How to assess learning?

Yesterday’s misunderstanding in the opinion change with Downes got me to think further. It is good to be embarrassed sometimes – or is that word too negative, is confused better, I do not know those nuances. To be confused is a beginning of making sense in an obscure domain. I am sure that learning can be assessed, I have done it and taught others to do it. In this blog I have gathered information about European systems: tag Edinet gives posts of a project. For instance my post Quality of eLearning has many links which reminded me that answering why to assess leads to the choice of objectives: management and resources if needed.

I found also the discussion about pedagogical scripts concerning online courses. I had written two blog posts and  made some questions about CCK08 and some friends commented my posts (Jenny M, Keith and John). It was nice to re-read my thoughts in April 2009. I did not like direct pedagogical scripts in open courses for adults. But anyway: we need ways to assess learning. Now I can leave away resources (time, computer, internet connections) and management (thanks to National Research Council of Canada’s PLE research) and I do not want to assess the course CritLit2010 – I have the freedom to ponder only students’ learning.

Students’ feelings at the beginning of their first open online course must be something like traveling to a new country. Stephen Downes described that very well in his comment to my former post. It is not possible to tell accurately what influences and what are the results. This is the beginning we – everybody-  have lived through.

Next time (in the new place) we know better what to wait and we make choices. I gave a simple picture of the situation of different course beginners in my post 16.6. -it depends on our former expertise what is challenging. I am not a nerd and I have always a lot to learn about computer skills. Every individual builds her/his path – we can describe possibilities and skills needed in order to help way finding. I have used ten years to reach this learning readiness and I could tell about it accurately, but it is not very interesting.

We could plan checking lists for CritLit in order to follow our development. For instance Ruth Howard gives an lecture in her post about critical thinking and memes: pseudo scientific habits live inside us (appeal of authority, ancient wisdom, confirmation bias, causation-correlation conflict, irrationality, mystical energy, all natural, ideological support and many others). And again: we come from different points of view, scientific or religion, everybody has his/her path. We could compare our deficiencies in our discussions. Perhaps we did. I remember that I mentioned some of my favorite mistakes (shy, slow, lazy thinker). Thinking habits and mind habits (defence mechanisms) could be the objectives of assessment: how do I change my thinking habits and why, some hypotheses).

We could assess -not only skills – but the learning culture during the studies. This side I tried to illustrate in my post about Hacker ethic. (Hacker is the positive guy who helps and develops and cracker the negative, destructive one.) Participants’ enthusiasm can be seen and it can be supported. Continual intrinsic motivation is worth of saving and supporting. Something positive must happen between co-learners. I have never earlier been so creative – said one of my students and this sentence came to my mind just now.

The highest level of expertise is the other theme of Stephen Downes is very eager to teach me. I know that it is again something that is not easy to describe, this time from opposite reasons: so much, so many complicated actions have become automatized and are not conscious any more. It is tacit knowledge and it is can be recognized by another expert but it is impossible to verbalize. Expertise can be learned in working together, side by side. We need apprentice practices and every open online course can be seen as plenty of possibilities to learn.

I am not sure if anyone can be an expert of web life – it is changing so rapidly. When I listen to Howard Rheingold I can recognize something about his ways to live in web and tell others about it. He can say shortly the most important skills needed now: attention, critical thinking, participation, collaborating, networking … all these are very complicated and hard to describe but he gives examples. I can see that Howard is eager to learn and never cynical – and he has lived in internet from the very beginning. I can recognize his humble attitude, for instance when he interviewed a girl 12 yrs old and he was eager to learn from her.

There are many ways to use web. Dave White’s presentation about residents and visitors opened my eyes. It helps me to assess my own actions. I know when I live in net and when I use it, both are possible. How about courses? Open online courses are made for residents who can participate as visitors one or two month and build new connections. Do we agree with this?

Worth of mentioning is still one important aspect of assessment: how we learn? Maria Fernanda mentioned that I told about my meta cognition and she could learn from it. Blog or learning diary is a way to become conscious about one’s learning habits. Discussions often help, something touches your mind and changes become possible. These can be said moments of learning, I like this concept. I learned it when listening some CCK09 European participants’ audio after the course. It was my first time to really learn about learning in CCK courses. Another great moment was to answer interview questions in Jenny-Roy-John research. – Wendy Drexler presents answers to How in her Networked Student. Here is the link and some discussion in January 2009. Is this still the best answer to how to learn?

Did I became wiser by writing this post? I am not sure at all. Some integration to my former posts were needed but the picture is open and obscure, the picture of my digital literacy. I am not the only one who writes about culture and thinking habits. I enjoy to read blog posts from John, Maria and Ruth (the link above).

The hottest day of summer is going on: Thursday (Jyväskylä) Finland 34,2 C, Friday only 24 C – so came to check my writings. Perhaps I’ll write still one – I agree with Stephen Downes that atomistic simple stupid assessments are not needed. But what is needed and useful?

Summarizing CritLit2010 on a cloudy day

I returned to my studies again, got an interesting comment from Steve Mackenzie – studies do not stop when the course comes to its end. That is fine. Now I will gather information about our Critical Literacies Course from my point of view. – It is raining, not too hot at this moment, nice to write this. Thanks for the weather.

This blog was my way to participate. I wrote more than ever (in any course), 25 blog posts during 6 weeks. About 15 posts dealt directly with the given themes and two connectivism (we had one extra meeting about CCK studies). Some posts were my own pondering about identity, my former studies (Mezirov, Brookfield, Kosko, Himanen) and my workplace practices. I was very motivated during first weeks (5+5 posts per week)  but then my activity diminished (4+2+4+4) and I felt I was lost. There was a gap between the themes and my expertise and expectations, I could not surpass the gap. Some co-learners disappeared at the same time, it was perhaps third week?

My 25 blog posts received 59 comments: the post about connectivism as a frame got eight comments. I am sure that this discussion about connectivism will continue somewhere, sometimes. About ten people were commenting, I did not count the number. The readers and visitors during seven weeks (one week after ending) – Google Analytics tell big numbers. I feel astonished. The map has not changed (I gave one 1.7.) but numbers are bigger.

analyticsThere was almost 900 visits (897) and 2347 openings: 2,6 pages and 4 min per visit.

209 visitors from 32 states (USA =1, 23 states from USA) – so 54 states. Only 20% of visitors were new (many had opened pages during CCK-studies).

Canada 108, Australia 104, USA 58, UK 58, Argentina 29, Germany 22, Mexico 14, Uruguay 13, Spain 12, and then less than ten.

I know only some people in Canada: the facilitators and our researcher, John King, Ken Anderson, Alan Cooper. In Sydney lives Ruth Howard and Sui Fai John Mak – and Mike Bogle. From USA I got only one comment from Mary to my former CCK09 post. From UK I know Jenny Mackness and Steve Mackenzie. In Argentina lives Maria Fernanda Arenas. In Italy lives Carlo Columba, in Germany Matthias Melcher, in Mexico Benjamin Stewart and in Portugal Fernando Luis Santos. Seven of them I knew already and seven were new to me. Some were only at the beginning of studies, some only in one part of discussion and so on. All the time active is always Sui Fai John, I wonder how much energy he has and how he takes the time. He is not free as myself and John King (just retired and still students).

I just answered the research questions, which were very general. I cannot assess the course as a whole. It activated and I wrote a lot and commented others’ blog posts, visited Moodle and noticed that only  few people wrote there. I remember only one Moodle  discussion about expertise and some Maria’s writings.

I checked all the given materials and read only if I wanted. Some videos were important: Dave Snowden, Howard Rheingold, Danah Boyd. I have followed all the sessions I found and liked presentations of Grainne Conoly, Dave Snowden, Graham Atwell and Jenny Hughes, Paul Bouchart and Susan Metros.

About technology I learned that Open meeting did not work properly but Ellumination worked. I learned to use Diigo and to write sticky notes but did not use my skill. I have to look our Diigo some day. I admired Ruth Howard’s Netvibes. So much to learn about web tools..

At this moment I remember Rita Kop’s article about connectivism. It was written in 2008 but I had not noticed it earlier. It helped me to assess connectivism. I am interested in analyzing this global movement in which I have participated. It was fine to find again Hacker Ethic as a frame of my web life. I suppose that many connectivist people belong to Open Source Movement but not everyone. I am wondering what happens to the movement: there seems to be George’s line and Stephen’s line separately – and perhaps many others. I do not know. Next CCK course will begin in September 2010.

I agree with Dave Snowden that the learning theory needed  is social constructivism. It tells same principles as connectivism. Steve’s comment that George believes old theories are  focusing internalization and connectivism externalization – interesting but only a throw. Internalization and externalization go always hand in hand, not separately, they turn to each other all the time. Or, if you definitely want to focus on external – so connectivism can be seen as neo-behaviorism, not the first time 🙂

The aim to understand learning, it is great and we must follow possible changes.

My formal studies about semantics

My motive is to perform the formal part of semantics week with this post, so that I can do what I want. Semantics is described in our Moodle 6.week:

The ability to connect communicative elements to underlying purposes, goals, objectives, theories or meaning, denotation, reference, truth and understanding. Including new ways of interpreting information and evaluating media, through aggregation and filtering for instance.

The recommended source to semantics is so scientific that my first idea is to stop all my writing in English. I can act and analyse on that level only in my own language. Then I began to compare languages I have studied: I was good at Swedish and German and Latin was my favourite. English I have never understood, you only put words after each other and hope it is a sentence. I cannot speak accurately in English but it is our main language now 🙁 I studied Russian in University just for fun and I have a feeling that German or Russian were best scientific (or accurate, punctual, expressive) languages – if only we could develop connectivism using those languages. And now back to formal assignments.

The following source has a good name in my eyes: Putting semantics to the Semantic Webb. There was a time when we thought this will change all better in webb. Building a meaningful basis of trust – subtitle is lovely. The Model Theory may be useful to be aware of: language, expression, domain of discourse, term, interpretation, denotation, model and entailment. Here I am again: have to stop writing in English when I have only guesses about those things. Then semantics of RDF (some horrible simple modelling) and then back to trust. – I were happier if I had stayed in the trust theme all the time 🙂

Last two sources deal with visualisation with images and now I am interested again. I have copied Susan Metros’s article into my computer because we have the opportunity to meet her in Elluminate tomorrow. I want to read it before participating in order to understand the discussion of the session. I use my photos and construct simple models with Power Point Smart Art and I draw with Paint programme. It is necessary for thinking and especailly for creating something new.

My conclusion about semantics: I understand its great meaning I hope. I want to learn to use tags better. I remember Shirky’s article in which hierarchies turned to tags and I appreciate Alan Cooper’s post about it. So what? One thing I wanted to point is that there is no exact line between formal and informal learning. There is no absolute freedom either.

I am not sure if I can present any findings about Critical Literacies during this week. Steve M. had written something already, congratulations to him.

Surpassing myself is not easy

Paul Bouchart was our guest on Wednesday Ellumination and I liked to participate in the session. I could follow the presentation and agreed mostly because I have a long history in adult education. It was nice to meet old models as Grow’s self directed learning that we have used in my workplace from the beginning (was it 1991 or). Network literacy was Bouchart’s topic, that is interesting. I appreciate his knowledge about history, it is long in educational sciences. Anyways, Bouchart did not convince me that we have a new theoretical paradigm – or I have lived it through already two or three decades.

Most challenging to me I consider Danah Boyd‘s presentation. I like to listen to her Web 2.0 Expo NY2009 video -there was some negative Twitter backchannel happenings if I remember right. Perhaps it is an evidence about what she spoke 🙂 Flow is an intensive, active state of mind and very few people reach that level. Normally we seek something or entertaint ourselves in internet. Consumer attitude is not dying at all.

Access can be open but simultaneously it isn’t. Not everybody can participate in every open session or possibility. There are many constrains. It is very challenging to live in streams. Attention can easily be fragmented – I suppose it happens to everyone. Sharing can be easy but how about receiving? Democratization has natural limits: only access not attention. Meritocracy: no garantee that the best will win. Human stimulation: not the best content becomes most popular (violence, sex etc ). Gossips and parasocial relations – I have met those many times. Manipulation of trolls – we know this phenomenom in open courses. Homophily and similarity are permanent human desires or habits.

Expert in networking seems to be a dream. Problems in human thinking and participating are the same they have been a thousand years. There are connectors and there are brokers. Insted of relevance there is a big mess. Nicheification is true, not openness.

But whenI am  listening to Danah’s speech I feel a hunch of the better way to live in the stream. I cannot yet but I can become a better networker year by year. Some day I will reach the state of flow in web.

Connecting with people

The heading of this post came from an article – it was in some Finnish journal – in which someone said that Nokia were more succesfull if it’s brand were Connecting with people, not only Connecting people. Who knows, it is easy to be wise now, after many years.

I want to show you a map of this blog via Google Analytics. This is a global course: people from 29 states, 550 visits, 3 pages per visit and 170 visitors who used 4½ minutes per visit.

This is map of Critical Literacies in June 2010.


Australia, Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Argentina, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Uruguay, China, Portugal, Indonesia, Ukraine, France, New Zealand, Brazil, Sweden, South Africa, Macau, Ireland, Russia, Puerto Rico, Malaysia, Iraq, India, Netherlands and Iran. Finland comes first because it is me.

We have only 42 people introducing themselves in Moodle but there are many lurkers or followers and participants. I feel myself connected with about ten people or fifteen. Networking happens between people and between thoughts you do not always think that who speaks but you anyway learn something new or get an idea. As in my post heading .. didn’t find the journal any more but I remember the idea.

I have fifteen blogs in my storehouse and I follow Rita Kop and Stephen Downes, so I can say I am connected with twenty people in this course. Never trust your memory. Ruth Howard gathered more blogs via Netvibes. I admire her collection but I don’t add Ulop because he says he is Finnish but doesn’t tell his real name. I am wondering why. Terveisiä vaan jos todella olet suomalainen.

It was thunder here and I had to close my computer and I hope thunder doesn’t come back any more ..

Adult education wins linguistics

This is my contribution at the end of third week of CritLit2010. I moved to our summer cottage on Thursday, with some books and iPhone. Fortunately I found Stephen Brookfield’s Developing Critical Thinkers: challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting. 1987. The book was in my bookshelf, waiting for opportunity to be read again. The content was perfect to help me – I returned to my roots. Adult education deals our themes better than linguistics, it is said in the heading now.

Brookfield seems to be good at networking. He appreciates Jack Mezirov, see my post about reflectivity and critical thinking. Brookfield knows Argyris, Schön, Boud and knows humanistic psychology as well. I read the whole book and lived it through, really. All has been said there – technology has given new tools after that time but human beings haven’t changed much if at all. Especially Donald Schön helped to renew teacher education in 1980-90’ies. We built the aim of  “reflective practitioner” into out curriculum with PLEs. Reflection is still the key, in Web 2.0

Those days in nature were important to me: I got back my self-esteem 🙂 The lake was friendly too, our net gave 22 fishes, big ones, still eating smoked fishes. We Finns are not civilization people, we love natural simple life.

I completed my studies about pragmatics by listening to the recording of Friday meeting with Rita and Stephen. I also looked at Stephen’s presentation nr 232 Speaking in Lolcats, What Literacy means in the Digital Era. I couldn’t follow it in November 2009 and I am not sure if I followed now. But tried anyway. Stephen’s frame for understanding new media:

  • syntax – cognition
  • semantics – context
  • pragmatics – change

I appreciate the aim of getting beyond narrow text based conceptions we have of media. New media means a new language. The artifacts are words  and signs and maps diagrams graphics and whatever (clothing etc). Fluency in these languages constitutes 21st century learning (Stephen Downes 12.11.2009)

There was a link to Peirce and pragmaticism, too. This is easy to accept and follow, but why pragmatics? I must be patient and try to learn something about  syntax this week. It is connected to cognitions: forms, archetypes, rules, operations, patterns, similarities. That makes sense, let’s continue. Actually I decided to participate this CritLit in order to understand that frame.

You can follow my habits: I have to write down my thoughts first and then I’ll go to link to others.

Educational subcultures- Second Life

Pragmatics was  the object of our learning in the Elluminate Session today, 16.6. –  CritLit2010. I tried to concentrate and follow the presentations of Graham Atwell and Jenny  Hughes. I gather here the main issues I could follow:

Pragmatics studies the ways in which context contributes to meaning. The relation of the speaker to the signs and symbols, follow it. Our values, rituals, heroes and symbols > see the  practices. Educational subcultures: what sort of relationships we are taking? between learners?

Here comes my example: There is eduFinland in Second Life and my workplace, a teacher education college borrowed a piece of land and got a little house for rent, it was ready and waiting there. Then my colleague, another Heli, went to build more. She was a good builder and this is what she did during one evening (and night, we didn’t sleep much that night).


I am (my avatar, she is me) flying in air in front of the picture and taking photos. You can see our house inside the new glass building – and our neighbour’s house on the right.

You can guess what happens after this gorgious evening. The text in Finnish means: Sky is the limit or human mind?

Our building was too big and too different from others. But I can tell you a Happy end: we were allowed to build in air, so high that nobody can see it and so it does not disturb. Teleporting is easy and quick in SL.

This is a story about educational subcultures, not easy to change. Normal habits and cultures become transparent in other worlds.

Now I continue my studies:

Main point in pragmatics is to become active in learning, become actively involved in learning, to become conscious about contexts and contents, from which culture they are part of.  Still wondering: I don’t need any pragmatics to define this, it is human learning. I used Mezirov to define this all, in first week of CritLit2010. PLE is my normal culture.

Signifier is an interesting concept, I met it again and I am sure this is not the last time. Our adventure continues … I will take three days’ break, but I can follow with my i Phone what is happening.

Pragmatics versus Diversity

Pragmatics is the theme of CritLit2010 on this week. I hardly can follow this theme. Maria helped me writing her blog, she is expert on digital literacies. She pondered cultural differences in her post, please read it.

The text we got for this week :  Pragmatics

The capacity to use communicative elements in actions, or to take actions using communication, to express, commit, interrogate, and engage in interactions. Including being active participants in the world and on the Web versus passive consumers.

Pragmatics belong to linguistics, not human sciences. That’s the problem in my mind. I am not interested in language only, language does not use me. It is me who uses language. Linguistics cannot help to become active participants.  Why study linguistics after just leaving it behind with David Snowden. He described its limits and turned to intuition. Grainne Conole emphasized the meaning of visualisations in Web. So I am wondering why pragmatics is our theme on third week?

Instead of studying pragmatics as such I ponder its meaning in understanding diversity in human actions. Networking needs diversity in order to proceed – we agree with it. What kind of diversity is good and useful? It is the question I have been working with all the time. Here comes a simple picture about three different paths. You can begin with 1) technological expertice, In Finland it is called ICT  2) human science expertice (psychologist, teacher) or 3) without any special expertice (young or adult).

expertMy model is schematic and simple. In reality every individual has his/her own story. Our paths are different, diversity is true – could I say so?

False expertice has interested me a long time, I can see many people around trying to pretend expertice by participating in the right circles. On line paparazzi is one of the roles. Is it possible only in Twitter?

We have much research about networked learning – followed one conference in May and have written about results in Finnish. Here is one research: Just what is reflected .. and another Who is taming who, tensions between technologies and people..

It is good to sharpen my critical thinking skills. Thanks for the link. It is nice to recieve study guide strategies: 9 approaches to creative problem solving. But it is better to construct those guides by thinking and practicing, not following ready-made lists. My ideal is not the copy-paste-web-life, the activity of learner must be in  focus, of course. The quality of activity is our theme this week, isn’t it?

Critical thinking

Our theme in this week is pragmatics which is a part of linguistics. I have no intent to study it seriously in a week , I am not motivated to follow linguistics – but I am interested in critical thinking. I suppose it is near pragmatics: how to use language etc. My main interest just now is to put this video about Critical Thinking here so that you can open it inside my blog. Never succeeded earlier, now I am hopeful. Thanks to Maria, found this in her blog (tag: store)

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Back to my story

I was working with Carlo Columba’s innovation image –  our last week material about creativity – I recieved it from Carlo. You know students don’t listen to teachers or facilitators , they want to learn peer-to-peer 🙂 And after  getting  a comment from Ruth Howard, I understood  I have lived this moment in the end of CCK09 – here comes my image:

helinurmi2How can I continue forwards? I gathered a list of actions demanded from myself, people and managing myself. I leave outside organisations, because I have left my working places and I am totally free now. Carlo Columba helps me to ask myself:

Actions of myself

Wherever and whenever I can, always drive fear out. Fear is public enemy nr 1 of an innovative culture.

Have more fun. If I am not having fun (or at least enjoying the process) – something is off.

Always question authority, especially the authority of your own longstanding beliefs.

Make new mistakes.

As far as the future is concerned, don’t speculate on what might happen, but imagine what I can make happen.

Embrace and celebrate failure.

Don’t focus on growth. Growth is the product of succesful innovation. Focus on the process of becoming …

Actions on people I am working or studying with

Seek diversity of viewpoints. Get people together across functions. A diversity of views sparks more than conflict .. it sparks innovation.

Help people broaden their perspective by rotating them into new projects.. especially ones they are fascinated by.

Ensure a high level of personal freedom and trust. Provide more time for people to pursue new ideas and innovations.

Avoid extreme time pressures.

See creativity training  as a way to grind new glasses for people so they can see the world in a different way.

Management actions: managing myself

Think in long terms: from next quarter to seven years.

Create a portfolio of opportunities: short long term, incremental and discontinuous.

Involve as many people I can … ensure they make right issues.

Find new ways to capture learning and share these learnings to everyone.

Stimulate interaction.

Avoid analysis paralysis.


– I am not yet perfect 😉 but I have found the way, great! Thanks to you all.