[Click on the image to enlarge]
The below image illustrate the flow and the tools I used to capture, process and store information related to technology and educational trends as of 13 December 2011.
I am still working on my tracking environment. As of today, 15 October 2011, the environment I use to track trends is depicted in the below diagram (Click on the image to enlarge it):
As the diagram shows, I divided the infrastructure into three areas:
(1) Sourse: that is the sources I used to get information related to advancement in technology, teaching and learning.
(2) Filtering: that is the list of tools I use to aggregate and filter the information I get. I have categorized the tools based on when do I get the information. The real-time help me get instantaneous information on my mobile devices. The hourly tools are the tools I check for 1 minute every hour. The others are self explanatory.
(3) Storing: that is the tools I used to store the information I need to act on later. I have grouped the storing tools into two types: the cloud tools that allow me to access the information anytime, anywhere and any-device, and the local storage on my home server storage for safe keeping.
Here is the list of trends that I will include on my initial draft:
Details will be posted soon.
A videa=and idea presented on video
My good friend and colleague, Skip, has provided a wealth of mLearning related links that I like to archive here. The annoying thing is that most of them were posted in 2008… which means we are 3 years behind!
Today, through a Facebook friend, I discovered Lynn Margulis. She disputed evolution and defended her idea that evolution does not happen gradually, but in a leap. She is a remarkable woman. Her first article was rejected by 50 scientific journals, and accepted by only one. Now, that article is considered a landmark! When will scientific and academic arrogance seize to exist to allow proper evolution, or leapution, of human knowledge?
Reading about her made me wonder about few things: why I am not exposed to women of her caliber? I meet a lot of smart women on daily basis, but I rarely meet a woman who thinks in the absolute like her. Am I in the wrong circle? Should I be working somewhere else? Is it too late? I wonder.
Back to Margulis. She based her theory on one simple fact: there has been no evidence for biological gradual evolution from a the bacteria form to human form for the last 542 million years. This made me think: would she have reached the same conclusion if life form has existed for trillion centuries. Isn’t 542 Million years trivial in that scope. Isn’t like a sneeze in the life of the universe?
How does relate to De Chardin? He talked about an evolution from a geosphere to biosphere. Was it gradual or was it a leap?
Margulis idea adds value to divine creation. If we consider God to be an energetic being, and not a physical entity, can we say that this energetic being is driving evolution? According, to De Chardin, evolution has a purpose. Is this energetic being driving the evolution?
One last idea: I just forgot it 😉
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.
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.
I think we should put Khan Academy in perspective. It is not suitable for all. It is good for 1 in every 90 individuals. Is it worth it? let’s do the analysis:
First Pedagogy: Based on Paul Kurucz, there are 3 types of learners: those who learn by seeing the big picture, those who learn by seeing the process and those who learn through networking. Coupled with Kelb ideas, it is easy to recognize that Khan’s style is suitable for the learners “who like to see the process and observe someone else doing it!”. It is not suitable for all.
Mathematically: combining Kurucz 3 criteria and kelb 4 styles, and for simplicity let’s assume that an individual can be only one of them, it is easy to calculate the permutation: 1 in every 90 people find Khan’s method suitable for their learning. This means, the other 89 finds it useless.
Demographics: Roughly, if 40% of the world population are learners (students, lifelong learners, adult, informal, etc..), and there are there 1.8B users of the internet in the world, then there are 720 Million active learners around the world who have access to the Internet.
Conclusion: as we said, only 1 in every 90 of these learners can learn based on Khan method. This means, there are 8 Million learners around the world who have access to the internet and who are in benefit from Khan’s work. 8 Million!
Isn’t this phenomenal? One person (i.e. Khan) offering a suitable learning material for 8 Million people, for free… around the world? the way they like to learn? Isn’t it outstanding! Or should we focus on the the other 712 Million to prove it futile? I am on Khan side. I like to see the droplet in an empty glass!!
1) I am ready to offer data to submit my arguments.
2) An opportunity: we still need to figure out a good teaching tools for the remaining 712 Million people. I see a lot of money here! Any partners?
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.
The FCC released the “white spaces” – the unused spectrum between broadcast television channels — will lead to a so-called “Super Wi-Fi” or “Wi-Fi on steroids.” This means we will have “80 Mbps and above long-range wireless speeds and 400-800 Mbps short-range wireless networks. Perhaps this means that wireless Internet can now actually be “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”. Google chipped in to utilize the bandwidth.
Very soon we will access WiFi like we get radio signal: everywhere!
Due to an adventure that I might explain in another post, I experienced Adaptive Cruise Control in a refreshing way.
My wife and I were forced to drive separate cars for more than 700 Km in a very bad winter weather. She drove Luay’s Ford Focus while I drove my brand new 2011 MKX (showing off!) from Calgary to Fort McMurray during the worst weather conditions Alberta has seen. We were able to get home in 16 hours for a trip that usually takes 8 hours. However, my wife drove for both of us.
I drove the MKX because I do not fit in my son’s car. She drove in front of me to keep an eye on her for the Focus is not reliable to drive in the bad weather. So I set my cruise control on 120km/hr (yes, on the Lincol, you can specify the cruise speed digitally) then enabled the adaptive cruise control (that is, you tell the car to follow the speed of the car in front of yours.) In this way, my car followed the speed of my wife’s car for the whole trip. I mean all I had to do is steer it… no decisions what so ever about breaking or accelerating… my left foot enjoyed the whole trip… the first time it drove 700 km without feeling tired!
An amazing experience! I am looking forward for the day that the car will do its own steering… Would it happen in my days?
Philosophy Statements about Teaching and Learning, v. 4.1
In my opinion, the best instruction is the 1-1 approach. Not in the traditional sense where a teacher teaches one student. This is not feasible using traditional teaching methods. In an ideal teaching scenario, the learners need to have “customized”, “personalized” and “individualized” teaching that caters for their learning style and talent through the innovative use of technology in all its facets. This applies in the face-to-face setting as well as online teaching.
This post highlights the set of values and definitions that governs my philosophy about teaching and learning. It includes a set of practices I follow when designing as well as delivering my courses, whether face-to-face or online.
Role of Teachers: Following Entwisted (1990) line of thought, I believe that the primary professional responsibility of teachers, trainers and online courses is to maximise the learning opportunities of their learners. Some would use the term “facilitator” but I still like to use the traditional term, teacher, with added contemporary connotations.
Learning, Information and Knowledge: Information, knowledge and their relation to learning is one of the vaguest concepts in the literature (Fox, 1991). Harris supplied the definition which is closest to my heart:
“knowledge is private, while information is public. Knowledge, therefore, cannot be communicated; only information can be shared. Whenever an attempt to communicate knowledge is made, it is translated into information, which other learners can choose to absorb and transform into knowledge, if they so desire” (Harris, 1995, p.1)
According to this description, I believe that learning is the process of personalizing information and experience thus creating knowledge. Collective knowledge includes skills, attitudes and beliefs. Teachers’ role is to create the desire in the learner to absorb and transform the information and experience into their own knowledge.
Assessment: is defined as “the process of documenting, usually in measurable terms, knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs” (Wikipedia, Assessment). I believe that this definition mixes up between knowledge and information. In my courses, I like to define assessment as “the process of documenting, usually in qualitative terms, the incremental knowledge attained during the teaching process”. How to do this? I have few ideas that I hope will be firmed in version 5 of my philosophy.
Curriculum: I like to categories the curriculum into two types: the regulated curriculum where outcomes are clearly quantified and regulated (like army training, government regulated courses, professional tests) and free-form curriculum where the outcomes depends on the learners’ achievement within clear guidelines (example: art classes, architecture and medicine). I believe courses in the regulated curriculum address learning at the information level. Free form courses tackle the learning at the knowledge level. Each of these two types requires different teaching styles and methodologies. The difference is recognized in the design and delivery of each type, although, personally, I avoid handling regulated courses as an online course.
Learning Spaces: Brown (2005) used the term “Learning Spaces” to replaces the traditional classroom term. I like to use the same term to indicate any space that induces learning in individuals: a classroom, my office, a cafe, over the phone, on a forum, blog, wikipage, online, offline, and all the new medium of learning that is available.
Learning Styles: My teaching recognizes that individuals learn in multitude of ways. Consequently, the process of creating the desire in learners to learn should match the learners’ style. The literature offers at least 13 different schools of thought in this area (Coffield et al, 2004). Out of these schools, I find that Allinson and Hayes Cognitive Style Index to be the most suitable because it has “the best psychometric credentials” (Coffield et al, 2004, p139). I believe, to use learning styles as motivators to learning, I must include other factors like the set of intelligences acquired by the learner (Gardner et al,1995) and the set of strengths that determines their talent (Clifton & Nelson, 1992). My teaching should include drivers that ignite the learning desire based on the learners’ profile. Technology makes achieving this approach more plausible. I find the 4MAT approach to learning styles (McCarthy, 1990) the most suitable. This approach advocates that teaching should:
(1) Promote self reflecting, analysing, and experiencing.
(2) Inspire transitioning of information into knowledge
(3) Allow the individuals to digest and create content
(4) Encourage learners to express themselves
And I like to add a fifth one:
(5) Facilitate creation of knowledge through collective collaboration and network communication (Tapscott and Williams, 2010)
Learning Theories: As outlined by Anderson in his CIDER Webinar of April 2010, effective teaching should apply a mix of learning theories (behaviorism, cognitive, constructive and connectivism). I am a strong believer in this approach.
Generational Differences: Tapscott (2008) coined the term NetGen to describe individuals who were born in the digital age. I agree with him that NetGen learns in ways different than what traditional education is able to offer. Consequently, my delivery will recognize the different learning drivers dichotomies as presented by Coffield, (2004).
Parallel Education: As suggested by Brown (2010) and McGonigal (2010), new learning paradigms are emerging where the younger generation are building their knowledge outside the traditional educational systems. Some refer to this as the parallel education. The learning in this paradigm is naturally motivated and based on discovering personal talents through “virtual-real-life” experiences in areas not recognized in the traditional educational understanding. In my courses, I need to identify learners who are following this approach and encourage them to exploit it in the learning of the material. This is not easy especially that the concept is new. Maybe it will be the core driver for my philosophy version 5!
Technology in Learning: In my educational realm, technology helps to customize, individualize and personalize learning. For many thousand years, human learned based on one-to-one teaching (Toffler, 1980) until the industrial evolution came up with the idea of mass production that shaped our present educational system (West, 2001). This method is becoming obsolete to meet the new challenges (Tapsott & Wilson, 2010). With the advancement of the technology, we can go back to the natural way of human learning, i.e. one-to-one by customizing teaching to satisfy individualistic learning drivers through online courses and activities.
Continuous Improvement: My courses will always contain learners feedback to continuously evaluate means of improvement. This philosophy will continuously evolve based on new discoveries, emerging technologies, my acquired knowledge and interactions with my learners.
Brown, D., (2010), An Open Letter to Educators, YouTube Video.
Brown M., (2005), Learning Spaces, Educating the Net Generation, Educause eBooks.
Clifton, D. O., & Nelson, P. (1992). Soar with Your Strengths, Dell Publishing.
Coffield, F. J., Moseley D. V., Hall .E & Ecclestone, K. (2004). Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: a systematic and critical review. London: Learning and Skills Research Centre/University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Entwistle, N.J. (1998). Improving teaching through research on student learning. In JJF Forrest (ed.) University teaching: international perspectives. New York: Garland.
Fox, S. (1991). The production and distribution of knowledge through open and distance learning. In D. Hylnka & J. C. Belland (Eds.), Paradigms regained: The uses of illuminative, semiotic and post-modern criticism as modes of inquiry in educational technology. Englewood Clifs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
Gardner, H., Kornhaber, M. L., & Wake W. K. (1995). Intelligence: multiple perspectives, Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Judi H. (1995). Educational Telecomputing Projects: Information Collections, The Computing Teacher journal, published by the International Society for Technology in Education.
McGonigal, J. (2010). Gaming can make a better world. TED Presentation.
Tapscott, D. (2008). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World, The McGraw-Hill.
Tapscott, D., & Williams, A. D. (2008). Innovating the 21st-Century University: It’s Time!, EDUCAUSE
Toffler, A., (1989). The Third Wave, Bantam Books.
West, E. G. (2001). Education and the Industrial Revolution, Liberty Fund Inc.
Wikipedia, Assessment, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assessment
Zukas, M., & Malcolm, J. (2002). Pedagogies for lifelong learning: building bridges or building walls? In R Harrison, F Reeve, A Hanson and J Clarke (eds) Supporting lifelong learning. London: Routledge/Open University.
Version 1: articulated in 1981: The focus was on curriculum and teaching.
Version 2: articulated in 1992: The focus was student learning and success.
Version 2.5: articulated in 1996: The focus included the use of Technology.
Version 3: articulated in 2000: Constructivist concepts were adopted.
Version 3.5: articulated in 2008: Web 2.0 concepts were included.
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 structured–constructivist–interactiving course) . Not mine. I want my student to “Learn Fresh”.
… and I woke up!
[This is my answer to Week 3, Q3: As a teacher of online courses, how do you (or would you, if you do not as yet have online teaching experience) encourage interactions between yourself and your students, as well as between students, and network building with participants outside of the “formal” course? Expand on your answers by saying why you would or would not encourage these interactions, and identify practices that have been successful. Also reflect on the practices of your instructors related to interactions in the online courses you have taken, or are taking.]
I am a strong believer in online interaction. Whether with the learners of the course, between the learners and the outside world and with with the course facilitator. Using the f2f terminology, this interaction is like teamwork and brainstorming that yield synergy. Luckily, this approach started to penetrate our educational system.
There are many methods to encourage collaboration among online learners. All of them will require well designed activities. At the moment, I want to suggest two approaches:
I hope you can enrich my knowledge by suggesting more.
(1) The Intercultural Dynamics in European Education through onLine Simulation: In this course, learners acted as members of a virtual government and each were given specific responsibility and collectively they were supposed to come up with one government plan. Each learner was from different countries with different background. The learning in the fields of politics, languages, cultural difference, teamwork and synergy was outstanding.
(2) Wikipedia Articles: A group of students were assigned the task of writing certain Wiki-articles on Wikipedia. The interaction with the virtual members of Wikipedia was rich and engaging.
Both of the above examples used suitable rubrics.
[This is my answer to W3Q2: “How important are synchronous events (where course participants and instructor interact in real time) such as a webinar or an Elluminate session in fostering an effective online learning environment?”]
The importance depends on the learners and the material of the course. I have worked with teams where Synchronous communication was a burden. For example those who work on compiling Wikipedia and other Open Source projects. At the same time, I have worked with individuals who need the real time synchronous interaction.
Following Universal Design concepts, every online course should have a provision to have one or more synchronous, recorded, events to cater for those who prefer the real time learning.
What is more important is to ensure the technology works well, that the facilitator has a good control of the technology and the session and that the participants can use it effectively.
Reference: IEEE Research Findings.