Monday, December 5, 2011

Teacher Panel Tonight!

'Thank You' photo (c) 2005, Orin Zebest - license: time for our teacher panel this evening.  We have some awesome teachers coming to share their experiences with technology and their work.  Jen Roberts, Greg Ottinger, Natalie Priester, and Susan Glassett will share the work they do with technology and then we will open up the floor to questions.  I am excited to get some practitioners to share with us.
Don't forget that tonight is our last face-to-face class.  You will be completing your Digital Reflection Projects and have them posted on your blog by December 14.  You will then watch and comment on your peers' work by Sunday, December 18.  Also, don't forget your final reflection post, which I would like completed by December 18, as well.
I will discuss a bit about the final projects in class this evening!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Giving Thanks for your Learning

If Franny only had thumbs, she could hold her own books!
I just wanted to remind everyone that you will be completing your assignment this week virtually.  After last week's small class discussion and my realization that your learning doesn't require the formal boundary of a classroom, I feel confident that you will be able to complete the majority if your work on your own.  As such I just want to remind you of the remaining expectations for the course:

  • Cultivating your PLNs: This is a weekly if not daily responsibility.  You should be reading, tweeting, bookmarking, sharing, and writing.  I really think the writing is the biggest sign that you are processing your learning.  I would definitely like to see more original posts, either as reflections on your reading, learning, participation in educational chats, or some other form of learning that happens outside of this class (If you are not averaging one original post per week, you should be).  
  • Classroom visitations:  If you have not yet completed your classroom visits, I can help schedule a visit to one of the Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) classrooms.  If we do it on the week of the 28th, I might be able to take a small group to a few sites to see how, even in at risk programs, technology can play a big part in learning.  I know there are already a few observations already posted on the blog. . .Thanks.
  • Past blog assignments:  If you haven't completed some of the assigned blog reflections (Disrupting Class, your student-centric school, a reflection on an EC & I 831 class, etc.) please have those completed soon
  • Absences:  if you missed any classes, you can make up for it by completing a reflection on a second class from the EC & I course (I would highly recommend the Intro to Connected Learning).  If you are struggling to find something to write about on your blog, this is also a good alternative!
  • Digital Reflection Project: this is definitely not the same assignment that I thought it would be in the beginning of class.  This final project will basically be a summary of the learning in this course and how you might see learning differently in the future.  As the medium of this course has been technology, I expect that technology is a large component of your project.  Also, as part of the class discussion last week, we/I decided that the projects will be recorded using Jing or another screen recorder and placed on your blogs.  In this way, the entire content of your course will be on your blog, which will serve as a great future artifact of your learning.  The entire class on November 28 will be dedicated to discussing and working with some screen capture tools you can use as well as how to record & narrate a Prezi, a website, or whatever will be the medium of your digital reflection project.  We will also discuss how you will present these to the group!
  • Dec 5 Teacher Panel:  We will have a panel of tech using teachers to discuss their use of technology and how they see it supporting student learning.  I am also interested in how they arrange their environments to support learning.  If you have a teacher you would like to invite, please contact me!
  • Final reflection:  this will be self-assessment of your success in this class.  We will talk about it on the 28th.

I hope this helps you all with your planning for the rest of the semester.  Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or if you need any support.

Leave a comment noting that you have read and understand what you need to do. . .also if you have a question, perhaps the community could help answer it!

Monday, November 14, 2011

If a Class Occurs and No one Shows, Did Learning Happen?

Zoe as Ruler of Camelot?
Here at EDUC 578, we have always been small but mighty.  Tonight; however, based on the DMs and emails I have received I think we are going to be minuscule and perhaps not quite as mighty as we usually are. . .But that's okay.  My first reaction whenever I receive a number of students opting out of class for whatever reason is to take it personal.  "Is it me?"  This quickly turns into the professional. . ."Is it the course or the content?"  Both reactions are natural to those who pride themselves on their teaching ability as well as the ability to construct a course that is meaningful for their students.  I'm nothing if not both a bit self-absorbed and deeply concerned about creating an environment that promotes intrinsic motivation.  I want students to want to learn, often in spite of being in/at a learning institution.  After the third message I received from a student, I  began to think. . .In this class, more so than in any other class I have taught in the past, I believe I have created an environment that doesn't really require either a teacher or a building from which my EDUC 578 student can learn.  I was given the freedom to follow my passion (thank you Dr. Lattimer). . .to teach a course on learning and technology that required students to be self-directed learners, to go out into the vastness of the Internet and create meaning for themselves, to examine how they learn and how this might be applied in their future classrooms. This opportunity was two parts amazing and one part, "holy cow," can I pull this off?

This is what I believe.   I want my students to strip down what they "know" about education and learning until it lies in front of them naked and exposed.  This is the starting point.  Here is where we can actually see schools and learning for what they are: social constructs.  Under such light, it should become obvious that neither schools nor learning has to be this way.  The past structures and beliefs about school and learning served a small minority well, while alienating a large number of those, who, like my mother, came to believe that "We ain't school people."  I never truly understood how my mother could come to this conclusion about her entire extended family until I saw the data of who was successful and who was not in school.  It's sadly predictable who succeeds and who fails in our schools, and all too often based on the color of one's skin.

Have I accomplished my mission for my EDUC 578 students?  I'm not sure.

This is what I know.  I am amazingly energized when I read our EDUC 578 blogs.  From innovation week to reflections on class readings, to the simple excitement of being re-tweeted, I see a group of women who have made an honest attempt to try and create meaning for themselves.  They are authentic and open and not afraid to be wrong, or have opinions.  To the best of their abilities they are trying to follow their passion in education and create meaning.  Whether this be teaching ESL to adult learners, math to middle schoolers, or examining the inequity in our education system they are doing their best to follow the advice of a somewhat wacky new professor with a vision.  I realize that this style doesn't fit everyone.  It is often hard to deal with so little structure when structure is main component of the social construct of education.  It is also hard to follow a passion if you are not quite sure of exactly what that passion is. . .but I still appreciate the effort.

Last week, I ask the class to take a look at the essential questions of the course:
1. How does learning occur?
2. In what environments can technology promote learning?
3. What is the process by which technology enhances learning?

Tonight, I think we can put this to the test.  As I mentioned last week, I don't think we need to add any more new ideas to the rest of the semester.  I expect that the current process of reading, tweeting, bookmarking, writing, commenting, and growing your PLNs will suffice.  Let's rephrase some of the essential questions: Does a student have to attend class to learn?  Can the environment which promotes learning be a coffee shop or a comfortable chair at home? Do computers and the Internet change the way learning happens?

My answer to all of the questions are all predicated on one thing:  intrinsic motivation.  If I have a strong desire to learn, whether it be to cook, run a marathon, become a Pinterest Ninja, or master physics, the resources exist for me to learn them without a formal teacher or a physical school to attend.  Technology is not the only way to accomplish this, but it is one way.  It is a medium that can connect me to informal teachers around the globe who have the expertise and desire to share. It can create community and foster collaboration the size and scope of which would be hard to replicate in any other way.

As far as me letting go. . .I'm working on it. I have 46 years of the old model of education and learning that creeps into the recesses of my subconscious when I let my guard down.  I don't really believe in external motivators like grades to enhance learning, but in the current carrot and stick model of education, some people find it hard to want to participate if their in no external outcome for their effort.  If I allow my students to grade themselves, what are the consequences for not coming to class, for not completing some of the expected work, for not learning?  Part of me wants to say that a failure to learn is its own natural consequence.
When my sixth grader asked me, "Daddy are you proud of my for getting straight A's?"
I replied, "Zoe, I'm more interested in what you learned than your grades."
This didn't go over so well for my extrinsically motivated 11-year-old. It saddens me that she is already a product of the system. . .and this is with a father who is an educator that fights the status quo.
I don't have all the answers. . .  I may never have them, but I do know that this experiment has shown me that it is possible, that students can follow their passion and learn at the same time, and that I can act as a guide and not be the sole arbiter of knowledge and learning.

And you are learning, right? Right?

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Feast of Disruptive Learning

'Disruptive Library Technology Jester tells me about disruptive  technology' photo (c) 2008, Kathryn Greenhill - license: here we are at week nine, actually week 10, but we didn't meet on Labor Day.  I hope everyone is looking forward to the epicurean delights that Annie and others are providing this evening.  I promise to bring the best ice and cups in San Diego.  Tonight, we have a few items to address – primary will be a discussion of disruptive innovation, specifically, chapter 1 and chapter 5.  I hope you are all seeing the connection between the text and what we have been learning this semester.

I will introduce a new, tool that you can add to your teaching arsenal, Symbaloo. "What is Symbaloo?" you ask.  Think of it as a mix between iGoogle and Diigo. . .It's a way to house resources, links, and other types of web content, like RSS feeds on one visually interesting page. . .once created, you can also embed a "webmix" into your blogs. The amazing folks at Symbaloo have generously offered to get your certified for free!

Here are the steps:
1. Click Here to sign-up for the certification program.  (I will give you the code in class)
2. Click Here to access the certification website.
3. Follow the tutorials by row, check out the webinar assignment & take the webinar quiz.
4. Repeat the process until you complete the four tutorials.
5. Take the final exam.
6. Wait for your confirmation email that you have been certified. . .
7. Add your new badge to the sidebar of your blog!
8. Celebrate your new skill by sharing with friends and family!!
I also want to show you how to place our Pink 6 Senses website on your blog.
And, I thought we would take a look at the "essential questions" for this course from the syllabus:

  1. How does learning occur?
  2. In what environment can technology promote learning?
  3. What is the process by which technology enhances learning?

In light of how this class has progressed, what changes would you suggest for the essential questions?  Imagine you were writing the questions for my class next fall.

A quote from Christensen's website:
By only pursuing “sustaining innovations” that perpetuate what has historically helped them succeed, companies unwittingly open the door to “disruptive innovations”.

Some notes:  
Interdependence & Modularity

Interdependence in Schools
temporal: what one is expected to learn from year to year, which "builds" on itself.
lateral: If you made a change in one area, it would necessitate change in a related area (changing foreign language would necessitate the changing of how English grammar is taught, which would change the English curriculum).
physical: some schools physical makeup (layout of buildings) prevent things like PBL to flourish.
hierarchical: mandates, union-negotiated work rules, curriculum, texts, the way teachers are trained

some points from the book: 

  • costs of special eduction and for EL populations has created a need to standardize all other education 
  • reverse magnetic attraction (trying to meet the needs of m.i. will cause this)
  • teachers in classrooms are products of monolithic batch-processing systems of education
  • the current educational system - the way it trains teachers, groups students, curricular design, physical structures are designed for standardization
  • we need to move to a student-centric model of education
  • Continuum:  monolithic batch process–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––student-centric
  • computer-based learning offers a way for student-centric learning (more modular)
  • teachers in a computer-based become professional learning coaches rather than a "sage on the stage"

Disruptive Innovation Theory

Why can't companies deal with the disruptive innovation?

  • Companies do not have the motivation to focus on the disruption because their current customers can't use it and, in business, it produces a lower profit margin –– so investment goes to sustaining innovation over the disruptive one!
  • asymmetric motivation is the how and why disruptive innovations cause a dramatic change in the landscape of an industry (Kodak camera, Sony transistor radio, Ford Model T, Xerox, Southwest Airlines, Google advertising, etc. .)
  • the "sustaining trajectory in the original plane of competition takes a company in a direction that is opposed to the direction of disruption. . ." (e.g. a better personal computer is smaller, cheaper, and easier to use. . .whereas the better DEC minicomputer was made bigger and more powerful)
So, how does this apply to schools: pages 51-65 (Applying Disruption Theory to Public Schools: Defining Performance)

Why cramming computers into class isn't the answer:  when you try to replace a quality math teacher with an online course that isn't as good as the math teacher herself . . .without an area/subject of non-consumption, teachers will use technology to sustain their existing practices and pedagogies

"competing against non-consumption" - example:  offering an online course in Arabic, when there is no Arabic teacher at a school or district. . .In this example, the online Arabic course, even if it not a well designed online course is "better than nothing."  Then we would start to improve online education so that it might possibly improve and change the way learning takes place in schools.

The S-Curve Pattern of Disruptive Innovation versus the Substitution Curve (Linear)

Chapter 5
Public Education=Value-Chain Business
Disruption toward Student-Centric Learning  
What are some alternatives to the current model? 
Thinking of this model, could you recommend an alternative for each of the steps in Figure 5.1

Assignment: I would like you to blog about creating your future Student-Centric School. . .consider the model from Figure 5.1 and what you have read and learned throughout this course and recommend a school design that moves from a value-chain business to a facilitated user network?  How would teachers be trained? What would the textbooks look like? Would you want to work there?

Question: please leave your response to the essential questions as a comment.  Thanks!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wed: Google+ & Disrupting Class

Tonight, I hope we can have a successful Google+ hangout.  My expectation for the hangout is to hear about your PLN progress, what you have learned, discuss some of the #eci831 sessions you watched and/or wrote about, any educational chats, etc. .
The next topic is to begin to read Disrupting Class.  We are not going to read the entire book.  You will be reading:  Intro, Chapters 1, 5, 7, 8, 9. 
Before class on Monday, I want you to read about disruptive innovation from Clayton Christensen's website and:
Explain in 300 words or less your understanding of Christensen's Theory of Disruption. Consider this the elevator speech to someone who has no idea what the theory is. Use one education example from your past experience or current reality to illustrate the disruption.
This, of course will be completed on your blog.  We will begin class on Monday with your responses to your peers' posts.

If you haven't checked out our Pink 6 Senses Google Site, Annie has given it a much needed facelift.  It looks awesome.

Question: What are some things you have learned about your learning? How does this apply to you as a future, or present, teacher?

Monday, October 31, 2011

"Assessing" the Value of your PLN. . .

Lily The Ballerina Pig

A few housekeeping tips before I discuss my past weeks.  There is no class this Hallow's Eve.  We agreed to meet on Google+ Wednesday evening at 7:30 pm.  Correct me if I am wrong or there are any issues regarding this meeting.  What should be completed: I expect that the Pink 6 Senses website will be completed, you will have more than one new post to discuss (and don't forget to comment on each other's posts, but some posts from the #eci831 class as well), you will have watched at least one of the EC&I classes, and that you will be ready to discuss what you have learned and shared this week. Tomorrow's EC&I 831 class is: Sharing, facilitated by Dean Shareski.  It begins at 6pm PSTand lasts for an hour and a half.  One thing that might be avoiding your consciousness is the weekly participation in at least one educational chat with an accompanying reflection. . .haven't seen one in awhile.  I realize that it is both a challenge and a bit daunting to be responsible for your own learning.  Like anything worth doing, you must take the time to cultivate your practice.
Speaking of cultivating your practice. . .
The first thing I want to discuss is our connection with Dr. Couros and his EC&I 831 Social Media and Open Education class from the University of Regina.  I have been following @courosa for awhile on Twitter and when I saw what he was doing with this course, I contacted him about some possible ways to connect our classes.  It took a few weeks, but he agreed to put us on his Oct 25 agenda and connect our classes.  Here is the connection to their blogs. . .Here is their Twitter list. . .both of which have been shared on Twitter and the #usdedu & #eci831 hashtags.  I watched the recording from the Oct 25 session about Rhizomatic Learning featuring Dave Cormier.  It was a very interesting session.  I loved the way Dave used blank slides to gather information from the group.  Although, the overall experience would have been even more enriching if I had been in the synchronous session.  I look forward to the connections that you all can make for the rest of the semester.
Last Monday, Dr. Lattimer and met with Jason and Jenni, who run the Daraja Academy, a boarding school for Keynan girls who do not have the resources to continue their education.  We discussed their mobile learning grant and ways in which iPads, iPod Touches, and other mobile devices could be used in their school.  It is amazing to me that mobile learning could occur in even remote areas of Keyna! I plan to keep in touch with Jason and Jenni as they begin this journal of technology integration at Daraja Academy.
Last Tuesday, I participated in the 9am #edchat: What are some specific things we can do to involve parents in the education of their children? It was a very active chat and I found myself sharing many ideas. At the end of the chat, I received a DM (direct message) from the moderators asking me to write a summary of the chat for their blog. I was honors to be asked to write the summary and hopefully, it will be published this week! I'll let you know.
Last Wednesday, I found myself struggling to get my joint doctoral program students to understand exactly what it means to cultivate a PLN. I am not a fan of prescribing what it takes to cultivate something like a PLN because it has to be something that comes naturally out of the motivation to learn new ideas and network with like educators. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, it does take time to cultivate this into a practice. I gave guidelines, group discussion, and even a video, but I wasn't seeing the results for which I was hoping. So, I decided to construct a rubric/guideline for how to cultivate a PLN. I started with the exemplary column and worked backward from their. When I finished, I tweeted a link to my work (in GoogleDocs) using the #edchat hashtag. About five minutes later, I received a message from @DataDiva, who is an expert on quality rubrics, noting that she thought I needed more positive language in the lowest column. I asked for her assistance and she first sent this link to her wiki on the important on the lowest levels. After about an hour and a half of back and forth communication, I have what is a pretty awesome guideline on how to cultivate a PLN. I put the guideline on both the EDUC 578 blog and my CSUSM/UCSD JDP blogs. On Thursday, I received a tweet from @DelaneyKirk asking if she could share my PLN guidelines in the Chronicle for Higher Ed. Two things are important here. I have been teaching for almost 15 years and I learned more about rubrics from @DataDiva in our Twitter conversation than I have in any professional development or training/readings. I eventual final product will be a valuable part of my future discussions on PLNs. The second issue is the ability to network with others on Twitter and my willingness to share my work publicly allowed my work to be shared in ways that I couldn't have imagined.  
I hope this post shows you all the value of cultivating your PLN!!

Question: What have you seen as the biggest obstacle in creating/learning in your PLN?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Innovation Week & Beyond

'Integral Innovation' photo (c) 2010, - license: of all, it was both exciting and scary for me to assign innovation week.  Exciting because I really wanted to see what the results would be without having too many educational "constraints."  Scary because, during the class discussion, I decided to give up all control on the content of your innovation week topic.  Initially, I wanted to tie it to learning and technology, the topic of this course.  However, I soon realized that this would not make it very authentic.  I know that I would have probably picked something techie or educational, but that's because it is what I am consumed with both professionally and personally.  But the look on Christina's face when she immediately thought, "Yoga," really cemented that fact that this was the right thing to do.
Why innovation week?  Well, as most of you can probably tell, I am fascinated with intrinsic motivation when it comes to learning.  I don't believe that learning acquired extrinsically. . ."chasing a carrot," or a grade, produces the type of deep learning that lasts.  I have studied for many a test the evening before, received the carrot, an A, and then completely forgot what I had learned in a week or sooner.  This I believe, is the effect of a ubiquitous cultural value on "winning" and getting good grades. I'm not saying that one cannot receive both good grades and learn deeply, but I am saying that this is more the exception than the rule.
Now that you have all completed your innovation week projects and reflected on them, I want to make a deeper connection to you as a future teacher (although I realize that many of you are also currently teaching).  A few of you have touched on this subject in your reflections, but I would like you to take it a bit deeper. After reading and commenting on your peers' innovation week reflections, I would like you to write about the next step, how you are going to apply what you learned, either conceptually or personally, to your future as a learner and as a teacher. . .I want to hear about the future you; hopefully, someone who has a class full of learners not students ;-)

I have also been working very hard to connect with Professor Alec Couros, who teaches a course called Social Media and Open Education for the University of Regina, in Saskatchewan, Canada.  I am hoping to connect our small class with their class, which is not only attended by U of R students, but by anyone who would like to take the course. . .the open education concept. . .

Here is a link to his course schedule.  The courses are synchronous on Tuesday evening, 8-9:30 pm our time and the recordings are hosted on the class website.  We will discuss the possibilities this evening. . .

Question:  What is your Tuesday evening schedule?