Thursday, September 25, 2008

Management of Multimembership

We all seem to be so busy these days, but in a good way. There are so many excellent opportunities for professional development and to connect in new ways. I've noticed in the past couple of months a new topic has become disconnecting. People are finding it difficult to decide what and who to pay attention to and how to keep up with the activity in multiple networks and venues. Recently the topic of returning to the fray in open online courses like Facilitating Online Communities (FOC08) and Connectivism and Connected Knowledge (CCK08) and activities like SCoPE seminars has emerged. The question Bronwyn Stuckey asks is:
How do we allow people easy reentry into the hub of the learning when they have been absent (physically or mentally)?
As a follow-up to Bron's post Nancy White offers some catch up strategies. I know I have found some of these tips useful, and like Bron, I found that attending a scheduled Elluminate session with Leigh Blackall brought me back in to the FOC08 course...temporarily. Then I sort of floated away again. This has nothing to do with the quality of the course, or my interest in the topic. What is my problem then?

My disconnect has a lot to do with the fact that September is a crazy busy month, and I've had a few work-related trips that always seem set me back a few notches. But I think part of this is due to my lack of know-how in managing my participation in networks. I'm used to having one place to go. I'm used to seeing the participants gathered together, and having a sense of how they are participating, having the tools to track this in some way. For example in SCoPE I often go to a member's profile to view all posts by that individual, view activity logs, follow a link to a blog, etc. SCoPE as a platform just feels more...I don't know...packaged. In other words, it's more than just managing my own participation, it's that connection with the individuals who are participating in a particular event (course, seminar, workshop, conference) that give me a sense of involvement and commitment.

We brought some of these returning to the fray ideas into the current SCoPE Next Steps seminar where community members are reflecting on the past and planning for the future. From the beginning SCoPE has been designed for busy people -- no login required to read along, no obligations to participate, lurkers, newcomers, latecomers, and passersby always welcomed, and no guilt allowed! Colby Stuart comments in the Next Steps discussion that so many SCoPE members are following along, but are just very busy. She asks:
How can we make it easier for those people to contribute?
What's unique in the FOC08 and CCK08 courses is that there are multiple ways to contribute. At SCoPE we have experiemented a bit with tagging resources and blog posts during a scheduled activity as a way to gather 'round the topic and at the same time expand our boundaries beyond the community "venue". Perhaps this is exactly what we need to work on -- keep exploring ways for people to contribute in new and different ways. We don't all have time to compose forum posts.

Anyway, don't worry, all of this rambling is going to come together in some way! This week in the FOC08 course we are beginning to plan our miniconference. Sue Wolff, Jeffrey Keefer, Bronwyn Stuckey, and I have been exchanging email about working together on this project and this week had our first planning meeting. We're organizing a 2-week event (October 26 - November 9, 2008) and the topic is exactly what I've been rambling about: management of multimembership. Here is the description:
How do you track and keep up with blog conversations? How do you manage your time as you engage in social networks? What are our limits as we integrate social learning into our work environments?

Many of us confess to fumbling along and we engage in multiple networks. Yet, many networks are essential for the projects, sectors and people that we work with, and for staying abreast of hot issues. Multi-membership and multi-platform overload is becoming a BIG challenge!

During this 2-week discussion we invite you to share tips for managing participation in social networks. This seminar is organized as part of the Facilitating Online Communities course.

TAG: multimembership
Best of all, having this major activity to plan has certainly brought me back into the FOC08 course...physically and mentally.

Expect plenty more about our miniconference event. Meanwhile, I've been doing some research and found this gem from Nancy White's blog archives about multimembership. The title of the blog post is It's not me or the group, it's about multimembership.
I've learned this idea of multimembership from Etienne Wenger and see the management of multimembership as one of the key technological and social issues of the online world today. There is quite a bit of interesting technological work happening in this area, from identity standards, pushes for interoperability and tools that help us collect all our digital interactions so we can make sense of them across all the groups, networks and even casual online interactions we engage in.
Ahhh, yes. This is what we need help with.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

National Digital Media Day

Curious to see what happens on National Digital Media Day! I've been following the build up to this event on at Ning and now this new site just sprouted, I guess as a central location for getting the latest update. It's been a bit of a challenge to figure out what this day is all about and how to get involved. There's nothing going on near my home, but I might just pucker up at noon (PDT) for my non-flash mob version of the "One Giant Smooch Across Canada". You are invited to upload your images to the Hopefully it will become obvious how to do that by tomorrow!

Monday, September 22, 2008

TED: Ideas worth spreading

"Our mission: Spreading ideas." Just discovered this (free subscription) site, and wow!
"TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader....The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes). This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free. More than 200 talks from our archive are now available, with more added each week. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted."
Check out TED's theme site for How We Learn:
"Teachers of all kinds can find fresh resources--and inspiration--in this batch of TEDTalks. Some talks may shake your worldview...others celebrate the extraordinary power of teachers and schools--and share ways you can help them. Look here for pointers to amazing classroom tools and techniques."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

24 Killer Portable Apps For Your USB Flash Drive

These aren't necessarily teaching resources (the theme of my links here), but I have to link to this anyway because it's a great idea, and what teacher can't use one more great idea!

Web 2.0 is about giving up some control

An article by Gerry McGovern. "Web 2.0 and social media mean that for teachers a declining part of their job involves telling. An increasing part is listening to the class and facilitating them in having conversations."

Quiz Hub ~ K-12 Interactive Learning Center

"If you join the Quiz Hub, you will get access to hundreds of educational quiz games for English language arts, math, geography, history, earth science, biology, and chemistry." Headings are Educational Quiz Games/Samples, Favorite Educational Websites, Practice Tests for State Exams.

Teaching and Technology

The site author, Michael Hall, says, "Here are some additional World Wide Web sites related to teaching and technology. Many of these were suggested to me by visitors to TwET, my Teaching with Electronic Technology page." The page is full to links to Instructional Technology sites, Higher Ed sites and courses, K-12 Teaching & Tech sites, Conferences & Workshops, and Directories. Also check out that other site he refers to, Teaching with Electronic Technology.

iSpring: Free PPT to Flash Converter

"Free PowerPoint to Flash converter creates web friendly Flash movies from your PowerPoint content keeping its visual parameters and animation effects. Generated Flash presentation will look as if it has always been a Flash movie. ...creates high quality Flash movies with vector representation of standard PowerPoint objects and keeps most of advanced PowerPoint features. can generate .html code ready to place an .swf file on your web page or blog. ...wraps Flash slideshows in the attractive Player for effective navigation. ...supports automatic and mouse click animation step advance and looped playback. ...All iSpring Free functions are accessible in your PowerPoint through the standard toolbar."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mathematics Glossary

Canadian site "...a glossary of terms selected to support the learning outcomes identified in the Mathematics Program of Studies. The glossary is designed for teachers to use with their students. A term that appears in multiple grade groupings will have grade appropriate information to illustrate the term. Many of the terms in the earlier grades will have real world examples, and many of the terms at all grades will have applets and/or animations to support student learning."

Note: At this point, there are a lot of "under construction" entries in the glossary. I hope they fill this out soon!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

eLearning on a Shoestring

As Stephen Downes said, "This doesn't look like much at first glance but if you keep following the links you'll find a wealth of practical information." I like their Tools, Uses & Software page--their graphic maps of tools and other elearning resources.
You can find a 'big picture' view of a broad range of e-learning tools and their uses, in "Tools, uses and software". "Which tools to use and why" offers some ideas and recommendations for a set of particular tools for e-learning and software examples that work well.