Today’s nugget of Open Education Week goodness — connections between the open movement and the maker movement!
Today at 8:00am Pacific, there will be an Open Education Week webinar about CrispyScience and their initiative to develop educational computer interacting toys using MakeyMakey and Scratch.
I’ll be there. Will you?
Here is today’s nugget of Open Education Week goodness — an overview of the P2PU School of Ed.
We’re also having a webinar to showcase various aspects of P2PU today at 3pm Pacific time.
Even if you aren’t “enrolled” in this course, you can participate in this week’s activities (or any for that matter) here in our group on P2PU.
How have you participated in open or peer learning? What benefits have you found?
There is so much buzz about MOOCs these days. I’ve often said that I’m not a fan of MOOCs….but despite that, I’m have recently written an article about MOOCs and am currently enrolled in two myself.
So I thought it was time to write a post about what I see as the good and the bad, the bright spots and the shortcomings, in MOOCs.
First, there are many kinds of MOOCs, and applying the term to such a broad spectrum is confusing. <Insert rant about imprecise use of language.> The earliest cMOOCs were smaller, connectivist, personal. The newer xMOOCs are truly massive, often impersonal and focused on knowledge transmission.
This brings up the connections (or lack of) between MOOCs and peer learning (about which I am wildly enthusiastic!). I love the model of peer learning and community that exists in places like P2PU. For many pursuits and inquiries, I think there is not better way to learn than as a part of a community.
For some MOOCs, peer learning is a strong part. For many, it is not. My own personal opinion is that it is very hard to foster community in a short-term and “massive” situation, which is the realm of most MOOCs. Community building takes time and care. Further, I believe that active facilitation is a strong predictor of good peer learning experiences. Most MOOCs, by virtue of the fact that they are “massive” and that they are free and/or being done on a shoestring budget, lack good facilitation . (I have done some thinking about how strong facilitation can be done at minimal expense, but I’ll save that for another time.)
So, to the extent that MOOCs can involve peer learning and community, I am excited about them. To the extent that they are just massive content delivery mechanisms with little built-in opportunity to interact and personalize, I’m less excited.
Here are reservations I have about MOOCs:
- The trendiness – Education seems ruled by trends. We have all seen many come and go, leaving tired teachers and learners in their wake. MOOCs are the latest of these.
- Nothing new – To the extent that some MOOCs are just a new name for transmitting online course content, they don’t add much to learning.
- Massive is overrated – I’m not sure that “massive” is the best way to facilitate learning. Many MOOCs seem focused on how many enrollments they generate, rather than whether learner goals are being met. (See “Opportunity” below for a counterpoint.)
- Missing the big opportunity – There are so many exciting things about using online technologies for learning. Many MOOCs seem to be missing these and instead are just delivering more boring video lectures and multiple choice quizzes.
Some have pointed to the corporatization of MOOCs as another negative. I don’t necessarily identify this as a negative. As Bonnie Stewart points out, there is always room for subversion. The co-opting influence of educational-industrial complex on instructional materials and ultimately learning is as prevalent now in digital media as it has been in print. It’s nothing new, but it is incumbent on us as teachers and learners to make the best choices for learning.
And here are the places where I can feel some excitement about MOOCs:
- Openness – MOOCs are providing more access to more open licensed content. That is a good thing. (Important note: Open means different things to different people — open-licensed; openly viewable and transparent; open to enrollment by anyone, anytime. Some “MOOCs” offer none of these things.)
- Opportunity and (more) equity – MOOCs unquestionably provide more access and opportunity to more people to engage in learning.
- Decentralized community learning – In some cases, MOOCs are challenging the top-down knowledge transmission model of school and offering a decentralized, leaner-centered model instead. This is a clear benefit. (Again, not all MOOCs offer this, but where it’s happening, it’s a good thing.)
I’ll save my reflections on the two MOOCs I am in for another post. In the meantime, what do you think about MOOCs? Where are the potentials, and where are the pitfalls?
What are your personal experiences?
We’ve accomplished a lot in that time (roughly 35 courses/groups, lots of learning, great connections and conversations with both teachers and students, the beginnings of a community), and it seems like a good time to think about what we’ve done and learned and where we might go from here.
Here are some things I’ve learned:
- Learning is social. Community is everything. (And the NWP community is awesome.)
- Peer learning works best when it is designed by the group, not instituted from the top down.
- Some topics lend themselves more to peer learning than others.
- A defined start and end time seems to encourage participation, and shorter courses that can then spin off into more in-depth explorations work well.
- Diverse groups are richer.
- Groups with teachers and students are powerful. (And as in my f2f experiences, students often drive the innovation in formal educational environments.)
Here are some things I still don’t know:
- How do you encourage self-direction and agency in professionals who don’t feel that currently? (We had a whole group just to explore this.)
- Is formal credit/recognition (whether stipends, graduate credit, CEUs, etc.) of this professional learning necessary or desirable?
- What can be done to begin to move this into more formal environments? (I love the energy of all “opt in” self-directed learners, but it would be a big win to get some schools to think about adopting this as a model for professional learning.)
- How do you sustain this (both in terms of participants and in terms of facilitation)?
- How do you measure success?
- How big is big enough?
And so from all that, here are some thoughts about future directions. First, I don’t want to compromise the core values of openness, authenticity, learner-centeredness by anything we do. Second, I want to continue to build the rich community we’ve started and to expand and involve others. In order to be authentic and learner-centric, having community members set the learning agenda seems critical.
On the sustainability front, I believe that we need some amount of funding to provide continued facilitation and infrastructure for this work, especially if it is to grow. I also know that K-12 schools spend a lot of money on professional development (not all of it resulting in high yields). Perhaps there is a creative way to bridge these two things for everyone’s benefit.
At any rate, if you have thoughts or ideas about the future of the School of Ed, let me know. We’re always open to new course/group ideas, new participants, new facilitators, etc. And especially, we’re on look out for a couple schools who might be interested in trying this model of professional learning with their teachers.
I’ve been toying with the idea of an online maker space for a while. Now, thanks to a Shuttleworth Foundation Flash Grant, I am going to be able to dedicate some time to this.
I’m looking for a few schools who would be interested in committing to participate in this. Participants will be able to help shape how this proceeds, and the requirements are few. Specifically, I’m looking for:
- A group of students (13 or over to simplify the online participation aspect) who want to participate
- At least one adult coordinator at each site who will also participate
- A willingness on everyone’s part to create and share their creations with others (what we create will vary; see below)
This could be done as a part of a formal class or it could be done as an optional extracurricular type activity.
Initially, I am thinking of this as a 8 week or so “unit” but it could certainly expand or contract to suit your situation.
What will we make? Folks who opt to participate will have a lot of input on this, but here are some options to consider:
- Short digital stories (photos, writings, drawings, audio pieces, videos) ala the DS106 Daily Create
- Apps and/or digital environments (possibly using Scratch, Minecraft, etc.)
- Agricultural projects*
- Gadgets* (could be Arduino, Lego, robotics, etc.)
- Materials projects* (could include artwork, woodworking, fabrics, cardboard, rocketry, inventions, etc.)
- Other ideas you bring
* Any material costs will need to be covered by the local site.
We will most likely select a few of these to focus on initially, but each participant will also have ample choices for what they want to work on.
What are the goals of this project? To encourage learning through the lenses of making/hacking/playing. To learn from each other. To be creative. To build a sense of agency. To have fun. To think about next steps for how this might be expanded.
I am open to any and all suggestions regarding this. Please post a comment here or email me at karen at k12opened dot com with ideas and/or inquiries of interest in participate.
We are gearing up for an exciting summer at the P2PU School of Ed. (In case you’ve missed it, this initiative is all about free, open, peer-centered professional development for K-12 teachers).
Here is what we are planning for June and July. If you’d like to participate, please sign up. We’re also looking for co-facilitators for new groups and are always eager to get suggestions for new offerings.
PhET Simulations for Science and Math
Description: PhET simulations are designed to provide an open exploratory environment that can be used in many different educational settings. In this three week course, you will learn about how the sims are designed, will examine some best practices for use, and will explore/create lessons you can use with your students.
Dates: July 9-29, 2012
Global Dialog: International and Comparative Perspectives on Education
Description: This 1-month seminar is for educators, learners and parents who are keen to discuss and compare education systems from around the world. The course is divided into 4 modules each containing 1 or 2 short online videos, an optional reading, online asynchronous discussions and an optional synchronous discussion (via Skype) around the following topics: global definitions of learning and education, cross-country education borrowing and lending, educating the whole person, and creating sustainable education systems.
Dates: June 4 – July 1, 2012
ePortfolios for Teachers
Description: A group to explore the use and development of online portfolios as a personal learning tool for teachers. We’ll look at what purpose portfolios can serve, different tools for assembling an online portfolio, what kinds of artifacts can be collected, and how more formal credit might be tied to portfolios. Participants will have an opportunity to begin building an eportfolio if they choose.
Dates: July 9-29, 2012
Making Writing and Literacy Learning Connections
Description: If “digital” is how we write, share, and participate today and into the future, what does that mean for the teaching of writing and for learning?
Join a National Writing Project study group as we explore these questions together through our own experiences and those of the NWP Digital Is community. Each week we’ll focus on a different aspect of inquiry and practice related to writing, teaching and connected learning.
Dates: July 9-29, 2012
Syndicated Education in Distributed Learning Environments
Description: In education, schools create coherence based on ‘Conceptual Orientation’ (i.e. sense making), illustrating how theories and knowledge are related. Following the emerging trend of Distributed Learning Environments used in Networked Learning, teachers also need to include ‘Spatial Orientation’ (i.e. way finding) to answer questions like: Where do I find useful Learning Resources (i.e. salience)? How are these resources interconnected (i.e. pattern recognition)? What is the underlying message (i.e. trajectory)? During this course, you will create, deliver and manage an educational event that aggregates the latest work from participants within the cohort into one location. This allows Peer-to-Peer (P2P) learning and keep the work they do in their own Personal Learning Environment (PLE).
Dates: June 25-July 14, 2012
Reimagining Developmental/Basic English Curriculum
Description: A design charrette for teachers, developers, content experts, and interested others to share, explore and create transformative practices, essential content and skills necessary for student success in college. This course, produced in collaboration with the National Repository of Online Courses (NROC), will take a systems approach to examining current content, standards and assessments, invite thought leaders/practitioners to discuss emergent trends in curriculum redesign, collaboratively explore transformative approaches and the role of digital and social media, and technology, to improve access and success for any student needing remediation.
Dates: July 9-20, 2012
Curating Our Digital Lives
We curate our digital lives each and every day. How can we use curation tools, techniques and practices to support ourselves in our own learning and support youth as they engage in academic learning and production? Join this three-week-long discussion, facilitated in collaboration with the National Writing Project, to share your thoughts and to hear from others.
Dates: July 9-29, 2012
A couple weeks ago at SXSWedu, we had a session to brainstorm some new peer learning groups on P2PU.
The outlines for these groups have now been turned into (preliminary) groups at P2PU, and we are looking for collaborators to help build out the groups and co-facilitate them. If you are interested, sign up to participate or email us (schoolofed at p2pu dot org).
These groups will likely start in May/June.
I’m excited about all the new things going on with sharing, especially as it relates to personal learning for teachers. There are a lot of new groups forming around the idea of open professional development, connected learning for teachers, and online communities of practice.
I recently took part in a panel on “Building a Culture of Sharing” at SXSWedu and am also involved in a P2PU School of Ed group about “Empower Your Personal Learning,” both of which have gotten me thinking deeply about this.
Here’s my big concern — those of us involved in this are a very small minority of teachers. I could venture to say that well over 95% of teachers are not involved in using the power of social networks to advance their own personal learning.
When I raised this point, someone said to me (paraphrasing), “Well, what’s the problem? Sharing is as easy as breathing.”
I don’t think that’s true. There are many barriers to sharing and engaging in self-directed personal learning. Some relate to time constraints, priorities, and personality characteristics. Some are rooted in fear or lack of agency. More troubling are those based in institutional barriers to sharing.
I would hate to see this movement go down the road of ed tech, where there is a small minority of folks engaged and benefiting, while the vast majority of teachers continue in the way that they have done for decades. Our students are the ones who pay the ultimate price for this.
So what is to be done? How do we involve the other 99% of mainstream teachers in this?