Three courses, three experiences of education and digital cultures

Three courses, three different formats. The first two courses are about education and digital media. It seems the first one is a MOOC along the connectivist ‘tradition’: distributed on various web media, putting the learners in charge of their own experience, facilitated by what is called in this case ‘conspirators’. The second one is organized on the Coursera-platform, which normally means a more classical, top-down learning experience. However, the participants are invited to co-create course content and the organizers want to involve the “wider social web”.

The last course is not necessarily about education, but about literacies of cooperation. The organizer, the virtual communities and digital culture expert Howard Rheingold, does not want this to be a ‘massive’ experience, instead the course is limited to 35 learners (and you’ve to pay a fee). I participated in previous editions, and I can assure you it’s pretty intense.

#etmooc is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) about educational design and media.
Welcome (Jan 13-19): Welcome Event & Orientation to #etmooc
Topic 1 (Jan 20-Feb. 2): Connected Learning – Tools, Processes & Pedagogy
Topic 2 (Feb 3-16): Digital Storytelling – Multimedia, Remixes & Mashups
Topic 3 (Feb 17-Mar 2): Digital Literacy – Information, Memes & Attention
Topic 4 (Mar 3-16): The Open Movement – Open Access, OERs & Future of Ed.
Topic 5 (Mar 17-30): Digital Citizenship – Identity, Footprint, & Social Activism

At Coursera: E-learning and Digital Cultures – Jan 28th 2013 (5 weeks long). This course will explore how digital cultures and learning cultures connect, and what this means for e-learning theory and practice. Follow this course at #edcmooc. This course will consist of viewing short film clips alongside associated readings, as well as discussions and group collaborations amongst participants. Interesting: “E-learning and Digital Cultures will make use of online spaces beyond the Coursera environment, and we want some aspects of participation in this course to involve the wider social web. We hope that participants will share in the creation of course content and assessed work that will be publicly available online.”

Howard Rheingold is convening “Toward a Literacy of Cooperation: Introduction to Cooperation Studies,” January 24 -March 1.
A detailed syllabus: http://socialmediaclassroom.com/host/cooperation4 a six week course using asynchronous forums, blogs, wikis, mindmaps, social bookmarks, synchronous audio, video, chat, and Twitter to introduce the fundamentals of an interdisciplinary study of cooperation: social dilemmas, institutions for collective action, the commons, evolution of cooperation, technologies of cooperation, and cooperative arrangements in biology from cells to ecosystems.

What does the success of Minecraft mean?

‘Could Minecraft be the next great engineering school?’ Scott Smith asks at Quartz.

He explains that Minecraft can be considered as a particularly interesting MOOC – and an example of peer2peer learning.

Minecraft has become a kind of anarchic massive open online course (MOOC) all on its own, without developing courseware or costly new program licenses. Part of the proliferation is due to user-created video, particularly on YouTube, where a quick search yields 7.5 million mentions. Video podcasts, recordings of building in progress and most importantly, walkthroughs, or videos of players demonstrating how to master levels or particular construction techniques, keep the global Minecraft horde digging and trying to impress or teach one another, forming a key part of the informal player-to-player education that makes the game a fascinating phenomenon to observe.

Let’s have a look at this game and engineering:

Minecraft is spectacularly popular, even though it’s an open or ‘sandbox’-game. Wagner James Au at the New World Notes reported a while ago that the game is more popular than Call of Duty on Xbox Live – as it became the most popular game.

Which contrasts with my conviction that these open ended, sandbox-like games only cater for a niche audience. Is Minecraft a unique success story or is there a wider trend in favor of these open games? Linden Lab is launching Patterns which seems to be heavily inspired by Minecraft, so they seem to believe in the wider trend.

Another question is why Second Life – as another open environment – seems to stagnate if such a trend exists. Could it be that sophisticated graphics are of lesser importance?

Read also my post about Minecraft in Layar and Minecraft Reality.

‘Virtual worlds are not dead, they only smell funny’

Allow Flufee McFluff to introduce this post about the first day of the MetaMeets conference:



You can find the mindmap on which my own presentation (slideshow) was based in the previous post. I update the mindmap in function of what I learn during this two day-conference.
Some highlights of the conference:

The artist Sander Veenhof showed us the beauty and the subversive power of augmented reality. For instance by organizing an exhibition at the MoMa without any official approval:



Veenhof often uses Layar, which is a mobile browser for augmented reality. However, these days Layar seems to focus more on activating print media with interactive experiences – which may be more interesting business-wise, but seems less revolutionary. So it’s not surprising Veenhof these days is rather fond of junaio, which boasts being ‘the most advances augmented reality browser.’

- CJ Davies and John McCaffery presented the Project Open Virtual Worlds at the University of St Andrews. CJ is currently developing a modified Second Life viewer for a tablet computer that allows avatar movement & camera control to reflect the tablet’s real world position & orientation using a combination of accelerometer, magnetometer & GPS data. I think it’s pretty exciting to combine avatars and real world in this way.

- Talking about combining the virtual and ‘the real’, Bart Veldhuizen talked about shapeways.com which is specialized in 3D-printing in various materials – so not only plastics but also metal, nylon or silver. Shapeways boasts a community of about 150,000 members. So would it be interesting for those community members to collaborate in 3D environments? That’s not self-evident as the ideal designs for 3D-printing often diverge from what is ideal in a virtual world such as Second Life. Also, the community members may also be competitors and not so keen on collaborating. There is discussion about all this, as other designers often do want to collaborate and work in ‘virtual guilds’ and virtual worlds could be interesting places for discussions, brainstorming and early prototyping.

- So, to refer to Flufee, are virtual worlds dead, now that the talk is so much about 3D-printing and augmented reality? In the discussions about virtual worlds Maria Korolov (Hypergrid Business) gave expert advice about OpenSim, which seems a good solution for education, especially for younger kids. This was also demonstrated by Nick Zwart, an award-winning pioneer in the educational use of virtual worlds (language education) who uses OpenSim.

Content vs. service in media & education — BuzzMachine

Jeff Jarvis: “I ask us — in journalism and in education (and in journalism education) — to aspire to being services. That requires us to start by thinking of the ends.”

This is so right. Aspire being services, in education as in journalism, as both activities have so much in common. 
via Diigo http://buzzmachine.com/2012/11/19/content-vs-service-in-media-education/

Singularity Hub acquired by Singularity University

I recently posted about a video-interview with Ray Kurzweil I found on Singularity Hub. I also mentioned the membership-model this site uses. Now the site announced Singularity University acquired it.

Keith Kleiner founded the site five years ago. At first I thought it was part of the Singularity University, but in fact both were unrelated – until now. Kleiner in a post on the Hub:

(…) the two companies surprisingly had never formally collaborated in any way. Recently, however, Singularity University CEO Rob Nail and I came to the realization that our two organizations would make a perfect combination, ultimately leading to today’s announcement.

Organizing my Online Brain

So what have I been doing at the Think-Know course facilitated by Howard Rheingold?

These past few weeks we’ve been using Diigo extensively. This social bookmark-service is well-suited for group collaboration. While the course group is reserved for members, you’re welcome to join my own group about the impact of technology on society and the economy (apply and I’ll respond).

The next phase was mindmapping. This is an example of a Cmap I made of one of our synchronous sessions:

mindmap of an online course

(click to enlarge)

During that session we talked about TheBrain, which is a mindmap and database in one. The nodes of the knowledge plex are called ‘thoughts”, and some people have more than 100,000 thoughts in their online brains. This is the company-presentation of TheBrain 7:

This is a section of the Technology-thoughts in my online brain – the tools enables you to have this kind of random walks:

Now what are the benefits of using a tool such as TheBrain? It allows to get things done by externalizing a number of cumbersome brain processes. It generates ideas – e.g. I was integrating a thought about Andy Clark‘s Extended Mind and Natural Born Cyborgs, and through a link/association with another thought about the reproduction of traditional gender relations in the counterculture, I realized I should study Donna Haraway and her feminist thinking regarding cyborgs and minds. This is a typical ‘jump thought’ facilitated by these tools and which makes them so valuable.

mindmap with donna haraway as active thought

Disclaimer: I’m using the above mentioned tools on my own expenses, I have no ties with the companies involved.

Peeragogy Handbook Rocks

Remember the Peeragogy Handbook Project, facilitated by Howard Rheingold? A group of learners from various continents work peer2peer to create this handbook which wants to inspire people who want to take their learning in their own hands.

The handbook has a very practical side – given that so many learning resources are online and for free, and that so many people are out there, worldwide, who want to learn, how can we connect and build a learning experience which can be very different from the typical classroom-experience? The handbook also has texts and links about the theoretical underpinnings of these learning-styles.

I wrote about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) but these days I lack time to be actively involved – but I do consult the Handbook regularly and can see how it gets improved almost every day. Some very friendly co-learners now created a little video introducing my chapter about MOOCs:

Half an Hour: International MOOCs Past and Present

Stephen Downes on Half an Hour now has a list with international Massive Open Online Courses. 
Let’s not forget: there is more out there than the xMOOCs such as offered by Coursera, edX and Udacity – the connectivist courses offer a very different learning experience, based on distributed platforms, the learner as center and peer2peer philosophy. 

So I’m very glad to find this list with international courses! 
via Diigo http://halfanhour.blogspot.ca/2012/11/international-moocs-past-and-present.html