PLE: Thoughts about reciprocity

I dipped my toe in the PLENK2010 MOOC today with the following discussion post that I wanted to capture here …

Dave Cormier wrote in the discussion board for the course …

I’m not sure that the technologies are the greatest impediment to making this work. I think it’sa combination of a few things… off the top of my head…

  1. The notion that content is something that derives from the educator and the institution rather than through a negotiation process –> tough to continue if the focus of the course is on the content pre-described
  2. Student ownership of their own content –> difficult to continue a discussion when the main interaction is in a closed environment
  3. Educational goals –> if a course has a set ‘endpoint’ a test that needs to be passed, it defines a point at which learning has been ‘accomplished’.

… to which I replied …

Dave and I touched on this topic during EdTechWeekly this past Sunday and I just wanted to add a twist to Dave’s #2 (Student ownership of their own content) which gets into the pay-it-forward / reciprocity issue. I would guess most of us have been incredibly impressed with Alec’s ability to get his students to not only drink from the social networking fountain (lurk), but to also prime the pump by sharing their own work (pay-it-forward). Yet, in my experience as a student who has striven to create and maintain my own PLE (of sorts .. depending on your definition) for many years, I see strong resistance from students to put their own work “out there” … for many reasons (time commitment, fear of instructor’s / institution’s view on sharing work with others, etc.), but largely due to the fear that they are showing the world what they don’t know.Through my masters and doctoral program, I have maintained a drupal site to both capture for myself and share with others my reflections of both in and out of class experiences, papers, projects, etc. and have heard many times from peer students that they access my work. Yet, when I remind them my desire in sharing my PLE is to foster some type of “pay-it-forward” reciprocity model where you give back as payment for receiving, the response is a consistent, “No way.” So, circling back to Dave’s #2 bullet point, the issue of student ownership extends to what students “do” with what they own (hide it, toss it, share it …)

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AACE 2010 Elearn: Participant Experiences in an Informal Sub-network

I just uploaded the final version of my paper (see attached Participant Experiences in an Informal Sub-network) accepted for presentation at the AACE E-Learn 2010 Conference. I opted for the Virtual Presentation option, so I won’t be heading to Orlando to be there f2f. I have also attached the narrated PPT slides that are on the conference site, as well.

Here is the official citation:

Maddrell, J. A. (2010). Participant experiences in an informal sub-network. In World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2010 (pp. 2018-2023). Orlando, Florida, USA: AACE.

NASA Engineering Design Challenge

I finalized my contract today to work on the instructional evaluation team for the RealWorld – InWorld NASA Engineering Design Challenge. The RW phase involves teams of grade 9 to 12 learners and facilitators working on design solutions to problems associated with the James Webb Space Telescope. In the IW phase, teams of 3 to 4 students move into a virtual environment to finish the competiion. While the RW phase of the competition is open to all grade 9 to 12 classrooms, participation in the IW phase is limited to US citizens … sorry, I didn’t make the rules or fund the grant 🙂 Registration to the website is free and open to anyone, so log on and poke around the site or take the challenge with kids in your classroom.

I’m Dissertating!

I didn’t know it before now, but dissertating isn’t just a made-up word that I have been tossing around today as I yell to the world that I began collecting data for my dissertation research. I can’t get into a lot of details as the folks I am observing and surveying this semester may stop by my blog and I wouldn’t want to lead any witnesses! However, I will try to post some vague tidbits at milestones in the process … and I will be keeping an off-line journal of the experience which I will upload when all is said and done. Most importantly for publication now, (a) my committee approved my proposal in June, (b) the ODU IRB approved my proposal in July, and (c) today I began dissertating!

Distance Education: Centralization vs Decentralization

We tend to get our undies in a bundle over learner-learner; learner-content; learner-teacher interactions, but this issue of the learner-institution transaction / interaction deserves a lot more attention. Last night at ODU, we had our new student orientation with doctoral students coming into the program this semester (held on Adobe Connect with participants all over North America and recorded for those who could not attend) and we spent over an hour just going over issues of learner-institution interaction .. what log on do I need to register for classes? who do I contact about financial aid? how do I submit my plan of work to the university? where do I get the software do I need to connect into class? how do I access recordings of sessions of classes I miss? While this is far from the “sexy” side of instruction (if there is one?), it is where the rubber meets the road in formal education. Students tend to love or leave a program based on how fantastic / horrid these learner-institution transactions are handled. As a doctoral student learning at a distance, I want these learner-institution transactions to be managed (but, not necessarily completed) primarily at a department level, so I have as much one-on-one access to people with the right answers FOR ME as possible.

Our orientation was run at the department level … set up and run by student and faculty from our program. While tailored to doctoral students in our department, many of the learner-institution issues were likely quite generic and applicable to any new student coming to ODU … and would likely have been more “efficiently” managed in a much larger web-conference with students from many ODU departments. Yet, I don’t want my doctoral-level learner-institution interaction to be handled in the same decentralized manner AT&T “manages” its customer transactions (“before proceeding, check our online FAQ for answers to your questions, then press #1 to be ignored, press #2 to be completely frustrated, press #3 to get the wrong answer and waste time and money proceeding down the wrong path …”) However, a high level of individualized department-level interaction likely cannot scale to undergraduate programs with hundreds versus dozens of students. I haven’t spent much time considering this centralized vs decentralized question, but it may be an interesting one to consider down the road … maybe on an upcoming edition of Instructional Design Live?

AECT 2010 Research Symposium

This summer, the Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT) sponsored a Distance Learning Symposium held at the Indiana University campus in Bloomington, IN. While presenters will be turning their papers and presentations into chapters for an upcoming book, for now (how long?) they have posted the symposium papers for open review.

I attended and presented on (what else?) backchannel communication during the live web conferenced lecture session. I have attached my symposium paper and presentation to this post. While my paper considers the backchannel in terms of cognitive load (influence on germane, extraneous, intrinsic load), my presentation highlighted general observations from Dr. Alec Couros’ Fall 2009 ECI 831 class at the University of Regina, specifically a session facilitated by Dr. Rick Schwier who also attended and presented at the symposium. As usual, it was interesting how few seemed to have experienced an active text-chat occurring simultaneously with a live lecture session. This could be due to the disconnect between those who "study" distance learning and those who regularly "practice" it .. or because distance learning is so often facilitated asynchronously.

Community of Inquiry: Special Edition

I see that a special edition on the CoI is coming out (currently online first) in the Internet and Higher Education. Not sure if those without library access can open the PDFs (I just link to them … I don’t set the access policy). In my initial glance, I still don’t see any studies specifically linking CoI presences to actual (not learner perceived) learning outcomes.