Thursday, October 23, 2008

cck08: Wesch Strikes Again!

I can't get enough of this. The University of Manitoba recently posted the video of Micheal Wesch's June 17, 2008, talk entitled "A Portal to Media Literacy" where you can get a glimpse into how Micheal organized a couple of his classes at Kansas State University. He strives to create platforms of participation for students that leverage the emerging media environment. He shows how to let students participate in their learning in an open way to harness the 'upload world' they are familiar with. Some great illustrations of practices in wiki and RSS aggregator usage are found in this video... just in time for this week's CCk08 topic of Instructional Design and Connectivism! Food for thought!

In fact, I'm revamping one of my courses for Winter 2009 (Biol2: Intro to Molecular Biology) and I am going to use a wetpaint wiki as a type of portal for my students to bring together course information. I'll be sure to write about it on this blog once I get the wiki slightly more crytalized.

Note: image credit located here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Reflective Teacher

If you are a teacher then you are acutely aware that the level of effectiveness of ones teaching can vary from day-to-day and class-to-class. In fact, some days the effectiveness level is high while other days you are not so effective. Personally, I’ve often walked out of the classroom feeling that a particular class went horribly. So what do you do in situations like this? Well, you start by thinking about it… by reflecting. Many people have written about the reflective practitioner or the reflective teacher. In fact, many educators use the process of self-reflection with their students when developing skills in the classroom. Journaling is the classic example of this. Documenting the process of reflection can help the progression to solution finding. In the 21st century, blogs have facilitated the sharing of self-reflective material – they are much easier to distribute and access then hard-bound journals.

This web 2.0 concept of sharing when applied to professional reflection is very powerful. Have you ever wanted to be a fly in the classroom of a respected teacher to see how she does it? Have you ever wanted to read or hear the reflections of that same teacher on the effectiveness of their teaching? I’m guessing you answered YES to both of these questions. If so, this 13 minute video will be interesting to you. Filmed in the Fall of 2006, it shows a glimpse into the classroom of Queen’s University mathematics professor Leo Jonker and subsequently documents his reflection on his teaching style.

What do you think about Dr. Jonker’s video? Leave a comment below.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

CCK08: Facebook for Academics

If you are a faculty member or administrative staff at a college or university then you might be tempted to check out Probably the simplest way I can describe it is to call it "Facebook for Academics." All institutions are organized on the top level of a 'tree' (i.e. an organizational chart). The second level of the chart shows the departments within the institution and the third level shows the individual faculty and staff. Once you add yourself to the respective tree branch, you can select your research interests, display a photo and post a professional profile which includes aspects such as articles published, books authored, CV, important websites, contacts, courses you are teaching, etc. This social networking site is a great way to connect with other faculty members at other institutions working on similar topics. This has the potential to be a very interesting resource as it grows. As of mid-October 2008, there are over 6300 people registered. (7 more people joined in the time it took me to write this blog post!)

PS: this blog post fits nicely into the Connectivism course topic for week 5: Groups and Networks.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

CCK08: The most successful network in history!

Last week in CCK08, the longest thread in the discussion forum was on the question: “Which is the most successful network in history”. There were some very nice suggestions such as:
  • The network of international health care professionals linked together after experiencing outbreaks like the SARS.

  • The solar system – which networks planets

  • Evolution – as a self-assembled network that led to higher life forms on Earth

  • The brain – a dynamic, thinking and emotional network

  • The Internet – speed of information flow and repository of data

I think you might agree with me that those are all good examples. At least one important and immensely successful network is missing off this list: the telephone network. In the last 125 years, this network has evolved and adapted to serve the needs of the industrial revolution all the way into the 21st century and while I am no expert on predicting the future, I am predicting this network will continue to grow in its importance for generations to come.

This being said, the telephone network is slowly merging with the data network. So maybe in the future, all communications networks will be merged together with so much overlap and interconnectedness that distinctions will be difficult to identify.

Anyway, is this good for distance learning? YES! The telephone is important for distance learning. Not only is it a simple and reliable way for an instructor to communicate with a student but it also provides students access to a data network on some telephones. For example, I’m writing this blog post from my iPhone. It’s iFun! Access to this data network on a telephone exponentially increases the functions that a student can perform in support of their own learning using a telephone.

Can you suggest a candidate for the most successful network in history? If so, can you explain how this network might support learning in a practical sense?

Note: image attribution here.