Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lecture Capture Resources

These are the resources for the lecture capture presentation at College of the Redwoods. At CR we can help instructors with video taping lectures and consult with them on how to use cameras and recording equipment in the classroom. We also have close captioning of video available through a grant through-out the California community college system.

How are instructors using lecture capture and why?


  • Youtube - Instructors can create their own channels. These videos are now being close-captioned.
  • iTunes U - Most students tend to watch educational content from iTunes U on their computer.
  • Edustream - This is an educators version of YouTube; gives educators more control over content.

Software & Local Server

  • Articulate - Builds interactive content from Powerpoint. Preserves animations. $$$
  • Lecshare - Builds interactive content and ensures ADA compliance. $


Enterprise-Wide Solutions

  • Elluminate - Webinar/synchronous meeting software. CCC Confer has a state-wide license for Elluminate.
  • Matterhorn is an open source alternative. We will need to explore this one closely. A lot will depend on how much in-house support we can afford to provide - a common issue with open source solutions.
  • Echo360 - This is an appliance based solution. A blade server in every classroom. $$$
  • Tegrity - This is a "cloud"-based solution. They have a showcase of example recorded lectures. $$

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Open Education Resources Require Open Teaching

A Wikiversity Logo for Open Educational Resour...Image via WikipediaI have been reading though the Open eLearning Content Observatory Services "Roadmap 2012" and there are some very important points made in the report:

"OER are understood to be an important element of policies that want to leverage education and lifelong learning for the knowledge economy and society. However, OLCOS emphasises that it is crucial to also promote innovation and change in educational practices."

This is a very important distinction - we are doing more than just changing the medium from commercial textbooks to open textbooks. We are changing the way we teach. When we begin to decentralize the information, we have to adapt teaching strategies to decentralized learning.  For example, our math department has an face-to-face classroom but it uses a free, open textbook that they wrote, a video feed to a website that also streams to two television outlets, a phone number for students to call in questions. How does this not change the way one teaches? I have sometimes heard teachers talk about concerns with quality with open textbooks or of being uncertain about being able to teach with them. This is because teaching often becomes dependent on publisher's resources which can also be of questionable quality. What the instructors often need is the learning support materials that come with commercial textbooks. This too can be created in an open way. 

"In particular, OLCOS warns that delivering OER to the still dominant model of teacher-centred knowledge transfer will have little effect on equipping teachers, students and workers with the competences, knowledge and skills to participate successfully in the knowledge economy and society."

In other words, the same skills that the teachers are using to gather, evaluate, and share open education resources are the same skills that the students are going to need to get on in a world of networked information. This happens a lot already - the research of graduate students often goes into the textbook of the professor. Why not cut out the middle-man? Why teach someone how to write with a word processor and then ask them to turn in wax tablets? Or worse yet, evaluate them that way?

"This report emphasises the need to foster open practices of teaching and learning that are informed by a competency-based educational framework. However, it is understood that a shift towards such practices will only happen in the longer term in a step-by-step process. Bringing about this shift will require targeted and sustained efforts by educational leaders at all levels."

If you have not read this report, I highly recommend it. We need to start thinking about the cultural shifts that are evolving around us; the culture that is giving birth to OERs is already redefining teaching and scholarship. What if instead of passing tests, a student was evaluated on his or her contributions to the knowledge culture through an online "textbook" like WikiEducator? It is important to follow what is happening in other countries because the OER community is an international community and they are solving problems in Africa and Europe that we are only really beginning to look at here in the U.S.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Of Concept Maps and Crucifixions

I visited the National Gallery earlier this year and I spent a lot of time looking at a few paintings of crucifixion or passion paintings. I was particularly interested in a few early renaissance paintings. These paintings come from a time when art served a teaching and learning function; they had a didactic purpose and not just decorative or expressive one. Paintings that fit this bill will have the crucified Christ at the center and in the landscape behind him, arranged radially, will be scenes that illustrate the life of Christ or the events of the Passion. One example that is in Wikimedia is Hans Memling's "Tafel mit Szenen der Passion Christi"

This is a painting of Jerusalem and at the center of the painting is the scourging of Christ. All of the scenes around it, in various parts of the city represent different events in the arrest, trial, and execution of Jesus. There are even two scenes representing the crucifixion; one with him dying on the cross and another on the next hill, of him being taken off the cross. There is even a resurrected Christ in the lower right corner about to harrow hell. This is all typical of Flemish painting especially.In the extreme lower right and left corners, I believe we have the devout patrons of this painting.

The point of all this is that the painting represents a central idea, The Passion of the Christ. It has a series of connected stories that are all related to that central idea - spatially and temporally. This painting represents a concept map of that narrative. Concept maps allow us to see connections to different ideas in new ways, but they also help us describe knowledge in a way so that we see how all of the pieces are connected. There are many examples of this throughout history and the world. Art is used to share ideas and their connections in the tangka paintings of Tibet and the Navaho sand paintings. Concept maps and "mind mapping" are not something new, they are an integral method of sharing knowledge and ideas.
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Herzogian Pedagogy: A New Order in Education

I was meditating on the pedagogy of online learning and personal learning networks, and I could not get Werner Herzog's Rogue Film School out of my mind.  I love the spirit of this, and I can't believe that I have not written on this before. Reading about his idea of the film school has the potential to totally transform ideas about professional development. The goal of our education workshops can be to push the participants to their utter-most physical and emotional limits so that they realize Ecstatic Truth (or they are eaten by a bear, which can also happen).
Seriously though, I have been skirting around the edges of this course on personal learning networks and the nature of learning in classrooms and online. There is a big difference between what happens in a learning management system and in a personal learning network. I like the idea of seminars over formal classes. I have learned a lot on my own and I think I have created some courses that allow for the participation of the odd autodidact (my learning style). In a Health Information Management course that I co-designed with the brilliant and plucky Char Gore, we took the 23 Things model which is like a Web 2.0 version of Abbey Hoffman's "Steal This Book." We utilized a learning management system only has a content repository of training materials for communication, connectivity tools, and collaboration. And whether you position yourself as a constructivist or connectivist, one still has to account for the solitary act of thinking critically and deeply.
The pedagogy implied by his film school creates a useful guide for any kind of creating and learning. I weeded out things that are only important to iconoclastic ego maniacs and when you take out the celebrity factor, one is left with a surprisingly lucid template. Here are 12 of the things I learned from Werner Herzog:
  1.  Seminars are held at infrequent intervals in varying locations. Learning has its own rhythm and the "typical" student may work or have other scheduling issues. Does learning really happen EVERY morning at 8:00 AM? Why can't courses be flexible with a multimodal delivery? One day a student should be able to participate online or go to a class.
  2. The number of participants will be limited to a maximum of 65. This a an artificial restriction. I have been in courses where there were 300 students - massive open courses - where the teacher eventually became irrelevant. Teachers often suffer from the "sage-on-the-stage" syndrome. Even in open courses. But there comes a point where one has to ask as an instructional designer, what is the effective learning space for this class? For whatever arbitrary number is chosen, how does this course accommodate the engagement and interactivity needed for successful learning?
  3. "Locations and dates will be announced on this website..." The seminar uses a central hub of communication. This is not a restriction, but an organizational issue. Classes, organizations, and seminars flounder when there are too many places to get information and no central space to retrieve it. It is a classic way to keep people in the dark if you are not interested in sharing power or information btw.
  4. Do not teach anything technical. What this says to me is that the discussion of how your work reveals truth in the everyday world will be more important than discussions about the theories that led to a truth. An example might be critical thinking. There are a lot of technical and neurological discussions about what thinking might be but nothing replaces a demonstration of critical thinking using the day's news.
  5. Learning is not about a subject but about a way of life; it is about creating a climate that makes learning possibleWe have to teach students how to learn. But it is more than that; there has to be some point to their learning. Kenneth Rexroth said this best in Classics Revisited: "He [Plato] defined education as we would: as training of personality to absorb the greatest possible scope and intensity of meaning and value from experience."
  6. The focus of the seminars will be about a dialog in which the participants will have their voice in their projects, questions, and aspirations. This was where Herzog placed himself at the center of the seminars. What I find is that the students learn as much or more from their interactions with one another as they do from the information you provide as a teacher. Facilitating this interaction becomes vitally important.
  7. Student work will be presented. Depending on the materials, the attention will revolve around essential questions:...How do you create illumination and an ecstasy of truth? The most important phrase here is "essential questions." What are the essential questions for work in your discipline? Are they already decided? What would happen if you and your students negotiated and argued for those essential questions? Maybe the work of education is to look for those questions.
  8. Related, but more practical subjects, will be the art of lockpicking. Traveling on foot. The exhilaration of being shot at unsuccessfully. The athletic side of filmmaking. The creation of your own shooting permits. The neutralization of bureaucracy. Guerrilla tactics. Self reliance." This one needed to remain whole as a quote. In an atmosphere of open research and open textbooks, there has never been a better climate for rogue scholars. All of the great ideas started out on the fringe and the institutions of education are designed to keep them there for as long as possible.
  9. "Censorship will be enforced. There will be no talk of shamans, of yoga classes, nutritional values, herbal teas, discovering your Boundaries, and Inner Growth." Again, I think classes have to decide what the focus of the class will be and what is appropriate or not. I find "censorship" a little fascistic but I have also been in classes that became therapy sessions instead of literature courses.
  10. Related, but more reflective, will be a reading list. Required reading: Virgil’s “Georgics”...The Warren Commission Report...Bernal Diaz del Castillo “True History of the Conquest of New Spain." At first I thought this was a bit a a joke. And then I began to think about the works listed. Reading the books he requires take patience, reflection, attention, and focus. This is something we do not teach anymore - sustained attention.
  11. "Required film viewing list.." One should always use a wide variety of media; this accounts for different learning modalities but also provides a fresh perspective on old problems. Again, this list should be negotiated but the seminar respects solitary focused learning and the social dimension of a shared experience which can provide a shared language and critical tools.
  12.  "Follow your vision. Form secretive Rogue Cells everywhere. At the same time, be not afraid of solitude." And this last one needs no comment.
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Friday, October 08, 2010

Open Access Week

Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed...Image via WikipediOPen 
Open Access Week is happening  Oct. 18 - 22. I am particularly interested in it because it is a chance to hear leaders in the field of open education resources, such as Wayne Mackintosh, the director of the OER Foundation, facilitate free webinars. It looks like an interesting schedule.

"Open Access Week, a global event now entering its fourth year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.

“Open Access” to information – the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need – has the power to transform the way research and scientific inquiry are conducted. It has direct and widespread implications for academia, medicine, science, industry, and for society as a whole.

Open Access (OA) has the potential to maximize research investments, increase the exposure and use of published research, facilitate the ability to conduct research across available literature, and enhance the overall advancement of scholarship. Research funding agencies, academic institutions, researchers and scientists, teachers, students, and members of the general public are supporting a move towards Open Access in increasing numbers every year. Open Access Week is a key opportunity for all members of the community to take action to keep this momentum moving forward."
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Friday, October 01, 2010

New OER Guide for Higher Education Leaders

Open Textbook billImage by opensourceway via FlickrFrom Cable Green: An Open Educational Resources guide for higher education governance officials written by long-time OER advocate Hal Plotkin has been released by Creative Commons. Free to Learn: An Open Educational Resources Policy Development Guidebook for Community College Governance Officials provides an introduction to the basics of OER, an OER resource guide and insights from OER providers and institutions who have implemented supportive OER policies.
“Open Educational Resources (OER) offer higher education governance leaders a cost-efficient method of improving the quality of teaching and learning while at the same time reducing costs imposed on students related to the purchase of expensive commercial textbooks and learning materials,” says Plotkin. “Higher education governance officials, particularly boards of trustees and senior academic governance leaders, have a tremendous opportunity to harness the advantages of OER for their institutions.”
A living version of this document, which you may iteratively improve, and a PDF version available for download, can be found at
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