Week Four - Winter 2008 Semester
Well, I’ve noticed that I’ve already missed week 2 and 3 of the semester – so I’ll try and create a more informative posting for week 4 :(
This was an interesting week as I was in
The week began with a long flight from
Wow, what a wonderful treat to arrive in San Antonio to 22C weather. I must admit that I didn’t know much about the city before I arrived and I’m not sure I learned much more during my stay. I do know that
In terms of historical significance,
Anyways, onto the highlights of ELI conference. I’ve posted my complete set of notes to my personal web site and EDUCAUSE has set up a site where you can download podcasts, PowerPoint presentations blog postings from many of the sessions.
We arrived late in the afternoon – so I was only able to attend the final session of the day on Monday. This session was facilitated by George Siemens who was a student in several of my graduate courses at
1. awareness and receptivity
2. connection forming (ahah moment)
3. contribution and involvement
4. pattern recognition & meaning making
5. praxis (self reflect on how & why you create your networks – forming a network that will serve you beyond formal education)
Tuesday was a VERY full day for me – as I attended a number of sessions, co-facilitated a session with Randy on blended learning and I connected with two of my education courses via the Elluminate Live! system. The first session was by Tom Reeves of the
Fortunately, I made a last minute decision to attend Michael Wesch’s session on Human Futures for Technology and Education. This is the guy who, along with his first year cultural anthropology course created the YouTube video, Vision of Students Today. This video illustrates the crisis of significance in higher education – students’ are increasingly finding that their learning in post-secondary classes is not relevant. His believes about learning are very similar to those of George Siemen’s. He suggests that learning is about creating significant connections and there are two types of meaningful connections:
1. Semantic – word, concept, idea – what it is and how it relates to other concepts – semantic web (e.g. love)
2. Personal – find your own identity – how you relate to others
Michael argues that these two types of connections are inseparable and interdependent. In essence, students learn what they care about from people they care about. His recommendation for creating significance in a course is to find a grand narrative that has relevance and context for learning in a particular course. This narrative should be full of ill-defined problems, which created opportunities for student self-directed inquiry, leverages all members of the class (collective intelligence) and appropriate media environments. His suggestion for a grand narrative is the metaphor of Spaceship Earth. What are the serious issues that we face as a “planet” and how do we go about collectively solving these problems?
In his first year cultural anthropology course of 200 he actually gets the students to identify what they believe to be the key problems and then using the jigsaw method (developing distributed expertise) he gets students teams to come up with ideas to solve these problems.
Wow, looking back on my notes – I now realize that I actually did not attend that many conference sessions L On the final morning of the conference I sat in on George Siemens and Cyprian Lomas’ session on data visualization. The key being to make sense of an abundance of data by displaying it visually so one can begin to recognize patterns. George emphasized how information aggregation tools are growing (e.g. Google Custom Search feature) but that information manipulation tools are still in their infancy. They then want onto demonstrate the following tools.
2. Twittervision – to find out where twitter feeds are coming from in the World
3. TouchGraph Facebook Browser – to map your community of friends (which potentially might be a community of practice)
4. Many Eyes – an interesting tool from IBM that can map out themes and relationships within a block of text (e.g. essay, transcript) that is pasted into Many Eyes
5. Xobni – InBox spelled backwards – email organization and search tool, which unfortunately it appears to be just restricted to Microsoft Outlook at the moment
6. Qunitura - related search tool
7. WorldMapper – displays maps of global trends
8. Jing – a screenshot program
Some final comments from the audience about the session included:
- An idea has semantic value – based on how it relates to other ideas
- Predictive capacity of data-visualization – have students first predict trends and then graph them and see results – using these tools
- Data mining – torture the data until it confesses (Chuck Dzuiban from
) University of Central Florida
Unfortunately, I had to coordinate one final Elluminate Live! session with my EDUC3325 students so I only got to see the beginning of the LITRE: Investigating the Effectiveness of Technology in Improving Student Learning session. It does appear though that they have developed some interesting sets of questions about student learning with technology.
Sigh, long flight home as we had to go through Denver and as usual there was a 2 hour delay but at least the weather was warmer (-20C) in Calgary than when we left :)