Friday, June 20, 2008

Personal learning Environment and Evolutionary pedagogy

I just finished a presentation at ADETA 2008 on my work with virtual communities in higher learning - I'm proposing that some enitity (eg. university) develop and maintain a community of learners (a social networking space w collaborative tools) for their students and graduates (at a program level).

I'm developing a series of these environments now. I see them fulfilling many roles - what I dub "evolutionary pedagogy or pedagogical multiplicy" - They can fulfill a formal learning role while the student is registered but become the informal learning network (and continued personal learning space) after graduation. I'm using Elgg as my example of the personal learning environment (or I coin Continuous learning Environment). After course/program completion students/teachers continue to be associated with the institution, their program, their teachers , their fellow graduates through this space. It is true continuous learning, and has capacity as a teaching space, a research space, a personal relective space, a resource repository of student work and an eportfolio for demonstration.

I dub it evolutionary pedagogy - example below:

Example evolutionary path – blended graduate program

1. Create informal network space and personal area
Students/teachers join the larger informal network
Post personal profile and use personal weblogs and resource repository

2. Creat bounded temporal space
Students/teacher join restricted class space((incl. groupware tools)
Course is taught within this temporal space (could link into LMS)
Continue to use personal space for reflection/e-portfolio/resources (life beyond LMS)

2. Students complete class
Temporal class activity ends - students, teachers continue within informal network space and personal space

3. Evolve into informal community development
Evolve into the continuous informal network space
In informal network social, informal learning; sharing, connecting, social capital development
Members document personal informal learning

4. Repeat 1-3 with next cohort

All within same online environment integrated with web based resources and internal/external RSS feeds.

Who should sponsor a space for a network of learners? Blackboard NG will offer a community space - but at what cost? Should a private entity like Blackboard (or Google, or Face book) be THE platform for your web based data?

I want a FREE personal learning environment, linking me to those who cross my learning path, linking me to my lifewide learning experiences - BUT I want it managed by an NGO or govt or educational institution.

Jesel Odedra of ECampusAlberta has put me onto ASN Alberta:

"Welcome to Learner Registry!
The Alberta Student Number (ASN) is the single unique identifier for all Alberta learners. Through the use of the ASN, Alberta Education and all educational institutions in Alberta will have better information to evaluate programming and emerging trends in student choices across the education system. This will lead to improved programs and services for students and improved administrative efficiency for Alberta Education."

This is a good start. With this approach we have a unique identifier, that moves with a student through informal and formal learning (theoretically) and can be used to ID a student in a social network/eportfolio for Alberta citizens.

I'm still working on the best premise for ownership of these spaces but want to see institutions maintaining some connection. I'm leaning towards smaller connected social networks, probably at the program level.School wide or province wide community - too big and without a 'focus of interest". (How to capture those not in formal learning? - aah another post.)

I am developing my PLEs at a program level - eg. family physicians rather than the medical faculty. Then it can remain small (relatively, be in control of the program area - use it for marketing, polling, keeping in touch with alumnae).

This is a concept whose time will come - it integrates so much of what is being talked about - authentic learning, documentation of learning and competence, skill management, meeting labour training goals, workforce migration,personal control of learning path and outcomes, prior learning, continouous learning, personal relfection, and more!

Rising gas prices equals rising interest in online courses

Fri Jun 13, 9:40 AM ET YaHoo News

Due to rising gas prices, online degree programs and distance learning options are skyrocketing according to a recent survey by Of those surveyed, 60 percent cited the high cost of gas as the reason for their interest in the internet education alternative.

(PRWEB) June 5, 2008 --, a website focusing on online degree programs and distance learning education, had 38 percent more visitors during April-May 2008 compared to February-March 2008, after adjusting for seasonal differences. In an informal survey of site visitors, the #1 reason for being interested in an online degree was “higher gas prices,” cited by 60 percent of those responding in May 2008. Other reasons given were convenience, parking, scheduling, babysitting and the cost of classes (

In a comparable 2007 survey of visitors to, the number 1 reason for interest in an online degree was “convenience,” with gas prices not even mentioned when the top five reasons were compiled. The surveys used a fill-in-the-blanks format rather than multiple choice, to increase the reliability of respondents’ answers.

“Gas is costing people upwards of $1000 a month,” says Sheila Danzig, who runs the site. “And students are the last group who can afford that. Taking classes at home and other distance learning options allow students to avoid spending limited funds on gas and to have more time for a part-time job that helps pay the tuition bill. For the adult learner, online degree programs provide a perfect answer to a scarcity of time and resources, particularly for those who also work and have a family.”

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Edupunks sing the body electric

The blogosphere is alive with action/reaction to the labelling of learning openness and sharing as "edupunk". Rick aptly summarizes the use of edupunk - "It doesn’t just seem to be about a sense of moral outrage directed against commercialized, corporatized, institutionalized education for example; it also seems to be about sharing, openness, freedom and liberation."

brian lamb in his usual creative form cites Hoffman's stategy for free schooling - audit the class, learn for free - (and then we developed e-learning commodified the content and closed down the interaction - more on that later). Brian goes on to list what could be the tenets of "edupunkism":

"Are you troubled by how power and money are manifested in society, not to mention our classrooms and our educational institutions? Do you feel like the human race can continue as it is?

Do you think that learning is a basic human right function? Are practices that gratuitously withdraw learning into a circumscribed domain apart from the rest of the world inhumane and counter-productive?

Are you committed to practices that place as much power in the hands of individuals as possible, while making sharing and collaboration as easy as possible? How much of what we presently license out are we already able to do ourselves?

... if you are engaging those issues honestly and directly, then I want to party with you." I'm with Brian on this - and ready to share in the good times.

And time to plug the open school set up by Brian's partner Keira.

"The Sustainable Living Arts School is a rural and urban learning initiative that emphasizes bringing local folks, local knowledge and local resources together for free-of-charge, hands-on learning experiences that help us reduce our ecological footprint, increase our individual and community self-sufficiency, and build healthy community relations. We value and work towards non-commodified, non-institutional, non-credentialized, non-evaluated learning and yes-accessible, yes-joyous, yes-empowering, yes-collective learning (among other lofty goals)! Consuming less and relating more, might be one way to sum it up."

I love this! What a great piece of work. Congratulations to Keira!

Courtesy of Bava there is Junger's The Glass Bees and Sterling's intro statement to the book stating:

"J√ľnger perceived that industrial capitalism is a ridiculous game, so he proved remarkably good at predicting its future moves….[He] understands that technology is pursued not to accelerate progress but to intensify power. He fully understands that popular entertainment comes with a military-industrial underside."

And Blackboard 8, seeking to be part of the web 2.0 world while it locks the gates and hoards the assets of those that reside within (for short spurts of time). As bavatuesday advises us it isn't the technology, it's the people, andf the people's experiences that drive learning. And what rises from this, for me too, is am I complicit in this manifestation of technology as the learning controller?

My work in developing online cooperative learning spaces that live beyond courses, that grow organically through free and unfettered access and user controls - this is what drives my initiative - but I could be asked tomorrow to create a course for delivery on blackboard - and add a blog within that garden - and I would struggle with the weight of my knowing I am contributing nothing in that act to the learning and teaching process. In my blog I can express my edupunk desires, and in my presentations seek to provoke and awake the learn/teach community from their chains of control - but my job is as assigned, and I create another controlled space, closed environment and a little bit of me dies...till rants erupt and links arise with others who also see the ambiguity of their professional life - and also strive to be free of their chains and , well, make the world just a little brighter place, after all.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Facebook You As a Commodity

Smile! If you have a Facebook account, who's mining your data now? You are a star commodity. And that should give some pause to those professors and students (and Blackboard LMS folk) who tout Facebook as an educational delivery system, or even as a respository of student /faculty created resources. They should really give their head a shake. Third party commercial products are not where formal education should be. Wonder why? Check out the latests charges against Facebook from Canada's Privacy Commissioner:

"Facebook may say it's purely a social networking site, but it is in fact a commercial enterprise that's about sharing and using members' personal information with advertisers and third-party application developers." That's the substance of a complaint against Facebook filed with Canada's Privacy Commisioner.

Another CIPPIC grievance is that user's privacy settings in Facebook are automatically set to share the most information when a new account is created. Younger Facebook users, or less Web-savvy users may never think to change these, and are unknowingly sharing their information with the world, according to Harley Finkelstein, one of the law students that worked on the document. “Facebook calls them privacy settings, but we've come to discover these are actually publicity settings,” he says. “Social networking and privacy don't necessarily go hand in hand.”

See this video (tried to insert it but Blogger isn't cooperating) -