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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Personal Learning Networks Discussion

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To Use or Not to Use an LMS

Below are responses to a post regarding Moodle and the audience of a classroom.

"[When using Moodle], why would you say the target audience is the teacher?"

When educators (in mainly formal institutions where grades matter) set up a learning management system (LMS), such as Moodle, they are the target audience as a rule. Those who participate within the LMS are more of a group than a network (Downes, 2006, slide 8) where teachers tend to have more control over the content and degree of openness. And yes, external web tools can and are being used but they are being "siphoned" through an LMS because the intended audience is still the teacher. Students can interact with each other in an LMS but it is still within a contained atmosphere that requires anyone to see this interaction to join "the group". Each teacher then must evaluate the type of course to be given, the maturity level of the students, etc. to determine which type of LMS is best suited for their teaching context or whether they will use an LMS at all.

As an alternative to an LMS, think of the entire Internet as an "LMS". Imagine using Google Wave, blogs, wikis, twitter, multimedia tools, etc. in absence of any particular LMS to conduct a class. Now the audience begins to shift away from the teacher, and learning becomes more open. Learners as part of a formal class begin to interact more with the global society as opposed to mainly interacting with those within the LMS group. I recently saw a TED talk with Sir Ken Robinson where he discussed the importance of creating "organic" learning environments for students, and I see learning in a non-LMS environment in the same vein.

What are your thoughts?

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Subsequent response...

...the teacher may relinquish full control to the learner and allow the learner to drive and control the content and learning environment.

I agree with you as I suspect most would. The question becomes is this surrender of power best served within or outside a LMS. If my teacher were to give me full rights over the content and learning environment, I could then choose whether or not to use the LMS in the first place (I'm thinking CCK08, CCK09, Edfutures, etc.). And as a learner, I would still have this perception that even though I'm using outside web tools and that I'm in control of the learning environment (however one wishes to define "control") that the main audience is still my teacher because all the content was being channelled through an LMS.

Can you envision what it would look like in an EFL/ETL class?

Yes, I can envision it becoming more common in the future through the ongoing development of a personal learning network (PLN). My current research, in fact, addresses PLNs and professional development among EFL/ESL educators. In developing a PLN, I see an LMS as a "stepping stone" in facilitating EFL educators (i.e., learners) to become more interdependent.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Let's Get Technical About Public Speaking

Thanks to those who attended my talk this morning.  I blogged last year about this class here and here, and summed up my experience in the presentation below.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Designing curricula for online courses

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Universidad Panamericana, Campus Aguascalientes: Teacher Conference (#delt0110)

I attended the UPTC 2010 (Campus Aguascalientes) this weekend where teaching and learning English as a foreign language (EFL) in Mexico and the need for change were addressed.  To improve EFL teaching and learning through higher-order thinking skills, a paradigm shift is needed, for example.  Some comments that struck a chord with me during the conference include the following:

  • Intrapersonal Revolution (Reilly, 2010)
  • What can I do to be a better teacher? (Reilly, 2010)
  • Most middle school students in Mexico (a) are bored in class, (b) have no homework or homework involving the web, and (c) want more feedback. (Reilly, 2010)
  • Students find it difficult to work with others. (Weir, 2010)
  • Four pillars of education: learning to... (a) know, (b) do, (c) live together (i.e., interact), and (d) be (Weir, 2010)
  • Technological, information, creative, and social competencies (Weir, 2010) My take on this is that it's basically anything that promotes creative (the arts), critical (the sciences), and caring (the humanities) knowledge and skill development. 
  • Teacher observation as a way to promote professional development. (Bauer, 2010)   
I'd be interested in knowing how others feel about these comments as well as other ideas and comments you have about the conference.  What did you find interesting? 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Develop as my Network Develops

I just wanted to thank all of those who participated in my talk today!  Keep in touch as I look forward to continuing our dialog on connective learning in the EFL/ESL classroom!

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

DELT Live Session #10

Join us for our next DELT live session as we discuss assessment in the EFL classroom!

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

#edfuture: Science/Critical and Spirituality/Creative Polarities

Science/Critical and Spirituality/Creative Polarities | Open Course in Education Futures

Boy, it seems so natural to talk in terms of dichotomies. This post addresses the critical/creative dichotomy as it relates to science and spirituality, the I and we dichotomy, and the subjective and objective dichotomy. What is more difficult is to conduct a continual and complex discourse around issues. It seems the answers will emerge from highly contextualized explanations that shed light on the intricacies of the roles and relationships of all the actors that have an interest in the topic. I know, it's not an answer but the means in which to find "an answer". I'm afraid having it any other way will likely lead to misinterpretation, misunderstandings, and missteps.

Anyone wish to create a context around the importance of spirituality within a highly education system that tends to favor criticality?