Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

I attended the rally Oct. 30 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The rally officially started at noon, but when a friend and I arrived at 9:00 in the morning to find a spot, the mall was already filling  up. The rally  was a great experience. It was a mixture of good music, good fun, good sane people and a serious message.

Jon Stewart ended the rally with the message that despite what we often hear on tv or in the news about how divided we are as a nation, as individuals we actually do all work together everyday to get things done .  His complete closing remarks are in the video below.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Jon Stewart - Moment of Sincerity
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or FearThe Daily ShowThe Colbert Report

The signs people carried were creative and very humorous. Here are a few:

I'm as moderate as hell.
Politics has been too concerned with right or left instead or right or wrong.
Be quick to listen and slow to anger.
I'm using my inside voice.
My comedy channel Fox News.  My news channel Comedy Central.
Somewhat irritated about extreme outrage.
Separation of corporation and state.
Civil is sexy.
U.S. Department of Peace
It's a sad day when our politicians are comical and I have to take our comedians seriously!

Below is a video about the rally that was posted on Al Jazeera.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Jumping into Personal Learning Environments, Networks and Knowledge 2010

By tsakshaug
Although I had signed up for a free, online course called Personal Learning Environments, Networks and Knowledge 2010 (PLENK 2010) facilitated by George Siemens, Stephen Downes,  and Dave Cormier, I hadn't had a chance to jump in until today.
On reading about various features of a Personal Learning Environment  (PLE) in an EDUCAUSE  brief, I found these two quotes particularly salient. A PLE ... puts students in charge of their own learning processes, challenging them to reflect on the tools and resources that help them learn best. This way of looking at learning changes the role of the teacher who then becomes a real facilitator instead of a provider of information to be learned.  As expressed in the article, ... [T]eaching is less a matter of data transmission and more a collaborative exercise in collection, orchestration, remixing, and integration of data into knowledge building. I have seen in the university courses that I teach, that graduate students can take charge of their own learning when given the opportunity.  I also assume (but haven't researched) that the idea of self-directed learning is the basis for Montessori schools.  What I am wondering is if this same process works in middle and high school.  Is it possible?  Is it being done?  Who's doing it?

In Learning networks in practice, Stephen Downes explains how the PLE allows the
learner not only to consume learning resources, but to produce them as well. Learning therefore evolves from being a transfer of content and knowledge to the production of content and knowledge. Now as far as producing is concerned, students have always produced things ranging from illustrating a story  in elementary school to writing a thesis in high school.  How does the use of a PLE change that?  The answer is in the formation of learning networks which become the basis for continuing the learning after producing something.  The feedback from others can lead to refinement of both products and ideas.

Learning, in other words, occurs in communities, where the practice of learning is the participation in
the community. A learning activity is, in essence, a conversation undertaken between the learner and other members of the community. This conversation, in the Web 2.0 era, consists not only of words but of images, video, multimedia and more.

According to Downes these communities should display four essential characteristics:
1.  Diversity - This means being exposed to a wide spectrum of experiences.  Diversity allows us to have multiple perspectives, to see things from a different point of view. These views moderate each other, and prevent us from jumping to a conclusion.
2.  Autonomy - This means that each learner operates according to an individual and internal set of
principles and values.
3.  Connectedness -The knowledge produced by a network should be the product of an interaction between the members, not a mere aggregation of the members’ perspectives.
4.  Openness - Each participant in a network must be able to contribute to the network, and each ...needs to be able to receive from the network.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mark all as Read!

By barockschloss

On her blog, Librarian by Day, Bobbi L. Newman gives some very practical advice regarding how to keep your Google Reader RSS  feeds manageable.  She gives some practical tips in her post Be the Master of Your Domain, How to Conquer Your Feed Reader .

One thing she suggests is exactly what I have been doing lately and that is - when my Google reader gets too full and I'm feeling guilty about not reading all the posts, I hit "Mark all as read."  What feeling of relief!

But Bobbi also offers some tips on weeding your Google Reader.  For example, she suggests:
1.  Ask yourself if you are getting the information somewhere else, like Twitter or Facebook.  Do you prefer that method? Unsubscribe.  
2.   Look at what you are reading. Under “All Stuff” is a “Trends” link. When you look at your own trends:

  • First weed anything under Inactive.
  • Then take a look at Frequently Updated.  Maybe if it (the blog)updates too frequently you should consider unsubscribing.  
Bobbi says she has unsubscribed from some really popular tech sites  because the authors just post too much information.  I've done the same, although it's always with a pang of remorse at losing a good connection.

Today I'm suffering from information overload again, so I'm going to follow Bobbi's advice.  I "pruned"  earlier this week, so I think it's time for "Mark all as read" until I can do some serious weeding!