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Sunday, September 19, 2010

The WikiEducator "Invite them and they will come" Online Workshop - (September 22 to October 5, 2010)

Register today for the next Wikieducator workshop, Invite them and they will come!  Join us this Wednesday for a live session that will serve as a general overview of the course as well.



Celebrating the gift of knowledge



Image courtesy of maveric2003

This free wiki workshop is presented online over 10 working days and requires approximately 15 - 20 minutes per day. The course is presented asynchronously -- so you can work at times which fit your own schedule. Join educators around the world who are returning to the core values of sharing knowledge freely.

Learning4Content is the world largest attempt to build wiki skills for education and is administered by the OER Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation helping individual and organisations achieve their objectives using open education approaches.

We have achieved our targets in providing free wiki skills training to over 1000 educators this past year. Since our first pilot workshop in 2008, we have provided free training opportunities to more than 4,000 educators to learn how to develop OER the wiki way. In celebrating this gift of knowledge, we are hosting the this WikiEducator workshop where all facilitators donate of their time freely to help their WikiNeighbours. In the spirit of open philanthropy, the "WikiEducator Gives Back" annual workshop also provides an opportunity to scale-up our international team of Learning4Content facilitators.

L4C facilitators will be giving back in two ways:

  1. Donating their time freely to assist with facilitating this record breaking workshop attempt - (Designated as L4C Facilitators on the participants page)

  2. Sharing their knowledge with future L4C facilitators to join our international team of WikiEducator online facilitators so we can scale capability development for OER the wiki way. (Designated as L4C Co-Facilitators on the participants page)


The OER Foundation will institute this as an annual WikiEducator event which aims to:

  • Break the previous year's record for hosting the largest free online wiki workshop measured by the number of registered participants

  • Provide an opportunity for educators around the world to meet and interact with some of WikiEducators' top editors and seasoned wiki facilitators measured by their approximate edit count in WikiEducator


We aim to have a little fun. We will award community Kudos achievements for:

  • The workshop participant who achieves the highest number of edits during the workshop

  • The Facilitator / or Co-Facilitator who achieves the highest number of support edits during the workshop.


Please share this gift of knowledge and spread the word.

WE look forward to meeting you in the wiki!



Where a PLN and an LMS Become One (#PLENK2010)

I'm wondering if a blog post from nearly six years ago holds a similar perspective in today's terms which is central to topics being covered in PLENK2010.

Anderson lists some Advantages of an LMS which to me actually seem like disadvantages or at the very least, have no advantage at all.

  • Purposefully designed: Is this specific to an LMS?  It seems to me that a purposeful design has more to do with what the teacher does than the tool itself.

  • The capacity and functionality of tools designed to facilitate a net enabled class are now commonly understood by both learners and teachers and fit well with a cohort model of formal teaching and learning. Perhaps a cohort model of formal teaching and learning should not be the objective.

  • Institutional, teacher and student concerns over IP, privacy and support have been largely been addressed in current LMS systems. But does this equate to a more rigorous, relevant, and meaningful learning experience for the student?

  • Mature. There are many mature sites outside an LMS.

  • LMS systems have been around for about ten years and the primary interaction tools – threaded discussion groups for an additional 20 years, They are reliable, well supported by both vendors, development communities and typically institutional IT staff. There are many ways to communicate outside an LMS.

  • UniversalAdapative technologies are often available within LMS with little configuration required by learners or teachers. There are many adaptive technologies outside an LMS.

  • Safe and Secure Is being "safe and secure" really preparing the learner for the real world?

  • Educational institutions have long developed traditions of being safe places for the pursuit of learning and scholarship. One can reasonably expect to be treated fairly (or at least openly) and there are formal and informal norms adopted and enforced within contexts controlled by the institution. Such security is not provided on the open Net. This is redundant.  See comments above.

  • Learning at its best is personal and transformational. To accomplish this may require a sense of security whereby ideas, tones and emotions can be developed and shared. Learners have expectations that their comments, images and ideas are created and shared within this protected environment and are not available on the Open web, nor capable of being archived for decades and brought back to haunt the future. This will depend on the age and maturity level of the individual, but a capacity that is essential for all learners is to understand how to build a digital identity.  There are ways to prepare the "tones and emotions" beforehand while still having learners contribute to an open web.  Also, many spaces on the web allow for open and closed environments.  Finally, framing bad (online) experiences as haunting the learner in the future is the same as saying making mistakes is a bad thing.  It's all about preparing, guiding, and reflecting as the student contributions to the open web.

  • Ease of Use Same as above, is "ease of use" really preparing the learner for the real world?  There is a difference between ease of use and feasibility.

  • While developments in syndication technologies are rapidly improving, the challenge for a teacher or a learner to read through postings and their responses, in threaded or time stamped formats remains a challenge. Modern LMS systems default to easily support search, sort and organize postings in multiple formats. There are ways to do this outside the LMS.

  • Providing support to students for a single LMS system is relatively easy for learning services support staff. Such service can often be outsourced to 7*24 help desks if required. Ease of use argument.

  • Categories for postings are easily made, edited and expanded by teachers (for example typical LMS systems allow creation of informal coffee-room chats and threaded discussion areas, workspaces for teams and theme or chronological ordering of discourse. Categorization of blog posting even for those designed for a particular class are problematic, but become greater when a single PLE is used to contribute to personal, educational and vocational entries. There are technologies that exist today that enable the teacher to work smarter not harder.  There are ways to organize information in a public way.

  • Storing, uploading, archiving, editing and retrieval of course content is relatively easy in full featured LMS systems and usually undertaken by someone else – a prime requirement for effective backup! Storing, uploading, archiving, etc. can be done by teachers, students, and the community (i.e., anyone) in the open web.

  • LMS are the educational tools of today. The busy teacher or learner needs to invest little personal time and energy, but can ‘fall into” the supportive routines provided by educational support systems and expend their innovation energy in other directions. Are LMSs still the "educational tools of today"?  Plus, the tendency might be to set up a class in an LMS and then do little to contribute to it in the future.


  • My thoughts regarding the essential questions for this week follow.

    Can PLEs be seen as institutional level software?

    In part, yes.  If a course is offered in Moodle to degree-seeking students within an institution, that course more-than-likely will make up part of the learner's PLN (you say PLE, I say PLN).  I say more-than-likely because it depends on whether the student is getting anything out of the course, specifically what the student gets from the interaction of content and individuals that originate from the course offered in Moodle.  What the learner learns outside of the Moodle course constitutes the rest of the learner's PLE.

    Do PLEs require dramatic reform of the education system?

    Not in Mexico.  Even though we have courses in Moodle (blended and distance) and have restrictions to some websites when accessing the web at the university, the learners still have access to the web outside of the university which still contributes to their PLN in productive ways.  And although training teachers, admins. etc. to think in terms of a PLN is an ongoing process, I don't consider this as being a "dramatic reform of the education system".

    Must PLEs and LMS be seen as antagonistic to each other? Why can't they just get along?

    In my world, an "LMS" is just a part of a PLN (i.e., PLE) ; they are extensions of each other.  It's like those who just know me at school may or may not have the same understanding of who I am outside of school.  Even though I'm the same person, each network influences each other while maintaining some level of overlap between the two as well.

    This is why I don't like the term LMS and I avoid discussing whether an "LMS" is a good or bad thing.  It has little to do with the tool itself (or collection of tools) and more to do with how the tool is being used at any given moment.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Is it a PLN, PLE, VLE, LMS, CMS, or something else?


    Good question.  In fact, this is a question that everyone should ask and be able to answer when choosing the different technologies and social, f2f contacts that ultimately become one's PLN.  In my blog post I say, " If I choose and determine that an LMS is the best way for me to learn, then the LMS is my PLN".  My point was that if a person can justify why an LMS best serves the individual's learning needs, interests, and learning preferences, then who am I to judge.  I also say this because many people are for or against an LMS; I think this is the wrong conversation to be having.  We should be addressing the question you pose that forwards this notion of articulating a learner's rationale in developing a PLN.  A learner's rationale for using any tool will also depend greatly on how the tool is being used.

    Clearly for me, an LMS is never my PLN.  For this MOOC (and for the first time), I am completely staying away from Moodle and it's made all the difference!  I weave in-and-out of blogs, tweet, and read The Daily in order to interact with individuals and content for the course.  This part of my PLN works for me and I can explain why it works for me...but I cannot judge others if they can explain an alternative way that works best for them, including using only an LMS.

    If someone says the only place they learn anything worthwhile is through some Moodle course, online community, etc., who am I to argue.  Technologies today are so integrated anyway that everything really is just varying degrees of a PLN.  Think of all the different ways online content can be brought into Moodle for example.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    #PLENK2010: A PLN and Shifting Power Back to the Learner

    If an institution sets up PLEs for students using something like Elgg is that really that much better than an LMS? The students are still at the whim of whatever the institution chose to use.

    An institution cannot set up a PLN (what is being referred to here as a PLE) for students because, well, it's only personal if the students have a say in its design.  An institution can set up an LMS (i.e., an infrastructure) but that's just a tool.  Whether one calls it an LMS or Elgg, it really depends on how the tool is being used.  The functionality between Moodle and Elgg might be different, but when looking at one's possible PLN, an LMS typically is only a small part of the whole.  The university might be able to control the LMS, but they can do little to restrict the learner's PLN (even with the capability of blocking a few sites).

    The long tail (i.e., students) will continue to rise if teachers, administrators, etc. support learners in pursuing a PLN that is truly personal.

    Open Textbook Tweet

    Open Textbook Tweet

    Mark Twain remarked that he could never “make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it.” A tweet, restricted to 140 characters, is a reflection of the impromptu conscience of digital society today. This collection of micro contributions from educators, administrators, and learners reflecting on the burgeoning phenomenon of open education resources and open textbooks is reason to celebrate: we are returning to the core vocation of education, which is to share knowledge freely. Clearly these contributors have thought deeply about the value of “sharing to learn,” but more importantly “learning to share.” This book is insightfully clever because it conveys a powerful message that will be a catalyst to nurture and evolve into a growing community of educators worldwide that is committed to the evolution and collaborative planning of education projects rooted in the foundations of open content. It is clear that OER futures are inevitable. After reading this text, I wonder when we look back at the history of these sustainable education futures, will we wonder why it took so long? - Wayne Mackintosh

    #PLENK2010: It's all a PLN

    Furthering an idea from an earlier post about PLNs,...

    The boundary nodes that make up a personal learning network (PLN) - those within one degree of separation - may consist of any combination of the following:

    1. Individuals or groups of individuals (f2f/online)

    2. Concepts, notions, ideas, thoughts, opinions, etc.

    3. Technologies: blogs, wikis, online communities,


    These types of nodes (i.e., individuals, concepts and technologies - ICTs) influence each other depending on the type of interaction that exists, and the type of interaction depends a lot on the direction of communicate flow (i.e., uni/bidirectional), power structures, and identity to name a few.  Since nodal learning is personal (individuals have choices in how they connect), there is (or should be) a high degree of autonomy that ultimately determines the degree of diversity and openness within the network topology.  In addition to the types of communication that exist between the ICTs, each learner must also continually reevaluate the attributes which influence how the connection will be maintained in the future.

    So if the term PLN is the whole enchilada, why choose PLN over the term personal learning environment (PLE)?  Well, it has to do with the word environment. Intuitively, one can see how individuals have more control over how they interact with ICTs and less control over their learning environment or learning ecosystem.  Sure, we have more control than we have in the past with respect to the when, where, why, how, etc. of our own learning, but our boundary nodes are the direct result of a series of personal decisions.  In my mind, a learning environment (which extends beyond the boundary nodes) is not personal in ways that a learning network is.

    So given the number of possible ICTs that can make up a PLN, what becomes more important is how individuals decide on which boundary nodes to connect with and how they choose to communicate with them in terms of means, ways, and ends (in that order).  By building capacities first, the individual is more likely to become responsible (i.e., able and willing) for pursuing personal goals than if "personal" goals are being dictated beforehand much like how mission or vision statements (or course objectives) are typically handed down in a directive fashion.

    Using a single term, a PLN, makes it easier to describe the interaction or influence between individuals, concepts, and technologies that connectively make up a "support system" for personal development.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Using the Community to Build the Curriculum

    It would be interesting to set up a PLENK2010-like course but with no pre-determined content whatsoever.  This course has no center with regard to the spaces used to interact with others (and content), but there is a "center" when it comes to content.  Why not start with essential questions (that come from the participants and/or facilitators) and build a course around that.  Each participant brings in content and experiences to the mix and suddenly learning truly emerges.  Instead of front-loading content (e.g., recommended readings), facilitators could reference these same readings through forum discussions; in others words, as evidence to form an argument or point of view.  Other members would follow suit.

    I'm sure Dave see's shortcomings to this approach but the thought just occurred to me once again as I participate in PLENK2010 simply by responding to questions posted by members (and related readings referenced by them), then seeing where the dialog takes me.

    #PLENK2010: Is this MOOC a PLE?

    Is this MOOC a PLE?

    I'm not sure it really matters.  Taylor adds the following questions:

    •  But how do new participants know what is possible [in a MOOC, PLE, PLN, etc.]?

    • How much time and energy are required to acquire new skills and knowledge?

    • What new skills and knowledge can one expect to gain?


    This MOOC, PLE, PLN, whatever, is what it is.  Everyone enters this course (as with any course on the planet) with different levels of readiness, interests, needs, learning preferences, etc.  Trying to determine what new skills and knowledge can be expected to be gained, for example, will vary greatly.  This is where expressive (non-behavioral) outcomes become more realistic in measuring degrees of emergent, non-linear learnings.

    At the end of the day, any course is about  finding the most appropriate ways to communicate so that each learner interacts with content and other individuals, then evaluating whether are not current connections (i.e., relationships) exists that afford an extended discussion.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    LMS Exists Mainly for the Needs of Managers, not Learners

    The LMS exists mainly for the needs of managers...not learners.

    I would say the participants in the PLENK2010 MOOC, who have decided to participate in a Moodle, would not agree.  These members have all the freedom in the world to choose how they wish to conduct discussions, yet they choose an LMS.  I'm willing to bet there are some who will work completely from Moodle for the entire course.  So from their perspective, an LMS exists mainly for the needs of the learners.

    #PLENK2010: Being too open!

    Ok, pet peeve time...choosing a hashtag!  I get MOOCs, open courseware, connective communities, etc., and the value in having each participant choose the way in which they want to interact with content and individuals.  But we should all be able to agree on having a single hashtag to filter our discussions.  It would be great if we could all agree on one hashtag for this course.

    ...wondering what percentage of participants are using #PLENK2010, #PLENK10, PLENK2010, etc...  And which hashtags are most people using?  And what's the criteria for choosing a hashtag, if there is one?

    I'm sure it's just me, but this does drive me nuts.

    #PLENK2010: Five points about PLNs

    Dave's five points about PLEs PLNs for PLENK2010

    Here is my adaptation...

    • Point #1:  I use the term personal learning network (PLN) to refer to all of the following: professional learning network, personal learning environment, learning management system, course management system, etc.  A node that makes up a PLN can be a person, group, institution, online community, software program, etc.  And it's personal if the learner (and not a teacher, trainer, expert, etc.)  has control over which nodes to connect with and what type of interaction the learner prefers to have with each node.

    • Point #2:  Judging a PLN should come from the learner who cultivates the PLN.  If I choose and determine that an LMS is the best way for me to learn, then the LMS is my PLN.  It is not the responsibility of someone else (nor their place) to judge whether my PLN (e.g., an LMS) is right or not for me.  I decide this for myself.

    • Point #3: "[PLNs] need not be supported by educational institutions", but educational institutions will lose out if they continue to create obstacles for students to access websites.  In fact, it would be to the institution's advantage to support PLNs in any way they can.  As more individuals gain the capacity to develop a PLN, institutions will need to be more competitive, which means to incorporate a more open approach to teaching and learning.

    • Point #4: Ownership(personal) and Time(network) are critical impediments to implementing PLNs in both formal and informal education.  Cultivating a PLN is an ongoing endeavor that requires time for the busy professional as well as for the busy student.  Taking ownership in one's learning can be a novel idea for a professional as well, especially if the individual is used to having been taught in a linear, more traditional fashion (e.g., similar to Freirian's banking concept of education).

    • Point #5: Cultivating a PLN requires ongoing facilitative support from a variety of sources: teachers, trainers, colleagues, students, administrators, basically all stakeholders.  Even in formal education, there is no starting or ending point when it comes to developing a PLN.  There is no minimum or maximum set of nodes and no right or wrong way to interact with those nodes per se.  What is more important is the impact the PLN has on the learner both in how the learning process unfolds and how the learner communicates with others.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    #PLENK2010 - Getting Started!

    I look forward to PLENK2010!  I will primarily use this blog and link with other blogs in order to interact with content for this MOOC, and will use this opportunity to connect with others as well.  Most of what I do online is through WikiEducator.

    I look forward to getting started!

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    The Physical versus the Virtual

    "Given that both E-Books and online courses be used for the sole purpose of learning, which one would you say was a more effective option?"

    I don't see this as being "either...or" (it's like asking what's better, a book or a course). An ebook is a resource and an online course is a means of delivery that includes a whole host of possible resources, learning theories, and types of communication (i.e., asynchronous and synchronous communication).

    We might ask: 1) What do you prefer, ebooks or physical books? 2) What do you prefer, online, blended, or face-to-face courses?

    Heidi says, "...I know my team would not be receptive to e-books as a form of learning".

    When I think of ebooks, I think of books found in Google Books, ebrary, etc. where parts or entire books can be accessible via the web. If someone rejects the use of ebooks, I'd be interested in knowing how much of it is a personal preference and how much of it is due to accessibility and know-how of the Internet and technology as a whole. It would be interesting to know Heidi's corporate learning environment, but I would say that if I have limited access to the Internet and/or I do not know much about technology, that's one thing. If I have access to the web, I'm technologically savvy, and I prefer not to use ebooks, that's a different notion.

    Would like to hear additional thoughts on the matter.

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Academic paragraph assignment

    A writing assignment as part of an open academic writing course...

    Watch the video below and create one academic paragraph related to a topic being discussed. The academic paragraph will include three main points with adequate support for each. The main points can come from the video below or from any other reliable source. Your citations and references should follow APA. You are to post your paragraph here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jr64l4FjvBQ&feature=related

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Learning4Content - The WikiEducator "Invite them and they will come" Online Workshop

    I'm very happy to be co-facilitating the next Learning4Content - "Invite them and they will come" Online Wikieducator (WE) workshop!  If you are interested in learning WE skills, register today!  You'll quickly find that there is plenty of support throughout the WE family should you need it which includes contacting me directly.

    See how others have used Wikieducator:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc9-CNlIqsY

    We'll see you in the wiki!

    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Letting Go in the Classroom

    [brightcove vid=14109949001&exp3=11490813001&surl=http://c.brightcove.com/services&pubid=10228042001&w=486&h=412]

    For many teachers, letting go of both classroom control and well-designed lesson plans seems extremely difficult. It also seems like a really bad idea. But teachers need to "embrace the messiness that is learning," says master teacher and author Robyn Jackson.