Learning Community, PLN

Building Communities of Practice in Higher Ed

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Milton Cox from Miami University, met with a group of students, staff and faculty to share ideas on how to build effective communities of practice at UNT known as Collaborative Learning Communities (CLC).  In his lecture and our discussion, Dr. Cox shared suggestions on how to “mind the gap(s)” in higher education and consider the broken spaces between our current disciplines, departments and silos on campus.  The process of connecting to establish a community of practice (in his example, faculty learning communities) it is to connect faculty and their institutions to think beyond their department, discipline and separate goals for the campus.
Image c/o Dr. Milton Cox
It is all to common to see department loyalty being rewarded and interdisciplinary activity questioned in higher education. There are also disconnects between student development and academic affairs priorities. For higher education to move forward it will be critical for faculty and staff to engage students in new ways of learning and scholarly activity. Although many students want to see the sage on the stage, to just consume information, it will be increasingly critical for our learning institutions to encourage inquiry-based learning and promote self-regulated scholarship.
One way to close the education gap and challenges in higher education, is to consider forming communities of practice (CoP) that work together. There are a number of students, staff and faculty need to collaborate to discuss civic engagement, learning communities, and pedagogical shifts to our higher education curriculum. Dr. Cox introduced the concept of Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs), which tend to be more structured than the organic CoP, and they are voluntary, structured, and at least a yearlong commitment from the members. Here are some other suggested practices for setting up FLCs:
  • size: 8-12 faculty, professionals, Administrators, TAs, students
  • voluntary membership by application
  • Affiliate patterns: consultants, mentors, student associates
  • multidisciplinary and from different departments
  • encourage participant curiosity
  • allow for richness of innovations
  • permitted relief from dysfunctional units
As we connected and discussed ideas around our own Collaborative Learning Communities (CLCs), we found sharing ideas could help work towards resolving institutional challenges and support the strategic goals for our campus. As our CLCs gather and collaborate, I am looking forward to connecting, brainstorming, and creating initiatives that will enhance what we do on campus.
Along with this idea for collaborative learning communities, Sue Beckingham, Jeff Jackson, Eric Stoller and I hope to discuss this topic as a #sxswEDU panel in 2013 => Communities of Practice in Higher Education as we hope to answer the following questions:
  1. How can communities of practice and learning networks play a critical role in meeting the challenges of higher education across the globe?
  2. As professional and personal learning networks (PLNs) develop, how can these informal entities support and contribute to the future of higher education?
  3. What are some actionable items and issues that higher education communities of practice can take on both at the local and global level

References:

Cox, M. & Richlin, L.  (2004). New Directions for Teaching and Learning:  Building Faculty Learning Communities.  Vol. 97.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wenger, E. (2002) Communities of practice. Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Volume 1.5, Article 5. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam. 
G*STEP, Professional Development

G*STEP: Graduate Student Teaching Excellence Program

As part of the “Professional Development” section for my portfolio requirements (in lieu of comprehensive exams, I will defend a professional portfolio in order to become a PhD. Candidate before the semester over – I will blog about this in the near future), I am completing a variety of professional workshops, pre-conferences, colloquiums, and training events in my field to enhance my doctoral course work. I was just accepted to the Graduate Student Teaching Excellence Program (G*STEP) program, with approximately 85 other University of North Texas graduate students, who will complete the G*STEP certificate over the next 12 months.

As indicated by the image, the goal of the G*STEP program is to initiate mentoring, encourage personal growth, and support effective teaching and learning practices for graduate students. This non-credit certificate program was developed by the Toulouse Graduate School, the Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign (CLEAR),the Provost’s office, Undergraduate Studies, UNT Libraries, and the UNT Program of Higher Education to promote effective teaching in higher education at UNT.

UNT would like to reach their FOUR BOLD GOALS for teaching effectiveness, which can be grouped into these three key factors:

  1. Providing organized and clear instruction that contributes to understanding and promotes learning
  2. Creating a learning environment that is inclusive, respectful and engaging
  3. Guiding and encouraging self-directed learning resulting in a wider understanding and contribution to the learning process.

Although I already have teaching experience, in both the K-12 and higher education classroom, I thought the G*STEP program would improve my instructional craft, enhance my pedagogical methods, and connect me to other graduate students in various disciplines – to learn about their teaching practices, challenges and resources. The only cost to the program is purchasing Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers and committing my time/effort to the program for the duration of the twelve months.  As I plug through the online modules (8 total) and face-to-face meetings (6 total), I will be sure to share my contributions, reflections and progress here.

#AcWri, #phdchat

Reasons to #AcWri and Writing Considerations

For tonight’s class (yay for Fridays!) I will be sharing the basic concepts from Rocco and Hatcher’s (2011) publication – The Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publication – as I outline chapter 1. This book was part of my #summerreading list. I picked it up to read advance for ATTD 6480: Research Methods class, and consider how to hone my own writing and publishing practice. Much of this book offers basic ideas and structure for suggested scholarly writing practices. Stay tuned, as I am sure that I will share a few other nuggets of #AcWri tips from time to
time.

Here are some basic writing tips from Chapter 1:

  • Make projects from opportunities
  • Meet deadlines – yours and others
  • Keep your commitments
  • Organize & prioritize your projects => To Do lists & Tracking of Your Work
  • Write down ideas – ALWAYS
  • Outline your writing projects in progress
  • Take notes when you read/research
  • Identify at least ONE journal to submit to
  • Review journal articles where you want to submit
  • Learn the style & preferred manuscript structure
  • Rejection = helpful review comments & suggestions

Reference:

Rocco, T.S. & Hatcher, T. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. San Francisco: Wiley/Jossey-Bass.

LPQ

CFP: The @LPQuarterly Volume 1, Issue 4 EXTENDED: DUE November 5, 2012

The Learning and Performance Quarterly (LPQ) is an online, open access peer-review journal designed to make research available to the public and to support a greater exchange of global knowledge. We have recently been invited to publish in the EBSCO research database, and our publication is growing both in author contributions and readership. Articles in support of innovative learning and performance across disciplines from developing and proven scholars are welcome for the last call for 2012 – here is the more information about the call for manuscripts.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:
Learning and Performance Quarterly, Volume 1, Issue 4

The Learning and Performance Quarterly (LPQ) is currently accepting submissions for the second issue. Deadline for submissions is Friday, October 26 at 5 pm CDT. DEADLINE EXTENDED to Monday, November 5, 2012 at 11:59 CDT. Submission of manuscripts can be made online through the LP Quarterly website. For detailed submission guidelines and instructions on how to make a submission please visit Author Guidelines.


TYPES OF MANUSCRIPTS ACCEPTED
Research Articles :
Papers that are concerned with the various approaches to learning and performance impact. These papers should discuss the literature related to the approach employed and include a measure of the learning and performance impact of the approach employed.

Case Studies:
Case studies that highlight a particular learning, training, performance or instructional setting in which learning and performance resources were used to address a particular challenge. They present a discussion of the challenge from current literature, what was done to solve or explore it, and the results of the project. They often offer suggestions for others interested in addressing similar challenges.

Concept/Theory Papers:
Papers that present new concepts or contribute to existing theory for learning and performance. This should offer a discussion of the literature related to the concept/theory along with a discussion of the major issues for future research needed to validate the concept/theory.

Book Reviews:
Book reviews of publications 2011 or later will be accepted to highlight a issues and resources relevant for learning and performance and offer a suggested solution or direction. The position is supported with both a logical argument and a review of the pertinent literature. Preference will be given in the review process to book review essays that comment on two or more related books.  Book review essays should not exceed 3,800 words and should include city, state, publisher, and year of the book’s publication.  An abstract of 150 words or less and keywords are required for book review essays.  Reviews of single books should not exceed 1,900 words.  At the beginning of the text please include title, author, publisher, city, date, and page numbers of the book(s) under review.

CALL FOR LEARNING AND PERFORMANCE QUARTERLY REVIEWERS
Interested in reviewing articles for the LPQ Journal? The LPQ journal is looking for reviewers to conduct peer reviews and evaluations of submissions.
Please identify your reviewing interests, substantive areas of expertise, and preferred research methods when completing the LPQ journal registration online.

We look forward to receiving your submissions. Please pass this post onto other colleagues and researchers who might be interested in publishing, reviewing or editing for the Learning and Performance Quarterly journal.

Thank you,

Laura Pasquini & Dr. Jeff Allen, Founding Editors
Learning and Performance Quarterly
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter @LPQuarterly
Email: LPquarterly@gmail.com

Book Review

#BookReview – Brain Gain: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom

A late add to my #summerreading list was Marc Prensky’s Brain Gain: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom. With the start of the semester underway, I finally found some time to review this book. 

Added to my #summerreading list...

The premise of Prensky’s new book looks at how technology is changing and enhancing our minds with digital wisdom:

“Human culture and context is exponentially change for almost everyone. To adapt to and thrive in that context, we all need to extend our abilities. Today’s technology is making this happen, and it is extending and ‘liberating’ our minds in many helpful and valuable ways. Our technology will continue to make us freer and better — but only if we develop and use it wisely” (Prensky, 2012, p. 2).

Prensky shares how technology will “change our minds” to learn new things and produce new thoughts. With our gadgets and technological capabilities, we are able to extend our minds, heighten our cognitive surplus, increase our thinking powers and improve our thought process and concentration. As Albert Einstein stated “a new type of thinking is essential if mankind [and womankind] is to survive and move to higher levels” (Prensky, 2012, p. 35). It might be time to outsource some of our brains limitations, including memory, storage, accuracy, complexity and prediction, to a technological source. Prensky believes that by using technology we have an advantage to be “better thinkers who make wiser decisions and choices” (2012, p. 52). Much of our decision-making can come from the symbiosis of the mind and technology.

Although technology is often viewed in a negative light, this book identifies ways we enhance our “digital wisdom” via technology. Prensky defines wisdom as “the ability to find practical, creative, contextually appropriate and emotionally satisfying solutions to complicated human problems” (2012, p. 45). In contemplating the arguments against this idea of being wise with technology, the author introduces several fallacies, including:

  1. “Human” as Being Special and Always Better
  2. “Genuine”
  3. Longer Always Being Better
  4. Privacy Always Being Better
  5. Depth and Always Being Better
  6. Slower Being Better
  7. “One Thing at a Time” Being Better
  8. “Brain Science” Providing All , or Even Enough, Answers
  9. Relying on “Tried and True” Solutions in New Contexts
  10. “Reflection” Being Slow
  11. “Expertise” Meaning “Knowledge and Analysis of Data” and of Expertise Coming Only from Professionals
  12. Short Attention Spans
  13. “Limited Capacity” and the Need for In-Person/Online Trade-offs
  14. The “Cultural Now”
  15. “Wisdom” as Coming Only from Humans

Throughout this book (especially in Chapter Three) there are a number of examples of digital wisdom to demonstrate how the mind and technology function well with one another. Also scattered throughout the text, there are a number of references to other great technology-focused reads – many I have on my “to read” list or just added. Here are a couple of suggestions you might like shared by Prensky:

The book continues to share examples of digital cleverness and digital stupidity, with suggestions and examples on how we all can be smarter with our technology software, hardware and digital presence. Prensky continues to share how to cultivate digital wisdom in our personal life, at work and finally in education:

“Cultivating digital wisdom means being intellectually curious and active, continually expanding one’s online universe rather than sticking with the same things, and continually bringing more of the new world into our lives” (2012, p. 182).

Although Prensky touches on his former definition of “digital natives,” he digresses to move towards the need for educators to get comfortable with developing wisdom in classrooms with technology. The skills identified with digital wisdom and technology include collaboration, teamwork, decision-making, taking risks, making ethical and moral decisions, employing scientific deduction, thinking laterally and strategically, problem solving, and dealing with foreign environments and cultures (Prensky, 2012). The final chapters discuss the real dangers, things to be wary of, acknowledging problems to fix them, and evolution of the human as being impact by technology and singularity.

Overall, I think much of this book summarizes the impact of technology and our brain power with gadget and tech consumption. Prensky presents a decent summary and tries to synthesize how our thinking, actions and learning have changed – by curating and compiling examples and theories in a digestible way for the reader. Although the concepts are not novel, I think a number of readers will appreciate the concepts put forth around digital wisdom and technology.

Reference:

Prensky, M. (2012). Brain gain: Technology and the quest for digital wisdom. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

**Full disclosure: This book was sent to me by the Palgrave Macmillian publishing group to review on my blog. Thank you for the read. **

#phdchat, ATPI, Learning Technologies, LPQ, Reflections

LT Forum Interview – About My PhD Experience So Far…

The LT Forum is a place for students, staff and faculty in the Department of Learning Technologies at the University of North Texas to share news, announcements and updates. Here is an interview I did for them over the summer, that I forgot to cross-post here. Thanks to for inviting me to share my thoughts Jenny Wakefield.

« on: June 02, 2012, 01:24:32 PM »

We have many talented doctoral students in The Department of Learning Technologies. Our hope is to be able to interview and showcase these PhD learners here in the LT Forum as each reaches milestones through-out their journey towards their graduation. Reading about other students’ successes may boost that extra energy needed for others to push themselves forward and learning about challenges may help guide others. We also want to spotlight our students so that new learners come join our team and travel with us in the Learning Technologies – a great place to be! [Jenny Wakefield.]Our third interview is with Laura Pasquini, Doctoral Student in the APTI program:

Laura Pasquini – PhD Learner in ATPI

JW: Tell me a little bit about what made you decide to enroll in the ATPI program and pursue a PhD/EdD. (When did you enroll? How long have you been working towards your exam and course completion?)

LP: In looking for a graduate program that suited my scholar-practitioner interests in higher education, I thought that the Department of Learning Technologies at UNT was best suited for my talents and interests. After completing a course in Fall 2009. I decided to join the ATPI program in Spring 2010, as I liked the interdisciplinary approach and learning model that was built into the curriculum. As an ATPI doctoral student approaching completion, I appreciate the ability to study in the field of applied technology, human resource management, organizational change/theory, and educational research while connecting with faculty and leaders in the field. The end of 2012 marks the end of my course work and movement into being a PhD candidate. I am fortunate to be one of the first ATPI doctoral students to complete the NEW ATPI portfolio (instead of the comprehensive exam) by November, and after my last ATTD class with Dr. Nimon this Fall I will be ready to propose my doctoral dissertation and move on to being a doctoral candidate. The tentative plan is to be complete the ATPI doctoral program and graduate around May 2014.

JW: Who is your major professor?

LP: Dr. Jeff Allen is my major professor. It has been great collaborating and learning from one another. I appreciate the ability to work with and contribute to research, publications, and opportunities in the LT department. He has been a great faculty advisor who knows how to challenge and support my professional/academic needs.

JW: What has been the most challenging parts of your studies so far?

LP: Balance. I am a student, staff, and instructor at the University of North Texas. My role as an Academic Counselor/Instructor with the Office for Exploring Majors, Undergraduate Studies supports undecided students with their major/career choices and academic journey; whereas I am often found on campus, late in class, or researching/writing for another project. Besides working on courses, I have found great values in collaborating with other authors on publications, connecting in the field with other educators, and meeting corporate leaders. Besides working on courses, I have been busy with contributing to professional associations and journals with research, publications, and presentations. This year I have taken on the role as the editor for the Learning and Performance Quarterly (LPQ) which is a student-led, blind peer-review open-access online journal. We just published our first issue on May 22, 2012 and I’m looking forward to working with our reviewers and editors on the second issue over the summer.

JW: Tell us a little bit about your journey so far. What are challenges you’ve had to overcome? Have you had any pleasant surprises, aha-moments you’d like to share?

LP: I am originally from Toronto/Niagara Falls, Canada, so it took me a little while to adjust to the climate and the ways of Texas. I have been fortunate to meet some hospitable friends and colleagues who have helped my transition to the Lone Star state. So far I have really enjoyed my PhD journey. I have appreciated the projects, classes, discussions, and, most importantly, the connections with peers from UNT and in the learning technology field. I think that learning is an ongoing process, and developing as a researcher and academic is a continual experience. I have learned to celebrate the accomplishments and milestones along the way, and to be open to any feedback and new ideas I am exposed to along the way.

JW: What presentations have you attended/presented at? Tell us a little bit about one of them. Anything in particular that comes to mind? Advice for others?

LP: I have been fortunate to present research, papers, and theoretical sessions at a variety of professional associations and conferences over the last few years. Some have been collaborative and others have been a great learning experience where I have engaged with participants in meaningful discussions about shared research experiences.

LP: Over the last year I have been fortunate to be asked to share ideas and thoughts around connected learning and social practices for professionals as an invited speaker a few conferences/meetings. Last fall I was invited to talk to the University of Hawaii System Advising group at their annual workshop in Honolulu, HI about “Why Advising Networks Matter” and how holistic, community models of connected advising practices best support our learners. I just returned from Helena, MT where I was invited to be the opening keynote speaker for the Mountain MoodleMoot. During this talk I shared strategies for developing learning curriculum and ideas to support social learning with Digital Pedagogy to Engage. Both talks offered me opportunities to share my research ideas and practical experiences with social, connected learning; but more importantly it allowed me to connect with colleagues to discuss how these ideas can be applied to provide solutions for issues in education.

JW: What publications and/or creative works have you published?

LP: In collaborating with a few authors from our campus and other locations in the US, I have experience publishing book chapters, monograph chapters, and conference proceedings around topics in technology for advising, collaborative learning, and innovative practices for performance and learning. I am currently working on a few manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals. If you want to see my publications, I have current publications shared on my Mendeley account. Besides formal publications, I am often reflecting and sharing thoughts about my research on my blog or podcasting with the BreakDrink.com Student Affairs and Higher Education community on the Campus Technology Connection podcast.

JW: Have you decided on your dissertation topic and if so what was it? If so, what made you decide on this topic?

LP: I am currently culling through my literature review and narrowing my dissertation topic – which should be finalized over the break in coursework this summer. My current research thread and interests are in the areas of collaborative learning environments and personal learning networks, specifically how these networks and environments impact learning, training, and development in organizations. What interested me in these topics was personal experience connecting and learning in both formal and informal learning networks – specifically with peer-to-peer learning and mentoring in professional organizations. I hope to share some insights and values to how alternative forms of learning, training, and mentoring can impact professional development and career growth.

JW: Have you been studying full-time or also been working? How do you feel about combining PhD studies and working full-time (if you did)? What are things to potentially keep in mind?

LP: As I shared above, I have been working full-time as well as working on my doctoral studies, research, and publications. I will say that it is quite busy and challenging; however with some effective time management and organization it is not impossible to accomplish your academic goals. I am grateful to have supportive peers, colleagues, faculty, and family who continue to motivate and push me along my PhD journey. Although it is not impossible, I will say that it takes a great amount of energy, effort, and time to commit to doctoral research and academic professional development.

JW: Any recommendations you would like to share with the rest of us on the journey towards a PhD/Ed.D? 

LP: Stay the course. It seems like a long journey to the end of the PhD/Ed.D, but I think that there are some valuable experiences and rewards along the way. Embrace the challenges and opportunities that you have as a doctoral student beyond the course/program requirements. You can help shape your degree and academic experience, so be sure to make the most of it by getting involved, getting connected, and embrace new learning experiences that you stumble upon along the way.

JW: Anything else you would like to add?

LP: Thanks for asking me to share my thoughts about the Learning Technologies department and ATPI doctoral program. For those of you who want to follow along my PhD journey, I can often be found tweeting or reflecting on my blog. Get connected and share your experiences with me: http://about.me/laurapasquini

Book Review, Higher Education, K-12, Open Education, PLN

10 Principles for the Future of Learning

While working on some late night treadmill mileage, I decided to catch up on documents and books I have been collecting on my Kindle. Last week I read The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age, which was a precursor to The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age book published by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Although this material is a bit dated, I think that some of the pedagogy still applies for educational development.

Image c/o Martin Hawksey (and his musings on this text as well). 

In the first collaborative project, the authors share ten principles to support the future of learning. Davidson and Goldberg (2009) presented these pillars of institutional pedagogy to help institutions rethink learning and meet the challenges that lie ahead for both K-12 and higher education:

  1. Self-Learning – discovering and exploring online possibilities
  2. Horizontal Structures – how learning institutions enable learning; from learning that to learning how; from content to process
  3. From Presumed Authority to Collective Credibility – shifting issues of authority to issues of credibility; understand how to make wise choices
  4. A De-Centered Pedagogy – adopt a more inductive, collective learning that takes advantage of our era and digital resources
  5. Networked Learning – socially networked collaborative learning stressing cooperation, interactivity, mutuality and social engagement
  6. Open Source Education – seeks to share openly and freely in the creation of culture and learning; provides a more collective model of interchange
  7. Learning as Connectivity and Interactivity – digital connection and interaction to produce sustainable, scaffolding ensembles
  8. Lifelong Learning – there is no finality to learning; learning is part of society and culture
  9. Learning Institutions as Mobilizing Networks – networks enable flexibility, interactivity, and outcome; new institutional organizations reliability and innovation
  10. Flexible Scalability and Simulation – new technologies allow for collaboration beyond distance or scale for productive interactions that warrant educational merit

Reference: Davidson, C.N. & Goldberg, D.T. (2009). The future of learning institutions in a digital age. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.