Networked Learning Discussion

Bennan Keith raised some very interesting points about the MOOC. And Rebuttal offered by Downes responded those arguments in all fairness. Both writers’ contradictory point of view on this topic enlightened me about pros and cons and limitations of MOOC and connectivism. I will pick only two points raised by Bennan and evaluate them.

For instance, Bennan’s says that “negotiated sense of self can engineer success or failure of the educational experience” and he continues to deduce that connectivism discourages novice. Downs responds that urge to learn can be driven by circumstances and it does not necessarily come from self-efficacy. In a typical course, instructors mostly count on student’s motivation and they are quite limited on tools to create that “artificial urgency” that Downs show in saving the crashing airplane in disaster. A classic K-12 full time teacher lacks that amount of time to create that “artificial urgency”.

Another important argument is magnitude of cognitive load. Bennan debates that “Too high a cognitive load decreases a student’s sense of self-efficacy and too low triggers a boredom.” I believe this is very valid point if novice participates in a connectivism course. In general, a new participant feel over-whelmed with the magnitude of information that he has to decipher in the very beginning of the course. Down negates his point by saying that modern e-learning system interfaces take care of this and present information in increasing difficulty order. For example, a common email user of google can login in single step to check email. An advanced user can do lot more with his email(gmail) account; he can implement 2D verification, he may allow access rights of multiple devices, he may permit many third party applications to work with his gmail account.  Another important point that Down raised to outweigh Bannan’s argument of cognitive load, students do not have to read everything. They should have a basic skill of filtering and “noise cancelling” to find out what are right contents for them. I think novice lack those basic skills of filtering out right information, which frustrates them and discourages them.  But this is not failure of connectivism because basic skills of filtering should be taught at lower level in brick- and-mortar education system.

Does the connectivist pedagogy stand or is it flawed?

I argue that connectivist pedagogy stands but it is not flawless.  In dynamic world, evolution in technology and education philosophy will overcome its shortcoming. We have seen this pattern in primitive type of postal-correspondence based distance education system, which has already evolved into modern interactive system. Postal-correspondence type of distance education system was best with the given skills and technologies of that time but was it flawless? Those flaws were removed by the interactive technologies and it is quite possible that flaws of connectivist pedagogy will be overcome in near future and that will evolve it to next level.

Organizational skills and low-motivation level of K-12 students require very structured and detailed learning outcome with rubrics. Connectivist pedagogy works well at university level. I believe further studies on connectivist pedagogy will fine-tune this discipline and make it lot more adaptable at K-12 level. I hope that teacher colleges in future emphasize more on this and produce teachers who are equipped to use this at lower level.

Teaching Philosophy within an Online Context

Terry Anderson and Jon Dron have gone quite in detail to introduce the development in distance education over last five decades. Moreover, it is interesting to note that how changes in the philosophy of education reflected the development in the distance education system. Initially, it was postal correspondence type of distance learning where it was serving the Behaviorist- cognitivist approach to pedagogy. This group argued that learning should change one’s behavior.  So it didn’t value student-student and student-teacher interactions for leaning. In addition, it was assumed that knowledge in books should provide food for thought of individual learner.  Therefore, they as individuals should be able to know, comprehend, analyze, synthesis, and apply the learned knowledge.

Later social-constructivist emphasized more on student-student and student-teacher interactions to meet the goals of updated version of Bloom’s taxonomy. Technological developments in web 2.0 tools provided interactive solutions in the forms of chat groups, forums, blogs and comments, web-conferences.  Most recent type is connectivitist pedagogy, where students don’t need to learn new things; they can just go online and find the required information online. Everybody acts as a node on the information network and seeker can reach the provider online directly. Instructors role is reduced to a participant. I think technological developments over the past half a century has provided solutions to many problems that education faced and it has progressed in a very democratic way and has become more decentralized. Now, for the most part, control is in the hands of the real stake holder i.e learners.

I mostly use social-constructive type of teaching method. I am teaching high school students, who are not very well self-motivated. They require very structured plan. Moreover, detailed instructions about learning outcomes greatly make their life easy. There can be variety of different assessment tools but ambiguity in learning goals discourage the low-efficacy students of k-12.

3.4 Social Bookmarking

I found http://pinterest.com very useful took for social bookmark. It has very good user-friendly layout.  Moreover, It is very easy to organize into categories (boards) and add a new link(Pin) to the category. It is also possible to share picture right from one’s desktop.  Pinterest can pull contents from those links and show header information to visitors. You can access my board here https://www.pinterest.com/urusman/education-technology-in-the-curriculum/

Pinterest board links can be shared with class and students can see all important links, picture and documents in proper categories. This is very helpful for review before major tests in secondary school.

I have not used any social bookmarking service with my students yet because I am afraid that it will be blocked in China. I went to http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-bookmarking-websites to find social bookmarking website and was surprised to know that most of them are already blocked in China.

Web-Resource Criteria.

Authority, Timeliness, Accuracy  of Content Bias Sources

Poor
0 points
Fair
2 points
Good
4 points
Marks
Authority

 

 

 

 

 

 

No information about the author found on the page Author is known but his credentials are not strong enough to write about the topic. Author is affiliated to for-profit organization. Author has fairly good credentials and expertise in the field and he is not linked to for-profit organization.
Last updated

 

 

 

 

 

 

No information about update time found on the website or information is outdated. Currents events updated within six months but historical topics updated one to two years ago. Currents events updated within the last one month and historical events updated within six months.
Factuality of the contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information presented as facts are questionable, and are based mostly on the author’s opinions. It lacks supporting details like no data. The contents seems to be truthful, but the writer’s opinions are frequently revealed. Contents contain some cliché. Some supporting details are presented but those supporting details can not be verified from other sources. Has some information
about details and quality.
The contents provide facts and seems to be free from author’s opinions or bias. And has lot of data to support the statements. Contents contain suffeient details with data to support facts. Morover information can be verified from other sources.
Sources

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author fails to provide any references to the source of information or no reference information given on the web page. Only a few references support the content.

The author occasionally explains where information came from but does not provide direct links to original information.

The author clearly reveals the source of information and provides direct links to original information.
Motive Writer’s motive to sell a product or idea for his personal gain. The website tries to encourage the visitors to think a certain way. The motive of the website is to inform and educate its visitors.

 

Total Marks:

 

Website to analyze: http://www.medicinenet.com/diabetes_treatment/article.htm

Poor
0 points
Fair
2 points
Good
4 points
Points
Authority

 

 

 

 

 

 

No information about the author found on the page Author is known but his credentials are not strong enough to write about the topic. Author is affiliated to for-profit organization. Author has fairly good credentials and expertise in the field. 4
Last updated

 

 

 

 

 

 

No information about update time found on the website or information is outdated. Currents events updated within six months but historical topics updated one to two years ago. Currents events updated within the last one month and historical events updated within six months. 4
Factuality of the contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information presented as facts are questionable, and are based mostly on the author’s opinions. It lacks supporting details like no data. The contents seems to be truthful, but the writer’s opinions are frequently revealed. Contents contain some cliché. Some supporting details are presented but those supporting details can not be verified from other sources. The contents provide facts and seems to be free from author’s opinions or bias. And has lot of data to support the statements. Contents contain suffeient details with data to support facts. Morover information can be verified from other sources. 4
Sources

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author fails to provide any references to the source of information or no reference information given on the web page. Only a few references support the content.

The author occasionally explains where information came from but does not provide direct links to original information.

The author clearly reveals the source of information and provides direct links to original information. 4
Motive Writer’s motive to sell a product or idea for his personal gain. The website tries to encourage the visitors to think a certain way. The motive of the website is to inform and educate its visitors. 4

 

I think medicine net is a great website to search and cite information about diseases, their treatments and research in medical field.

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I find Delano criteria quite different from mine so I want to use his criteria to analyze information provided on medicinenet website.

  1. URL — .com (commercial) but many website like Wikipedia use .com as tld. So having .com tld does not necessarily mean their commercial motives.
  2. Author:  Robert Ferry Jr., MD— never heard of him, but clicking on this names shows his expertise in the field.  A quick google search results show that he is well known Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology
  3. Purpose:  To fact check — Inform, Teach,
  4. Links: To other articles that support information given on the website.
  5. Authority:  Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology
  6. Does it pass the smell test?  Yes, I think information given on the website are very objective and can be verified from variety of different sources.

It is very interesting to know that even thought I used quite different criteria to evaluate the medicinenet website but results turned out to be same. I think it is safe to conclude that a trustworthy website will always get good marks if any well-thought criteria is used to assess the website.

3.1 Reusable Content

This is a great link with lot of science resources for students and teachers.

http://science-teacher-wiki.wikispaces.com/?responseToken=371aa66c709b7e94dd12717776273d84

Footer of the websites states that “Portions not contributed by visitors are Copyright 2016 Tangient LLC”.  So I think best way to use resources shared on this website is to share link with students rather than copying contents or printing them for teaching purpose.

However, some contents on this website fall under the “Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License.”, which permits following rights

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
  • for any purpose, even commercially.

—————————

Following is a another useful link for teaching about tectonic plates in grade 10 science.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Tectonic_plate

The footer of page has information about Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

which permits following rights

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
  • for any purpose, even commercially.

2.3 My Take on Digital Literacy

Verifying that online information is credible/relevant/accurate

As part of my ICT 11 course, I taught a lesson on identifying credible information online. Objective of the lesson was to identify website that provide credible information for academic articles. I began with brainstorming activity allowing students to come up with criteria to find credible information online.  Students worked in small groups to outline good criteria to assess credibility of online resources.

Students identified authority of author, timeliness, accuracy, contents, bias and resources of the online information most important to judge credibility of the information. After that students developed a rubric by following the criteria. Here is link to their criteria format.  http://usman.jksz.com:8088/owncloud/data/urusman/files/bcict11/unit1/day06/ValidityAndReliabilityOfInformationOnTheInternetRubricAssignment.docx

Finally, students used the criteria to evaluate different websites. Students found it very helpful topic as they are required in other courses to search information on web-based recourse. Students told me that before the lesson, they had hard time identifying what type of information was credible.

 

2.2 Educational Technology Help

I teach in China. So my challenges are relatively different from Canadian teachers. Here is list of my challenges and solutions.

Chinese Firewall. There are lots of great resources available online for students on video-streaming websites and educational websites but most of them are blocked in China. So my solution was to have a locally-hosted-system to share recourse with students.  I explored many stock-solutions like moodle but they didn’t meet my expectations as they were very demanding on server resources. So I learned programming all by myself. Many websites like stalkoverflow and w3school was very helpful in learning programming languages. I keep improving my website by learning more about programming.

Expensive and Foreign hosted server. It is hard to find data center in China with English services. On the other hand, foreign servers are not easily accessible in China. So I turned to our IT department. They set up server for teacher’s use. Our Chinese administration is very supportive of use of technology so they very generously spend money on updating technical resources.

Workshops have also been very helpful. Our school does a lot of workshop so that provides many opportunities for teachers to learn new stuff in technology.

2.1 State of Technology in Education

I found the survey responses on “students learning about Internet topics” very interesting. Part of reason, the statistics got my interest is because I teach ICT 11 and 12 courses in a BC offshore school. I focus a lot on these topics in my ICT 11 course.

 

The statistics confirms that we are heading in right direction as most of people considered safety, appropriate behavior, dealing with cyber bullying, understanding privacy issues and searching credible information online  “very important”. As all of us are mostly interacting with the other people through internet these days, so all these topics are relevant to modern technological advancement.

 

It was interesting to know that more and more people are showing interest in how their personal information are being collected and used. Now a days,  AI, big-data and APIs are becoming common features of the virtual world, so information are being used by many different authorities in different ways. If any one of the authority fails to protect user data then it may be exploited by hackers. More than half of the survey participants (69%) find it “very important” to learn that how their personal information are being collected and used.

 

RSS Feeds

I signed up for feedly account. I never used google reader even when it was working because I live in Shanghai and google services are blocked here. I have never used RSS for learning and teaching. It was my first experience and I found it very rewarding. I am fan of idea of technology in Education and I found many good feeds on this topic. I think I will continue to use it in future. One, great thing about RSS that I discovered is that I don’t have to go to those websites again and again to find something new, Feedly will collect all important stuff for me in one place.  I found following RSS feeds very useful.

1. http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2016/09/6-essential-edtech-tools-for-your.html

I found many important and useful apps for teachers on this feed that can significantly improve teaching and learning experience in class. For example, TechEdu allows teacher to create lesson using youtube videos. Moreover it allows students to respond to question on the videos, Teachers can monitor the statistics on who has watched the video and has responded to the question. I found it to be the best solution on the feed. In modern days, most students tend to learn from videos rather than reading books.

Another important solution on the link was “seesaw”, which allows students to create and share work with other students. It is electronic solution of typical pair-share activity in class.

2. http://www.edudemic.com/setting-classroom-expectations/

This feed also has quite a few interesting articles for teachers. I found “setting classroom expectations” very useful in class. it emphases on consistency on behavioral and learning expectations all through the course, Moreover, i learned that students can be involved in the beginning of the year to set the behavioral expectations so they become stake holder and own those expectations.

I can be reached at urusman|at|qq|dot|com