Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-07-26

Posted to Diigo 06/18/2010

    • Salmon’s model moves away from the increasingly dated notion that the effective eLearning can be achieved through static learning objects (Downes 2005), and takes a social learning perspective with particular emphasis on communities of practice, providing a framework to support Wenger’s assertion that “learning cannot be designed: it can only be designed for – that is, facilitated or frustrated” (1998, p. 228).
    • Salmon’s model is also reliant upon scaffolding, extending Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (in Attwell 2006) proposition with the model’s structure implying that the moderator acts as an initial scaffold who gradually shifts responsibility for development to the learning community under their guidance, with learners developing their own scaffolding based on relationships with many within the community, and eventually, beyond the community.
    • Lead by Example
    • It is an essential part of our jobs to model what we would like to see
    • Get Personal
    • Be willing to share of yourself. Share your stories and your life
    • be willing to be open
    • Be Honest
    • you need to be willing to share your thoughts and opinions about things
    • Accept that You’re Human
    • Learn for mistakes and move on
    • Be Knowledgeable and Share
    • Share of yourself and of your passions. Make your presence in a space one that has personality and share what you have
    • Share the things you find online
    • Maintain Consistency
    • Maintaining consistency will allow your students to be comfortable in your space, understanding what happens there and able to concentrate on what they are being asked to do
    • Let it Go
    • Be prepared to see cycles between students and even within the contributions of single students
    • Don’t Give Up
    • How can we change what we are asking them to do in order for them to grow into their roles
    • “My job is to present the material in an interesting and meaningful way,” he would say. “It is the student’s job to learn that material.”

      Implicit in his statement was the idea that it was the student’s role to adjust to the various styles employed by different teachers. Whether the teacher featured a lecture format or a hands-on approach was immaterial – the assumption was that students were the ones who needed to be flexible

    • any failure on the student’s part to master the material was not the responsibility of the teacher
    • students moved along as a group, each doing the same set of assignments, each expected to master the exact same set of learning objectives by a date set forth in the syllabus
    • differentiating for a specific learner was perceived as showing favoritism
    • today’s teacher is expected to adjust to the varied preferences of students so as to maximize the learning potential of each individual in the classroom
    • Personalizing learning involves differentiating the curricula, including expectations and timelines, and utilizing various instructional approaches so as to best meet the needs of each individual
    • The challenge is not so much what those elements consist of but how to piece the elements together to form a cohesive strategy
    • But technology also plays a more important role in the personalization process. Ultimately it is the conduit for teachers to move to a learning approach that features materials developed for each individual student
    • One of the critical elements to a cohesive strategy involves the concept of a learning platform
    • First teachers must have a clear understanding of the learning needs of each student
    • teachers must monitor and assess student progress intently
    • Learning paths must then be created that match the aptitude and learning styles of every individual
    • One of the first elements is increased communication among educators themselves as well as with their individual students
    • That means increased use of email
    • Better yet, it means posting that assignment online for students and parents to access directly
    • No one educator could possibly create unique learning materials for every single student
    • An expectation that all teachers are ready for such steps is destined for failure
    • Whereas in Africa limited infrastructure is producing an information bottleneck, access in the UK is restricted by ‘denial of service’ restrictions placed upon a competent and fast modern system
    • how do we go about managing the risks more effectively to allow NHS staff to access online learning resources and tools which many of us take for granted
    • what processes people perceived as important for knowledge maturing within their organisation and how ell they though these processes were important. The two processes perceived as most important were ‘reflection’ and ‘building relationships’ between people. These were also the two processes seen as amongst the least supported
    • The issue of ‘reflection’ is more complex. e-Portfolio researchers have always emphasised the centrality of reflection to learning, yet it is hard to see concrete examples of how this can be supported
    • the amount of redundant, inconsequential, and outright poor research has swelled in recent decades
    • 40.6 percent of the articles published in the top science and social-science journals (the figures do not include the humanities) were cited in the period 2002 to 2006
    • As a result, instead of contributing to knowledge in various disciplines, the increasing number of low-cited publications only adds to the bulk of words and numbers to be reviewed
    • The avalanche of ignored research has a profoundly damaging effect on the enterprise as a whole. Not only does the uncited work itself require years of field and library or laboratory research. It also requires colleagues to read it and provide feedback, as well as reviewers to evaluate it formally for publication. Then, once it is published, it joins the multitudes of other, related publications that researchers must read and evaluate for relevance to their own work. Reviewer time and energy requirements multiply by the year
    • The pace of publication accelerates, encouraging projects that don’t require extensive, time-consuming inquiry and evidence gathering
    • Questionable work finds its way more easily through the review process and enters into the domain of knowledge
    • Aspiring researchers are turned into publish-or-perish entrepreneurs, often becoming more or less cynical about the higher ideals of the pursuit of knowledge
    • The surest guarantee of integrity, peer review, falls under a debilitating crush of findings, for peer review can handle only so much material without breaking down. More isn’t better. At some point, quality gives way to quantity
    • Several fixes come to mind:
    • First, limit the number of papers to the best three, four, or five that a job or promotion candidate can submit. That would encourage more comprehensive and focused publishing
    • Second, make more use of citation and journal “impact factors
    • Third, change the length of papers published in print: Limit manuscripts to five to six journal-length pages
    • and put a longer version up on a journal’s Web site
    • what we surely need is a change in the academic culture that has given rise to the oversupply of journals
    • Finally, researchers themselves would devote more attention to fewer and better papers actually published, and more journals might be more discriminating
    • the present ‘industrial’ schooling system is fast becoming dysfunctional, neither providing the skills and competences required in our economies nor corresponding to the ways in which we are using the procedural and social aspects of technology for learning and developing and sharing knowledge
    • Personal Learning Environments can support and mediate individual and group based learning in multiple contexts and promote learner autonomy and control
    • The role of teachers in such an environment would be to support, model and scaffold learning
    • Such approaches to learning recognise the role of informal learning and the role of context
    • Schools can only form one part of such collaborative and networked knowledge constellation
    • institutions must rethink and recast their role as part of community and distributed networks supporting learning and collaborative knowledge development
    • the major impact of the uses of new technologies and social networking for learning is to move learning out of the institutions and into wider society
    • This is a two way process, not only schools reaching outwards, but also opening up to the community, distributed or otherwise, to join in collaborative learning processes
    • At the same time new interfaces to computers and networks are likely to render the keyboard obsolescent, allowing the integration of computers and learning in everyday life and activity

Facilitating Communities of Practice in the Network Era

Two days ago I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to attend a workshop at UCT facilitated by Nancy White (1), who co-wrote Digital habitats: stewarding technology for communities (2) with Etienne Wenger and John David Smith. Presentation slides from the workshop can be downloaded / viewed here. Unfortunately, I could only stay for the morning session, so my notes are  incomplete and they may be incorrect. If you attended the workshop and would like to extend these notes, please add your comments below.

The workshop started with the Human Spectrogram, “a group face to face exercise to help surface similarities and differences in a group, help people to get to know each other and to do something together that is active. Other knowledge sharing toolkits can be found here.
Communities collectively accept responsibility for the behaviour of others in the community
Community is about purpose and specifically, shared purpose
Reciprocity is very important in communities, although not necessarily with the same person who shared with you
Leading / facilitating CoP will often require improvisation / innovation
“Community indicator = sign of life: asking questions / showing something that delves deeper into what the community is or wants to be. It can vary by community, and should be reflective of the community
Use of metaphor can be evocative. If you’re too explicit, you can turn people off because they may think they know what you’re talking about, and therefore miss what you actually want them to do / think about. Whereas, using something that’s open to interpretation, or more abstract will stimulate discussion or reflection in the community.
Invitation to participate is essential. Invites can be in different forms:
  • Discovery (can be serendipitous)
  • Explicit invitation (this can take multiple forms)
Game mechanics (Amy Jo Kim) → games stimulate interest and engagement with content (3) (4) (I explored this idea a little bit last year when I was thinking about the use of gaming in physiotherapy)

Websites are not communities, people are communities
Howard Rheingold’s book “The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier” is a good exploration of online communities
How do you stop communities from fragmenting?
Facilitating online and offline communities is always evolving because the environment is always changing
A “CoP” perspective is not the same as defining if something is a CoP. CPD is an appropriate framework to explore communities:
  • Community (a group of people who can be named)
  • Practice (intent, talking about something in order to do it better
  • Domain (what we care about, shared interest, purpose)
Don’t change all 3 of the above at once, for fear of destabilising the CoP
CoP is not a binary thing. It can exist on continuum between is and isn’t
Small groups are adaptable, don’t have to negotiate (as much) in order to change, can be flexible
Institutional(?) / online interfaces are not usually designed for small groups, multiple small groups can scale out to large groups.
  • Me (individual): individual, identity, interest, trajectory, consciousness, confidence level, risk tolerance, styles, emotion
  • We (community): bounded, members who you know, group identity, shared interest, human centred, distinct power/trust dynamics, forward movement, strong blocking, statis, attention to maintenance, language
  • Many (networks): boundaryless, fuzzy, intersecting interests, “object centred sociality” (Jyri Engstrom), flows around blocks, less cohesion, distributed power/trust, change
People trust people around the content they produce. Blogs and referral systems can establish relationships around “objects” / content. This can be scary for people who are used to creating relationships around personal interactions. This has implications for how we use content to attract and engage with people. Communities are not about curating or archiving content, but for providing channels for sharing content and facilitating relationships.
There is a difference between a network and a community, and depending on your objectives, you may have to make a conscious decision about which one you want to develop towards. Networks of Practice is a concept used to explore the areas where network theory and CoP intersect (5).
  • Network – a lot of people know a lot of people, but they don’t all know each other. There are loose ties (link downloads article PDF) (Granovetter), it can scale beyond your ability to facilitate the group
  • Community – you know people more intimately, there is meaningful connection (but can also be present in networks)
Blogging and communities – Lilia Efimova
Dunbar’s number = 150 (how many stable social relationships we can manage)
People have to actively engage of their own accord without the community being “done to them”
Are we inward-facing or outward-facing in our department? Who are we looking to connect with / influence?
Legitimate peripheral participation i.e. lurking in online groups. Are they part of a network or a community? It can be argued either way. This is a big part of online social networks → community or network?
  1. Interview with Nancy White by George Siemens for the World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications
  2. Online companion to Digital Habitats:  Stewarding technology for communities
  3. Stuart, B. (2006). How game mechanics can make your app more fun – a blog post looking at some of Amy Jo Kim’s work
  4. Putting the fun in functional – presentation by Amy Jo Kim on Slideshare
  5. Knowledge Networks: Innovation through Communities of Practice
  6. Granovetter, M. (1983). The strength of weak ties: A network theory revisited. Sociological Theory, 1, 201-233 (link downloads PDF)

The Physical Therapy Channel

I came across the Physical Therapy Channel a few months ago, just as they launched the beta version of the site (it’s still in beta) and thought it might make a useful resource.  I haven’t spent much time using it since then, but judging from the increased number of videos available, it seems to be gaining users.

The sites creators, also physiotherapists, are pushing for it to become an online community for physiotherapists, students, educators and product vendors (it’s this last one that makes me sceptical).  The site features “…demonstrations of treatment techniques, rehabilitation products, software demonstrations, rehabilitation facility tours, interviews with physical therapists and other healthcare related disciplines, online in-services, operating room surgeries, and a host of other unique content from the physical therapy industry.

Users can subscribe, listen, view, upload and share physical therapy videos and podcasts on the site.

Here’s the direct link to the site:
http://www.physicaltherapychannel.com/index.php