Tuesday, June 23, 2009
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!
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.
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
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.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?
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.
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.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.
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.
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
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
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
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
- my personal account,
- SCoPE community account,
- ETUG community account, and the
- 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
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).
Tia Carr Williams
Ignatia De Waard
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Dear Participants: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!
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,
Monday, June 8, 2009
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
- How has your professional learning landscape shifted?
- What are the implications?
"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: