Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bonk's open course - End of Week 4 - No badge

I had every intention of earning myself a badge for Dr. Bonk's open course - but no! I got distracted during week 3. I got a call from a friend who wanted to get together in person, face-to-face, so I did that instead of attending the live session. (I have a policy of ditching online activities for face-to-face activities unless money is involved (or I'm the presenter.) Unfortunately that broke the spell to some extent. It's better to KEEP UP.

I did listen to most of the recording for Week 3 and did review the readings. Week 3 was on collaboration. I know there are cheerleaders for collaboration as if that's the best thing ever, but my own attempts at a collaboration assignments were successes. My adult learners living in many time zones were not all that enchanted with the idea (even though others who teach in the same program have brought this off with a lot of aplomb.) In one group on semester, one student simply flaked out and did not do his part. The other students were extremely upset. They feared that 1) their grade would be affected and 2) that the student would get credit even though he did none of the work. My reassurances were not sufficient to calm their nerves. The students did not enjoy the process. I did not enjoy the process. What were the learning objectives for that assignment? I can barely remember! Mostly I remember that the students were unhappy. Mostly the students learned that collaboration was a risky proposition. As I noted I do understand that some instructors make it work. However the idea of tackling a collaboration activity in the future just makes me groan. I read through a lot of the discussions for Week 3, but I did not have a charming, original contribution to make about collaboration. So... no badge for me! I did make some comments here and there in this course, so I stretched beyond my usual lurker status, but I'm not comfortable I fulfilled the requirements for a badge.

Gerry McKiernan picked up Bonk's AUDIO | The MOOC Halftime Report. Interestingly Dr Bonk guessed that he'd attract faculty who were "petrified about teaching" online. I'm not certain there was an actual survey... It would be interesting to know more about the participants.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Where will independent learners get library services?

I'm reading all these articles on how the "strangle hold" that universities have higher education is being disrupted. Some seem to imagine a world of self-directed learners mixing and matching online courses, setting up their own personal learning networks, finding their own way learning based on their interests. Are these learners going to have the same access to library resources currently available at major institutions? I hope that the open access movement will thrive, but in the meantime we're still talking about plenty of proprietary books, articles, media, etc. (Any chance that scholarly publishers will drastically lower prices? What if scholarly articles cost each user a dollar - or less?) For that matter what role will librarians play? We're used to cooperating, sharing, etc. but our license agreements restrict how much sharing we can do. What will happen to all these independent learners? How can we serve their information needs?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hunger Games

I made Facebook friends with a library staff member in a middle school in Kenya. ( ) She'd like to come to the States and get a masters in library science, so we've been saying hello back and forth talking about being a school librarian, etc. You know - library chitchat. In a moment of zaniness I decided to send her a copy of the first book of the Hunger Games for their library. She got the book (Thanks, Amazon!), read it, shared it with the staff there - and the staff decided to buy 30 copies and use it for discussions with the students. We were on chat this morning googling hunger games lesson plans. Nice way to start the day - a little mentoring! (Evans has the same name as a famous journalist and it took me a while to figure that out when we first started chatting. Evans Wafula the journalist is not Evans Wafula the librarian.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bonk's open course: Week 2

George Hobson did a good recap of the BlackBoard Collaborate Week 2 session for Bonk's open course: Learning styles, teaching styles...whatever! Bonk's got his own personal style going on - zany, madcap, informal - and some expressed displeasure with the funny hats, etc. - pretty close to "stop clowning around - just tell me what I need to know" Very interesting to hear that reaction from adult learners who are in a course specifically designed to shake up their approach to online courses! Some students do not appreciate the clowning around!

So what about incorporating different kinds of doing into one's courses? I find that there's still a tendency to expect students to exhibit academic writing skills. What if the student turned in a spectacular video? Applause applause, but...the school still seems to want to know... can the student write?? (What if the student turns in a bad video? I wonder if we faculty have the critical apparatus necessary to goad students to the next level. )

One idea that I might be able to implement: Give the students a choice of assignments. This means that I have to get busy and dream up some additional, equivalent assignments.

(Best part of a MOOC: Getting to know a few more people. I've already collected up the names of a few librarians who are participating in Bonk's open course.)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Kindle DX

New toy - a Kindle DX on sale for Mother's Day. It came this afternoon. I didn't have to set anything. It knew who I was when I took it out of the box. After charging the battery I loaded up some PDFs. I'd had high hopes that I'd be happy reading PDFs on the DX without messing around with the format. Yes! It works for me! I can see an entire page on the screen without resetting font size or rotating the screen. I'm reading Flexible Pedagogy, Flexible Practice: Notes from the Trenches of Distance Education. (The PDF is free from Athabasca University Press: If I wanted a larger screen, why not just go ahead and buy an iPad? An iPad is on the wish list, but I wanted to make sure to grab a DX with its non-glare screen. One issue: The DX has the page forward and page back keys on the right side of the device only. The older keyboard Kindle I own has the duplicatd keys on the left side of the device. As a leftie, I do miss the duplicate set of keys, but I'm already getting used to that.