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Join Me for Social Media for Academic Professional Development

Ever wished you could choose what would be covered each year during those continuing education seminars? In this webinar, you will learn how to harness social media to build your own Personal Learning Network and expand your personal professional development choices into any and all areas of interest. DIY ProfDev is here!

Thu. Jan. 26, 2012, 2 pm (PT) 3 pm (MT)

Register – It’s free!

 

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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in miscellaneous, Teaching Online

 

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Open PhD – Year One in Review

Learn at computer

CC-BY-SA Lumaxart

It shocked me to realize an entire year has passed since I embarked on this journey last September 22nd. I have learned a lot, often in unexpected ways and from unexpected sources. I decided a progress update was necessary for those following along.

First, a bit of a recap. On that fateful declarative day, I wrote this:

I am going to create my own Ph.D. program via open education using open courseware. My degree will be in Educational Technology with an emphasis in (what else?) Open Education as the Great Equalizer. As the tag line to my blog states: it will be all the learning, with none of the “doc”-uments. (Or none of the “cred”-entials). But I will have the knowledge; and, in the end, isn’t that the most important thing? (Oh, and I will still have my $45,000).

In the next few posts, I will lay out my 4 year plan – with help from the Twittersphere, blog readers, my advisors, and hopefully some subscribers. I plan on completing research and a dissertation as well – no shortcuts here. My first advisor – Dr. Kay Lehmann is a blogger, online instructor, book author, and course developer. I look forward to finding a few more Ph.D./Ed.D volunteers in my grand experiment.

Will this work? Can it be done? Can we make it rigorous enough to be equal to an actual online Ph.D program? Join me on this journey. Your feedback and suggestions are welcome!

I really had no idea how big the #opened movement was at that time. I learned very quickly. That first blog post went a bit viral, and one week later, I had more than 1,000 unique hits. Commentary to that first post has reached 50+ and I still get a new comment every now and then on it. Lesson #1 – this is a big idea!

Several posts later, I went on to define my plan, define exactly what was (and was not) an Open PhD, and layout the open courses I wished to pursue. Lesson #2 – finding graduate level open courses is not easy

You might be wondering where all my exploration has led me. I admit to feeling like I haven’t made a lot of progress through the courses I chose, but Year One became more of a research/intern year instead. And I am okay with that.

During my research to learn more about Open Education Resources, I have made some powerful connections in the Open Textbook movement. Judy Baker (@educ8ter) and Jacky Hood (both of Foothill-DeAnza College District) brought me into the Community College Consortium for Open Education Resources and College Open Textbooks. What a find! After attending several workshops (online and f2f), I volunteered to help the collaborative and soon found myself with a contract as a trainer and instructional designer for COT’s Moodle workshop.

About the same time, I noticed Cable Green (@cgreen) of the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges out of Washington State was spearheading an OER initiative to help lower the costs of textbooks and improve retention for community college students. As an adjunct online instructor in Washington and an Open PhD student, I wanted to be a part of this! Several months later I was (and still am) working as one of ten instructional designers to the Open Course Library project.

The Open Course Library project is about designing 81 high enrollment, important general education, and pre-college courses for face-to-face, hybrid and/or online delivery, to improve course completion rates, lower textbook costs for students, provide new resources for faculty to consider using in their courses, and for our college system to fully engage the global open educational resources discussion.

In addition, I’ve remixed the COT workshop to provide an open course workshop on open textbooks for Washington State community college faculty. That workshop will debut soon. (Ironically, for expediency it will be housed behind the state’s “closed” Angel LMS system …for now). A version of this same workshop is being held on P2PU and led by COT’s associate director, Una Daly (Adopting Open Textbooks).

Speaking of P2PU, it is one of the many open learning initiatives I have become acquainted with this year. Stian Haklev (@houshuang) has contributed many good ideas to this project and I look forward to having time to give back at P2PU – perhaps inaugurating a DIY department :-). I’ve also exchanged dialogue with other “Open” students – each figuring out this idea in their own way. Parag Shah in Computer Science, Leigh Blackall, Jason, Dan Pontefract, and the DIY Grad School among others. Lesson #3 – Open PhD’s require getting “connected”.

And “connected” I have become – from Curt Bonk, Stephen Downes, and George Siemens to Clark Quinn, Marcia Conner, Jane Bozarth, Jim Groom, Dean Shareski, and so many others. Between Twitter, LinkedIn, and resources like eLearnMag, Learning Solutions, and many blogs, I am connected to the thought leaders in not only open education, but educational technology as well. Social media is the lifeblood of the DIY student – providing that necessary component of discussion and debate.

With those connections has come the opportunity to write. My co-author and colleague, Dr. Kay Lehmann, and I have published this article about Twitter in higher education, and a chapter about Twitter in higher education for a peer reviewed book Educating Educators with Social Media (in press – due Jan 2011). I even had the thrill of having this Open Phd project mentioned in Anya Kamenetz’s (@anya1anya) book DIY U:Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. (More a study of the funding of education, there is a nice section of resources in the back).

Where do I go from here?

Solving the puzzle of recognition for the work put into an “open” degree is a vital part of my journey. I get questions regularly from readers with similar ideas – all wanting to know if their efforts will be recognized by the employing world. The real answer is – I don’t know. In the ed tech field, knowledge has currency, but in other fields, sheepskin carries the required validity. Other “open” arenas are wrestling with the same idea – and certificates of competency are emerging from some (like Pippa Buchanan’s School of Webcraft). I will blog more about this later and hopefully we can crowdsource some good ideas to move forward with.

I also want to focus my energies towards completing more of my “course load”. Specifically, project management and applied multimedia technology are the areas in which I need more depth. If you’re interested in learning about these two areas also, drop me a comment – we can form a virtual study group.

And, frankly, I need to update my blog more often…it keeps me moving forward.

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions, and feedback! You are all part of my Open PhD journey.

Lisa

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2010 in Year One, Year Two

 

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Dear Professor, Are You ‘Google-able’?

I have three college-aged children (and thank you to those of you who immediately thought she doesn’t look old enough to have three college-aged children). None of them use or own phone books. In fact, none of them have a traditional Ma Bell kind of telephone. They have a cell phone and a laptop…period.If my kids can’t locate you or your business on the web, you don’t exist to them.Period. (If you are a pizza store and lack a website, you are missing a tremendous amount of business from my two boys, by the way). Recent Pew Research results suggest that 93% of all Americans under the age of 30 are cell phone users. Pretty sure most of them have laptops, too.

My kids are not atypical. In fact, they are the norm – and becoming even more normal as the connected generation expands. According to the CTIA end-of-year survey for 2009, a staggering 285,646,191 million Americans have a cell phone connection. This is up 15 million from the same time 2008. And the Pew American Life research reports that young teens are the largest growing demographic of cell phone ownership. But it’s not just about cell phones – it’s about smart phones, wifi-enabled laptops, and even wifi-enabled gaming devices. Students are online all the time. Like it or not.

What does all this have to do with higher education faculty? Well, aside from the Ed Tech departments, very few faculty (adjunct and tenured) make the effort to cull together a web presence searchable by their students.

So what, you say, peering over your use for word-processing-only desktop computer next to your rotary phone? Don’t professors have enough to do between research, writing, teaching, and all those administrative committees? Perhaps, but ultimately, faculty have the responsibility to be available to their students. I believe they also have a responsibility to be transparent – professionally speaking. Future students should be able to check them out, look into current course offerings, current/past writings, current/past research, and how available the instructor made him or herself to student questions and concerns.

In the past, students could use print faculty directories to find office phone numbers and locations – but let’s be realistic. Students don’t use these booklets, faculty in their cubicles do. Students “Google”. Having a faculty directory on the school’s website is a step in the right direction – but often these data bases are not searchable by Internet search engines, and, even if they are, the results are often not much more than a name and phone number with an occasional email address. This is not the kind of background surfing future students want.

This is also not what you as a professor should want because when you lack a web presence, the next stop for most students is sites like RateMyProfessor.com. RateMyProfessor is crowd-sourced ratings and comments about professors from virtually every institution of higher education in the country. It is not normed, and all your students from a particular section are not surveyed. Essentially, it boils down to those students with enough motivation (the gamut from Loved the class! to He sucked!) to go to the website, locate the professor’s name, and add the rating and comment. Average performances do not seem to create this kind of motivation – so often professors can have A ratings alongside F’s. Not very helpful to students looking to know what a particular professor is all about, and certainly not helpful to a professor’s reputation with a myriad of mixed messages.

Higher education faculty need to consciously create a professional web presence. Below are some tips to help make your Google quotient rise:

  1. Create a landing page – and keep it updated! A landing page is a single web page that includes a short bio, contact information (email and office phone and address no home addresses), and a professional looking head shot. You will want the rights to the head shot so you can use it with all your professional web activities. For adjuncts, I suggest creating your landing page on a personal site like GoogleSites or on the space provided by your home ISP – that way you won’t have to backtrack and change your landing page URL on all the websites to which it is linked. Here is my UW-Stout landing page.
  2. Link, link, link. Use the URL landing page link as your link on all professional websites which ask for your own homepage address.
  3. Visual Identity. Use the same headshot. As your image becomes identifiable with your web identity, it will help students instantly know that out of all the search results, you are the Lisa Chamberlin  that works on Open Education issues and not Lisa Chamberlin  that is a Nashville recording artist (Yep, that’s who I compete with for the top 10 Google search results for my name – ouch!).
  4. Multiple Accounts/Similar handles. I teach for a variety of institutions and do contract work for others. As I choose email addresses, Twitter names, etc., I try to always use something similar to chamberlinonline@whatever.edu or a derivative of it. Overtime, students and colleagues begin to expect the “chamberlinonline” portion and makes it easier for them to find me.
  5. Network. Whether you choose to use a resume/contact linking site like LinkedIn.com or build a network of digital colleagues via another tool like Twitter, do build your digital personal learning network and follow the “web presence” standards above when registering for these sites.
  6. Add an RSS Feed (Thanks, Stian, for #’s 6 and 7). Allow interested students, colleagues, and the like to stay up-to-date with your current publications.
  7. Provide links to your research from your landing page. Even better, provide Open Access to your published research when you do provide the links.
  8. Poll your current students. This is one of the most powerful and eye-opening steps of building a web presence. Ask your current students if they Googled you. Ask what they were wanting to find out. Ask what they did find out. Strive to make their search goals and your web presence goals align as closely as is comfortable.

To the students of the connected generation, professors who deny access to technology within their courses or deny being accessed by technology within their profession, are a dying breed. They are seeing these professors as less and less relevant and out of touch with modern society. Like it or not, technology is the next evolution in education – professors must evolve or become extinct.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2010 in miscellaneous, Teaching Online

 

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Critical Thinking with Digital Media is EASy

Since the beginning of formal education, instructors the world over have struggled with how to get their students to dig deeper, reach farther, and push themselves beyond mere adequacy. Teachers, too, are pushed to challenge ourselves to be more than just average, to do more than just accept the status quo. We instructors are to become active, daily, practitioners of critical thought. We must regularly model for our students what it is to reflectively examine, critically assess, and effectively improve the way we live (Criticalthinking.org, 2008). Benjamin Bloom, by designing his model of Cognitive Learning (Bloom, 1956) helped 20th century instructors make better intentional choices in directing their learners toward this higher level thinking. But the world has changed quite dramatically since the mid 1950s, and its high time we teachers take a fresh look at the way we approach critical thinking with our students. In the 21st century, using digital media is the key to making critical thinking EASy in the on or offline classroom no matter the grade level.

Background of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Thinking

In order to better understand the EASy Taxonomy, it is helpful to do a quick refresher on Bloom’s Taxonomy in case you don’t have your Intro to Educational Learning Theories textbook handy. Here’s how my co-author Dr. Lehmann and I explained it in our book Making the Move the eLearning: Putting your Course Online (2009):

Teachers are often taught to incorporate critical thinking in the design of lessons, tests, and discussion questions by applying Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom, 1956). According to the taxonomy, learning activities start with low-level thinking at the base of Bloom’s Pyramid of Cognitive Learning and work their way toward the highest point to help demonstrate students thinking at the highest cognitive levels.

In developing the EASy Taxonomy, there is an acknowledgement that the upper level of Bloom’s pyramid, especially evaluation, has come to represent testing. This is as much a by-product of our assessment-driven mandates like No Child Left Behind as it is the misuse of Bloom’s, which was never meant to be used in such a linear fashion as it is employed most often these days. Even Dr. Lorin Anderson, a former student of Bloom’s and now a distinguished professor of education at the University of South Carolina saw the need for a change in the way Bloom’s Taxonomy had been utilized. In partnership with Dr. David Krathwhol, a Bloom’s researcher, Anderson set about revising the taxonomy to better meet today’s educational environment. Interestingly enough, Anderson and Krathwhol (2001) also shifted synthesis, now renamed “creating,” to the top of the pyramid” (p.72-73).

According to Benjamin Bloom (1956), the lowest level of learning in the cognitive domain is referred to as knowledge (i.e., label, list). Moving up the pyramid, the next level of thinking is comprehension (i.e., restate, paraphrase); followed by application (i.e., apply, solve); analysis (i.e., classify, infer); then synthesis (i.e., construct, design); and finally evaluation (i.e., critique, persuade, often interpreted as test or assessment these days), which Bloom suggests is the highest order of critical thinking behaviors.

Bloom’s Taxonomy as an OER

One of the great aspects of Open Education Resources is the idea that the resources are meant to be reused, remixed, and repurposed. In our course (and our book), Dr. Lehmann and I do just that with Bloom’s Taxonomy. We treat it like an OER. We remix and repurpose the three higher order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Bloom’s Becomes EASy with Digital Media

When digital media is introduced in the classroom (and by digital media I mean all things digital that can be shared in some way), the top level of Bloom’s pyramid, Evaluation( in the sense of a test), somehow seems to be a very low bar for students to achieve. When students have the ability to interact with others halfway around the world on a global-scale project, asking them to recall the three main exports of Chile on an end-of-unit exam is not making the best use of educational resources or the students’ cognitive ones. (No offense intended to Chilean exporters, I am sure they are very nice people).

With the EASy Taxonomy, the term evaluation is remixed to become the verb evaluate and is repurposed to ask students to use the descriptors investigate and explore as in “evaluate what data is available for a particular topic”. For students to evaluate the EASy way, they need to learn search skills, be open to exploring topics in non-linear paths (outside-of-the-box thinking), and they will be more efficient if they know (or discover) how to use the digital tools of tagging, and RSS feeds. With this knowledge students can bring the information to the themselves, rather than chasing after it (Dr. Michael Wesch’s video http://bit.ly/9d4Je explains this best ).

As with all taxonomies, it helps to understand EASy better if you have a graphic aid to tie the concept together. The starting place for EASy is the basic knowledge base the student begins with from the lesson’s introduction and background activities. This may be any scaffolded activities from readings to direct instruction by the classroom teacher.

 

The student then evaluates what data is available (both digital and non-digital) and adds the results to his/her knowledge base.

EASy Evaluate

Analyze

The next step in the EASy Taxonomy is to take Bloom’s Analysis stage and remix it into the verb analyze. To analyze in EASy means for the student to choose and apply a set of decision filters in order to make informed choices from among the gathered data. This stage may vary a bit depending on the sociocultural experiences of each student. Teachers can challenge students as to how they are determining the validity of their sources, how they are defining experts from average Joes (especially in emerging fields), and how they discern quality from among all the noise on the Internet. Certainly, state and district guidelines could dictate this information for the students, but if we want critical thinkers, we have to give them opportunities to wrestle with ideas like these and define the answers for themselves. Besides, more often than not, due to the ever-evolving nature of technology, the validity of a resource is completely dependent upon how it is utilized at that moment (Lankshear & Knobel, 2005).

In the graphic, the analyze stage is represented by showing only some of the incoming data being selected.

 

EASy Analyze

Synthesize

The final step in the EASy Taxonomy is to have students add their voice to the collective digital learning consciousness. They do this through collaborating. Students can collaborate statically, which means Johnny interacts only with fixed-state information he has chosen when he analyzed the data. Then Johnny synthesizes that data together with his own ideas to make a new product.

Or, students can collaborate dynamically, which means Eva uses social networking tools to collaborate with other students, who along with all their analyzed data, create a new product. It is dynamic synthesizing because the continued influence of many collaborative voices makes this process fluid and subject to many changes before the final product emerges.

Either way, the final new product must add a new voice to the collective conversation surrounding the topic in some incremental way, not just mimic the old voices that have come before. This is not just regurgitation of old ideas; it is the creation of new ones. The idea here is to get students to realize that by standing on the shoulders of other learned individuals who came before them, the students can go even further.

To represent this part of the process, the filtered data advances in a different direction as a new product. It then, in turn, becomes the new knowledge base for the next learner who searches for the topic.

EASy Synthesize

Summary

Bloom’s Taxonomy made it too easy for teachers to lean on the crutch of standardized or prepackaged assessments and think they are encouraging critical thinking.� Occasionally, we teachers have even assigned other types of assessments, like essays, under the guise we are utilizing Bloom’s highest level of cognition. But we aren’t really looking for new products when we do this; we are looking for students to repackage someone else’s ideas in the students’ own words (i.e. Show me you understood what Harper Lee meant when she wrote, “She seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl” (TKAM� Chapter 12).

In my years as an American Lit teacher, I was certainly guilty of this kind of assignment. I was comfortable that my students would prove to me through this essay whether they understood the chapter or not.� But I’ll be honest, I knew deep down this wasn’t a demonstration of true learning in the best sense of the word. At least not in the way I’ve come to believe learning should be defined now.Not in the educhaos, ZPD, transformative, rock-their-foundations-to-the-core kind of way. It was just a fancy re-gifting of someone else’s ideas. Like Chris Dede (2006) says, my students were “putting old wine in new bottles” (p. 1).

Not anymore.

EASy isn’t quick.EASy isn’t a shortcut for teaching or learning.� But with EASy-based lessons, students are engaged, motivated, and in the zone.

 

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Is your teaching EASy?

If you use social networking and digital media in the EASy way described in this post, leave me a comment or tweet me. I’d like to link to your class projects and show case them on my site!

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2009 in Teaching Online

 

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My Top Tools for 2009

The Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies is compiling its annual list of Top 100 Tools based on the recommendations of tools from hundreds of eLearning professionals.  Below is my submitted Top 10 list.

  1. Twitter – This tool has revolutionized the way I communicate, disseminate, and collaborate – simply great!
  2. WordPress – The power of the blog continues to amaze me in its reach and connectivity.
  3. Blackberry Cell Phone – It is my mini “go anywhere” computer now…(includes apps for Social Media, email, Course Management Systems, and blogging).
  4. Del.icio.us – Social Bookmarking (plus it goes with me no matter what computer I am using).
  5. Windows “Snipping Tool” – great little utility for screen shots.
  6. Firefox – Avoiding the blue screen of death.  Firefox performs as described.
  7. Word – Still my “go to” wordprocessing program.
  8. Outlook – Email, calendar, and RSS reader keeps me organized.
  9. OER Commons – Best interface for Open Ed resources
  10. Creative Commons Licensing – makes OER possible

The Top 100 List for 2009 will be listed here, soon after November 15th.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2009 in The Plan

 

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