Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Digital Literacy: Working Definition

Been away from the ETMOOC and blogging, but I've been thinking about my definition. My mind has been on my very first webinar with the NW eLearn Community.
I got to share some of my graduate work, and I really loved it. My case study from 2010 keeps getting longer and longer, and as much as I want to write a book about backpacking, I might need to get this project out of my head and onto the screen.

Back to ETMOOC. I sat in on the webinar from Dr. Doug Belshaw, and I have to say, I learned so much in the thirty minutes I listened to him. First of all, his website is really snazzy, and I've noticed that Alec Couros has the same style. I'm looking to put something like that together for me as I look for eLearning jobs, so I'll shelve that idea for now. From a design standpoint, you're putting together all the things that people are going to Google about you anyway. Why not put it all in one place? Snazzy with functionality. Note to self.

One of the questions for this section of ETMOOC is to come up with a definition of digital literacy and digital fluency. I've peeked in on other blogs and slideshares, and what I see over and over is an image of a flowing creek. Boulders in rushing water. Flowing currents bending around permanent (or semi-permanent) rocks.
           Belshaw defined digital literacy as:       

So if I create a definition using these words am I plagiarizing? I've got plagiarism on the brain with teaching my research course. Or am I taking the ingredients and making something new? This question is at the heart, I think, of this week's lesson. How about this?

In order to be a confident creative communicator online, you must have a cognitive framework for culturally constructed critical thinking. 

Wordy? Yes. A bit academic. Maybe.

So, what does this mean to me to as a teacher? Here's an example: I am literate with some French. I can read signs. I can understand french films without reading subtitles sometimes. I could order my coffee in a cafe. I could tell you that I love you. I can answer questions on Jeopardy that involve French words.
But I am not fluent.
I don't sound like I know French. I could not have a debate speaking French. I know a little get by, but I can't communicate on the same level as I can in English. Getting by is not fluency.

For people in the digital divide, they know a little to get by but they aren't confident. They haven't had a chance to be creative. They don't have a framework to build on. Critical thinking gets lost when you are still searching for ways to engage with the material. Learning online can be a lonely enterprise. How do we get more students there? That's my civic duty as a teacher.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Why I Need More Than Six Words: Hemingway I Am Not

I really enjoyed the last topic for the #ETMOOC Massive Open Online Course on Educational Technology and Media. The problem? I'm working more than usual, so my attention span is too frenetic to get any real thoughts down. Papers to grade, posts to update, content to write--all too much to focus on to really engage with the content. But I'm taking notes. I'm bookmarking. This is my first MOOC, and I want to write and research about the potential--both good and bad--about this type of learning.

I took on the Six Word challenge (obviously) and that felt like a bit of real success and a bit of failure. Turns out, I need way more than six words. (If you know me, I hear your laughter). 
Mr. Hemingway, I'd love to walk in your shoes but I like verbosity. I like to talk. 

Case in point: This weekend was our campus faculty retreat, and I was asked to speak for 10 minutes. How long was up there? Almost 18 minutes! Blah. So much for practice and planning. 

I hope that the audience got something out of what I said, and here are a few of the Big Ideas I took away from the other speakers.  

An astronomy teacher reminded us of how little we know about the universe.
An IT worker made a video so he could be with us and his pregnant wife.
A history teacher made me see her passion for her subject.
A poet reminded me that students, like writers, work in isolation.
A nurse showed us the amazing technology our future nurses are using. 
A welder explained how his program had to become viable or it was going away.
An early childhood educator showed us how children have a need and a right to question.
A cosmetology teacher showed how her students chart their success over time. 
An art teacher made me work as a graphic designer, and I laughed really hard with my group. 

This summary is one of the many reasons I love teaching at a community college. 

By the time I was done listening to all of them speak, I was ready to go back to school so I can be their students. Turns out, I get bored with Theory when there is no Practice. These folks walk their talk in their classrooms, and I left inspired. I left understanding a bit more about their practice. The retreat theme was titled "Illuminate" and although I've been teaching at this school for ten years, this is the first time I've attended. I'm glad I went. My corner of the country never disappoints. 
Here's a photo of Saturday's sunset from my phone. 
So back to the business of this MOOC. What are we doing now?

Topic 3 (Feb 17-Mar 2): Digital Literacy – Information, Memes & Attention

Here are the questions we are supposed to explore over the next two weeks.
From the initial blog post for Topic #3:  

  • What does it mean to be digitally literate? 
  • What is the difference between being digital literate and web literate?
  • How does digital literacy relate to participatory culture?
  • What digital competencies and skills do your learners demonstrate through their daily use of technology?
  • What digital competencies and skills are required by our emerging knowledge economy/age?
  • What are the differences between digital literacy and digital fluency?
  • What is the role of attention within the spectrum of the 21st century?
  • What are the problems inherent in defining literacy, fluency, skills, and competency today (e.g., using terms like 21st century literacies, digital fluency), and how do these affect curricular development, pedagogy, and the work of teachers and students?
I'll see what I get to over the next two weeks. I've bolded the ones I'm most interested in on the first reading. I'll leave you with a quote from Ernest Hemingway that I think applies to teaching with (and without) technology.

                      "We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Digital Storyteller 5

Working with K-12 teachers is inspiring.

Most etmooc activity this week: archived. 

Rununculas in a vase beautifies kitchen.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Digital Storyteller 4

So behind on grading. Week 6.

Started reading about learning sciences yesterday.

Squirrels torment the dog every morning. 

etmooc Diigo account is amazingly interesting.

MOOC shutting down makes local news.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Digital Storyteller 2

Monday morning is smooth like sandpaper.

Commuting while bald eagles soar and dive.

Nighttime tea with dog at my feet.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Six Word Story? Sure. Why not?

Sadly, my Coursera MOOC has been shut down until they can work out the glitches. Funny. An online class designed to help you plan an OL class had to be closed for maintenance.

I hope they can make it work because I really, really liked the lectures and the readings. Incorporating group work into a MOOC is a fascinating instructional design question. Not one I can take up today, but maybe someday. I'm still trying to perfect group work with 22 students, so when the MOOC masters figure it out, I'll take some of their ideas.

#etmooc is moving on with the next topic, and I spent some time checking out their Lip Dub.

People dancing with the Chihuahuas, I adore you! 

I did not participate in the creation of this lip dub, but I like seeing the enthusiasm of the people from all over the world for this course.

And who doesn't feel fabulous singing along with Freddie Mercury? 

Speaking of fabulous, Topic #2 is right up my alley. Six Word Story, where have you been all my life?
  • Topic 2 (Feb 3-16): Digital Storytelling – Multimedia, Remixes & Mashups
The kind folks at #etmooc have encouraged us to do as little or as much as we can do. So the Six Word Story is for me. The Six Word story is about brevity. It's also about the image. I could go on and on here. But I need to make it short: Week 5 is awfully busy in this teacher's life. Click here to see my favorite example.
My Six Word Story for today: You left us too soon, Freddie.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mucho MOOCs
Until I was ten years old, I lived in Pennsylvania. On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil would let us know if we would have an early spring or if we were going to have more winter. I had no idea other people cared about Phil until the Bill Murray movie came out. Groundhog Day was for everyone? Who knew?

Punxsutawney. What a great word! 
I have to admit, I feel a little sorry for the guy. He must be so confused by the guys in the top hats. Has he ever bit one of them? I'd see it as a bit of justice if he has.

Well, it's an early spring for 2013. 
I wonder if he has a position on Climate Change.

Anyways, I'm now enrolled in three MOOCs-- #etmooc and two Coursera classes--Fundamentals of Online Education and An Introduction to the US Food System: Perspective from Health.

Here is what I have learned this week.

Lesson 1. Try doing a search in the Student Introduction forums. In the US Food System class, I searched for Bellingham and I found Viva Farms in the Skagit Valley. One of the people involved with this farm emailed me back, and she is willing to communicate with my research students. Amazing. The MOOC went from feeling really huge to really local. I hope to establish a connection with this organization for my future courses. 

Lesson 2. Big time universities and teachers with fancy degrees mess up just like I do. Week 1 in the Fundamentals of Online Education  has been kind of a nightmare. I didn't have time to check in until today, but apparently there are many issues with the group assignments. I got the emails, but I didn't check in. Turns out having 41,000 people use a spreadsheet function is a bad idea. I'm not sure that assigning groups in a MOOC is a good idea design-wise. I think you should let students get what they can when they can. What etmooc has done with the BlogHub is the best design I've seen so far. For me, scrolling through the many groups makes me want to crawl away in fear. (Or hide like a ground hog).

That being said, I love the videos and the readings Dr. Wirth has posted. Check out this report on Faculty Focus about Teaching with Technology.

Her lectures are clear and concise. I thought that how she introduced each video by talking to the screen before she showed her slides added a personal touch her lectures. She went over ideas and theories I already knew, but I was still engaged while I sat in front of fire with my dog on my lap. I sipped coffee while she reminded me of theories I know and trust. I may not have a group, but I have plenty to read and consider thanks to Dr. Wirth's class. And it's free.