Old and new steps into digital life

Some discussion in the fslt13 course has aroused memories in my mind. I want to check my writings at the beginning of my online teaching. I used to write in Finnish, of course, so I try to translate some thoughts and figures now. I was one of the first teacher educators who became interested in online teaching. We got the first learning platform in the year 2000. I began my blog in 2007 and published these figures in it.

onlineteachI had worked the last 1990’ies in teacher education with up-to-date pedagogy. We had adult students from all professions and we supported them individually. The student built their becoming way to work as a teacher = their theory-in-use. We had flipped the classroom already.

With this pedagogical awareness it was clear to use the same pedagogy  in online teaching as well and it was easy. The energy went to learning how to use the first learning platform, it was a big change. I have written in my figure that it took one year to use the first one, and the change to the following learning platform took another. All the technologies must be integrated to the ‘theory-in-use’ and it took over three years. The aim was to build continuous development as online teachers in teacher education – this change of culture takes ten years or more and sometimes it never happens. What is needed to implement this vision, it was the topic of my second figure.

passionYou must be interested in, to have passion to teach online. It was so demanding at the beginning that it was much easier to stop and say that it is not working, students don’t want it, we have no time for so many technological problems. Attitudes changed very slowly and I can still meet all those old prejudices against online teaching.

The most important source of learning to work online is in the action, you have to teach and facilitate online in order to learn from practice. You may get support from literature, research and theories but you cannot assess their value and practicability without acting yourself.

Networks developed from year to year when online teaching became more usual and popular. OnLine Educa Berlin is an important international conference to meet colleagues abroad, a short flight from Helsinki,  and we have our Finnish meetings in Aulanko. Many online networks are available every day. The first began in 2007 – before that there were some communities for nerds only, I think.

When I compare these writings in the situation just now, I feel that the development has become faster and it is normal to work by implementing many changes simultaneously. New devices come and go, you try them and leave them. You need networks to learn from others’ experiences. Technologies have become easier to use and follow at the same time when teachers have got better digital literacies. Attitudes have changed so that online teaching is wanted and appreciated because many people have positive experiences about it.

During our fslt course we have had presentations from Jenny Mackness and Sylvia Currie. Jenny’s theme is open academic practice and Sylvia’s theme is building open communities. I can see an analogy from my description of online teaching, how it has developed, and these new areas of opening. Technology has a central role in these new digital openings. Jenny uses the dimension of limited vs extensive use of digital technologies combined to open digital academic vs. closed and lone academic. Read her blog for better descriptions (I am tired in this phase of writing English 🙂 ).

Sylvia’s pondering about building open communities touched my mind too. She asked if the organizational side of development has taken too much time from the intellectual and social sides. Jenny has a good post with links about Sylvia’s presentation.

Who are the best facilitators in all this development? The answer is not the experts who have forgotten the past difficulties. The best facilitators may be the co-learners who have just learned the thing, just succeeded to solve the problem. The experts may tell about their experiences but they may answer to a wrong question, change the question so that it is more interesting. Now I have a feeling that this all is pretty obvious but I hope that I learned something while writing this 🙂


My favourite blogs #edcmooc wk 1

It is a challenging process to start a new Mooc even if I am quite free to just learn whatever I want. I began from the FB group and then visited regularly the course sites: checked the materials for this week and the discussion forums. I gave the address of this blog in Made by you-forum and answered to Vanessa about being a serial Moocer. Then I had to stop the emails from these forums because I could not – did not want to follow the threads via email. I never want to receive many notices, it is my style. I want to choose myself and go to the forums only when I want to take the time for it.

This blog post is my first collection of interesting blogs in Elearning and Digital Cultures # dcmooc. I have picked the addresses her and there, seen something interesting in them. I try to tell shortly why, I hope that you can follow my English (I have a hunch that it is funny sometimes). The first individual which I noticed was

Chris Swift, who was active in FB group. His blog is named Mybackyard and I admire how  it is made, the globe and me, ah!

Ryan Tracey greeted me in Twitter and his blog is Elearning Povocateur. , provoking deeper thinking seems wonderful.  We have perhaps met earlier somewhere?

Now I understood that it is better to use the alphabetical order that you can follow the list. So

Brittany Chan her blog heading is  MOOC Nooc

Catherine Cronin has a blog with her name. and she takes part in many moocs. I want to follow her posts about empowerment and digital identities.

Helen Crump her blog is Learningcreep and she follows other moocs too

Michael Gallagher has a blog with two forenames and he has made artefacts already, wonderful map traveling etc.

Heikki Hallantie lives in Finland as I do and I was happy to find his blog edcmoocheikki He has been an activist in social media issues already many years and he has age, perhaps near mine. Grey revolution is going on…

David Hopkins has been active here and there, the blog is TechnologyEnhanced LearningBlog or Dontwasteyourtime.

Sheila MacNeill work blog and the guestion Moocs as utopian or dystopians. Thank Eleni for dinding this.

Frances Monaghan (Fran) participated everywhere in the forums and then I read from her blog post that she missed more action – at the same time when other were overwhelmed. I suppose she is quicker that many of us and I want to follow her blog elearningmoocedinbourgh in order to learn from her way of web life. First I was near to leave her blog out because she didn’t tell her name in the blog, only Infotechnical.

Sara Roe (?) has a nice blog name Doing by Learning (and vice versa).

Sarah Siegel‘s blog name is SarahSiegelStories. Sarah is my first new friend in FB during edcmooc.

Marc Smith has a blog connected action which interests me because of many networking models

Bonnie Stewart has Theory.cribcronicles blog for thinking and pondering issues. She has another blog about private life and I know her children and husband. We met in CHANGE11 with the theme digital identity.

These are the (first) people I follow and I intend to use this afternoon by reading their posts and commenting them. If you don’t want to see your name here please let me know!

The first hangout is in the evening in my country and I’ll participate in it. What do our facilitators tell us about this week? Just found their blog  edcmoocteam It is fine that they blog as a team!

Understanding networking

Today I was inspired to write this after answering Jenny Mackness’s post about attacks on connectivism. She has gathered links to various critical opinions and articles. I continue my pondering here. I don’t want to attack , it is fine to be interested in learning and try to build up theories about it. People try it in CCK-courses or is it better to say that Stephen Downes does with the help of George Siemens. I do not want to write about this, I appreciate their trying. I have worked as a teacher educator and action researcher etc and I am still interested in these questions. It is great to try to understand human learning.

Is it possible to handle a topic like ‘learning theory’ in an open course without former knowledge? I can’t see much sense in it, the theme is too challenging. Everyone has experience about learning, OK but it is not enough. And Experiental learning has already invented, no need to do it again. BUT networking could be a great topic to explore by networking and it could be enough. It is not a piece of cake either but it is more possible and useful. The final project in our first CCK course dealt with networking. It was a good assignment, an opportunity to become conscious about own doings.

My next question is about exploration, which methods we should use? How can we discuss about events in open courses? It takes time to understand basic concepts and theories. What is the level of  speaking: words, concepts, models. I said in my comment to Jenny’s post that openness is not working in CCK-courses and I meant that there is much obscure speaking. Participants are obliged to follow Stephen’s way to think, he takes a privilege to give content to words in his own way. For instance, he says what the word group means – he doesn’t care what others have said after their  research. It took time to understand this.

Now I see that connectivism is something that those two active men have developed based on their own experiences. It is their theory-in-use. This concept comes from Schön’s ideas about reflective practice (theory-on-practice). Networking is the main content, how it becomes possible with new technology. They have succeeded to implement open courses and offered the opportunity to anyone to participate. That is fine but should we focus on the method how we conceptualize and interpret and create new models. Should we re-invent science 🙂 ? Grounded theory has already developed, no need to re-invent it either. It helps to build up models from participative practice.

Learning theories are under development in many universities and research institutes, I see no sense in passing this fact. There are communities like EARLI who have excellent networks. It is not wise to deny all knowledge that exists. Open courses and networks may do whatever – and participants can choose what they want. Everyone is happy then?

You know the book (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) La Petit Prince:  Misunderstandings always become from words.. the fox said these words to Little Prince and he was right, yeah?

My personal ideas for PLENK2010

Here I am. Again beginning a new open online course: Personal Learning Environments, Networks and Knowledge facilitated by Stephen Downes, Dave Gormier, Rita Kop and George Siemens. The program for ten weeks:

  • Week 1. A tour of PLEs and PLNS – diagrams, discussions, examples – September 12, 2010
  • Week 2: Contrasting personal learning with institutional learning – September 19,
  • Week 3: Understanding the neXT/eXtended Web – September 26,
  • Week 4: PLE/PLN and learning theories – October 03,
  • Week 5: Evaluating Learning in PLE/Ns – October 10,
  • Week 6: Using PLEs successfully – skills, mindsets, and critical literacies – October 17,
  • Week 7: PLE/Ns Tools – WHat Exists, What is Being Built? – October 24,
  • Week 8: PLE/Ns and personal knowledge management – October 31,
  • Week 9: PLE/Ns in the classroom (PLE/Ns and blended learning) – November 7,
  • Week 10: Critical perspectives on PLE/PLN – November 14, 2010.

I am interested in all themes, perhaps I pass institutional learning (2) and classroom teaching (9) because I am free, not working for salary any more. I am studying for fun and following interests of my own. I have a long history of online teaching (facilitating actually) and now I want to find online places where I enjoy to communicate and learn more. I don’t want to live only in this small town in Finland, I want to live in a global world.

My personal idea is to follow my learning during this course: my thinking, feeling, acting, networking etc. This blog is my natural place (as it has been in CCK08,09 and CritLit10). I participate in Moodle forums,too and in Twitter (helinur). I have the same photo in every place.

I was very glad today when I noticed that Jenny Mackness and Matthias Melcher have written an article about very first connections in online living. How does it happen and why some people are very interested in one’s mind? They ponder that eResonance deals with similarity, not sameness. I take this as my first question, because I have been asking same question myself. I followed in as an online teacher for years, and now without teacher’s responsibilities. Similarity means – I suppose –  deeper sameness, similar personality structure, interests, values, aims – not external sameness (age, gender, education). I am not sure if I can model this phenomenom, it is so dynamic and individual. Time will tell. It is my first question anyway and I can comment Jenny and Matthias. Is here in PLENK anyone interested in this?

Autumn is coming to Finland, it is raining just now. Good time to begin eResonating!

Power and authority

I continue my studies in CCK09 week 7. Power is always an interesting theme. I liked the papers given to us:

  • W.H. Dutton: Through the Network (of Networks) – the Fifth Estate
  • Network Logic: who governs in an interconnected world? edited by McCarthy, Miller and Skidmore.

I printed two papers dealing with teachers work: Ann Lieberman and Diane Wood (National Writing Project, USA) and Hargreaves answer to them. Actors are always enthusiastic about the development they feel and see around – and the researcher proves that nothing is sure.  We don’t know the cause-and-effect threads. – Nice to read but very common if you have done the same last 20 years.

Then I read Howard Rheingold’s Smart mobs. He describes  Netwar – and sees both Bark and Light in it. We hope that ‘good guys’ will lead the new forms of organisation but there is no guarantee about this. It’s important to follow discussions about swarm intelligence and the social mind. Global brain? Smart mobs are unpredictable and for instance I have learnt to be worried about this, new technology is not in the best hands of human mankind.

Manuel Castells  Afterword, why networks matter concludes the book. Castells believes in networks, I could say, in an astonishing way. Networks have developed because technology enables it and we live in a network society (not in an information society or knowledge society). Networks know no boundaries. The networking logic explains the features of the process of globalisation. Sociability is transformed in the new historical context: human need and desire for sharing and co-experiencing influences it. Societies exist as social forms of shared experience.

World is changing and nobody can tell us the focus. I appreciate Rheingold and Castells but they are not my gods 🙂 We can see that technology gives us new devices and media tries to update itself, and networks have taken power (I am not sure about this). We need values not only new social media. I want to belong to Global Dignity movement, they have the dream I want to believe and work for better world for all humans. There is no simple way to take the power and leave all authorities behind, it is hard and permanent daily work and living with dignifying attitudes to other human beings.