This is one of those photographs that is so old it has the texture and feel (at least to me) of an oil painting. This is the Old Train Bridge (probably before it was called “old”), as taken from the North Side of Fredericton. Or is it? I know this is the North Side Green. Given the position of the Cathedral steeple on the South Side, this must be it. Now it is a pedestrian bridge. I haven’t crossed this bridge since 2011. Which doesn’t seem like a long time ago, except for everything that’s happened in the interim.
This is supposed to be a post about Ed Tech. I have been progressing nominally through Open Online Experience 2013. As mentioned in the Twitter feed, I have been greatly impressed by the course tool kit. The teaching online course had a number of excellent guest speakers. The Metaliteracy course is ticking along. Mostly I have been catching blog and Twitter posts associated with these courses. The other morning I got up at 2:30 for a synchronous session with my Ed.D cohort. Last month I missed all the synchronous events of a UCalgary Teaching Online Program (TOP) due to browser issues shutting down Elluminate. Now the fail has been fixed. Now the synchronous sessions are over for another month. There are some excellent, engaging discussions going on in all these MOOCs.
Living on the other side of the world from where one grew up feels pretty meta. There’s a huge delay between anything you’d like to do in real life, and what you are able to do with regards to reaching the home country. Technology enables all kinds of virtual actions. But it won’t get me into the Harvest Jazz & Blues Fest in Fredericton. And it won’t make it any easier to connect with friends and family except in tiny digital-slivers. We talk about “affordances and constraints” in regards to features of technology. When you are at a significant geographical remove, you tend to place a great deal of emphasis on your link to the home country. You wonder if people in the home country are thinking of you the same way. And the answer is: they absoloutely cannot be. The idea of synchronous communication through technology is great. But you have to do a great deal of mental gymnastics in order for it to be meaningful or effective. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Image from: Vintage Fredericton FaceBook group
I found myself thinking about #metaliteracy the other morning while the boys watched TV (in Korean) and I had my coffee. Educational studies is a pretty “meta” field to be a part of. As a Communications instructor I am ostensibly employed on the basis of my content knowledge: proficiency in English (and English itself is also pretty meta). But my background and the field I’m part of is education and, increasingly, educational technology. What is the content of education? Teaching and learning. What does this basket hold? Other baskets. From my highly formative survey of cMOOCs thus far, it seems that a high number of these courses are devoted to studies of education and targeted at professional educators. Is this format viable for other disciplines? Will “non-educators” become interested in courses which adopt this highly diffuse, networked structure? Is the younger generation more inclined to learn this way naturally? Everytime I try to envision the future of teaching and learning, I invariably think about my kids who will be in the public school system beginning very soon. What does the next decade + hold for them? More of the same, or are MOOCs and other types of eLearning catalysts for real change? My boys are growing up in a different country from either of their parents. Can online technology be used to redefine where learning takes place in K-12, and extend the learning environment beyond geographical boundaries? These are a few of the questions which are guiding my involvement in these MOOCs and also in the UCalgary Ed.D program… and in a few days I’m sure these will be replaced (or perhaps more accurately over-run) by others.
- What is your intention for this course (why are you here)?
I am an Ed.D student interested in doing a MOOC-based thesis. I am also interested in online education generally.
- What issues do you think are important?
I am interested in front and back-end concerns with MOOCs. Instructional design is of particular interest, but also student experience, engagement, and success.
Probably by blogging and tweeting… but I look forward to the challenge of creating other kinds of media artifacts which reflect learning.
- How would you like to see community develop among participants?
Organically and widely… I am interested in finding out how Garrison’s (2001) Community of Inquiry framework might apply to MOOCs.
- These types of courses are new for most people. In fact about 90% don’t even participate. How will you overcome the fear of learning in the open and the frustration of using new technology? How do you plan to courageously work through any setbacks, and not give up?
The only hold-ups I can anticipate are work-related, or to do with my kids. I am a fairly self-motivated person. Personal issues / lack of time are more likely to curtail my involvement than any problems with tech. And if those personal holdups arise, I am obliged to address them… possibly at the risk of not finishing this course.
Burj Khalifa, as seen from Dubai Mall, Dubai, UAE; August 2013