#PLENK2010 The myths and reality of blogging in this eXtended Web

Having read Steve’s The Truth about blogging, and reading through this The Equal Web by Lindsay Jordan

My key takeaway message from Steve and those comments are

Check on who those audience are:

The second truth is reflected in something that Shelly Blake-Plock (@teachpaperless) has expanded upon in his excellent post ‘Why teachers should blog‘. I quote: To blog is to teach yourself what you think. For me, this is reflexivity in action. Your work is placed right out there on the blogosphere, in a public agora for others to read, reflect on, and comment on.

Writing on blogs is dialogical, much more so that it ever could have been in paper format. In some journals there is occasionally a dialogue between two experts, who each write a treatise in response to the arguments of the other.

Lindsay commented:

As you’ve said, blogging is all about reflection, feedback and refinement of ideas. I don’t agree that our reflections need to be consistently meaningful for others and I think this perception can lead to a kind of ‘performance anxiety’ that prevents people from reflecting openly on less than fully-formed ideas.

I have the following questions:

1. Who are the audience of your blog? I have once written about the purpose of blogging here and Have bloggers polluted the media here.  Here is blogging and learning and this transformational thinking behind blogging or on line learning.  I particular like this pedagogy of blogging.

So blogging could be personal,  and many of “us”, even amongst educators and bloggers may not feel comfortable in sharing the half-baked ideas in public, at least in the early stages of blogging or online learning.

My experience is: say what you want to say, and express them in words that you could understand and reflect upon them, even if it is not perfect.  Sometimes, I may be able to do so in a more concise manner, if that is the case, simplify the message.  You could edit your blog post later.  Isn’t it?

If you are writing to a group of audience, would you like to pay attention to the tone and choice of words (syntax and semantics) to ensure that you are “addressing” your audience in a more professional manner?  Keep your audience in suspense, but I would suggest not to flatter or patronize them, as this would soon backfire on us.  Challenge your audience with new and novel perspectives that they may likewise want to challenge you, especially when you have found new memes, novel ideas that you want to share.

2. Is the power law applicable in the reading and interpretation of blog posts amongst bloggers?

Are you writing for the few or many others in the networks?  Who would be attracted to your blogs?  If you are writing like Stephen Downes, then the style of blogging and expectation would surely be different from that of a typical blogger.  Stephen’s role as a curator (or a journalist, as he prefers to be called) is surely illustrating the reality of power law, that the earth “is not yet flat” but “flat”. He reaches thousands of bloggers a day, as he shares his findings.

3. How would the hands up and hands down concept apply to blogging when referring to  The Equal Web?  To this end, I think there are certain assumptions in the experiment that are only applicable to the classroom environment and may not be applicable in the case of blogging or online learning.  Why? In a classroom environment, the teacher or the facilitator should encourage active learning in classes, by asking and directing questions, both to individual students at random and to specific students so as to arouse their interest and ensure learning takes place.  This is also the golden rule in a typical classroom setting.  However, in the case of online learning, the teacher would be taking the role of curator, facilitator and educator, and would normally allow for more autonomy from the students.  It would be difficult to direct a question to a particular online student, unless it is under a synchronous learning environment like Elluminate or Ustream.  Even then, the student or learner may not be comfortable in responding to the questions in an open or public space, as any answers that are inappropriate may not be the answer that is expected.

I think most of us would still like to have the hands up, both in class and off the class, in an online learning environment, as that is our intrinsic motivation, even if the answer is WRONG or STUPID.  We might however, need to be aware of the power relationship which often inhibits our participation and engagement with those more knowledgeable others, and the challenges and level of support to the learners needed as cited by Rita here.

So, is the hands down RIGHT or WRONG?  I think it’s up to your interpretation. But I reckon if there are more hands up in a class, then at least people (learners) are willing to risk being open, and not be too afraid of giving the WRONG ANSWER, though it could be a bitter lemon for many of us who have experienced in our past failures. Who dares win?

Were there any one who hasn’t failed?  Not one, that I am aware of, in the history of mankind, except Jesus, IMO.

The following reveals the embarrassment that may be associated with such “impromptu response” and hands up in the open, as an analogy (or metaphor).

Please note that my intention is not to highlight what might go wrong when one is answering a question in a Beauty Contest with a “wrong” answer in public, but how people would perceive or judge “us” as bloggers or educators if we don’t explain ourselves well in written words, narratives,  images, speech, or presentation (i.e. the semantics, the syntax, which are important in communicating our messages).

Would this be the worry we often have when we were new in blogging?

What are some ways in overcoming such anxieties? What advice would you give to other bloggers (new and the old hands)?  How could one improve in blogging?

Photos: All from Flickr


#PLENK2010 Research into the Design and Delivery of MOOC (I)

I read Steve’s post on “Why engagement in MOOC (PLENK2010) is so hard” with great interests.
Many thanks Steve for summarizing and culling from forum posts and Elluminate sessions of #PLENK.  It helps in understanding what the expectations and perspectives of educators (or facilitators) and some of the participants are and what the course offers.
As I am conducting research in the design and delivery of MOOC, this initial discussion could  provide insights into the development of research questions into this area.  So, many thanks to our facilitators George, Stephen, Rita and Dave, and our fellow participants who have shared their views on the design and delivery of PLENK2010 (MOOC).
Just to share that Jenny, Roy and I had conducted research into CCK08, and you would find our research papers in Blogging and Forum as Communication and Learning Tools in my blog.  This might provide a glimpse as to how the PLENK2010 MOOC might be different from the design, structure and delivery of CCK08.
Relating to the design of the course: please refer to how this course works?
Would these questions help in formulating the research into MOOC?
Questions for the Instructor:
1. What would you like to include and expect in the design of MOOC?  What are the design criteria? Why are they important to you and the participants?
2. What would you like to include and expect in the delivery of MOOC? What are the delivery factors that you have considered? Why are they important to you and the participants?
3. What are the essential elements of a MOOC that would enhance the learning of the participants? Why do you think they are essential?
4. How would you evaluate the learning of the participants in MOOC?
5. What would you suggest to improve in this MOOC?
Questions for the Participants:
1. What would you like to include and expect in the design of MOOC?  What are the design criteria used in MOOC? Why are they important to you as a participant?
2. What would you like to include and expect in the delivery of MOOC? What are the delivery factors that you would like to include in your learning? Why are they important to you?
3.  What are the essential elements of a MOOC that would enhance your learning? Why are they important to you?
4. How would you evaluate your learning in this MOOC?
5. What would you suggest to improve in this MOOC?
These are just initial questions that I would like to consider.  These are based on the collection of views, ideas and perspectives from the instructors and participants in PLENK2010 on various occasions and sources – forum, blog posts, The Daily and Elluminate so far.
Would you like to share your views and questions in this Research into the Design and Delivery of MOOC (PLENK2010)?  Please feel free to comment and criticize on the approach and the questions relating to this research.
If you feel you would like to contribute, add or modify the questions, please feel free to include them here or in the forum, or the wiki here.
You might also like to leave your comments in any media of your choice.  Please include #PLENK2010 in your post and indicate that it is referring to the Design and Delivery of MOOC.  Please alert me where they are so I could consolidate or aggregate in the next 2 weeks.
Please note that your participation of this research (i.e. the design of questions in this Research into the Design and Delivery of MOOC (PLENK2010)  is voluntary), and you are welcome to join or leave this discussion of questionnaire design for the survey at any stage of the research.
I would suggest that any questions proposed by you be allowed to be included into the final questionnaire, and so please feel free to state if you would or would not like to have your proposed questions be used in this research.
If you want to respond to any of the questions of this research at this stage, please let me know whether you would allow me to include them in the research analysis and report.  I would summarize the findings and so any views expressed by you would be anonymous.
Many thanks for your consideration.
Just found this by Dave. Very interesting video.
The key points are: connectedness and openness

#PLENK2010 Research

Jenny writes in her post on research, technology and networks

“This indicates that good research has been and continues to be published without the Web or being networked. I think we need to think more/be more explicit about what might be lost by giving up this ‘traditional’ system and more explicit about what we can gain by being more ‘innovative’.”
What would be the criteria of “good research”?
What would be lost? Would they be?
(a) grants – one needs to go through the Research Council, which may or may not approve research to be open (due to a loss of control over the research)
(b) validation – lack of governing bodies other than the community and researchers.
(c) privacy and privy of research
(d) academic rigor (too many voices & diversity of views, too few consensus if community review are used)
(e) autonomy of researchers in the research planning & process
(f) standards – lack of rigorous standard of measures on research “quality”
(g) traceability – unless the research is open to the public and community, it could be difficult to trace the source of information, and thus lacking in credibility in resources employed
(h) publication support – due to the publication on blogs or media, the researcher may not be given enough support for publication with the publisher
(i) incentive – the monetary reward that may derive from the publication in books or research journal (as a patent or artefact under the name of the researchers)
What we can gain by being more innovative in research?
(a) Openness – Opening the research to the community invites more people interested in the research to actively engage and participate in both learning and research
(b) Validation – using a community approach to research could allow diversity of opinions to be heard, which are important in academic discourse. It could further validate the research findings and analysis, enhancing the quality of the research
(c) Standards – a community approach towards research would stimulate members to discuss and develop standards which are appropriate to the research. Such emergence of standards would allow for the Wisdom of Crowds to be considered
(d) Publication – the publication of research papers on blogs and media promote the openness in research
(e) Incentive – the reward is more of an intrinsic nature for the researchers and the community, and it could also be a win-win situation for all parties.
(f) New approaches to collaborative researches – by being more open and innovative in research, researchers could also collaborate and cooperate with other researchers in the research networks. This would lead to the development of collaborative research communities and consortium.
These are just my crude ideas on research. I need your help in refining them. Feedback is welcome.

Thanks Jenny for the fruitful questions.

#PLENK2010 Institutional Learning versus Personal Learning

Here is an interesting post by Rita contrasting institutional learning from personal learning environment

Rita says:

“My research highlighted the importance of communication in learning to create a high level of social ‘presence’.  An LMS/VLE is problematic in facilitating this.”

I do see this pattern recurring in MOOC since CCK08, 09, EdFuture, CritLit2010 and here PLENK2010. How did this occur? Wasn’t it inherent in the design of a MOOC? Why LMS/VLE may not be ideal in supporting some learners in MOOC?  I think we (Jenny, Roy and I) have attempted to research through our Blogs and Forum as Communication and Learning Tools, and some common themes emerged that did reveal many of the issues and challenges you mentioned.

May I summarise as follow?

(1) Teaching (LMS/VLE Moodle) versus learning (Blogs, Twitter, FB).

(2) Participation via active participation (LMS/VLE Moodle) & Blogging versus lurking through reading, listening etc.

(3) Self-directed learners (lots of bloggers) versus social learners (may be forum posters, FB, Twitterers).

(4) Power relations (instructors, peer learners).

(5) Confidence and affective issues.

(6) Levels of knowledge displayed.  To this end, we have found some significant differences in views and perceptions between instructors and participants in forums versus blogs.

(7) Feedback from others (instructors, in particular, and knowledgeable others, including other guest speakers, more experienced teachers and learners).

(8) Level of presence of instructors and participants in LMS/VLE Moodle.  This could be contrasted with the presence of instructors and participants in blogs, Twitter, FB, SL, Amplify, and collectives (Delicious, Google doc, wikis etc.).

(9) Large numbers of participants – I could see many participants would like to try the Moodle forum, posting their views, questions, and concerns.  There are however, a number of participants who raised the question of how their voices would be heard, if they were to do it in their own blogs.  Would the bloggers be speaking to themselves? Would forum be a better central stage or shelter for new comers? How to use some of the tools like CMAP? What are the differences between CMap and MindMaps etc.? So the more participants there are in the Forum, the more challenges there are for participants to filter their “ideas” and information, as many people may not know who are talking to whom. Also, the diverse advice and opinions could also be coming from instructors, knowledgeable others or many who are still trying to find their ways.  So, whose opinions should one trust? What is the truth? Which group should one join?

(10) Dispersed learner groups, which could lead to “disaggregation” of networks, and the development of conflicts within and amongst groups and within group members, when each one wishes to have his voice heard, acted upon and responded in reciprocity, and the differences in views and perceptions which may give rise to arguments.  Here conflict resolution is not easily achieved due to the lack of consensus.

(11) The language issue and misunderstanding arising from the syntax, semantics in posts and the cultural values, as revealed in the exchanges.

(12) The pedagogy that is inherent in VLE and PLE in MOOC – PLENK2010. What sort of teaching pedagogy or learning that underpins each approach – VLE/PLE? When should each be used?

Wonderful to learn from and share Rita’s insights.


#PLENK2010 Idea is network in MOOC?

Here is the TED talk on Where good ideas come from

Idea is network? Repackaged? So similar to Connectivism? Liquid network – quite similar to my suggested What is Knowledge and Learning?

How about this wikis as water coolers?

Yes, in fact knowledge as network metaphors have been around since ancient times (water/knowledge is only one of them) – in Tao Te Ching, under the Yin and Yang concept (water could float a boat, but could sink it too), in Buddhism, and in Bible as parables – like the sower sows his seeds (how the seeds grow/decay under different ecology – i.e. the growth/decay of faith subject to the influence of environment & people- analogous to how ideas/concepts/ knowledge would be developed/ amplified or diminished in social networks nowadays etc.

You (Arielion)  have also shared plenty of these ideas on faith. Wonderful.

That is also how ideas are shared, spreaded & amplified in social network – as metaphors, memes. I just wonder how all these ideas are linked, re-purposed, re-packaged, re-named or re-created, and re-framed to novel ideas, with many people building upon them – like the Wisdom of the Crowds. Refer also to this Wisdom of the Crowds website.
That is good news.

Here is another great idea shared through metaphors – Teaching and teachers metaphors

How far do these ideas and concepts apply to your teaching and learning?

Do you find any resonance when you are learning in courses like MOOC PLENK2010?  Refer to this Riddle of Online Resonance by Matthias and Jenny on resonance.

What do you find? How do you feel?

Here is the conversation on FB

Postscript: Here is an interesting video on “Where do good ideas come from?”

I am my Connectome may be of interest to you.