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Hey ya. 3 examples of what I think make good n simple online courses, but more importantly – flexible learning. Note that they all use wikis, but that’s just a technical feature that helps with ease of management.
- I reckon this is a straight up and down good example of a simple online/distance and highly flexible course: Intro to open ed syllabus . Hopefully you’ll be able to draw ideas from it. The thing I like about it is its simple, no frills, matter of fact way of telling a learner what to do. It is teacherly, but in a matter of fact, straight up kinda way. The design is in the activities, questions, and assessment tasks. It uses a wiki to schedule the course and present the questions and activities, but then hands it over the learners and their blogs. NB the discussion page behind the course wiki.
- Taking this further would be the CyberOne where it uses a combination of a course blog, wiki and SecondLife. Not as good as the first one even though it has more engaging features… the features are what works against it I reckon, making it no doubt hard to manage and stay on top of… hence it looks as if it might be falling by the side in terms of maintenance. Lesson in this is that with too many features (even as little as three) people can still get lost in the navigation and management of it all – hence making it too difficult to sustain.
- I reckon our very own development is shaping up ok too. Tour Guiding as part of a Diploma in Applied Travel and Tourism. It still has some way to go, and could very easily simplify its structure somewhat – it is currently developing along the lines of this concept. I think it shows the beginnings of a good course. At the moment it is using a course blog as a front end because the teachers were worried that the students would spin out a bit at the wiki’s look and feel. So think of it as more like at open source kind of online course. You see the more pretty course blog, but the source info is available too. The potential is for it to develop into more of a flexible, self paced, open participatory kind of thing…
This week’s guest lecture was a biggy. We were very lucky to have the famous Nancy White talk with us from the lovely Seattle USA on Tuesday 12noon NZST.
Nancy suggested that we watch this animation about Peer Assist before we met. (After you click play, the movie will have to load a little before it starts playing. If you are on dial up, right click and save the movie file to your computer).
It was a very inspiring and engaging talk and Nancy got it in at under 15minutes! That’s the best so far Here are the recordings:
- MP3 audio of Nancy’s talk – 2.7meg / 15min
- MP3 audio of discussion after the talk – 6.3meg / 35min
- Elluminate recording – (no password needed)
- Slides on slideshare
Alex Hayes has composed an excellent slide presentation that sums up 2 years or more of research and development in the area of mobile learning – Australia in particular. It is a beautiful presentation, innovative in its creation, extensive, participatory, self explanatory… although audio is forthcoming after Alex presents the slides at Canberra CIT National TAFE on the 5-9 September (Sorry, no link to the event! Can you believe that? In this day and age! Alex is sure to fix that
Nice job Alex. A celebration!
George Siemens has posted much needed rethinking on the role of teachers and experts in Networked Learning. He presents the idea of a curator as a central player in initiating a focus for a learning network.
I very much like this idea of the curator and I’d like to add more to it by describing and preserving the integrity of the teacher and the facilitator.
As many already know I try to reinvigorate questions and discussion on the role of teachers from time to time – all be it a little confrontational Lately I have been broadly focusing on the integrity of a facilitator, especially as I reckon the teaching profession is [innocently] corrupting the integrity of facilitation with teachers calling themselves facilitators – but remaining teachers in every sense of the word. I guess teachers do this in response to the as yet illdefined roles needed in a networked learning. They are perhaps prematurely trying to redefine their role of teacher without yet fully understanding why or how, and engaging in the dialogue that George points to. I don’t think teaching needs redifining, it is fine as it is, it just needs to be deinstitutionalised and moved away from being the primary player in people’s learning. Artichoke is in my opinion the deepest and most thought provoking edublogger writing in this vein of thinking, and she is drawing very much from the thinking of Illich.
As George suggests, perhaps the expertise of a curator are more suited to becoming a central role in networked learning – someone that draws on an array of teachers and content to suit a particular purpose. I want to add the facilitator as another important role here, as someone or something that assists people to negotiate the exhibition that the curator has assembled. Not a teacher dressed up as a facilitator – someone who manages to remain impartial while at the same time engaging and interpretive; someone that can respond quickly to various and often unpredictable contributions from participants; and someone who does all this without asserting a sense of authority or even expertise over a topic, but instead calls on teachers and experts to engage when a teacher or an expert is needed. And that’s where networked learning and the Internet really help us. They give us access to a vast number of teachers and experts to call on at any given time!
But where can we find curators and facilitators? I don’t think we can reliably find good facilitators in the teaching sector.. perhaps we will find better facilitators from the fields of journalism, comedy, performance, talk back radio, speakers to the house of reps, etc. And as George points out, we will find curators from museums and art galleries (lets not forget the librarians!) I see the likes of Stephen Downes, George Siemens, David Wiley and so many other “A listers” – or most referenced contributors, primarily as teachers and content providers in this network. People and content that the curator might draw from. Modern day researchers who are available to be teachers and content providers in an exhibition, conference of course. They’re participants as well – especially in areas they are not recognised as experts, but the sustained focus, quality, popularity, experience and depth of their work makes them more teacherly than participants in their field. So it is not them that are the facilitators (although they are often capable as George showed with his facilitation of FOE). But one cannot be both an expert or teacher and facilitator at the same time.
I’m yet to come accross someone in our widened educational network that I would call a professional facilitator and/or curator.. perhaps like the teaching sector, the edublogging sector is not a reliable source for good facilitators. Perhaps the source for good facilitators and curators do not have an online presence and network yet…
But when they emerge I see the roles playing out like this: A curator finds resources and a space to bring together an “exhibition” of content, experts and teachers, then either adopts the different role of facilitator, or employs the services of a professional facilitator who will assist all the participants to negotiate the various aspects of the exhibition.
For example: Someone who organises a conference is essentially curating content, and will either facilitate that event themselves, or hire a professional conference facilitator to do it. The teachers and experts play a secondary role in these sorts of learning environments by providing the content and focus. In a sense, the people and content in this secondary layer are competing with each other for attention and recogniton.. they often choose to collaborate instead/or as well as compete (I mean compete in a very positive sense) for the attention and participation in their topic area. The tertiary level in this type of learning environment are the participants. They move around the content that is presented to them by the curator, and engage in various discussions, workshops and other events with assistance from the facilitator if needed. Often the curators, facilitators, teachers and experts join in and participate as well, but they unavoidably carry with them the status and isolation of their role, while the participants are free to move around unrestrained by an identity as fully formed as a teacher or expert at this “exhibition” that the curator has put on.
An art exhibition (and the opening in particular) is very similar. The artworks, the artists and the critics provide the content; the curator selects the content; and the participants develop the interpretation/learning. The more I think about it, so much of the world works like this. The old practice of classroom, captive audience teaching, and standard set fees is such an abused privilege!
So begins a new/or revisited thread of networked thought I hope… and we may at last be developing a clearer model for networked learning.
MP3 recording of the meeting (12.5M)
Thanks to Kattie Ellwood from the Otago Polytechnic communications for her great work drawing public attention to this occasion. Press release as follows:
Vancouver-based Commonwealth of Learning (CoL) representative Wayne MacKintosh, an expert in the field of open and distance learning, visits Dunedin this week to meet with the growing number of Otago Polytechnic staff members developing education resources on the CoL’s WikiEducator initiative.
While WikiEducator is likely to be unfamiliar to most as yet, the website which is loosely related to the world’s largest, most extensive, and fastest growing encyclopaedia Wikipedia, has the potential to have an enormous impact on the way education is accessed and delivered internationally.
“I believe that all learners and teachers should have the freedom to use the technologies of their choice,” writes MacKintosh.
“No learner should be denied access to an education because learning material is locked behind copyright or because people may not have the resources to pay for licensed software. All people of the world have a fundamental right to participate in the knowledge economy.” [http://wikieducator.org/User:Mackiwg]
The Commonwealth of Learning an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to encourage the development and sharing of education knowledge, resources and technologies in a socially inclusive and sustainable way. COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training.
Wikieducator promotes the development of free education content; open education resources that anyone with an internet connection can access and edit.
“The Commonwealth of Learning’s provision of Wikieducator and its facilitation of an educational development network has helped saved some of our flexible learning development projects an estimated $10 000 so far this year,” explains Leigh Blackall, Programme Developer in Otago Polytechnic’s Educational Development Centre.
“This estimate is based on their hosting many megabytes of our content, backing it up, and offering round the clock technical support for teachers working on the platform.”
The CoL recently paid for Blackall to visit Vancouver to learn about upcoming plans, the future for related projects like Wikipedia and the importance of careful copyright management to education.
MacKintosh is also expected to congratulate Otago Polytechnic on the development of their new Intellectual Property policy which uses the Creative Commons Attributes license as a default.
“This license places Otago Polytechnic as the most progressive educational institution in New Zealand and Australia” says Blackall.
“Using such a license not only makes our educational services and content more accessible, it also allows us to collaborate in educational resource developments internationally, on such platforms as Wikieducator “
Wara points to another facinating titbit in his post, The importance of hacker thinking
The 5 part youtube playlist, The History of Hacking
During the 1970′s, the phone phreaks or phone hackers appeared: they learned ways to hack the telephonic system and make phone calls for free.
John Draper built a ‘blue box’ that could do this and the Esquire magazine published an article on how to build them. Fascinated by this discovery, two kids, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, decided to sell these blue boxes, starting a business friendship which resulted in the founding of Apple.
Getting their laughs and skills from hacking and cracking into primitive computers and exploiting the Arpanet (predecessor to the internet), they created a novelty that would become the target of federal crackdown in years to come.
James Farmer joined us for the first in a series of 10 minute lectures relating to the facilitation of online learning communities. James talks about identity and ownership in online learning. Specifically comparing typical learning management system environments to blogs.