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Monday, October 31, 2011

Collaborative Learning

One of the articles I read for this week was the Lee and Hutton article "Using Interactive Videoconferencing Technology for Global Awareness: The Case of ISIS" in the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning.  In this article, my attention was on Indiana University's International Studies In Schools (ISIS) program that was a collaboration between Indiana University's Office of International Programs and the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE).  With ISIS, learners interact with people from other cultures or with experts on topics that have global significance.  Such series, such as "European Security Issues in the 21st Century" or "Daily Life in Kenya", give perspective directly from the source.  Teachers contact ISIS to tailor programs that fit their needs.  Whether it is for a geography or a history class, it provides all those involved with a unique learning experience that was not there 15-20 years ago.

No longer is geography or money a barrier in receiving a global education.  I can learn anywhere at anytime.  That's the beauty of it.  And ISIS also offers technical support by Virtual Indiana Classroom Network Operations Support Specialists (VICNOSS).  In interviews from The Case Study at Jamestown, Lee performed an ethnographic study of two middle school classrooms that were using the ISIS program.  He found that teachers provided positive feedback regarding implementation and students were quite interested in the technology.  Of the challenges, the excitement subsided after the initial exposure and there was not sufficient planning in using volunteers for the program.  For more information, you can go to:

Some tools that can be used for collaboration are:
1.      Adobe Connect Pro:
2.      AnyMeeting:
3.      Collanos:
4.      ConceptShare:
5.      Google Groups:;
6.      Google Docs:  
7.      Diigo:
8.      Dimdim:
9.      Elluminate:
10.  Facebook:
11.  Google Hangouts:
12.  GoToMeeting:
13.  GroupTweet:
15.  OpenStudy:
16.  PBworks:
17.  SlideRocket:
18.  Skillshare:  
19.  Skype:
20.  StartWright (virtual teams):
21.  TwitterGroups:
22.  TypeWithMe:
23.  Twibes (Twitter Groups):
24.  Twiddla:
25.  Twitter:
26.  Twitter Groups:
27.  Ustream:
28.  Virtual Edge for Teams:
29.  WebEx:
30.  Wet Paint:
31.  Wikispaces:
32.  Windows Live Groups:
33.  Writeboard:
34.  Yahoo! Groups:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hello YouTubers!

Technology nowadays is allowing media creation and distribution to be cheaper and faster than ever before.  Uploading a video to YouTube is common.  According to "Video Use and Higher Education: Options for the Future" (report by Copyright Clearance Center, Intelligent Television, and New York University),
13 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube per minute.  The following table illustrates what percentage of faculty use video and what type:

People collaborate on videos allowing for more openness and free exchange.  More and more companies are getting free advertisement and influence on the marketplace through video.  What should be of utmost importance is how video is used to further education and humankind.  Now this is just my point of view.  What video does for the world is amazing.  In a previous post, I included a reference to a website called "Nautilus Live".  On it, a person can view a live underwater exploration.  Imagine what type of species one can encounter or how a child's mind can associate with science in seeing something almost right before their eyes?

There are so many websites out there with informational videos that can help direct a person's life goals.  I have found videos on TED to be inspirational, videos on YouTube to be stress-relieving, and videos on MIT's OCW to be educational.  I have found videos on websites like to be informative in world news events.  I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. 

Having tried to figure out ways to overcome the cultural barriers that one might face in certain countries regarding video use, Professor Curtis Bonk suggested using TeacherTube (directed more at teacher use).  He also suggested getting permission from the school administration for viewing a certain list of videos/websites and one can go from there.  Hey, if you've got video, you've got my attention.

The Power of Online Video

I have to say I admire those who can just read an article or listen to a lecture and understand it immediately.  Unfortunately, I need some type of visual: a graph, a picture, a video, etc.  It doesn't matter what it is so as long as I can see it.  It helps information "stick" in my mind.  I will never forget the first time I saw video of astronauts in space or of the floods in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. 

Video is also a powerful learning tool.  Teachers have used it in the classroom for decades.  What has changed since my days in K-12?  We no longer have VHS tapes (sad, I know).  We now have DVDs and flash drives and the internet and...  Video is all around us.  We access YouTube from not only our laptops, but from our mobile phones (I'll discuss mobile learning in November).  Here is a video of Salman Khan's TED Talk about using video to reinvent education:

Khan seems to have summed up many of our R685 weekly topics in one: Open Educational Resources, Shared Online Video, Participatory Learning, Personalized Learning, and more.  The availability of video gives educators options for helping their learners learn.  I recall our teachers back in high school having us read a book and then watch the video of it.  For instance, with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, we read the book all semester in class.  At the end of the semester, we watched the movie and then wrote a paper about the similarities and differences between the book and movie.  Reading the whole book was a bit daunting, but watching the movie was a breeze (hey, it summed it up in two hours - can't get better than that!).

Video is also powerful in helping learners watch live explorations and expeditions.  Although the Naulitus 2011 Live Expedition has ended for this year, it had one of the most amazing videos of live feed from a submarine.  Watching video of shipwrecks and new underwater species was irreplaceable as a learning experience.  Those with a fear of water can join in without having their fears come as an obstacle.  Learning is powerful!!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Ever had to Google something and one of top results was a page like this (see above)?  That's because Wikipedia has become one of the most visited websites for information.  So what is a wiki?  A wiki is a website that allows the creation, collaboration, and editing by multiple users.  With a Wiki, people from around the world can collaborate and build internet-based relationships.  According to Wikipedia, collaboration is defined as "working together to achieve collective results that the participants would be incapable of accomplishing working alone". 

Collaboration may seem easy for most, but one must keep in mind cultural differences when there are some.  With computer-mediated communication (CMC), problems can arise between members of different cultures.  Misunderstandings and miscommunication might happen.  For instance, if someone said something like, "When pigs fly" to a Muslim, they might get offended as it is widely known that Muslims cannot eat pork.  Of course a person cannot know everything about every religion or culture, but they might give themselves a chance to be more culturally sensitive, which in turn will help provide a more productive collaboration.

I found this great presentation on SlideShare by Mcannonbrookes entitled "Organisational Wiki Adoption":

I must note here that Wikipedia adopts a Neutral Point of View (NPOV) policy in that information provided must be neutral and unbiased. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Participatory Learning

Let me ask you this: how many teens do you know that you would consider tech savvy?  Out of say five teens, would you think one or two are tech savvy or more like four or five?  If I told you that more than one half of all teens have created some sort of media content, would that seem accurate?  According the Pew Internet & American Life project, not only is that accurate, but one third of teens who use the Internet have shared this content.  In Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century published by the MacArthur Foundation, "participatory culture" is "a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing one's creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby what is known by the most experienced is passed along to novices".  Some forms of participatory culture are:

1. Affiliations - Formal or informal memberships such as Facebook, MySpace, message boards, etc.
2. Expressions - Producing creative forms such as mash-ups, digital sampling, fan videomaking, etc.
3. Collaborative Problem-solving - Working in teams, formally or informally, to complete a task such as Wikipedia, reality gaming, etc.
4. Circulations - Flow of media such as podcasting, blogging, etc.

Peer-to-peer learning, diversification of cultural expression, development of skills in the modern workplace (such as performance, multitasking, networking, etc.), among other benefits, help these youth acquire important skills and competencies through popular culture.  More opportunities for youth to collaborate world-wide thus creating more opportunity for interaction and understanding between cultures.  Besides the benefits, we must take a look at pedagogical concerns such as participation gap, transparency problem, and ethics challenge.  Do youth have equal access?  Can these youth see how media shapes perceptions of the world?  Are they prepared ethically to take on such challenges? 

One of the concerns that I had was whether or not students would actually learn these skills in a formal school setting or not.  If not, I am afraid it will cause highly motivated students to become discouraged and disillusioned with formal eductional institutions and maybe even dropout.  These members believe in the weight of their contributions and social connections to some degree. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Open Education for an Open World

Education has long been one of the most talked about subjects.  Whether it is about what school to apply for or how to pay for college, it is on the minds of almost all parents and young adults.  If I knew that someday I could go to Harvard or Stanford and have my education paid for so that when I graduate I have no student loans, I would feel like the luckiest person in the world!  Fortunately for me, I am funded, but I still think about those who are not.  I do not have the means to pay for them, but I do know that they can still learn from the best of the best without paying a dime.  In comes the Massechusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare.  Online lectures mostly free to anyone who would like to take an MIT course.  No need for an application, for funding, or for costly exams (GRE and GMAT ring a bell?).  You just take the course in the comfort of your home.

The following is the percentage of users from around the world for MIT's OCW website:

So whether I can afford it or not or whether I can leave my country or not, I can still get the education I so desire.  So who watches the courses?  MIT's OCW audience is divided into:

Keep in mind that this does not mean you will get any kind of degree or certificate from MIT.  OCW just allows you to access these lectures for your own benefit.  The Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike allows the users to access and share the site if it is for non-commercial purposes and must credit the author/licensor.  For more information, go to:

Another interesting project that I have come across is the Opencourse Opencourseware Prototype System or OOPS as it is commonly referred to.  This all-volunteer organization, headquartered in Taiwan, was originally designed to translate open course materials from MIT's OpenCourseWare (OCW) into Chinese.  An article appeared in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Volume 8, Number 3 entitled "OOPS, Turning MIT Opencourseware into Chinese: An analysis of a community of practive of global translators" by Mimi Lee, Meng-Fen Lin, and Curtis Bonk, it outlines the issues "central to the emergence, success, and challenges of the community such as OOPS".  These three issues are catagorized as:

1. Leadership
2. Paricipation incentives
3. Storytelling

Is there a strong, stable leader that has "vision and effort... to cultivate peace and mutual understanding?  If the participants are mainly volunteers, would that lower the quality standards and productivity?  Is storytelling between the members about the process of translating vital to the community?  These and many more questions can be found in the article.