No. 1 is over or did it just start? #CMC11 MOOC

Is play just for kids? What happens to the kid when we grow up?

Is play just for kids? What happens to the kid when we grow up?

Why are our minds locked or why do we lock them?

Why are our minds locked or why do we lock them?

What hinders us to taste something different and enjoy it?

What hinders us to taste something different and enjoy it?

Can we see what is behind the walls we build?

Can we see what is behind the walls we build?

Is away too far?

Is away too far? How can we bring it closer and why would we want to?

Do we need to embrace more?

Do we need to embrace more? Why? How?

I think it is just the start

I think it is just the start, it has to be just the start!

Let’s the fun begin! #coresep11

just a few more hours

on the way... just a few more hours

This is it. Our Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice starts tomorrow. We are ready for our next cohort. And it is induction day ;o)

The fun begins in less than a day, well tomorrow morning at 9.30am. Just a few hours of sleep…

For me the fun has began a while ago when I started preparing for the big day. I have gone through the day loads of times already. What will happen, how it will happen, the re-actions etc. etc. What can go wrong? What might not work… But nobody knows so I am very excited.

For days now, I have been thinking and re-thinking and un-thinking activities and props. Oh, yes props. How to use them and most importantly why! Not everybody likes them but I do and I feel that they can make such a difference and transform abstract concepts into something that is actually understandable.

So, yes, if you are wondering, I am going to experiment with some new stuff. We can’t just keep doing the same things. That would be so boring. Taking risks is part of what we do. But why? To hopefully provide stimulating learning experiences for all, and I include myself here and make us all think. I can’t, and I wouldn’t like to, feed anybody information. And knowledge is something that needs to be digested! Remember, learning requires work and I hope you are all here to work and play hard ;o)

Let’s the fun begin.

See you all very soon.

This ‘thing’ called passion #cmc11 MOOC

an invitation to think and (re-)act

an invitation to think and (re-)act

… a question without a question mark triggered during and after week 2 #CMC11 webinar with Stephen Downes and after watching one more time Ken Robinson’s TED clip ‘Bring on the learning revolution’ included in #CMC11 week 3 resources

Maybe we could discuss

  • what we understand by passion
  • how we feel about people who are passionate
  • how we actually know that they are passionate
  • what effect passionate individuals/groups(?) have on others
  • what are the implications of passion for the passionate individual/group(?) and for others

if anybody is interested ;o)

Please note: the above doodles were made before actually seeing the doodle stuff presented over the weekend on #CMC11. When I saw them after this posting… I couldn’t believe my eyes… just a coincidence?

some things to think about… #CMC11 MOOC

Is this a bad thing? Always?

Is this a bad thing? Always?

Do we all thrive in such environments?

Do we all thrive in such environments?

Who decides?

Who decides?

I am not a sheep, but I can be one, if I want to

I am not a sheep, but I can be one, if I want to. What about you?

If I see value in a connection, I will go for it... will I?

If I see value in a connection, I will go for it... will I?

I want to learn. What about you?

I want to learn. What about you?

Walls are in our minds, sometimes they are real. Sometimes?

Walls are in our minds, sometimes they are real. Sometimes?

connections, connectivity

connections, connectivity

interaction, interactivity

interaction, interactivity

For, or as learning? How?

For, or as learning? How?

Knowledge and information - interchangeable?

knowledge and information - interchangeable?

Some things to think about ;o)

... some things to think about ;o)

Connecting to be connected? #CMC11 MOOC

Started writing this post a few days ago. Today, I came back and deleted what I had written. It didn’t reflect anymore my thinking. I therefore decided to capture my reflections using photovoices. My thoughts wander to some of my week 2 readings but also to a conference I attended today at the University of Wolverhampton (check out their Learning to Teach Inclusively OER).

reaching out and creating relationships

connecting, reaching out, creating relationships... younger and...

... and older, we all need each other

... older

any colour, texture - we all need each other

... any colour and all colours

any shape, all shapes

any shape and all shapes

we all want to connect. we need each other

we all want to connect. we need each other

we are all unique

we are all different, in fact unique

but part of the puzzle of life, discovery and learning

but we are all part of the puzzle of life, discovery and learning

together we are stronger

together we are stronger

the world in our hands, what does this mean?

we hold the world in our hands, what are we going to do with it?

come on, let's build bridges to connect, communicate and collaborate

I am wondering, is connecting to be connected the/an answer?

webinaring with fellow MOOCers and disconnected throughts to connect #cmc11

Will I make it?

Will I make it?

Rushed home to login and participate in this first webinar. I couldn’t believe it when I had difficulties loggin into Blackboard Collaborate… I thought I would miss it! In the end I didn’t…

I have to admit, I expected… the masses when I arrived. I thought finally, I will understand why a MOOC is called a MOOC and what this is all about.

Yes, I am still wondering why these open courses have been baptised MOOCs. If anybody is reading this and can explain this to me that would be fantastic. So, no masses tonight. I was actually thinking that more people would engage in a synchronous way than asynchronously since this would be a one-off per week but then of course asynchronous communication and collaboration might be more convenient because it can happen anytime, anyhow, anywhere if you have the technology in your pocket or bag. But is it effective for everything? I have heard and experienced many times how slow it can be (too slow? Too slow for what?) How could we use effectively synchronous communication and collaboration? Think about lectures and how these are usually delivered. Tutor and learners are there but who speaks most and why? If tutors are there for the learners, why don’t we let them lead us? And if this is possible and we should be doing this, how would this look like in a webinar? The asynchronous form to communicate and collaborate online has indeed moved away from being a tutor driven activity. Self-directed learners experience this as a paradise. How can non-self-directed learner learn how to thrive in such environments?

Is it just a problem with all the different timezones? Are people signing up without participating? How many are just lurking? How many are just accessing the resources and participate elsewhere, perhaps within existing online communities? And what would make them participate (more)? How do you form online communities? How do we form online communities? How can disconnected blog entries become conversations among individuals and enable them to get together. Do we spend more time searching for such opportunities? Or is it too early yet and I want it to happen now? Am I impatient? If we want to be part of a community we can’t expect that others will find us and come to us, I think. What role do we play, or could we play in the formation of such communities?

I am still clouded about all this and have many questions in my head (loads more than I have included here). However, I have started making some connections and I no longer feel on my own. Some meaningful exchange is happening and I am thinking about this course frequenty during the day. Maybe this is because we just started developing our own open course. I wouldn’t call ours a MOOC at this stage but I guess since it will be open access, we should prepare ourselves that it might become a MOOC. But how would we prepare ourselves?

Let’s focus a bit on the webinar itself. The orientation today was very useful and it is definitely something we will also offer in our own little open course. We might use additional features of Blackboard Collaborate doing this such as

  • the video and photographs of the tutors/facilitators
  • design activities during which learners can participate on the whiteboard and polls
  • if the group is small, introductions and why everybody is there, would help to give a more group feel
  • demo site features by using the desktop sharing or weblink to make it more dynamic, live and responsive
  • integrate questions into the session throughout which would enable participants to respond
  • encourage individuals to take the microphone (this might be problematic if not a community)
  • also less is more on slides, we would keep more empty room in the slides to enable adding of thoughts and ideas expressed during the webinar (this could be done by a moderators)
  • Using emoticons can also add to the webinar experience and enable participation and responding in different ways.

Then again we are also keen to explore the use of the BigBlueButton since it is an open access web-conferencing tool.  At the moment we are discussing options and try to identify the best way forward. But it would be great to use an open source tool for an open course… If you are reading this and have any ideas and would like to help us, please get in touch.

Am I focusing too much on the process than on the content of this course? Is this normal at this stage? Was this the point of the orientation tour? Just checking.

Beyond what I have already included, I have two terms zooming around in my head since they first appeared on one of the pages this evening. Multiculturalism and Interculturalism, as an ex-translator and a non-native English speaker, I try to understand the differences between these terms so that I can distinguish between them, add them first to my passive vocabulary but also my active one, if or when needed. After a brief visit to wikipedia, this is how I think I understood it and I am going to share my thinking visually in a very simplistic way. I would really like some thoughts on this, if you are reading this so that it can help me understand better.

snack happy love mix

multiculturalism: loving and celebrating variety

interculturalism: mixing

interculturalism: loving mixing ingredients

Will stop here for now and think a bit more about what I externalised and captured here. I am sure some of the questions will die and new questions will be born.

calling fellow #CMC11 MOOCers

Why Didn't You Call Me?

Where are you all?

Big day has arrived and I have to admit I feel a bit lost. Where to look, how to connect and with whom? Started looking for people I know. I have information that some of them signed-up. Haven’t found anybody yet in any of the platforms and am now wondering where they are… feeling a bit on my own in this MOOC but have started participating, well asking a few questions and responding to posts published by others and have started making some links.

Looked today around the programme site (it seems to make sense) and focused on week 1 for now. Didn’t have much time to spend on the readings but identified 1 or 2 resources, I think they were two, which I would like to study in more detail. In a way, I used this evening to filter out, what I am going to read in the next few days. Things that already made me think and I want to find out more about them, such as this business with creativity in a multicultural context. As mentioned in one of the discussions, I have always been a foreigner in a foreign country, all my life. This is probably not so unique anymore, but I am wondering if this reality had influenced the way I practise creativity and the creative habits I have developed because I had to, because I wanted to find ways to communicate and connect with others and language on its own became a barrier at times? Just wondering…

My initial plan is to do the following on a daily basis (if I have the time and energy – it will be hard not to have the energy since it is something I love doing and I get immersed but, I do have a family as well and I need to balance my activities wisely… )

  • Ok, I guess, I will start by checking the weekly resources which will provide some kind of focus.
  • I will then explore how these or some of them could be useful for my own professional context and the projects I am involved. That would be my filtering done.
  • Then a will probably start thinking and reflecting and studying and probably blog some of my thoughts to get them out of my system but also hoping that somebody will read and connect so that we can start exchanging experiences and stories. Working on the blog post, will probably take a day or two, depending on what I would like to share, how deep I want to investigate things but also how much time I have available. I wish the day had more hours!!!
  • Even after the filtering stage, I would start looking for opportunities to engage in conversations with others who say things that interests me and challenge my own thinking. I think it will be especially valuable to connect with others who have opposite views because that will make me think deeper about my own.

Just watched this intro video on MOOCs again. I think this is a clip that you can watch again and again and remind yourself why you are participating and what you could get out of it. Also, I have found George Siemens post “How to participate in an open online coure” really useful. And while I am not a number person, I am still looking for a definition of a MOOC linked to numbers (and I noticed that other MOOCers are also asking) since we are talking about MASSIVE open online courses.

How is massive defined in the context of a MOOC? Is it massive because it has the potential to be massive (due to its openess) or because it actually is massive (number of participants)? And if massive is 100 or 200 when we deliver modules to the same amount of people, could we therefore call them massive modules? On a non-open course you know how many learners you have? How will you ever know (guess? use statistics?) how many learners are participating, engaging, on- or off-line one way or the other in a MOOC?

Is learning changing (for all)? #CMC11 @fredgarnett @pgcap



Just to put things into context first: I haven’t really created any videos for teaching and learning before, despite the fact that I enjoy capturing some of our family moments using this medium and enjoy playing them back. My boys love this too and have started taking their own as well. I noticed, that these clips have the power to transfer me back in time and enable me to re-live that experience more vividly but also I notice change(s).

Recenly, I felt that it was about time to break through ready-made video resources I have used many times for teaching and learning. There are of course some excellent and very useful clips out there but I feel that it is now time to start making my or our own since I will be doing this with a colleague.

We recently bought two camcorders using a small amount of money we received from MELSIG for a media-rich learning project I was involved using Voicethread. We didn’t get the most expensive ones for two reasons: 1. we didn’t have more money 2. we are amateurs and needed something that is easy to use and would enable us to learn while filming without feeling frustrated with the technology. We have our camcorder and there is no excuse not to make our own little clips now. We are learning on the job and it is time consuming but fun too! I spend 2 days working on the very first clip. I need help and support and have therfore become a member of ViTAL and hope to connect with others who are using or would like to use video in education and learn new stuff. The SCORE Short Term Fellowship (next round now open! apply if you are interested!) also helped and probably made me think more about creating my own clips for teaching and learning. Now, I can and I want to. I have also found YouTube very useful to discover more about the camcorder I am using (the manual was very very poor). It is amazing how this sharing business can really work online. I shared a problem on YouTube using the comments box and received an answer to my question almost instantly. Real support in real-time. Wow!

tasty fingers

home-made breaksticks: no uniformity- all different but so so yummy!!!

But why make our own and not just use ready-made ones? Well, this is a question I asked myself before starting this. The main reason for me personally was when I came up with the idea for the “Food for thought” series (the title I gave to the video series) is probably the pleasure and the excitement I feel when I make things (see my previous posts linked to making things). Also, this is a great opportunity to learn a new skill but also engage deeper with hot issues linked to teaching and learning. Even putting the questions together, is challenging and needs preparation and there is a lot of research and learning involved. When I put a question together, I always ask myself: “What would I anwer?” but also, when deciding what to ask: “What would I like to find out?” So, we are not just creating a learning resource for others, yes the “Food for thought” series is an Open Educational Resource (OER) published and made available under Creative Commons, but we, the creators use this as an opportunity to learn during the process of creating the clip. The other advantage of course would be that we would be able to tailor the series to our needs and provide a focus that would make sense to us and be useful for a particular group of people. Of course it the clips won’t be perfect, because they are not put together by professionals. We don’t focus on the aesthetics (and there will be imperfections) but on the content and the opportunity to engage others through what seems a more passive and one-way medium. This is the challenge but also the beauty of it all. Will it work? We will find out. If this doesn’t make sense, think of ready-made meals and home cooked food! It might not look that perfect but it tastes just right.

Initially, I thought that this series would be useful for our Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) at the University of Salford and it will be. I have plans to use these clips on the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education module but also an open access module which is currently under development. We have already secured a series of experts (Dr. Keith Smyth, Dr. Panos Vlachopoulos, Prof. Chris Hockings, Dr. Nicola Whiton, Frances Bell and Clare Killen) who are willing to share their thoughts on hot issues linked to teaching and learning and feature in one of our “Food for thought” episodes (these are currently under development and we should have the next episodes soon). We are very grateful for their generosity.

We were very lucky and had the pleasure to record our first episode with Fred Garnett from the Knowledge Lab. This clip is included below. Fred created an online space which he baptised Learning with YouTube to enable us all to engage in a conversation and debate about themes presented in this particular clip but also others that will follow and I think this is a great idea and has the potential to transform video-watching, which can, or is, more passive engagement into something that enables active engagement through conversations and collaborations. This was the idea behind finishing each of our “Food for thought” clips with an open question addressing the viewers that had the power to trigger thinking, reflection and action for engagement.

I wanted to use this opportunity to briefly reflect on the important things Fred mentioned in this clip. And there are three reasons I feel I need to do this now:

1. I am participating in the CMC11 MOOC which starts tomorrow.

2. We are developing an open access module (Flexible, Distant and Online Learning) to be offered in January 2012.

3. Our next cohort starts the PGCAP programme this week.

Fred’s video clip has the title ‘Learning is changing’. We take it as a fact today that learning has changed and is constantly changing. I would like to stop for a few minutes and freeze time and am asking myself  and you “Is learning changing?” If somebody would ask you today, now, what would you say? Please add your comments to this post.

  • Yes, we live in the Digital Age.
  • Yes, we know how to use the technology.
  • Yes, we have the digital gadgets in our pockets.
  • Yes, content is everwhere and we can access it anytime, anywhere, anyhow.
  • Yes, what we know is increasingly less important than to know where to find things.
  • Yes, we are constantly engaged in learning.
  • Yes, we can connect with others on a massive scale and learn together, wherever we are, whatever we want to learn.

I think it would be useful to ask now: “Who is WE???”

– Is WE, all, everybody, every person on our blue planet?

– Are WE inclusive or exclusive, when we talk about WE?

223/365 - Driving

How can we make this happen for ALL???

Think about all the people who live today and haven’t experienced the Digital Age (yet)… for a variety of reasons.

I am wondering,  what each of us could do to influence change through disruptive innovation (maybe? and thinking outside-the-box?) in our microworlds that has the power to transform practice in the macroworld and put ALL learners in the driving seat… How can we all become free-range learners of the digital age???

I am  am asking my fellow MOOCers, colleagues and students on the PGCAP, but also the wider community.

instruction just doesn’t work, babies can ‘tell’ you that

all I have now

… one ‘told’ me the other day. I wish I had taken a video!!! But the reflection on how this event could be useful for so many others kicked in (too) late. Now, all I can do is try and share it with you using words…I guess, this could be developed into a little picture story or comic strip and I might actually attempt to do this.

Well a few days ago, I was trying to show a 10-month-young baby boy how to ring a cow bell (I have loads of them at home and use them for teaching too). I placed the bell in his little hand and showed him how we could make it ring. We rang the bell together for a little while and he instantly started smiling and you could see it in his big eyes how excited he was. Instantly, I knew the bell was a hit. He must have loved all the noise he could make using the bell. However, what he didn’t like was me showing him how to do it. I understood that straight away.

The baby-boy was determined to take the bell from me, and he did. He started experimenting on his own with it. He didn’t need me! He wanted to make the bell ring on his own and he tried different techniques. No, he didn’t copy how I did it. He wasn’t interested in my way! He tried it his own way – and soon discovered that this wasn’t going to work. But he didn’t give up and he didn’t keep trying doing it the same way!!! The baby boy soon changed technique and was so happy to discover that he could now ring the bell even louder than we did together. He had full control of what was happening. He was smiling and laughing and having fun and the noises where filling the whole house – his laughter and the sounds the bell was making. It was such a great experience to witness the pleasure of learning through play and discovery.

What are the implications of the above for teaching and learning? Are we all experiential learners? Do you remember pedagogy, (also instructional theory) andragogy and heutagogy and how these seem to be attached to specific age-groups?  I would be very intersted in your views linked to the above observations, reflections and thoughts.

I just wish I had the camcorder at hand and captured this little important episode…

I love making things… #cmc11

100% fruit, picked by the whole family

Warning! This is not a polished piece (did I have to say that? Anyway… let’s just start). I always loved making things. Well at least as long as I remember myself and from what others have told me and the photographs I have seen and some of the evidence that still exists today. I love drawing and painting and writing stories and making jewellery and little boats out of old wood and Christmas and Easter decorations and little dolls but also making jam (just made some with blueberries and apples), baking and cooking and knitting scarves (used to knit even jumpers when I was a teenager – weird thing to do for a teenager, but I guess, I was a weird teenager… ) now my eldest son Nassi, who will be 10 tomorrow, has started knitting and he loves it.

Nassi in action

The other day Nassi told me ‘I thought knitting was for grannies but after he started he couldn’t stop and I have seen him knitting in the morning in his bed and in the evening too. I love making curtains and pillow cases and little blankets for my boys and tableclothes and duvet covers etc etc. and I would love to make my own clothes (working on this at the moment!!!)

The list is probably endless and I seem to be constantly in the mood to make something… sometimes(?) I make a mess too. This is part of the fun.  The stuff that I make are things for the house, for myself but also for my family and friends but it doesn’t stop there (could it?) Nobody forces me, nobody makes me make anything. Sometimes, others might think that what I do is not a good idea. But this doesn’t (usually) stop me… (I like the phrase ‘only dead fish swim with the stream’ and use it a lot – too often we see people going with the masses with whatever the majority says/wants – I find that boring!).

What I make helps me communicate and connect with myself, ideas, concepts and people but also with problems and understanding things that are difficult/impossible? to understand. This making habit (is this a bad habit?) is also present in my professional life. I can’t stop myself!!! Flashcards, games, costumes and loads of other aids for teaching are part of my ever growing toolkit. Soon, I will need a room just for all my toys… I used to have an attic to store them… now we don’t.

my dad is a maker too, his purple crop in 2008

Of course, these days not all my creations are low- or no-tech physical creations. Some live in the digital world as well and they definitely take up less room and are not so heavy to carry around and I can share them more easily too. They help me connect with different and more people, ideas and concept and let me and us explore the world around us from different perspectives.

sleeping bag by Ody (7) using one of his old socks

I haven’t mentioned yet the thousands of digital photographs I have taken so far… – another one of my passions.

Some might think/say that it is not good to have a passion… do they talk about obsessions though? Anyway, I always loved taking photographs but before DC (digital cameras), I felt so so very restricted, just 36 photographs to take on one film? What to take? And what not to? More films were an option but I had less control of the quality of the final product. First because I was an amateur photographer (and still am) and didn’t know how to operate my camera properly (who reads and follows instrucions?) so most of the images were for the bin anyway and then there was a cost involved as well. The films were not cheap (well, I guess you could get some in the Poundshop) but waiting for the photographs to be printed was sometimes (only sometimes?) a traumatic experience and one where I felt useless and creativeless (if there is such a word in the English language). Should I give up trying? I was so releaved when technology progressed and became affordable (because this is usually the big issue for the majority of people, and I am one of this part of our society) and I got my first digital camera. A whole new and exciting world opened suddenly in front of my eyes! Wow! I couldn’t stop and I am still an active (hyper-active) photographer. I love the fact that I can take loads and don’t have to worry about it (these days the SD cards can be huge and fit thousands of photographs). I can delete, if I want to, but I can also edit and do all kinds of fancy things which I was not able to do before. The middleman is gone now and I can express creatively even after the photographs have been taken and share them easily with family and friends and connect with the wider community too, thanks to the web and the user-friendly platform and tools. A the web! It is always nice to hear that people like something you have done and find out if they have been useful and in what way.

All these things that I make, give me pleasure, probably in a slightly selfish way, but I also love to give and to share what I make on my own and with others. Sharing gives me the opportunity to make somebody smile (if they like it, of course) and be useful for others. We don’t share stuff to get something in return. Well, I don’t but if somebody acknowledges your work, your contribution this is great and can be motivational too (I found this article on sharing online recently, which might useful reading for some – and I think I should revisit this and reflect on this as well).

Lego cinema by Ody and Nassi

My boys are little (or should I really say big creators? because they are). They love making things in the physical and the digital world. Ody, my youngest took the camcorder the other day and created the clip below. On his own. He was behind and in front of the camera. He thought of the story, special effects, everything on his own. A one man production team (see clip below).

What I am trying to say here, and I am not sure if I am just mumbling… but the above come straight out of my head and are unprocessed thoughts is, that since I started reading David Gauntlett’s book ‘Making is Connecting’ I have all the above in my head (and loads of other stuff that I probably didn’t include) and when I went out this afternoon with my boys and took the book with me to the playground I felt the need to scribble some of my thoughts into the book (I always read with a pencil in my hand, a habit I picked up when I was translating…) and here I am now sharing them on the web, because I want to, because I can and because I would be interested to hear your voice, what you would like to say. This is strange though, I am hoping that there is an audience out there who would have read the above and feel that they would like to add their story too and will do so because they can… humans always wanted to connect wth others. We are social beings, Aristotle said it and many others too. We enjoy being part of a community, we love to be included in what is happening and to co-shape the present and the future. To make things and to make things happen. To be and learn together (of course we need some time for ourselves as well). I am so glad that Frances (Bell) showed me this book because it does confirm to me, what I always thought. We are all makers, creators and networkers too. All the web does is provide a platform and the tools to make it happen on a massive scale. We all can do it! Finally somebody said it and wrote a book about it! I am just on page 60 and am looking forward to what is still to be discovered.

I will probably revisit this post after the sparklers in my head normalise and let me refine and rationalise my thinking a bit more… will this be possible/is this needed? Not sure at the moment… I just wanted to get all this out of my system before I say Goodnight.

Goodnight everybody.