Thursday, July 15, 2010

EDUC 504: Blogs and Twitter and Ning, Oh My! (Reflections on July 16 readings)

Readings for July 16:

  • "No, Never Alone" by Kate Conley in Learning & Leading with Technology, June/July 2010
  • Twitter articles by Hadley Ferguson & Shannon McClintock Miller, same publication and date
  • The Media 21 Project by Buffy Hamilton and Susan Lester
  • Cheating and Assessment by Chris Sessums

From the Conley piece I learned the acronym PLN (personal learning network) and heard of Ning for the first time, which is starting to make me feel like one of those old, out of touch people I mocked last week. (Based on the wikipedia page, I guess this emerged about the time I entered my life of corporate dronedome and stopped having time to monitor what was cool on the net.) The Educator's PLN on Ning looks interesting -- maybe there will be time to explore it in August?

Useful links and acronyms aside, the title does seem a bit hyperbolic -- does Conley really think that we should "never" go it alone? And surely she doesn't really think that social media is the only way to not go it alone... learning and research communities have existed a lot longer than the internet.

I think maybe the most interesting part of this is what's hinted at in Conley's last paragraph and mentioned much more in the wikipedia article -- the different business models Ning has moved through, and the ever-present reality for online content that the infrastructure is very dynamic and could potentially go out of business or stop supporting your key feature at any time. So while publishing costs for online writing and networking are (relatively) cheap, there's probably still a place for books for solidifying and recording for posterity particular moments in time. (But that content should also be available online so it too can participate in the dialogue there.)


The Twitter articles prompted me to do something I've been pondering for a little while -- made a new twitter account to separate my personal one (which is privacy locked and only readable by a few "real life" friends) from a public persona I can use to participate in online educational dialogues. (It's @dr_vanark if anyone wants to "follow me" -- let me know if you do so I can make sure I also "follow you". Also, it prompted me to download a new twitter client -- not tweetdeck, as the article recommends. I've tried it and I don't like it -- takes up too much screen real estate. I do like echofon.)

While I actually really like twitter, I choke a little bit to see a teacher use the spelling "Gr8t" -- it's only a character count difference of two to spell it out, why not cut those somewhere else? (Do I sound like a crotchety old lady again?) Also? (While I'm on my crotchety bent...) Twaffic?!? Must we?


The Media 21 project seems very cool. I have a few questions I hope get covered in tomorrow's webinar:

Logistically -- Where did the funding come from? How much was needed? Could this be done with less? How were the two classes chosen?

Academically -- Was the focus more on tools, content, or balanced? Do you think these students will be able to carry over their new independent learning skills to less "blingy" technology environments? Do you feel this group of students will be disadvantaged in any way for not having had the traditional curriculum content?

Technology -- How did Ms. Hamilton and Ms. Lester find the tools they wanted the students to use? Were there any concerns about privacy for the students? Or about all data living in the cloud rather than on a hard drive they controlled?

Teacher / Librarian collaboration -- What was the most challenging part of this? The most rewarding? What would you recommend watching out for or being careful of if we wanted to try something like this ourselves? This project seemed like a fairly intensive use of the librarian's time resources -- can it be scaled up?

I like the phrases "sage on the stage" vs. "guide on the side". They pithily seem to encapsulate a lot. Also, now I've been inspired to download and play with Evernote.


The Sessions blog on whether cheating is enabled because we are not assessing real learning is very interesting.

I hope that we will discuss further how to address the forces driving teachers towards "inauthentic" assessments -- namely efficiency. While the obvious answer is, "more resources!" (e.g. more teachers, lower teacher:student ratios), I'm especially interested in what clever solutions might exist or we might be able to brainstorm together to enable authentic assessments that are not much more time consuming than designing and scoring a multiple-choice test.

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