• 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!


  • 16Jul
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Mind Amplifying Tools Comments: 5
    My PLE

    Click on the image to view full size.

    Having played my role of a learning technologist, I am quite familiar with the concept of the virtual learning environment (a.k.a learning management system). It’s quite a controversial topic these days. Sclater provides a nice overview of the issues being raised by both sides of the growing debate.

    My experience has afforded me with proof that VLEs can work – students get more (but not always easier) access to resources, students and teachers can communicate with one another outside of a classroom, and the institution has control over who accesses what information (a neat and tidy way of managing the copyright dilemma). However, this sensitive point about control also forms the basis for an argument against VLEs. Some argue that VLEs fundamentally represent the opposite of what the web is all about – freedom to access, share and create whatever content you want. Enter the Personal Learning Environment (PLE).

    Similar to Martin Weller, I did not start off by thinking about what elements I needed to include in my PLE in order to make it work. I’m conscious that the integration of technologies is a continually evolving process. Some tools have become part of the foundation of my PLE, while others didn’t quite seem to fit and were subsequently dropped. I’ve noticed that this evolution is made more and more complex as collaborative technologies get better at ‘speaking’ with one another.

    When creating a map of my PLE, I have to admit that I had a hard time separating the technologies that I use strictly for ‘learning’ (the definition of which I’m still not clear about!) from those that I also use for plain old socialising or getting around in life. And then there are the ones that I use to build my professional online brand which also didn’t quite fit into the learning or socialising categories. That’s why I’ve chosen to kind of bunch up every technology I use into one overall picture. This way, it seems a bit more reflective of the interconnectedness that many of us are experiencing.

    Looking at my PLE map, you’ll notice that I’ve included the software applications I use, as well as the web-based technologies to which I subscribe (is subscribe the right word here?!). I don’t think that a personal learning environment has to necessarily be ‘connected’ at all times, so I didn’t want to limit this map to just the tools that are fashionable now, or that focus strictly on the social aspects of the web. The more I think about it, the more I’m discovering that I tend to collect information from various corners of the web, but most of my reflection (or digestion) actually takes place using disconnected tools like word documents or plain text files. Whether I choose to share these reflections is another story, but when it comes to my process of developing understanding, it often starts with the web, then goes into software applications, and then sometimes flows back out into the virtual space.

    Although challenging, it would be interesting to have a snapshot of my PLE at different points in time. For example, prior to starting my MA with the OU, I didn’t even know what FirstClass was. Today, it represents a very powerful connector to my classmates and tutors. It would also be interesting to see a map of the tools that didn’t make it into my orbit – and consider the reasons why they failed to make the cut.

    Who knows what my PLE will look like even a few months from now!? For example, I can only imagine how it will change once I finally get an iPhone and the world of developer’s apps opens up to me!

    Oh, and yes, I’ve also include a MMORPG in my PLE because sometimes, learning how to take a break is part of learning how to learn!


  • 08Feb
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments Off on You can’t see the painting if you’re standing in the frame…

    20090208-post

    I just read a short article by John Naughton entitled, Thanks, Gutenberg – but we’re too pressed for time to read and this concept of the ‘First Law of Technology’ made me think.

    I see the point of the argument (that the short-term impact of new technologies is overestimated while the long-term effects are underestimated). In fact, I’ve personally experienced its truth in my adventures as a learning technologist. Take the virtual learning environment (VLE) for example. Imagine a university that is just introducing it into its teaching infrastructure. Budgets have been allocated and money’s been spent. The VLE is anticipated to change the way the whole institution operates. Everyone is going to start using it right away, at least 50% of all modules with be delivered in blended learning using the VLE within 6 months. Sound familiar? I know!

    As a result of the overestimation of the potentials of the VLE, interest drops to near zero adoption, and although training and development staff are hired to support the integration of the VLE, there is little hope that any use will be made of it. The new appointments are really just political moves.

    Now imagine it’s one year later. Predictions of VLE extinction were wrong. It isn’t a raging fad, but pockets of users have mushroomed and a new realisation has surfaced:

    ‘Perhaps the VLE wasn’t used from the beginning by everyone because no one (except a few tech savants – closeted, of course) knew how to use it or even understood what it was in the first place.’

    The long term effects of the technology were vastly underestimated – the integration of a VLE had the potential to stimulate the develop of technology-based skills that tutors never used because the skills were never needed. The VLE changed teacher’s perspectives of technology – how it works, what it can be used for (in the classroom as well as in their personal lives) and the implications of its evolution and scaling. A tool that was intended to streamline the online storage and delivery of information (cringe) turned into a teaching tool about technology that broadened and deepened teachers’ views of technology.

    Something else struck me as I was going through this article. As I was reading about the birth of the printing press, and books (I vaguely remember what those are…) I found myself thinking about the different ways in which we read print-based text vs. online text. Has the Internet fundamentally changed the way we read? Has it redefined literacy skills? Should reading be taught differently in schools? Should ‘power browsing’ be added to the curriculum? If so, at what age should we start teaching it?

    Any ideas?

    And I know, I know what you’re asking yourself now. “How does all of this digital information processing affect the development and functioning of the human brain?” Well, no need to worry. The answer may soon come from this research conducted by Gary Small, a neuroscientist at UCLA.