We have made it to Kunming.
Travelogue of the trip is here in.lits.gen.nz
Click on China Blog.
We have made it to Kunming.
Travelogue of the trip is here in.lits.gen.nz
Click on China Blog.
There is still a lot of interest in wikis around here. Ran a short presentation last month, “Now you’ve got your wiki, what now?” looking at ways to introduce their use to a group.
Odd how little connections can somehow open whole new doors. John Fountain’s sister Renee spoke recently at a wiki conference in Canada, something I hadn’t discovered even with a bit of last minute Googling to prepare for the workshop. Instead I discovered this through a quick note from John.
No Ordinary Conference: WikiSym is the only international scientific conference dedicated to wikis. It brings together wiki researchers, practitioners, and users. The goal of the symposium is to explore and extend our growing community. It has a rigorously reviewed research paper track as well as plenty of space for practitioner reports, demonstrations, and open discussions. Anyone who is involved in using, researching, or developing wikis was invited to WikiSym 2007.
We recognize that the online world is always evolving, and therefore made a special effort to welcome people interested in other online media consistent with the wiki philosophy of being open, organic and participatory.
I Googled Renee some more to find she has written an e-book thingy on wikis. A Little old now, but a fascinating background.
There are some nice papers in the WikiSym proceedings. One of these is Wiki-based Process Framework for Blended Learning – Marija Cubric – University of Hertfordshire, UK (a PDF) Here is her first comment on “Tips” for use . . .
Provide necessary “scaffolding”
Many reports on the use of wikis have concluded that less scaffolding” results in better quality of the created content . However, we believe that some guidance on the content is essential, but the amount of scaffolding depends on various factors, such as: the study level (e.g. postgraduates or undergraduates), group composition (“digital natives” vs. “digital immigrants” , local vs. international students) etc.
Reference 16 is Will Richardson’s book: Richardson W. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other powerful web tools for the classroom. Corwin Press, 2006. Reference 15 is Mark Prentsky. (Who else?)
This is a good paper and is worth a read. [Another of Marija's papers is here] When wikis and education is under discussion, this question of providing structure or not often emerges as a theme.
I tried to find a few of Will Richardson’s comments online, but was unsuccessful. I have a hunch Will may have brought a little extra to the classroom: he is an innovative and engaging teacher, and this presence may have provided the ‘scaffolding’ needed, and hence is view “less scaffolding is better” may be missing what was actually going on. I hear many presentations and stories where teacher presence is basically an unrepeatable variable. In my search, I discovered Ulises Mejías’s blog (out of Mexico). He posts on a “social literacy” the environment of the wiki. ideant.typepad.com/ideant/2005/03/social_literaci.html
A small quote:
Thus, social literacy (as I am using the term) is not a metaphorical extension of the concept and does not refer to the skills necessary to perform in society, but to the use of the resource of writing in social contexts. Social literacy amounts to the textual practices not (as has been true so far) of a single author, but of multiple and simultaneous authors. Wikis make social literacy apparent by allowing us to witness the evolution of text in time, and evolution that reflects the decisions not of a single individual, but of a community.
What is the purpose of a wiki? merely gathering links, data and ideas? (You can then get the mess described by Graham Wegner: (Will’s blog post, see the comments)
I used a wiki as a basis for a Problem Based Learning program with 4 middle school classes last term on a unit on Australian Identity. I’m not sure that it will make anyone go “Wow” but it certainly demonstrated Messy Learning in action. How I set it up isn’t the way it eventually unfolded and you might be appalled at the cut’n’paste slabs, the links that are dead etc. but this ended up as a worksite, an area for experimentation and the first attempts at digital collaboration for these kids. Like a lot of worksites, there’s a bit of litter and abandoned clutter about but the learning was amazing as the kids unpacked what being an Aussie meant in terms of our country’s culture, achievements and history. There is heaps in the aftermath for re-visiting that could cover the topics of fair use, publishing, plagiarism, what is actual research,citation and copyright (and has been covered, by the way.) This led to the students creating digital stories that celebrated aspects of Australian life and ultimately they would have been great to share online with a wider audience but the conflicting aspects of copyright images being used (fair use in a school setting but not publishable on the web) while the difficulties in accessing suitable and interesting public domain and CC images when sites like Flickr are blocked by our education system’s filters meant that we couldn’t produce anything shareable beyond the school community. But the wiki was an excellent tool for the housing of snippets of information, distilling of ideas and the planning of the solution to the posed problem, “What does it mean to be Australian?”
I’ll stop there.
The research on wikis is yet young. To provide structure or not? How to do it, for example by modelling, by setting up pages . . ?? What’s it like for different ones of us in a genuinely collaborative wiki environment? Identity – who are we in a wiki? I’m just poised to delve into wikieducator.com, but I really want to start the page with “Derek’s Project”. I think tjhis breaks the paradigm.
If you live close and would let me eaves drop in a class of students with a wiki, eventually letting me chat to them to see a little bit in their minds – let me know. Ethics approval, formal stuff and all that.
I’ve wondered seriously whether I need to declare online bankrupcy. Laurence Lessig did it for e-mail. E-mail is not quite my problem. Just a bit too much online stuff, too many frontiers. But I decided it is just the end of year run up to Christmas, I was tired – plus, there has been a lot on the go in the last month.
We are being restructured again, 366 days from the last time, and really only part of the way along the curve of our last restructure. In the last month I’ve oscillated from consiracy theory to “there is no master plan”.
I formally moved over to the UCTL on 5th December 2006. On 6th December 2007 we will find out a new structure for UCTL with the merger of 15 staff from the Student Learning Centre here. This follows a month of work by a guest consultant, Mark McGinn of PeopleFit. I’ve found it a bit hard having no forum to talk over ideas and thoughts around the integration process. This has meant a lot of “Business as Usual” has been put on the back burner. Things like planning for next year, and finishing off plans from this year.
Stephen Covey (in an oft quoted statement, I cannot find out which of his books it has come from) said (I think)
People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value
I have wondered about my core. In some respects I have had to face this question again this year. New location, new role, new team. Just exactly who am I?
I went to an ASDUNZ UNconference last year at Canterbury (ASDUNZ – the Association of Staff Developers of New Zealand). I stayed as long as I actually felt welcomed. (40 minutes). At that stage I was figuring out things. Could I wear the hat of “Staff Developer”? I was actually in the “Flexible Learning Group” at UCTL, not the other “Academic Development Group”.
I was able to go to Auckland this year for the ASDUNZ conference. It was great. I’ll post more on it soon, but suffice to say I felt quite different this year: “Yes, I can wear the Staff Developer hat”. Every discipline of course has their academic journal.
The International Journal for Academic Development. Most of the articles (3/4) in the latest edition have a touch of angst. Who are we? What exactly is our role? What exactly do we contribute? This was part of the tone of the conference. I felt right at home. But they also knew about Appreciative Inquiry: and there was some marvellous postive comment and forward looking interaction.
I am off to China next week, primarily for a visit to my sister who has been there for 10 years, but also to present a two day Physics Education workshop at Chuxiong Normal University. Back to my roots really: I have not done a physics workshop or talk or presentation or even talked about Newton’s Law for five years, when I did the 40 hour teaching study at the old College of Education.
It will be fun.
The Access Grid Linkup for the Launch of the FLLinNZ toolkit has now been and gone. This was both stressful and a lot of fun. Blog Link. AKOWiki page Link.
I did not have a clue what I was getting myself in in for. I have done a score of VC linkups, but never the Access Grid. I thought I had done my homework, but NO WAY.
The AG is a room, painted green with a computer at one end for the operator, and a wall at the other end with 3 data projectors. There are three cameras. When things are going we could see 8 windows:
I lined these up in order Auck > Well > Dunedin. The picture was too fuzzy in Auckland to see expressions. I relied on the ‘tell‘ from Dunedin’s folk to see how things were going.
Things I learned.
Time is needed to set up the ‘view’ of each group. I never managed to see all the Dunedin folk even though we had two windows for them.
I had this romantic idea that in between times (like when we were watching a youtube video) we could snack and socialise a bit. Hmm. Didn’t quite come together.
I was told we could have a “shared browser” and Powerpoint, so I based my entire presenation around this. However, a shared browser meant only the operator could press the buttons and use the mouse. And no shared sound. The AG version of the web was like silent movies. Apparently there is a problem to play sound: we ended up getting each of the four operators to load the podcast and play it sumultaneously.
This meant no Youtube.com or Podcasts . . .
PowerPoint kept crashing. (M$. Not unusual)
Everything is operator dependent, unless you have some software on a laptop. I thought “No problem, lets install it” but the software was not there in the room. Next time I will sort this.
Powerpoint slides could be visible to me and not them and vice versa. It could get out of sink somehow. But when it went it was fine.
Possible solutions: use one window as a sort of wiki, maybe a whiteboard opened up to a shared browser.
There is a document camera. This would be OK as well.
We tried a scenario where each group had a few moments to interact and answer a question – this worked well.
Basically it fulfilled the need – sort of. We had some dialogue over the main issues around staff development . . . in another post I will talk about this.
Confirmed. Ten minutes ago: 19th October 2007. Access Grid.
3.00pm. Snacks provided. 3 brief presentations, and plenty of chatter/feedback and conversation.
FAQ: What is the Access Grid? It’s a room somewhere in the uni with bandwidth to burn. Full duplex video.
How do I register? Details coming soon. Meanwhile, e-mail me. (derek(dot)chirnside(at)canterbury(dot)ac(dot)nz)
For more detail about NZ AG, go here.
Wow, wordpress 2.3 is nearly out of beta. I think the decision is clear: if you need blogs for your institution, WordPress multiuser. The question is not too clear for wikis. I’ve been asking this question on the TALO forum: Is there an open source wiki that avoids wiki markup? (and has all the other features: permissions, notify, forums . .) I think the answer is at the moment No. At least not a complete solution.
Also, I’ve been eavesdropping on the course Bronwyn, Leigh and Merrollee are involved with in Dunedin. Fascinating!! They (and the participants) are struggling with some very real issues around social software, blogs, wikis, forums. ethics, public/private . .
I was thinking about this yesterday with regard to folksonomies and discovered an old post (2005) by Thomas Van der Waal with a side comment on wikis:
They are a jumping off point, not destinations. They are true conversations, which have very real etherial qualities.
I have had a feeling that for a while the wiki markup etc etc gets in the way of new users. I’m sure there is some reseach on this somewhere. But there is the other issue as well: what is a wiki? What is it really for? How do we best engage with a wiki?
PS. From the TALO list, I visited this wiki comparison site. Verhy comprehensive.
I was inspired to do this post by reading Mark Nicholls’s blog. I was sitting in a relaxed mood during the last speeches at e-fest when in a moment of inspiration I checked my plane departure time to discover it was in 75 minutes, not about three hours as I thought. I left far too quickly, with no sense of closure, good-byes or wind-down. There was for me no debrief . . .
I am interested in three comments by Mark:
I have been reflecting on my eFest experiences and the discomfort I felt when discussion turned toward our ‘inadequate’ education system (at all levels – this criticism wasn’t confined to tertiary). It is very easy to rubbish things; all you need are perfect expectations, a simplistic perspective of the world, a few examples and a preferred solution that fails to consider all of the world’s complexities.
It is interesting how we can attend the same event, and get totally different things out of it. I didn’t see much of this view. Maybe Mark is referring to the last session where I did leave early: I did catch a very interesting speech by a High School student, referring to the TED podcast Do schools kill creativity by Sir Ken Robinson 2006
Mark also asks:
Should we do away with schools and tertiary institutions because of the potential of Web 2.0, and the rise of the digital native? That is as naked a question as was enthusiastically affirmed at eFest.
I think the theme for me at e-fest was using new tools for improving old (necessary) practices – like creating authenticity, encouraging engagement and reflection . . . I spent some time in some of the sessions where the question was How to cope with the non-digital native? – when they need to become digital. Like Lee said: If I have to teach one more person how to insert a hyperlink . . .
What are the basic competencies I wonder? Nancy White has spoken on this . . hers is quite a clear view.
Mark also commented:
My bone is that Web 2.0 and networked learning are yet to convince me that they could do a better job than the ‘ongoing progress’ being made by the status quo. Communities of Practice are simply not as communally representative as are local schools, so are therefore impoverished as substitutes.
Hmm. I’ve talked with Mark a little about this, but the conversation remains unfinished. I suspect the communities of practice Mark is referring to are either NOT communities of practice (maybe in the sense a school may be a community, but not a CoP) (ref the wikipedia definition) – or else they are communities gone bad. As Etienne Wenger says:
(Community) . . . can be both a strength and a weakness…the locus of creative achievements and the locus of inbred failures; the locus of resistance to oppression and the locus of the reproduction of its conditions; the cradle of the self but also the potential cage of the soul Possible reference
[As an aside, Lev Richard didn't like this bit of the book] Etienne said in his Christchurch workshop that he wanted to title the chapter the Dark Side of Communities – but the publisher went with the Downside of Communities. At efest I was party to more discussions of the difficulties and the promise of communities rather than a romantic rose coloured view.
This brings me to my reflections. I greatly enjoyed the workshops and sessions I went to, and once again discovered some hidden gems amongst the people who work in this country. I never thought I would ever say this: I missed the first time practitioners giving presentations. I enjoyed meeting some old friends, but I regret not making proper connections with others: Stephen, Richard, and Bernie – you know who you are!!
I did NOT like being on deck for a stand to advertise courses. I found the support for everything great.
I was however a little preoccupied by having to be on deck for facilitation on day 2.
Day Two was supposed to be an interactive day. Four sessions with a facilitated after session table group. I’m undecided how to respond to the actuality. If we were going for real interaction and synergy:
So the S word. Structure. Back to my interest in more open dialogue/conversation based events rather than either the traditional academic paper treadmill, sharing of ignorance or thinking in what occurs first in an unco-ordinated way.
Open space? For a quick overview, see a YouTube video link courtesy of Stephen Harlow. I’m not quite yet suggesting a full open space event in a big conference like environment like eFest. You need a critical mass of people with a mindset – or I am happy to structure it a bit if I am in a leadership role (like last year’s ::FLNW:: open space event in Christchurch) – or (and there is one other alternative)
Open space? From wikipedia:
Open Space Technology (OST) is a way to convene people for a conference, retreat or meeting. “Technology” in this case means ‘tool’ – a process; a method. Attendees are asked to generate the meeting agenda as well as participate by leading small group break-out sessions during the meeting time. There is usually a facilitator, but no official meeting leader who demands compliance.
“This entry is written more like an advertisement”
I considered editing this entry, but it was just too big a job and I felt ill equipped. I love the possibilities in the unconference model, especially after my experiences at Setubal and The Prato Dialogue at Florence. And Cathy’s FLLinNZ roadshow. . . .
Back to day two at e-fest: Superb talks, all of them, but if our goal was more than just listening, I think
eFest 2007 marks the end of an era, with significant eCDF funding. I wonder what the future will hold? If there is an opportunity, I think I’ll be back in 2008.
= Finished my final workshop here this morning. Whew. Tried a new structure, which I found very very relaxing:
= Then some time in a sessions with Eva Vass: The intertwining of cognitive, social and affective dimensions of shared knowledge building in online collaboration.
We suggest that cognitive processes involved in shared knowledge building are inextricably interwoven with the development of a social, collaborative community of enquiry. Also, we argue that the affective and cognitive dimensions of online presence are closely linked, and messages with affective content can be integral to the cyclical process of practical inquiry. The aim of the proposed discussion session is to explore these issues further.
= Education in an Electronic Era: Richness, Reach, and the Emergence of New Learning Communities: Dave Hornblow (TOPNZ)
Previously: Richness or Reach
Now can do both.
This term comes from the work of Van Weigol.
The Trade-Off Between Richness and Reach
More opportunities for real world projects.
Lave (1988) redefined learning in terms of relationships amongst persons-acting, activities and contexts.
Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in practice: Mind, mathematics and culture in everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
I diverged a little at this stage. Thank goodness for Wireless!!
Here is a story I have never heard, from the book I had never consciously looked at:
Lave provides numerous examples of learning as a situated phenomenon. A classic example involves members of a Weight Watchers program problem-solving to determine appropriate food servings. As Lave (1988) describes: “Dieters were asked to prepare their lunch to meet specifications laid out by the observer. In this case, they were to fix a serving of cottage cheese, supposing that the amount allotted for the meal was three-quarters of the two-thirds cup the program allowed. The problem solver began the task muttering that he had taken a calculus course in college. Then after a pause he suddenly announced that he had ‘got it!’ He filled a measuring cup two-thirds full of cottage cheese, dumped it out on a cutting board, patted it into a circle, marked a cross on it, scooped away one quadrant, and served the rest” (p. 165).
This example well illustrates how individuals frequently use cues and tools from the environment (the wording of a problem, three-quarters of two-thirds; the cutting board and cup) to create artifacts (the patty of cottage cheese) in order to solve puzzles encountered in daily living much more often than by directly calling on formally-learned knowledge and skills.
As Lave (1988) observed, at no time did the Weight Watcher check his procedure against a paper and pencil algorithm [3/4 x 2/3 = 1/2]. Instead, problem, setting, and enactment were the means by which checking took place (p. 165)”
Flogged from a web page with some audio.
More diversions. Dave Hornblow is a fan of Bryan Van Weigol (‘why-gol’) Deep learning for a digital age: Technology’s untapped potential to enrich higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass (2002)
I was interested (disappointed??) to see this comment:
While distance education has improved educational reach, it so far has failed to do much in the way of “bringing depth and dimensionality” to learning. It also largely lacks passion—the ability to make you fall in love with a subject.
But later on he says:
Constructivism involves healthy doses of play.
What a wonderful image!!
Plus Embedded Assessment
Keynote Three:Maret Staron
The message is that there is no one-way or no best model for working and learning in the Knowledge Era. We are challenged to think beyond the familiar and to recognise, value and celebrate ‘humanness’, while investing in the characteristics that define a learning and working ecology.
She quoted Martin Seligman’s work on optimism, life in balance, not being obsessive.
Keynote Four: Stanley Frielick, Real change: Institutional challenges and opportunities A great talk. Pity we didn’t have some time to talk over the ideas.
Troublesome Knowledge (an interesting concept I must follow up sometime)
Threshold concepts : Threshold concepts are a relatively new idea developed by Meyer and Land (2003) and applied to economics by Davies, P. (2003) and Reimann and Jackson (2003). They offer a potential way of describing levels of understanding in a subject that could be used in assessment for learning.
From Davies P and Brant J (forthcoming) Teaching School Subjects: Business and Enterprise, London: Routledge
Meyer and Land define threshold concepts as having five characteristic
From Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motercycle maintenance
[The real University is] a state of mind which is regenerated throughout the centuries by a body of people who traditionally carry the title of professor, but even that title is not part of the real University. The real University is nothing less than the continuing body of reason itself.
Metaphors: Bateson. Worth following up later.
Stanley’s threshold concepts.
Concept 1: Think Web.
Concept 2: Thinking Ecologically.
Concept 3: Learning systems
Audience Comment: “Power resides in the one who asks the question – ask the students how it’s appropriate for them to be assessed”
One: Sean McDougal: great story teller, 25 minutes of our small group time used up in a few questions, some of them well thought out, he used a remarkable small group activity much like that that we used in Portugal.
He reminded me a lot of one of my hero’s, Stephen Heppell, then when I Googled him, found he has worked with the old UltraLab.
These are superb little machines, with the physics being anything from Y5 to Y13. Saw a great video. Some videos.
Two: Mark Nicholls.
A great talk. Change. Based on his 10,000 pages of reading during his FLLinNZ year, and “Common Sense”. We had a great 8 minutes for the exercise. Really needed a little more time.
He used started with CE Beeby:
“I began to understand in depth how an educational institution can be trapped in its own history, by an action it took fifty years earlier rather than by a judgment on current events, by the things it has come to take for granted even more than by the things it consciously believes.” (in the 1930′s)
Another of his presentations from E-fest last year. Institutional Change: Oxymoron or Opportunity.
Kotter: Change is lead, and requires teamwork. (“Lead, not managed” – my comment)
Kotter’s eight step change model can be summarised as: