Thursday, February 25, 2010

Week 7: Connectivism, Social Knowledge, and Participatory Learning

Week 7: February 22, 2010

I will start with several fascinating reading for the topic this week:

In Nicholas Carr (2008, July/August). Is Google Making Us Stupid? Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from , I thought it was fascinating how Carr discusses how technology has affected writing (and reading) since the invention of the typewriter up to today with computers and cell phone texting. He refers to this as 'intellectual technologies' (coined by Daniel Bell) and explains that our minds begin to take on those of the technologies. He acknowledges that Google's mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful and seeks to develop the perfect search engine", he feels that our minds today have become filled with artificial intelligence dependant on search engines like Google.

I would have to agree with Carr a little about out dependence on search engines like Google. I know I have said to my own students as well as my 16 year old son, 'Go Google It', knowing that they will mostly likely will find it somewhere on the web. My goal was to have them seek out the info rather than I just providing an answer. I hope this does not lead to 'artificial intelligence' as Carr describes.

The next article I read was: Catherine McLoughlin & Mark Lee (2008, June/July). Future learning landscapes: Transforming pedagogy through social software. Innovate. 4(5).

I really loved this article! This article discusses social software (web communities such as facebook, flickr, twitter, blogs, etc..) use with Web 2.0 to transform education into something called Pedagogy 2.0. The article goes deeper to describe how Connectivism can enhance Pedagogy 2.0 through course content, curriculum, resources, communication, scaffolding, processes and learning tasks.

On a personal note, I teach an online Professional Nursing Communication course and have added multiple connectivism methods to the course such as You Tubes, e-books, student teams to develop content projects and discussion forums. A student recently emailed me and stated she really loved the course because of the visuals I used in the content portion which made the topics more meaningful to learn. I considered this quite a complement. I would say I have been inspired by all the courses I have taken from Dr. Bonk. It is a challenge to continue to find fresh and new web enhanced sites for the course. (thanks Dr. Bonk :)

One last article I read was Henry Jenkins, Katie Clinton, Ravi Purushotma, Alice J. Robison and Margaret Weigel. (2008). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century Chicago: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved August 17, 2008, from

This is done as a white paper that focuses on the topic of Participatory Culture and how the MacArthur Foundation has contributed 50 million dollars to make a difference in providing multi-media to the US. The paper defines participatory culture as (pg. 7):

1.With relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement
2.With strong support for creating and sharing one’s creations with others
3.With some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is
passed along to novices
4.Where members believe that their contributions matter
5.Where members feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they
care what other people think about what they have created).

The paper points out challenges, potential problems and solutions to provide web access to households across America.

To me, making digital learning accessible to everyone sounds wonderful but I am sure there are multiple issues including funds for equipment and technology education for all to take advantage of this option for education. The white paper does address most of this but I believe it will take a few years before every household has internet access and computer technology as if it were a TV or phone. Many rural areas are basically without high speed access to the web. Maybe I will be surprised and it will happen sooner than I think.

Interesting links / tidbits for this week: from Mag a live demo of a really cool tool on the VoiceThread site called the Doodler that allows you to draw on top of media (see white freehand circle above) as you record your comment (using mic, webcam, or keyboard), control playback of a video while Doodling and commenting on specific video segments. The Doodles are synced to your comment, showing viewers your thoughts in action.

Sample Web 2.0 tools and companies (from Dr. Bonk)

VoiceThread: add audio to pics
SnapGenie: tell stories behind pics
Scrapblog: create a scrapbook of pics
Dotsub: create subtitling text in online videos and films
YackPack: email an audio file site with 7 things you should know about Web 2.0 technologies

Connectively Yours :),

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Week 6: Open Educational Resources (OER) and OpenCourseWare (OCW)

Week 6: February 15, 2010

Another week of unchartered waters for me or so I thought. Again, I was not fully aware of the depth and breadth of free / open course ware available. I am afraid I have been a taker and not a giver and very much have taken for granted all the great stuff in cyberland.

Cindi was our moderator / leader this week and did a great job of summarizing very lengthy articles this week. The one that stuck with me is titled:

Giving Knowledge for Free: The Emergence of Open Educational Resources (OER)

The article discusses the current trend of offering learning resources openly on the Internet has taken many by surprise. This intellectual ‘property’ (course materials) was, at one time, what set one institution apart from another. Now it is being provided to all who want to take part in life- long learning. The OER movement “accelerates the blurring of formal and informal learning, and of educational and broader cultural activities”. It opens the doors for the non-traditional learner. The content may be delivered in a variety of ways but primarily it is provided as PDF files or learning objects which may involve websites, simulations, images, audio, or video. In addition educational institutions should support OER as a way to leverage taxpayer dollars “by allowing free sharing and reuse of resources”.

Sustainability is a challenge. When OER is provided free of charge side effects may occur somewhere in the process. To ensure survival over the long haul OER projects must have clear goals set. The project leaders must include the anticipated size of the group and how it will be structured. They need a picture of the types of resources necessary to share and the user to be shared with. They also need to decide on a funding model that will adequately fund the project.

Quality of OER has become even more important as others are entering this arena. Are the users able to get the resources needed? Are the items of interest being offered to the user? Are the needs of the disable student being met? These and many other questions are considered when working toward improved and useful OER.

Lisa, a peer in my class, mentions that there needs to be some serious consideration given to what really are the core subjects that students need to be educated in during the next few decades. Much discussion surrounded what the emphasis should be put on topics like leadership, global communications, internet skills, creativity and other topics rather than earth science, physics, algebra, etc. The general consensus in the forum was that required classes needed to be more flexible in high school and that students had more choices to take more electives.

When it comes to ‘giving back’ for using OER and OCW, I thought that since I didn’t know how to program, I couldn't help which is becoming very clear that this is not the case. As others have pointed out submitting feedback or donating money are quick and easy ways to give back. True, I agree that people should not have to give back, but ethically and morally this should be an understood type of obligation. For folks that use and support OCW and OERs, I would recommend contributions of resources to support these endeavors whether it be through time, feedback or money.

Interesting tidbits from this week: a place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute. MIT Open Course Ware (OCW) Project lots of open course ware that is FREE


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Week 5: The Movement Toward Free and Open Source Software

Week 5: February 8, 2010

This week was a bit of a challenge as I really had not ever heard of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Little did I know that had been using FOSS and did not even realize it. Dr. Bonk had an Adobe Connect interaction (optional) this week in which he assigned ‘roles’ for each of us to play. I was assigned Robert Stephenson, the author of one of our required articles this week: Open Source/Open Course Learning: Lessons for Educators from Free and Open Source Software.

Here is my scripted information I shared in the interaction online as Dr. Robert Stephenson:

I, Rob Stephenson, am an educator, eLearning architect and consultant living in San Francisco. I am currently Assoc. Prof. of Biological Sciences at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, where he has taught an online physiology class for the last seven years. My previous faculty assignments include Purdue University and the Faculté des Sciences of the Université Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco.

I am a pioneer of the "open course" movement: applying the principles of openness and collaborative development to the creation and use of interactive learning materials. He founded the first open course project, the Harvey Project (, an international collaboration to build free learning objects for physiology. He is the organizer of OpenCourse.Org, an NSF-funded platform to support open course projects.
I am a Curator of the Tech Virtual Museum Workshop at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA, USA.

Since Dec. 2008, the Program for the Future Global Design Challenge has been seeking new tools to improve collaboration and collective intelligence. It is a challenge to "develop a practical method, tool or technology that connects people so that they collectively act more intelligently. We are looking for new ideas – even simple ideas – that help people work better and smarter together in some important area." So far there have been 35 entries and the first year's Challenge is closing next Monday, Feb. 8, 2010”.

I hold an A.B. in physics from Princeton, an MS in physics and a Ph.D. in neurophysiology, both from MIT. Rob also holds Java programming certification from Sun Microsystems, and is co-leader of the Global Education & Learning Commmunity (GELC) at, a foundry for open source Java applications.

In the article, Open Source / Open Course Learning: Lessons for Educators from Free and Open Source Software... I make the following observations:
• FOSS demonstrates that network effects occur at the edge of the network: in most cases bottom-up is more powerful than top-down.
• FOSS's lesson is that an active community of practice is the key to success. An open course collaboration is a knowledge ecosystem with an economy based primarily on exchange and reputation.
• When such a community involves all stakeholders, it not only provides the most value to its members but also grows the fastest.
• Including students in this community of practice strengthens their education.
• An open course community needs the ability to modify its resources since this is the only way they can be improved or adapted for new contexts.
• Community resources will evolve only if they include assessment as an integral component and the results of this assessment are used to drive improvement.
• Stakeholders need lots of simple, easy ways to make helpful contributions to the community so that it becomes a social norm. Ways to promote this include incentives, a reputation system, and a license that requires contribution. Technology is needed to make these contributions as frictionless as possible.

In Dr. Bonk’s book, The World is Open, chapter 4 is titled: It's a Free Software World After All.
This chapter is all about free and open software and the benefits they provide. "For one, there is innovation, creativity, and some sense of voice or control outside of commercial vendors" (p. 151). They also provide a learning and collaborative experience for those that wish to create these pieces of software - people working together towards a particular goal or common good. Free and open source software is key in the WE-ALL-LEARN model, providing a growing capital for education.

As I look at open source learning sites such as Merlot, Moodle, and Wikibooks, it makes me wonder about the 'rules' for using open source in comparison to the 'rules' for commercially available software products. A peer in my course, Mag, noted an issue with open source learning in the following entry: “Academic Earth's Terms of Use include a major section entitled DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES, LIMITATION OF LIABILITY AND INDEMNITY: WHILE WE DO OUR BEST TO ENSURE THE OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE OF THE AE SERVICES, YOU AGREE THAT USE OF THE AE SERVICES IS AT YOUR OWN RISK.....etc, etc. (Sorry for the capital letters, but it is written in caps on their site.) They also have a section titled: NOTICE AND PROCEDURE FOR CLAIMS OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. Seems to be lot of red tape for an "open source' organization who's mission is "giving everyone on earth access to a world-class education."”

Another peer in class, Leesa, identified another issue concerning hidden costs in "free" such as costs of set-up, training, maintenance, upgrading, the patches and the system integration and so on. Dr. Bonk stated: ‘Humm...perhaps it is not free after all’.

Several interesting and helpful websites I learned about:

The 8 Most Successful Open Source Products Ever ( ) suggested by Michael K. in my class. another FOSS that I had not heard of before a totally free version of Office I also really like the website alternatives to common programs like office, adobe and users can vote on the ones they like the best. Very cool site (suggested by Justin in my class) great site for health, medicine and sciences

Very much a week of learning for me,

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Week 4: The Continued Expansion of Blended and Fully Online Learning

Week 4: February 1, 2010

This was a tough week for me. My father passed away and I find it tough to concentrate. I was to assist a peer (Lisa Yoder) with moderating our weekly article /cool resources interactions. I did not contribute one single thing. I would like to personally thank Lisa for her sensitive support and wonderful contributions to the forums this week. Dr. Bonk was also very understanding of my life situation.

Moving on… I truly am a fan of online and blended (hybrid) learning options. I have been a nursing faculty in higher education academia since 1998. I remember designing a Heart Failure certificate course completely online in 2000. The 6 week course was so popular that multiple courses had to be scheduled. Students all over the US and a few world-wide (Saudi Arabia) took advantage of the offering. The program consisted of 6 modules, assignments, multiple visual links from the web and sometimes discussions. The engagement factor was minimal. My how times have changed in 10 years.

One of the articles that Lisa summarized was Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2006). Making the grade: Online education in the United States. The Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C). Retrieved July 4, 2007, from

One key finding from the Sloan report that I noted was that many faculty have not accepted the value of online education. I too feel this is also still the case with potential students as well as those in academia. At my campus of IUPUC, nursing is the only department with an entire degree program online. Many of the general education courses that the nursing students need in the online program cannot find those course online and have to drive to campus to obtain those credits so it defeats the ‘online’ advertisement. The faculty teaching the gen ed courses (liberal arts and sciences) are tough to convince because they cannot envision the in-depth learning without the buildings, lectures, face-to-face (FTF) discussions. Many faculty feel that their highest levels of critical thinking were due to verbal exchanges with professors and/or fellow classmates that cannot be duplicated online.

Another comment that Lisa makes is in regards to Dr. Bonk’s book, The World is Open. She notes that in Opener #2 (in his book): this attitude (as noted above) has changed since 2005 and will continue to change as more and more students learn online. The mega-number of online students in Asian universities was mind-boggling. I was blown away by the enrollment growth statistics he provided for the large American online universities:
• University of Phoenix: 330,000 students!
• Capella University: from 10,000 in 2004 to over 20,000 students in 2007
• Walden University: from 2000 in 2001 to 28,000 in 2007

The Opener in Dr. Bonk’s book also states that today online learning represents 10% of the enrollments in higher education in the US, which is an increase of nearly 10% from over a decade ago. It faces many challenges, but one thing is clear – online learning is here to stay and will only improve as it grows. Very interesting….

Additional ‘tidbits’ mentioned in week three that hit home with me include the following: You Tube on the vision for K-12 learners today… digitally and socially speaking. blended learning advantages enjoyed the video from Walden. Makes one want to teach or volunteer in Nepal. Jones International School quiz to determine if you have what it takes to be an online learner.


This is an internet ECG presentation / tutorial that supports and reviews content I taught for a cardiac nursing course. I support my in class face to face content with this online supplement to design it like a ‘hybrid’ type of course. The online content does not last that long and I encouraged the students to take the time to view it. There are also imbedded quiz questions within the online supplement (free ware) that should assist with learning.