Monthly Archives: June 2013

Week 7 Group 3 Learning Networks

Richardson and Mancabelli define learning networks as “the rich set of connections each of us can make to people, in both our online and offline worlds, who can help us with our learning pursuits..” and we all agree. Learning is social, and Karen suggest that the question to ask is – how can we find more formal uses for our informal learning solutions. Rachel noted R&M’s distinction between social networks, viz people we know and interact with (e.g. on Facebook), and that of learning networks (e.g. Twitter) where connections are made with people we don’t already know – strangers we connect with for the key purpose of learning.

On the use of audio and video media to support learning, Eunsung sees an upward trend as these learning objects reflect experiences in authentic situations, compared to text-based learning which is less engaging/alive. Compared to traditional classes she finds that online courses with Web 2.0 affordances and different A/V media provide more peer and instructor interactions which satisfies her learning needs. Similarly, both Karen and Shelby agree that connecting personal learning experiences with relevant media makes learning much more meaningful, hence memorable and powerful. Shelby added that these resources can be used as instructional aids to reteach students who don’t understand the material or who missed a class. They can be used as inspiration, vocabulary building, as a “hook” to a lesson, for comprehension, student projects, etc. Shelby believes that videos can foster student creativity above what text media could.

According to Richardson & Mancabelli, for students to participate fully in the networked spaces (PLNs) they will need new skills and literacies for this 21st century learning environments. Of the six new literacies listed, Eunsung felt that  #3 “designing and sharing information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes” is the most challenging as this skill requires one to have broad/global perspectives and more effort to develop for multiple goals. A case in point, the high quality MOOC courses which are mostly offered by American universities, would require that participants from different cultures learn to assimilate and share ideas, to navigate the LMS technologies, and that the course design serves multiple learning styles for different learning scenarios.

Shelby finds #4 “managing, analyzing, and synthesizing multiple streams of simultaneous information” to be the most challenging as combining various streams of information into one thoughtful and organized whole is a difficult task. She feels that what is learned through this course would help tremendously in mitigating that challenge. “Learning is extremely social as we read, filter, create, and share with one another on an ongoing basis” – Shelby noted that the operative word is filter.

Both Karen and Rachel identified #6 “attending to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex [PLN] environments” as the most challenging. Karen feels strongly that we have to be proactive about anonymity and the problems that a perceived lack of accountability can mean on personal interactions with a global audience.  She argues that if we are going to build PLNs, then there has to be a responsibility of honesty and respect throughout the network. Clearly there needs to be a cultural shift, and we need to be willing to ask hard questions about assumptions that we take for granted. Cyber wellness is an issue that  Singapore schools are addressing. Karen finds the term ‘cyber wellness’ a valuable addition to the concepts of information literacy.

Overall, we appreciate the quality resources provided for this week’s topic on learning networks and the insights gained. From the readings and videos, Shelby found these to be most worthwhile:

  • Understanding the Power of PLNs. Richardson & Mancabelli highlight two  game-changing conditions. With internet access… (1) we now have two billion potential teachers and (2) the sum of human knowledge will be at our fingertips.
  • “Right now, we can be intellectually close to people who are three thousand miles away, while in the same respect, we may be far away from those sitting right next to us”
  • Teaching with Technology Podcast: The Kindergarten Achievement Gap, Creating Video Clips (under Media category), Educating Parents about Digital Communication, and Five Tips for a Class Web Site.


Group 1-Curator Post for Week 7 “Learning Networks”

This week’s topic of audio and video technologies brought some very interesting views and points to light. Our group drew various elements of importance from the assigned readings and included examples from our own personal lives that solidified these key findings.

First, Courtney stated what each member in our group felt which is “education is changing!” Courtney and I felt similar about the Richardson and Mancabelli article at first. She wrote that she, “…was a little frightened up until the article mentioned that we need to teach our students how to effectively learn online.” Courtney reminds us that teachers and knowledge are not scarce. We need to teach our students how to create their own education using these technologies. By using these technologies, we allow our students to make real world connections as exemplified in the Anthropology classroom. These students will build deeper connections to their learning which will by everlasting. Courtney also shared her own personal example of using podcasts in her classroom for lessons. Students can then access the information at their own pace and can listen to them over and over again until they are comfortable with the information. This is a great example that ties to this week’s lesson.

Cheryl stated that she learns best by watching others. She offers insight that when using audio/video, we help to “bring alive a subject.” When teaching a subject in this manner, it becomes a “powerful tool to expand the base of knowledge and increase rate of knowledge gain.” She also suggests that these tools help to facilitate motivation within the interaction they provide and that this type of motivation will eventually foster a heightened motivation to learn.

Jordan believes that the integration of audio/video provides depth and authenticity to content. He believes that it helps to make knowledge “stick” with the learner due to the increase in interaction. Jordan referenced Richardson and Mancabelli when discussing the idea that, “…it is more about how much information you can access in your personal learning network, rather than how much information you have in your brain at any one time.” He realizes that when students are following interest based learning then they will seek the resources they need to learn. He provided his own example of this when describing his interest and need to learn Spanish in his new location (Miami). He shared about the resources he is now using on the internet to help him communicate and learn Spanish for his everyday life.

In my own personal reflections, I echoed much of what my other group members have stated. I believe that when students are self-initiating their learning through an interest, they will work to seek answers to less commonly asked questions; questions that will inspire deeper thinking, a heightened engagement in learning, and a wider collaborative base when researching a similar topic. The biggest advantage that I see when using audio/video in the learning environment is an increase in the motivation of learners.

Collectively, two members of our group felt that the measure of literacy about “managing, analyzing, and synthesizing multiple streams of simultaneous information” was the most challenging. Jordan discussed the idea of needing to stay focused when learning a certain subject instead of becoming distracted by the social networks or web activities that are so ever-present. Cheryl believes that this is challenging due to the lack of hardware or software for student use. I believed that “building relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally” would be the most challenging because of the importance of teaching our students who you can trust as a reliable source.

Overall, each member provided some great reflections and insights into the topic of audio/video technologies and learning networks.

Submitted by: Marie

Week 7 overview of group 2

This week there was an interesting mix of points and perceptions from group two.

Erika talked about “going public” as an important final step in the learning process which is often overlooked and underrated. She points out that it is important that students have the opportunity to share what and how they’ve learned publicly and be able to reflect on the learning process. There was a lot of talk about understanding the implications and importance of technology.

Melissa echoed a lot of Erika’s thoughts when she talked about changing our thought processes. How change is inherent in this new system, and anyone not willing to change is going to be in trouble. This is where access to and openness for professional development will be crucial. We teach our children through our own actions and words, so this modeling behavior can help them correctly navigate the online waters on their own in the future.

Justin talked about “authentic learning” and how we need more authentic learning experiences. He used World Simulation Project as an example since its’ ultimate goal is to allow students to get real world experiences. He also talked about how important change is and how inseparable technology skills are to that change going forward.

In my blog post, I completely agreed with Justin’s viewpoint on authentic learning and looking at we can most effectively immerse our students in the content that they are learning. How do we keep the learning process alive, agile and interactive for students?

All in all, a great group of posts from a great group in general.


Will Richardson Video

Here’s a TEDx video by Will Ricahrdson, one of our authors from last week, in which he shares a couple examples of young people benefitting from learning networks that exist beyond their formal classroom environments. (If you’re not familiar with TED talks, they’re essentially short poignant talks about complex, challenging issues. You can learn more about them here.) He uses this as a springboard for sharing his perceptions of how he sees the changing roles of teachers and the difference between learning and test prep (e.g., high stakes testing). Probably one of the most compelling points in his talk is when he points to the difficulty associated with adapting to this changing educational environment because this is the system that we have had for the last 100+ years and therefore, the system that most parents and teachers have known growing up. Thoughts? What about his talk resonates with you the most?

Burris – Week 7: Learning Networks

  • What types of trends do you see in the ways audio and still/video media are being used to support learning?

As I review my own materials in grad school, discuss various topics on technology with my daughter, and read assignments in and out of this class, I am amazed at how fast those within and out of the classroom learn from audio and video.  For me, I know watching someone model or demonstrate for my is my preferred learning method.  It is like if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures.  Because audio and video have the power to bring alive a subject, teach a subject at a faster pace, and teach those who may not be able to learn via reading, it is a powerful tool to expand the base of knowledge and increase rate of knowledge gain.  Audio and video have the power to inject emotion, situational context, and and energy that may not come from reading.  Additionally, it can reach the learner who does not have the ability, confidence, or knowledge to reach out to someone in order to seek assistance.

  • Specifically, how do you see these media enhancing participatory learning within the Web 2.0 context beyond that possible by text media?

The funny thing about watching or hearing other people is you (the viewer) are drawn into the conversation.  There is a need to interact and make contact with the other person – even if it is just a recording.  Having audio or video can draw the learner into the process in a different way through the type of engagement that is required by the medium.  It changes the motivation in the interaction, which can in turn, change the motivation to learn.

  • Richardson & Mancabelli describe six new literacies for 21st century learning environments. Which of the six measure of literacy do you see as the most challenging? Why? Are there any you would add?

“Managing, analyzing, and synthesizing multiple streams of simultaneous information” has to be one of the toughest to implement at this moment in education just due to the infrastructure, hardware, and software that is needed.  While it is recognized and valued, it is expensive to purchase and include.  As the article states, this cannot happen unless every child has a device and that has not happened in our schools yet.

I would add “Develop a mental/psychological flexibility for embracing change” since technology improves/changes so rapidly.

Personal Learning Networks

The truth is that we all build personal learning networks all the time, but we don’t necessarily think about them in terms of formal education.  We look up recipes online, we crowdsource ideas for what movies to go see, we search the most common hashtags on Twitter.  Even in a traditional classroom setting, we often look around to see if other people look as confused as we feel.  Learning is social, and the question becomes how we can find more formal uses for our informal learning solutions.  On this week’s websites and podcasts, there are many examples of multimedia enhancing learning opportunities, sometimes as simply as just providing inspiration and motivation.  The “A Vision of Students Today” video and the introductory video for the World Simulation Project clearly are meant to be thought-provoking and to get students to think differently about their assumptions about the world and, by extension, how they learn about the world and interact within its social constructs.  “The networked society that we live in today may feel radically different, but many youth are struggling with the things they’ve always struggled with. They’re trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the bigger world” (Boyd, 2012).  They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is never more true than when applying multimedia to learning situations.  Connecting personal learning experiences with relevant media makes learning that much more memorable and powerful.

Part of the problem with trying to fit new learning models that fit more styles of learning into standardized testing regimens is that these new learning efforts are inherently non-standardized. “Learning networks are not a one size-fits-all solution that works for each school in the same way. Quite the contrary, one of the reasons these tools are so powerful is their ability to serve a variety of goals” (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, p.27).  If we concern ourselves with Richardson and Mancabelli’s new literacies in order to embrace new technologies, then we have to find a way to think about bigger issues than just whether or not our students can connect with a global audience, for example.  For me, the biggest question is teaching our students how to ethically interact with information and information sources, and in a PLN structure, one of those potential information sources is the people we encounter on the Internet.  We have to be proactive about anonymity and the problems that a perceived lack of accountability can mean on personal interactions.  If we are going to build PLNs, then there has to be a responsibility of honesty and respect throughout the network.   There needs to be a cultural shift, and we need to be willing to ask hard questions about assumptions that we take for granted.

Power of Social Media

The power of personal learning networks (PLNs) is shown in these personal examples, Reflections on Edtech blog and SoMe My Social Media Story, whereby each had a question while preparing for an urgent presentation or research paper. They asked and to their surprise, the Twitter network of people responded to their questions. This is the first time I ‘see’ the power of the PLN. Compelling as it is, I am still uncomfortable about ‘asking’ a network of people I do not know. When I am on duty as a Twitter Ambassador for our department, I sometimes get followers I do not know and become nervous about who is following especially if it is not an organization such as ASCD, Blackboard, Google Apps, etc. Richardson and Mancabelli quoted “To me [Pam Moran], the most powerful aspect of what’s happening right now is this potential for learning that we haven’t even begun to appreciate yet…” in their 2011 book, PLNs: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education. So what were the fundamental shifts in technology that fuelled this capacity to connect, interact, and learn with others in these new and different ways?

Richardson and Mancabelli cited from Wiley (2008) a summary of six significant shifts that support connection and network building: Analog to digital; Tethered to mobile; Isolated to (decidedly) connected; Generic to personal; Consumption (of information) to creation (of knowledge); and Closed to open systems. These shifts have huge implications for educators, and schools that were built on the assumption that knowledge and teachers are scarce. Bill Sterrett aptly responded “Moran and other tech savvy leaders believe it vital to help our students and staffs use technology effectively– not for technology’s sake but for learning’s sake.” Here is a blog article on 8 Steps of Leading Learning Forward: A Case Study of Pam Moran’s Educational Leadership.

What stood out to me in Danah Boyd’s blog is ‘public-ness’ and the “unexpected and invisible audiences,” as I recall in 2011 when Sunday School for elementary levels were reminded to be very careful if they were using Twitter. At that time there was a case (beyond our shores) whereby a young girl was “followed” by an adult guy from online to physical connection. That intro to social media left a very negative impression on me until my current job exposed me to the educational use of social media. One Singapore example “The lessons of tweeting; learning from social media” as it is used in a ‘future school’.

Cyber wellness is an issue that schools have to address for stakeholders to have a peace of mind in social-media based learning. One of the middle schools (320-strong cohort) in Singapore launched a program to help elementary school children handle online issues. There is also a Cyber Wellness Student Ambassador Programme which trains more than 1,400 students on using information and communications technology positively and responsibly.


Week 7 post – Participatory Learning

  •    What types of trends do you see in the ways audio and still/video media are being used to support learning?

The shifts that Wiley described as happening because of web and mobile technologies illustrate the trends in how multimedia is being used to support learning. We are moving from analog to digital, we are no longer tethered and free to be mobile, we can come out of isolation and connect with others, things are becoming more personal, we are making more of our own stuff and we are doing it openly. One thing remains the same though, learning both online and offline is still social. Utilizing multimedia to learn and to teach just keeps the process alive, agile and more interactive.

  • Specifically, how do you see these media enhancing participatory learning within the Web 2.0 context beyond that possible by text media?

Students are changing from consumers only to also being creators and need an outlet to reflect and react to the information being presented to them. As a teaching tool, a collection of videos allow us to create our own global classroom with many teachers. This makes for a much more “customized” learning experience. Learning is no longer an event and instead a ongoing process and the ability to learn how to learn is becoming more and more important every day.

  • Richardson & Mancabelli describe six new literacies for 21st century learning environments. Which of the six measure of literacy do you see as the most challenging? Why? Are there any you would add?

The literacy that Richardson & Mancabelli list that I find to be most challenging would have to be “Attending tot he ethical responsibilities requested by these complex environments.” I’m thinking mostly about the accessibility of these tools and online environments. I’ve spent the last couple of months researching and identifying a web-based video editing platform that my students could potentially use for group class projects. The challenge comes in when I try to think about how a student with a disability could have the same learning experience as the other students in the class. These tools, while they are really good at bringing students together, can also make it harder for students to connect at the same time.
The one thing that I see missing assessing the tools themselves in an educational context. To me this is a whole new level of understanding the needs of the students, the capabilities of the tool and whether or not that tool directly addressing those identified needs. I think this is an incredibly important literacy to have considering the frequency of new tools coming on the market. Becoming more efficient in assessing the tools usefulness will allow us to move on the next solution or problem more quickly.

Blog 7: Learning Networks

Teachers today need to rethink what teaching looks like within the four walls of their classroom. I believe that the article by Richardson & Mancabelli clearly states that today’s classrooms should be driven by a host of teachers from around the world instead of one sole instructor lecturing to the class. At first, I was a little taken back from the idea that “teachers are no longer needed” which was the impression I got from the start of the article. However, after further reading, I liked that they pointed out the need of teachers to still be facilitators and coaches to their students in the educational journey involving technology.

When creating communities of learners centered on specific topics and trends, the learner becomes more engaged in their learning and tends to produce higher level thinking throughout the process of learning. This is a very important concept to consider when thinking about the benefits of including audio and still/video media into the classroom. Learners in these types of settings become more motivated to learn. Although the focus may be on one primary interest, the cross-curricular learning that is happening simultaneously is an example of how important this “new” style of teaching can occur in classrooms today where standardized testing, scores, and curricular goals and standards are overly stressed.

I feel that these tools allow users to communicate freely and openly in a safe environment with other interested learners and experts in a realm that would normally not occur. The power of communication and collaboration when deriving meaning from a self-initiated interest will help to facilitate a community of learners seeking answers to less commonly asked questions. The engagement of student learning would be at a heightened level. I know from my personal experience in college, I often took my laptop to class only to check facebook or chat on instant messenger with friends. I was disengaged and not interested in the elective courses I was in. I learned and read websites that interested me. Allowing students to use these tools in today’s classroom should not be an option, it should be a requirement.

Out of the six measures of literacy provided by Richardson and Mancabelli, I believe number 2, “Building relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally” would be the most challenging. The importance of teaching our students who you can trust is a large portion of the success of this learning approach. We need to teach our students how to determine reasonable and reliable resources and information. We need to model and monitor appropriate interaction and teach our students how to learn who they can trust and believe when working collaboratively.


Week 7: Learning Networks

The Digital Ethnography site was very interesting to me not only because the content was relatable and interesting, but due to the concept of using the site as a means for sharing students’ work and learning with an audience. “Going public” is an important final step in the learning process which is often overlooked and underrated. It is imperative that students have the opportunity to share their learning and publicly reflect on the learning process. Digital Ethnology is definitely a site that I will follow to see updates on this professor’s class as they learn about the human natures.

The students who created the videos on Digital Ethnography were motivated to learn and create compelling presentations for the information they learned in their various projects. When students have a clear end goal in mind, they will, far more often than not, achieve their goal no matter what. When students create sites such as the sites we looked at this week, outsiders can peruse the information in search of anything in which they are interested. Informally, many people learn information and skills through podcasts such as the Teaching with Technology podcasts. These types of websites sharing expert-created media allow learning to easily happen in many directions.

Continual partial attention, a term with which Linda Stone has begun using, was a very interesting concept as it was something to which I was able to easily relate. As an Apple user playing a hundred or better roles in many different facets of my life, I find it very difficult to make time to deeply pay attention to any one thing. Between my computer, iPad, and iPhone, there is always some form of information coming through these synced devices, and I am constantly caught in the middle deciding which is most important and how to prioritize all of my responsibilities.