#sxswEDU: Thoughts, Reflections & Then Some…

Time sure flies when you’re conferencing, volunteering and travelling… so my thoughts on South By South West Edu (#sxswEDU), are delayed by exactly 2 weeks. My bad.

Due to my love of Austin and enjoyment of SXSW, I thought SXSW Edu would be a great conference to engage with other educators and expand professionally. There were a number of things I liked – such as being on public transit, new perspectives on learning, and connecting with tweeps (Shout out to: @tjoosten, @gsiemens, @veletsianos@audreywatters & more #iamEDU friends!). I also appreciated the lively banter our Social Media in Higher Ed (#smHE) panel had on the topic, and the great follow up conversations with other instructors, practitioners, and researchers. 

Essentially, I got what I wanted out of the #sxswEDu conference – connect, social, interact and learn. I sort of expected something else from this conference, specifically with regards to the education (K-12 and Higher Ed) involvement. I was a bit disappointed to see that the Panel Picker selected more sessions with industry, rather than any educators. It was odd. I was not alone in noticing the tensions were felt between the industry and educationWhy were the instructors, teachers, principals, faculty, higher education professionals, and educational administrators not sitting in these #sxswEDU seats?

Let's get ready to MOOC-off! Where art thou @gsiemens?

Although the education presence was not the “sage on the stage” approach, I am glad I was present to listen to what industry and technology leaders think the “future of learning” will be. I know that many of these sessions were challenged and talked about outside the formal #sxswEDU program, and I was curious as to how other educators interpreted the conference message(s). 

One thing that was very noticeable = the repetitive rhetoric being shared from room to room. To mix it up I, jokingly, initiated the  #SXSWedu Terms to Know, Use, Love & Hate Google doc to note the key words, terms or phrases I heard at the conference. Some might say I was being jaded (*cough* Siemens *cough*), but really I was just having fun with the common language of the conference. After curating this list, I decided to create a game (…which had multiple players, I might add): 

#sxswEDU BINGO Card #3

Note: Another suggestion was to draft a blog post with the complete list of terms. I decided to respectfully decline said challenge; however I will stay alert to the language and context of these words. It’s not a bad idea to keep your ears open and listen every once in a while… Thanks for reminding me of that #sxswEDU.

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) & Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) & Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) are a forced to be reckoned with as technology becomes more accessible and user-friendly.

pler

On October 13-16, 2009, the online symposium on learning-centric technology shared ideas on how PLEs & PLNs are impacting the educational technology field. Here’s a bit more from the symposium organizer’s George Siemens & Stephen Downes:

The interest in Personal Learning Environments has grown with the emergence of Web2.0 technologies. Learning technologists can see how PLEs can help learners to organize their own personal learning, rather than that formal education institutions control the technologies that are being used and the way in which they are being used. Speakers will include developers and researchers of PLEs. All events will be hosted in Elluminate and recorded for archives. A discussion forum will be hosted in Moodle for asynchronous interactions.

Although I was working during the scheduled speakers, I managed to read posted materials and listen to the one of the recorded sessions . There are a wealth of great experiences & ideas archived online, and I hope to listen/learn more  in the upcoming weeks. Many of these speakers are leaders and pioneers in the PLE & PLN learning field.

For those of you interested and engaged in contributing your own educational experience with personal learning environments/networks, might I suggest you also check out the Call For Chapters for an upcoming eBook by Athabasca University and the National Research Council of Canada.

At The Root of Connectivism

Connectivism is a pedagogy that I have latched onto for the realm of learning technologies. This is a new learning theory for the digital age, and is further defined by George Siemens as:

  • Knowledge as constellation of connections
  • Sense-making/way-finding
  • Network (social/technological) as assistive cognitive agent
  • Technology as externalization/extension

It’s not the tools that are relevant, but rather the connections made while learning.

Siemens made a guest appearance in the EC&I 831 course last week to discuss The Roots of Connectivism.

A few of the major points that I took away from George’s presentation include:

  • Learning is networked at 3 levels:
    • Conceptual-Cognitive: least developed; when ideas & concepts are combined together
    • Neural: biological; memories being formed as a sequence of connections (encoding in the brain)
    • Social-external: social network analysis, often completed by sociologist; external tools and resources to connect learning
  • Knowledge & learning as networked and emergent through:
    • Synchronicity – to understand how a student will learn is to understand & connect with their current knowledge & awareness
    • Amplification – participatory sense making & interaction with material creates learning at a deeper level
    • Resonance – why do students start to tune into learning a concept or new information? how do they connect with an association?
  • Educators need to understand connections at a very basic level to best learn how to influence connections for learning
    • What connections are?
    • How they form?
    • What attributes/structure they exhibit at formation?
    • What various formations mean?
George left the class with a few questions to ponder:
  • What are the implications for educators?
  • How do we “teach differently” in networks than we do in a classroom?
  • How should our priorities change in skill development?
  • As the field of networked learning grows, where do we turn for guidance direction?

Educators need to assess learning objectives to help students develop in the changing digital world. Instruction is not just about knowledge comprehension, but will shift to focus on acquisition of information and learner networks. “Teaching differently” will be instructional practice that encourages learners to think critically and engage in complex activities for deeper learning experiences. Learners will be challenged to connect meaning and knowledge that is currently known, to that of their shifting paradigm.

As networked learning continues to change educational environments, educators must empower their students to adapt and grow with the technologies . It will be up to the educators of today to remain current and connected to practitioners and  innovators in education who are leading the way. Whether it is following a stream of ideas on Twitter, reading the latest literature/publications, continuing professional development, taking an open-source course, or sharing ideas with online colleagues, educators who stay socially connected will provide engaged learning opportunities.

My quest to be a “Network Sherpa” for learners continues….

What are you doing to help your Networked Student connect to their learning today?

Connectivism video created by Wendy Drexler’s high school students inspired from George Siemens’ CCK08 Class.

Connecting to CCK09

Last night was the first meeting for the open course Connectivism & Connective Knowledge (CCK09) facilitated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. Approximately 708 students have signed up for either credit or non-credit learning to share ideas around connected learning and knowledge at any given time. In the live elluminate room, there were about 50 or so active & engaged students ranging from a wide field of interests and professional backgrounds.

mechano

Photo c/o http://londonskyline.blogspot.com


I decided to join this course for a few reasons:

  1. Connect with other like-minded individuals online.
  2. Join a learning community interested in sharing ideas around connected knowledge and online learning.
  3. To further explore the ideas around the pedagogy of connectivism – a term coined by George & utilized in an early research/pilot project at the University of Toronto.
  4. Ponder some theories and developments for learning/performance technology to enhance my doctoral research & studies @ UNT.

The meeting last night was more around the structure of the course and expectations for the participants. The opening session introduced a myriad of methods for continual connection throughout the semester, and encouraged networking and collaboration amongst our online peers.

Although there are few structured sessions and a CCK09 schedule, this does not limit anyones means for connections beyond the confines of the course. I think it is amazing to see the connections of a few of our peers flourish immediately on Twitter, through sharing of the blogs and more.  I’m looking forward to connecting further and engaging with the numerous resources and ideas that everyone is bringing to the digital table

TO DO List:

(before next class – September 17, 4:00 pm CST “What is Connectivism”)

Readings

What connectivism is

What is the Unique Idea in Connectivism?

Optional Readings/References:

http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/connectivism/?p=101

Little Boxes, Glocalization and Networked Individualism (.pdf)

http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/Paper105/Siemens.pdf


If you are interested in staying “connected” to CCK09, feel free to jump into the course as a non-credit student and/or use CCK09 tag to search on Twitter, Google Alerts, Diigo, Delicious and more! You are bound to connect to one of the members of the online learning community and perhaps take away an idea or two.

Hello to all my new online friends. Feel free to stay connected to me on this blog or via various ways I engage online –  HERE. See ya’ll on Thursday!

Open Learning Courses: EC&I 831 and CCK09

Summer always leads to much needed time outdoors and away from the computer. It’s nice to be off the grid, but also good to plug in and reconnect with friends and learning ideas online.

To kick off the new academic year, online education, and career development I have signed up for a couple of online, open education courses to compliment the grad program I start this fall.

open

Here are the two courses that I am connecting with mid-September:

1. Connectivism & Connective Knowledge 2009 (CCK09)

This course is led by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. The CCK08 Syllabus and supporting content can be found on the CCK09 Wiki.

You can register to receive course information here. Learners can also get formal credit as part of the Certificate in Emerging Technologies for Learning can enroll through University of Manitoba’s Extended Education Faculty. The course will begin on September 14, 2009.

2. EC & I 831: Social Media & Open Education

This is an open access graduate course from the Faculty of Education, University of Regina by Dr. Alec Couros. Although this courses is for credit, there is also an opportunity for participation from non-credit students. All lectures in this course, from September 15/09 to December 8/09 will be publicly available. To access the lectures, look for the appropriate date under “Synchronous Sessions“, then look for the weekly Elluminate link. I will also offer the appropriate Elluminate link via tweet via @courosa.

If you’re looking to learn from interesting and experienced educators, while connecting to peers and resources online, than one or both of these courses may be of interest to you. Sign up & join in the fun. Although I’ll be busy with work & school, I’ll be sure to continue to share my thoughts, ideas and resources that I learn here.

If you are currently interacting and learning from another open course… please share. Happy open learning!

AACE Global U – Social Media Seminars

groupglobalu

AACE Global U will be hosting a series of seminars around “Social Media: Trends and Implications for Learning.” I was able to listen to the archived seminar for July, however I hope to participate in a future monthly online seminar:

August 10, 2009, 9:00 PM Eastern USA
September 8, 2009: 3:00 PM Eastern USA
October 13, 2009: 9:00 PM Eastern USA
November 10, 2009: 3:00 PM Eastern USA
December 8, 2009: 9:00 PM Eastern USA

The seminar series, led by George Siemens and David Cormier, is without fee and will include live interactive sessions, in addition to discussions with guest speakers and participants. All sessions are co-sponsored by and will be archived in the Education & Information Technology Library (EdITLib). And you can join in the discussion on AACE Connect.

During these Elluminate sessions, the conversations will be active in the webinar and recorded for those who cannot participate at these specific times.  By using the #SMTI hash tag you can find conversations on Twitter, archives in blogs and resources in Delicious.

Here were a few key discussion pieces I found useful from the first social media seminar: