“’It’s not going to work. This is a case that is not going to work, because the owner doesn’t want to allow what you normally do with your kids . . . . The hardest part for me is that the father or mother chooses the dog instead of the son. That’s hard for me. I love dogs. I’m the dog whisperer. You follow what I’m saying? But I would never choose a dog over my son’“ (Cesar Millan quoted by Gladwell p. 148 ).

Anyone who has watched the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, in action may have the misunderstanding that it’s all about the dog, his perspective, and his needs. Yet, Millan would tell you it’s not dog over human or human over dog; it’s about the interaction and relationship between the two.

When I read the above passage in Malcolm Gladwell’s recent compilation of his New Yorker articles in What the Dog Saw, it reminded me of the reaction some educators have to learner-centered learning. They think it means giving all the preference to the learners, without boundaries.

Those of us training experienced instructors who are new to, and nervous about, online delivery would do well to remember that learner-centered isn’t a shift of power but a shift of perspective.



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.)

The Dunes and Deltak

March 24, 2010

Last week was Spring Break. Other than visiting the Lake Michigan dunes for an exhilarating climb out onto the ice flows, the highlight was visiting Deltak in Chicago. I met a representative from there at the job fair at the IST Conference who had invited me to come visit sometime, so I did.

Deltak’s stated mission is: “Deltak is focused on extending the mission, programs and reach of our academic partners to a broader geographic and diverse population of learners. Leveraging our experience, knowledge, and capabilities we connect learners seeking online degree programs with prominent institutions that possess a reputation for academic integrity and rigor.”

When I first started researching online learning in 2000 and saw how poorly some programs were being done I thought, “I’d really enjoy partnering with institutions to help them develop quality online degree programs.” Sounds very much like that’s what Deltak does. Interesting . . .


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.

I attended my first-ever IST conference on the Bloomington campus this past weekend – very worthwhile! While there, I met with my advisor to discuss my portfolio goal statement – in other words working on “what I want to be when I grow up.”

A discussion of the key panel members mentioned the lack of correlation between how well someone does in a school program (good grades, good student, etc.) and how s/he does on the job. In other words, the best students don’t necessarily make the best doctors, lawyers, teachers, IST professionals, etc.

This brings into serious question what’s being taught in university programs who are presumably certifying that people are competent to enter a particular field. For someone wrapping up her time of study, it causes one to ponder the connections (and lack of connections) between what has been taught and the way things really are, asking questions like, “I thought I was preparing to do ‘this,’ but in reality if I take a job in this field, I’ll be doing ‘that.’”

I also talked to several company representatives at the job fair which possibly did more to clarify the relationship being content and skills taught and the opportunities (as well as lack of opportunities) to apply that content and those skills than has anything else in the IST program. Perhaps everyone should be required to attend job fairs at the start of a degree program.

So, as I’m writing a goal statement, listing my “skills” and “qualifications,” and considering what artifacts to place in my online portfolio that demonstrate those, I find it useful to “stay hungry” (reference from Jobs presentation link below) and “feed” my perspective by going back to a few inspirational life-stories of people who first pursued their gut instincts rather than following some pre-scripted career paths such as Matt Harding and Steve Jobs.