Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Learn Together: Tagging Your Tiddlers

Lynda Williams from University of Northern British Columbia has treated us to 2 excellent Learn Together sessions on TiddlyWiki:
1. TiddlyWiki for Beginners (archive)
2. Building a Faculty Manual in TiddlyWiki (archive)

Now we can learn how to tag those tiddlers! Curious? Join us Wednesday, June 24, at 10:00 PDT (see your time zone) This session will be informative even if you were unable to attend previous TiddlyWiki sessions. Bonnie Johnston from British Columbia Institute of Technology will be our moderator.

Learn Together sessions are regular get-togethers facilitated by BC post-secondary educational practitioners and focused on specific topics related to teaching and learning. There is no cost to attend and everyone is welcome!

Second Life for Educators: Orientation Workshops

You're invited to participate in an upcoming series of free Second Life for Educators orientation workshops.

Have you heard of the virtual world of Second Life, perhaps even that it is being used for educational purposes, but been unsure of whether it’s worth exploring or not had time to do so? Have you gotten an account and entered the world and then dismissed it because you didn’t want to deal with the learning curve or couldn’t find anything worthwhile?

If you are an educator and answered yes to any of these questions, this series of workshops may be for you. Part of a BCIT - BCcampus [funded] project designed to mitigate some of the barriers to entering Second Life (SL), the workshops will provide educators with an introduction to the world, the knowledge and skills necessary to use it, and some of the issues relating to its use educationally.

Check the SLBC blog for full details about workshop dates, what you will learn, and how to register.

OpenEd 2009: Crossing the Chasm

If you happen to live near Vancouver, British Columbia or think you might like to visit in August (who wouldn't?) this is a conference that shouldn't be missed! Open Education Conference — OpenEd 2009: Crossing the Chasm: will be held at UBC’s Robson Square Campus. Registration is now open, the keynote speakers will be fantastic, and the program is taking great shape.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shifting Landscapes of Professional Learning, Part 6

Our professional learning landscape is shifting. But what are the implications?

One trend I have observed in the past couple of years is that many professionals are blogging less and micro-blogging more. This notice on the Samurailibrarian blog is probably fairly typical, although there may not be many people openly recognizing that they are shifting in the direction of micro-blogging. As readers we'll miss those full, rich blog posts if this trend continues!

Another implication is that we may not be taking the time to think deeply, to reflect on what we are learning, and to transfer our learning to different situations. This recent post by ClintLalonde.net, as he anticipates starting a masters degree, outlines what he hopes to get out of the experience. On the top of his list is better focus and reflection.
When it comes to my personal learning and professional development, I often feel like the birds that visit my garden feeder. They swoop in, grab a seed and take off, zipping to the next feeder where they stop, grab another and zoom away. Like those birds, I tend to zip from topic to topic, grabbing seeds of information from here and there. It’s not a great trait to continually consume and not critically reflect on what I am taking in. At some point, you have to stop and digest.

I am not sure why I have this very strong (and completely delusional) desire to KNOW EVERYTHING. In doing so, I often end up knowing nothing or knowing just enough to make me dangerous and/or annoying. To stretch the bird analogy, I am not sure what the metaphorical cat in the bushes who waits to pounce is. Fear? Pride? A need to know all the answers so I can fix all the problems? I don’t know what is at the root of my need to know everything about everything, but I hope that the academic rigors of this program will help (force) me to focus and reflect and develop better self-discipline.
Clint is looking closely at his personal situation in this post, but is what he describes a widespread dilemma? Has our ability to connect so readily with peers caused us to skim the surface -- to learn a bit about everything but not take the time to digest, and even contemplate why and how we will apply what we are learning?

D'Arcy Norman, an educational technology developer at University of Calgary, made a decision to delete his twitter account because it was interfering with his, well, life. He began to notice his habits change:
One thing I’ve found is that by removing myself from the Pavlovian update/response feedback loop, I feel as though my thinking is clearer. I’m more present. I’m not constantly distilling my life into 140 character chunks, nor am I constantly wondering if there are any @dnorman tweets waiting for me.

Another thing I find is that I now use richer and deeper channels of communication. I’m not trying to stuff conversations into short asynchronous segments. I’m talking in realtime via IM. I’m communicating in more depth via email. I’m writing more and better blog posts.
D'Arcy has since returned to twitter, perhaps making a more conscious effort to balance time spent on and off line. And indeed, is that the direction we should all take? Rather than focus so much on managing our multimemberships online, perhaps we need to focus more on how to balance our on and offline lives.

Betty Gilgoff mentions this review by Tom Snyder of Heather Menzies's book called “No Time: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life.”
A result of increasingly abstract communication, Menzies argues, is that the value of particular locations in time and space (a "space of places") has been replaced by a "space of flows", with data and symbols achieving primacy over lived experience. "It's not just the relentless speed of it all, nor being scattered across a bunch of multi-tasking fragments, it's the fact that we're engaged in a realm of pure representation, ready-made icons and modules of standardized symbols ...."
This certainly reminds us of the wise words in Barbara Ganley's keynote at CeLC. Slow down. Ask why. Be ready to defend your decisions.

So how has your landscape of professional learning shifted? What are the implications? These are the questions we hope to engage participants in at our paper jam session on June 19. We are collecting our resources into a wiki.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shifting Landscapes of Professional Learning, Part 5

With our Shifting Landscapes of Professional Learning session coming up in a couple of days at the Canadian eLearning Conference I'll be finishing up a couple blog posts (in between the excellent sessions, lunches, and parties!)

One of the advantages of using social networking services for professional learning is that there are endless opportunities for unintentional learning. Follow a link or two a day posted by individuals in your network and you can really find yourself going off on fascinating tangents. You also find my find yourself engaging in interesting conversations that would not normally be part of your daily work routine. How can can you keep up?

It takes time to work out a system to manage your involvement in various services. In fact there are [yet more] services to help cope with just that challenge. One that is effective for catching up quickly with individuals in your network have contributed is friendfeed. With this service you choose who to follow, and those individuals choose which services to include in their feeds. Of course, like all tools, the effectiveness depends on how the people in your network use it. This is a sampling of updates through friendfeed that shows activities of people in my network from 3 different services: YouTube, Twitter, and Delicious.

If you do have difficulty figuring all of this out you're not alone! During a SCoPE seminar on multimembership held in October 2008, it became apparent that management of multimembership is something we all struggle with, and that there are no easy solutions. Sue Wolff prepared a summary of that seminar which nicely captures what many of us are experiencing.

Lots of lurking and scanning is one of the most often mentioned strategies for managing our multimembership in social networks. We require alert systems to notify us that something might be relevant if we are to even click into a networked discussion area, event, or community.

Alerting tools like RSS, Google keywords, email subscription are widely employed.

Aggregation tools include the email digests and RSS feedlists, but many of us have discovered Netvibes, Pageflakes, Protopage or a personalized search homepage like Google's where most of our community action can quickly be surveyed. Keeping two browser windows open with at least two or three tabs open to each community and switching back and forth throughout the day was another technique.

I found it interesting how often people mentioned various listing, sorting, and foldering organization strategies, and how often in the same breath they mentioned most that gets sorted away, gets left behind.

AND LEAVING BEHIND IS OK! We miss our online social connections when face to face pressures take priority, but attend to those things that dovetail well with "whatever we are working on in life" as many put it. We tend to experience our peripheral and sporadic online social immersion throughout our work days as much enervating as overwhelming, although sometimes too stimulating and distracting.

I believe it was Julia's "act schedule or let go" that captured the current strategies many are using.

There was a definite evolutionary quality to our attitudes, strategies, techniques and tool adoption. We start out excited, breathless, and swamped. Then we try to get organized. We start to realize there's way too much coming in and cut back. We switch to an integrative approach where we hone in on whatever catches our attention that relates to wahtever we are working on. The most managed state is one where we have found a few tools and cues to keep the most important things in view, while letting much more swirl around. Without worrying too much, we let go of the belief management is even realistic, and instead realize what is most important will always be with us as we need it.

Last, but certainly not least in our learning were the points Nik started a topic on - that many of us blog or write to make sense of all that we are taking in online. Others of us appreciate and subscribe to those who are doing that.

So there is no doubt that our professional learning landscape is shifting, and one major implication is that it is easy to become overwhelmed. This is partly because of the sheer number of options for connecting with others, but also because so much of what we end up learning is unplanned -- useful but unplanned.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shifting Landscapes of Professional Learning, Part 4

What are other ways our landscape for professional learning has shifted?

One morning in May I was planning an upcoming SCoPE seminar called "The Art of Teaching". The facilitators explained to me that they would like organize live sessions to present video clips, then pause for discussion, and then resume the video. I wasn't sure the best way to do this, so started out with a Google search and found myself spending way too much time wading through information about video formats, video production, and all things related to video that didn't apply to my situation.

Then I decided to pose the question to my network. This thread of discussion speaks for itself. Thanks to Grant Potter, Frank Fucile, and Gerry Paille, by the end of the day I had received the informations I needed.

Social networking is the ultimate in just-in-time learning. It can be much more effective than the just-in-case learning you may experience in formal workshops and training. If you have an immediate need to know, your social network will be right there to help you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Shifting Landscapes of Professional Learning, Part 3

This is the 3rd post in a series in preparation for a "paper jam" session at the CeLC conference. I probably should have warned you that these posts aren't necessarily in a logical order! :-)

As part of my role as community and event coordinator, I manage community accounts as well as my own account. This can get a little confusing, and I've certainly struggled with "identity" challenges in the past.

One big advantage of social networking and microblogging for professional learning is the ability to quickly spread the word about events. I manage and co-manage several twitter accounts. This panel of account windows in twhirl shows, from left to right
  1. my personal account,
  2. SCoPE community account,
  3. ETUG community account, and the
  4. celc2009 conference account

A couple months ago #4 would have been the Canada Moodle Moot account, and in the future will be replaced with another event. There are other tools that allow multiple accounts, but twhirl works well for me for posting, searching, browsing. At a glance I can see what people in my networks are talking about. There is obviously some overlap between my personal feed and and the community and conference feeds.

I've noticed that sending out event announcements an hour before they start, and then perhaps a couple more closer to the start time, is very effective in bringing in participants. In many ways it seems twitter has replaced a personal calendar for professional development opportunities. Rather than carefully plot out which events you would like to attend, just wait to see where each day takes you!

Facebook is another effective venue for posting events. In fact, the event tool is really the only useful aspect of forming Facebook groups that I can see. By sending out an invitation to an event, you have a convenient method of sending out updates or reminders about the event. Also, invitees can see who else is attending an event (a feature available in other platforms as well -- such as Yahoo Upcoming and Event Brite). Here is an example (part of a message) posted by Gladys Gahona to potential participants in an online Wikieducator workshop.

However, over time, Facebook has lost its appeal to many educators, and therefore its effectiveness as a tool for promoting professional development opportunities. One reason is the number of notifications that arrive in users' email inboxes, causing many to turn off email notifications. A less intrusive method of microblogging events in Facebook is to post them as links.

Another advantage of microblogging, from a community steward point of view, is to keep a pulse on current interests of community members and hot topics for future scheduled activities. It's also a great way to connect individuals who share common interests, and to be alerted to conversations that are happening elsewhere, such as on blogs or other venues.

There is still a lot to write about this professional learning topic! I'm already thinking about my next post in this series... separating personal from professional, incidental learning, just-in-time learning, access to experts, the end of formal training?... and of course the big question about our shifting landscape of professional learning: What are the implications?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thanks to all the Volunteer Facilitators

For the past 10 years I've been organizing online events that have relied entirely on volunteers. It's almost impossible to count the number of people who have generously offered their time and expertise, but I thought I would try!

Here are 151 individuals who have facilitated a free and open scheduled discussion or special interest group. The archives of almost all of these events are available in SCoPE (2005-present), Global Educators' Network (1999-2003), and the ETUG community (live session archives since 2008).

Nalin Abeysekera
Terry Anderson
Walter Archer
Jennison Asuncion
Paul Bacsish
Michael Barbour
Paul Beaufait
Alice Bedard-Voorhees
Marc Belanger
Gina Bennett
John Biss
Curtis Bonk
Deirdre Bonnycastle
Alain Breuleux
Monica Brewer
Kate Britt
Liz Burge
Tom Calvert
Tom Carey
Tia Carr Williams
Alice Cassidy
Becky Chan
Cindy Chang
Danny Chen
Ronee Cheung
Derek Chirnside
Tony Chiu
Stephanie Chu
Grainne Conole
Joanne Curry
Michelle Daly
Alan Davis
Ignatia De Waard
Manon Desjarlais
Nellie Deutsch
John Dill
Heather Dow
Arpad Dragffy
Catherine Fichten
Finola Finlay
Brian Fisher
Hedy Fu
Elaine Garofoli
Randy Garrison
Linda Gibson
Geoffrey Glass
Dafne Gonzalez
Walter Greyvenstein
Michael Griffith
Jean Gunderson
Sarah Haavind
Linda Harasim
Paul Hardy
Cher Hill
Sandy Hirtz
Sherry Hsi
Susan Huang
Rosey Hudson
Gary Hunt
Jesai Jayhmes
Jennifer Jones
June Kaminski
Heather Kanuka
Jeffrey Keefer
Deborah Kerr
Lukas Klose
Therese Laferriere
Ellen Lai
Brian Lamb
Scott Leslie
Shevy Levy
Jennifer Lieberman
Frances Long
Max Luk
Ian Macleod
Alice MacPherson
Kathleen Matheos
Paul Mayes
Rory McGreal
Dan McGuire
Sandra McKenzie
Errol Miller
Denise Mok
Sasikumar Mukundan
Vivian Neal
John Nesbit
Bonnie Ng
Rick Nigol
Sunni Nishimura
Nick Noakes
Susanne Nyrop
Claudio Orea
Naghmeh Ostadmalek
William Owen
Luke Pacholski
Rena Palloff
Gilbert Paquette
Linda Polin
Michael Power
Keith Pratt
Laura Proctor
Nancy Randall
Shawna Reibling
Griff Richards
Margaret Riel
Toni Roberts
Tracy Roberts
Sue Roseman
Heather Ross
Vivian Rossner
Liam Rourke
Rick Rupp
Gilly Salmon
Janet Salmons
Steve Scadding
Richard Schwier
Amy Severson
Stanley Shapiro
George Siemens
Richard Smith
John Smith
Paul Stacey
Will Stacey
Vance Stevens
Denise Stockley
Bronwyn Stuckey
Lucio Teles
Jason Toal
Jim Vanides
Ben Varner
Bruno Vernier
Chris Villarruel
Elizabeth Wallace
Therese Weel
Paul Wei
Derek Wenmoth
Marsha West
Nancy White
David Wiley
Lynda Williams
Stone Wiske
Sue Wolff
Jenkin Wong
Jim Woodell
Jacqueline Wu
Cindy Xin
Jennifer Yang
Sean Yeh
Osmar Zaiane
Ke Zhang

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Open Educator as DJ - Towards a Practice of Remix

Scott Leslie's keynote at the 2009 Teaching with Technology Idea Exchange (TTIX)

Final Report: Shaping our Future: Toward a Pan-Canadian E-learning Research Agenda

An entire year has passed since our SOF2009 conference, held online at SCoPE. The conference synopsis was completed some time ago thanks to Joanne Nielsen. The conference facilitators decided it's time to draw attention to the report again since so far it has only been mentioned in MicroSCoPE, the monthly newsletter. We sent this announcement out to conference delegates. Of course we invite EVERYBODY to read and comment on the report and possible next steps.
Dear Participants:
It is now a year since we talked, typed, and listened to each other during our online consultation - Shaping Our Future: Toward a Pan-Canadian E-leaning Research Agenda.

The publication by the Canada Council on Learning's State of E-learning in Canada 2009 report on May 21, 2009 reminded us of the importance of a Pan-Canadian research agenda, and that we had not really publicized the result of this work. The final report on the conference is available at
http://scope.bccampus.ca/mod/resource/view.php?id=1891 (PDF 1.4 MB).

We hope you will find the report of value and forward the link to those who may find it of interest.

Obviously much is happening related to e-learning in Canada but as many commentators reacting to the CCL report noted, there is much left to be done - not the least of which is solid research, using multiple methods and informing many communities.

Here are some noteworthy blog posts in response to the CCL report:


If you have suggestions about next steps for continuing our dialogue together, contact us or drop a note in the "One year later" forum on the SOF2008 conference site.

From your SOF2008 conference facilitators,
Terry Anderson
George Siemens
Sylvia Currie
Paul Stacey
As Terry Anderson mentioned, the report will also be of interest to those who are involved in organizing online conferences. This is an area I would like to document further because I get asked about it a lot!

The Urgency of Open Education

Brian Lamb's keynote at the 2009 Teaching with Technology Idea Exchange (TTIX)

Monday, June 8, 2009

  4 Free Audio Players to Add Audio to Your Site

4 Free Audio Players to Add Audio to Your Site by ClintLalonde.net:
Adding audio to your website, blog or online course is pretty easy to do these days. Long gone are the days when we would force students to download and install proprietary players like Real Player or Quicktime. With the ubiquity of Flash and JavaScript, and mp3 we now have more options for delivering audio on the web than ever before.

Course Design Institute at UBC

The Centre for Teaching and Academic growth at UBC is extending an invitation to register for the TAG - Course Design Institute. This Institute is open to participants from all BC post-secondary institutions. There is a $50.00 registration deposit required, which will be returned to individuals who complete the entire three days of the Institute, but there are no other fees for this first offering.
Will you be teaching a course in the next academic year? When are you planning to design it? Plan your course NOW, by participating in the first TAG and Partners Course Design Institute!

The first TAG and Partners Course Design Institute will be held from June 24th - 26th, 2009, at UBC, and will help you to design or re-design a course!

What: An intensive 3 days in a supportive atmosphere, working both individually and collaboratively, to design or re-design a course that you teach or are planning to teach. You must register and attend for the entire Institute - three days of morning and afternoon participatory seminars on course design topics. To participate, you must have a course that you would like to design or re-design, regardless of the mode (face-to-face, online, or mixed-mode). You will be asked to bring any existing course documents and materials with you to the Institute.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Shifting Landscapes of Professional Learning, Part 2

This is a second post in a series in preparation for a "paper jam" session at the CeLC conference. We're asking the questions:
  • How has your professional learning landscape shifted?
  • What are the implications?
Twitter is the application that comes to mind most often at the mention of microblogging. Most people don't start out understanding why or how they will use twitter, as illustrated in the Twitter Life Cycle by CogDog. And usually it takes a nudge or two from peers to get started. My first tweet was this:

"Attending George Siemen's PLE workshop at the CADE conference" 2:52 PM May 12th, 2007

However, I created the twitter account some time before that after hearing Nancy White and Beth Kanter talk about it during a teleconference call. But I think I must have just created the account and stared at it wondering...what the heck?

I wasn't alone in questioning the value of twitter. In fact, when I did a Google search to see how many people were trying to explain whether or not they're interested in hearing what their friends had for lunch, I got 43,800,000 results! :-)

I don't think I've ever shared my lunch order with my friends, but I'm sure I've bored them with all sorts of other details. And likewise, I've spent way too much time reading completely mundane (albeit condensed!) thoughts as they pass through my twitter feed.

Am I wasting my time? Should my employer be concerned? I don't think so. I've gotten to really KNOW these people in my network, and I've learned so much by being connected to them. This Twitter Sheep word cloud generated from the bios of the people I follow clearly shows that these 140 character exchanges are with people who share interests in learning, education, communities, technology...well, you get the picture.

I've kept the size of my network fairly manageable, but I'm willing to let it grow gradually, and I'm always interested in following people I've never met. And here they are! These are the people I learn from every day:

Get your twitter mosaic here.