Posted by: crumphelen | May 5, 2015

Developing Work Out Loud Habits and Measuring Up

I seem to have fallen out of the blogging habit recently. That’s not to say that I’ve not been learning or doing other stuff; I have. It’s just that at the start of the year I relocated back to England and I’ve not been able to get back into the habit. Any way, life might just be starting to settle back down again now so I thought I would try and incorporate a few new practices into my learning. Hey, and with a broadband speed over 10 times greater than I previously had in Ireland there’s gotta be a heap of new opportunities, like just Skyping even. Yay!!

To date, my blog has been a place where I’ve learned to “Learn Out Loud”, much of which has been driven by my participation in MOOCs and similar open learning opportunities. However, if I’m not openly MOOCing, I don’t seem to be in the habit or have the gumption to fire up my blog and document my learning. So, courtesy of Jeff Merrell and the “Work Out Loud” initiative he’s championing within #MSLOC430, I’m going to give it a go. As well as learning out loud, I’m going to try and develop the habit of working out loud.

‘What’s the difference?’, I hear you cry.

Well, I guess it is a bit subtle; that’s probably because the concepts are so closely related, as shown in Harold Jarche’s diagram below. You can read his full article here.

wol-lol

Learning Out Loud is essentially reflection and sense making in public and I guess I’m comfortable with that, well as comfortable as it’s possible to be. Working Out Loud, on the other hand, is the practice of providing a brief, running commentary on your work as you’re doing it.

Bryce Williams, who’s credited with coining the term, defines it as follows:

“Working out loud = Narrating your work + Observable work”

Narrating your work being  “journaling…what you are doing in an open way” and making your work observable being “creating/modifying/storing your work in places that others can see it, follow it, and contribute to it IN PROCESS.” Yep, that’s what I’ve not been so good at: journaling what I’ve been doing and allowing others to follow it etc., IN PROCESS. The minute I realized this, it immediately made me think of learning maths at school and how I was lousy at it, or hit and miss at any rate; I didn’t always show my working out. If I did get the right answer there was no way of really knowing how I got there and if I didn’t get the right answer, well …where do you start to put it right? If you don’t work out loud, how can anyone help you or contribute as you go along?

So, having ironed that out, what have I been learning and what am I working on.

Well, I’ve been thinking a bit about learning outcomes. It’s always a topic that wears me out. I remember during initial teacher training expressing the sentiment that ‘nothing ever grew by being measured’; needless to say, it wasn’t well received and I’ve been taxed by the whole question of learning metrics ever since. Any way, it seems like the topic is much in the air at the moment and I’m not alone in pondering the current state of play and the alternatives. Over in #rhizo 15, Dave Cormier asked what is being measured, or counted, and he posited the idea of learning subjectives as opposed to learning objectives. Here, Lisa Lane and Tania Sheko gave 2 brilliant responses. Lisa explains that measuring learning outcomes is “all a ruse”

I can’t measure learning, only the symbolic artifacts of learning.

and, based on the premise of being interviewed to become a lifelong learner with the essential requirement being learning objectives, Tania got all creative and wrote a script to champion a more subjective approach, Mr X loses his battle for objectivity. Here’s the nub of the thing:

You see, I’ve developed an allergy to things which support objectives. Things like preconceived ideas, data entered carefully into spreadsheets, dot points, the narrowness of finite theories, that sort of thing. I have an aversion to these things and I become so ill that I am unable to function.

I need to approach life in a less organised, predetermined way. I need to include the way I feel, for example, in the way I understand life. I need to include questions and doubts in the way I make sense of things, I need mood changes and I also need to be able to synthesize seemingly illogical things into a new way of seeing. I need to follow – what I refer to as learning subjectives.

Both are excellent posts and well worth reading. Duly bookmarked for posterity.

In the meantime, I came across this graphic from Jane Hart that differentiated learning metrics according to the learning context and who was responsible for managing the learning outcome… and so the penny dropped.

Screen-Shot-2015-03-18-at-08.39.19

And, satisfyingly, the penny dropped once more when I read a post from the LSE Impact blog about systems of measurement and the influence they exert on our behaviour.

As a case in point, it used football and the increasing use of statistics within the game to show that the way we choose to measure affects behaviour. It’s nothing new; it’s just that it’s more pervasive now with the advent of smart technology.

Football is a useful case study in that it allows us to see just how powerful metrics can (be seen to) be. It allows us to think about how metrics might produce different outcomes, dictate decisions and continue to shape our lives.

Gets me thinking of learning analytics.

it is crucial that we see metrics as being central to the power dynamics of the age in which we live.

Oh, I also read a post by Donald Clark entitled ‘7 reasons: Why we need to kill boring learning objectives!’

The reason I’m thinking about all this is because I’m now looking for how I can best apply the knowledge and skills I’ve developed and I’m inclined to think that it lies in supporting and developing social/networked autonomous professional learners – just like me!! However, having said that I don’t want to forget or leave behind the work I currently do with adults that either don’t have access to technology for learning or who have been disadvantaged by what education chooses to measure.

Not just literacy, but digital literacies for all!!

Image sources:

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Posted by: crumphelen | February 5, 2015

A Community of Inquiry: initial inquiry (from the business end)

This blog post is simply a review of what I’ve been reading as I race to catch up and get my head around all that’s been going on in Exploring Innovations in Networked Work and Learning #MSLOC430 in Weeks 1 and 2.

From one of the following: networked learning, personal learning networks, MOOCs and communities of inquiry, the idea is to investigate a model that’s new to you, then write a post or start a discussion about what you see as the defining features of that model. If only it was that easy: time constraints, playing catch up and choosing to investigate the concept of a Community of Inquiry (CoI), which sounds straight forward and like it ought be highly relevant to today’s world of learning and work but turns out to be a bit of a dark horse, an unsung hero, full of unrequited potential in a world that’s racing headlong towards destination social/network, or wherever.

So what is a Community of Inquiry and how does it fit in to the evolving learning landscape?

Wikipedia has a it, broadly defined, as “any group of individuals involved in a process of empirical or conceptual inquiry into problematic situations”. A model that emphasizes knowledge embedded in a social context and represents “a process by which to create a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three interdependent elements – social, cognitive and teaching presence”. This is starting to ring bells. Turns out I’m familiar with the concept after all. CoI is a model designed to promote effective online teaching, especially in terms of discussion.

Community of Inquiry (CoI)

Community of Inquiry (CoI)

 

But it’s with the mention of the word ‘teacher’ that things got interesting. You have to realize that one of the features of this open course is to bring together ideas and innovations in networked learning from both education and from business organizations. Whilst I’d been wondering if, or how, a CoI can function with no identified teacher, Helen Blunden, in a cracking post entitled ‘cMOOC, Social Learning Guided Design or Community of Inquiry – All The Same?‘, really ignited discussion (see Google+ discussion 1 and discussion 2) when she asked “who can act as the “teacher” in a Community of Inquiry?” Is it someone from L&D, a SME or a professional community manager? But, as Cedric Borzee noted, whoever it is, it’s an interesting challenge to find the right person with the right mix of skills and kudos for this role (paraphrased). It was in this vein that I was introduced to the work of Sahana Chattopadhyay, and I really enjoyed reading her recent article, ‘L&D’s New Hatrack‘. It called out all the new skills required by learning professionals in business organizations, with community management and facilitation of virtual collaboration high on the list. Perhaps the Community of Inquiry Model can be appropriated to a business setting and utilized within Enterprise Social Network platforms (ESNs).

Community of Inquiry - for Promoting Change and Problem Solving ?

Community of Inquiry – for Promoting Change and Problem Solving ?

Further perhaps, in an organizational setting, as Jennifer Rainey makes the case, Communities of Inquiry might be used to promote change. After all,

the CoI has a purpose – help the organization lead and navigate change more effectively.  A structure – the framework comprised of roles & responsibilities, expectations, and guiding principles.  An education component – leveraging virtual collaboration tools, change management concepts and tools.  And a “teacher” […].  But the purpose of the CoI is not solely focused on learning.  It’s about applying that learning to help facilitate organizational change

or, again like Helen Blunden asks, “solve business performance problems?”

On my own musings, as to whether or how a CoI can function with no identified teacher, I didn’t get very far. I was thinking of how learning might occur when there is no recognized ‘expert’ to scaffold learning. That’s people learning from each other, with each other. But deeper exploration of that will have to wait for another day and another context. I enjoyed investigating this learning topic and its application in a business context. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks where we’ll investigate an innovative topic from a business or organizational context (I think ). So, we’ll see what’s to be learnt there.

Image Source:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Community_of_inquiry_model.svg

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Posted by: crumphelen | January 22, 2015

Look out: innovation in open networked learning ahead #MSLOC430

This post is going to be a bit of a mashup. Mainly because I haven’t blogged in a while and I want to throw a few crumbs of learning gleaned in the meantime into the mix. See what comes up.

I’ve been thinking about openness quite a lot recently. That’s why before Christmas I participated in Connected Courses #ccourses

Connected Courses is a collaborative network of faculty in higher education developing online, open courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web.

and why over Christmas I read Martin Weller‘s book, The Battle for Open – how openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory.

So with both of these in mind, no wonder I was interested to see Jeff Merrell post his plans to open up his course (on enterprise knowledge sharing or enterprise social networks (ESNs)). Yes, that’s the very same Jeff Merrell of the the open, online seminar Exploring Personal Learning Networks #xplrpln that I participated in back in 2013; and which turned out to be a truly powerful learning event, not just for me but for a number of other participants too (see my post at the time and Helen Blunden’s or Maureen Crawford’s just recently).

MSLOC430

Popping the lid off‘ a regular college class is an intriguing development. Now that the hype surrounding MOOCs has died down it shows the kind of experimentation (in the original connectivist sense of the phenomenon) that’s possible, a point that Martin Weller makes in his book.

Much of the hype around MOOCs has positioned them as being in competition to formal education. While this adversarial framing may make good sense in terms of a media narrative […] it underplays both the actual impact of MOOCs and the adaptability of education. An alternative perspective is to view MOOCs as being similar to OERs, and complementary to formal education.

Here he cites the example of ‘opening up a portion’ of a course, and goes on to give a whole load of reasons why, and the positives that might be gained.

The aim(s) expressed for Exploring Innovations in Networked Work and Learning is to explore the potential innovation that comes from criss-crossing domain boundaries (my kind of thing!!), that is from business and management practices and from education or organizational learning practitioners, and also to integrate other (out there) enterprise social networking enthusiasts with students enrolled in the face-to-face class.

I welcome this kind of innovation, and anything that helps learners to connect and learn in the open has got to be a good thing. Shall I see you there?

OERs = open educational resources

References:

Weller, M. 2014. Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: http://dx.doi.org//10.5334/bam

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Posted by: crumphelen | November 10, 2014

Open, with care… and vulnerability.

My enquiry into what exactly the notion of open and openness entails seems to almost have taken me back to the starting point, the starting point not only of this particular chapter of enquiry but also to the starting point of my own initiation into open online learning and learning in the open. That’s because caring and vulnerability has been the theme taken up this week in Networked Scholars. Although I’ve already highlighted vulnerability as being, for me, a key aspect of being an open learner,

a way to engage in learning that acknowledges the vulnerability and risk that’s inherent and asks the learner to recognize and embrace this,

it was interesting to consider vulnerability yet more closely and an absolute privilege and a delight to have Bonnie Stewart share her thoughts on the topic.

In a powerful and searingly honest ‘live chat‘, Bonnie outlined the deeply personal circumstances in which her blog and was initiated, identifying the move as displaying vulnerability with agency. To me, that phrase, vulnerability with agency, seems to capture what’s at the heart of networks and learning in the open and as such, it begs the question how do educators bring learners to such a position, and by encouraging them to participate in this way what might they be asking them to assert and what might they be asking them to risk? Not easy.

It was interesting therefore to come across an article from ALT’s July newsletter entitled ‘Social media in education: ethical concerns‘ in which HE educators discussed these issues. A primary concern was that of online harassment. Of course I’ve heard of internet trolls and cyber-bullying, and I know that women are not fairly represented or treated in certain fields, but I hadn’t really stopped to consider any of this in great detail, not until now that is. Not until I was confronted as part of this week’s discussion with Kathy Sierra’s recent revelations about the harrowing experiences she’s had to endure online. Horrendous. When you’ve had nothing but positive experiences using a social networking tool such as Twitter, it’s an uncomfortable truth to realize that, for all it’s good, it’s also a hate amplifier.

The purpose of this week’s topic in #scholar14 was to consider that social media and online networks are not neutral and that, for better or worse, social media reflects society. So far, I’ve explored how online social networks function as places where scholars can agencially make themselves vulnerable but where they might also be exposed to the darker side of humanity. Thankfully, online social networks also function as places where scholars may express and experience care: support or mutuality, if you will.

open with care 1

Open with care.

As the saying goes ‘sharing is caring‘, and a culture of sharing it seems is increasingly becoming the norm online. It’s argued that open practices reflect a form of caring, and that such a culture of sharing or giving without expectation of anything in return potentially leads to the development of ‘gift economies‘ or a series of relationships that depend on meaningful collaborations and pay-it-forward interactions. I can certainly vouch for this: people sharing status updates and links, taking the time to comment on blog posts, cooperating in open online courses, collaborating in research projects and, in the case of POTCert, paying it forward. As a case in point, I think POTCert (Programme for Online Teaching) deserves a special mention, not only because it’s where I was initiated into open online learning but because it functions as a type of gift economy and exemplifies the altruistic culture of sharing outlined above. POTCert is a free, open, online class aimed at those who wish to teach online. It was was founded at MiraCosta College, San Diego and is run by run by a volunteer faculty group with its alumni ‘paying it forward’ each semester in the form of mentoring and/or moderating etc. Respect due.

Resources: in order to add more context to Bonnie Stewart’s live chat, here are the links to further resources.

Networks of Care and Vulnerability [blog] http://theory.cribchronicles.com/2014/11/04/networks-of-care-and-vulnerability/

Networked Identity: Networks of Care and Vulnerability http://www.slideshare.net/bonstewart/networks-of-care-vulnerability?utm_content=bufferf1a8c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Networked Scholars Expert Chat with Bonnie Stewart [Youtube] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6xTyDar9Jw

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrugated_box_design

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Posted by: crumphelen | October 31, 2014

My Open Tour: a critical turn

Amongst several concepts of openness that Open Knowledge MOOC has turned its attention to recently is that of open scholarship, asking us to consider how the new principles of openness, as facilitated by digital means, affect the way in which knowledge is produced, published, disseminated and reviewed and entreating us to think about the limits, or tensions, that ever greater openness may bring. This segues nicely with the material that I’ve just covered in the Open Research course from OER Research Hub and the new MOOC on the block, Networked Scholars #scholar14.

One of #okmooc’s core readings was ‘Assumptions and Challenges of Open Scholarship‘, co-authored by George Veletsianos and Royce Kimmons (coincidentally, George Veletsianos is the ‘main man’ over at Networked Scholars). Anyway, I enjoyed reading this article, the dual aim of which was to identify the assumptions of open scholarship and to highlight the challenges associated with open scholarship’s aspirations for broadening access to education and knowledge.

critical

Identifying assumptions and highlighting challenges.

Most notably, I enjoyed reading the paper because it called out the edtech community for being overly optimistic when stating technology’s roll in educational transformation and displaying a lack of critique of open educational practices.

 such critiques are largely absent from the educational technology field, as members of the field tend to focus on the promises of educational technologies, rarely pausing to critique its assumptions (Selwyn, 2011, pp. 713).

Veletsianos and Kimmons’ paper went on to declare a pressing need for the understanding of educational technology narratives and their unfulfilled potential. Citing Hall (2011, pp. 11) they said,

in order to understand our present position, and to develop alternatives that matter, we need stories and metaphors and critiques of where we are.

Such a challenge made me think of Audrey Watters‘ recent and awesome keynote speech at altc, entitled Ed-Tech’s Monsters. Indeed, it really is “a [fascinating] romp through literature and the cultural history of ed-tech” that, by retracing connections through narratives and counter-narratives, talks about teaching machines and monsters and also serves to inspire a re-examination of the Luddite cause as a critical starting point.

The inherent assumptions Veletsianos and Kimmons identify within Open Scholarship are:

  1. Ideals of Democratization, Human Rights, Equality, and Justice
  2. Emphasis on Digital Participation for Enhanced Outcomes
  3. Co-Evolutionary Relationship between Technology and Culture
  4. Practicality and Effectiveness for Achieving Scholarly Aims

Here, two things caught my attention. First, relating to the assumption concerning the co-evolutionary relationship between technology and culture, mention was made of the phenomenon of  ‘homophily’. I must confess, I’d never heard of this term before but basically it’s the tendency to connect with similar or like-minded individuals. Therefore, in actuality, social media mightn’t after all foster the diverse spaces for knowledge exchange and negotiation that we think they do, instead leading to the creation of ‘echo chambers’: a situation in which we share knowledge and perspectives with individuals who already share the same views as ourselves. This is vitally important to recognize when developing a personal learning network (PLN). As Howard Rheingold is credited with saying,

 “if your network isn’t offending you, you’re stuck in an echo chamber.”

Well, may be not offending you exactly, but definitely singing from different hymn sheets, which brings me to the second thing that caught my eye, that is the assumption that Open Scholarship is ‘capable of achieving socially valuable scholarly aims’. Here, the work of Robin Goodfellow comes to mind, a scholar whose work is in the field of new technology in teaching and learning, yet who chooses not to engage in social networking practices such as those exemplified on Twitter.

Referring to the complexity and interplay between openness, scholarship and digital technology as ‘an impossible triangle‘, he’s sceptical of Open Scholarship’s ability to deliver the aforementioned ‘socially valuable scholarly aims’. He points out that

particularly confounding is the tension between digital scholarship and open knowledge, where the former is focused on the creation by specialist communities of knowledge of a stable and enduring kind, whilst the latter is characterized by encyclopaedic knowledge and participation that is unbounded by affiliation or location.

Further, he says

that the enduring importance given to objectivity and the ‘scholarly record’ is often in tension with ideas about democratizing scholarly knowledge.

On which note I’ll sign off. It’s been worthwhile taking the time to think about open knowledge practices and the assumptions and tensions relative to Open Scholarship. It’s certainly taken me some time to think about this and get round to posting this blog. The reading was flagged up in week 6 of Open Knowledge MOOC and it’s now week 9 or something. Doh!!

References:

  • Selwyn, N. 2011. Editorial: In praise of pessimism—the need for negativity in educational technology. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(5), 713-718.

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Posted by: crumphelen | September 30, 2014

Destination Open: weaving my own way and building my own place

Well, I’m glad to say I think I’m making progress on my quest to more fully understand the notion of open and the triad of open-related courses that I’m weaving my way through seems to be shaping up nicely as I undertake my ‘Grand Tour’.

In my previous post, I thought about what openness means to me because, like digital literacy, ‘open’ is another one of those unhelpful ambiguous terms: used across contexts, meaning different things to different people. For me, I said openness was a way of being, a way of being a learner on the open web. I’d heard openness being described as a way of being before but I was unable to attribute the phrase or elaborate on what was meant. Fortunately, my readings quickly remedied this and I became acquainted with Cameron Neylon who draws attention to ‘being open‘; that is, being open as opposed to simply making open resources. He goes on to say that being open is about embracing a particular form of humility; it’s about embracing the idea that as a creator despite being supremely knowledgeable about your work, you can’t predict the use and application to which your work might be put. Further still, it’s about accepting that by working openly vital contributions and insights may come from unexpected sources. I think being ‘open to unexpected uses’ is something that the field of open research is grappling with as it considers the ethics bound up in such a position. Well, that’s what I’m picking up as I dabble in the Open Research MOOC from the OER Research Hub.

Used across contexts, meaning different things to different people

Used across contexts, meaning different things to different people

Meanwhile, over in Stanford’s Open Knowledge MOOC I was reminded that open, or more specifically ‘open content’ is the

attempt to appropriately adapt the logic of “open source” software to the non-software world of cultural and scientific artifacts like music, literature, and image […and higher education?] (Wiley, 2009),

which links nicely back to Cameron Neylon’s piece where he explains that the Open Source community is not just amenable to encouraging the unlimited use of resources thus maximizing their potential use (and their unexpected use), but they’ve also gone further in developing mechanisms that support the ability of anyone to contribute to projects. He explains, and this is where it gets interesting,

you don’t just throw the code over the fence and expect a project to magically form around it, you invest in and support community creation with the aim of creating a sustainable project. Successful open source projects put community building, outreach, both reaching contributors and encouraging them, at their center.

This is where it gets interesting because that’s what seems to be happening over in Connected Courses. Here, the pre-course weeks were dedicated to ‘Blog Talk’ and the nuts and bolts of getting participants’ blog sites syndicated and connected to the course hub, such are the practicalities of this distributed mode of delivery. However, this group of educators,

a collaborative network of faculty in higher education developing online, open courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web,

are keen to dig deeper and support others in the whole area of open/connected learning and the tools and infrastructure that’s required to run these types of courses. Consequently, they’re not only modelling this stuff, but they’ve made available a series of resources and are willing to support anyone willing to have a go at hosting their own site and developing their own course, or learning community. So that’s just what I’ve been prompted to do. I’ve signed up with Reclaim Hosting and I’m now, as Howard Rheingold puts it, well and truly ‘Under The Hood: Where Technology, Pedagogy, and Power Meet‘.

blog talk

Building and supporting the connected courses community.

I’ve posted links to the resources below and you can view my Storify “Creating a Learning Environment with Open Source Tools” to see how helpful these folks are and what it’s like working in the open and building a community. Incidentally, and just to underscore the reason why going down the self-hosted route and developing your own webs skills is a good idea, I actually wanted to embedded my Storify in this post, like I’ve done before, but discovered that WordPress.com and Storify no longer have the same arrangement, so I’m at their mercy in terms of what I can do and how much control I have on such platforms.

Links to resources:

Connected Courses Documentation Wiki
http://docs.connectedcourses.net/

Under The Hood: Where Technology, Pedagogy, and Power Meet – Howard Rheingold
http://connectedcourses.tumblr.com/post/97092652075/under-the-hood-where-technology-pedagogy-and-power

Building with Howard: How to Create a Learning Environment with Open Source Tools Pt 1
http://media.umw.edu/podcasts/reclaim-hosting/building-with-howard-how-to-create-a-learning-envi

Building with Howard: How to Create a Learning Environment with Open Source Tools Pt 2
http://media.umw.edu/podcasts/reclaim-hosting/building-with-howard-how-to-create-a-learning-en-2

Building with Howard: How to Create a Learning Environment with Open Source Tools Pt 3
http://media.umw.edu/podcasts/reclaim-hosting/reclaim_3mp4

Building Connected Courses: Feed WordPress 101
http://cogdogblog.com/2014/07/14/feed-wordpress-101/

Feed WordPress 101: The Basics
http://cogdogblog.com/2014/07/14/feed-wordpress-101-the-basics/

Feed WordPress 101: Installing and Setting Up The Machine
http://cogdogblog.com/2014/07/16/feedwordpress-setting-up-machine/

Feed WordPress 101: Feeding The Machine
http://cogdogblog.com/2014/07/17/feeding-the-machine/

Feed WordPress 101: Some Feed Magic
http://cogdogblog.com/2014/07/24/wordpress-101-feed-magic/

Feed WordPress 101: A Few More Tricks For Your Site
http://cogdogblog.com/2014/07/28/feed-wordpress-101-more-tricks/

References:

Neylon, C. (2013) Open is a state of mind. Science in the Open. Available at: http://cameronneylon.net/blog/open-is-a-state-of-mind/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ScienceInTheOpen+%28Science+in+the+open%29

Wiley, D. (2009) Defining “open”. Iterating toward openness. Available at: http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/1123

Image source:

by Opensourceway  https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/5009661706/sizes/o/

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Posted by: crumphelen | September 8, 2014

Why Open: a Grand Tour

I know. It’s been a while. Any way, anyone who has followed this blog before the hiatus will know that it’s the place I use to chart and reflect upon my learning, learning that’s mostly occurred in online environments that have the label ‘open’. Indeed, I started this blog as a requirement for POTCert – an open online course. However, what I didn’t realize at the time was that open didn’t just refer to the course access but, to quote Jim Groom, is an ‘ethos’ and, not sure who I’m quoting here, is also ‘a way of being’ too. Because, you see, since agreeing to blog, agreeing in effect to ‘learn in the open’, that’s what I’ve steadily become, I’ve become an open learner, an open practitioner if you like.

why_open

The P2PU online course, Why Open, examines the question of openness, and starts by asking “what do you think ‘openness’ is”? There’s been many answers: access, re-use and re-purposing, sharing, collaboration and transparency etc. but, as I’ve already intimated, for me openness is a ‘way of being’; it’s a way to engage in learning, not just learning that’s visible on the open web, but a way to engage in learning that acknowledges the vulnerability and risk that’s inherent and asks the learner to recognize and embrace this. After all, in order to learn you’ve got to put something ‘out there’, thus exposing your ignorance, your difference, your half-baked understanding, your radical position – whatever. In this sense, openness is also about sharing; it’s about putting something out there for mutual benefit, for learning together.

OK, so seeing as I’ve been greatly shaped by these online open learning experiences, I now want to fully understand the whole notion of open, the range of notions. I’ve heard comments like “the battle for open has been won“. However, it wasn’t me that was doing battle; I’m just lucky enough, and able enough, to reap the spoils. I want to understand open more fully because if, as I’ve just read in Jenny Mackness’ blog, “open is going to become the ‘name of the game’ in education”, then I’d like to be more knowledgeable on the topic, more able to effectively engage in open practices, more able to support open learning and be a more assured and convincing advocate of openness, if open is the appropriate option in the given situation. After all, open is not easily going to be the default mode for everyone. It’s not exactly a walk in the park – learning in the open is complex, risky and emotional; good job it’s also rewarding and fun.

Coming up over the next few months are a raft of good courses that relate to open; I hope to sign up and take a “Grand Tour”.

Why Open? by School of Open on P2PU – Aug 10th to Sept 5th (open archive)

Open Knowledge: Changing the Course of Learning by Stanford Online – Sept 2nd to Dec 12th

Open Research by OER Research Hub on P2PU – Sept 15th to Oct 12th

Connected Courses. Active Co-Learning in Higher Ed. Sept 2nd to Dec 14th

Hopefully, I’ll be a good open learner and share my reflections here.

Image source:Project 365 #303: 301009 Blink And You’ll Miss It!

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Posted by: crumphelen | February 15, 2014

Signals of Success and the EMOOCs Summit #emoocs2014

Earlier this week, I was in Switzerland at the EMOOCs Summit. I was there, along with Paige Cuffe, to present a collaborative paper entitled ‘Signals of Success and Self-directed Learning’. It seemed a little weird at first, considering that this time last year I had barely cut my MOOC teeth (who had?), and I’d certainly never presented at such a conference before or had a paper published (collaborative or otherwise), so testimony to the power and possibilities that MOOCs and open education can afford and, more importantly for this story, testimony to the power of connection for collaboration and ongoing learning that’s now possible in this new era of learning.

Reflecting individually, collectively and openly

Paige Cuffe, Iwona Gniadek, Briar Jamieson, Penny Bentley, Helen Crump and Sheila MacNeill –
“How do learners define success in a MOOC?”

So what’s the story? As you might know, this time last year I participated in OLDSMOOC and you might be forgiven for thinking that once a MOOC has finished that is it that, the learning is over, but not so because via the OLDSMOOC hashtag and other various social networking activities, connections made in the MOOC continued; the true awesomeness of which was realized when, six months after the MOOC, a group of us responded to a tweet from one of the OLDSMOOC design team wondering if anyone was thinking of submitting a paper to the EMOOCs conference. Hey presto, what do you know; spontaneously and enthusiastically out from the internet emerged six individuals to reflect on their learning and to deliberate what success in a MOOC meant to them. You can read the full paper in the conference proceedings here (p.18) and get more of an insight into our back story in the video below:

The premise of our paper is interesting in that it tries to go beyond institutional evaluations and measures of success to offer an alternative perspective to the pervasive discourse about completion rates and dropouts in MOOCs. Hence, in the conference session entitled ‘Dropouts in MOOCs’, I was heartened by the findings presented by Tharindu Rekha Liyanagunawardena that shows that “MOOC participants are challenging the widely held view of dropout, suggesting that it is more about failing to achieve their personal aims”. Yay!!

On the other hand though, I was a little dis-heartened because although there was a session devoted to connectivist style MOOCs at the conference, cMOOCs seemed to be something of a Cinderella topic. Don’t misunderstand me, there were some excellent presentations given pertaining to cMOOCs (Christine Sinclair, p.245 and Jutta Pauschenwien, p.277) but the overarching concerns of the conference seemed to be xMOOC oriented with concerns about platform provision, production quality and costs and the optimum way forward for higher education dominating.

Not that the conference was all about higher education, indeed one of the four tracks was dedicated to business. I’m glad I opted to go to the panel discussion in this track, ‘MOOCs as a training instruments for employees and partners’, because it really was excellent.

The panelists:

  • Donald Clark, Plan-B Learning, UK
  • Ralph Wieser, SWISSCOM, Switzerland
  • Gregor Erkel, Deutsche Telekom, Germany
  • Marcelo Di Pietro Peralta, WIPO, Switzerland
  • Yannis Angelis, Fresenius Kabi, Germany
  • Carl Dawson, Proversity.org, UK

Certain of their application and with a can-do beta attitude, the panelists were very convincing in aligning MOOCs with vocational skills, competency, CPD and lifelong learning for a corporate market, which was in stark contrast to the presentation entitled ‘MOOCs: an alternative perspective’ given by Debra Humphris of Imperial College, London who didn’t really seem to say what purpose MOOCs might serve and whose institutional policy was to go away and formulate a strategy.

It’s widely agreed that MOOCs are a phenomenon of transition, pointing the way to some future landscape of learning. Right now though, the term seems to signal different things to different people with discussion easily conflating learning contexts, learning cohorts and pedagogies for learning.

In the policy track session, ‘Bringing new challenges to Higher Education’, that I attended on the last day, Gerhard Fischer, Center for Lifelong Learning, University of Colorado noted that many reflections on MOOCs seem to be based on economic and technical perspectives rather than on perspectives of learning science. He suggested that in the main MOOCs are currently geared towards ‘learning about’ and to topics for which there is a known answer, as opposed to ‘learning to be’ and when the answer is not yet known.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience of attending the conference and learning something of the flavor and the fervor of MOOC development and debate, but I think what I was struck by the most was that despite the general nod towards social learning there is a real lack of awareness or understanding for learning in networks and distributed learning environments. Attending the conference as just such a learner (or researcher) made me wonder if I belong to a secret sect because so many people seemed oblivious to these developments.

Image source: Davinia Hernández-Leo. https://twitter.com/daviniahl/status/432906051277836288

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Posted by: crumphelen | January 26, 2014

Rhizomatic learning: chaos, provocation and conflation #rhizo14

20140126-141320.jpg

This is something I scribbled during the week, and in this blog post I’ll tell you what I found the answer to be. But, for the sake of tradition though, I’m going to have to start at the beginning.

Chaos abounds in Week 2 of #rhizo14, which I guess is quite befitting of a learning experience concerned with rhizomatic learning. So many conversations distributed across a range of different spaces means that it’s very difficult to follow, keep up, pin down, think, comment and then start to make sense of it, just a small part of it even, and so many conversations speaking from different contexts and entry points. In addition, and just to ensure things stay interesting, provocation has been part of the mix this week too. Firstly with Dave’s initial challenge, and then with blog posts that challenged us to consider the theory associated with rhizomatic learning (Deleuze and Guattari, 1980) or drop the rhizomic prefix altogether.

Yes, the challenge: “explore a model of enforced independence. How do we create a learning environment where people must be responsible? How do we assure ourselves that learners will self-assess and self-remediate?”

Now there’s a loaded paradoxical phrase to unpack and get your teeth into – enforced independence!! The language is provocative, possibly unnecessarily so. Hitherto, the phrase I’ve associated with rhizomatic learning is “make learners responsible for their own learning”, which is getting at the same thing. Isn’t it? Well to start, for an effective learner, independence isn’t the only stance to learning that they need – what about dependence and interdependence? On this point, Catherine Nardi’s post is particularly illuminating. Even then, going back to the phrase “make learners responsible for their own learning”, doesn’t that imply that learners have to be coerced and that “taking responsibility” doesn’t come naturally. Well, I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case. Perhaps thinking more in terms of “allowing” learners to take responsibility would be more beneficial because to a large extent, learners aren’t really “allowed” to take responsibility for their own learning, are they? I’ve been thinking about my learning history and how I came to be a relatively effective lifelong learner. I have to agree with Scott Johnson’s sentiment that because school is “so deliberately generic” being a lifelong learner is something you just have to take on personally; apart from an innate desire to explore, this for me has always stemmed from contradictions between what I was told and what I experienced. Madhura Pradhan says something similar in her delightful blog post too.

“One way to feel independent or to assert your independence is to take charge and break out of the mould and you can only do that when you are uncomfortable or in a situation that demands you to stand out and voice your opinion”.

To permit “responsibility” and enable learners to assert their independence, it seems to me (and to a few others) that schools, or any formal learning context, would do well to not only encourage learners to pursue their passion, but to honour their unique experiences and to give them voice. But such a move would in turn necessitate a conversation about assessment, wouldn’t it? Yes, and wouldn’t it be great to have such a conversation and consider the benefits of such varieties as peer assessment, self assessment and ipsative assessment and how these might help learners to self-assess and self-remediate.

That’s what my short ruminating on the question has come up with anyway. However, it doesn’t tell half the story of the head scratching, mind blowing, obfuscating, illuminating yet ultimately nourishing learning conversations that I’ve been exposed to in #rhizo14 this week.

I think the main reason I found this week intense was not only because there were so many different angles, or experiences, of learning being brought to the table, but also because of a nagging feeling that the discussion was at heart conflating something. So how glad was I then when an old post by Bonnie Stewart from #change11 surfaced and I found her declaring that “we conflate learning and schooling”. That’s it! Indeed we do.

The post was also magic for me in that it helped calm the chaos that had been symptomatic at the start of the week (maybe symptomatic of the start of every week in #rhizo14, what with “detonator Dave” and his provocations). Anyway, it helped me (as per the title of Bonnie’s post) to see more clearly what rhizomatic learning is actually about and what rhizomes are good for, which is kind of ironic because as Bonnie points out, it’s not about seeing learning more clearly; it’s about seeing it differently.

References: Stewert, B. (2011) The rhizomatic learning lens & what rhizomes are good for. Accessed at: http://theory.cribchronicles.com/2011/11/09/the-rhizomatic-learning-lens-what-rhizomes-are-good-for

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Rhizomatic learning, an open course with Dave Cormier, started on P2PU this week (or is that last week now?). Actually, it seemed to start before the course was officially launched because there was a real flurry of activity appearing beforehand in my inbox via Facebook and Google+ notifications and alerts, which didn’t let up once the course got going either. Such is the interest in this topic. Any way, I didn’t have time to check in to the course right away and find the content or the discover the task at hand but I was getting the gist via the conversation and postings in the channels mentioned above (oh and via the #rhizo14 hash tag on Twitter, of course), so that’s the reason for the sequence of my reflection here.

Metaphors

Firstly, I was struck by the dominance of the the rhizome metaphor within the initial discussion, and what plants are in fact rhizomatic (rhubarb, ginger, licorice…). Hardly surprising, I hear you cry; the clue’s in the title. However, that’s the botanical metaphor associated with rhizomatic learning; it’s the metaphor for “the learning process”. But what I’m interested to learn more about, what’s drawn me in (see previous blog post), is the anthropological metaphor that’s associated with rhizomatic learning; the nomad as metaphor for “a rhizomatic learner”; this is how Dave explains it:

The nomad is trying to do what I call ‘learning’. Not the recalling of facts, the knowing of things or the complying with given objectives, but getting beyond those things. Learning for the nomad is the point where the steps in a process go away.

It’s what Wynton Marsalis calls ‘being the thing itself’.

Nomads make decisions for themselves. They gather what they need for their own path.

And
In order to create an educational system that allows for nomads we can’t measure for a prescribed outcome.

All of this resonates with me completely. I feel rhizomatic. As such, I’m really keen to explore this further.

Synergies

Also, I’d like to explore the relationship and/or similarities between Rhizomatic Learning and Heutagogy (self-determined learning). At this point I was grateful to Penny Bentley for asking in the Facebook group, “is there a difference between Rhizomatic Learning and Connected Learning?” Dave Cormier replied by saying that there’s “overlap” but rhizomatic learning is “messier”. Thanks. However, the handy part about the conversation was the mind map posted by Adeline Wall Avril (see below) as it illustrates that a core purpose of rhizomatic learning is to “make learners responsible for their own learning”. So, yes, there’s plenty of fruitful synergies to explore here.

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