• 28Aug
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Educational Technology Comments Off on Job Opening @ Virtually Scholastic

    Position: Writer
    Location:
    Anywhere

    Description: Are you involved in the world of educational technology? Studying or teaching online? Developing elearning strategies for your institution and putting together blended learning curricula? Or perhaps you’re training people on how to make the most of a particular technology and writing up online learning materials? And don’t think I’ve forgotten about all you learning management system/virtual learning environment administrators! If you fall into any or all of these categories, (or one that I’ve missed) and you’re interested in writing about your colorful experiences, then you’ve come to the right place!

    Virtually Scholastic is opening its digital doors to guest contributors who know how to wrap timely messages in witty packages. This is a perfect opportunity for writers interested in expanding their readership and amplifying their virtual voice. It’s also a wonderful chance for those of you who’ve been thinking about starting a blog but who aren’t really sure whether to make the investment just yet. Virtually Scholastic has been around since 2008 and has cultivated a loyal following from places around the world like the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Italy, the Philippines, India, Spain, China and Russia.

    If you know how to speak to a global community of practitioners (or aren’t exactly sure what that really means but would still like to have a go), then here are the steps to follow:

    1. Read through some of the content at http://www.virtuallyscholastic.com to get a feel for the tone and the nature of the material.
    2. Write what you propose to be the next post to be published on the site. Make it timely, fill it with interesting links, and remember to include a poignant message. Also remember to include one image along with source to accompany your writing.
    3. Email your article to contact {at} virtuallyscholastic {dot} com along with a brief introduction to yourself and your work.

    Guest contributors will be asked to write between one to two articles a month. Biographies of contributors will be featured on the site once three pieces have been published. Writers will also be expected to monitor discussions of their posts once comments start coming in, as well as to post occasional commentary to other VS posts.

    I look forward to reading your work!


  • 24Aug
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Technology Comments Off on I See You.

    Photobucket

    Mashable has been singing the praises of location-based apps spinning their case toward bottom-line hungry small business owners. Benefits like the ability to draw customers to your location and to create incentives that build a loyal following are being highlighted in the discussion as ways of helping entrepreneurs see the potentials of geolocation technology. I apologize if I’m pointing to the obvious, but my question is, ‘Have you lost your minds’?

    Have we suddenly gotten over our hang-up of Big Brother watching us? You’re quite intent on keeping your browsing history private when you don’t want anyone knowing where you’re clicking. The notion of someone tracking your physical location bothers you less than someone knowing where you click? I understand how cell phone companies can justify providing services allowing account holders to ‘see’ where each one of their additional phones are at any given time as a way of enhancing parental controls, but are we sure we want to go down this road?

    Loopt has been around for a while, so the concept of suping up our trendy, high-tech phones with the ability to tell us when we’re a few blocks away from our ex in an effort to avoid acting like a mature adult is no new thing. However, when the location-based technology market starts to bloom in all its invasive glory, one has to wonder where the demand is coming from for these developers to see enough lucrative opportunities to want to get in the game. Have you not reached the point yet where information overload is almost unmanageable and it’s come time to prune your way back to human interaction? Do you really want the general public to know where you are all the time? Evidently you do, because even Facebook is on board.

    Are you happy now? Your dream of being able to notify everyone in your network of where you are has finally come true.  Your ‘network’ – that group of people you haven’t spoken to since you shared glue sticks in grade school but who you’ve perhaps nonetheless poked once or twice, or maybe, if you were feeling particularly generous, you may have even thrown a sheep his or her way.

    You can even tag people who are with you!

    Hold on, let me get this straight. Even when I’m having an actual face-to-face conversation with someone, you want me to pull out my ‘smart’ phone and make sure that my status and location are updated? Why? So as not to inconvenience all of my devoted followers? Come on! Aren’t we making the paparazzi’s lives a little too easy?

    And what about the soon-to-be massive lists of external entities grabbing hold of your information (which may now also include satellite images of your backyard, what time you checked in at your gynecologist’s office and how cruel gravity was to you at your last Weight Watchers weigh-in)?

    For right now, though, only a few apps have been selected to push information back into Places. Initially, Gowalla, Foursquare, Booyah (creators of MyTown and Nightclub City) and Yelp will integrate with Facebook Places. ~Source

    From an educational perspective, there may be some ways to take advantage of this type of technology. For a multi-location based approach to teaching, such as the one adopted by THINK Global School, I suppose it might be interesting for parents, teachers and chaperons to know where students are throughout their years of studying abroad. I guess you could also try to make the case that it would be a good way for students to figure out how to read maps and learn some geography by getting used to seeing where all of their fellow classmates are munching their sandies and learning their Mandarin on any given day. But the question shouldn’t really be, ‘Can we think up a way to use this technology?’, should it?

    Ok, granted when an application of a technology is so novel that it necessitates a change in the way to communication/operate/connect, etc., then perhaps we do have to approach a review of its potential benefits from a slightly crazed ‘inventor’ mind-set in which we think outside of the outer perimeters of the outside of the conventional box.

    I suppose you could always design a business marketing class assignment around geolocation technologies asking students to develop creative ways of generating sales in specific industries by using any one of the smart phone apps out there. Some ideas that come to mind are thinking of how the restaurant industry can benefit, or perhaps the travel sector, and questioning the relationship between location-based technologies and the ever-present community rating models like Yelp and Tripadvisor, and more recently Hunch.com. Then again, that might be construed as condoning this type of technology, and to be honest, it comforts me to convince myself that it’s only a fad.

    I guess if we look at the bright side, at least playing this type of ‘video’ game gets you out of the house.


  • 25Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments Off on The student becomes the teacher

    So it’s been a while. I have to admit that ulterior motives have propelled me back into the blogosphere. I’m returning to VS not because I’ve been particularly moved by an ed tech article or because I’ve come across a funky new technology I wanted to show you.  To be quite honest, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my short stint away from anything and everything related to online learning. You see…

    I finished my Masters in Online and Distance Education in December ’09, and from the moment I submitted my final piece of work, there was a part of me that knew I needed to take some time to recover. Perhaps that’s a common response felt by many a grad student, but the way in which I’ve been repelled from all things technology (even my shiny new iPhone at a certain point, or the untouched iPod shuffle that’s been sitting on my desk in its original box for over a month now) was quite surprising to me. After all, one thing I’ve learned about myself throughout this process has been that I have a natural tendency to seek out new technologies, determine in what ways they work within an educational context, experiment with new applications, and join emerging groups excited to share their common interests in the field.

    Maybe it was a case of me just overdosing on technology, but funnily enough, I didn’t suffer from the often paired imbalance of information overload. In fact, I’ve been deliriously delighted diving into books – the real PAPER kind! – ever since I officially parted ways with my student self and reentered into the adult world. I’ve even succumbed to redecorating my workspace in an effort to reflect my internal desire to reconnect with the less virtual literary world with which I think I might remember briefly engaging back in high school for a day or two.

    I’ve unapologetically started piling books onto my revamped workspace – not elearning books, not research books, not even learning and teaching books – but the kind of books that you want to fall asleep reading at night and reopen in the morning as you take your first sip of steaming caffeinated goodness. My home office is now adorned with candles propped up on rounded glass plates, next to a crystal hourglass that’s been sitting in its original gift box somewhere in the back of my closet for long enough that I can’t remember when I got it in the first place. The coffee mugs are still there (for what an empty cerebral world it would be without them!) but no more do I have to burrow myself in piles of file folders stuffed with printouts of assessment criteria for upcoming assignments.

    So back to those ulterior motives. They relate to this adult world I speak of, so often associated with mountainous career paths to climb and saturated weekly calendars to survive. It’s time to enter into the working world again, and for many of us instructional designers, our blogs are our calling cards – even more important in many ways then our CVs. So, I welcome this New Year, albeit slightly late, with this first post of twenty ten. Getting back in the game as it were… But now that I think of it, perhaps I did read something recently that’s sparked this train of thought…

    I received a mailing a few days ago from my Alma Mater inviting me to join its graduate association. The group’s slogan is “In my end is my beginning” – a sentiment that so brilliantly encompasses my current state. I suppose you could say that I feel accomplished, but coupled with a presumably organic sense of achievement is this bittersweet taste of being back at square one again, and no matter how many coffees I gulp down, the bitter taste doesn’t seem to be going away. Maybe it’s got something to do with the unemployment rate or with the economy, or with the general uncertainty of the times.

    In any case, regardless of my recent momentary shun of all things technology or of my desire to temporarily disengage from the virtuality of so many of the worlds we live in these days, I have continued to do one very important thing through this whole process. I’ve been determined to remember that many of my experiences as a student in the world of educational technology are most probably also experiences that other online students have shared. And now I find myself holding these thick tomes of lessons learned and knowledge gained close to me as I begin to look around for a new place to put them down so that I can share them with others.

    I think that in the end, the most cherished lesson I take away with me from graduate school is of how important it is to be as observant, tolerant and open minded as we can be when we are students because that is the best way to ensure that we are heard when it is our time to teach.