Long time no see

After a little break, I returned back to my favourite topic – as well as to continue work with my research proposal about – elearning process visibility.

I’m try to clarify the framework for my thoughts and things & methods to research with. The context deals with the field of elearning, in the areas of learning processes The approach tries to reach elaboration through observing the learning process: in theory and in practice. Enrich the aspects of a learner and a mentor. Objectives are set to understand better – recognize – the details/nyances and differences of pre-defined (proactive approach) and authentic (pragmatic? approach) learning processes.  Utilization of the results aspire supporting learning and tuition by the presumed higher visibility provided by the understanding these nyances and differences: what’s really happening? Utilization is presumed to support learning and tuition as an individual (learner, mentor) and a collaborative (peer, group, community, networked) activity.

Why all this? I’m not interested if all this sounds relevant or irrelevant – meaning the “seeing more ’bout the processes” thematics. Why to observe or try understand processes and their differences – is it useful? We don’t know, if we do not try to look. In my opinion, normativity comes afterwards – I am not willing to create any suggestions or concepts before I am able to see clearer – the details and the differences.

I went for a little walk to get some air to my thinking and some miscallaneous thoughts did cross my mind.

1) Do the learning and e-learning processes differ? If do, where, why and how? One aspect could be the variety of our presence: physical, face to face, virtual, networked. For example, connectivism promotes the learning of networks, not individuals that much. What is the role of individual learning? Well, at least we play a significant role of a node in the networks, and if the nodes affect on the learning, we should be deeply aware of the learning in these nodes.

2) Can learning be seen as a process – presumably highly individual and continously in progreess – , which consists of different learning situations, “sub-processes” – which are useful to put under observation? Can we gain more if we could recognize this network of processes and see clearly the “things” within? Are we able – by seeing more – to elaborate and develop our learning or the learning of those who we mentor?

3) What this visibility actually is or could be? Seeing more? Recognizing things we don’t traditionally see? Seeing the undeterministic nature or characteristics of things that relate to learning?

4) Seeing can be traitorous: things may not be what they seem. Risk of subjectivity? This is an interesting question (well.. at least for me), thinking about the challenge what we may face when trying reach deeper understanding of individual nature of deep learning and an objective view of things that really matter or should be considered e.g. in guidance?

5) Tools for process visibility? Cabability of the modern IT-era: our actions occur more or less in networks, using different tools to connect, produce, collaborate, filter etc. -> focus lies highly in the content and the structure (networks, communities), yet – in some cases – the line is quite difficult to draw. How does – or should – the content or the structures tell us information about HOW we work? For example, how do we learn? Or: how are we learning today – now? Where are we heading with our learning – into a good or bad direction? If the latter, what we should do to correct the “navigation”?Despite the ever-increasing pace of openness and real time web promotes quick (and unfortunately sometimes: dirty..) ethos, should we be more interested in questions like “where we are going”? Where SHOULD we be going? Whats the difference with our “vision” and our actions? I believe that the shared content or the structures cannot tell us that – at least comprehensive enough. Is there need for knowing these things? For sure – not just by my or your subjective view about our excellence, enthusiasm or else, possibly even emotionally-driven estimates? When you stand or swim in the information flow – even the serendipidious floating is welcome every now and then – can you locate yourself in the map where you want to be? Are you really heading for your big objectives? If you know that you are, please comment, what tools or methods you use, that you can be so sure – or can you even see, that there are lacks or deviation with your actions past, now and future, that demands you to develop things to achieve the goal? Yes, I know: these kind of analysis would give us also bad news: your action is – despite the high volume and quick tempo – insufficient here and there. The core of genunine deep learning is merciless: the quantity does not substitute quality.

I feel no bloodstopping relief after writing this out – vice versa I might say. But cause these thoughts seem to haunt me, it sounds an excellent field of study 😉

What inspires me the most, is the approach: I imagine that someone could say, that I’m trying to see something irrelevant or something that there is not.I understand and consider that it is natural. But, only denying things – it gives us no wisdom.This intuition encourages me to continue and look further – asking the right questions?

Any comments my friends?

#stop_______ (fill in the blank, please)

After several attempts to trying to understand these conference twitter gigglers ‘n video remixers, I’ve been quite disappointed if social media is being promoted this way: there seems to be enough doubts, justified prejudice and almost fear when moving towards being a social media user – no need to cumber this with arrogance, “virtual backstabbing” or whatever you call it. If someone ask a question or have doubts, calling her/him “stupid” only might portray what you present.

But fortunate: there been arising some(tu?) interesting discussion about this – and could be interesting to see more, especially in english.

In these discussions I found at least three ways, how e.g microblogging is or can be used in conferencing – tools are the same, premises and objectives seem to vary quite lot:

  1. Live reporting: using Twitter, Qaiku, etc. for reporting conferences “as-is”, who is talking, about what, etc. At least now I start to respect many of these fellows which are able to describe these sessions. This really gives addedd value, are you in the actual session or not: it’s great, big applause for all those altruists who do this for us others. I think that these conventions are interested in “sharing“.
  2. Collaborating: some kind of participating instead of mere observing, this is a two-way-addition to the previous, where tools are used to comment, ask, elaborate, focus, share, bring out own – various aspects and opinions. Proactively, real-time. This can develop different conferences and presentations in a new level. There are challenges in arranging back channels visible for “presenters”, etc. but maybe the biggest challenge is (as a participant) to bring out own questions, opinions, contradictions etc. to the frame. What if I ask “stupid questions”? Take the risk. This format includes a great promise of development. I think these conventions are interested in “sharing” also, but “dialogue” and “development“, too.
  3. “Giggling” (sic!): using microblogging etc. for criticising the conference, presenters without real criticism,  (assumably) for entertaining, because that’s what always been done. Of course, no-one and nothing is out of criticism – but nothing should not be left outside. In this, open social media (or vice versa, I dunno) faces some challenges. Especially, due it openness and the challenges of arguments, respect and trust. You can’t have all without losing some or more. I was just wondering if IRC is so passe, that – even it would be better as it is more closed – it is more trendy to use Twitter on this. But now there seems that all the jokes are not taken as only jokes. Arguments for this relate to “getting the pressure out”, “presenters (which are seen as ‘rockstars’, my dear lord) are like celebrities: prepare for anything”, “Twitter (and other tools) are so restricted that argumentation cannot be done”, “messages relate not to persons (even they relate to some persons) personally”, etc. Biggest differences to the two previous ones seems to be the total lack of proactivity and (in many cases) constructivity. I have always thought that even if we present creative views, the timing and contact is also essential: your points should reach the object and the message should look somehow relevant. But if these (constructivity, proactivity, relevancy) are not even the objectives of this, why bother. Why bother to even do so? But when using social media on this, we shall not be so naive claiming for closedness, moderation, intimity or anything else after you’ve personally just misused all these. Right? This kind of communication is mainly interested in ???.

I am not against development. I am against suppressing develoment. Tools are just tools: what matters, is the ways that we use them. Creating nothing or regression? Or enriching our world in a brand new way. It’s quite funny to notice, that e.g. Pekka Himanen has brought us thoughts about innovation, creativity and more which relies upon and is being relayed with trust, respect and other.. well quite difficult and challenging things.

These things are a lot of connections – quality of connections?

CCK09, after the 1st week

First week of CCK09 is over – and I cannot say that things are not that clearer with my thoughts about connectivism 😉 I do not mean, that the subject has not been interesting. Also, participating first time this kind of course has been really inspiring. Despite the fuzzy thoughts – and maybe it is supposed to be little like this: at least I’m satisfied that I’ve been challenged (or challenged myself) to think things really different way.

First week was supposed to provide “an overview of Connectivism as a theory of learning“. And that it did. It might sound a little bit silly, but in a way, “some parts” of connectivism seems quite “easy” or intuitive to understand – but on the other hand, it is really challenging to make a clear and profound picture what its all about. Maybe for the easy part I think is the “need” for network and connection oriented, “un-propositional” description of learning. More complicated were the “fundamental” (physiological) basics, and discourse of the “core” of connectivism. Especially interesting were the discussions about connectivism and its’ relation to previous learning theories (behaviorism, cognitivism, and especially constructivism). I found quite challenging – despite the vast introductions – to draw strict lines where we can talk about connectivism and where “connectivism” we talk about is “connected” constructivism. If the traditional education, closed classrooms, “connectionless” single actor learning, etc. come into discussion, I see them not as a objective or result of constructivism. But it was nice to see, that George (Siemens) replied me and asked to clarify me about the constructivistic views I used in these discussions (yet I don’t know if he’s actually interested or was I just unclear as usual 😉 ).

The main questions introductions and discussions arouse – and some of them still exist unanswered are e.g. Does widening perspective create a new theory (connectivism being theory or not)? Does constructivism deny autonomy (connectivism allows autonomy)? Is constructivism only aggregation of perspetives? Does constructivism, especially socially cognitive view, understate social “entering”, being heard or interacted?

There were also discourse about meaning of knowledge in connectivism (in this case the meaning of knowledge in constructivism seemed to occur every now and then). Knowledge in connectivism: not knowlede in the traditional sense? Not one “solid” thing? Not only my “property” (property of an individual)? Breed in networks, but not a property of networks? More a “system” (dynamic) instead of “maybe complex but still a static pile of information”? But I still ponder: is consctrutivistic knowledge always propositional? Can it be seen, that if constructivism is more working with building blocks (you can build what ever you want and paint them as you like), knowledge in connectivism is more like “epidemic” -> it grows and breeds undeterministic (like bacteria), and the results can be something, that was not meant to, unpredicted and unexpected. But again, is this is only when we think constructivism being always propositional?

During these reflections, I notice two big views arising: the principles of connectivism vs. “connection-extended” constructivism.

Connectivism does – more than brings something new – emphasize other things than constructivism”?  (19/9/2009)

More questions than I had a week ago? I agree and wasn’t that one of the principles that Socrate presented? (Well he talked about asking the right questions.. maybe there’s something to do with this).
Post scriptum: after writing and especially reading this particular post, it really addresses that the reflection should be done in smaller pieces.

And so does CCK09 …

What does? Begins, I mean. I enrolled to CCK09‘s Moodle where there were about 50 persons already registered.Nice to see that also this time, it seems that almost whole globe is being represented. I believe that this (real diversity of nationalities, cultures, etc.) brings the real connectivity more alive.

I also took first looks at the readings etc. of the following week, under the monicker “What the Connectivism is?”.There were a couple of presentations and an interview of G. Siemens and S. Downes – focused on the basic principles of connectivism as an concept and a theory. I feel that it’s quite easy to apply the main ideas in the domain of online learning- still waiting for deepening the views that before and already I’ve constructed.

Seems interesting as I thought. I actually did what I’ve planned to do with or without attending CCK – translated couple of articles in Finnish, in holy purpose to understand the profound basics and concepts – as I’ve studied most of the theories in Finnish. I’ve wondered’ n pondered about the nature of online learning processes: it was nice to see the “emphasis” of the process aspect and also I interested getting more about the social online learning processes – if I didn’t get everything wrong, I believe that connectivism deals alot with that genre.

What was not a surprise also, the arguments about connectivism being a learning theory or not were presented quite strongly. I think that is an essential debate, although I’m not too good in nor that much fond of concepts. But along the mundane “acclamations”, it’s releaving to observe or even participate profound discussion about things we deal with. Connectivism enriches (“expands”) the learning process of an individual and adds the elements of social learning?

ECI831 begins

Seems that there’s some kinda impatience on the move; could not wait until Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2009 starts next week – I joined “EC&I 831″ aka “Social Media & Open Education, offered by University of Regina.

I suddenly realized that I’ve got familiar with almost all technologies and services concerned, but what always needs deepening, is the proper understanding of philisophic and pedagogic aspects in networks and education technology.
The basic idea of ECI831 seems quite similar to Connectivism (even I’ve not participated a single session in CCK09); both synchronous and asynchronous, reading and writing, networking etc. Ok for me.

eLearning and Process Visibility

What do we really know about your learning? Not “what you know“. Not “what you have learned“. I would like to know “how had you learned it“? What was the process? How was the process like? Were there maybe several processes?

Why? I’ve been fascinated about “seeing” and “getting-to-know” more about learning processes, especially when learning goes wholely online. Traditional observing lacks due the small amount or even absence of physical appearance – the challenge isn’t any easier. What and how I should get information about the students’ learning processes – and could I gain about that information in the sense of mentoring?

There are a couple of premises: first, it’s said that the role of a teacher transforms more and more into a mentor than just information sharer. Second, to provide decent mentoring and guidance, one should design the guidance processes proactively beforehand. Learning processes, eLearning processes, increasing tutoring, tutor-teachers, etc.-> all promote the meaning of learning processes.

Before such (but most probably really relevant) normativity, maybe I should first take a look what the learning and eLearning processes are about?

I mean, designining learning process is – in my opinion – a different case than an authentic learning process. The other is designed “de jure”, the other is happening “de facto”. I can (and really should) design and manage great learning processes, but I should also be interested in “what’s happening”. To recognize? To compare? To analyze? To be able to guide?

In many cases, proactivity and right-timed intervention are one of the keys in learning-enhancing mentoring (e.g. Engeström). I’ve heard, that increasing mentoring to the full assures that everyone is “learned right”, like mentoring was some kind of filling a vessel. Sad to admit, but in worst cases, the wrong-timed mentoring can cause harmful “damage” to the learning (e.g. Vermunt).

When you do not give guidance (that’s an act also), you might support or damage your students’ learning. When you do give guidance, you are before the same two selections. Do we need to know something about the processes we’re about to guide?

Future Assessment Challenges?

We have discussed a lot of the characteristics and problematics of assessment, especially concering our educational transition from traditional and blended to virtually holistic arrangements of online degree. Assessment is a interesting but a hard case in many angles. Assessment has a complex nature, it demands a lot of concurrent personalization and standardization, there’s a need for more deep and learner-oriented assessment methods. Plagiarism has popped up in many discussions – especially how to recognize it and deal with in elearning. Of course, there’s been a lot of research and such about assessment – we’re not carrying the burdon on our own. But as the field of research is huge, it’s a bliss and a curse at the same time: how does one get a clue about the big picture, especially about the change and future challenges of assessment? I was just wondering if I had a chance to attend some kinda seminar or a briefing lecture about the future trends of assessment, especially in the aspects of elearning.

On Tuesday, Prof. Margaret Price had a nice Elluminate-presentation about “Shaping Assessment for Future” in Learning Futures Festival. The session dealed a lot with the present and especially the future challenges of assessment (be it traditional or distance education and learning). Among other things, Margaret presented a manifesto of six tenets about assessment that have been examined in ASKE (Assessment Standards Knowledge exchange) centre.

The presented six tenets of assessment were (1) “assessment of learning” or “assessment for learning”, (2) reliability (including that our systems are for marks and grades, not for comprehensive and deep assessment!!), (3) the nature of standards, (4) engagement and participation, (5) understanding standards and (6) assurance of standards. All tenets concidered assessment as a “key driver” in education , especially for student learning. The challenges beyond problematics are vast and demanding. However, I think that the small steps are best as long as the aim is set high enough: assessment includes a lot of that substance which creates the quality of learning?

After quite inspiring and critical thinking stimulative presentation, there was a little discussion about the implementation of these tenets, like assessment renewal in course design, assessment and educational technology. Of course, it would been a nice addition to cover more about the problematics of assessment in online education and elearning – but this surely gave a bunch of new tools for dealing with our challenges in online education assessment processes.

Learning Future Festival – part 2: Media Zoo

A short but informative presentation about Beyond Distance Research Alliance‘s Media Zoo -portal: interesting collection elearning research. I was really bluffed about the site layout which gave me totally false impression about the portal – what a bloody concervative am I.

At first sight, projects like ADELIE (in Pet’s Corner), ELKS (in Safari Park) and – despite my nature of a true luddite – almost the whole contents of Exotics House.

In addition to physical zoo (in Leicester, as far as I understand) and Media Zoo web-site, Beyond Distance Research Alliance’s also having a Media Zoo in Second Life, slur found here.

Like Louis Balfour of Jazz Club would say: “Nice!”.

Learning Future Festival – part 1: Getting Started with the future

I’ve been participating Learning Future Festival ’09 (University of Leicester). The seminar started today, with really inspiring welcome session served by Prog. Gilly Salmon (University of Leicester). Interesting discussion about future trends (e.g. Horizon Project / 2008 report) and the roles of educational technology, education and learning. Setting the learning to the centre of our intrests, education as a supporting process and technology as a facility – sounds really homey, even nothing too self-evident when implementing institutional education services yet.

Overall, the agenda seems really interesting, looking especially for the new experiences using Second Life in education. Along the actual program, this seminar has promoted me how this Ning-platform really works in this kind of use.