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Multilitteratus Incognitus

Traversing the path of the doctoral degree

2011: the year of the MOOC

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With 2011 almost gone, I thought I would write a bit about the major educational venture of 2011 (at least for me), the Massive Online Open Course (or MOOC).  Last year, at this time of year, if you told me that I would be spending a lot of time in MOOCs I would call you crazy.  While I had heard of MOOCs in 2009 and 2010, I was too busy with a capstone project (for my Instructional Design degree) and my comprehensive exams (for Applied Linguistics) to pay too much attention to PLENK and CCK09.

With formal schooling done (at least for now) and with no courses to take at the university I decided to experiment with MOOCs.   In January a friend and colleague, @cdetorres, recommended LAK11 - Learning Analytics. This was to be my first MOOC. It was quite interesting, I did learn quite a lot, and it just highlighted that I was interested in a topic, learning analytics, that I hadn't spent a lot of time pondering. The course was quite fast paced; a lot of things to do, in what seemed like a little time.

Then came CCK11 (connectivism and connected knowledge). I came into CCK not so much convinced of the first "C", connectivism, but I was all for "CK."  CCK11 felt more like a traditional course in that it was 13 weeks long (like a regular semester), and it contained mostly topics that I didn't know much about. It was also a natural extension of my psycholinguistics course that I had taken the previous semester. I am still not convinced of connectivism as a learning theory by itself, but  in conjunction with other things (like social constructionism) I think it works.

Then came MobiMOOC. MobiMOOC was a six week spring course. It was a great course, lead by experts in the field of mobile learning. This MOOC was not only informational but also introduced me to a lot of interesting people, some of them in the MobiMOOC Research Team with which I've worked on a couple of papers.  I think out of all the MOOCs this one was "just about right" both in terms of duration and in terms of content.  CCK was great but near the end I felt a bit of "senioritis" setting in and I didn't feel like going along with the course as much as I did in the beginning.

In the summer we had EduMOOC.  This one had the greatest promise but it ended up being a disappointment.  I had heard a lot of positive things about Ray Schroeder, the topic was interesting (education today and tomorrow) and I had three positive experiences in MOOCs coming into it...but this particular MOOC was all over the place, it lacked focus, and it just seemed like it wasn't designed (at all).  Oh well. Perhaps EduMOOC12 will be better :-)

Finally, there is Change MOOC (dubbed the mother of all MOOCs), which is still going on. I think that Change is what EduMOOC tried to be (at least from the eduMOOC descriptions available).  Change isn't bad, but it also isn't that well designed it seems.  Change seems more like a conference, and less like a "course", something that a number of bloggers have written about in the past four months. In the initial weeks there seemed to be a lot of "new" topics, but as time has gone on, it seems like things are being repeated.  The dip-in, jump-out also isn't helping since I see topics from the 3rd week of the MOOC come up again as new people join.  It's great, but for those that are keeping up it feels a but like clutter in the daily mail.  Oh well :-)  Something to be worked out in the form-factor of the MOOC, it's still young!

This year has been full of educational experiences, many new and interesting people on the internet (including but not limited to: Inge, Rebecca, Osvaldo, Sean, Michael, Nilgun, Serena, Jaap, John, Rita and brainysmurf) and a renewed potential for future open educational experiences.  Looking forward to 2012!
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Ho Ho Ho!

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Merry Christmas to all! A little holiday fun from PhD comics 😊


- Posted using BlogPress from my Newton 3000 (iPad)
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No consensus on what engagement is?

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I am taking a break from #change11 to continue some work on a paper that's been in my mind for a while but I haven't had much time to work on just yet.  The overall topic is a proposal for a foursquare type of service for academic environments. Location Based Services fall a bit short because GPS doesn't figure out what rooms you are in, so the article is going to propose a hybrid of Location Based Services (LBS) with Event Based Services (EBS) with a variety of outcomes including incidental learning opportunities, increase in school spirit and student engagement. The idea is still nascent, but I am getting there.

As part of my literature review I came across Vicki Trowler's Student Engagement Literature Review (hey, what better place to get an overview of the field than a recent literature review?).  It was an interesting read and it pointed me to some sources that I want to explore in greater depth. The thing that stood out to me was that there is no universal accepted definition of what engagement is. Considering that my proposed LBS/EBS is meant to engage students, this is a bit problematic.  I suppose this is where I have to define what I mean by the term engagement.

When thinking of engagement, I tend to think, in part, of the old instructional design motto of what's in it for me (which is what learners supposedly ask themselves before they undertake any learning activity). So for me, something is engaging when it piques someone's interest in order to have them act in a certain way. So, something that is engaging is something that doesn't coerce a user to do something, but offers incentives to do something. Of course, one might say that this overlaps with motivation and I think that this is certainly true, but motivation and engament are two different things.  Engagement implies some sort of mental stimulation or mental process that goes beyond that initial hurdle to participate.  Motivation might get you over that initial hurdle, but engagement is what makes you continue.  At least this is what I've come to the conclusion from my initial pondering about the topic.
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MITx - MIT innovates again?

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This morning in the local news there was a story about MITx, an set of courses that are designed to be done through the Web, with no face to face component that people can take for free.  While the course will have an assessment component, if people want the credential of having  taken and passed that course there will be a nominal fee for logging into a secure environment to take additional exams to certify their mastery of the subject.

While this isn's really a MOOC, it is an interesting experiment in education.  The resources for these courses will need to be out in the public domain or under a creative commons license in order to make things work in free environment.  Additionally, unlike OCW which I view more as a repository of "things" that a course contains (which you could roll into a full fledged course by yourself), MITx courses will be designed courses for this environment.

Not many details are available yet, but I know that I don't do as well in a solitary learning environment - I like having other people around (even virtual peers).  It will be interesting to see if virtual cohorts spring up around MITx courses.
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Use your medium appropriately

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I was reading an article on tablet computing that @rjhogue had emailed me and it brought to mind (again) the need to be able to rethink your processes and your affordances when working with a new medium. For example, looking at eBooks, most eBooks are just text - which is fine, but it doesn't utilize the medium (iPad) very well.  Now take a look at Operation Ajax, a graphic novel on the iPad, based on real life events, that really takes advantage of the medium.  The graphics aren't static (so no plain page turns), it incorporates actual film reel footage from the time period, and it includes images and recently declassified files, which allow you to jump out of the narrative to get additional info on the characters, the back story and other facts important to the story.

This is a good example not just for comics and books, but also for eLearning!



CIA : Operation Ajax for the iPad from Cognito Comics on Vimeo.
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Digital Natives: Ten Years Later

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Woohoo! A paper I wrote earlier this year (that has been bumping around in my head for a while) has made it to (virtual) paper :-) My Digital Natives paper has been published in the Journal of Online Teaching and Learning (a journal I've been reading for the past few years, at least since I got into instructional design)

Abstract:
A lot has been written about the digital native since the coining of the term about ten years ago. A lot of what has been originally written by the digital native has been taken as common sense and has been repeated many times in many educational contexts, but until recently the true nature of the digital native has not been explored. Because the myth of the digital native is still alive and well, this article aims to examine the findings that have come out of recent research with regard to digital natives and their true nature, as well as turn a critical gaze onto the assumptions, taken as common sense knowledge, of what the characteristics of digital natives are.

Keywords: Digital Natives, Research, Characteristics, Technology, Availability, Usage

Article link: click here for article
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Causation, meet correlation

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The other day I was thinking of the research methods class that I may be teaching in the spring (as of yet there are only two students signed up) and I was reading a research article for the literature review for the MobiMOOC paper that the MRT is working on.  In this article quite a few things correlated, but I they didn't necessarily cause each other. To be fair, the researchers did not claim that there was causation, but I thought that this article would be a good one to analyze, especially for people new to critical review of research literature.
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WTF?! Journal gone wild!

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Yesterday I got a note, presumably for an editor, to ask me to submit any manuscripts I have to the Journal of Strategies & Governance. The first thing that raised the "WTF" flag was that it wasn't just an email, but an email that contained a lot of quoted "Re:" text.  Well, I thought, it may have been an undergraduate student who was asked to send this out and didn't know that they had to delete the other text.

Then I went to the, googled it just in case it was a phishing scam, to see this:


I felt like a character at the end of a Lab Rats episode (I loved that series...I wish it would come back!) where someone goes "What the f..." (queue music). This is a journal on its fourth volume?  What? It's got flashing logos from the series "the event" (another great series that was cancelled).  Was the journal's website something that was contracted to a high school student using microsoft word?  I don't know if I should laugh, or be embarrassed for them :)
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Job: Graduate Student

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I was reading this most recent PhD comic last night and I found it quite funny, partly because I think it's true.  There are quite a few times when I get the same, or similar, reaction when I tell people that I work in academia, or that I am still pursuing my education.  Most Greeks (and any other ethnicity I've come across for that matter) seems to view education as something that should be done by a certain age. My own experiences are that people think that maybe around 28 you are really pushing it.  Time to reform our views of education and the "you-are-too-old-for-school" mentality ;-)
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Need a break

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It's been an interesting run for Change11, and we are now at Week 15 with the topic of Authentic learning.   Next week, and the week after next, are break weeks, so no new content, at least from a subject matter expert perspective.  I wonder if the daily mailer will still be coming to our inboxes, or whether that will take a break as well.

I think I've reached my natural saturation point with course materials for this course. Readings, both this week's seed post, and other participants' blog posts, have accumulated in my ReadItLater account which I have little (mental) energy to read.  Perhaps I will that this opportunity to go out an play in the cold, yet sunny, weather and re-energize my creative batteries :-)

By the way...I thought that this week's topic was authentic learning.  I just checked the seed post (just to see how long it was) and it seems like another mLearning topic.   I've added the free eBook on mLearning to my to-read list but perhaps I will sit this one out.  I have a couple of active research papers on mLearning on the front burners so I think I will skip this mLearning topic this week.
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