Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thinking collaboratively and creatively about digital texts and tools... #change11

Author: Samantha Penney, 
I recently read a Twitter feed discussion between educators about this graphic, which was published on the University of Southern Indiana's website. They were critical of this arrangement of tech tools, calling it "arbitrary foolishness" and generally "disappointing." I tended to agree, but the discussion brought me back to an article I read recently by Alice S. Horning, "The Psycholinguistics of Literacy in the Flat World," where she claims that our use of language is evolving, especially in digital environments and that texts themselves are going through an evolutionary process.

Her article reminded me of working with some high school seniors who were creating a Prezi on the evolution of video games to accompany a larger paper they'd written. They used an image showing an evolutionary chain of famous video game characters as an inspiration to draw their chain. So I wonder about the potential for evolutionary chains as an organizing structure to think about digital texts and tools. I generated a Prezi to capture my thinking, and also as a place where participants in a professional development workshop might explore these ideas together. Alas, due to tech issues with Internet access at the conference where I was presenting on education and technology, this Prezi went largely unused.

Reading Geetha Narayanan's introduction on the MOOC today with her commentary about the lack of emphasis on creativity on the web, I want to invite MOOC participants to engage in a discussion of texts and tools in this (potentially) creative space, if only because I'm guaranteed that MOOC participants will have Internet access, something we can't say about an ed tech conference in 2012. Check out the Prezi below. The link you need to edit is in the Prezi.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Learner, not lurker... #change11

I’m still captivated by apologies on the MOOC. Lately, I notice blog entries where participants label themselves “lurkers.” While I understand the term as it relates to Internet culture and discussion boards, I read it as a form of apology or a caveat to informal, infrequent participation in this course which so often doesn’t feel like a course.

For my own part, my work in open courses ebbs and flows. At times I am a virtual version of the student who sits up front and raises his hand a little too much. Other times, I’m the person who asked to survey a popular course, only to show up late, unfamiliar with the material being discussed. These analogies come from traditional education because that is how I understand my participation in any course.

As a learner unbundling content relevant to me I have to make sense of how I am learning, what I am learning and how reading and writing fit in my daily life. In order to completely understand how I am learning from a MOOC, I have to also set aside my traditional schooling and consider other challenging and rewarding- informal- learning experiences. I have to think about how I learn to parent.  

Coming back to this MOOC, despite my late arrival and my occasional “lurker” status, the course will impact my work. I will read Howard Rheingold’s new book and think about the implications for reading instruction in public schools. I will think about how attention probes might inform some burgeoning reading intervention ideas like Internet reciprocal teaching.

I want to set aside the term “lurker” for myself and think about participation in an open course as something that ebbs and flows with my life. I prefer “learner.” I also want to revisit every apology I have had to make for falling behind in a course I paid handsomely for that didn’t meet my needs.