Yes, we all have time to blog

People often complain they don’t have  time to blog. This week I’ll have two seminar opportunities to try to convince people that even very busy people can blog – provided they are ready to change some daily work and life routines.

Journalists and students amaze me when they appear at meetings and jolt down notes on paper. There are so many tools for digital note taking these days – and for online and public note taking. There are still so many people keeping their bookmarks on their own browsers, instead of using social bookmarks, not to mention the limited use of tools such as Google Reader.

In March I posted on PBS MediaShift about the tools helping to “live-stream your newsroom”, but in fact one could use those same tools for a personal learning environment — and blogging is part of that environment. I now tried to use Prezi as a concept map and presentation tool in order to express these ideas. In contrast to the more linear slideshow I made about the subject, the Prezi-version shows better the cycle of the social media.

It starts from digital notes and concept map wikis, to evolve via Twitter and Tumblr to RSS feeds, social bookmarks, long form and live blogging to immersive discussions and participatory presentations. If everything goes well, the comments and interactions help the blogger to restart the whole cycle.

The emergence of simple tools such as Tumblr and Posterous, combined with smartphones and tablets, make it much easier to keep up with blogging and social media. This may sound self-evident to many of you, but in broader circles the discussion about the possibilities of these tools is just beginning. Just look around, how many entrepreneurs, managers and experts are actively blogging? Many of course, but many more don’t use these tools or ask their communication departments to do it in their place.

So here is the Prezi, I’ll update the thing this week, so don’t hesitate to comment!

Second Life cohort will augment online seminars with virtual spaces at #PLENK2010

plenk2010 hq in chilbo

This is the virtual reading and meeting room for the connectivism courses in the virtual town Chilbo in Second Life. As pointed out in a comment on my previous post, there is a Second Life cohort (group PLENK2010) getting ready to experiment and a wiki has been launched.

One of the problems is that however immersive and engaging synchronous online meetings may be, they do cost time. There are already weekly Elluminate sessions to be followed for the PLENK2010 course, adding meetings in Second Life is not self-evident.

Glen Gatin on Conviviality Corners suggests to organize meetings in Second Life, enabling participants to share the same virtual space while attending the Elluminate sessions. Using UStream it might be possible to intervene (also using voice) from within Second Life.

But is there enough added value in this? People in Elluminate already can use a white-board and audio, maybe even video. The experiment will have to demonstrate that sharing a same space, creating watercooler-moments before and after the meeting, leads to more engagement and immersiveness.

Time for our personal learning environments #PLENK2010

It’s that time of the year again I start asking myself whether to register for the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” again. I did so previous years, and even though I never managed to follow-up on the activities till the end, I always learned stuff and enjoyed the discussion with the other participants.

This year it seems the course is called Personal Learning Environments, Networks and Knowledge 2010. This course is a joint venture between the National Research Council of Canada (Institute for Information Technology, Learning and collaborative Technologies Group, PLE Project), The Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University and the University of Prince Edward Island. Facilitators: George Siemens, TEKRI, Stephen Downes, NRC, Dave Cormier, UPEI, Rita Kop, NRC.

From the forums I quote this:

The idea behind the personal learning environment is that the management of learning migrates from the institution to the learner. The PLE connects to a number of remote services, some that specialise in learning and some that do not. Access to learning becomes access to the resources and services offered by these remote services. 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.” (Downes, 2007, 19)

In other words, what does it mean and how do we proceed when we use online networks, social bookmarks, collaborative video sharing and editing platforms, virtual environments, blogs and wikis (forgetting many other services and applications) in order to organize our own learning process?

The question interests me a lot. The previous years however I felt the course was very much a paradise for academics and teachers. Learning of course goes far beyond that, and my own interest is more how to organize self- and group-learning later in life, independently from the educational institutions.

Anyway, even though it is in a very classical classroom setting, I did like this video by Patricio Bustamante about personal learning environments (and of course academics and teachers never use full words but prefer talking about “PLE”):

Even though the course is about to enter the second week, there is still time to register. It is a connectivist type of (free!) course, based on aggregation, remixing, repurposing and feeding forward. It’s a bewildering experience but then again, you’re not supposed to learn and study all the stuff which is presented, it’s about using tools and creating collaboratively (I think).

There are quite a few Second Life residents active in the course, just do a “second life” search in the forums! Telmea Story launched a SL group PLENK2010.

(Archive) Connectivism Course in Second Life

(archived post, 8-25-2008)

I signed up for the Second Life Cohort of people attending a course about Connectivism. The social tools used as well as the content of the course seem very interesting.

The content: allow me to quote the course wiki:

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge is a twelve week course that will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and explore their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning. It will outline a connectivist understanding of educational systems of the future. George Siemens and Stephen Downes – the two leading figures on connectivism and connective knowledge – will co-facilitate this innovative and timely course.

Okay, I guess this is still rather vague… I found this text by George Siemens, Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, which provides more answers. For instance:

Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical.

Principles of connectivism:

* Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
* Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.
* Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
* Capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known
* Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.
* Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill.
* Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
* Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

Connectivism also addresses the challenges that many corporations face in knowledge management activities. Knowledge that resides in a database needs to be connected with the right people in the right context in order to be classified as learning. Behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism do not attempt to address the challenges of organizational knowledge and transference.

Very nice, maybe, but others might say pretty obvious statements. However, attending the course could very well make things more interesting, not only because of better and more explanations by the experts, but because of the learning experience itself.

Social tools: The learning experience will be mediated by all kinds of social media tools. On the blog for this course I read that by the end of July 1,200 persons signed up for the course, which means that the course can be rightly called a MOOC or Massive Online Course, which makes it even more necessary to make clever use of social media technology.

Each week the course will include a series of readings, recorded presentations and podcasts. During the week, a “live session” will be held in elluminate. These sessions will include a combination of presentation and discussion. Asynchronous discussion will be held in Moodle. All events will be open to the public.

How Second Life is involved? Fleep Tuque, co-founder of the Chilbo community in Second Life, proposed to take advantage of the sense of “co-presence” one feels when meeting people in Second Life to hold weekly discussions about the Connectivism course and construct the Connectivism Village where members of the cohort can “live, learn, and play” in Second Life. What else we do is up to the group, but we may:

– Hold group or individual conversations in voice chat.

– Submit builds, objects, models or other projects as assignments for the Connectivism course.

– Invite other members of the Connectivism course to come visit our location in Second Life.

The Chilbo community is hosting the land and space in Second Life where the SL Cohort of the Connectivism course will be held. When the Chilbo Summer Fair wraps up at the end of August, the fairgrounds will be torn down to make way for the construction of the Connectivism Village.

In the SL Cohort there are more than 100 people now from all over the world. That is yet another fascinating aspect of the MOOC: people from all over the planet will gather in this experience.

Will it succeed? I sure do hope so, and will report about the Connectivism course here on MixedRealities.

Roland Legrand