of students who have enrolled and those who are teaching these courses to do so?  What's getting in the way of that forming?  Who would benefit?  Who would be threatened?  

Inquiring minds want to know.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Connected Courses Link-worthies

Kim Jaxon - -Digital Is -

Gardner Campbell -

Laura Hilliger -

Howard Rheingold

Follow these folks!

What is Web Literacy, and Playing Catch-Up....

Playing catch-up here with the Connected Courses flow.... 

Unit 3 delves into the questions, What is this thing called the World Wide Web? What are the values and ambitions that gave rise to its design?

Some big-time serious delving going on here.  But, as I watch my attention refocus to the day-to-day of fall quarter and organization-specific tasks, mundane and bureaucratic, working within the limitations,  constraints and barriers of resources, interests, talent and time at the organizationally-specific level, the benefit of being connected to a larger community of educators, world-wide, networked, technologically savvy, and firing on all the synapses, becomes more and more obvious.

It keeps me coming back here, even just to participate on a marginal level.

Trust and Network Fluency

Unit #2 of Connected Courses starts here.

Building trust and promoting information literacy means being engaged with curriculum, strategic planning, technology and academic integrity on an organizational level, as well as throughout your personal learning network.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Robbie Melton on Globalization of Learning through Mobile Devices

Here's the link to the Tennessee Board of Regents' site on Mobile and Emerging Technologies....

Robbie Melton drags some us kicking and screaming into the 21st Century...

Russian Dolls

"Of the obstacles to building new models, we can note 'habitus' of teachers, the 'classroom discourse', we can mention 'standardised assessment' amongst others.
  • The real question is what are these boundaries obstacles to?  
  • Who or what is protected by boundaries which have been built physically or virtually? 
  • Who stands to gain from crumbling frontiers, from blurring of boundaries between work and play?"

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Why We Need a Why

Really Excellent Sheep

Four radical ideas for reinventing college.....

 "At issue is how institutions long wedded to a rigid teacher-classroom format can better prepare students to become what Sarah Stein Greenberg of the Stanford University d.School calls “daring, creative, and resilient problem solvers."

And two more....

But, in the sort of institution where I work, there are more fundamental challenges, including passing Math 96.

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."
" 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?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wild West Conglomeration in a Box

From the Edu-Geek Journal.....

Key quotes, '“Lazy teachers will teach poorly, no matter what tools they have access to.”

And, 'You could design the easiest and coolest LMS in the world, but if it is closed… it still loses out. The “Walled Garden” argument still applies, all these years later.'

Week 1 Commentary from Paul Signorelli

Paul Signorelli writes on the week one (why are we doing this and why do we need a why) discussion.

Key quote, 'Listening to Davidson, Wesch, and their co-panelist Randy Bass address a series of thought-provoking questions that would resonate with any inquisitive trainer-teacher-learner (e.g., what is to be taught, how should something be learned, and why should a particular subject or skill be learned?)—and simultaneously interacting with other learners via Twitter—provided what Davidson cited as one of the many benefits of connected learning: all of us had plenty of time during that stimulating online session to reflect on the “why” behind the learning we facilitate, and we left the session encouraged to engage in additional reflection (via this sort of blog article as well as through online interactions that help us, sooner than later, to use what we are learning).

I'm running behind with all of this, given that this has been fall kick-off week, or the series of back-to-back long meetings, orientation sessions and get-togethers, fueled by caffeine and carbs that has dominated my attention.  Lots of new fresh faces at TLF provides a small sense of optimistic change. But my table-top speed-dating conversation focused on our home-grown OER, Open Course Library and Connected Courses, so progressing toward my goal of being an effective node in the network.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The End of Higher Education - Connected Courses #1

A discussion about purpose, or where the fundamental question asked is "Why We Teach?,"  and "Why Do We Need a Why"?

Here's another Why We Do What We Do, this time by Frank Capra.

And, I liked this explanation!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pre Course #2

Precourse #2 of Connected Courses, in which Click, Link and Embed engage in the creative use of echo and audio....

World 2.0

Living in the Connected World, a bit of a counter-balance to the Clay Shirky piece.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Can't Do More Than One Thing At A Time

Clay Shirky says, "Close those laptops and put down the cellphone.'  Interesting piece on technology and the classroom, and why that Facebook post is more interesting than the learning activities you want to cover.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Our Course Could Be Your Life

Or, what caused HR to tweet that he hasn't been as excited since the WELL.

And here's the link to ds106....

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Under the Hood

Howard Rheingold on using WordPress for online courses and open learning....

Key sentence is at the end of HR's post....."Knowing web publishing doesn’t just confer a mighty learning power — it’s about the power to persuade, inform, and organize that is now available to more than a tiny elite, but only to those who are willing to experiment, tinker, and learn."

A Node in a Broad Network

Joi Ito, MIT Media Lab, on innovating by the seat of your pants.

Key phrase, 'I don’t think education is about centralized instruction anymore; rather, it is the process establishing oneself as a node in a broad network of distributed creativity.'

Gardner Campbell on a Sense of Wonder

The Path to Digital Citizenship -

"We are living in the middle of the largest increase in expressive capability 
in the history of the human race."
Clay Shirky

Friday, September 5, 2014

Program for Online Teaching - Certification Course

Another "How and Why Teaching Online" course, recommended by Lisa Lane, another participant in the Connected Courses group.

Beyond the LMS

Audrey Watters' remarks regarding moving beyond the Learning Management Systems,  and how that will benefit learners and teachers.....

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Being There

Here are a couple of thoughts that have percolated regarding Connected Courses and the Pre-Course video with Click, Link and Embed...

Signing up for the course, reconfiguring the feed (thanks, Alan!), and reading the initial posts prompted me to revise and edit the links on my blog page.  It’s about time. 

The key phrases and concepts from the first video were best stated by Jim Groom, with his emphasis on instructor presence in an online course. It is ‘no small thing to be connected to a widely distributed groups of learners,’  and for many participants, including the students who attend the college where I work, “Is anybody out there?” is the principal question.   We’ve worked on student success, retention and completion for many years (I’ve taught online since 1995, before there were such things as an LMS, when saber-toothed cats roamed the landscape…), and those rates of retention and completion are consistently lower in an online class than other delivery formats.

Instructors in any format make the difference for students, and any sort of encouragement, feedback and demonstration of presence serves to help.  Given that a significant portion of students who enroll at our college test at lower-than-college levels for English, reading and writing, and have not had successful educational experiences in the past, may be first generation college students, may not have English as their first language, may be working, single parents or dealing with other barriers, probably have not acquired the skills to be strong self-learners, it is the instructor and the design of their course that can make (or break) their learning experience. I think it’s true, ‘Being there is how you build trust.’

Why open learning?  Because all learning is open.  Teaching is sharing with learners.

Why be a node on the web?  Aren’t we all? In this connected world, working as an educator means connecting learners with knowledge, skills and values, and distributing those connections in a way that best helps those learners achieve their goals.  In my world, that means some acquiring basic skills, getting a job in the 21st century, and maybe moving on to more advanced educational opportunities.  Learning to become an effective web node (new phrase to be added to our job descriptions) is now part of those basic skills.  

Why connected learning?  Students pay to come to our school to get a degree, and if they learn something, well, that may be value added.  But, the most valuable piece of their education, and ours as educators, is to plug into a network, to build and reinforce those connections.   And we can help by being there

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Connected Courses Pre-Course: Blog Talk! - YouTube

Connected Courses Pre-Course: Blog Talk! - YouTube: ""

Here's the Pre-Course Blog Talk....

Key phrase/concept was in response to the question, "How do you intend to build trust?"    Answer from Jim Groom, "By being there!"

Connected Courses - Question?

So here I am, watching the precourse for Connected Courses, the precourse BlogTalk, and getting excited about moving beyond the LMS that have framed my teaching since 1995.   I signed up, connected this here blog, but now want to amend my sign up so that participants don't have to read all the other stuff I put up here, and instead, can read and comment on that which is germane to the topics at hand.

How do I amend my sign up form so that the syndication is directed from the specific content (/connectedcourses) and not to all my posts?

Can I amend? If so, how?

Enquiring minds want to know!

Seth Godin - Sorting for Youth Meritocracy

With links to Stop Stealing Dreams, Seth's piece is a reminder of what we should be doing as educators, and just as importantly, what we should not be doing...

And, here's the Stop Stealing Dreams pdf....

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Teaching Is Not a Business -

Teaching Is Not a Business -

No, it's not.  Guess what?  Building trusting relationships between students and teachers matter.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Zingerman's Deli, Motivation and Happiness

How to run a great company....

What really motivates people

And, why are we happy?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Hidden History of Ed-Tech

Audrey Watters on LMS, VLE, and how we got to where we are in online education, which is not pretty.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014