Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Does a course prevent us from learning material not covered by the course??

Thinking about the PLENK 2010 course, PLEs, general attacks on the idea of a "course" with bounded limits set by an instructor - or by the curriculum at a certain institution.. George Siemens has a great slide of a traditional course that includes a line demarcating "faculty-provided resources bounds domain of knowledge exploration." ( )Does all of that really limit what we can learn? Isn't it possible to take a course that has some bounds and then learn more? Isn't the instructor our first "expert" we're consulting with when we sign up for a course? If I want to learn about PLEs, could I do better on my own than having spent the last few weeks with the PLENK 2010 course? Would PLENK 2010 work if it weren't run by the experts Downes, Siemens, Kop and company?

I'm looking at the article suggested for this week by Fiedler and Valgataga "Modeling the personal adult learner: The concept of PLE re-interpreted." The paper describes a course that started with 41 participants with 35 students completing the course. That's not a horrible drop-out rate, but I'm interested in why some students weren't able to complete the course. Did the students lose interest? Was it too intimidating? Were there personal/family issues that kept some students from completing the course? And I want to know if all the students functioned well... and I'd like to know that with PLENK 2010 as well: Did everyone get an A?

We seem to keep skipping over the confrontation with content. If you need some midwives, don't students need to absorb some content? Can individuals be allowed to be uninterested in some aspects of midwifery? I'm sure it can all be taught in exciting ways - but aren't there some things that need to be learned? PLEs can be a means to transfer learning - but isn't there something in particular that we'd need our students to learn?

Some people teach themselves to be drug dealers. What do we do when "informal learning" and "self-actualization" means joining the nearest drug cartel?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wayne Mackintosh says "If one percent of educators and researchers around the world were to release their intellectual outputs under open content licenses using open file formats, we could conceivably develop digital OERs in support of all national curricula by 2015." What if we broke that down by some sort unit of time per educator? Could we come out with a percent of time that a certain number of tenured professors could devote to course to get the job done? I'm thinking about faculty friends of mine who love their royalty checks. Could they be cajoled into giving SOME time to develop OER - and then let them go back to working on materials that bring them some dollars? Would grants to develop OER for their discipline be more a better motivator? What about prestige? Getting tenure is an issue - How can contributing to OER be given the prestige and status that will induce faculty to spend their time this way? (The Mackintosh quotation is from 16 November, 2010 1:38:48 AM - Open Educational Resources - an online discussion forum )

Monday, November 15, 2010

PLENK 2010

Last week of PLENK 2010 ( What's the difference between a MOOC and the dreaded face-to-face large lecture class? In PLENK we're asked to take responsibility for our own learning and seek out materials and experts beyond the course and create a personal learning network. Somehow the use of Web 2.0 tools is supposed to translate into a better experience than listening to a lecture, trading class notes with fellow students, and doing the readings - and going to the library to do more reading - and organizing our notes and turning in some pre-Web 2.0 era piece of writing - oh and probably taking a silly multiple choice quiz or two along a way. Instead...if we create a video or post to a blog we're more engaged. Some people must have stuck out the course through the end and participated in the synchronous sessions and blogged and tweeted and posted on the discussion forum. How many people didn't make it through the course? And did they drop out for the same reasons as people drop a face-to-face class? Did we all discover our individual learning objectives and achieve them? Could this course run itself without intervention of our enthusiastic instructors now that all the content is available?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson's message

George Siemens at did a post on "key skills for educators in the 21st century"(and other centuries as well.) In his posting he takes a knock at Ken Robinson's "emotional-feel-good-message" on creativity. Nick Kearney wondered why Siemens had a problem with Robinson. I too wonder about the negative attitude toward Ken Robinson's message. I see his talk as a plea to consider creativity in the arts as important. I think Robinson sees the arts as important forms of knowing and ways of sharing knowledge. What does it mean react negatively to Robinson's message? Should we continue to undervalue art, music, theatre, dance? Should we discourage students who express themselves well in art forms? (Robinson's TED talk from 2006

Kearney ( also discusses the idea of that a percentage of people never need school and can learn on their own. The implication to me was that there must be a percentage of people who really do need some guidance and direction in their learning - maybe via something like... our concept of "school." (?)

What does open access cost? arVix

Article in the Chronicle on Cornell University looking for additional institutions to help maintain arXiv which "is going well." I went back to one of Jennifer Howard's earlier items on "[] holds nearly 600,000 e-prints of research articles, many of which appear there before they make their way through the formal journal-publishing process. It costs Cornell about $400,000 a year to maintain arXiv... Calling arXiv “a lifeline” for areas of the world with limited access to scholarly publishing resources, Ms. Kenney emphasized that arXiv will continue to be open access. Individual users will not be charged to submit or to review its contents..." (January 21, 2010). Even distributing material for free entails costs.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kno e-reader tablets

The Kno Ebook Reader due out soon is designed to work well with e-textbooks from publishers like McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Wiley. So... students will be expected to purchase an expensive tablet AND the expensive online textbooks? (Perhaps not: Seems that it will load PDFs as well.) The features including support for notetaking with both stylus and keyboard, backup to the cloud, ability to highlight and add notes - on a 14 inch screen. It sounds...expensive. No mention of ADA compliance though they must have thought of that. Can it read to you? (Can I IM my friends and facebook and load up on music files?) Weight: About 5.5 pounds - which is a pound heavier than my quite old, but still functioning HP tablet pc. Well, the plethora of tablets coming out in the next few months is just mind-boggling!

Monday, November 8, 2010

C&RL News for November 2010 - QR Codes and Transliteracy

C&RL News showed up in the mail today (in print(!)) with a couple of articles I'm really enjoying. Tom Ipri "Introducting transliteracy: What does it mean to academic libraries?" "Transliteracy" is an great word - and now that Ipri's article is out, I'm especially pleased that Susan Ariew mentioned it in our "Best Practices in Information Literacy" workshop for the TLT-Group last month ( Ipri says "In the transliterate world, creating a social network of experts is held in high regard.
What is important is not just transferring information but creating an information narrative that evolves over time and adds value." This is a VERY nice fit with some of principles being discussed over at the PLENK 2010 (Personal Learning Environments Networks and Knowledge MOOC.)
The other article that caught my eye right away: Robin Ashford "QR codes and academic libraries: Reaching mobile users" I read the description of Alexander Street Press' Music Online using QR codes to send playlists to your mobile device where they are available for 48 hours. I logged on to the USF Libraries and sure enough - one of my old playlists with Music Online zapped right to my iPod Touch (though once I got distracted and turned off my iPod Touch... well, I'm not sure how to get back to that playlist that's supposed to be available for 48 hours... I'll have to give that another try.)

PKM Inc.

From a PLENK 2010 blog post: Rita Kop discussed her discomfort with "personal knowledge management" which she describes as yet another business term that has made its way into the social sciences. Tony Ratcliffe replied that PKM is an important concept because individuals need to organize their knowledge and think of themselves as "Me Inc (Incorporated)." "You should think of yourself as a business and look after your own needs." That sounds even MORE scary business-like to me even though when I think about the way the university works, individuals have that entrepreneurial spirit and who don't depend on the goodwill of others seem to do well. It would be nice to see a "we" in there someplace as in sharing is learning and learning is sharing. See However I do see that when I think "PKM", I too connect it up with capitalist terms like "productivity." Maybe there are some more agrarian concepts to adopt? Could we think "personal knowledge harvesting" instead of "data mining"? Maybe there are some terms related to canning fruits and vegetables?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Internet is a Ponzi scheme of human knowledge

Quote from Sketchbook by Ivan Brunetti: "Sometimes I think the entire Internet is an elaborate Ponzi scheme of human knowledge." (from p. 107 December 21, 28 New Yorker from 2009). This quote seemed like a good counterpoint to today's PLENK2010 Elluminate session with Harold Jarche. Some points: Drink from the firehose. (I guess the question is how much of what we drink from the firehose is junk? What filters do we need in place?). Leave some time for reflection. Use a blog for reflection and (based on comments from some participants) don't censor yourself too much. Put your ideas out there and be willing to accept critiques. Downes noted that sometimes he goes back and puts an "update" at the end of an old blog post if he's changed his mind about something. Another thread from the Elluminate: How can we change the established concept of and what happens at a "university"?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

George Siemens Questions I'm no longer asking

Siemens post on "questions I'm no longer asking" is great! I'm very fond of this one: "Is online learning more or less effective than learning in a classroom? Who cares. That question is irrelevant. Society answered the need to use technology through its broad adoption of the web/internet/online medium." Right on! There's thousands of articles comparing online courses to face-to-face courses. (See the No Significant Difference web site) The question has been answered over and over: people can learn in online courses. Let's move it along.

PKM and PLEs

This week's PLENK 2010 topic is Personal Knowledge Management. I was attracted to this article: Personal Knowledge Management: A Strategy for Controlling Information Overload by Jason Frand and Aura Lippincott from February 4, 2002. until they recommended thinking through a file management structure. I'm too disorganized. I'm looking for things for myself, but I'm also looking for things for others. Too many categories! I've been very pleased with Evernote. I could organize the notes into files - but I don't have to. I can add tags (keywords) to my heart's content and that seems to work reasonably well for me. Nevetheless... I sometimes see something interesting and get interrupted - phone calls are the worst! and that's it. I have a site that I remember interested me recently. It was a link from a link maybe from a tweet(??) Something from a graphic novel or a cartoon about soldiers and something about the nature of war...(???) I cannot recall enough about it to find it(!) I hope that item shows up again.