Monday, June 27, 2011

Expressive objectives for #edumooc 2011

The objectives I have for #edumooc 2011 include the following:

  • connect with others that ultimately go beyond #edumooc 2011

  • find the right mix of technologies that enable me to pull information to me (i.e., RSS feeds, GR, twitter hashtags, etc.) in such a way that enables me to interact with content that is most meaningful and relevant to me

  • interact with other participants by posting to Twitter, blogs, and study groups.

  • avoid any participation in Google Groups, forums, and other group-like technologies

  • not to have any behavioral objectives set a priori, but to reflect on what I learned (or didn't) based on my prior experience; mold objectives as I progress through the experience

What objectives have you set for edumooc and what technologies help you set or achieve those objectives?  Do study groups influence the way in which you set and achieve your objectives?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The "prepared" learner... (#eduMOOC)

By “well prepared,” I mean someone who has had the necessary prerequisite learning experiences and who has succeeded in those experiences. A person who is well prepared is ready for the current learning experience in terms of prerequisite knowledge and skills.

This may be true in formal educational settings (to a degree), but I think it doesn't apply as much to MOOCs.  Depending on the content of the course, an open, online course provides all participants to share ideas in the manner they choose.  Learning can occur not only through question and answer, but simply through a process of sharing diverse opinions.  Sharing diverse opinions can occur regardless if one is a novice or expert as terms such as "novice" and "expert" can be misleading representations, even in formal circles. That's why ZPD falls short in adequately explaining how people learn in real life; that is, that we learn when we teach others regardless of the expert or novice labels.  When there is open interaction, invariably individuals are teaching and learning through an iterative and reciprocal process.  Teaching others can occur at many levels and this is what ultimately happens in a MOOC - Instruction occurs most often through the participants themselves.

Depending on the subject matter, it is quite possible to enter a MOOC unprepared and leave prepared (the act of becoming prepared is a learning process).  The point really is whether a person knows more after (and because of) having taken the MOOC or not?

Thursday, June 23, 2011


The official start of eduMOOC is June 27.  Please carefully read this page for important information about MOOCs in general.  Thanks to all who have made suggestions and have contributed to the effort!  A special long-distance thanks to Wayne Mackintosh, director of the OER Foundation for help, encouragement and support of eduMOOC!

Many new resources will be added as we approach the beginning of the MOOC on Monday!  There will be a new space to post your network connections (email, blogs, twitter, etc. addresses).  We are working on details of streaming our weekly live panels to serve many hundreds of simultaneous viewers via both flash fixed and mobile configured streams.  The Twitter back channel (hashtag #eduMOOC) will certainly be especially active during those Thursday (US Central Time/Day) panel discussions.

So, how do you plan to participate: primarily in forums (e.g., Google Groups, Moodle, etc.) or via Twitter and blogs?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bridging the Gap between ELT Theory and Practice

My response to Bridging the Gap between ELT Theory and Practice...

I draw a parallel between closing the gap between theory and practice with closing the gap between what teachers know and what they actually do.  But beyond that, do teachers understand theory when it applies to an actual classroom experience?  That is, how do teachers interpret (or reframe) a theory - which is a generalization - to a particular educational situation?  And what does that process look like?

I think most would agree that applying a theory (or creating a theory) is contextually-laden with numerous confounding variables which teachers can't always control.  Certainly, planning is an essential part of learning, but it's the reflection-in-action and the resulting outcomes that matter as well.  I'm not sure if success in the classroom can be planned for, but it can be one (of many) factors that can promote a more educative learning experience for each student (and teacher).

You say, ELT theories do help in beefing up our predictability in the field of teaching...

I would argue that theories are most useful when grounded in actual classroom experiences.  That is, how can I explain what just happened in my classroom from a theoretical perspective (assuming that it's always possible).  This is in contrast to a theoretical inclination (prediction) of how students are likely to behave a priori.  For me, this is the difference between applied linguistics and linguistics applied respectively.

How do you view theory and practice in ELT?

Using Twitter in the Classroom

In response to Using Twitter in the Classroom...

I've never used Twitter in my classes because many of my students still do not have Internet access on their mobiles. But since I teach and tweet, I do have a couple of suggestions.

1. Twitter inside the classroom: Conduct a "normal" class but have students tweeting at the same time. Setup a projector and computer (with access to the Internet) and project the backchannel on the wall using a decided-upon hashtag. Incorporate the backchannel into the class itself. This technique can also provide instant feedback when determining whether students are getting what you are talking about in class or not.

2. Twitter outside of class: Conduct a backchannel (again using hashtags) that students contribute to outside of class. Incorporate the backchannel in the f2f class as needed. This can also help to see if students are getting it and can contribute to collaborative learning (or colearning) since students can ask questions or complete assignments using Twitter both individually and in groups.

How have you used Twitter in the classroom?