Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Film Is Truth 24 Times A Second

I suppose I need to stop stealing my titles from famous people, but maybe Jean-Luc Godard's quote got your attention. Maybe you live in Bellingham, and you love Film Is Truth as much as I do. Yes, a real video store! Maybe you cruise the BlogHub like I do.

I haven't had much time this week to delve into the discussion about blogging on #etmooc. Like everything with this class, there is a lot all at once. It's part of the Connectivist experience that I'm really enjoying. I'm also getting a lot of amazing face-to-face connections on my campus, so life is amazingly full. And wonderfully interesting.

One of the things I'm loving about this class is the BlogHub. Cog Dog won me over (I'm a sucker for a cute dog photo), and I signed up right away. A reference to a dog and a bike (cog), I'm your audience. When I've had the time lately, I love checking out the design of other people's blogs.

Here is a blog that engaged me today--the snapshot layout function puts the information into engaging manageable chunks. How you set up your blog both with the content and design is important to way you interact with your readers.

In English 101, we call this consideration audience consideration.
In instructional design, we call it audience analysis.

Here is a lovely video that I hoped engaged my students this week. It made me slow down. Aaron Sitze puts writing into measurable chunks. He is aware of his audience. Truth, fiction, or a bit of both--24 times a second.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Connected Learning: Weekly Updates

As we move into a more connected style of learning, we have to learn how to manage our different spaces. Or at least I have to!

One thing I'm learning is when to sign up for daily updates and when to sign up for weekly updates. I need to put my information into manageable chunks. I love being all over the place when I'm researching, but when I need to get things done, I need to be organized.
I decided to sign-up for the Diigo ETMOOC weekly updates, and I'm glad I did. Like everything else with this class, the information keeps pouring in.

I used to make the comparison that getting information from the Internet was like drinking from a fire hose. That is, until I met a group of fire fighters who told me that you find a way to drink from a hose if you are thirsty enough. Well said.

Here is my sip for the day:
Connected Learning Infographic

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Being Effective and Efficient

A colleague sent me an article sent from another colleague on Thursday. I put it in my ever-expanding "To Read" pile, and I got to it this morning.

For readers who do not know me, I teach 11 composition courses a year. Prior to starting graduate school again in 2010, I taught 22 composition courses a year. Yes, you read that right! And I struggled with being efficient and effective.

For English teachers who struggle with math: here is a fun story problem.
Q: What is it like to have 150 students write three pages a week for 11 weeks?
A: Me=No Life

These days, I feel a lot better about how I am doing as a teacher, and about my quality of life in general. I haven't taken a nap in my car between classes in over three years. The only time I eat in my car is after a bike race.

And before you tell me, I know. There are many, many teachers working worse gigs than me.

There are worse things I could do.

So will I have to worry about a MOOC taking my job? That's the question I had in my head before reading:

"Here a MOOC, There a MOOC: But Will It Work for Fresmen Composition?" by Karen Head

Here's a quote that stuck out to me:

"For our team, the greatest challenge is finding a way to provide the necessary substantive feedback to a large number of students. When Daphne Koller, a co-founder of Coursera, visited Georgia Tech last fall, I asked in a public meeting if she thought her company’s platform was appropriate for teaching a writing course. She responded that while there were robo-grading programs capable of evaluating mechanical errors, she wasn’t sure you could teach style or more complex skills.

That made me think about the popular children’s toy “Farmer Says,” which was designed in the 1960s to help children learn the names and associated sounds of common animals. I learned about animal sounds from my “Farmer Says,” but when I was 8 years old, I was watching television with my father and commented that I’d never seen a real pig. Two weeks later he took me to the South Carolina State Fair. Somewhere beyond the basic content knowledge there was a need for something more—something that required a more personalized and involved approach.

Can our MOOC be efficient and effective? I’ll let you know."

I can't wait to find out. MOOCs sound efficient. It's the effectiveness I am interested in. So much of what I do is personalized. I am involved.
Also, those robo-programs that can read for "mechanical errors" may be helpful for review.

A student can write a correct sentence with the wrong information, and she would pass.

She will earn a Coursera badge or certificate.

True example from a former student:
President Bill Clinton was in office during the Civil Rights Movement.

My imagined Coursera comments:
"Correct! Good work."

My comments: President Clinton was alive during the Civil Rights Movement BUT...

Anyways, would I recommend a student take that MOOC before the placement test? Yes. That's another conversation for another day. I have to focus on being effective and efficient for Week 4.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Connectivist Alone Together

Before I start this blog, I have to tell you I am ripping off the title of a book that I want to read. When I heard Sherry Turkle discuss her book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Eachother, I put it on my list.

But I've added the word connectivist--this is the heart of the etmooc mission. Thanks to comments section of my blog, I learned from a fellow blogger today a helpful list of resources about connectivism. I've got some new reading to do. I'm not so much alone as I am learning together.
Here's something else I connected with this morning. There is a fantastic OL conference in Denver, and I'm already trying to fit a few of the talks onto my calendar. I emailed a few colleagues about it, and I told them that face-to-face conferences allow me to meet cool people. OL conferences feed the hermit nerd in me.

And when I think of Colorado, I think of aspens. Trees that are beautiful alone and together. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hope is the thing with feathers

Yesterday I had an OL student ask me (in so many words): When is it okay to break the rules? He'd done some reading and found a quote from Gore Vidal who advises writers to learn the rules so you can break them. Is he right?

I said yes and no. Yes, if you are one of my favorite poets: Emily Dickinson. Yes, if you are Cormac McCarthy breaking the rules of punctuation.

If you are a college student, then no, you must not break the rules. Your teachers expect clarity. I'm supposed to be teaching you the rules.

He made me think. I had expected to open my email, answer a few discussion board posts, and move on with my day. But he made me pause. Just like Dickinson does in her dashes. Just like McCarthy does with his character dialogues. Just like this blog. In that moment of pausing, I tend to learn.

But yesterday, there was no pause in sight. So my etmooc time got derailed by my work. No big deal! That's the spirit of MOOC learning, you get what you can, when you can.

This morning I've devoted one hour to reading and thinking before I spend my day reading and thinking (lucky me).
I read the first etmooc tweet. There was a link to Stephen Dowes "The Role of the Educator"
so I read the article. That's all I have time for today. This is my pause.

My main take away is this: what a great list for the many roles of a teacher. My favorite?

"The Agitator -- this is the person who creates the itch a person's education will eventually scratch. The role of the agitator is to create the seed of doubt, the sense of wonder, the feeling of urgency, the cry of outrage. The agitator is sometimes the devil's advocate, sometimes the revolutionary, sometimes the disruptive agent, and sometimes just somebody who is thinking outside the box. We can all be agitators, but scientists, skeptics, journalists and activists have elevated it into a discipline of its own."

Throw in a couple of dashes, set it up like a poem, and I'd swear it was Dickinson.

Monday, January 21, 2013

This Idea Has Legs

During the Bb Collaborate session tonight, Alec Couros described and defined PLNs and PLEs.

He said, “This is an idea that has legs.”

Yes! The very idea of a PLN sums up the professional development of OL teachers. Or at least the potential for professional development. As I work with teachers who are transitioning from teaching F2F to OL, they have many anxieties.

Their main concern: How will the students “see” their passion for the topic? Well, tonight I saw Alec’s passion for the topic. For me, this reinforces the need for video sessions that the students can watch. Collaborative synchronous sessions have legs. 

Have I watched the other recorded sessions? No. Are future sessions on my calendar? Yes. 

One of the things I am not keen on with collaborative synchronous sessions is the chat function. People tend to really go nuts with ideas and they type away. It's distracting. I’ve done it myself, so I understand the excitement of the real time experience. You can type and people see it! The synchronous joy of learning and sharing at the same time. Online! However, I minimize the chat so that I can focus on the screen and the speaker. 

I also took screen shots of my favorite quotes. I know they are archived, but this is my way of “slowing down the web” of information (great quote from Alec).

Here is my favorite image from tonight's talk.

You can visualize how a PLN is inside a PLE. The network in your environment.
Doesn't this image remind you of a clock?  (There's a visual metaphor here, I think).


I’m going to put in a little time this week to learn about PLNs and PLEs. I think this idea “has legs” on a smaller scale. Like on my campus with people I don’t get to see enough.

You know, your colleagues that you always wish you had five more minutes to talk to--
                               Time to ask that question: What are you doing in your class today?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cycling Philosophy

Blogging is a cycle.

When you are a brand new MOOC student, this is a good visual for what it feels like to me.

It feels like a lot of people are already there.

And then once you get into it, things start to fall in place. People actually read your blog posts. They respond. Things fall into place.

I'm a cyclist. When I'm faced with something that is too hard to ride, I say to myself:

Maybe someday, but not today.

And I make a mental note. I try it the next time.

I'm seeing ETMOOC (and the new direction for my career) as a way to create something new. Someday.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Etmoocing: the action of being a part of the #etmooc community.

Part of this week's assignment is to blog about my experience with the course. I've clicked on the links, I've read the wikis, I've drank the kool-aid. I'm in. But to be completely honest, I'm completely overwhelmed. When I got the list of blogs for the course members, I kept scrolling down the list, and I scrolled some more. Wow, it's a lot of people. If I watch all of the videos, read all of the tweets, and follow all of the hyperlinks, then I'll lose my job. I simply do not have time for everything, but I can't quit you either. Etmooc, you need to help me help myself.

Your best source so far? Dave Cormier's  Success in a MOOC. I almost skipped the hyperlink on the word "declare" but I'm glad I didn't. His advice to 1] orient, 2] declare, 3] network, 4] cluster, and 5] focus when you are in a MOOC is great. I'm definitely in the "orient" phase.

I'm not sure how much time I'll get to spend on the other four phases, and I worry about that. In addition to my normal teaching load, I am trying to help other teachers learn about technology for their teaching. These are highly skilled professional adults who are faced with the challenge of integrating technology into their classroom. Or, in some cases, they are putting their classes online for the first time. They are in a position that I haven't been in for almost a decade. I remember being terrified. I remember messing up a lot. Being overwhelmed by this new form of learning is a great reminder of what they are going through. Maybe, just maybe, etmooc, you've come into my life at the right time.

Etmoocing may be 2013's best new word (even if it makes the English teacher in me cringe).

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hello ETMOOC Community,

This is my first blog post. Ever. Why now? Well, it's the first assignment for this course, and I'm on board with your mission. I am looking to build on my skills as an online teacher, and I am considering doctoral programs in educational technology.The nerd in me can't resist an opportunity to learn for free, and if I can share what I've learned with my colleagues, the experience will be worth it. Call this the start of my Personal Learning Network.

How did I get started? I took a class last quarter on educational technology and I caught the bug! Who knew that educational technology could tie together all of my research interests? For my course, I had to create video by choosing images that represent who I am. What you see below is my first video, and a very, very rough self-taught iMovie. 

I look forward to working with you.