My final project video for The World is Open course is based on the quote:

“With the enormous and intellectually enticing Web of Learning, anyone can now learn anything from anyone at anytime.” – Dr. Curtis Bonk



Hot Dogs and iPads

April 15, 2010

I subscribed to the RSS feed for Elliott Masie this week.  According to his site he is: “. . . an internationally recognized futurist, analyst, researcher and organizer on the critical topics of workforce learning, business collaboration and emerging technologies.” According to Dr. Curtis Bonk he is an “elearning guru” and gets 8 mentions in his The World is Open book.

His learning center was just about the only place I found solid information on online learning when I started researching it in 2000 and 2001. It was someone from his center who very kindly answered an email I sent for advice on where does one go to learn about how to do online learning well. IU was in their top three list (the others were Boise State and Florida State). It’s what brought me to IU so they have a soft spot in my heart.

The first article to arrive on my iGoogle page RSS feed from Learning TRENDS was both entertaining and thought provoking, though very short. It came out of a conversation Masie had with a hot dog vendor near his home so I want to share it with you.

NYC Hot Dog Vendor iPad Ideas


This week in class we’ve been looking at RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, podcasts, and videopodcasts. I was motivated to hunt down some to add to my iGoogle page. I’m not much for randomly searching the Internet, so this is a nice way to stay connected to specific things I’m interested in.

I have RSS feeds either directly on my page or through iTunes now for:

Learning TRENDS from Elliot Masie

Thiagi Group

TED Talks

NPR’s This American Life radio show

NPR’s Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me

What I love about this is how organized things are getting. Finally, there are really simple (like “really simple syndication”) ways of organizing and using the infinite amount of information the Web has brought us.

Now, if only I had an iPhone or iPad I could be portable with it all.


Quote of the Day

April 9, 2010

“I think every publisher in the world should sit down once a day and pray to thank Steve Jobs that he is saving the publishing industry with that [the iPad].”

Mathias Dopfner, Chairman & CEO, Axel Springer (publisher of newspapers) on Charlie Rose.

We have a dual significance here. First, is the idea that publishers are finally finding more sustainable business models for making content available digitally which means more content available and accessible.

Second, Stephen Downes (who visited our class this week via video conference), would say this is yet another example of content control by big business who impede free access.


My mom, who has done amazing digital art pieces with the eight tools of Microsoft Paint for years, bought an iPad on Saturday.  Here are her top 10 reasons she is in love with it:

  1. Able to learn tools in seconds instead of months like other programs I’ve used
  2. You can paint pictures right on the screen
  3. You can prop it on a pillow on your lap without it getting hot
  4. It’s easy to carry around
  5. It has thousands of apps
  6. Just one app, Sketchbook Pro, has enough brushes to paint a masterpiece
  7. I can keep it until I die and never use all the apps
  8. You can order your book instantly and read it now
  9. Apple tools are waayy easier than Microsoft ones to use and understand
  10. Steve Jobs is right, “It’s magic!”

Why go to College?

April 1, 2010

Mobile learning is the topic of the week in the World is Open. We read some of John Traxlar’s articles as well as having a live meeting with him via Adobe Connect which was great. Some of the interesting points and comments that came from those were:

  • “mobile learning is essentially personal, contextual, and situated; this means it is ‘noisy’” (Traxlar, 2007)
  • Mobile learning exploits privacy in places where women are restricted from other learning opportunities.
  • Learners are generating their own learning spaces.
  • Learning doesn’t get you a job.
  • Current 19th century learning models are being challenged to the point that about the only unique thing a university can offer any more is a degree.
  • “These attributes place much mobile learning at odds with formal learning with its cohorts, courses, semesters, assessments, and campuses, and with its monitoring and evaluation regimes” (Traxlar, 2007).
  • When thinking about using technology for learning one has to also be paying attention to the underlying political and power struggles that affect the how, when, where, what, and most importantly perhaps, why a particular program is being piloted. Those issues must be addressed as well.
  • A study with mobile learning was done with students in the UK (I believe) who were not likely to go to university. The purpose of the study was to show them they could do the lessons, it could be engaging, etc. in hopes they would then enroll in a university program. Evidently the mobile learning was so effective about half the students concluded, “Why go off to formal college when this works just fine?”

(All, except article excerpts are Traxlar meeting 30-March-2010.)

That means lots of talk about Second Life, massive gaming, and simulations – much of which most people have negative views about and see little educational value. Sarah Robbins (Second Lifer Intelligirl who has taught in Second Life, co-wrote Second Life for Dummies with Mark Bell, just came out with a new research book of which she is a co-editor, works for the Kelly School of Business, and is mom to triplet girls), visited our class via Breeze.

I was impressed how she fielded a question about concerns of people posing to be someone they are not. She said someone needs to do the hard data because her experiences are that some people, yes, use virtual reality as a place of entertainment where they might pretend to be more outgoing than they are or try things out they are not likely to try in offline life, but most people (like her and Mark) are simply the same people in Second Life they are offline. It was refreshing to hear someone with validity make those statements.

Sometimes fears cause us to make more out of situations than they really. While it’s easier perhaps to make up a false persona online, it doesn’t necessarily follow that people will do that. I think most of us have much deeper desires to be known for who we really are than to pretend we are something we are not. And, when others know and respond to who we are, we grow a little – we become. And, isn’t that what education is all about? Becoming the person we are meant to be?


Creating Community

March 11, 2010

“The key to remember is that the quality of the relationship is the most important thing to work on — don’t get distracted by the technology” (Steve Hoard shared this quote from Josh Plaskoff in one of our class forums last week). These past several weeks, I’ve looked closely at what is important in an elearning higher education program and am convinced it’s not the quality or “coolness” of the technology used but the foundational values of the institution that drive the pedagogical approaches used that cause the technology to be effective.

It’s not the piece or tool itself but what is done with it. The more I study, the more certain I am that what is done in the elearning classroom needs to be based in a strong sense of community whether it’s creating a community among learners as might happen in a university course, connecting volunteers to a non-profit organization during their training, or making the employees of a corporation (such as Deloitte) feel more connected to the mission of their employer.

Resourcing Online

February 22, 2010

With Second Life

As I was visiting a language class in Second Life this week, I was privately IM’ing a person from India who had helped me get to the right area for the visit, listening to the avatar teacher talk to a group of international avatar students, watching the local chat to see what was being input there, and listening to sounds coming from outside the classroom we were in, it was amazing to me the coming together of so many resources and wise use of online tools to help people learn one specific topic (speaking English).

The teacher not only had some moving visuals, but as she mentioned terms she thought might not be picked up well audibly by students, she typed the text of the words into chat so they could have the vocabulary reinforced. She did this without missing a beat in the conversation. Students could use the chat to ask questions or clarify as well. YouTube links, site links, sound files, and image files were instantly available to students that they could also easily save for study later. It was a very social, reinforcing atmosphere for learning.

With OERs and OCWs

I’ve always been a believer in providing people with resources and tools. In our course this week we talked about how that is happening online with some major initiatives toward making efforts to organize and make available all the content, resources, and tools out there – particularly Open Educational Resources (OER) and OpenCourseWare (OCW).

They ranged from the average person at Squidoo where “everyone is an expert on something” to the professional resourcing offered by MERLOT. Below are some sites that stuck out from this week:

•    Squidoo
•    Connextions (from Rice University)
•    MOOM (The Museum of Online Museums)
•    Tufts University’s OCW:
•    Penn State Live (professor’s anatomy quiz website)

The Assignment

As I’ve written about previously, I’ve been exploring Second Life. I would like to do an observation assignment for a qualitative research class I’m also taking in addition to The World is Open. It took quite a bit of convincing for the professor to allow me to do this for the assignment as she was under the impression Second Life is a game and that gestures, expressions, and personal interaction could not be observed there.

The “Experts”

I thought it would be easy to find an educational event to observe because I am acquainted with a few people who are professionally involved in SL. Not so. Some never answered my email requests, others suggested someone else but then those people didn’t answer my emails. From about six contact names, I came up with no assistance.

The Community User

Then I mentioned it in casual conversation to a friend who works with someone who spends a great deal of time in SL. Within 24 hours he’d met up with me and introduced me to the world of SL giving a lot of insight not just in the how-to aspects of exploration but for some of the rather radically impacting paradigm shifts that are currently happening there in how the community is structured to function.

So ultimately, someone I had never even met spent an hour and a half orienting me to SL simply because he has a passion for helping others get around in a world he has expertise in through his own experiences.

Community Spread of Knowledge

As we’ve discussed how learning is being opened via the Internet and the collaboration of masses of people that are making that happen, it is all the more evident that going to the “experts” isn’t always an option because they are busy, inaccessible, or just don’t want to help – but when there are thousands (even millions) of others out there willing to share their knowledge with others, then the spread of knowledge and experience becomes exponential!

See you in Second Life! For now I’m using: eLee Winstanley. If you decide to visit some snowed-in evening, send me a friend request, and we’ll do some exploring together.