• 20Aug
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education Comments Off on Online learning a contingency?

    The Chronicle just wrote a piece about Northern Virginia Community College and how the school has incorporated online teaching into its emergency plan (i.e. teach online when natural disaster strikes).

    It’s great that this institution is setting a minimum level at which teachers are required to be trained in the use of some technologies, and even greater that training is being provided. However, if the motivation is to get courses online fast in case a disaster strikes sooner rather than later, it makes me wonder how thoroughly sound pedagogical principles are being considered. If they aren’t high on the agenda, then what we have here is an all too common scenario in which face-to-face courses are just being ‘transferred online’. Translation: weekly PowerPoint presentations, a few handouts, some links and maybe a room change announcement are all that students are going to get out of their virtual learning experience.

    I’m just not grasping the logic here. Why do we have to have an emergency before we start considering the benefits of online learning? I suppose that one good thing to come out of this type of practice is that it’s getting people to rethink the way that they can deliver their courses, but who is to say that an Internet connection or even a power source will be accessible in a natural disaster?!

    I suppose that sometimes…it takes the perception of necessity to get us to embrace change…or, at least to start thinking about how that embrace would look.

  • 17Aug
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Technology Comments: 7

    FB TweetA couple of months ago, we were encouraged to start using Twitter in one of my masters-level online courses. I was debating whether or not to follow the media hype, give in and sign up for a Twitter account, but then a thought dawned on me:

    ‘What’s the difference between Tweets and Facebook status updates?’

    I’m a regular Facebook user (it hasn’t started getting on my nerves yet). I update my status a few times each week and rather enjoy reading the updates of those in my network. So I didn’t really understand what added value a Twitter account would give me.

    While in the throws of this heated debate with myself (oh yes! heated I say!), I posted a message in my tutor group’s discussion forum asking my fellow classmates whether they saw a difference in these two forms of microblogging?

    Days went by, status updates updated, and yet no one responded to my message in FirstClass. So, I let it go and moved on to the next week’s tasks, deciding not to become a Tweeter after all.

    It’s just a few weeks ’til the end of my MA, and as I find myself contemplating how I’ll structure my FINAL project (!!!), my mind seems to be wandering back to that lonely question.

    This time though, instead of looking for answers among my kind, I head to Google, which in turn leads me to Gavin Purcell’s blog post in which he attempts to answer this very question! Instead of posting a message in a restricted-access discussion forum that’s hardly been used lately since I have a feeling that we’re all slowly but surely being sucked dry by all the course work (not to mention life!), Purcell went right to the source. He relied on his Twitter network for answers and posted a Tweet with the very question that’s been on my mind for weeks.

    In his blog entry, he made note of some answers his Tweet generated. Just for a virtual moment, I’d like to take a look at a few of them, break them down and reflect on whether they help me figure this one out. However before I start, I feel inclined to state that this ‘breaking down’ process is totally based on my perspective in an effort for me to make sense of my understanding of these two technologies. It’s by no means a way to criticize any of the Tweeters. If you have a different viewpoint to share, you’re more than welcome to add a comment below :).

    Tweet1@techdiva66 twitter is short, character-limited updates & facebook gives you more options for communicating as well as games & apps

    Two things about this answer:

    (1) Emphasizing the character limitations of Twitter makes it sound like Facebook status updates are verbosely cumbersome (i.e. long), which is really not true at all. Personally, I haven’t seen many over 20-25 words with most ranging between 2 and 10 words.

    (2) We’re just talking about status updates vs. tweets here – not debating the similarities of the two platforms.

    Tweet2@jpurnell twitter is lower-stakes status updates

    Why lower-stakes?

    Tweet3@brew7vwp on twitter you talk to strangers you like, on facebook you talk to friends you barely remember

    Interesting…this, I think, could be true, depending on your networking strategies. I actually ‘like’ the people in my Facebook network (what up homies!?!) although I am sometimes put in a awkward position to keep it that way. So, this one doesn’t quite apply to me but I can see how it could be relevant to others. Moving on…

    Tweet4@victordlt Twitter is Facebook in KISS mode (Keep it Simple Stupid). More Simple and Faster.

    How long do these people take to post status updates and who do they think reads them!? I suppose if my Facebook network was composed of work colleagues and I was trying to professionally brand myself through the updates (…isn’t that what LinkedIn is for…?), then ok, I can maybe see how it might be stressful to post an update. But I’ve never really associated updating my status as a difficult or time consuming activity. Am I missing something here…?

    Tweet5@calindrome Twitter is a cocktail party; Facebook is recess.

    …k…I had to think about this one for a while.

    Cocktail party: frivolous, cheeky, unpredictable.
    Recess: break time (with the intention to get right back to work), catching up with those you know.

    Yeah, ok, this makes a lot of sense. But how would this answer help justify Twitter as an educational technology tool?

    Tweet6@Goose Facebook is Twitter for people with Internet agoraphobia.

    …taking that to mean that Twitter supports a more open network structure…ok…worth noting…

    Tweet1@JD_Southard Facebook is so 2008. Twitter is a social networking experiment in real time connecting people thru a limited # of characters

    I have to be honest with you…I actually like words so this one doesn’t sell me on Twitter… Nor is the 2008 reference that convincing since I’m trying to play devil’s advocate with new and emerging technologies in order not to fall into the habit of adopting technologies for the sake of technology.

    Tweet2@ahachmi twitter is where you can vent your mood, sure fbook does the same, but in Twitter it is nothing but the venting of thoughts.

    So…why would anyone choose to be witness to venting? And if Twitter is the vent, then what is Facebook? The vaccuum? The Swiffer Duster?

    Tweet3@MyNameisRazzle Facebook Status without the Facebook.

    Which brings me back to my original question – is there any value added in having accounts with both?

    After going through this little self-imposed reflective activity, I think I’ve come away with more questions than answers. I’ve clarified some important things for myself though: Twitter = open network structure & cocktails vs. recess. Personal networking strategies may also play an important role in the dynamics of these two platforms but clarifying the intentions of the users and knowing one’s audience might be helpful here. But maybe it’s too soon to make any judgments seeing how quickly things are changing.

    I should get back to work now, but before I go, I wanted to leave you with a little side note: as I was drafting this post, I updated my Facebook status, asking my network what they thought was the difference between Tweets and updates. Perhaps it’s because it’s the middle of a week day and everyone is hard at work, but I didn’t get any replies.

  • 24Jul
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Mind Amplifying Tools Comments: 4

    I’ve been working on reinterpreting my PLE in order to get a deeper understanding of its nature. My initial approach was to group both formal and informal learning together. This time I’m going into a bit more detail.

    I’ve derived three sub-PLEs from my core map. The base categorisation is dependent upon context: the three sub-PLEs represent maps of my MA ODE PLE, my Professional PLE, and my Blog PLE. Strictly speaking, I suppose one could argue that the first represents a formal learning context, while the other two are much more self-imposed learning scenarios. Here they are below:


    My MA ODE PLE (Click on the image to view full size)

    My Professional PLE (Click on the image to view full size)

    My Professional PLE (Click on the image to view full size)

    My Blog PLE (Click on the image to view full size)

    My Blog PLE (Click on the image to view full size)

    I’ve found that reinterpreting my initial PLE has allowed me to identify components that I had originally missed. For example, I had forgotten that podcasts were made available within my course materials. I think I forgot to consider this technology in the initial map because, as an overall concept, podcasts were interesting to me a couple of years ago but I quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of information available and eventually unsubscribed from the feeds. I think that the fact that I don’t like listening to the radio also has something to do with my disengagement from the podcasting community. And finally, and probably the most important reason why I don’t listen to podcasts, is because I’m not an auditory learner. I process information better when I can read it. I think that’s probably the most important lesson that podcasting technology has taught me. Some other components I forgot to include the first time around are MS Word and Google Scholar, along with a number of creative tools that I’ve added to my Blog PLE.

    This PLE drill-down also gave me a clearer picture of my dominant learning tools, namely, Firefox, which in turn means the Internet which then leads me to my laptop. The nodes that are connected by a green line are the only ones that can be accessed without the Internet.

    I’m not sure whether the real value of this activity is going to be in comparing my own reinterpretations, or eventually comparing my analyses with others’ reinterpretations…