Personal Learning Experiences with MOOCs and Open Educational Resources (OER)

I will be starting the Shakespeare in Community MOOC next week (along with many others) and I was pleasantly surprised to see an email about it earlier this week from Dr. Jesse Stommel – a leading thinker in the field of learning technologies. As a current EdD student in this field, I have followed some of Stommel’s work, specifically his blog and Hybrid Pedagogy website. I admire the work that Stommel is doing as an open educator and I look forward to participating in this course and learning from the notable scholars at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as my fellow participants.

This is what I love about these MOOCs. As someone who identifies as a learner, I get to participate in virtual learning communities that enrich my understanding of topics that interest me. I have to confess, that I am also currently enrolled in Stanford Online’s Ten Premodern Poems by Women a ten-week course lead by  Professor Eavan Boland. And while I have only finished two MOOCs thus far (I received a certificate for one – Internet History, Technology, and Security), I have been a lurker in many others. I have always learned quite a bit from both the professors and the participants in MOOCS and in this way I am learning more about topics of interest, pedagogy, and open educational resources (OER). These have been rich experiences for me. What I find most valuable about these courses are the contributions by educators who curate their content in a way that allows the participants to learn with OER. Dr. Charles Severance is a great example of this with his extensive work to produce open source materials including the textbook and resources that I use in my high school computer science classroom and Sakai – the LMS used by the university that I currently attend.

Dr Stommel and Dr. Severance are just two pioneers of MOOCs that we should celebrate – they are actively working to provide access to resources/information to anyone who can access the Internet. Yes, I understand that there are many complications and controversies surrounding with MOOCs and online education – I’m not saying it’s a perfect system that works for everyone. However, I am enjoying my experience learning from these educators who work hard to leverage the technology available to them to lend their expertise (and share their own intellectual property) to anyone who wants to learn.

Of course, I am not just participating in these courses because I am interested in the content, I am also interested in the pedagogy and the learning technology tools that are used. There is always so much to learn!

As for the course that starts next week, of course, I am already following @hackshakespeare, and I’ve already downloaded the PDFs to my reading device (and promise to start reading soon!) – I’ll be ready to go when the course opens up next week!

I look forward to writing more about Shakespeare in Community, and my other MOOC experiences here. Please share your own experiences and observations in the comments.

Technology Enthusiasts, Pragmatists, and Skeptics among Practitioners and Policymakers: Where Are You?

I love that this update broadens the continuum of positions – I am one who is somewhere in the middle. My position on the spectrum is constantly changing as I learn more about supporting the diverse needs of teachers and learners.

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

I wrote this post five years ago this month. In it, I mentioned two recently published books that divided advocates of and opponents to technologies in schools into two camps: enthusiasts and skeptics. For the past few months I have been thinking anew about those policymakers, pundits, and practitioners (including blogging students and parents) who write about technology. I want to broaden the familiar continuum of positions on technology in schools beyond those at either pole. I want to include a rich array of those who inhabit the middle. So here is a revised and expanded post.

In reading Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America (2009) by Allan Collins and Richard Halverson, they, like many other writers on technology, create a continuum of advocates and critics of technology in schools. At one end of their continuum are the “Technology Enthusiasts” and at…

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Creating and Fostering Learning Opportunities: Professional Learning Networks for Teachers

Informal professional learning opportunities – those that can take place in a variety of digital forums like twitter, facebook, and google+ – are very interesting to me. Over the past few months I have become more active in conversations on twitter (chats) and in google+ (communities). I have learned a great deal from interactions in all of these communities and have been able to get feedback on several questions that I have posted especially, in twitter. In both of these spaces I have found that the more time/content I put into the community, the more content/connections/relationships I gain in return.

As I begin to dive into education literature, it is important for me to remember that there are so many communities specializing in the topics I am interested in. More importantly, in order to become a practitioner one has to interact with the experts in the community. Even if that means lurking for a while.

A colleague – Chris – came up with this diagram which he calls The Collaborative Learning Cycle. While Chris developed this model for the adoption of new technology tools like iPads and applications, I think that it can also be used to illustrate the process of becoming a member of a community. The steps below show that it’s okay to jump in and be a learner for a while – what I called lurker earlier. Then transitioning to user when you become more proficient, to then an innovator and finally a contributor. As always, I’m curios to know what you think.

The Collaborative Learning Cycle

by Chris Cozort

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 4.12.15 PM   Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 4.12.24 PM   Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 4.12.32 PM   Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 4.12.42 PM

Metagame Book Club

Yesterday I started reading For the Win by Cory Doctorow and am currently downloading World of Warcraft – yes, it’s true. As total n00b, I am a bit intimidated, but I know that I am in good hands. I am doing all of this as part of a book club – the #Metagame Book Club+. I learned about this group through the ISTE Virtual Environments Network and as a non-gamer who teaches gamers, I look forward to learning from these dedicated educators, researchers, and gamers about how to better understand the gaming world.

For now, I’m just trying to take it all in and I have so many questions:

  1. How many hours do people typically spend playing these games?
  2. What are the most popular games?
  3. What are the most welcoming gaming communities?
  4. How do these communities reflect “real life”?
  5. Why do they stop playing?

…and so many more.

I will continue to document my experience here.

A Strong PLN

One week after the Schoology NEXT conference (#NEXT14), I’m still making connections and reaping the benefits of a robust PLN! What makes the Schoology PLN so powerful is it’s members: connected educators willing to share their resources. Many of the presenters at NEXT 2014 gave credit to others who had developed the work that they tweaked, improved and then shared with the rest of us. Now, we can take these resources and re-work them for our own schools and share alike.

Including two wonderful keynotes by Alan November and Jennie Magiera, the presenters at this conference were the best that I have had a chance to see at an EdTech conference. Most presenters shared content that they have used in their classrooms and experiences that they have had with EdTech in general and Schoology specifically.

At #NEXT14 I had the opportunity to connect and re-connect with some wonderful educators, and I look forward to more PD experiences like this one. Check out some of the work that was shared:

The CompSci Affective Filter

In the 1980s, Stephen Krashen wrote about the affective filter hypothesis. The concept of the affective filter was first proposed –according to Krashen — by Dulay and Burt in 1977 as an obstacle to language learning. In Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition (1982) Krashen identifies three categories of affective variables that relate to success in second language acquisition:

  1. Motivation. Performers with high motivation generally do better in second language acquisition(usually, but not always, “integrative”)
  2. Self-confidence. Performers with self-confidence and a good self-image tend to do better in second language acquisition.
  3. Anxiety. Low anxiety appears to be conducive to second language acquisition, whether measured as personal or classroom anxiety.

Can the Affective Filter hypothesis be applied to learning Computer Science? In the next few years, I will take a deeper look at if/how these concepts and theories — originally developed for the acquisition of a second language also apply to learning computer science and programming languages.

For those who don’t know my background, I am a computer science teacher who taught Spanish (my first language) for ten years. I have been teaching computer science since 2011. Not surprisingly, my background in second language acquisition (Spanish minor & Spanish Teaching Credential – CA) is very relevant and applicable in the teaching of Computer Science. I look forward to writing more about this research interest.