Sunday, November 21, 2010

Web-log? More than a log!

What I am going to talk about is what I am doing now - blog~


I don't how the blog comes into its being. It seems like a diary, but many others can read it; it seems like a newspaper, but the author is not necessarily a professional journalist; it seems like a bulletin, but readers and the writer can chat with each other.

It is a BLOG~ We call the one who does the blogging as blogger. 

Blog plays different roles in different people's life. Some blog to practice their creativity; some to motivate others; some to stay in touch with friends; some to document and share their ideas. They talk about personal life, politics(I don't think this is the case in China...), entertainment, etc. 
Blogs are grouped in numerous clusters with limited links between clusters. Many read blogs of friends, and some read the "big one"'s blog as well. They read sometimes during periods of boredom - reading blogs has even become a routine, for killing time.
The interaction between readers and bloggers brings the feeling of "connectedness". Readers feel their comments or feedback is expected from bloggers. They tend to express their agreement and make positive comments. Bloggers and readers expressing things that might not be considered an important topic of conversation, such as moods, which helps create the "connectedness". And once readers feel connected, they are further motivated in reading blogs.
 When writing online, are bloggers "creating alternate identities or exploring certain facets of their personality that were not as prominent"? Now people seem to become more honest about themselves online. More than half of the people were reported to use pseudonyms in article of 2006, while research in 2008 tell us that it is no longer the case. Some people view their online experience as a part or an extension of the offline life. "While blogs and real life experience are still distinct realms for readers, there is a relatively tight coupling between readers' online and offline identities" (Eric Baumer, Mark Sueyoshi, & Bill Tomlinson, 2008).

I'm a humdrum blogger... 80% of the blogs use text, 72% post photos, 49% other images, and 15% use video. I never used photos, images, videos, audios... but a reporter of academic reading... To exercise my creativity, as well as to have fun of learning, I decide to insert something vivid to the following blogs~ Let me start with a smile O(∩_∩)O

Articles learned: 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

From brains to the net? Episode One - Net

Topic for week 7 is Connectivism, Social Knowledge and Participatory Learning, which attracts me greatly.

Connectivism is a said-to-be learning theory that aims at providing a better explanation to the learning in a technological and digital era than what the existing three major learning theories (behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism) have done. 

The most interesting part is connectist belief of knowledge existing in the network outside of human's brain. "Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements - not entire under the control of the individual." "'I store my knowledge in my friends' is an axiom for collecting knowledge through collecting people." In this theory, it is the "know-where" that matters, rather than "know-what". That is to say, it is more important for us to know where we can find specific knowledge, instead of knowing the exact description of knowledge. 

Consequently, learning can be equaled to making connections. We have to form new connections, as well as organize and adjust old ones. 
"Unlike constructivism, which states that learners attempt to foster understanding by meaning making tasks, chaos states that the meaning exists". Learners are making meanings from "a cryptic form of order", "a breakdown of predictability, evidenced in complicated arrangements that initially defy order", which means to recognize and organize the patterns of knowledge from a chaos of numerous existing patterns, meanings or pieces. In other words, learners are forming connections between specialized nodes or sources of information among a great deal of disordered information. The ability to distinguish important information from unimportant ones is also a key learning task.
When the environment or the "underlying conditions used to make decisions" change, the decisions (connections) that have been made may not be correct any longer. Adjustment of connections is needed all the way through learning, as information and environment is changing all the time. "The ability to recognize and adjust to pattern shifts is a key learning task."
"The capacity to form connections between sources of information, and thereby create useful information patterns, is required to learn in our knowledge economy." The diversity of connections learners make is a key factor that influences learning.

However, the position of connectivism as a learning theory has been challenged almost since its advent.
Pl√łn Verhagen (2006) believes connectivism to be relevant on a curricular level as it speaks to what people should learn and the skills they should develop. To be relevant at the theoretical level, connectivism should explore the processes of how people learn. According to Bill Kerr, connectivism fails to qualify as a theory based on three criteria. They are:
  • Connectivism does not contribute to a theory or learning reform, due to its use of "language and slogans that are sometimes ‘correct’ but are too generalized to guide new practice at the level of how learning actually happens,"
  • Connectivism does "contribute to a general world outlook," and
  • Connectivism "misrepresents the current state of established alternative learning theories such as constructivism, behaviorism and cognitivism, so this basis for a new theory is also dubious" (Kerr, 2006, para. 5-7). 
To my point of view, connectivism does not explain the exact learning process that happens in human brains. And instructional strategies derived from connectivism, such as the design of learning environment and use of learning communities, etc, seem similar with those of constructivism.

Relevant articles: 
Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.
       International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, Retrieved
       November 03, 2008, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Thursday, November 4, 2010

OER & OCW

For week 6.

Open Educational Resources (OER) and OpenCourseWare (OCW), and the latter can be seen as part of the former.

This week we have gained an understanding of the OER construction and sustainability all over the world, and had a glimpse of a variety of OpenCourseware projects.

What's worth mentioning is the Open Educational Resources movement. This movement can be considered to start with the strategic plan Using Information Technology to Increase Access to High-Quality Educational Content in 2002. OER is a sharing of digital learning resources over the Internet among institutions and individuals, openly and for free. Its official definition is “digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research." It can include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. It is a global development, involving over 300 universities from US, China, Japan, Europe and so forth. The amount of open access courses (OpenCourseWare) has surpassed 3000. One of the most well-known example is the MIT OpenCourseWare initiative.

Some comments:
  • Open Education Resources "can be an efficient way of promoting lifelong learning, both for individuals and for government, and can bridge the gap between non-formal, informal and formal learning." 
  • Its sharing-for-free feature is in common with that of all the other topics about open sources we have discussed, which I believe to be an important component of "gift culture". Connective theory comes up with the concept of "information flow". And I think OER has promoted an academic information flow globally.
  • Same as all the free-sharing stuff on the Internet, copyright issue arouses to OER. In an era when knowledge is attributable to some certain people and can bring profits, we seem in need of making a balance between respecting the right of the author and promoting and sustaining collaboration and resource sharing.
Here are some of the provided suggestions to improve the development of OER and OCW, which I think are interesting or important:
  • Recommendations for educational policy makers and funding bodies: promote open educational practices that allow for acquiring competences and skills that are necessary to participate successfully in the knowledge society; demand public-private partnerships to concentrate on ventures for innovating educational practices and resources.
  • Recommendations for boards, directors and supervisors of educational institutions: establish reward mechanisms and supportive measures for developing and sharing of Open Educational Resources and experiences; clarify copyrights and define licensing schemes for making Open Educational Resources available.
  •  Recommendations for teachers: make use of tools and services that support collaborative learning processes and learning communities; share proven learning designs, content and experiences through open access repositories and open licenses.
  • Recommendations for students: develop one's own ePortfolis and make study results accessible to others; respect IPR/copyright of others and make one's own creative work accessible under an open content license.
  • Recommendations for educational repositories: do not follow a top-down strategy of delivering learning objects; empower teachers and learners; make licensing of content as easy as possible; assist open content initiatives in the creation of rich metadata and provide semantically enhanced access to resources.
  • Recommendations for developers and implementers of e-learning tools and environments: involve teachers and students in the development of learning tools; favour institutional learning environments that support group-based, collaborative learning practices.
Relevant articles:
Giving knowledge for free: The emergence of open educational resources. OECD 
      Publishing: Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. (2007). (153 pages).
Geser, Guntram (ed.). (2007, January). Open Educational Practices and Resources: 
      OLCOS Roadmap 2012 (149 pages). Retrieved on June 25, 2010, from