Oh how vulnerable it feels to have my work, especially work in its infancy, out there for anyone to look at, read, listen to and comment on. What if they hate it? What if they ignore it? Oh my… oh well…


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Personal Learning Environments

Learning is Chaotic: a draft of a presentation I will be giving on Saturday to colleagues at Fielding Graduate University. The notes need polish and it will be much livelier with my voice engaged! Recording will be posted as well.

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The rewards…

I’m getting ready to make my first “formal” presentation on the work I’ve been doing in technology, teaching and learning. Despite what I thought were relatively forward thinking perspectives on teaching and learning the last few months have really opened my eyes to three important¬†approahces that seem to me to be very important as a doctoral student:

  1. informal learning — so much of what I have learned and studied has come from experiencing the process myself… I’m not reading about it in books (though I have certainly purchased several and read many more online). If informal learning is described as “out of classroom” experience, then the limitations of the classroom experience are really quite significant. And…. this is true whether the classroom is physical or virtual.
  2. nomadic learning — I find myself using traditional learning tools less and less… and exploring or finding my starting points by perusing or traveling through the web… sometimes I’m in a dessert (most college web sites, for example) and other times I’m in a richly blossoming oasis (Downes, Siemens, Richardson, and other’s blogs). I find a node that connects with me and then I explore…. learning is not organized, but it is networked… it is not clear, it is fuzzy, and in fact chaotic. (Richardson’s presentation at the Online Connectivism Conference really wrapped some context around this for me).
  3. continual learning — also referred to as lifelong learning, the value of the traditional classroom experience in fostering lifelong learning is lost on me. The value of informal, chaotic and nomadic learning (which I think of as networked learning) becomes the “the personal learning network” to me. I’ve been exploring Personal Learning Environments, but that concept seems too limited to me.
  4. networked learning — connected learning at its best

Additionally, my high school, college and first graduate experience worked in an environment where learning as organized, linear and “protected”. What I have discovered as a student in a distributed learning program is that experience did not prepare me to be a scholar in the modern age. To some extent it prepared me to be a receiver but not creator of knowledge. I have learned, throughout my professional career, that life has no answer key. That was not something I was prepared for after my schooling at very fine insitutions. I thought my boss would judge me by a grade… because s/he knew the answer. (Some time I’ll post about my first assignment as an intern in graduate school… and how lucky I was to have the mentor/boss I did!)

Anyway… I’m naming what I am finding works for me as a doctoral student… knowing full well that I am an N of One and that I need to look at this in the context of theory and other practice… the personal learning network… no tools, no rules… not linear… a process and a product all in one. We’ll see how it goes!

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Implications for graduate students

Will Richardson’s recent post commenting on the World is Flat has interesting implications for teacher preparation for k-12 but perhaps even more for post secondary and graduate education. How are we preparing the college professors of the future? My opinion and observation is… not well. Hopefully that’s my doctoral dissertation!

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Preparing doctoral students for elearning 2.0 / web 2.0

The research direction I’ve been taking has to do with web 2.0 and it’s application to doctoral learning. It occurred to me today, while sitting in a CIO Council meeting with all the guys (I was the only female CIO in the room… another topic for another day!) that we aren’t preparing the professors and researchers of the future with the right tool. There is a disjoint between what we know about the applicability of these learning and teaching tools to the “classroom” and what doctoral students will complete their work with. Of course, there’s always the issue of teaching preparation of academics (it’s minimal at best, in my observation) but I’ll just go with what I know. Question is, should I extend my researh to this issue or just focus on the learning process for doctoral students? We’ll see!

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My Blog Roll…

…links to two (at the moment) personal blogs that are relevant to this topic. I’ve tracked my experience with Moodle so I can have, essentially, field notes to refer to. And my TLT Knowledge Log is currently overcrowded and in need of clutter removal… but it is, after all, work space. It represents, in many ways, the chaos and curiosity of this process!

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The Moodle Question

Downes says:

In general, where we are now in the online world is where we were before the beginning of e-learning [1]. Traditional theories of distance learning, of (for example) transactional distance, as described by Michael G. Moore, have been adapted for the online world. Content is organized according to this traditional model and delivered either completely online or in conjunction with more traditional seminars, to cohorts of students, led by an instructor, following a specified curriculum to be completed at a predetermined pace.

He reflects on the development of learning objects and the structures that capture them in the form the ubiquitous learning management systems. I find that term so odd… but it does reflect what people think… learning can be systematically managed if we just get the content right and present it in the right order… and that we get the correct purveyors of learning… the fine faculty… and we keep the students happy by minimizing their expectations (do it any time!) and maximizing our revenue (but it’ll cost you more!)

So the discussion point for me here is the question… can a learning management system be a personal learning environment? At the moment, I don’t think so. Here’s why… someone has to run the LMS… or I, depending upon the model… I have to share the environment with others (not a bad thing). But… my learning is mine. In an LMS there’s always the implied “other” seeking to lend a linear structure to my learning… is that what I want, need, should have? The concept bothers me.

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