Rate your online learning-ability

I stumbled on this website that rates ones readiness to be a successful oline learner. I scored 33 out of 39 which means:

You are a strong candidate for success in an online course!

It adds:

  • meets the necessary technical requirements and is comfortable with the equipment
  • has the time and resources to dedicate to online course work
  • is comfortable with the written word and use of e-mail as a communication form
  • is self-disciplined, self-guided and committed
  • has the ability to prioritize responsibilities and work independently
  • will ask for assistance when needed to build academic and social support systems
  • has much to benefit from this delivery method vs. residence programs (Examples: busy lifestyle, geographic
  • isolation from campus, parenting requirements or restrictions, physical disability, corporate support to learn at work )

Source: https://www.miracosta.edu/instruction/distanceeducation/quiz.aspx

MOOC: Online Writing Course

I have just started another MOOC course on Coursera about writing. I was amazed to discover they have outlined 5 types of online offering. I am wondering why a writing course talk about online teaching? But I found its information worth capturing:

Type 1: Traditional Undergraduate Level Online Courses: have a great deal of instructor to student interaction,  follow the course content of the face-to-face counterpart, not self-paced, follow along with the entire class within a designated time period, do activities with other members of the class, also limited in size.

Type 2: Traditional Graduate Level Online Courses: the student is much more self-directed, not self-paced, but there is more interaction among the students with the instructor in a facilitation role.

Type 3: Mass Open Online Courses (MOOC): The interaction with the instructor is limited, the instructor mainly participates through designing the course and offering its content. The instructor will also participate in some of the discussion activities and is usually assisted by peer tutors or teaching assistants. Much of the course is conducted with technology providing the evaluation through machine graded tests and assignments as well as the use of peer graded work. These courses may or may not be self-paced based on the content and the design and usually have hundreds or thousands of students from all over the world.

Type 4: Hybrid (sometimes called Blended) Distance Education Courses: These courses usually occur in the traditional college setting and are partially online courses.

Type 5: Flipped Classes: take place in face-to-face classrooms in many colleges and universities. They implement online content and activities as a major component of the course delivery. Instructors determine what content for the course can best be done by students on their own (watching video lectures, read, do tutorials, etc.) and what parts of the course the students usually need help with (writing essays, solving problems, creating projects, etc.). Students complete the work on their own online before coming to class to work with the instructor on the components that are best done with instructor assistance.

Courses with Proctored Testing: Many fully online courses require the students to go to a specific place to do testing. Usually, the site for testing is the college campus or an alternative sited agreed to by the instructor and the individual student. (This class has no proctored testing.) Student integrity is very important in distance education programs because the college has to be sure that their courses meet requirements of governmental agencies.” 

(Ross, Barkley & Blake n.d.)

Although I like this classification and it makes sense, i still find their definition of the MOOC type to be wrong, or at least, incomplete.

Ross, L. & Barkley, T., Blake, T. (n.d.) : Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade by Lorrie Ross, Lawrence (Larry) Barkley, Ted Blake. Coursera Course. Week 1. Retrieved from https://class.coursera.org/basicwriting-001/class/index

Learning: Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality is a new science that is emerging where technology act as an extended tool for our reality. Such tools allow us to recognize more facts about the physical reality that human faculties (like memory or 6th sense) does not recognize. One of the first layperson such tool was the MediaLab 6 sense I showed it an earlier post. With the sophistication of the mobile devices, augmented reality is becoming more popular than anticipated. I think this has a major impact on teaching and learning. Future education, if it survives, will find teaching facts to students is obsolete. The real focus will be developing basic faculty skills and train on methods of utilizing knowledge obtained from AR tools. An example:

As you can see from video, education is trying to get the AR into the classroom. But I think, real AR technology will take learning away from school into real life. Wait for more posts about the topic.

Mobile Learning: The 3 Challenges of Mobile Learning

Background information: The below argument is based on applying mobile learning at my work in a community college.I am sure I will face far more than 3 challenges when implementing mobile learning. I tried to group the challenges I will face under three big groups:

(1) Managing the Change: Introducing mobile learning in my organization follows the usual change resistance that poses multifaceted challenges. The first one, is the buy-in from top management to allocate resources to support the project. The second one, which is the most fundamental, is the required shift in the educational paradigm from “knowledge resides in the brain” to the notion that “brain knowledge is augmented with outside knowledge”. The third one is the shift in assessment paradigm from “students should be assessed based on a norm that is determined by the curriculum” to a new paradigm that allows students to grow based on their own talent and abilities. The fourth paradigm shift is from “students should learn on their own” to “learning happens through social interaction”.

(2) Training and Resources: Using mobile devices will require a lot of preparation work to ensure its success. Basically, it is a two legged race. The first leg-work is to train and/or educate the instructors on the usefulness of mobile devices in learning and the different approaches that could be applied. The second leg is to identify the right mobile tools and resources that are suitable for each program or course. Most of the available mobile resources did not reach its mass suitability for the learning process. They are still device and operating system dependent which poses technical challenges that most educators would like to avoid. At the moment, the only two effective educational tools are the eReaders and the social media tools. Unfortunately, most publications used in education does not promote a mobile-friendly format, and social media is not widely accepted as a learning tool.

(3) Study Habits: Another major challenge is the acceptable mode of study. The widely accepted and recognized approach to learning is that it requires organized, preplanned, dedicated study and in most cases, quiet time. It is still very difficult for many educators to comprehend studying in a different mode. Since mobile learning encourages studying during unplanned idle time, anywhere and on demand, addressing this shift at the teacher level, on the curriculum level and the assessment is a major hurdle that I hate to face.


  • Anderson, Terry, (2011), “Three Generation of Distant Education“, presentation website, last accessed on 10 March 2011.
  • Araya, Daniel (E), Peters Michael (E), (2010), “Education in the Creative Economy: Knowledge and Learning in the Age of Innovation” Published by Peter Lang Pub, ISBN 9781433107443
  • Kukulska, Angel (Editor), Traxler, John, (2005), “Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Educators and Trainers (The Open and Flexible Learning Series)”, Routledge, ISBN: 0415357403.
  • Tapscott, Don (2009), “Grown up Digitally” Published by McGraw Hill, ISBN: 978007150863
  • Weiten, Wayne (2010), “Psychology: Themes and Variations”, 8th Edition, p. 28,  Cengage Learning, ISBN: 0495601977.

Detect language » Arabic

Psychology: Themes and Variations, 8th Edition / Edition 8 by Wayne Weiten

Mobile Learning: The mobile nomad

Who do I consider a mobile nomad? First, let’s agree that learning is converting the public information to personal knowledge.

The obvious answer is that the mobile nomads are the busy workers who seeks education anytime and anywhere. The one who spend so much time idling waiting for the next process of his work. Those who commute. Or those who work in modern corporate world where they have to spend 8 hours at work while their actual work load needs far less than that. Or those who live in locations that lack traditional cable internet connectivity.

The non-obvious answer is still unclear. I think the real mobile nomads are the  lifelong learners who can learn when new knowledge is needed. Information is exponentially changing and knowledge need to be created based on the most up to date information. This is a new breed of beings who are among us but not widely recognized by education. The wikipedians (i.e volunteer collaborators and open source developers) are very good example. They contribute to their knowledge and the global information anytime, anywhere and with any device.

Learning: Disposable Knowledge and Learning

I was in the middle of the following discussion that ignited in the Mobile Learning Course. The Professor wrote:

In reviewing the blog posts, I came across some interesting comments. Some of which I am bringing into the class for further discussion:

Anas’ comments to Brandy’s post read

“Hi Brandy, like you, I am still researching and checking all Apps as much as possible. I haven’t made my mind what would be really useful. So far, I find myself heavily attached to Media Apps (Movies and news). I use the How To apps (cooking, do it yourself) a lot. Those help me get things done quickly but I do not retain the information. For example, I can cook the best disk from Betty Crockers App, but I cannot repeat it unless I have the app next to me. Is this learning? Don’t you agree that these small devices are forcing us to redefine the term “learning”.

Good post. Thank you.”

What is learning in this respect? Has retention been relegated to rote learning and therefore dated? Does the fact that most of the information we need are available on the mobile device, in our hands or the computer hard disk at home, prevent us from retaining knowledge? Where do you think the future of mobile learning could lead to when we consider what is retained and what is not? When can we apply the “sixth sense” as provided by our mobile devices and when are we allowed not to? Can we ask our job interviewer to wait while we contact our mobile device for a response to his/her question?

Here is my answer:

Yes, definition of learning needs to be modified.

According to earlier work of Clifton and Buckingham, and recently by Robinson, we have certain talents and strengths that in many cases ignored by the educational systems. Very few individuals align their talent to the requirement of education. These individuals become high academic achievers. The majority have talents that does not match the educational requirements. These individuals are forced to learn things they do not feel comfortable with. Those students memories the information and rarely convert them to knowledge or apply them. Consequently, due to modern knowledge tools, they can use mobile devices to learn on demand. We do not have to retain them for they are readily accessible. Does this mean we stop learning? No! Because we have tendency to learn concepts related to our talents with no problems. We will continue learning them. It is those we do not like, or have talent to do, we capture them through the knowledge tool and dispose them when not needed. This is good. Developing such an attitude will help to endorse change instantaneously. It will increase the human ability to evolve. I like to call this “disposable knowledge”!

Detect language » Arabic

Learning: Sir Ken, Theatre, Education and Personalized Curriculum

The Link: http://blip.tv/learning-without-frontiers/sir-ken-robinson-march-2011-learning-without-frontiers-4928095

Some quotes:

  • A person graduating from an educational experience must have his confidence improved.
  • Human Resources is like Natural Resources… Individuals have deep talents that are buried deep within their surface, educators need to mine them like other resources.
  • 3 Purposes to education: Personal (connect people to their own sense of possibility, give them sense of creativity, and give them self confidence), Cultural (enable identity, share the identity of other and tolerance) and Economic (must address economic needs and prepare for evolution, prepare ourselves to the challenges of economy.)
  • TV Program to watch: How Many People Can Live on Earth: if everybody consume food and water like a person in Botswana, Earth can handle a population of 15B, if we consume like someone in North America: 1.2B only.
  • HG Wells: civilization is a race between education and catastrophe.

Short Paper 2: Changing roles of educators

Do you agree their roles [educators] are changing? If so, what are appropriate responses?

Yes, obviously, the educators role is changing. I believe that modern educators should assume one of four roles in a given situation:

Educator as a teacher. That is an educator who directs the learner to learn what the teacher knows, in the precise way the teacher wants. For example: teachers at primary levels who teach basic skills like communication, arithmetic and the like; soldiers in the army  the priest who teaches faith; the trainer who trains industrial operations and so on. I might disagree with this category, but the society and economy still needs them. In this category, the educator will assess competency in a specific area or skill. So, the assessment will be based on the level of mastery of the concept and the evaluation is norm based.

Educator as a facilitator: That is an educator who allows learners to grow intellectually based on the learners abilities and actualities. For example: teachers in art disciplines like architecture or design; teachers in elementary education who focus on students abilities and not weaknesses, personal development specialists, clinical psychiatrists, Doctors teaching medical students, etc. In this category, the educator will assess each learner individually without comparison to other learners. The norm evaluation does not apply here.

Educator as a “Connector”: This is a new emerging role that shifting the basis of certainty is driving.  This is an educator who facilitates expanding the “connectivity” of another person– both “brain-wise” and social-wise. In contrast to the two previous categories, the general tendency in this pardigm is that the topic to be taught is irrelevant. The focus is on incremental knowledge acquired by the learner, no matter what the topic is. For example, a primary school teacher training students on acquiring knowledge when needed and as needed without memorizing it; a trainer who helps adult to break out from the traditional learning habits (i.e. learning happens in classroom or libraries) to become a learner through interacting with individuals or Internet entities through new habits of using technology. This new role necessitates the creation of new assessment models that assess the level of expansion in the person’e network. This is still in its infancy.

Educator as a phantom: This is a new concept that I find difficulty explaining. With the emergence of the concept that knowledge resides in human and in machines, I cannot imagine why we need educators. People and machines should be able to learn on their own. They do not need educators as long as they have developed themselves to be “connected”. This is why I believe any learner who graduate from the third category (i.e. Educator as a “Connector”) will not need any more educators to build new knowledge. Right?

Note: For the sake of simplicity, I will use the term “traditionalist” to refer to the learners influenced by the first two roles, and the “Connectivist” to refer to learners influenced by the last two roles. Whether a person can be both types is out of the scope of this post.

What are impediments to change?

In my opinion, change has happened already. Nothing can stop it. “Connectivists” are around us. They are effective in Wikipedia, working in the Open Source realm, and recently, they were revolting in Egypt. However, three factors are slowing the process of recognizing and accepting the change:

(1) Each compares each other using the wrong rules. Each type condemsn the other type based on their own value set. Traditionalists have many argument why connectivists will never prevail because they are not connectivists themselves and they do not have connectivist attitude nor competancies. Conversely, connectivists find traditionalists wastes so much time on learning information that is obsolete. It is like the traditions “The West is the West and the East is the East and they will never meet!”.

(2) The strong drive of the people concerned to have a single unified system that works in all situation, where only one method should prevail. In other words, the need to have a system that fits to the accepted norm. I think following “Give God what is for God, and Caesar what is for Caesar” model is far more effective.

(3) The two type refuse to interact together. For example, a “Connectivist” will never participate in a course like MOOC (and if they do, they drop out quickly) because they find such a course too limiting. While a traditionalis will not get involved in an activity like Wikipedia because it defies their basic beliefs.

How can current trends be best utilized to serve in the traditional role of educator or designer?

For the traditional educator role, the best approach is to do nothing. The “Connectivist” group did not reach a critical mass to induce a  global change (except in Egypt!). When their number is large enough, the change will be more prominent.

On the designer front, I think we need to evolve existing models, like Bloom’s taxonomy, to include a “connectivist” level with a new set of action verbs that address the activities of “collaboration”, “connectivism”,  “mining for information”, “use of technology” and so on. I think this should be a Phd level research which is too much for this post.

Take this opportunity to enjoy a creative stroll in rethinking “what could be”.

My “Would be” scenario is to ensure that educators at the pre-high school level to be a “teacher/connector” type who focus on teaching the basic communication and intellectual skills, at the same time, train the young children how to become connected. At high school, educators should be less teachers role and more connectors. After high school, learners choose can one of three paths:

(1) either join  a “teaching college”  where they are taught specific concept of their choice through pure teaching (like in Priesthood, Army or apprenticeship),

(2) Join univeristies where learner receive facilitation to grow personally and intellectually OR

(3) Choose to learn on their own through connective approaches based on the talents they have already mastered and developed. Usually these will be the one who will make te esay money. Watch “Social Media” movie.



  • Anderson, Terry, (2011), “Three Generation of Distant Education“, presentation website, last accessed on 10 March 2011.
  • Araya, Daniel (E), Peters Michael (E), (2010), “Education in the Creative Economy: Knowledge and Learning in the Age of Innovation” Published by Peter Lang Pub, ISBN 9781433107443
  • Tapscott, Don (2010), “Macroeconimics”, Published by Penguin Group USA, ISBM 1591843561
  • Tapscott, Don (2009), “Grown up Digitally” Published by McGraw Hill, ISBN: 978007150863



باختصار الجواب : لا أعتقد أن دور المعلمين سيتغير. اعتقد انه سيكون هناك مهنة جديدة

Detect language » Arabic

[[CCK10]]: Trying to understand – Is Connectivism a mix of three concepts?

A discussion is taking place in Wikipedia about the article with the same topic. Some participants refuse to accept the concept as a theory. There argument was based on the pattern of decreased enrollment in MOOC. This made me recognize that the way connectivism is presented opens the door for confusion between three aspects of the idea:

(1) Connectivism as a theory: which (as I understand it) has the following arguments: (a) defining learning as an increase in connectiveness and (b) knowledge resides in machines as well as human brains; consequently it is essential in the knowledge age that knowledge be accurate, current, individualized and ever-changing.

(2) Connectivism as an educational approach: As a consequence to the theory, the connectivists suggest that education should evolve to address the issue of accuracy, currency and ever-changing. Classroom instruction is not the only form anymore. Modern learners need to connect with humans and machines to generate their knowledge. This requires new set of learning skills, styles, habits, attitudes… that traditional education does not offer 1.  The new set of personal attributes developed by the new learners should allow them to build connection quickly with nodes (human and machine) whenever they are trying to create/develop new knowledge.

(3) Connectivism as a course: The MOOC (as I understand it) demonstrates how connectivism (as an educationalapproach) is applied in  real-life learning setting. The facilitators are creating a connected environment to help the participants learn and practice “connective Learning”. In this context, learning should happens OUTSIDE the course through connecting in FaceBook, Twitter, Blog-sphere and any other Web2 medium. The Elluminate session is not the course. It is an activity that initiates the discussion about a certain topic related to connectivism. Although Elluminate chatting and back channels facilitate some sort of connections for learning, but the real learning happens outside Elluminate: through the different web2 medium. So, the enrollment in Elluminate session does not indicate the success of the attempt. The real indicator should be the number of channels/connections that are created and maintained outside the course. Right? (side note: This means we need to do some research in this area!).

Since I am planning to rewrite the article, I need your help criticizing my standpoint… am I on the right track? Is there any other way to look at it? Any input is appreciated!

ايون التسرب من connectivism أو من MOOC.

Detect language » Arabic

Detect language » Arabic

Detect language » Arabic

Updated PLE (Dec 2010)

I have chosen to divide my third attempt on my PLE into 3 branches:

(1) My Learning: Sites or Internet Activities that helps me learn. It is part of my lifelong learning activities. You may call this branch: lifelong learning.

(2) Future Learning: The activities I would like to learn in the next 3-6 months.

(3) Trouble Shooting, or what I like to describe as Knowledge-On-Demand. In general, this type of activities does not require me “to learn” as such, but it is essential for my day to day operation.


(1) “My Learning” branch

I recognize the I have 3 levels of learning: the cognitive (i.e. the information I have to retain), Behavioral (i.e. learning that changes my habits and behavior) and Paradigm Shift (i.e learning that changes my values). In my PLE, I havr outlined SOME of the web sites that helps me in each level. For example, playing SIMS helped me (and helps me) analyze daily routines and social interaction that, after playing for a while, help me develop new habits or behavior. As you may have noticed, my life is filled with online cognitive opportunities. This is the real purpose of the internet. Isn’t it?

(2) “My Future Learning” branch

In the next 6 months, I need to learn about mLearning (=Learning using the mobile devices), developing audio-visual materian for online courses (this course gave the push for it) and about Avatars and 2nd Life (my next online course).

(3) Troubleshooting branch

In my life, I face a lot of problems that I need to solve immediately. Due to the nature of my field, most of this knowledge is obsolete and worth learning (eg: programming languages… the moment you learn it, it become obsolete, so spend time learning languages is a life killer.) so, I revert to online friends or resources to find solutions either by searching previous cases, or asking in forums. This is what I like to call Knowledge on Demand.

The PLE (Bubbl.us disabled embedding their chart, so I replaced it with a static image.)

Anas PLN Jan 2011

Detect language » Arabic

Detect language » Arabic


I just got involved in translating Wikipedia articles about the concept of “Noosphere”… I was fascinated to discover that there were people in the early 20th century were prophetically predicting  about the internet… Amazing.

Noospher, according to these prophets, is the 3rd cycle of the evolution of Earth. The first phase was the “Geosphere”, that is the creation of the physical earth. The second phase is the “biosphere” which is the phase were the physical earth evolved to create living forms. The next phase is the Noosphere when the living form evolves to the level of creating awareness. Awareness being the collective concept of knowledge and consciousness.

The first prophet of the concept was Vernadsky who in the 1920’s introduced this concept building on Darwin theory of the survival of the fittest.

The came De Chardin who elaborated the concept and tried to explain it theologically through his Omega Point theory. Obviously, his theory died when the church opposed it although he did his best to show that the Omega Point is the personification of Jesus.

Both ideas suggests that the next level of the evolution of Earth is to create a global awareness… which is the collectiveness and interrelationship of global knowledge!

Isn’t this what the Internet is all about? Interesting concept that requires further contemplation.

Learning Desire

I was asked:

For learning to take place do we have to have a teacher? Customized teaching or customized presentation of information for student acquisition?

I replied:

No… we do not need a teacher to learn. Learning is an individualized process. Except for Pavlov approaches, there is nothing that can make us learn except us. This is why I believe that the only thing a teacher can do is ignite the desire to learn (i.e switch to learning mode) and offer the right environment for the individual to learn on their own (i.e the experience and information). Once the student becomes in the “learning mode”, she will interact with the teacher and other individuals to clarify the vague idea while building up her knowledge.

Igniting the desire to learn happens instantaneously when the topic aligns with the individual’s personal intelligence, talent and values. This is what happens with life-long learners!

Knowledge, Talent and Intelligence

In my last article, I mentioned that learning is the process of creating knowledge through personalizing information. Then I touched on talent and intelligence. This morning, I was thinking if the created knowledge persevere. I though not. Then, I started thinking about knowledge on demand which is creating the knowledge as needed and discarding it when it is not! This lead me to think: what is the knowledge that is retained. Reflecting on myself, I discovered that I retain the knowledge that interests me. I discard the other. Then I thought what interests me. I concluded that my talent (set of strengths) and the set of my intelligence (according to MI) determines my interest. Then I recognized that my values and controling instincts have roles to play. This made me come up with the following theory:

Learning is the process of converting information to knowledge. Retaining knowledge is another process that relates to intelligence and talent. It requires a name. Applying the retained knowledge requires a third process (that needs to be named!). Consistently applying the knowledge is the geniusity!

Data > Information > Knowledge > *retained knowledge* > *applied knowledge* > *the knowledge becomes controlling*

This theory needs more work. I need to find terms for the missing names from the literature. I need to relate talent/intelligence/values to it. I need more readings.

Week 3, Q1 Revisited: Assessment

I know that Question 1 asked for “the single most significant difference between teaching and learning online as compared to in a face-to-face environment” and I replied: Learning Ownership. But I believe there are more than one significant difference. So, in the name of “changing my mind and evolving my thought”, I want to retract my initial answer and say that it is the “Assessment”.

The Face to face assessment is reliable in the sense that we have certainty about who is doing the work. While, with online courses, there is no way to know who is the person doing the work. For example, I might be my son taking the course on behalf of my father so he can have advanced credential in a topic that he is not competent with it. Right?

This imposes a serious doubt about the validity of the online credentials. Your thoughts!

PS: Sorry I gave two “single most significant difference”, but I could not keep my mouth shut!

References: 1, 2

TAP: Subways and Mac’s


I want my online courses to be like Subway sandwiches and not like MacDonald buns! I want the learner to choose the ingredients of the course. To choose the style of activities that makes them learn. They cannot choose the objectives nor the duration.

Subway and Mcdonalds have the same objectives: to give you calories and nutritions. One style allows you to choose the ingredients that the you want. The other gives you limited alternatives to choose from. At Subway, if you aim is to lose weight, you choose more vegies than bacon. If you want to put on weight, you double the cheese, bacon and mayo’s. At Macdonald, you do not have this flexibility.

I want my online courses to be the same. They should have clear objectives: (1) the learning outcomes dictated by the curriculum; a and (2) a fixed duration by which the learner should complete the outcomes*. The course will offer a variety of activities. Paced and self paced. Traditional sequential reading material and leaping hyperlinked reading material. Videos and handouts. Synchronous and Asynchronous interaction. Learning by doing and learning by observing. Self reflection and networked interaction. Mayonaise and Catchup. Peer learning and self-learning. The list need to be completed.

The one who chooses to learn using my online course should know what they want and how they learn. Like the Subway customer: they know what they like to eat and know how to choose. For the others, let them go to a Mac restaurant (i.e. packaged courses) or to a fancy restaurant (i.e the structuredconstructivistinteractiving course) . Not mine. I want my student to “Learn Fresh”.

… and I woke up!


  1. Was it a daydream or something that I can really make?
  2. Do you think there must be more objectives? Like assessment?
  3. Any suggestions for more ingredients I need to add the “menu of the course”?
  4. I know McDonals is far more popular and profitable than Subway around the world! Do you think traditional online/distant course delivery will prevail over my styles?