Falling behind… but moving forward

TOPIC 2: Openness and OPEN learning

So, here I am more than a month later. Been far too busy to do this course, but I am trying to power do some of it now. We’ll see how THAT goes.

Anyway, I’ve done two things today: 1) watched the 2nd webinar with Sara Mörtsell on the Wikipedia Education Program, Filter Bubbles and Creative Commons, and 2) read the article on “21st Century Skills: Problem Based Learning and the University of the Future”. Interesting stuff. Here are some thoughts.

Firstly, I had absolutely no idea about filter bubbles. What a rip off!!! But it explains when I am sitting with students and we search, they get different results than I do. I think that I want to read more about these Wikipedia Education Programs. I have a week of lectures and task seminars with students that are about quoting, paraphrasing, summarising, citing sources, works cited lists, source criticism, etc. Parts of this are hard to make into interesting tasks. However, I think if I was to incorporate some work with the students working with the Wikipedia Education Program, they would learn a lot about source criticism. And filter bubbles needs to be a part of that week! I still have very little understanding of what Creative Commons is, but I am getting a grasp on this. I didn’t know any of this weeks topics. I thought that the WWW was a totally open resource and that I could use anything on it as freely as I want, but with citation. I believed this because everyone seems to think so and be very protective about what they put out. I have not understood from Alister’s introduction video and the webinar if there are some kind of international laws guiding this copyrighted material vs CCs materials. If someone breaks this, are they fined? I assumed if it’s out there, its a free and open forum to take.

I like the idea of the Creative Commons, the openness, and the sharing. I did a quick search on one source (BC Open Textbooks in Canada, since I am from BC but not lived there for 24 years) and found it very limited material. However, although it might be hard to find a whole text book there, I think materials that can help lectures is going to be useful. I already saved for future use of some material and the reference information. However, I am not sure yet how to cite it. Something like this? CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Some rights reserved by opentextbc.

Anyway, just searching and trying to learn how to cite this CC resource was an interesting task. It is time consuming, and I can imagine why teachers in a stress will skip and just borrow information. Therefore, this topic was an eye-opener for me, and I think I can start reviewing all my current lectures and making these changes. I know personally that I don’t mind if anyone borrows my work, but HOW do I publish it with a CC protection???

Secondly, this article about PBL, “21st Century Skills: Problem Based Learning and the University of the Future,” was enjoyably idealistic. I think most important was the need for students to be empowered and believe in their selves/hearts/being, in order to be able to use their knowledge/mind and their skills/actions. Only then can they be effective as agents of change in their lives (Kek and Hauiser, 2015, p. 410).  This idea is developed with the idea of “super complexity”, where we need students and graduates who enter the world able to handle the fluid nature of the super complex world. Thus, “adaptive expertise” is what we need from the new student, not the routine knowledge and skills of traditional university graduates (Kek and Hauiser, 2015, p. 411).

This adaptive student needs a new university, and that is certainly what this ONL162 course is about: creating new teachers and ways of teaching. I have tried already and with every semester to find new ways. However, it starts with first understanding the new student and the ways our students keep changing. I have to meet the students where they are as individuals. One example of this has been how incorporated the digital tools available to us in our classrooms, but also in our homework. Particularly, I have used a tool the Malmö University has called Kalture CaptureSpace Desktop Recorder and our media site, MahPlay. I have used this tool to capture my desktop and record when I am marking a student’s essay. As the student hears my voice and follows my typing notes and changes, they get a very personal meeting with me, recorded, that they can watch again and again, and can pause, etc. In their own time and space, they can take the time they need to understand my teaching in relation to their own production of text. It takes a little time the first recording of an essay, perhaps at least 30 to45 minutes per essay. However, the students get such clear guidelines and help this way that is so personal that they make very few errors with coming essays. The next essays have only taken 15 minutes to grade, and I am expecting the next 2 to take even less time.

Students have been so happy, so excited, and so grateful for this kind of feedback, as opposed to the a few marks on a paper version of their essay that most of my more traditional colleagues still do. I sit 6 hours every week in our Writing Centre; student come in with essays that they have failed or not done well on, and they don’t know why. It is no wonder, because when I look at what their professors have given them for comments, it is in the briefest form. These students have no idea how to improve or what is being asked of them. Each consecutive essay is as bad as the first.

The modern university needs to grab hold of the digital technologies, teachers must learn digital literacies, and we must see the students more than empty pots to fill with knowledge and skills. We must stop meeting the needs of only the students from a traditional academic background, and meet the needs of students from non-traditional environments: working class students, immigrant students, special needs students…

Students are individuals, and I believe these digital platforms can help us read the individuals.

Works Cited:

Horkoff, T. and McLean, S. [2015]. “Chapter 1. Introduction to Academic Writing“. Writing for Success, 1st Canadian Edition. Licensed under a Creative Commons, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. Available at: https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/introduction-to-academic-writing/ (Accessed on 2016-11-22).

Kek, M.Y.C.A., and Huijser, H. (2015). “21st Century Skills: Problem Based Learning and the University of the Future”. Third 21st Century Academic Forum Conference. September 2015, Vol. 6, Nr. 1. Boston: Harvard.


EGO or Safety?

Topic 1: Connecting (continued)

As I launch into this new world of digital literacies, I am beginning to understand that it is like my students who launch in the world of theatre in my theatre classes. There are many parallels.

Their thoughts are,

“What am I doing here? This is so scary. What can I expect? What is the structure of studying in this kind of way? I don’t understand what is expected of me. I don’t know how to do this. I have never done work like this before. I feel so public and exposed. What if I embarrass myself?”

My feelings have been the same in this new learning environment. But, today, as the first senario was published in Google Docs and I see two people have started writing, I get my first understanding of how that tool works and how that part of the course will function. The same happened when I watch the first Webinar. And I assume the same will happen when I finally can connect with my PBL group on Blackboard.

The problem comes when our egos get involved, and like with acting, we freeze up with fear about the new experience. Fear is paralysing. And fear is about ourselves and the ego. However, I need to get out of myself and think about the others out there in cyber-land. I need to leave the fear behind and become an explorer of these new worlds. Setting my feet on new soil is rewarding. I don’t really know how things work here, but I will. I always do.

Getting Started: “Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly”

Topic 1: Connecting

Well, I am not sure if we are to start blogging yet, but I thought I would. The first week for me was busy and confusing. While my schedule didn’t allow me to attend the webinar or Skype (or whatever our platform is called) with my PBL group, I was able to get into all the different tools, try them out, and watch the two videos. I have also been attending some open workshops from our Media Workshop where I could learn more about tools such as Skype, Google+, Google Hangout, Google Docs, Google Drive, Adobe Connect, etc… all with the purpose of learning how to tutor and meeting with individual students or groups online.

These are important tools for me to learn as our Writing Centre is going to over online service to students in another smaller university, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). The goal is to be able to work with their WORD documents in real-time and for me to be able to “take over” their computer and make suggestions and changes to their text as we do IRL. I think Adobe Connect might be good for this, but Google hangout and Google docs seems even better. I have also arranged with one of our exchange students who is working on his BA thesis but has to return suddenly to his home country to help him online this way as I tutor him. So the first week felt productive even if I haven’t met my PBL group yet.

I also spent some time at the open workshops at our Media Workshop learning more about our university’s own tools, It’s Learning (which I know much about already but learned some new ways to use it), MahPlay, and Yammer.

So, I would say that it was a week that made me “full” on a lot of media services. It seems in some ways daunting. I think of what David White says in his video “Visitors and Residents”, how it is assumed that we who know the time B.I. (Before Internet) and the time now with WWW. Is it like we are learners of a new language? Is this a language we might become proficient in but never fluid as a native “speaker”? Will I always have an “accent” in the use of internet technology? It seemed so this week as those around me who are 20 thought I must be “that old” if I don’t know how to use Google Hangout, Google Docs, and Google Drive.

BUT… I am eager to learn. I don’t have to be perfect. Here is my motto:

“Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly”.