Friday, January 27, 2012

Open Content Licensing for Educators 2012

Hand in Compost from The Greenest Dollar

I came a little late to a fantastic week-long online workshop on Open Content Licensing for Educators (OCL4ED) about Open Educational Resources (OER) and Creative Commons (CC) but found plenty of ideas to reflect on.  In an introductory video called Learning4Content ,Wayne McIntosh, the founder of WikiEducator presents some of the key concepts of the course.

Although I have tried to "catch up" with some of the exceptionally well presented material in the course, I feel that I am unsure about two issues:
1.) The freedom I have as a university lecturer to share my materials.
2). How content creators can make a living.
Personally, I am unsure of the "ownership" of curricula that I create for my online courses taught through a university. Since what I create is the result of what I have learned from others through books such as Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms , A New Culture of Learning; dozens of free webinars; and free online courses such as those offered through the Electronic Village Online (EVO), I feel that I would like to freely share what I have learned.   However, I'm not sure to what extent I can legally to do that. Although some institutions such as MIT have made certain courses freely available on the web, the impression I get is that universities and school districts are in a state of flux regarding these issues.

The second issue that does not seem to be dealt with directly in the course is how people who produce content can successfully earn a living if they share it all freely. In the case of teachers and professors, perhaps nothing would really change if they made their curricula or projects freely available on the web with CC licenses. However, in the case of musicians, photographers or videographers, for example, I'm not sure how they would be compensated for their creations. Their creations are their source of income.  Even if they put an All Rights Reserved CC license on their creations, isn't it still quite easy to "pirate" their material?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tools for Connecting Through Voice and Image

As part of the Electronic Village Online (EVO) 2012 session Becoming a Webhead, I am trying out various audio and video tools to evaluate their usefulness for teaching languages.  As I progress I will be adding to a Googledoc called Communication Tools which I created.  It is open to the public for additions or changes.  Feel free to contribute.

Right now I am embedding a short message that I created using AudioPal.  It was extremely easy to create, but what I want to figure out is whether it is possible to set it to mute.  I don't think it's a good idea to have audio turn on as soon as people open a blog because sometimes they are in a public or group setting and it can be distracting to everyone else.  So here goes the message I recorded using text-to-speech on AudioPal.  (BTW I discovered that in text-to-speech it is better not to use abbreviations because the voice doesn't produce them clearly).

OK. I can see that you have control over the playing of the audio. Now I'm going to try Voki.
Here's a link to a character and recording I created.  But I am also going to embed the same thing here to see what happens.

Ok.  Now let's see what Audioboo looks like.

Test of Audioboo (mp3)

Thursday, January 12, 2012


In A New Culture of Learning  Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). The New Culture of Learning, the authors extol the benefits rather than the difficulties of the relentless pace of change that we are all experiencing.   In their eyes, A growing digital, networked infrastructure is amplifying our ability to access and use nearly unlimited resources and incredible instruments while connecting with one another at the same time (p. 17).

Two essential elements they focus on for purposes of learning are collectives and imagination. I'm going to comment a little on collectives and save imagination/play for another day.
In collectives constant interaction among group members, with their varying skills and talents, functions as a kind of peer amplifier, providing numerous outlets, resources, and aids to further an individual's learning (p. 51). ... But equally important is the ability to add one's own knowledge to the general mix.  That contribution may be large, such as a new website, or it may be a series of smaller offerings, such as comments on a blog or a forum post.  It may even be something as trivial as simply visiting a website.  But in each case, the participation has an effect, both in terms of what the individual is able to draw from it and how it shapes and augments the stream of information (p. 52).

This concept of learning through a collective sounds similar to George Siemen's theory of Connectivism which he posits in A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.  In this 2005 article Siemen's says, The starting point of connectivism is the individual. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.

In rereading Siemen's article I discovered that Siemen's actually refers to John Seely Brown.  He comments that John Seely Brown presents an interesting notion that the internet leverages the small efforts of many with the large efforts of few. The central premise is that connections created with unusual nodes supports and intensifies existing large effort activities.  And Siemens concludes, This amplification of learning, knowledge and understanding through the extension of a personal network is the epitome of connectivism.

As I participate in several of the courses offered by Electronic Village Online (EVO) 2012, I find that I am learning through interacting with the participants in each course.  I can see that the participants in each are eagerly forming collectives.  As Thomas and Brown say, Unlike a classroom where a teacher controls the lecture, the organic communities that emerge through collectives produce meaningful learning because the inquiry that arises comes from the collective  itself (p. 54).

Friday, January 06, 2012


I am attempting to organize my links and get set up for the EVO (Electronic Village Online) courses that begins on January 9.  In the syllabus for the first week of Multiliteracies for Social Networking and Collaborative Learning Environments, I found a link to the video above in which Howard Reingold interviews George Siemens. 

In the video George Siemens gives a detailed explanation of a MOOC (massive open online course).   I have  tried to participate in some MOOCs in the past, but I think that I didn't understand the concept behind them well enough to get much benefit from them. I am now lurking in the 16th week of a MOOC called Change: Education, Learning and Technology and from here on I will  have a better idea of how to navigate the chaos, expand my own learning and contribute to the conversation.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Transformational Tasks

The focus of José Picardo's blog post, Teaching and Learning with Social Media: A Case Study, really struck a chord with me.  Usually when discussing the use of technology in education, we talk about how tech tools can "enhance" teaching and learning.  However, Picardo discusses the use of social media not only to enhance but  to transform learning tasks.

He says, Most interesting to me was the transformative potential of blogs, Web 2.0 applications and social networks, not only to enhance existing practice, but also to create new technology-based tasks which would have been previously inconceivable ... 

Picardo refers to Transformation, Technology, and Education a 2006 presentation by Ruben R. Puentedura  who divides learning tasks into 4 types, two which enhance learning and two which transform it.

Image from Ruben R. Puentedura

Enhancement type tasks
Substitution - Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change
Example:  Word processor used as a typewriter
Augmentation- Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement
Examples: Use of word processor functions such as spellchecking and cut and paste
Transformation type tasks
Modification - Tech allows for significant task redesign
Example: Textual, visual, audio tools for construction of shared knowledge
Redefinition - Tech allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable
Example: Tools for visualization and simulation, social computing, digital storytelling, educational gaming

I decided to try to apply Puentedura's  typology using the 2 broad categories of enhancement and transformation to the Activity Types posited in World Languages Activity Types which I found in Grounded Tech Integration: Languages an article in the  ISTE Connections online magazine, Learning and Leading.  My conclusion was that the transformational aspect of tasks lies in the ability of language learners to do one or both of these things:
  • Have more control over their own learning
  • Interact  and receive  feedback. 

Here are some examples: 
  • Instead of playing an audio recording in class, the teacher posts a link to the podcast on a class blog and asks the students to post their responses to the podcast on the blog.    In this way, the students have control over the number of times they listen to the podcast and post a response which is available to a wide audience for further feedback.
  • Instead of asking students of deliver a presentation for the class, the teacher asks the students to create a video podcast which is then posted online for feedback.  Since there are many devices now available for creating and editing videos, the students would be able to create a product they were satisfied with before posting it for feedback.
  • Instead of having students send letters to a pen pal, the teacher can set up exchange emails with a speaker of the target language.  (Sites like Edmodo and ePals allow for teacher monitoring of exchanges). Or to provide language in context, the teacher could develop Skype exchanges with students in a target-language country through a site like ePals.
  • Instead of taking students on a school -sponsored  field trip, teachers can provide links to sites where students can take virtual field trips to sites not otherwise available because of distance and expense.
  • Instead of giving students access to written material in the target language in the classroom or library, the teacher can ask the students to  materials such as FL newspapers online and write comments directly on those sites.
  • Instead of asking students to write text-based stories in the classroom, the teacher can ask students to write digital-stories using  photos from Flickr on sites like BookrBubblr or Stupeflix.
  • Instead of having students fill in speech bubbles on teacher-supplied comics, teachers can ask students to create their own comics using sites like GoAnimate or Dvolver.
There is no doubt that Puentedura's conceptualization of how technology can not only enhance but transform  teaching has helped me immensely.  You can go to As We May Teach on iTunes to learn more about his ideas.  #change11