Last call

Fitting that I’m doing this post on the last day of the class in the last hour. It’s been a very trying 12 weeks. The nature of the summer course is unforgiving. I started late because I had to register late to fulfill tuition requirements and it was catchup for the entire summer. However, I did learn an awful lot. I forced myself to think in new ways. I was exposed to new ideas from classmates, the beauty of social learning I guess and I challenged my assumptions. I still am holding on to Alex telling us to challenge our assumptions about online learning and what it means. I think that should spill over to everything if we really want to affect change in this world and in the field of education. What are we assuming? What can be changed? What seems like it’s either a precursor or indispensable even if this may not be the case at all?

I think it’s all also important to stress the questioning of how did our fore-bearers arrive at these conclusions? How did the state of education today (and the state of the world) come to be? Only until we understand history can we do anything different. A lot of my project was based on that. I wanted to draw newer education movements to their ancestral origins. These ideas didn’t come from thin air. They were suppressed at times. They were ignored. But they are here and they can be used to help draw us closer to our aims and for aims of the betterment of our society. It was George Santayana who said:

the one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again

Understanding history and using it is cheating in a way. A good type of cheating. We can stand on the work of those before us and take the best or the most appropriate for our time. We can use a historical perspective to give a voice to the voiceless of history.

(4)

Reflecting on what I have learned – education as societally transformative

This class got me thinking. I have had ideas about education before embarking on this program and this class but I have never had this much time and guidance to implement these thoughts or really explore them. This time and specifically this class has given me the opportunity for this. More so than ever I would love to mirror my professor’s behavior earlier in the class where she mentioned “to question your assumptions”. I’ve always loved this philosophy as this is how I was raised but every once in a while you forget that it means EVERYTHING and not only that but these thoughts must be constantly refreshed from time to time as you develop in your thinking and philosophy. So while it may be dismissed as a basic idea I think it very rarely gets put into practice.

More so than ever after reading about the martyrdom of Francisco Ferrer by the Spanish state I am beginning to be unable to divorce myself from the idea that education is one of the most fundamentally revolutionary acts. A perfect example of this in practice is Thomas Paine. His writings helped spark the start of the American Revolution. In a way this is him educating the population on what he believed to be their reasons for breaking away as a colony from their mother country. To his opposition he would be considered merely a propagandist but to his followers he was an educator. He wrote in a way that targeted the common man, related to their culture (via the bible) and explained Enlightenment based ideas in a way that were digestible.

Ferrer was a more traditional archetype of an educator. He used the classroom and attempted to influence the youth. He was killed by the Spanish authorities for presenting a credible threat to their power structure. The most important lesson to be had here is the power or the perceived power of education and it’s threat even in relation to the most influential and powerful in all of the land.

(4)

What’s left?

There’s a few things that worry me about my course. I wonder about how it would play out due to its experimental nature but specifically I wonder about the tyranny of the majority. When I talk about self directed learning and social learning I believe there’s a trade-off to be had there. In an ideal world there wouldn’t be and I think some degree of difference in opinion is important, you don’t want everyone with the same ideas, life would be very boring. However, with democratic education there’s always the risk of tyranny of the majority. How do you protect minority opinion? How do you integrate that into the democratic aspects of the course? These kind of things keep me thinking about my course and what’s to become of it.

Majority rule can easily turn into a situation that is not ideal for those who don’t share the same opinion. What if certain learners have a completely different style? Especially with regard to institution what is to be done about this? Put them in a different class of more compatible individuals? That’s not so easy and may not even be healthy. What happens when they’re in adversarial or hostile environments in their future? Unfortunately life is usually not so copacetic and there’s usually no one looking out specifically for that to be the case.

(4)

Baking from scratch – paradigm shifts in education

Developing a course from scratch isn’t easy. I could have gone for a more traditional route and relied on my instructional technologist experience like my projects from last semester, a wiki to explain the basics of the ANGEL CMS and a course about how to use screencasting in the classroom, but I chose not to. Why? My experience is with adult education. To me, removing as much hierarchy as possible with regard to how a class is run is the ultimate goal. Online learning is going to change our understanding of how we view the classroom as an entity. In my viewpoint we may just have learning areas, centers, whatever you want to call them that are living and breathing manifestations of individuals with similar goals. The reported benefits of social collaborative learning are nothing new. However, consider the idea that we are stuck in a paradigm. We think about schooling in terms of students, in terms of teachers, in terms of buildings, in terms of classes, in terms of units, in terms of testing and evaluation. Now this is not to say that none of these concepts will hold true in the future, but is it possible that our minds and our past constrain our ability to innovate and create new learning environments that serve humanity in ways that we never thought were before possible.

To me, these are the benefits of technology. Unchecked and un-vetted we may experience far different results. Instructional design and technology, e-learning, etc. could easily be used and abused on the population of educators, students and society as a whole. However, this does not have to be the case.

(4)

Who am I?

I’ve learned quite a bit from this course, it’s been very challenging to me. I learned a lot of behaviors for administering an online course as well as quite a bit into topics that I feel strongly about. Some of these include democratizing education, philosophy of education and the limitations (or lack thereof depending on your viewpoint) of the human mind and the effect of today’s technology on our culture and self image as human beings. I find these topics fascinating. In my own personal readings for my course creation, I came across an interesting concept. Fernando Ferrer was tried and executed for anti church and anti government activities. He wanted to create a new society, a revolutionary society, beyond hierarchy and was a threat to the power structure. The interesting aspect is creating a revolution through the dissemination of information to the next information. A revolution through education, it is not that far fetched of a concept if you begin to think about it, such is the power of information and education.

The most difficult aspect of this class is in trying to discover where I fit in all of this. Especially post graduate I wonder what my true aims and goals are. What do I want to accomplish? I’m sitting at the edge of a modern day revolution, a complete change in the power of information in society. A possibility for a complete flattening of society. Those in power are aware and aren’t happy with the results. From Wikileaks prosecution to attacks by (political, Dadaist or otherwise) hacking groups like Anonymous and Lulzsec to the DMCA and IP law being strengthened by corporatists in power. All of these point the same kind of attempts to control this power. Pandora’s Box is open in a way misunderstood by authoritarians in a way unseen since the Printing Revolution. Laws like such were created (excerpt from the Axemaker’s Gift, p. 131)

“But even though print made propaganda and social control easier, it was a gift that worked two ways. The presses also made dissent more effective and so their use was quickly regulated through censorship, first by the Catholic church and then by every European monarch. To all authorities, the sheer volume of printed output represented a massive potential threat to social stability and conformity.”

“Nothing gives a better sense of the concern among those in power regarding the opportunities for subversion by print than the 1535 panic-stricken ban, by the Catholic French king Francis I, on the printing of any books in his realm, upon pain of death by hanging. The reason for this desperate action was that French borders to the East were lined by Protestant states and cities, each producing a massive number of books that could all too easily be smuggled into France. The new ban attempted to ensure that no books would be printed in France, so that any new books discovered in the country would, by definition, be illegal.”

(4)

Blink and you’ll miss it

Boy, does the time fly, especially in a summer course! I got knocked out with an illness and played catch-up the entirety of the week. I was surprised about how much my productivity was affected. Surely you should be able to do your research, do the readings and produce quality work (especially so in the interactive parts of the class) from the comfort of your own bed. However, I felt this couldn’t have been further from the truth in my own experience. Even when I felt up to things physically, I felt a mental cloudiness. This cloudiness translated directly into an issue in the confidence of my own work. Was I making sense? Was I being understood?

I notice that the most difficult part of the week for me is the beginning. I feel like I have the most difficulty jumping into the discussion. Sometimes I don’t know where to stake a claim on an idea or I don’t know enough about something to really stake out an idea. However, lending credence to the idea of social learning, even if my ideas are off the wall from what my classmates are doing/want to be doing watching them think (reading their posts) helps me to better formulate my own thoughts.

Summer is unforgiving, the condensed nature of the course leaves very little margin for error. Time to finish strong.

Michael (4)

Carrot or the stick

I spend a lot of time thinking about this course. Here’s the thing about online learning and this course in particular, your thinking must be visible. I I believe I may be an auditory learner and without the ability to speak in class I have to change the way I work. It was my bread and butter in my undergraduate business program, you sank or swam on your verbal abilities. Shy and don’t want to talk in class? You’re in trouble. Can’t do public speaking and presentations? You’re in major trouble. Here things are vastly different.  If I don’t type it in, to the observer or instructor it’s as if I didn’t do anything at all. For example, in setting up my course profile and questionnaire I hit a major snag in determining evaluation methods. By spending so much time focusing on this I lost easy points in other areas of the class. Summer session is short and you’ve got to keep moving in courses of this nature. It’s an asynchronous course but it has deadlines because of it’s collaborative nature. If I had my choice that I would remove the deadlines to anything not collaboratively dependent.

I also questioned what motivates me. My course’s topic is about anarchistic education methods that sought to remove hierarchy and control from the church and state. It sought to create student centered learning. Yet on the other side of the coin I find myself many times only understanding the stick method of motivation. I’m used to working up to a deadline. Why? It’s extremely less stressful to get work done when you’ve done it in advance and I’ve felt this reward of the freedom of time and the lack of stress. Yet I mostly continue to work up to deadlines (and not in this class).

I’ll get into behaviorism’s school of psychology for a moment because I can’t help but think about it in relation to human learning humans are animals after all). Right now the fashionable training for dogs is positive reinforcement training. While there is debate between what punishment and negative reinforcement are there is some thought now that using either is not the proper way to train a dog and leads to counterproductive behaviors in the dog.

So what does this mean for education? How is this different online? And why do I believe that I only understand the stick?

Open 1 door and it leads to 3 more

What is my role? What is the future role of the instructional designer? While researching for this module’s questions I found myself coming back to these issues. I read a paper asking Are Instructional Designers Software Architects in Disguises? that asked if “instructional designers are a highly specialized area of software architects”? Standardization came up in the class discussion area and it further pushed my thoughts into this arena, not necessarily solidifying the position in my mind but forcing me to question it. In my mind this isn’t just about instructional design but about the future and direction education is headed in in general. Standardization of curriculum came up and I read a few articles that said at certain institutions teachers were being asked to teach courses for which they had no input on. They were not designing instruction but merely being tasked as a driver or manager for it.

I couldn’t help but think that all of these questions led to more. Interestingly the in class discussion area was opened by Professor Pickett with the words:

What if it is true that “Thinking is not driven by answers, but by questions”?

Well, in my case that is true. Asking these questions led to more questions. I went back and researched the ADDIE model in relation to the software architect paper. The quote:  “When the ADDIE model first appeared in 1975, it was strictly a linear or waterfall model. ” led me to the software architect comparison as the waterfall model Wiki page only mentioned software design. I found this all very interesting, thought provoking as well but mainly very confusing. When I’m stumped I’ll often go back to basics. I question everything, I attempt to address my biases and look at the issue from a new perspective. In this process I usually go back to the history of whatever idea I’m researching, I find it’s sometimes easy to build the idea in your head if you come at it the way that it’s original progenitors did.

ADDIE was developed by FSU for the U.S. Army. Interesting that a model commissioned by the military to further expand on a field birthed during World War II is being used at the collegiate and lower levels.

As far as my thoughts on software architecture and instructional design, contrary to my initial thoughts on the subject is the concept utterly ridiculous? Especially if we’re talking about online instruction solely (which is often how the term instructional design gets thrown around) and we’re talking about the possibility and policy of standardization of curriculum how silly will it sound if a teacher’s essence (through the aid of future technology) can or will be embodied in hypermedia?

hypermedia

Noun: An extension to hypertext providing multimedia facilities, such as those handling sound and video
Source: Merriam Webster
A good example of this is related to textbooks, the instructors in this case are utilizing standardized content and depending on their academic freedom and autonomy in a way that they see fit.
(4)

Moving from ideas to practice, comfort in the online realm

I spent a lot of time and had quite a bit of difficulty moving my ideas for my course into practice this week. I’m hoping I’ve got some of the bones down so I can begin to dive in and really get started with building my course. My major concern right now is to make sure  that my course documents have enough of my enthusiasm about the topic in them. Sometimes I realize that I assume that this is the case and things left unsaid are known, this is not always the case.  I’ve got a strong passion for the topic of anarchistic education. I’m also very interested in democratic education. For the past few years I’ve been researching both of these topics for my own entertainment and last semester I wanted to choose it as a topic but I didn’t feel comfortable in the program yet. This led me to picking technical topics for both of my semester long projects. They were fun but I felt I needed a change of pace. This summer semester has been quite the opposite, I’m working on a topic (Anarchistic education) that’s non-technical in nature and taking another class on Media Literacy.

Compared to what I’ve read about others’ experiences, online learning is a bit ironic for me. For whatever reason I think I feel more self conscious online than I do in the classroom. I don’t know exactly how to explain it but perhaps it has to do with how my experiences online have been informed over time. I began on the Internet as a 12 year old in 1993, I’m a native of Web 1.0. Years later, the participatory and social nature of Web 2.0 still feels somewhat odd to me. We were all anonymous back then (and on a lot of forums and aspects of the Internet some of us still are) and that has changed. To me the greatest sea change in the transition to the Web 2.0 nature of the move from anonymity had to do with Facebook. Myspace still had people making up silly profiles and using aliases. Facebook at least in its earliest iterations (where it was only available to college students and very exclusive) seemed to take our guard down.

(4)

The Internet giveth, the Internet taketh away and How I Learned to Start Worrying About Terminology

The Internet giveth, the Internet taketh away and How I Learned to Start Worrying About Terminology
I’m writing this blog up in good old Notepad.exe. Why? Because edublogs is down for the moment, nightly
maintenance I’d guess. This phenomena encapsulates what my learning for the week has been about,
challenging my assumptions about F2F (Face to Face) and online learning. First of all, nomenclature is king
here. Here’s a good question:
What is online learning?
The more that you think about it the more you realize it can mean a lot of different things to a lot of
different people. These people have different ideas about their needs and the problems in their lives they
wish to solve and naturally they’re going to have different ideas about the solutions for it.
Why do you want/need to be teaching/learning in an online class?
Distance considerations?
Program availability?
Work responsibilities?
Cost considerations (attending a public school online over a private one locally)
Job opportunities (consider future employment for SMEs who are willing to work remotely)
Is it hybrid? Is it blended? What does that mean?
These terms are not uncontroversial in their nature, they have their critics. http://diigo.com/0huz8
What if it is something like SUNY Canton’s fully online program that is self paced (to the minimum of 2
academic years) It requires an internship in the final semester though, so would that not be considered an
online program?
Synchronous? Asynchronous?
Self paced? Self directed? Run by a teacher? Run by a celebrity teacher? (Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
anyone? Just kidding, but Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk novel The Diamond Age centers around an interactive book given to a young girl titled: YOUNG LADY’S ILLUSTRATED PRIMER a Propædeutic Enchiridion in which is told the tale of Princess Nell and her various friends, kin, associates, &c.) No instructor whatsoever? Peer based learning? (skill shares)

I’m writing this blog up in good old Notepad.exe. Why? Because edublogs is down for the moment, nightly maintenance I’d guess. This phenomena encapsulates what my learning for the week has been about, challenging my assumptions about F2F (Face to Face) and online learning. First of all, nomenclature is king here. Here’s a good question:

What is online learning?

The more that you think about it the more you realize it can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. These people have different ideas about their needs and the problems in their lives they wish to solve and naturally they’re going to have different ideas about the solutions for it.

Why do you want/need to be teaching/learning in an online class?

Distance considerations?

Program availability?

Work responsibilities?

Cost considerations (attending a public school online over a private one locally)

Job opportunities (consider future employment for SMEs who are willing to work remotely)

Is it hybrid? Is it blended? What does that mean?

These terms are not uncontroversial in their nature, they do have their critics (Can ‘Blended Learning’ Be Redeemed?).

What if it is something like SUNY Canton’s fully online program that is self paced (to the minimum of 2 academic years) It requires an internship in the final semester though, so would that not be considered an

online program? If distance was your primary factor when you thought about if a course was online or not does it not count as online learning in your view?

Synchronous? Asynchronous?

Self paced? Self directed? Run by a teacher? Run by a celebrity teacher? (Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing anyone? Just kidding, but Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk novel The Diamond Age centers around an interactive book given to a young girl that’s ” purpose is to educate and raise a girl capable of thinking for herself.” It is titled: YOUNG LADY’S ILLUSTRATED PRIMER a Propædeutic Enchiridion in which is told the tale of Princess Nell and her various friends, kin, associates, &c.) No instructor whatsoever? Peer based learning (skill shares)?

Michael (4)