Thursday, November 18, 2010

Concept Maps & Visual Pedagogy

This was the presentation for the Global Education Conference.: "This presentation will explore concept mapping and brainstorming tools for classroom discussion, discovering knowledge, and problem-solving. I will present a brief history of visual pedagogy from different cultures to show how concept maps work. We will explore teaching techniques using these methods. The tools we will look at will include everything from pencil and paper, free mind mapping software, online collaborative concept mapping, and 3-d concept mapping in virtual worlds like Second Life." It was a good session but I think that I need to work on developing presentations that encourage more feedback from the participants. I love this conference though. I have met a lot of people from around the world that I would not have had a chance to meet otherwise. Diversity of viewpoints is what it should be all about.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Here is the same presentation in a less linear form as a concept map.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Farewell, Drop.Io: Too fast to live, too young to die...

The Open Source Initiative keyhole.Image via WikipediaI have often heard that one of the weaknesses of open source is that is that it is an unstable model. Somehow, open source software is supposedly more buggy, not as robust, not enough people supporting it, or too many people involved, etc. And yet, commercial programs drop like flies as the forces of an unbridled lassez-faire tech economy steam-roll through cyberspace like a nuclear tractor load of mixed metaphors and rampant hyperbole. Last week, I had to say goodbye to a favorite tool: Drop.Io. Free file storage, gave an embed code for what ever you stored up there, and a phone number where you could call in and it would record your message and host it as an embeddable MP3 file. Completely brilliant. As an online instructor, this was an extremely useful tool. They were not open source, but I didn't think they had a plan for making money - until Facebook bought them out. And good for them for getting bought out - the service was so good at the ground level right out of the gate that it was not clear how they would have turned it into "premium ware." So the service goes away and the programmers get absorbed by Facebook's production team.
This happened to Angel Learning and is now happening to Elluminate (quel dommage!) and Wimba Voice Tools (good riddance!). Ironically, the most stable model is going to turn out to be foundation-supported open source tools like Sakai. Sakai will continue to grow and change in some really interesting directions: it is one of the few players in online learning that can't get sued or bought out of existence by Blackboard. Goodbye, Drop.Io, you were the James Dean of free file sharing services.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

An Open Textbook as an Open Community

A segment of a social networkImage via WikipediaOpen textbooks can sustain a community of practitioners in a given field. With commercial texts, and texts that are not truly openly licensed, English instructors can't get together, make decisions about the needs of their students, and change the text. They are often stuck with the text written by the subject matter expert far from the experiences, needs, and location of that community. The instructors then have to create "supplemental materials" to address those needs. And what do we do about fields where information is rapidly changing? For instance, there are too many things happening in instructional design for us to rely on one text; the view point of a single author in a book that is infrequently updated is not enough. The whole idea of a book, a single container of vetted knowledge is nearly useless in an environment where information constantly changes and networks expand at an exponential rate. Instructional designers, and professionals in other fields, need to replace the text with a community. We need a participatory textbook. For that to happen, one needs an open-licensed "text" as defined by  the DOE's Notice of Proposed Priorities (also used in a recent Creative Commons blog post):

"Open educational resources (OER) means teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or repurposing by others."

and from the original, 2002 UNESCO definition:

"The open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communication technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for noncommercial purposes."

That is my dream for instructional design  - that we are light and adaptable - we can repurpose information according to the diverse needs of students and teachers; that we can adapt to our networks quickly and efficiently because we are not stuck with merely. And from the UNESCO definition that we become a community of users, enabled by information and communication technologies for consultation.

This sounds like a community of users built around a wiki to me. Stay tuned for a different kind of request for articles/chapter/proposal.
Enhanced by Zemanta