CCK09, EC&I831, eduMOOC, PLN, Professional Development

Online Learning: More Than Just a MOOC

As a life-long learner, I have appreciated engaging and interacting with a wide variety of educators in a few Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The concept of a MOOC is has been around for a while. In previous blog posts, I have shared the definition of a MOOC and my participation and experience. I have appreciated learning from the #eci831 and #CCK09 MOOC facilitators, such as Alec Couros, George Siemens & Stephen Downes. Even more,  I appreciate the knowledge shared by invited speakers and the connected learning participants who I continue to engage and exchange with beyond the course structure. MOOCs are now on the tip of everyone’s tongue due to recent education technology start-ups who are now designing MOOC-like courses and creating partnerships with many accredited higher education institutions. What’s all the MOOC about if the concept of a MOOC is not a new innovation?

#jiscwebinar What Is A MOOC? @dkernohan @mweller @jonathan_worth @loumcgill @daveowhite [visual Notes]

Image c/o Flickr user guilia.forsythe

In a recent CBC radio interview and blog post, George Siemens discusses more about the good and bad aspects of Massively Open Online Courses are for online learning. There are different sides of the camp on this topic. Some believe MOOCs will either kill or transform the academy as we know it. Here are some interesting points that were shared in the interview from George and callers to the show:

Current Learning & Development = #AltProDev

If there is an interesting alternative professional development (#AltProDev) opportunity available – I’m there! Part of the reason why I have connected to podcasting with BreakDrink.com or participation in Twitter Chats (#AcAdv Chat, #SAchat or #PhDchat) can be attributed to my early learning experiences with MOOCs. I enjoy engaging in PD to improve my skills and add to my knowledge repertoire. Across various personal and professional spheres, I have learned a great deal at formal conferences, workshops and education sessions; however, I am also proud to say I learn a great deal from my informal training and development environments that are primarily cultivated online. I think that MOOCs provide a set time period for professionals to learn about a specific topic and engage with others in a similar informal fashion. What is neat about this classroom is, that although the course might end, your network and learning artifacts continue to thrive outside the specific learning environment.

Teaching locally but accredit widely.

As a current student in higher education (I’m in process of working on my doctoral degree in learning technologies at UNT), I tend to research, read, archive, and share online to keep on top of the trends and happenings. I think my involvement in MOOCs have connected me to new concepts, research ideas, learning networks, and continue to support my formal education goals. My intention when signing up for this type of free, online learning was to support my own professional development and expose myself to new learning concepts. I reflected my MOOC experiences to my faculty advisor and he believed that participation in any one of these classes could be an added elective for my doctoral degree plan since this informal learning environment was contributing to my research design. How would this type of learning be looked like at your institution for degree requirements? Here is one suggestion for earning college credit from MOOCs if interested.

Sustainable model? Or Just Branding?

The MOOC talk seems to be all the rage as start-up companies, such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity, partner to “reshape online learning” with well-known higher education institutions. Will the massive hype of these MOOC types lead to effective use and sustainable funding models? Or is this just another method for marketing and propagation of the university brand? I do not know. I agree with George’s thoughts – we will see after the dust settles and the MOOC hype levels off in higher education.

Types of MOOCs

As the online learning trend grows there will be various types, targets and tiered offerings of MOOCs. Some of the MOOCs I have reviewed have included areas for digital competence, open education and technical resources. The content, subjects, platforms and learning environments will vary from MOOC to MOOC – and will most likely depend on the partnering institutions influence as well. Online learning will continue to be part of higher education curriculum at many institutions, but as George says “open and online courses is not going to be what cures the ails of online education.” I concur.

Incomplete = Failure?

Does a lack of commitment or completion mean that a MOOC failed? In looking at the retention and completion rates of MOOCs, the numbers vary from start to finish of a MOOC. Audrey Watters wrote a great about dropping out of MOOCs last week. She questioned if it was the content, instructor, platform or learner themselves. Good questions. If this was a multiple choice test, I might even select (E) Any of the above. Or perhaps our MOOC participants would commit more if they paid to learn – even $2 Would the freemium model commit participants more if there was a certification, badge, or accreditation for courses attached? Does extrinsic motivation trump the intrinsic goal for learning and self-fulfillment? I’m not sure.

Dynamics of MOOCs vs. Organic Classroom Experience

There are many pedagogical and theoretical underpinnings for MOOCs. If designed well, a number of online education opportunities allow for discussion, problem-solving, reflection, and unique dynamic interactions. A question from one of the callers to the CBC radio program asked (paraphrased) – can online education and MOOCs really replace the organic interactions in a face-to-face classroom environment? My initial response = it depends. I have always thought good teaching and solid learning outcomes is what drives the course. That being said it is important to note that technology is “not just a tool.” As a student, I have been in both fantastic and terrible courses both online and in class. Depending on the course purpose and objectives, instructors have the POTENTIAL to engage learners in a truly immersive and participative online learning environment. Technology is the instrument; the students are the musicians – it is up to the instructor to orchestrate and guide the collaborative instrumental play in online education.

What are your thoughts about MOOCs? Have you participated in a MOOC? Are you planning to participate in a MOOC in the near future? Please share.

#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
EC&I831, eduMOOC, Higher Education, Learning Community, Learning Technologies, Open Education, PLN, Virtual Communities, Web Design

#mtmoot Opening Keynote: Digital Pedagogy to Engage

This morning I will be joining the Mountain MoodleMoot at Carroll College in Helena, MT to share some thoughts and ideas around engaged digital pedagogy. Our learners are connected; however  I think more educators and instructional designers need to support our students in developing effective learning skills to navigate this new culture of learning. For those of you interested in following along, be sure to tweet with hashtag  #mtmoot, check out my slides (below), and feel free to scope out the digital handout http://bit.ly/mtmoot12 I compiled for this session.

 

Today’s learners operate in a world that is informal, networked, and filled with technology. Connectivity and digital access is an increasing need for our students and a vital requirement to excel beyond structured learning environments. Our learners are now able to interact with information, learning materials, and peers from around the globe. There is an increasing need to expand and enhance our learners’ involvement in learning technology to support engagement in online learning environments.

With the emergence of collaborative, online tools, educators can take advantage of multidimensional and engaged participation to reach their learning outcomes. Social media creates a space where “everybody and anybody can share anything anywhere anytime” (Joosten, 2012, p.6). Educational paradigms are shifting to include new modes of online and collaborative learning and student-centered, active learning to challenge our students to connect curriculum with real life issues (Johnson, Adams & Cummins, 2012). As a new generation of learners begin to create and share content, educators need to understand how to effectively utilize social web resources to impact in instructional practice create a culture of online participatory learning.

Emerging technology platforms and devices are beginning to disrupt education as we know it. To coevolve and positively impact learner success, it is critical that instructors and instructional designers consider how digital pedagogy can support learning outcomes. This keynote plenary will share ideas and suggested practices to develop a richer learning experience and thrive in the changing digital learning frontier.

References

Johnson, L., Adams, S. & Cummins, M. (2012). The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.

Joosten, T. (2012). Social Media for Educators. San Francisco, CA: Wiley/Jossey-Bass.

#phdchat, Open Education, PhD, PLN, Professional Development

10 “Lessons” in Digital Scholarship from @mweller

As a scholar who is lives digitally, connected & open, I have appreciated following along with Dr. Martin Weller’s as he tweets & blogs his ideas for similar philosophies. More recently he has published an open-access, creative commons book – The Digital Scholar.

I was just watching Martin’s recent talk with the LSE on how to engage in digital scholarship, i.e. scholarship that is open, networked and digital. Thanks to the Centre for Learning Technology at LSE for presenting the NetworkEd: Technology in Education Series, you can watch these “lessons” (a.k.a. general ideas and musings about how to be a connected & engaged scholar). @mweller has posted his 10 Digital Scholarship Lessons in 10 Videos to recap the presentation, slides and scoop it page as well:

  1. It’s not just for geeks
  2. Researchers are caught in a dilemma
  3. Interdisciplinary is the network
  4. We’re all broadcasters now
  5. We’re operating in an attention economy
  6. We can rethink research
  7. New skills will be required
  8. It’ll impact even if you ignore it
  9. It’s about alternatives
  10. Don’t focus just on risk

I think that Martin brings up some great ideas of what a digital scholar looks like – and there are many of them already out there. I hope to not only witness, but also be part of this academic revolution. The changing landscape of technology, information and communication is challenging higher education to rethink its approach to learning. Online resources are very social and collaborative, and I hope to see these emerging tools push the academic realm outside of the traditional boundaries and expectations. With current developments in educational technology, learning communities have the ability to enhance peer-to-peer connections, social learning, knowledge sharing, and critical thinking for researchers. When learners/researchers become creators, narrators and digital contributors of their own academic fields, many gain further in-depth meaning and purpose in the learning process.

Collaboration, Learning Community, PLE, PLN

Organizational Networks, Relationships & Sensemaking

In organizational life there are interpersonal networks, within and across organizations, and internationalizational networks, with exchanges of resources, alliances, and shared directors. Network thinking has a long history in sociology , such as the dynamics of triads and the “web of group affiliations.” New constructs such as resources dependence, institutional theory methodology, and computer power encouraged formal methods for network analysis, assessing relationships and structures, and testing new theories.

 

Networks provide a way to visualize and analyze patterns among relationships of the nodes (parts) and ties to determine distribution of information, resources, energy and authority. This type of network analysis has lead to further review of organization connectedness, including:

  • formal and informal networks among members and units
  • social network analysis to quantify position or importance of actors in the network
  • characterization of technology, industry and product space
  • types of ties among organizations
  • organizational alliances, partnerships & affiliations
  • review networks of organization distinct from functional, divisional or matrix form
  • hybrid of ties among organizational units
  • dynamic networks in industrial districts
  • networks structures and differences depending on economies and politics
  • cross-cultural comparisons of networks
 Practical applications for organizational networks and relationships include application of the following steps for both individuals and organizations:
  1. Setting up a personal learning network (PLN) – developing a PLN to meet your personal and professional goals
  2. Establishing a professional presence online –establishing you digital identity and presences online
  3. Selecting online networks & tools – where to start, tools, tips and social spaces
  4. Finding your voice – developing a sense of self in the community of practice and contributing to that shared community
  5. Network collaboration – being able to weave your online network to learn, grow, curate and contribute

References

Scott, R. W. & Davis, G. F. (2007). Networks in and around organizations. In Organizations and organizing: Rational, Natural and Open system perspectives, Chapter 11.

Further Readings

Borys, B. & Jemison, D. B. (1989) Hybrid arrangements as strategic alliances: theoretical issues in organizational combinations. Academy of Management Review, 14, 234-249.

Daft, R. & Weick, K. (1984).  Toward a model of organizations as interpretation systems.
Academy of Management Review, 284-295.

Granovetter, M. (1983). The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited
Sociological Theory, Vol. 1, (1983), pp. 201-233.

Levine, S. and White, P.E. (1961) Exchange as a conceptual framework for the study of interorganizational relations. Administrative Science Quarterly,5: 583-601.

Milliken, F. J. (1990). Perceiving and Interpreting Environmental Change: An Examination of College Administrators’ Interpretation of changing demographics. Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 33, No. 1 (Mar., 1990), pp. 42-63

Park, S. H. (1996) Managing an Interorganizational Network: A Framework of the Institutional Mechanism for Network Control. Organization Studies, 17: 795-824.

Ring, P.S. & Van de Ven, A.H. (1994) Developmental process of cooperative interorganization relations. Academy of Management Review, 19, 90-118.

Salancik, G. R. (1995) Review: WANTED: A Good Network Theory of Organization
Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 345-349

Weick, K. ( 1993). The collapse of sensemaking in organizations: The Mann Gulch disaster. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38: 628-652

Weick, K., Sutcliffe, K., & Obstfeld, D. ( 2005). Organizing and the process of sensemaking. Organization Science, 16 (4): 409-421.

Learning Community, Micro-Blogs, PLE, PLN, web 2.0

Happy My Twitter Story Day! #mytwitterstory

I often talk about my personal learning network (PLN); however I cannot deny that a large part my PLN is located on Twitter. In honour of the #MyTwitterStory Share event happening today, I will tell you about my Twitter experience, involvement and why I engage. Thanks for your story and initiating the #mytwitterstory blog prompt, @michaelmgrant

Once upon a Twittersphere, there was a Canadian Princess Laura who moved to Texas to for a new job, new place, new academic program, and a new life adventure. While relocating from the metropolitan county of Toronto to to the Dallas realm, she thought it was wise to stay connected to friends, family and colleagues she was leaving behind. Princess Laura was socially connected via Facebook, Skype, blogging, Flickr, LinkedIn and more. Then in August 2008,  she was introduced to Twitter by a new @NACADA friend, Eric Stoller, who wanted to use this tech tool for the 1st  #NACADAtech Seminar.

Although Princess Laura was not quite sure about the 140-character perimeters or the random personal updates, she did fancy the cute little bird and thought she would keep an open mind about it. In the beginning, Princess @laurapasquini decided to lurk on Twitter to figure out why others were using this  social media tool. Through her observation, Princess Laura discovered a couple of great learning opportunities using Twitter (and other social web resources with@courosa ‘s #ECI831 and #CCK09 facilitated by @gsiemens  & @olddaily. While engaging in these open, online classes Princess Laura found the value in connecting to others to share resources, swap ideas, hold discussions and ask questions. Twitter was a space to participate in on-going learning and training initiatives to enhance her personal & professional development. The experiences in open learning courses, conference backchannelsTwitter listshashtag communities, following supportive Tweeters, and the participation in a few of the many Twitter Chats opened Princess @laurapasquini up to the educational potential of the Twittersphere.

By using third-party clients like  Hootsuite Seesmic, Princess @laurapasquini was able to discover the power of micro-blogging with great learning communities such as #edtech, #SAchat, #AcAdv, #SAtech, #HigherEd and MORE!  Princess @laurapasquini continues to archive her tweets & URLs to her Delicious account via packrati.us, which also pays it forward and shares and RTs. Now Princess @laurapasquini places great value in the tweets of others for news, information, trends and happenings for her personal, professional and academic interests.

This Twitter tale really expresses Princess @laurapasquini’s love for her PERSONAL LEARNING NETWORK…

maintaining old and new CONNECTIONS…

and most of the FRIENDS who make her #MyTwitterStory complete.

The End! [Or is it? Follow along for more Twitter tales @laurpasquini.]

AcAdv, BreakDrink, Collaboration, Learning Technologies, PhD, PLN, Professional Development

Why Networked Anything Matters…

Time sure flies when you are catching up from conferences and travel! October has been a very productive academic and professional month for me, which has left little time for blogging here. Let me re-cap the conference fun that has been happening & that I might have mentioned on Conference Review/Preview BreakDrink #CTCX show last week.

October kicked off with a bang as I discussed in previous blog post about the #NACADA11 Conference. The altitude and momentum was quite high in Denver for the advising group and it left me wheeling with some new ideas in my new gig with the Office for Exploring Majors. More to come on that end soon…

Mid-month I said aloha to a great group of advising/counseling professionals as I joined the University of Hawaii System Advising Workshop. This was my first keynote where I was wearing a lei, and I enjoyed discussing was the importance of holistic advising in order to support the needs of our students and the campus community.

Here the slides and the open Google doc http://bit.ly/UHAdvising2011 of resources I shared:

The goal of this workshop was to introduce technological and systematic changes happening across the UH system and discuss how they can continue to connect across the many islands as counselors/advisors to support their student needs. I want to send a very big mahalo to the amazing group of advising professionals who invited me to speak, and who I have learned a great deal from during the conference and beyond. The friendly and welcoming attitudes there just might have me visiting the gorgeous state of Hawaii again.

My first visit to the state of Hawaii could not be complete with a few sight-seeing trips. I joined a moped tour to see some of the best waves, beaches and of course some adventure:

I could not leave the island without another professional development opportunity – the AACE E-Learn 2011 #elearnconf. I spent the next week connecting and learning about research, models and instructional design ideas from a wide variety of colleagues from around the globe. A big shout out to my adopted Australian/Kiwi/Dutch #elearnconf family from Deakin University. I think that Bosely knows how to effectively with his angels, and I hope to meet up with you all someday in Melbourne. Did someone say the PLE Conference might be there in 2012?!?!

I presented two best practices sessions that discussed the alternative professional development opportunities from BreakDrink.com and the connected and informal blended learning environments of FYE courses. Both are current chapters I’m working on for the upcoming IGI Publication “Cases on Formal, Non-Formal, and Informational Online Learning: Opportunities and Practices” book that will hit the presses in the near future. Kudos for all the hard work put in by a few of my co-authors and researchers that I have been collaborating with as of late – Kevin Guidry, Melissa Johnson, Michelle Rodems, & Jeff Jackson. Thanks for your efforts and insights.

Finally, there was no better way to end the month than with the #NASPAtech conference last week. Unfortunately, my academic and professional obligations kept me grounded from being there IRL. I am grateful for the amazing backchannel of conversation and my excellent co-facilitators @jeffjacksonTX and @lesliedareNCSU to have me hangout in a couple of Unsessions via Google Plus Hangouts with extras.

I hope that both Unsession conversations about #AltProDev and #SAmobile [both open & shared Google docs] will continue long past this conference. I look forward to joining the next #NASPAtech, since I think this one sounded like it was such a success. High five @NASPAtweets & everyone who brought their #SAtech ideas/thoughts to the conference and backchannel.