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MOOCs: A Toolbox for Course Designers?

This is a really succinct and focused take on MOOCs and their possible benefits. Added bonus – no hype and no products.

Educational Technology and Change Journal

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

In a video interview, Jonathan Moules1 asks Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn, some tough questions about the current state of MOOCs. Noules’ questions caught my attention:

  • “How much of an issue is it that most of the people signed up for FutureLearn and other online education platforms already have a degree?”
  • “What’s more important, is it broadening access to millions of people across the planet to education or is it about making money?”
  • “How do you make money from online education?”
  • “A criticism of online education has been that a lot of people signing up for these courses don’t complete them. Do you see that as a challenge?”Simon Nelson CEO FutureLearn2

And I found Nelson’s responses succinct, clear, practical, and informed.

As much as these questions and responses are enlightening, however, I can’t help but feel that they continue to pigeonhole MOOCs as fascinating but peripheral, impractical…

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Reflections on the Closure of Yahoo Pipes

I found this really relevant to the issues revolving around technology in education, garden walls, and student ownership.

OUseful.Info, the blog...

Last night I popped up a quick post relaying the announcement of impending closure of Yahoo Pipes, recalling my first post on Yahoo Pipes, and rediscovering a manifesto I put together around the rallying cry We Ignore RSS at OUr Peril.

When Yahoo Pipes first came out, the web was full of the spirit of Web2.0 mashup goodness. At the time, the big web companies were opening all all manner of “open” web APIs – Amazon, Google, and perhaps more than any other, Yahoo – with Google and Yahoo particularly seeming to invest in developer evangelism events.

One of the reasons I became sos evangelical about Yahoo Pipes, particularly in working with library communities, was that it enabled non-coders to engage in programming the web. And more than that. It allowed non-coders to use web based programming tools to build out additional functionality for the web.

looking back, it…

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rhizo15

What’s Metaphor Got to Do With It?

is the metaphor broken? Oops!

For the past several weeks, I have been participating in a discussion/group/online “course” called Rhizo15, hosted by Dave Cormier. From an early blog post by Daniel Clark about the course:

Cormier’s idea is based on the Cynefin framework, which was developed for business, and the need for education to take account of uncertainty is extremely relevant to my own field of management education.

I have been finding the experience, ideas discussed, and interactions with participants to be really intriguing and provocative, and I have been enjoying the course.

But, as the weeks have gone by, I have become more and more uncomfortable with the metaphor of the rhizome itself. Here are some comments I just wrote in response to a blog post by Sarah Honeychurch:

I really appreciated your post. At times in this experience (Rhizo15), I have felt like we have been committing that same fallacy to a certain degree. There are times when the experience of learning seems like and even feels like a rhizome. I find myself moving from idea to idea and seeing some connections and the making new ones. But, to me, that is different than a theory of learning. And I am not convinced that this experience of the rhizome is the same as talking about how learning actually happens. Maybe it is not supposed to, but I feel this has been blurred in some of our discussions over the past few weeks.

There is also one more problem I see, metaphor-wise. In biology, a rhizome is a form of asexual reproduction.It is a way of a single plant replicating and passing on its own DNA. That means that all of the offspring are genetically identical to the parent plant. In my understanding, learning is growth and change, and I get concerned that the metaphor is limiting.

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How IT and the Role of the CIO is Changing in the Era of Networked Organizations

I keep thinking about how this model (see the diagram) could also apply to learning environments. Rather than a top (teacher) down (student) model, what about a network of connections leading to real learning? What would learning environments look like then?

On Digital Strategy | Dion Hinchcliffe

As I’ve examined the case examples below, and talked with many top CIOs about how they were operating their departments over the last several years, it’s become clear that the contemporary IT organization — at least ones that are successfully leading their organizations into the future — is now wielding a new kind of power.

I don’t mean power in the traditional, hierarchical sense through departmental mandate, titles, and the org chart. In fact, those don’t seem to mean nearly as much as they used to, as I hear more and more concerns about the growth of shadow IT and the lines of business increasingly going their own way with their budgets, all with minimal formal IT involvement.

Yet, looked at another way, these very trends — worrisome as they should be for most CIOs — might actually represent vital asset pools and change capacity that we could actually tap…

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rhizo15

Content (happy) with Content (stuff)?

I have been really struggling with the work of  #rhizo15 this week. Dave has challenged us to look at content and to try to make sense of how we view content in learning (at least, that’s what I understood about the challenge).

In a lot of ways, this week’s challenge has given me a headache AND crystallized nagging concerns I have been having about my experience with the rhizome since we started. I have always enjoyed the process of learning and have mostly considered that experience more valuable than any of the content around which learning experiences I have engaged in have been organized. That said, although I thoroughly embraced so many things I learned (human anatomy and neuroscience and Latin and film history), I was left with more than process. In the end (or at least the end so far), I was left knowing more stuff. Is it fair to say, I knew more content?

I worry that I had begun to create an algorithm, which, loosely translated reads: process good; content bad. And I have found this really troubling.

Then, tonight, I was “learning.” Reading some critical analysis of MOOC research written by Stephen Downes.  Then, I read some work on multimodal tutorials by Ian O’Bryne. Then, I stumbled onto Laura Gibbs’ Myth-Folklore Un-Textbook.

As each link brought more and more amazing work and thoughts to me, I had an insight: the content of what I was learning was getting built through/with/in the wake of the process of learning I was engaged in.

For now, at least, the headache is gone.

rhizo15

Have I Been Rhizomed?

It has been a wild day so far.

I started the day getting started with the new Rhizo15 course. Per Dave’s suggestion, I dove into the Facebook Group and the Twitter Conversation. All of this led me to two great blog posts. One was by Laura Pasquini. Laura’s post led me to Socioviz (which just happens to connect with my research on learning networks) and the work of Nathan Brubaker on grading contracts. The other by Worried Teacher, led me to explore emergent outcomes.

Along the way, I read some more posts and more tweets, and then decided I needed a place to write, to participate. I used to blog a good deal, but got away from it. I discovered my old blog has been hacked, and so here I am.

I have been in the middle of redesigning our Ed Tech Program, and thought I was nearly done. But now, I am totally not sure anymore. I keep telling myself, it’s not innovative enough. It doesn’t address the real possibilities of technology in education. Like the rhizome. So, I have decided to spend the six weeks of this course reimagining these programs and courses. I will share more as I make my way through them.

And now I expect to head down the rabbit hole of tweaking this new WordPress blog.

So, does this mean, I have been rhizomed?