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I had a different idea of what this class would be like at the beginning. I figured it would include more reading about theory and practice. In the end, I have learned several things about the participation technologies, the IT industry, and about myself. I am not a person who feels the need to broadcast my thoughts often. I feel like this educational journey, at this point, is a personal journey. This made it very hard for me to have things to say for my blog and twitter. I don’t think I fully understood this about myself.

I also learned however, that mastering the skills necessary to maintain an online presences is beneficial in this field, and in academics. So more than anything this class showed me where my preferences and weaknesses are concerning social media and online communities of practice and gave me a road map and direction to move in.

I wish that I had had more time to commit to building an online presence during this semester, but time and scheduling would not allow it at this point in my life. However, I see what is possible and how to construct a plan that will work within an overscheduled life.

So this class has really provided insight and introduced me to important tools that I feel confident I will utilize in the future.

Of all the projects for this class, writing the conference paper was my favorite. It was a great learning experience—something that I have never done before. Submitting a paper was not as scary as I figured it would be, so I am truly glad we completed this project.

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Dr. Greenhow addresses why Web 2.0 technologies are not widely integrated in education in her article Social Scholarship: Applying Social Networking Technologies to Research Practices. She argues that a lack of research-based best practices and educator modeling are contributing reasons. This lack prevents scholars from identifying the “educative uses of participatory technologies.”

In light of this, Greenhow defines and examines “social scholarship” and ways to implement social scholarship into education, and specifically research practices. Greenhow defines social scholarship as the application of Web 2.0 technologies to change the way in which “academic learning is accomplished through social networks.” It is a blend of traditional, formal education, with the informal education possible on the Internet that “leverages and archives our collective intelligence.”

Greenhow feels that using various Web 2.0 tools and creating “semi-public virtual selves” will give scholars insight into their own work. She proceeds to list and describe some of the tools that all for building semi-public, virtual selves, specifically related to research and social bibliography sites.

Social bibliography sites like Delicious, CiteULike, and Diigo allow scholars to document their own work, as well as archive and comment on other resources. These sites are “social” in that they allow scholars to interact with other user bibliographies and share sources and information. Through this, scholars can both get feedback about their own work and resources and give feedback to other scholars about their work and resources.

Resources can be categorized and tagged so users can use that metadata to move from a source that was used in one bibliography to other bibliographies that list that same source. Greenhow quotes Taraborelli’s prediction that “metadata analysis and ranking may eventually supplement that traditional peer review within print-based journal manuscripts by contributing a ‘soft peer review” based on how much an author’s work is cited, tagged, or reviewed online.”

Greenhow feels that these soft reviews may bring attention to work not published in library journals, which could benefit scholarship overall, widening scholarly perspective.

She does mention the counter argument that such a review process would lead to a “narrowing” of sources by “privileging the new and the popular” and possibly mediocre.

Social bibliographies and bookmarking will help scholars stay abreast of resources that are added to and updated in the various bibliographies they tag. They may even be able to build academic relationships through such interaction, which could further enhance their academic prowess. Doing so puts the “principles of openness, collaboration, and sharing to work in the research process.”

Greenhow concludes by mentioning the notion of cyberinfrastructure and the impact such infrastructure would probably have on scholarship and education, namely that individuals will require connecting to “peers, experts, and mentors via electronic networks” to carry out their work. Greenhow feels that educators and scholars will play a role in defining and establishing the best practices for this. She concludes that further examination of the affect of social bibliographies on scholarly research is needed, especially considering that the ways in which scholarship is “conceived, taught, and accomplished” is transforming.

Greenhow’s arguments are compelling in that she presents both sides of this issue and defines a path of discussion for her colleagues. I think the idea of marginalization, or “narrowness” as Greenhow identified it, is important to consider. We have discussed many times in class how if no others read something a person posts, it has no impact on the greater collective. Sources that are measured only on how often they are included in bibliographies, may eventually exclude works of importance that are for whatever reasons rarely cited.

The article only briefly touched on plagiarism of collected works, which I suspect the ease of collecting sources through social bibliographies could encourage.

Nevertheless, Greenhow brings to light a valid point, that scholarship is enhanced through openness, conversation, and collaboration. Web 2.0 participation technologies certainly enhance these and the K-12, postsecondary arenas will each soon realize the research potential created by these tools. Finally, I feel Greenhow’s conclusion that educators and scholars will play a valuable role in defining such research and scholarly infrastructure is critical to how these tools will inevitably be accepted in education. I appreciate her call to colleagues to own the role and responsibility because it appears to be happening with or without educators, whom I am sure would agree they would prefer to have a say in developing best practices for education.

Article: Greenhow, Christine. (2009). Social Scholarship: Applying Social Networking Technologies to Research Practices. Knowledge Quest, Social Scholarship. 37(4), 42-47.

I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it seems to always be the same distance from me no matter how much I get done. But I will prevail! Our paper is coming along well and I am personally learning a lot. Hope the end results is worthy.

I really appreciated how succinct White was in his description of the visitor/resident theory (would that all be so). His explanation about the sliding scale was very helpful to me in understanding that rather than being either/or, a person could be either/or, a little of both, or none at all depending on within what aspect of their own life they were operating.

I also appreciated the statement in the blog that both are stances are correct. There seems to be a trend in over-generalizing in this industry, perhaps because so many the terms and words vary in meaning depending on the person using them. Or perhaps because there is still so much to be defined that it is easier to theorize in sweeping terms. Prensky demonstrated this by claiming that digital immigrants should just give up their resistance (because all digital immigrants are resisting) and convert to the ways of the digital natives (because all ditigal natives HATE the “old” ways). His claim that digital immigrants who feel that the digital native ways are ineffective are “just dumb (and lazy)…” …Well, I’ll just write that one off to not enough coffee the morning he wrote this.

Seems more likely that a bad teacher is so no matter the medium and students want to be engaged in the learning process no matter the method.

I think the idea of moving into the post-digital realm in which the academic conversation is morphing into a socio-cultural one is interesting and worth thinking about possible implications in terms of education.

Here is my question: What pedagogical approaches are appropriate given a mixed class of residents and visitors? It seems like an approach that leans heavily one way or the other would make uncomfortable or alienate those in the class who are on the other end of the spectrum. Curious about other’s thoughts?

Adam Smith remarked that individuals inside a free market were self-interested, but that an “invisible hand” existed that regulated the market despite that self-interest. It works great as a theory, but in community settings, there is need for services that cannot be performed by individuals operating solely out of self-interest. Take for example interstate highways, which require creation and maintenance so that everyone can use them. In present-day mixed economies, within which range most countries operate, the government provides those services.

This economic example came to mind as I was reading Attwell (Att) and Schaffert/Hilzensauer (SH). The use of PLEs and social software to promote self-directed learning seems balanced on the regulation of an “invisible hand” of education. While the notion of a PLE is not without some benefits, ATTs argument that the new tools require completely new methods of teaching and learning seems extreme – though this isn’t the first time I have heard/read it.

There seems to be a general notion that the prior practiced and tested methods of learning no longer apply with these new and improved tools. For that reason, I think some of the arguments in ATTs paper are possible only in a perfectly functioning “free market-type” learning world.

There is merit to the notion that through developing ubiquitous computing capabilities, combining vocational and occupational learning through a PLE will help bring the two together within the work process. But that depends, I think, on the type of work and the associated work environment. If both are suitable for this type of combined, self-directed learning, the situation would need to be ideal for the application to work.

I find it interesting too that implementing a PLE for the purpose of supporting informal, self-directed learning will require a shift in the “ethos and organization of education.“ Perhaps in certain circumstances providing more independence and responsibility to the learner is appropriate and will yield better results, but not all learners are interested in and capable of such self-directed study. It seems there are several unexplored implications of this fact that render the notion of a complete paradigm shift in education to self-directed learning, made possible by the use of PLEs, risky and insincere.

The SH article highlighted both possible benefits and possible drawbacks of PLEs, which I appreciated. This article seems a bit more realistic in what it was proposing, though there were several points I still question – namely, (and I always have trouble with this one) the democratization of knowledge. This is a term that people apply as they feel it fits – does this mean get rid of the experts or does it mean equal opportunity learning (very different to me)? I believe that both have already occurred in certain fields (the film industry for one).

However, the notion that all people can become experts through connectivism and social software is a stretch for me.

Maybe it’s true in some cases that what information there is available to me and what collaboration social networking provides can increase my understanding and knowledge of a specific topic to what might be considered expert status. However, (again) expertise in all fields through these mediums is not really possible. It is the difference between a hobby and a trained and honed skill. I wouldn’t let Joe perform open heart surgery on my loved one because he conducted a self-directed study via social software and a PLE.

There seems to be a trend in blanket statements when discussing technology and education – fix-all solution/theories. Which I think is why I appreciated Couros’s article. First of all, he neatly distinguished the differences between PLEs and PLNs – I always come back to defining the terms, but really, how can true discussion and understanding occur if the interested parties understand the terms to mean different things (unless that is what the actual discussion is about).

What I found interesting about the pilot class was that it seemed to incorporate elements from both practiced methods of teaching/learning with newer theories. His blend was obviously successful – although I am curious about the range of student experience and how class exercises were graded. I find it interesting that despite this push to move away from the elite “experts” to more general discussion and knowledge building, the people that were brought in for discussion were “leader” (experts) in their fields.

(By the way, if the education world is moving towards self-directed, informal learning that equals and surpasses formal learning, then please explain to me why I am spending so much money on this UT education?)

Overall, I feel there are benefits of both PLNs and PLEs that require further research and exploration. Couros’s example proves that parts of these theories, separate or blended, can work in specifically designed circumstances.

Adventure learning, as in the case of the GoNorth! series, seems to have been well received as a cool, innovative way to use technology to enhance K-12 education. Whether used in a curriculum-based, activity-based, standards-based, or media-based way, teachers and students have enjoyed the experience. Students seem to better grasp the information when they enjoyed the method of content delivery. The two things that struck me about this adventure learning example compared to other technology integration practices was the human element.

Students logged in every week because they were following real humans on adventure quests and learning along the way. The GoNorth! Team seems a lively bunch. They communicated directly with the students, keeping technology as a tool and people as the communicators. Peer interaction enhanced the experience for students.

For me personally, this adventure learning experiment was successful for that very reason. Technology allows for brilliant possibilities concerning education, but there is sometimes a tenancy, whether in excitement or merely inexperience, to promote technology in education for technologies sake and not for the betterment of the students.

I can see this type of adventure learning becoming a popular form of technological integration in the classroom.

As a side note: Where do we sign up to participate as GoNorth! team member?

Links, articles, and information for K-12 Online Learning: Viruals Schools class on Thursday, Feb 11

To expedite the activities we have planned for our Teach IT!, here are some of the sites we will visit during class:

We will use the webspiration site to organize our individual and group thoughts about the readings. If you do not already have an account and you have time prior to class, please sign up.
http://www.mywebspiration.com/

We will spend some time discussing Florida Virtual School, you will have some time in class to browse through the website, but for deeper review, please explore the site if time permits.
http://www.flvs.net/Pages/default.aspx
http://www.flvs.net/Documents/WhyChooseFLVSVideo.aspx

Here is the link to enter the Adobe Connect meeting room:
https://meeting.austin.utexas.edu/r36932107/

virtual%20success

I have always struggled with learning theories, because I want to apply different parts to different situations, often times blending them. I have trouble understanding why it is necessary to pick only one to support for all learning situations. So, adding connectivism to the list further increases my feeling that parts of all of them apply at different times.

Connectivism = it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Yea, that will get you far, but it doesn’t account for everything. It also erases the notion of the individual. Hey if I am at home doing something off-line and I suddenly figure something out – create new understanding and knowledge for myself – how does connectivism explain that? Or is it not really knowledge at all?

Every day, I deal with the dilemma that old educational methods have grossly fallen behind what new technology offers – speed, open knowledge, vast networks and communities, etc. But just because something “is” doesn’t mean that that is the “best way” or that it “should be.”

I like that information, access, and even advice are quickly available should I need them. But we don’t only live in a virtual world. We live in the real world, where we can smell and touch things. People learn from smelling and touching too. So why does all education and learning suddenly have to be contained in the virtual worlds created by technology?

I think I am a cynic and a skeptic because all of this talk brings the question to mind, “What good things are we leaving behind?”
There is truth and fact and both can be twisted in good and bad, right and wrong ways. I find it interesting that there are so few current educational articles that even come close to approaching those conversations. I get it – we are still defining “what” it is and can’t yet say which parts are truly innovative and which parts may actually be setting humanity back.

After all of this, I guess where I stand is unconvinced — not that there is benefit to social networking and the dissemination of some knowledge through technology, and that that should be explored for educational value, but that it should completely replace the old ways because newer, younger generations demand it to be so.

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