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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Scrivener: a grad student review

I’ve been using Scrivener for my graduate school work and agree with many of the points made by Sam. I take all of my class notes in Scrivener and I also use it to draft most of my larger assignments. I am still a noob and haven’t gotten to work with the more advanced features. While there is a learning curve to this software (I spent way too much time setting it up- tinkering with the settings/font sizes), I have decided to take it slow and learn to use one feature at a time.

Any tips and suggestions are appreciated!

Sam Grace

NSF Word Cloud Look! I made this from my NSF DDIG application!

I just submitted an application to the NSF DDIG*. It’s a big grant and a big deal and getting it in makes me a very happy camper. I had already done a lot of writing for it in Word, which is where I had done all my grant writing previously. But I was feeling a definite need for a Fresh Start, and so I downloaded a trial version of Scrivener** so I could stare at a new kind of blank page.

I had heard that Scrivener is a pretty impressive writing management system from novelists and other academics. They were correct.

The first awesome thing was that I imported all the grant writing I had already done into folders in the Grant Collection I started. That meant that whenever I wanted to check or copy some previous writing I could zip…

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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