Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-06-27

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-06-28

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-22

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Opencourseware Consortium panel discussion at UWC

Last Friday I was fortunate enough to attend 2 panel discussions on the use of OER in higher education. It was a bit of an occasion as one of the panels included a few board members of the Opencourseware Consortium (on a side note, UWC is a member of the OCW Consortium). This post is really just a few of the comments made during the panels.

The session began with a welcome message by the university’s Chancellor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a wonderful man who is always a pleasure to listen to. Something he said struck a chord with me, as I’ve been reflecting on this issue with my students in the ethics module I teach. He said to remember that we are not second rate, and that we don’t have to apologise for who we are. This is important because so often I find that my students lack self-confidence and seem almost apologetic for even being here. The history of this particular institution seems to haunt them, and they can’t seem to shake the belief that their degree isn’t worth the same as one from another university. This is obviously a deep issue that I’m not going to go into here, but I just wanted to mention that comment.

The Vice-Chancellor also made an interesting point in his short welcome address. That is, a redistribution of wealth from the rich 10% won’t significantly improve the lot of the poor 90%. Only by empowering the majority of the people to make their own change, can the country move forward.

The other comments I made a note of included the following:

Andy Lane (Open University, UK): OER is not just good to do. It’s about some form of social justice.

Neil Butcher (OER Africa, South Africa): Curricular frameworks must drive the development of OER i.e. content is not the focus, content comes after pedagogy

Derek Keats (Wits University, South Africa): 1) When content is free, students can use scarce financial resources to acquire technology, which opens up access to an even greater body of content. 2) When institutional strategy is developed around OER, faculty pushback can be reduced

N.B: 1) Institutional pushback is reduced when the OER conversation happens around better ways of addressing faculty and student needs. 2) The content is infrastructure.

Philip Schmidt (Peer 2 Peer University): When lecturers become "internet superstars", they can teach a greater body of students than any traditional lecturer could teach in a lifetime. This reduces the emphasis on formal recognition of professional development.

Ultimately, OER is about content, but I’m more interested to know if it has a role to play in changing teaching and learning practice?

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-15

  • @ryantracey Agreed. The process, rather than the certificate, should be emphasised #
  • RT @wesleylynch: Video comparing iphone and nexus – http://ow.ly/17iBb. Can’t imagine how the iPhone will survive, Android is already better #
  • RT @psychemedia: Are Higher Degrees a waste of time for most people? http://bit.ly/buKpOW. IT professionals are hardly “most people” #
  • University finds free online classes don’t hurt enrollment http://bit.ly/9zztuR #
  • Mobile Learning Principles – interesting, but unrealistic in a developing country. “Mobile” does not = smartphone http://bit.ly/97WUu4 #
  • Presenting while people are twittering, an increasingly common backchannel. Be aware of it and use it if possible http://bit.ly/bymSUE #
  • Presentation Zen: The “Lessig Method” of presentation. Great resource on improving your presentation skills http://bit.ly/aTykYr #
  • About “P”! « Plearn Blog. This post raises some interesting questions about the challenges of using PLEs http://bit.ly/9cDqd6 #
  • Crazy Goats. I don’t usually share this sort of thing, but this pretty amazing http://bit.ly/9Hg32e #
  • Learning technologies in engineering education. For anyone interested in integrating “distance” with “practical” http://bit.ly/a9lclC #
  • Think ‘Network Structure’ not ‘Networking’. I always thought “networking” was too haphazard to bother with http://bit.ly/acuw1g #
  • Clifton beach earlier today. I think I like it here http://twitgoo.com/dv85w #
  • @davidworth Hi David, thanks for the blog plug #
  • @sharingnicely: go around institutional pushback when policy is unfriendly to OER #OCW #
  • @dkeats: free content enables students to use scarce financial resources to acquire tech instead, which grants access to vastly more content #
  • Butcher: the curricular framework must drive development of OER – content comes after learning #OCW #
  • Neil Butcher from OERAfrica: OER can’t work without institutional support #OCW #
  • Why is copyright in OER even an issue? Copyright applies equally to OER and non-OER #OCW #
  • If you think of a degree as a learning experience, rather than a certificate, formal accreditation is less important. See P2PU #OCW #
  • Is there a difference between OER and #OCW I’m wary of the emphasis on content as a means of changing teaching practice #
  • @dkeats Improvement in quality is always important, isn’t it? No-one is aiming for mediocrity #
  • OCW workshop at UWC today, OCW board present incl. MIT OCW, should be a good day, quite proud its happening here #
  • RT @cristinacost: RT @gconole: Sarah Knight on JISC elearning prog including excellent eff. practice pubs http://bit.ly/c1wVF6 #
  • RT @c4lpt: MicroECoP – Uisng microblogging to enhance communication within Communities of Practice http://bit.ly/9ofx3O #microecop #
  • Making the Pop Quiz More Positive. I like the change of mindset that the post suggests, pop quizzes aren’t punishment http://bit.ly/d5IiMV #
  • @cristinacost Looks good, you’re further along with your project than I am with mine, I might have to come to you for advice 🙂 #
  • Problem-Based Learning: A Quick Review « Teaching Professor. Nice, short summary of why PBL is a Good Thing http://bit.ly/cOAQeY #
  • @cristinacost What’s your interest in Buddypress? I recently set up WPMU/BP platform for physio dept social network to explore CoP #
  • Microblogging to enhance communication within communities of practice http://bit.ly/a0saa4 #microecop #
  • There’s a war goin’ on here, donchaknow? Retro copyright posters at EdTechPost http://bit.ly/aBsVwu #
  • Post by Howard Rheingold on crap detection on the internet should be required reading for everyone online http://bit.ly/dsGtha #
  • Scroll down for the 5 C’s of Engagement on Postrank’s “What it is” page. Is it useful for building social presence? http://bit.ly/983dcL #
  • Great post on 3 strategies to manage information: Aggregate, Filter and Connect. The last one is hard (for me anyway) http://bit.ly/diItNr #
  • Great post on the importance of not only filtering information, but using it meaningfully http://bit.ly/bk21Ol #
  • Siemens’ post on moving from educational reform within the system, to a “no boundaries” approach http://bit.ly/bMnKXu #
  • Web 3.0 and Its Relevance for Instruction – interesting article on how a next generation web could be used in education http://bit.ly/axYyEr #
  • Freedom helps kids learn more « Education Soon http://bit.ly/bBbGvB #

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Thoughts on Geekretreat 2010

I got back yesterday from Geekretreat in Stanford Valley (beautiful, by the way) and these are some of my thoughts after reflecting on the experience. The theme of this year’s retreat was (broadly) the role of the internet in South African education, which is what motivated me to apply for a scholarship. I have to agree with @pete_flynn, the retreat completely exceeded my expectations. I was worried that it would be a group of self-interested business-types, who would spend the weekend telling each other how cool they were. I’m happy to say that my perceptions were completely overturned. It’s been a long time since I’ve been around so many friendly, interesting and intelligent people.

As far as the structure of the weekend went, I loved the idea of the open grid format, and my initial concern that the event would devolve into chaos was unfounded. I liked that not every timeslot was “serious”, with the skillshare sessions being both entertaining and providing a lighter note to the sometimes intense discussion.

I was fortunate enough to have a “talking head” session, where I got some great feedback from the small group discussion around some of the challenges I’m coming across in my research. The value of the session was in the alternative ideas presented to me, which I almost certainly wouldn’t have come up with alone. In fact, I think that’s the essence of what the weekend was about…that you’re more likely to change your thinking around an idea if you have a conversation around it. And there was plenty of conversation. I can’t remember a single moment when people weren’t engaging with each other around some project or idea.

I wasn’t lucky enough to have a conversation with everyone who was there, but during the ones I did have, I came to realise that we have some very smart and talented people in the South African tech industry who are capable of making a real difference in the country. And while many of the projects and ideas I came across were interesting, the following were particularly note-worthy (at least, to me):

  • Cognician by Barry and Patrick Kayton – a tool for engaging with concepts and ideas that has already changed how I think about my teaching
  • Marlon Parker from CPUT and his community outreach projects using social media
  • The Peer 2 Peer University, with whom I have a commitment in 2010 to create and possibly run a module (now that it’s online, I have no choice but to go through with it)
  • Sam Christie and his ideas around gaming in education. Not the boring, self-righteous “educational” games that all kids hate (and rightly so), but real, entertaining games that can highlight important life skills

Although I found the event to be an inspiring and intensely motivational experience, I do have some critical feedback for the organisers that I hope will be considered for future events. Please don’t see this as negativity. They’re just my own observations:

  • You can’t have a real conversation about this big a deal (i.e. the internet / education in South Africa) without any representation from the country’s largest demographic, the poor and disempowered. To borrow a phrase from the disability movement: “Nothing about us, without us”
  • If you’re going to have a discussion around online education, try to get some input from the people who are actually doing it. The most obvious example would’ve been to invite a representative from UNISA. I’m sure they have very clear ideas about the challenges faced in South African online education
  • I wasn’t sure if I agreed with @EveD’s comment around the lack of a defined set of goals. As a researcher and teacher, I’m probably biased in that I believe objectives can more clearly guide a process. However, she adds that we probably ended up with a more innovative and creative event as a result of that lack of defined parameters. Perhaps in the future, participants could collaborate on the objectives (either prior to, or at the beginning of the event) but still retain an open structure in which discussion can take place
  • I would avoid making premature announcements of success at this early stage. If it ends up not being the success you proclaimed, people will remember. It’s easy to feel fired up and ready to take on the world after an awesome event like this one. But, we all made commitments of our time and resources that we may find difficult to honour when other priorities loom. Can I suggest that we work towards making a huge proclamation of the success of Geekretreat 2010, at Geekretreat 2011?

Having said that, I think the event clearly had a huge impact on everyone who was there, and who are going to go on to do great things in the coming year. I know there are a few projects I’ll definitely be watching (and hopefully be participating in) over the next few months. I wish everyone I had the pleasure of meeting this weekend a fantastic year in which all of your dreams are realised through the collaborative efforts of the beautiful people at Geekretreat.

Note: Thanks to @paul_furber for some of the great pics that I stole to use here. Also, a huge thanks to the sponsors (YolaSeacomISSkyroveOrca wirelessEconsultanctJackie ScalaOld MutualWhite Wall Web), as well as Heather FordEve D and Justin Spratt), without whom Geekretreat just wouldn’t be possible.

Mozilla Open Education project blueprint

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you’ll have realised that I’m participating in the Mozilla Open Education course, jointly hosted by the Mozilla foundation, ccLearn and the Peer to Peer University. The course has involved participating in online seminars over the past 6 weeks with the objective of creating a project blueprint that takes into account the concepts of open education, open technology and open licensing.

I decided that my project was going to involve something I’ve been thinking about for a few months and saw the course as an opportunity to take the first few tentative steps. The idea was to create an online, distributed authoring environment that would allow physiotherapy clinicians, educators and students to participate in collaboratively writing a national physiotherapy textbook. The problem with imported (American and British) textbooks is a complete lack of cultural and contextual relevance, as well as being associated with a high cost and not being adaptable to local needs (think, multiple languages).

I won’t go into any more detail here (check out the blueprint page), only to say that the idea is taking shape slowly and that I’m quite excited at the prospect of refining it over the next month or so. The course was so information-heavy (not so much from the organisers, but from the back chatter of participants) that it’s going to take some time to review the aggregated content.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-04-05

  • @sharingnicely for what it’s worth, my vote goes to #mozopened in reply to sharingnicely #
  • @reflectivelrnr Sometimes, they find you 🙂 in reply to reflectivelrnr #
  • Just went through Alltop Twitterati (http://bit.ly/CoiAC). Are the people with the most to say the least interesting to follow? #
  • Very excited to be participating in Mozilla open education online course http://bit.ly/82ksO #
  • Insightful post: “9 great reasons why teachers should use Twitter” http://bit.ly/qexSG #
  • I hate to be cliched, but “Slumdog Millionnaire” is the best movie I’ve seen in 5 years #
  • Participating in online, open education course with Mozilla, ccLearn and Peer 2 Peer University #
  • Great first seminar on #mozopenedcourse, minor tech glitches. Lots to think about. Looking forward to next week http://bit.ly/82ksO #
  • Just watched “Accepted”…it came on and the remote was too far away. Light hearted comedy about higher education http://bit.ly/WE2mV #
  • @JasonCalacanis Every year the rich pledge a lot of money to the world’s poor. They have yet to deliver. Just another empty promise… in reply to JasonCalacanis #
  • Just posted my notes from today’s #mozopenedcourse seminar. Interesting session, plenty of food for thought http://bit.ly/9DL3G #
  • “Physiopedia”, an awesome evidence-based physiotherapy reference site with really great content http://bit.ly/14IyvT #
  • Just watched “Sicko”…scary, tragic, sad, criminal…all the things that healthcare shouldn’t be http://bit.ly/gvYOO #
  • Another reason to not be a fan of Blackboard. Just my opinion http://bit.ly/gMCFB #
  • Using wikis in learning and teaching, from Leeds University, interesting stuff incl. tips on assessing wiki content http://bit.ly/Ery7 #
  • Great resource for summaries of physio-related articles, available at Physiospot http://bit.ly/wCTER #

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Mozilla Open Education course – Overview

We had our first session of the Mozilla Open Education Course earlier this evening and it was pretty interesting.  There were a few technical issues with sound but generally it was very well done.  Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Here’s a few notes that I took during the session.  I know the video will be available later but I took notes anyway and listed the comments from the presenter as it was happening, so there may be errors.  If I’ve made any mistakes, please let me know.

Mark Surman (from the Mozilla foundation)
Spoke about why Mozilla is involved and what the foundation’s motivations are.

Why do the course?

Students are living and learning on the web.  Education is not working and the web is making this even clearer.

Educators need to teach like the web, using these building blocks:

  • (open) content
  • (open) tech
  • (open) pedagogy

This course is about using these building blocks…all 3 need to come together in order for open education to work.

Why do Mozilla and CC care?
To promote openness, participation and distributed decision-making as a core part of internet life.  Education is critical to this.

Also, an experiment to:

  • share skills
  • new ideas
  • more allies
  • …have fun

Frank Hecker (Mozilla Foundation)
Elaborated on previous presentation

  • Teach people about Mozilla
  • Create learning opportunities around Mozilla technology and practices
  • Bring new people into the Mozilla camp
  • Create a global community of Mozilla educators
  • Mozilla curriculum at Seneca college
  • Incorporate Mozilla-related topics into coursework
  • http://education.mozilla.org – repo for course materials created
  • People learn things best when participating directly in the communities around that project
  • education@lists.mozilla.org

Question: will we be able to make our own ff addon?  Yes

Ahrash Bissell (ccLearn)

Why is Creative Commons involved in learning?

It’s mission is to minimise the legal, technological and social barriers to sharing and reusing educational materials.

Focusses on ways to improve opportunities for and education:

  • Teach about OER
  • Solve problems (built the “discover” tool for OER)
  • Build and diversify community (education is traditionally subdivided into camps e.g. university, high school).  Open education transcends these boundaries. Boundaries useful but should be permeable.
  • Explore better pedagogical models (learning is not something that happens in a delimited way, ideally it should be enjoyed and embraced all the time.  Models haven’t penetrated, everything the same way for the last 50 years (deeply entrenched)
  • Empower teachers and learners (certain expectations of students / teachers, “this is what it means to teach/learn”.  Little power to engage as “scientists” in teaching / learning and make adjustments.  Open source development models – emphasisise feedback, creating a system that allows experimentation in an open, transparent, participatory way.

Embrace overarching principle for engaged padagogies, not new but has become inevitable.

Crucial considerations:

  • Constant, formative feedback (must want to be assessed)
  • Education for skills and capacities, not rote knowledge (the internet makes it obvious why this is the way to go, “knowledge” is already everywhere, thinking is more important.  “Skilled learners”.
  • Leverage human and material capital effectively (reaching into peer groups)
  • Consider the bulding blocks of a participatory learning system
  • Enjoy learning

Philip Schmidt (Peer 2 Peer University)
Provided an overview of the project / sessions

Background readings available on course wiki / 20 min. interviews

Draw up a blueprint for individual / group projects:

  • (open) technology platform
  • (open) licensing
  • (open) pedagogical approach

Idea – blueprint – prototype – project!
Good idea to feed into ongoing things, like:

  • Mozilla education portal
  • Firefox plugins
  • P2PU

Next steps:

  • Decide on groups
  • Start sketching
  • Ideas more important than detail
  • A picture
  • Enough detail to start building

Mozilla Open Education Course

I’m excited to be participating in an open education course that’s been organised by Mozilla, ccLearn and the Peer to peer university (P2PU).  The course aims to provide educators with some foundational awareness of Creative Commons licensing, the educational aspect of the Mozilla foundation and the P2PU.  There are three broad areas that will be covered; open licensing, open technology and open pedagogy.

There’ll be a series of online seminars, as well as a practical component in the form of an individual (or small group) project that participants can use to implement and test their ideas related to the course.  Here’s a list of all the participants and the projects everyone is interested in running.

I’m going to post my notes / thoughts during the course of the project, on both this blog and on Twitter.