Learning, Learning Community, Rhizo15

Time to Drop the Mic Instructors: Learning Gone Wild {#Rhizo15 Week 4}

Thanks for your#Rhizo15 hack in week 4, Viplav. Your questions really got me thinking:

  • How do we really learn online?
  • How much of control and direction do we need?
  • How much of control do we want when we teach?
  • How do we expect others to learn in such environments?
  • What do we expect of them as co-learners?

For #Rhizo15, a strong and involved learning community, the answers are easier to navigate when we remove the instructor or when “DAVE’S NOT HERE.” With a number of educators who are passionate about learning and entrenched in thinking in #rhizo15, you are bound to keep the conversation going and the learners engaged. For most of us, we have experienced traditional pedagogical models and like the ideas of this sort of free-form learning and ability to dip into the curriculum as we like. Also, it won’t take much for someone to create a video, post a cartoon, record a sound cloud, or throw up a blog post on the topic of getting rid of the instructor. As co-learners, we thrive among the course banter and expect one another to contribute. So getting rid of Dave (metaphorically, of course) in #rhizo15, would not impact this course as much as we think (no offense, Dave).

Now, what would happen if we removed an instructor from a course? This could be online or face-to-face class. How would the learners react? When control is given to the course participants, will it be “Learners Gone Wild” or will our students take up the charge to contribute? My thought: it really depends on the course design.

drop-the-mic

These questions made me think back to my undergraduate days at the University of Guelph (Go Gryphons!), where most of my 4th-year history seminar courses were just that. As per the typical course syllabi, we were assigned weekly readings; however instead of coming to a “sage on a stage” lecture we were required to do the teaching. Each week 1-2 students volunteered  to offer a micro lesson, develop questions, and  facilitate the discussion on a topic. The professor often sat back in the class, and let us drive the critical analysis, synthesize the material, and debate about issues. It was GREAT! I thought – THIS is what learning is all about at university. I want more!

StudentCenteredTheories

Student-centered learning theories & methods for flipped learning (Bishop & Verleger, 2013).

Student-centered learning is the key to deep learning, and although not described as “flipped learning” (Bishop & Verleger, 2013) back then, this is what most of my history faculty did at U of G. If you set up your curriculum to purposefully ALLOW for peer-to-peer learning, then removing the facilitator/instructor from the course may be just what you need. By creating intentional spaces (online or in-class) and opportunities for your students to co-learn, you might just be surprised on how they can bring more life to the course subject. During the course, instructors become facilitators of learning to support students with active learning strategies, such as individual problem-solving and team-based projects.Empowering your learners to take the reigns requires them to be embedded in the discipline of study. When you teach someone else about a concept, it requires a deep understanding of the material before you have to explain or critique it.

This does take some intention and planning in how you set up your course structure. It will be important for you to think about where, how, and when you want to infuse peer instruction and the support required for your learners. Think about how you want learners to contribute, lead, evaluate, and understand. When done well, this type of learning has huge benefits for both the instructor and leaders. There are so many possibilities to create dynamic interactions, meaningful conversations and critical thinking about your subject without your lead. Embrace the idea of “letting go of teaching” to see what might happen in part or all of your class. You might be pleasantly surprised at what YOU will learn from your students. Be sure to answer the following questions before you “drop the mic” as an instructor (adopted from Hoffman, 2014):

  • What positive opportunities can student-lead instruction offer your students?
  • How can instructors benefit from creating a cooperative learning experience?
  • What are the possible challenges students and instructors might with peer-assisted learning, and how might they be avoided?
  • What are evidence-based practices for learning environment without an instructor?

Interested in joining the #Rhizo15 world late or want to be part of the conversation and not just a lurker? Dave’s got a guide for that:

  1. This is a list of all rhizo15 blog posts
  2. Pick a title that resonates – click on it.
  3. Leave a comment
  4. Approach mirror, give the person in the mirror a high five
  5. Return contentedly to previous activity
Check out the course website http://rhizomatic.net or go to the hashtag on twitter #rhizo15
Also, you can write late blog posts (like me!) on any of the weekly topics.

For those #Rhizo15 slackers like Kevin & me (well, myself more so), we’re working on said things. The Slackers #Rhizo15 Guide will be available… when we get around to it. 🙂

Slacker's #Rhizo15 Guide... to comeCartoon via @dogtrax (Thanks, Kevin!)

 References:

Bishop, J. L., & Verleger, M. A. (2013). The flipped classroom: A survey of the research. In Proceedings from the 120th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, GA.

Hoffman, J. G. (2014). The functionality and feasibility of flipping. Proceedings from the 25th International Conference on College Teaching and Learning, (pp. 112-126). Jacksonville, FL

Learning Community

What’s A Learning Subjective? #Rhizo15

In the first course week of #Rhizo15 Dave asked us to define our learning subjectives, specifically:

  • How do we design our own or others learning when we don’t know where we are going?
  • How does that free us up?
  • What can we get done with subjectives that can’t be done with objectives?

After reading a the follow-up blog post & the list of #Rhizo15 Week 1 blog posts (Thanks, @Lenandlar) prompted me to respond. Learning is uncertain, and happens at the rarest moment.

As an educator, we get caught up with the standard Learning Objective slant for teaching and learning. Learning objectives (sometimes referred to as intended learning outcomes or course-specific goals) are clear statements to describe the competencies learners should possess upon completion of a course (Simon & Taylor, 2009; Harder, 2002; Kennedy, 2007). An effective learning objective identifies what a student would know and be able to demonstrate along with the depth of learning expected from the curriculum.

With #Rhizo15 the lack of learning objectives provides a lot of freedom to explore ideas, connect to meaning, and identify new ways of knowing. I think a learning subjective is when students are encouraged to make their own learning personal. I felt bad for a delayed blog post on this topic — but then I remembered — being subjective means individualizing and customizing my own way to learn. Subjective learning allows for more preference and flexibility, which provides dynamic ways to engage in uncertain patterns and developments from within a course. Learning objectives provide well-defined outcomes and intentions for learning. The openness of learning subjectives provides opportunities for students to drive the course agenda and direct their interests for topics. For some teachers and students, learning subjectives might place education out of its comfort zone to consider what a curriculum could be if defined by all those involved. I think

For many teachers and students, learning subjectives might place all outside of our educational comfort zones. Consider what your course and curriculum would be like if you showed up to class on the first day and asked everyone in the room to design & be a participant in your course? Bring on the blank stares. I suspect many students would walk out of the room or drop your online class. Not for the ability or empowerment of being part of the learning design process, but more out of the fear of the unknown. I think Tania‘s metaphor explained it best: a jigsaw puzzle. This daunting task of figure out where to put the pieces together for ambiguous learning is complicated and requires a lot of work. Are you ready to commit for this complicated and multi-layered task? Am I? Who knows? But I am willing to give it a try. [If I am overwhelmed by the #rhizo15 learning swarm – I always have Keith to ask. :)]

My learning subjective for #Rhizo15 will be en par with how I prefer to travel, e.g. backpacking across Europe. Travel light. Show up to the airport or train station. Select a random place to go. Identify a few things I might see or do. Be open to new adventures and experiences. Sure. I might get lost or not know the language – but I will figure it out or it will be an experience at least. The not knowing what is ahead is okay. I will find the way with others, as there are a number of locals and travelers I can have a chat with. Only memories (a few photos & blog posts) and connections will follow me home as souvenirs.

me & parliament#TBT from 2006 London – {Note To Self: I need to digitize my earlier travel photogs.}

I am looking forward to bumping into a few #Rhizo15 friends as I travel through this course. My learning pack is ready, and I want to explore. Some of you I will see soon (in person), others online, and then — who knows — I might even travel to a location near YOU soon (get your guest room or couch ready)! For now, I look forward to our learning travels online. Stay in touch!

References:

Harden, R. M. (2002). Learning outcomes and instructional objectives: Is there a difference?. Medical teacher, 24(2), 151-155.

Kennedy, D. (2007). Writing and using learning outcomes: a practical guide. Cork, Ireland: University College Cork.

Simon, B., & Taylor, J. (2009). What is the value of course-specific learning goals. Journal of College Science Teaching, 39(2), 52-57.

Learning Community

Curriculum T.B.D. with #rhizo15

From A Practical Guide to Rhizo15: “Rhizomatic learning is one story for how we can think about learning and teaching in a complex world.” Dave Cormier (@davecormier) has been thinking “in the rhizo” for a while and expressing ideas of the community as curriculum for teaching and learning. Cormier (2011) believes a curriculum for a course can be created in time, while a course is happening, specifically  “… to be rhizomatic involves creating a context, maybe some boundaries, within which a conversation can grow.”  

Sometimes learning can be messy. The rhizome concept is often uncertain as it maps in any direction, starts at any point, and grows or spreads with experimentation within a context. From this idea and others shared at the #ALN14 keynote (Pasquini, 2014), I gathered a number of valuable ideas to shape learning contracts for my own students and encouraging learners to map their own ways of knowing and evaluations (Brubaker, 2010). This talk directly impacted a new course I am teaching this term. Much of the content needed life infused into it, and learners did not seem connected to ideas for effective training and development facilitation from the previous iteration. I turned to my learners to ask them to make meaning and apply these concepts to practical situations, workplace experiences, and relevant examples they might encounter. From the class discussions, curation of readings, and developments of training/instruction, a number of my learners felt more empowered and felt as though they were part of their learning process. That being said – it does not mean things were clean and easy. There were a few bumps along the way; however this process of evaluating the learning structure helped me consider the process of knowing and supporting a collaborative curriculum down the road.

Based on my own interest in learning, and the hashtag (#) map of #rhizo15 conversation, I figured #rhizo15 would be a great place to connect and explore this concept further. [Thanks for recommending Socioviz to meet & greet with the community, Dave. Great idea!]

rhizo15hash

If you did not hear great things about the conversations, questions, and sharing from the #rhizo14 group – then you must have lived under an Internet rock last year. The #rhizo14 community often shared a number of valuable insights and resources. Although I tried to play in the sandbox with this active, online community, something got in the way of my participation (I’m looking at you dissertation). I am looking forward to the #rhizo15 camp that officially kicks off on April 15th for 6 weeks o’ fun as the participants build the curriculum. Here’s to playing in the unknown and building our learning out with fresh perspectives and gentle pushes from the #rhizo15 learning network.

Interested in joining the #rhizo15 fun? Here’s a few ways you can engage:

References

Brubaker, N. D. (2010). Negotiating authority by designing individualized grading contracts. Studying Teacher Education, 6(3), 257-267.

Cormier, D. (2011, November 5). Rhizomatic Learning – why we teach? Dave’s Educational Blog. Retrieved from http://davecormier.com/edblog/2011/11/05/rhizomatic-learning-why-learn/

Pasquini, L. A. (2014, October 31). Dave Cormier: Rhizomatic Learning – The Community is the Curriculum. The 2014 Annual Online Learning Consortium Conference (#ALN14), Orlando, FL. Retrieved from https://storify.com/laurapasquini/davecormier-s-aln14-keynote-twitter-notes

Learning Community, Professional Development, UGST1000

Help My #ugstSTORY Class Tell Their Story

It seems that all is quiet on the TechKNOW Tools blog front… Sorry about that.

The start of the academic semester came fast and furious, and I have been busy engaging with and learning about my students’ stories for my #ugstSTORY class this Fall 2013 semester. This is my UGST 1000 – First Year seminar class where my students explore their major/career options, get support with transition to college, and learn more about themselves.  Feel free to follow along with our “story” this Fall if you would like:

ugstSTORY Pic

With this seminar class, a great portion of the focus is on self discovery and exploration for personal, academic, and career options. Like many students who are “undecided” or exploring their options, many of my #ugstSTORY students have more than one interest and want to make sure they are going down the right path for them. In learning about many of their talents and skills, I can see why it might be a challenge to just focus on one major. They are a creative and involved class who what to include what they VALUE in their future world of work and life.

What My #ugstSTORY Class Values
During the Fall 2013 semester, my #ugstSTORY students will leave a digital footprint, and will be encouraged to explore their personal and professional options. In their research to make an informed decision, a number of my students will reach out to professionals and industry leaders in the world of work to answer: “What do I want to do with my life?” and “How did you get to where you are?” I am not sure these BIG QUESTIONS will and/or can be answered in just one semester; however I think a few of the assignments and projects will hopefully get them started.

The first assignment, the Road Trip Nation (RTN) Project, is designed to help my students explore personal, academic, and career paths. More importantly, it allows them to understand that many directions will lead you towards your goals and dreams. Their recent blog posts identified what how to find their “Red Rubber Ball,” that is, where do they get their inspiration, passion, interests, values, and likes. Specifically, I asked what potential careers, professions or industries would they like to learn more about.  Here’s a short list from their in-depth blog posts this week:

Interview: Potential Careers & Industry

Interests & Passions

Journalism; Sports Journalism; Broadcaster Friends; Family; Hockey; Sports
Artist; Engineer; Philanthropist; Advertising; Therapist Stability; Helping Others
Journalism; Pre-Law; Psychologist Community Involvement; Travel; Family
Clinical Psych; Greenpeace Environment Activism; Animals; photography; food; language
High School Librarian Reading; books; writing
Engineering; Tourism; Economics Travel; Stability; Accomplishing goals
No Clue Relationships; Smile; Creativity; Individuality
Writer; Journalism Music; Belonging; Writing;
National Geographic; Journalism Travel; Photography;
Broadcaster/Journalism Sports Talking; Sports; Opinions to voice
Photojournalist; Forensics; Library Science Cartoons; Anime; Photography; Music
Psychology; Fashion Merchandising; Law People; Cultures; Travel;
Sales Engineering Music; Activism; Star Wars
Sports Analyst; Broadcaster/Journalist NFL Analyst; sports industry
Neurology; Psychology; Editor/Publishing Anime; Neuroscience; travel; career student; small business

The reason I am sharing more about my class with you is to get them connected beyond our class and the UNT campus. Since I have some phenomenal friends, family, and colleagues in my own learning and professional network, I thought a few of YOU might be able to provide some of your own experience and wisdom for their exploration, specifically by:

  1. SHARING A Resource: We tweet with the #ugstSTORY hashtag, so if you see a link, article, website or anything related to major and career exploration – cc: @ugstSTORY or just put the #ugstSTORY hashtag on it!
  2. READING Their Blog Posts: If you have time to read, comment & post on their WordPress blogs, that would be super rad. Although many are just blogging for the first time, a number of my #ugstSTORY students have very thoughtful and creative perspectives about life in college so far. It would be great if they got a response or two outside our #ugstSTORY class – drop them a comment or like. 🙂
  3. MENTOR Virtually: For the RTN Project a number of the #ugstSTORY learners will be seeking informational interviews with companies, professionals, and different organizations (listed above or might not be listed as they don’t know your about your occupation yet); if you OR someone you know is available and interested in sharing with my students what they do for a living and why they love it – LET ME KNOW!  Yes! I want to MENTOR a #ugstSTORY Student p.s. Pass this link onto a friend you might know as well. Thanks!
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. 
#AcWri, #phdchat, Learning Community, Learning Technologies, PLN, Social Media

Personal Connections in the Digital Age – A Book Review

Speaking of book reviews… there are a few texts I’m reading now that I will be submitting for #acwri projects and there are others I will blog about from my #SummerReading list, such as Personal Connection in the Digital Age by Nancy K. Baym

Personal Connections in the Digital Age #summerreading

This book was published in 2010 as part of the digital media and society series to share how new technologies are impacting our lives and altering our communication. As I research and compile information on digital media and its impact for learning and training for my literature review I thought this academic work provided a solid overview of digital relationships. By sharing the evolution of technology, mediated communication, and online community development, Nancy Baym presents both theoretical frameworks and historical perspectives about digital media’s influence on our society and personal relationships.

Baym provides an overview of interpersonal communication, and she threads both academic research and societal practices of digital media use in this book. As an academic text, there are a number of detailed references and theoretical underpinnings that I have flagged to follow-up as I edit my own literature review. For others who might not be researching and writing in this area, I think this book is still accessible and an interesting read as digital and social media consumes our lives. The technical jargon is kept to a minimum and the writing flows well with research, examples, and anecdotes intertwined in the text.

As I read this book, it was easy to reflect on my personal connections and how digital media shapes my PLN. I thought about how great it is to have peers and communities that I can interact with and play in – without being geographically close to them. I thought fondly of those relationships that have been either been initiated online or mediated digitally from a distance, and I am thankful for how digital media as evolved. I am able to communicate  and enage with a variety of networks/communities beyond e-mail, discussion forums, and IM (Thanks VoIP, video, web conferencing, photo-sharing, social bookmarks, blogs, Twitter, social networks, and much more!).

For anyone who is interested in personal digital connections and what it means to be “connected” to a learning network, I think you will enjoy this book. As  digital identities and online communities grow, it will be critical to consider the issues Baym introduces in each chapter:

  1. New forms of personal connection – identity of the self online and offline, interactivity on the internet, and reviewing social context for digital media
  2. Making new media make sense – emerging technology reflection, social construction, technological determinism, and how technology shapes the social
  3. Communication in digital spaces – how digital media influences communication and personal expression; digital mediums and modes; context of communication
  4. Communities and networks – online networks, shared practices online, social integration, relationship development, lurkers, virtual “space” and community engagement/civic action; networked individuals vs. the collectivism
  5. New relationships, new selves? – meeting new connections, digital identity development, authenticity, socially mediated/constructed relationships
  6. Digital media in relational development and maintenance – building relationships with those you met online, mediated relationship development – influences & effects, social norms and information sharing
Learning Community, Social Media, Training, UGST1000

Facebook for Learning Communities: Groups vs. Pages

Image c/o Interactyx.com

In supporting and creating instructor resources for our 30 or so first year seminar classes, one areas I’m currently working on is our social media for learning (quel supris!). There are a number of resources, “how to” guides, and instructional case studies to support digital learning pedagogy. In curating content for our #UGST1000 (formerly UCRS 1000) Blackboard Learn Instructor site , I realized that the area of using Facebook and other social networks for our learning communities was lacking. Sure there are a few of us out there using these spaces, but it was rare to see any information available for suggested practices let alone understand how our campus social media beliefs impact our Facebook for learning.

Below is the quick guide I created to introduce Facebook Groups & Pages for our first year seminar instructors. I welcome and encourage others to post your ideas and share resources to the comments section – so we can enhance our #edusocmedia learning practices.

What Are Facebook Groups?

Facebook states that groups are designed “for members of groups to connect, share and even collaborate on a given topic or idea.” Groups have been used to market, promote or share group happenings. The key feature behind Facebook groups is the ability to make them “invite only” or limit these spaces to specific groups, i.e. like your seminar section of UGST 1000. These groups can be private or closed for only your students. Although this is a closed feature, you will need to “friend” students in your course to a closed or secret group; however an “open” group option will allow you to add anyone from Facebook.

WARNING: You may (gasp!) not have students who are on Facebook or wish to be “added” to a private group. Keep this in mind. Also, I would encourage you to work with your Peer Mentor in your class to support the cultivation and development of this online learning community.
Instructor perspective:
Ryan: They all REALLY liked our class Facebook group and participated in that quite a bit. I’m considering just using Facebook this time around rather than try to get them all onto a new social network.

Laura: Peer mentors a great support & can often set up these Facebook groups and “friend” students for the instructors. I would encourage this and support the peer mentors as they develop community in your UCRS 1000 Group (ours from Fall 2011) online and in class.

What Are Facebook Pages?

In contrast to Facebook groups, which are focused on organizing around specific topics or ideas, Facebook Pages “allow entities such as public figures and organizations to broadcast information to their fans.” If you are looking to set up your class’s “official Facebook presence” you would opt for a Facebook Page. Students just need to “Like” the page for the semester and they can always opt out when the semester is over. Students who like this page will need to remember to check and monitor their Facebook stream to ensure that they are reading updates posted for the course so they do not miss out on any happenings, announcements or updates.

Simply put, Facebook Pages is a simpler tool for instructors and peer mentors to maintain and use for UGST 1000 Learning Communities. Students, staff, and faculty can view an open Facebook Page even if they opt to not have their own personal account on Facebook. Pages are an easy medium to put out content, share updates, and keep your learning community informed. As the administrator for this page, I would strongly encourage interaction to encourage 2-way conversations by using polls, asking questions, and encouraging comments, pictures or videos to be posted to the course page. You will want to enable sharing features for your community and talk about the purpose or standards for your social space.

Instructor Perspectives:
Laura: I like how you can share ideas, post comments and have others follow along with the discussion – it is a great way to connect to student in the social space of Facebook without having to add them to my own personal/professional “friend” list. The Pages can also be integrated with other features such as Twitter, blogs, photo sharing & videos. Here is the Office for Exploring Majors Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/ExploringMajors

Do You Want to Have a Facebook Group or Page for YOUR Learning Community?
If you are trying to determine whether to use a Facebook Page or a Facebook Group for your UGST 1000 class there are a number of other resources posted in the reference section below to help you best understand the features.
There are a number of other seasoned  instructors who might want to share their ideas or thoughts on the use of both Facebook Pages and Groups (or other social networks) for UGST 1000. Take a look at the handy chart below that breaks up and compares the features; however with other social media things change and are always subject to change.

Facebook Groups & Pages Learning Resources:


10 Reasons Why Facebook is Ideal for Managing Social Learning

The Ultimate Guide for Using Facebook in Education

Facebook Groups Vs Pages: The Definitive Guide

Facebook Groups Vs. Pages: What’s The Difference

Facebook Tips: What’s the difference between a  Facebook page and group?

Pros and Cons of Facebook Groups vs. Pages

Facebook Group vs. Facebook Fan Page: What’s Better?