Friday, September 5, 2008

EuroCALL 2008 conference in Hungary

Here I am in Székesfehérvár, Hungary (about 67km SW of Budapest), for the 2008 EuroCALL conference on new competencies and social spaces - 2 aspects of the field dear to my heart. I've come here from Antwerp where I attended the international CALL conference on the relationship between research and practice - both very interesting from a [rofessional point of view, but also great catching up with colleagues from all over the world ... and, of course, meetng new ones! :-)

Now I have to get on with going through my presentation one more time, before I get too nervous?!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Research proposals & lit reviews

My students in 702 & I are currently struggling with the parameters of lit reviews and research proposals - what goes into them, how they should be formatted, what "voice" to use, how to incorporate others' findings, ideas or opinions into one's own approach and views - and how to write all this up?? There seem to be conflicts between handbooks, guides, previous students' examples, course instructions, and expectations of faculty ... hmmm. So it's a difficult path to thread through to find the most appropriate combination that will both help them through the course and help them fulfill external expectations.
And I wonder how long it will take for changes to happen in how students present and structure all these - & theses & dissertations ... we are an open university, after all ... How long before all this can or will be done online?
Now that will be an interesting time! :-)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Now what made me think ...?

... that I would have any more time after CNIE to post some more. As Stephen Downes says, you have to make time ... regularly ... hmm
So I've spent the last 2 weeks writing 2 papers, monitoring my teaching website, preparing another couple presentations, working on a new course proposal, turning Twitter back on & the last 2 weeks participating in the SCoPE online conference trying to formulate a Pan-Canadian research agenda for e-Learning ... which has been fascinating :-) but very time-consuming :-(
So I've been thinking a lot more about e-Learning vs Distance learning, the differences in kinds of learners, the spaces & places & best practice. But now I have to get back to writing my last paper ... & I can't even get outside to take a walk & clear my head cos it's been raining now for 3 days ... grrr ...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Until such time as I can think & post sanely, here is the Slideshare link to my presentation at CNIE 08 :-)

Now back to reading the SCoPE forum postings!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

CNIE in Banff

Today is the official day 2 of CNIE in Banff. Some interesting research and considerations so far - especially in the areas of interaction online and the factors that contribute or otherwise to the effectiveness of this. More about this late as I have to get on with putting the finishing touches to my presentation as I am "on deck" in about 3 hours?! :-P Banff is certainly a beautiful location for a conference - though I wonder how many people are skipping sessions to take in some of the scenery, walks and great sunshine that Banff is turning on for the conference. I just hope tomorrow afternoon will be still pleasant as I want to get in a walk or 2 before going back home. Though as "home" is just down the road a bit, I guess the weather is much the same - & there's always the weekend to look forward to. ;-D

Segue-ing into new fields

Finally I finished my marking for 601 & posted the results last week ... some great student ideas for DE projects and agencies - & it looks like some of them are actual, real proposals! So hopefully my comments will be useful in getting these off the ground.
So it is with a mixture of sadness & excitement that I move on to this week: sadness that one course is over and that I may not "meet" with many of the students I have got to know in 601 for many more months - or even ever - again ... :( & at the same time excitement at meeting new voices and people in 702 as I begin teaching that course this week.

And this one will be a totally different pace & style of work, interaction & discourse: the Thesis Proposal. I'm looking forward to seeing the ideas that my new group of students are interested in and to helping them to articulate, refine, manipulate & "give birth to" these in the form of a polished proposal (if the planets align!) :-}

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Time flees from me ...

Assignment 2 is over with all the reviewing, posting & commenting. We had an exchange with a class at the the University of Education, Iceland, in Reykjavik that was interesting. It was a pity from the point of view of this exchange, that some of my students chose articles to review that were very specific to Canada or to their local needs ... though of course they were articles that were also very specific to their own interests and needs. Bu at least everyone got to read each others' posts and comments were flying thick and fast across the Atlantic after a relatively slow start.
Solveig (the Icelandic instructor) and I had a short de-brief about how it went & we have some ideas now for how to organize it better next time ... we hope! We also had an exciting presentation by Terry Anderson (one of my new colleagues) on the Social Networking and learning community intersection. I think that tied together well with our exchange and also planted some seeds for our final unit on research in distance education. Certainly from my experience so far teaching this course, there is a dilemma between the need for many students to feel a sense of belonging and have some inter-reliance with other students, and the pressure of the real world (life, family, jobs etc) which produces a conflicting need to just get in, do the work & get out, without interacting with anyone else. So this will be another aspect to continue to observe ad document - how this dilemma or tension can be resolved or planned for, in terms of providing the appropriate and necessary affordances for a user-friendly and user-compatible learning environment.
Now back to marking Assignment 2!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Week 3 - Unit 1 completion

We are almost to the end of Unit 1 and Assignment 1 is busy being completed (I hope?!) while I freeze to death in Edmonton ... someone remind me again why I came to this country of snow, dark & cold?? :-)

So far only 2 students have posted their assignments, but there has been an amazing amount of activity on the forums - & so far very thoughtful and well-considered. Obviously people have been thinking a lot in their own lives and work about issues such as connectivity, connectivism, constructivism, and what tools we can use for what purposes. It's been good to see how much people have been responding to each others' thoughts and ideas and starting to form relationships and making connections with each other outside of class - i.e. using other tools such as Skype etc. It's also good to see how much people are finding in common with each other even across discipline boundaries.

Shortly the harder work of Assignment 2 will commence when we will see how many people signal their desire to work collaboratively and how many prefer to work alone. I think this decision will reflect both their level of personal and time organization & how busy they are in their personal lives, as well as their individual learning preferences and personalities. Watch this space!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Week 2- Unit 1?!

So posting has begun in earnest ... with some confusion as to where to post what etc ... but that's natural as it's new to many of us. I was a bit late posting protocols for posting too as I went down to Calgary on Friday for a network lunch meeting & got stuck there with the foul weather :-( Luckily I had a friend's place to stay at as my drive down was "hairy" to say the least! Suffice it to say, this was my first experience of how dangerous icy roads can be?! 8-(
Some of my students are joining in my consideration of the personal/private issues surrounding web presence and interaction. On the one hand, literature in the area of on-line teaching stresses the importance of establishing personal relationships before more serious issues of scholarship can be fully explored - and also the importance of maintaining on-going communication throughout a course.
On the other hand, there is also literature about the personality and learning styles, which tells us that many of the learners who choose DE do so because they are naturally more private personalities - & who therefore may not wish to take advantage of the social networking tools that are available to expand the communication opportunities in technology-supported learning environments of all kinds, including DE.

A third position relates to PLEs (Personal Learning Environments), learner-created learning space within which they accumulate the tools they prefer, and within which they interact with their instructors, learning materials from various sources, and with other learners - & which are also shaped by individual differences and learning styles. Some of these PLEs will then naturally encompass private individuals and more garrulous, sociable ones; and the tools they choose will vary according to this as much as any other aspect.

Another questions that then arises in my mind is: to what extent the literature on personality and learning style and interaction modes in DE has kept up with the rapid changes in affordances of technology for communication and interaction. This will surely be a question to introduce in the last Unit, when we discuss research in and about DE

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Teaching has begun!

What an exciting new week this is! Let me see:
  • I've moved into my new place,
  • teaching has begun,
  • my students have started to interact and post stuff on the forums
  • & we had about 15cm of snow last night!
So this morning before I could get to my Moodle site (but not before my email!) I had the new & interesting experience of shovelling snow?! I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon enough! I'll post again later when I have some of my photos from this morning loaded up - & when my neighbour emails me the one she took of my first snow-shovelling experience. :-)

So about 1/3 of my students have posted messages to the Welcome forum - hopefully more will later today & in the next few days. I guess it's pretty new to some of them, & it may take some time for them to get into the swing of it. I hope more of them start posting photos as being able to see who the person is - or at least what they look like - makes this whole distance interaction thing so much more personalized.

I think this balance between the personal and professional or educational is becoming more ricketty. While I recognize that some people prefer to remain private about who they are etc or to keep their private & professional or educational lives separate, I do believe that in order to make the most of any learning experience, we need to bounce our ideas off others & to get glimpses into the ways of thinking of others. And so I think that one of the best ways of doing this is by opening up ourselves and sharing our thoughts and approaches first - because, let's face it, most of us are reluctant to open up too much to other people. We don't want to be too vulnerable! Also, without the healthy disagreement of others with our ideas, how would we grow and develop as thinkers, as learners and as people? Ok - enough "sharing" for the moment, I think! Don't want to give
too much away :-)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Teaching will be starting soon & still so much to do & prepare?! I've seen my list of students' names now & I'm looking forward to getting to know them. I'm trying to think of ways to make the course more interactive and to help students & me to feel more a part of a group or class or community, while still allowing us all space to maintain our privacy. The balance between sharing and working independently is the dilemma ... ??

So I've posted links here to my Facebook space in the hope that my students will also do the same - those who want to share as part of a community, at least :-)