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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - Nov 22 08

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As more and more students begin to attend online courses, is the educational system well aware of the potential of outside-the-classroom approaches in learning?

George Siemens - Photo credit: Injenuity

The abundance and consequent fragmentation of information gives increasing opportunity to specialized forms of education that more effectively address personal contexts and individual needs rather than the usual pre-packaged, dogmatic, teaching-like approaches.

Educational technology expert George Siemens suggests that, online learning, homeschooling, and PLE (Personal Learning Environments), are just some of the new alternative choices learners are increasingly considering when interested in learning outside of the traditional classroom.


eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends

by George Siemens


Need Help.


I often hear educators talking about "education needs to change" (I do it too). This is the case for the K-12, higher education, and corporate training / education markets.

As a small research project, I'd like to ask people to answer the following questions (on their blog, in YouTube, Seesmic, or wherever):

  • Does education need to change?
  • Why or why not?
  • If it should change, what should it become? How should education (k-12, higher, or corporate) look like in the future?


E-Learn 2008


I don't like Powerpoint a whole lot. We don't really have a good alternative for presentations.

I've been experimenting with different approaches. Most recent is PersonalBrain, which I used for my presentation at E-Learn 2008 in Vegas today.


Moving to Neutral Tools and Applications

Common Craft has produced a short explanatory video on Microsoft Live.

The internet is starting to look like the desktop in the 80's - numerous companies trying to mainstream new applications through a new centre.

Microsoft integrated a variety of tools into its Office suite, making it possible for many new users to try tools that had each been unique. Working in a spreadsheet or word document became more seemless than when working with two different vendors. Now, the web is moving in that direction, with Google, Microsoft, and MySpace / Facebook all trying to do to with the web what Microsoft did to the desktop.

I'd like to see a world where any content works on any device... but I wonder if it will mature before someone has managed to lock in a good portion of the web in one application (or cloud).


With Students Flocking Online, Will Faculty Follow?


It really doesn't have to be said, but I'll do it anyway: we are in a climate of uncertainty. Awareness of economic issues (cost-cutting, layoffs) is high. Online learning has the potential to play a significant role in this climate.

Trends indicate a growing move to online teaching and learning. This article asks: With Students Flocking Online, Will Faculty Follow?:

"As online courses' popularity continues to rise, many administrators are struggling with a steep learning curve, one whose ultimate end point is far from being determined.

Questions such as how such courses should be taught (by adjuncts or full-time faculty?) often depend on institutions' missions (expand access or generate extra revenue?) and can lead to clashes and tensions between proponents of online learning and those who remain wedded to the traditional classroom."

My question is directed at institutions: Are our institutions (and systems) of education ready to embrace online learning strategically and more than an add-on?


Homeschooling Goes Mainstream


Education is being enlarged. More choices, more options. F2F, augmented, blended, online learning, etc are enlarging options for learners and educators to deal with individual, personal needs and contexts.

Much like content is fragmented from large holding structures (newspapers, books, courses), the entire education system itself is breaking into muliple specialized choices. For example - homeschooling goes mainstream:

"Home education is now being done by so many different kinds of people for so many different reasons that it no longer makes much sense to speak of it as a political movement."


High-Speed Internet Coming to Africa


I've been suffering connection issues.

Earlier this year, I was in Accra for Elearning Africa.

The connection issues were significant there as well. Participants at the conference knew the importance of connectivity in advancing African economies. Yet the problem was / is huge. Many areas don't have electricity, never mind internet connectivity. Still, news like this - High-Speed Internet Coming to Africa - is encouraging.

While foreign aid and development work are critical for Africa, the long term challenge is one of providing individuals with the tools and opportunities to shape their own future.


If Only We Had Something Other Than Content on Which to Base Education...


The hype around open educational resources (OERs) is growing to the level that web 2.0 inhabited several years ago (I recently posted a short overview of openness in education).

The problem with OERs is that they are too often focused on content.

More recently, a few educators have been pushing the concept of openness through open teaching and open accreditation. But, as Brian Lamb notes,

"if we live in an era of information abundance, why is the primary drive around OERs the publication of more content? And what other activities around the open education movement might be an effective use of our energies? What other needs have to be met?"


Personal Learning Environments


Learning happens constantly. The formal education component receives more respect than informal learning.

As content and conversations fragment, I doubt existing systems of education will retain their shape. The real opportunity lies in how institutions think about "tying together" the multiple learnings across our daily lives.

Canadian Council on Learning introduces the multiple learning domains as "limitless dimensions of learning".

Two approaches are possible to serve as the glue to pull learning together in a manner that can be accredited or evaluated by traditional educational models:

  1. eportfolios
  2. and personal learning environments.

Eportfolios have great potential, but little uptake.

Personal learning environments have similar potential, but the concept is a bit difficult for educators to grasp.

I would have loved to sit in on a recent session by three individuals who know what they're talking's their commentary on the workshop: Jared Stein, Chris Lott, and Scott Leslie.

This PLE thing will yet take root :).


Higher Ed: Next Bloated Industry to Go?


With the financial world in turmoil, it's logical for people to turn attention to other fields that are in need of change. Nothing like a crisis to force introspection that should likely be ongoing.

Higher Education is often criticized for its bureaucracy. Now that governments and businesses are in "belt tightening" mode, we'll see pressure on higher ed as well: Higher Ed: Next Bloated Industry to Go?:

"Like so many of our great industries and social sectors, higher education has grown huge, bureaucratic, and in many cases bloated (think 24-hour coffee shops in dorms).

The ongoing trends of globalization, technology, and innovation continue to pressure societies and economies and America's world leading system of higher education is going to have to respond just like other great institutions."

While it is unsettling to be staring into an uncertain future, times of change offer opportunities for transformation. I'm optimistic that the catalyst needed to foster innovation in education can be found in the current crisis.


The Future of Learning: Ten Years On


Stephen Downes has written an important paper: The Future of Learning: Ten Years On.

I need to spend more time reviewing the specifics of future learning, but after an initial read, Stephen has created a valuable document that should serve as a discussion piece for detailing the direction of our field.

I suspect this document will be prominent in this week's CCK08 discussion on systemic change in education. I'd recommend Stephen arrange a few illuminate sessions in the near future to flesh out his predictions and engage with the online community for feedback (I'd like to see an exploration of data visualization and sensemaking techniques).


Second Life & Divorce


Any space in which people can interact (physical and virtual) brings out human nature. Our minds don't seem to really care if something is real, observed, or imagined (at least this is the suggestion made with the discovery of mirror neurons).

Several months ago, I was chatting with an individual who said her location didn't allow her to see sunrises and sunsets. Instead, she watched them in Second Life while she enjoyed a cup of coffee or tea.

The social impact of virtual worlds is not fully understood (especially considering they are still first-generation tools - virtual worlds will continue to get more real, further blurring what we physically experience and what we create online).

Second Life & Divorce presents a glimpse of how morals and ethics will be (re)considered online.


Google and Video Conferencing?


While it's not video conferencing, Google has added video functionality to Gmail. Many tools (notably Skype) already offer similar (but superior) functionality. I'm interested in where Google will go with this.

It would be exciting to have video conferencing options available for educators who are already using Google Docs, Gmail, and other services.

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on November 21st 2008 in his newsletter eLearning Resources and News.

About the author

To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

Photo credits:
Need Help. - Pathathai Chungyam
E-Learn 2008 - AACE
With Students Flocking Online, Will Faculty Follow? - Financial Aid TV
Homeschooling Goes Mainstream - Rob Marmion
High-Speed Internet Coming to Africa - The Robert Goldwater Library
If Only We Had Something Other Than Content on Which to Base Education... - Robyn Mackenzie
Personal Learning Environments - Ana Blazic
Higher Ed: Next Bloated Industry to Go? - UW Madison
The Future of Learning: Ten Years On - Education World
Second Life & Divorce - Teenagers Street
Google and Video Conferencing? - pro it zone

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace [ Read more ]
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Saturday, November 22 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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