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Deciphering Connectivism

After reading through the material yesterday on Connectivism for the CCK09 course, I’ve come up with the following visual representation of what I think it’s all about.



Legos by WoodleyWonderWorks on Flickr

Legos by WoodleyWonderWorks on Flickr

Magnetx by StevenKing on sxc.hu

Magnetx by StevenKing on sxc.hu



I’m of two minds about my attempt to decipher what connectivism is. On one hand, the above attempt could be considered constructivist since I did, after all, “construct” meaning through logic and language (image and text). On the other hand, I could argue that my attempt was also connectivist since, according to Downes, it was an attempt to create a “set of connections formed by actions and experience.”

Do you agree with my statements? Am I even on the right track to comprehending this slippery thing called connectivism?


Register Now for “Working in Virtual Teams” Webinar!

With online media and software on the rise, virtual e-learning teams manage projects and collaborate on content development regardless of their geographic location. Both managers and employees have certain habits or characteristics that make them effective virtual workers. This webinar explores those habits or characteristics, the collaborative software needed to work effectively, and methods for working in a virtual team.

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You’re Who Again? Twittering Your Name

Googling your name is an easy way to identify what you’ve got floating about the Internet. It’s also one of those things that potential employers will do as a free and quick background check (link to Newsweek story) before they call you for that interview.

TwitterBut, have you ever considered Twittering yourself?

It hadn’t even occurred to me until today after I sent my resume into a large education company here in the States.

On Twitter, you can find people by their name which is a good way to find colleagues, experts in a particular field, and friends or family. But have you done so with your own name?

I imagine if you have a fairly common name, like my sister, you will find many people popping up. I, on the other, hand only have two other dopplegangers tweeting (I own three of the five accounts that pop up).

So, while you may be thinking “so what?”, I’m guessing that bad press is, well, bad for you. That includes tweets from people you don’t know but share a name with. While I don’t have a perfect answer for how to overcome a flow of information you cannot control, I am going to do the following:

  • change my personal account name to something different since it is, after all, personal
  • make sure my avatar is consistent for business purposes that way there is a visual identifier even when the name is the same
  • be positive/neutral/truthful in my remarks because Mama always said if you don’t have anything nice to say, for God’s sake don’t tweet about it

Have any other suggestions on damage control or positive spin for “twittering” your name?

Book Review: Moodle 1.9 Multimedia

Two Thumbs Up

Original Image by Magic Marie on sxc.hu

This review is for Moodle 1.9 Multimedia by João Pedcro Soares Fernandes, a 272 page technology how-to guide published by PackTPublishing.

If you want to learn how to develop a course in Moodle, look to another book.

If you want to get your hands dirty with a variety of multimedia tools to enhance your course, read on.

The author is upfront with the fact that you will be using 20 different programs throughout the book to build a variety of multimedia activities (actually, it’s more like 45 or so including links to additional software/services). While that may seem overwhelming, it’s a good idea of what is available for free to the average instructor. Most, but not all, of the software is web-based so there is a minimum of downloading required.

Be aware that software is updated all the time so that the exact steps used in the book may be slightly different or non-existent by the time you try it for yourself. However, the general ideas of the activities are still valid.

Once past the first chapter, João jumps right into the “how to” portion of the book with a simple tutorial that uses an image, a sound file and a video in a forum post (pp 17-20). These three short tasks introduce the reader to his easy-to- follow presentation style as well as some of the chapter topics.

The rest of the book is broken up into the main multimedia categories:

  • Chapter 2: Picture This (images)
  • Chapter 3: Sound and Music (audio)
  • Chapter 4: Video (video)
  • Chapter 5: Web 2.0 and other Multimedia Forms (interactives)
  • Chapter 6: Multimedia and Assessments (interactive assessments plus a rubric)
  • Chapter 7: Synchronous Communication and Interaction (communicating in real time)
  • Chapter 8: Common Multimedia Issues in Moodle (copyright and child safety)

What I think is most effective about this book is that you don’t have to go through it in a linear fashion. While João guides you through each step (and how he built the activities in his own course), in reality you can pick and choose where you go in the book and what you want to use. Each chapter is self contained, although some later tasks require that you have a passing familiarity with multimedia software presented in previous chapters.

Each chapter also represents an activity that the students in Music For An Everyday Life must complete on their own. He shows the reader how to use the tools even as he discusses how his own students use the tools for the activities within his course. It’s a clever way to show and not tell particularly on a topic as wide and differentiated as multimedia.

There were a lot of activity ideas presented throughout the book but they tend to be sprinkled in throughout the chapters. The how-to’s are usable across LMS platforms so, even if you don’t use Moodle, you can still use the book.

The section on rubrics, pp. 218-219, is not as detailed as the rest of the book although João does offers minimal guidelines to assess multimedia projects with rubrics. While it may feel anemic after reading the previous how-to’s, understand that 1) this book is about multimedia and not assessment specifically, and 2) his audience is international. Therefore, he cannot give advice across borders for rubrics that may not even apply to a particular country. My suggestion is to Google multimedia rubrics for something more specific to your course as supported by local education standards.

Chapter 8, about copyright and child safety, should be read first before starting in on Chapters 2-7. Even if you are already aware of these issues, you should remind yourself before diving into creating multimedia for your courses.

Try before you buy: download the PDF of Chapter 6: Multimedia and Assessments to get a general feel for the writing and instruction style of João Fernandes.

* Please note that I offer only my honest opinion on the contents of books I review and do not receive compensation for doing so.

Job of the future?

An interesting post about the top 60 jobs of the future came into my Google Reader this morning. As I was reading through the job descriptions (most of which are pretty cool and that I can see actually happening), I nearly fell off my chair at Job #41: Distance Education Consultant:

The future of college is online. There has been a boom in the distance learning sector over the past few years, as people struggle to balance getting a college education with holding down a day job to support themselves or a family in this economy. It’s a fairly new teaching model, however, and improvements are needed. In turn, more distance education consultants will be needed to develop new techniques and use innovation to solve any and all current problems within the structure of distance learning.

First, distance education doesn’t necessarily mean online learning. I realize that most people think of them as synonymous but that’s not necessarily true. If the original creators of the top 60 list had done their homework, they would have renamed the job title to “Online Instructor” or even “e-Learning Developer” since it seems that’s what they’re describing.

Anyway, distance education includes radio broadcasts, video, pen & paper through the post (print materials), and even standalone education on CDs to name a few.  Online education, on the other hand, is delivered (wait for it) online through the Internet, typically. I’m not even going to get into mlearning.

Secondly, distance education is not a new teaching model. Actually, it’s not even close to being a new teaching model. Distance education has been around in one form or another for over a hundred years. Online education is just the newest incarnation of distance education. The next logical step, if you will, in a field that has been around for, well, forever really.

Third, what teaching model? Best practices for teaching, yes, but I don’t know if I’d go as far to say it’s a model. It would be like saying ADDIE is a model rather than a process (I just know I’m going to get flak for that). Rather than focusing on ineffective “teaching model” I’d look to ensuring that the instructors are ready to actually teach online. It’s a bigger job than most realize. As far as I know, most of the big online educational institutions require some kind of training before they let their instructors loose on unsuspecting students. This wasn’t always the case in the past, though, so I can see where that might still be an issue.

The only part of the Distance Education Consultant description that I agree with is that last sentence. Mostly, anyway. Innovation is always happening in a field that relies more and more on technology and it’s a field that will always need people ready to step up to the plate with ideas/skills/drive. The rest of the sentence refers to a job title that is so vague that it could apply to any number of distance education careers.

Do you agree with the job title or description? How would you have worded it instead?

How to Develop an Instructional Design ePortfolio – Part 4

In the third installment of the “How to Develop an Instructional Design ePortfolio,” I examined two content management systems (WordPress.com and Joomla!), their pros and cons, and offered a simple example of an ePortfolio in the tutorial activity. If you followed along with each step, your portfolio should now be ready for available for the final part of the design and development process. If it isn’t, please review Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 before continuing.

Today’s post is the final step in the portfolio development process: marketing your portfolio as an extension of your resume.
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Daily Bookmarks 8/5/09

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.