Stephen Downes at #Change11

change11 home page, as it were

This week we have just received an assignment that is more like a challenge. We have to create a “learning artifact”. Still not sure what that is, but he also gave us a bunch of resource links to go along with the challenge.

We are supposed to use this learning artifact as a tool to illustrate many dimensions of the learning (and teaching) process, or even IF it IS a process. We take a step back and look at the a whole simplified picture from many angles.

OK, so I teach languages, or, as a Professor in the Department of English Language and Communication, that is what I am ostensibly doing. Problem is, I don’t think I really CAN teach anyone how to speak English. This is not personal. I don’t think a language is really teachable, at least not in the traditional academic sense. I now use most of my time with students trying to develop curiosity, and then ways to sate that curiosity. That first part is by far the hardest. But goes with the territory.

So, like languages, but a lot simpler, I’ve decided that my learning artifact will be “how to use chopsticks”. Like language learning, it is usually done as a child, and when accomplished, becomes completely automatic, but everyday. Some people don’t learn it as a kid, though, and therefore have to learn it a different way.  I’m looking forward to this.

Great timing too, as I just finished my grades for this semester, I may even be able to join the synchronous sessions, for only the third time this year (here in Tokyo, they start at 2 AM usually.)

I’m going to Stanford!

HCI Course outline at Stanford
HCI Course outline at Stanford

OK, not really. But I am going to take one class at Stanford. OK, not AT Stanford, but through Stanford. Stanford has generously opened up some of their classes to people outside the university, for study online. It will have the same lectures, the same activities, the same quizzes and tests, and the same interaction as the for-credit students will get. It is free, but does not carry any recognition. For a guy like me, who is a professor, and no longer needs any more recognition, this is pure learning.

I will be taking the course in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). I am very excited, because it looks like I will be able to freshen my programming skills while applying them to an area of development that will help me create materials for my students, and students outside my classes as well.

I hope to chronicle my adventure here. I will also keep you up on my other MOOC course, Change11.

The Future of the Educational Marketplace

I was reading Stephen Downes‘ article on the Future of Online Learning, and ran into a paragraph that hit home more than the rest, about the marketplace for course content.

Today, much of the value derived from the learning marketplace is based on an artificially imposed scarcity – a scarcity of seats in classrooms, a scarcity of credentialing agencies, and a scarcity of educational publications, for example. These scarcities will disappear as governments prefer to fund education directly, and at cost, rather than support such business models.

Government directly supporting learning and bypassing the “business models” of educational institutions. This will cause an incredible upheaval. I guess the best way to weather this change as a learning facilitator, or provider of “knol”s would be to sharpen delivery methods and make sure my content is valid, relevant, and reliable. This will be all about building a reputation and a community of followers, whom we used to call students. Hoo-boy, do most of us have our work cut out for us.

Social Media Classroom

In a recent report by Sarah Perez over at ReadWriteWeb we discover Howard Rheingold has been busy making the Social Media Classroom.  This may have a significant effect on Moodle, another open-source project for a CMS (Classroom Management System). Although they are different, with SMC focusing on communication, and Moodle focusing on Management, I foresee that both will rapidly start looking more and more like each other.