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I’ve been kind of perplexed by Wikiversity. What is it? Why do I feel it to be so important for us to use? Why don’t I like so many aspects of it? How does it differ from Wikibooks, Wikipedia, and Wikieducator? Why should we use mediawikis like these over wikispaces – which is after all, a bit easier to use and can have a more satisfying result in terms of multimedia content? Why are the staff I work with seemingly reluctant to use it? And a growing list of questions I can’t yet put words to.

I was reading through my wikiversity talk page – (a rather strange way in which communication happens between editors of a media wiki), and discovered a message from JWSchmidt that I had over looked. It points to MetaCollab wiki (sheesh! another wiki!!) where an explanation of Wikiversity is offered. It is a fairly informative article, but no where near as stimulating as the discussion page behind it.

In that discussion page is a point made by Lion Kimbro which blew my mind! I dunno if it answered many of my questions, but it certainly helped me to reconsider the questions I am asking and hopefully set me on a path towards asking better questions. A particularly enlightening exerpt is as follows, though I fear its impact will be lost by me quoting it out of context. I really urge you to have a read of the full article by Lion, and then the responses.

The idea is that people who are less knowledgable about a subject very much should be a primary actor in the authoring of the text. Not the sole actor- you need experienced people to perform correction, offer up alternative explanations, to make sure that it’s not wrong. But I think that beginners have unique advantages in teaching other beginners. Reasons: They understand their own misunderstandings. They have strong empathy with other learners, because they are at the same place, or just a single step beyond. The beginner is motivated by the need to make their understanding more concrete. (As different than the bored expert, (this is not a criticism, just noting a fact,) who has already covered the subject material a million times over.) It is conceivable that a vast lattice or network of beginners can, if properly made to understand what they are doing and why and how, and that there are people who will correct them if they miss-state a thing, that they could make far better artifacts for teaching, than the teachers themselves.

Side note: I think this is what edublogging was in 2005/06 – a sudden spike in beginners, all furiously working to concrete their knowledge and so created information for other beginners… But what is it now? why has that energy seemed to drop? I have certainly noticed it in me and the Australian network at least. Are we all now bored experts? Are teachers who do not maintain a sense for learning in their field, destined to become bored experts? I’m not bored by the topic, but I’m bored by the walls. And the 2nd wave I am experiencing are not nearly as energised..

Anyway, the point of this post was to point to that article by Lion.

I want a wiki called wikilearner. The names Wikiversity and Wikieducator are problematic. At the very least they reinforce the old power laws of institutionalised learning. Wikilearner helps to promote informal, socially constructed learning in my opinion. But that’s just a name, the trick is, as Lion puts so well, is how to build a community of perpetual beginners around it. A place where experts do not stagnate, become bored and inadvertently suppress new learning.Will it have to be a constant migration to “the next big thing, or can a communication platform successfully reinvent itself enough to give a strong sense of life long learning to all its participants… I guess this is the question facing more commercial domains like MySpaces at the moment. How do they sustain their social growth?

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There have been a few comments added to my Peer Assist post, most lately Nancy’s eternal optimism 🙂

I’m looking forward to an opportunity to try out an online peer assist event. As well as the problem of finding a good facilitator though, I realise there is also the problem of presenting something as a problem for the peer assist event. I am very used to presenting something as a proposal, a pitch to management, a sell – not a problem.. but its a simple shift really. I’ll get over it. Perhaps that’s my first problem to present for peer assist?..

The problem of good facilitation is worth focusing on though. Part of the problem I think, is in how we are too willing to accept the close relationship teachers form with the idea of facilitation – but rarely the practice. I tend to prefer there be no connection at all. Some teachers start calling themselves (or what they are doing) facilitators – when what they are REALLY doing is teaching. This confusion between the two practices isn’t helped by the many eLearning resources that refer to online facilitation as an online teaching technique.

I think there is a big difference between teaching and facilitating. There is good teaching, and there is good facilitation. I’m not sure it is possible for someone who is identified as a teacher, to then be seen as a facilitator. The power dynamics make it impossible for a start.

I think we should make a clearer distinction between the two practices and preserve the integrity and unique qualities of both.

Starting with the eLearning resources we create for teachers. I’m trying to make a distinction over at the Wikiversity page for Online Facilitation (see the discussion page particularly). That page started off as a copy paste from a NZ made eLearning resource for online facilitation. It was extremely specific to the context of institutionalise learning, and I think that helped to corrupt the integrity of the concept of facilitation and facilitating online, and supsequently the practice – ending in a problem of finding a good facilitator. (Side note – perhaps we should add facilitation as an intellectual persuite in schools like we do for debating..)

I have been slowly stripping away the references and specifics to an educational context in the wikiversity page, and trying to get the resource more like a stand alone guide for facilitating communication online. That way it should help to form a clearer distinction between the practice of teaching and facilitation – helping to solve the problem of teachers merely using the word but not the practice. Later, the facilitating online page can be used in the context of teacher training perhaps, but not exclusively.

If anyone knows of an article that talks about the problem of teaching and facilitating, please point me to it, either here or in the wikiversity page.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=144506&dest=7973]

cropping a creative commons image and placing it as a banner in a presentation slide.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=143915&dest=7973]

I really want to be able to use Archive.org

I'd like a page in Archive for the subjects we teach, with all the media we use to teach that subject on it. A bit like the net music label pages – an album of media for a particular topic.

But there is not yet a simple upload process. Ourmedia almost gives us that simple upload process, but we can't seem to get files through.. anyway, I would prefer to have our media listed straight on Archive.

This is a screenrecording of my troubles. 

Dave pointed out a cartoon that I just had to mess with.

 

D’Arcy Norman has posted some concerns about SecondLilfe that are worth a quick read. There are a few links out to 3D world projects from the past, in an attempt to discredit the “next big thing” status of SL. That “next big thing” line get’s used a bit, and I think it is a misleading statement. To me it kinda makes out that things come and go, that it all passes by. Those historical references to other developments in 3D worlds are all contributions to the same thing – an acceptance of a 3D virtual world. So while SL may be the “next big thing”, its also part of the web3D, I think it’s mistake to think that it will pass. I don’t think that’s what D’Arcy’s trying to say – but I do think it is what many people will hear.

Apart from that, D’Arcy levels some interesting criticism at the SL platform and concerns for the culture that it may build. I have been keeping links to comment other comment about SL btw.

For me and SL.. I seem to have chilled out on it a bit. Maybe it was the Christmas break and my reconnecting with a first life a bit more, but I also find SL a little too big to have in my daily routine. I’m comfy in my browser, 2D window view, and the speed at which it and I can move. SL takes too long for me to start up, and too long to browse about. I need a reason to go into SL, and then I find I need a considerable amount of motivation to go in. Once in there, I really enjoy it and find it very engaging – its just that initial step.

So I’m increasingly looking to SL as a web conferencing tool, and less as the platform I access the Internet with. However, if a 3D virtual world became as  quick as my browser – that’s when I’m back to thinking about it as a platform..

If you work behind the iron curtains of some State Education Departments and can’t get access to the socially networked learning domains, then Wara has a simple solution for you.

Fade out… “all and all, you’re just another brick in the wall…”

PS. Some interesting comments follow Wara’s post.

A few days ago I took a deep breath and logged a help desk job asking for a go ahead to install Ubuntu. Within 1 hour a very helpful fella (and GNU/Linux lover) was down to see me. He said, yep, no worries, but you won’t be able to easily access your work email or local network drives. I said I’d think about it and get back to him…

A few days later he was down with some extra RAM and installing VMWare. What I have now is a computer that is running WindowsXP and Ubuntu at the same time. I can use the XP to access the work email and shared drives, and Ubuntu for everything else. When I start the computer in the morning, I land in XP land, but I start the desktop shortcut the VMWare and tell it to open Ubuntu. It starts up the free world in the VMware window, and then I full screen it.

I’m typing this post on Ubuntu and loving every key stroke of it. Its hard to explain why I am so happy about this – I mean to some people, I’m just using another operating system.. and by choosing to use 2 systems, I’m actually creating more work for myself and you might say the IT Support guy as well. But those people you might just call, users with a rather narrow view of it.

But I think it’s about quite a bit more than just the user. With every key stroke I remember the digital divide that is getting smaller thanks to the work of GNU/Linux and related software. With every key stroke I am thinking how liberating it is to be developing the skills to use free software and never have to be bound to something that costs me a lot of money and likes to change the rules as we go. With every key stroke I feel more and more connected to a community that is passionate about freedom, openness, re-usability, empowerment and many other principles that go way deeper than user, lock in and profits. With every key stroke I feel one step closer to helping that community and contributing back into it.

Many thanks to the Otago Polytechnic IT support unit. They are easily the best support I have ever had in any job anywhere.

I reckon you have 4 seconds to make the right impression on someone when trying to explain/convince/sell them something. This is not quite the same as attention span, it has more to do with countering prejudice, getting a foot in the door, initiating interest. Get that far and you can start to rely on measures of attention span.

4 seconds, that’s about enough time to get 8 or 10 words out – so make them count. For that reason you have to choose your words carefully, and never use words that require further explanation. With this in mind I’m going to very conscious of my pitch to technophobic teachers and try to use words they should more readily identify with.

  1. Web2.0 and Socially networked software social constructivism
  2. Online presence and identity as well as network and online community the top 3 levels in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  3. eLearning, mLearning, flexible learning and blended learning etc learning
  4. Blogging Vygotsky-ism
  5. Software Media (Thanks Simonfj)

any more suggestions?