Monday, June 30, 2008

ENDAPT - Electronic Mentoring

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Research Presentation by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach on "Electronically Mentoring to Develop Accomplished Professional Teachers."

  • Choosing your mentor based on posted background for 1-to-1 or group mentorship
  • Providing Mentor-only space for them to collaboarate
  • Almost all asynchronous and a closed community - with "guest speakers"
  • Heavily facilitated in begining, then became behind the scenes - need a good community leader
  • Mentors were well versed in online communities ffrom TLN
  • Started with structured questions then evolved to Just-in-Time Q&A
  • Did alot to build trust and building a community of practice
  • Multiple directions of conversation and support
  • 110 is when they met critical mass

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Edubloggercon Social Networking & Professional Development

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I enjoyed the first session on Social Networking & Professional Development. Steve Hargadon did a great job of sharing what he has gone through with Edubloggers & Classroom 2.0 as well as Wes Fryer with K-12 Online. I'm glad they didn't just talk about the tools, but the opportunities of a community to come together. However, I wish they could have elaborated a bit more on how they keep a social network thriving? Do you just wait to reach critical mass? DO you have to constantly be the mentor? When can the community take over or will it just fizzle out.......

Edubloggercon - The Beginning

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Its weird to be in a room full of strangers - but yet they are somewhat familiar to you. I was so excited to be at NECC early for the Edubloggercon, yet I am so intimidated by a room full of people and the fact I have no one to sit next to. The morning starts out well, except for the tone of "fight the man" against the Person recording team. Several people, including Ewan McIntosh & Wil Richardson are upset about the "corporate presence" at our fringe festival. I'm not sure what I think, except that they are a bit of a distraction, probably more so for the edutech celebrities than myself.

I trying to upload pictures to my flickr account of the day - so far the hotel internet is not cooperating. Will try later...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Traveling to NECC

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I have finally arrived in San Antonio. Its weird to travel by yourself, I don't do it that often. If I'm not with family, at least I am traveling with people from work - so it is a bit strange to be doing all of this by myself. Now, please do not get me wrong, I am not one of those people that can't do anything by themselves - according to my family I am fiercely independent - its is just weird to eat dinner by yourself. I have no idea how some people travel so much and do this all the time.

Anyways, I was thinking of the last time I was at NECC - in 2006 (I missed Atlanta due to the arrival of Evan) when it was in San Diego. I did all the typical first-time things. I overbooked myself, I went to every single session I could and wore myself ragged. I had a great time meeting so many people and became so inspired by what I heard.

I look forward to the conversations not only at NECC, but at all the "fringe offerings."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Closing thoughts on Moodle Moot in SF

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Overall, I had a great time at the Moodle Moot in SF. I don't often get a chance to "get my geek on" and it was nice to hang out with some truly great people (and did I mention our stellar dinner at Boulevard?) as well as be an adult (comparatively speaking of course) and not sit in the kiddie section for awhile.

The conference itself was great. My only complaint (besides the fact that my East Coast body clock was done with learning by 3pm) was the unreliable internet connection at the conference center. It was amazing to me how frustrating that was. I guess in the future I should BYOB (Bring Your Own Bandwidth like Wes Fryer suggests) if I need to depend on getting things on the internet done.

However, I did get a chance to see some really great people talk including the man himself, Martin Dougiamas who gave a great Keynote. I was trying to describe the transition to Moodle the other day to someone and I'm glad it jived with what Martin had to say. I think that other LMS tools were created in a vacuum as it were, they knew they wanted online courses, but had not the experience to know what actually worked. This is why I like Moodle, at the heart it is a social constructionist epistemology (which was said more than once in the keynote). In other words, it took the pedagogy of how people learn and built a tool to help facilitate that rather than the other way around. The tool fits the way people "should" teach online, rather than the other way around. I like that Martin is not only concerned with the tool itself, but how people teach with and want to better education.

And on that note - this is the end of my Moodle Moot postings - onto my next conference - NECC.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Moodle and Social Networking

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Since the focus of my research lately has been Social Networking - I was intrigued to see a presentation on how Moodle & Social Networking could be brought together. Now I believe Social Networking is bigger than just one tool (i.e. Facebook) and I align it more with the PLN (Personal Learning network - see great post by Jeff Utech) way of thinking and I was happy to see that this session took that same viewpoint.

One of things I worry about is "throwing" too many tools at my faculty. It takes so long for them to overcome some of the hurdles of tool acquisition, that I would rather use an existing tool to do some things. However, forcing a tool to do something it is not intended to do does not always work out.

So Stuart Mealor (whom as I mentioned previously was my favorite speaker from the conference) decided to use Moodle as an aggregator of sorts (reminds me a bit of something like pageflakes or iGoogle to a certain degree). He uses a Moodle Course to "house" all of his social networking or PLN info. Since I am constantly looking for a way to encourage our students to create a web presence for themselves (and not necessarily only through html coding) I really like this idea - but how did he do it?

  • He created a new role for students as a very restricted teacher and called this "owner" (I like this idea, because in the past (like with the Student Portfolio Project) I have created another instance of Moodle and stripped out some of the tools to acomplish this)
  • Each student gets their own course to use as a homepage
The following blocks or add-ins are used:
Here is his example course - you will need to view it with Guest Access

Monday, June 23, 2008

Moodle Teacher Certificate

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The Moodle Teacher Certificate Program is very similar to traditional technology certification programs (think MS Office). However, it looks like a great way to get to all the guts of Moodle (although I wish they would offer a Train-the-Trainer, it is always good to see things from the perspective of your students).

The Basics
Cost - $400 AUS
Time - Approx. 12 weeks (8 weeks of classwork - 4 weeks of exam prep)
Who - Moodle Partner (in the US this is Remote-Learner)

What I like about this program is that it assigns a "Mentor-Assessor" to help you through the process. The classwork mainly consists of creating an entire class that demonstrates your understanding of the "Moodle Standards" of the curriculum. You also have to write a reflection on the pedagogical reasons for doing certain things inside of Moodle. I like this because it seems to elevate this certification above your standard certification program.

I'm seriously considering going for this, not just for myself, but to see what I can pull from it to teach my faculty.

Stuart Mealor (the presenter) is also the Global Certification Manager for the MTC. He was probablly one of the best speakers at the conference. He obviously knows a good deal about Moodle, but is really trying to take it to the next level.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Moodle Pre-Conference Workshop with Michelle Moore

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Michelle Moore works for, which I now understand to be one of the "Moodle Partners" for the US. (More on what a Moodle Partner is later....) I like Michelle, she has obviously used Moodle quite a bit in a school setting, as well as in her role at Remote Learner. During the introductions (which took forever), I was surprised to see how many North Carolina Colleges were there. Besides ourselves, UNC Charlotte and Appalachian State were represented. Made me think we should have an East Coast Moodle Moot!

Michelle wanted to make sure that the topics discussed were of interest to the group so instead of an overview we all requested our own topics to be discussed. (Personally, its an interesting strategy when trying to gauge the knowledge of such a diverse group - but the intros as mentioned earlier took forever.)

However, there were some interesting things I took away.

Traditionally, I think of groups as those within a class for project, discussion, etc. purposes. However, not only can you do some neat things with groups in this traditional viewpoint, but also using them "outside of the box."
1)Use groups to separate forums. - This way students inside the group can post, but others can still read the posts. typically when you create separate forums for group discussion purposes they are not always available to be viewed by the rest of the class. However, they can be just as valuable to everyone.
2)Have multiple sections in one class but use groups to differentiate assignments, forums etc... Not sure if this would work on our campus, but when teaching two sections of the same class I can see how beneficial it would be for a teacher to have one place to go to
3)Use grouping for selective release of course content - I still need to think of where this could be valuable, maybe in the above scenario with multiple sections in one course?

Now Outside of the Box - and this one I get really excited about. Use Groups to control access to your course content. Now this may not seem like a radical idea, but my faculty are always wanting to "advertise" their class. They want me to give them webspace and I explain the wolfware common locker, and then they can't do web pages and it goes on and on and on. But imagine if you could have one page that has all your info and create a group for Guest Access vs. Student Access. Then you have ONE website with all the information, but granularity in terms of access. I LOVE THIS IDEA!

Typically I have issues with the way most professors use forums in their class (In fact my current research is on this). So how can we created more effective forums? One of the ways I've found recently (and I need to find the article to back this up), is to encourage not only peer to peer discussion, but peer moderation. In forums you can have students RATE posts - just like in a traditional threaded discussion board. You could also create a specific Role that allows students to "officially" moderate forums. Although I'm not sure if this needs to be a formal thing - or if it can just be done informally just as well.

Flex Page - need to look into this course design by Michael Penny More.

More notes to come....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mooting it with Moodle in SF - Clandestine Meetings

Technorati Tags: I had been really looking forward to the Moodle Moot in SF this week. I knew that it would be a good conference when I walked to my airport gate and see David Warlick waiting for my plane. We had a great conversation about what NC State is doing to move our College of Ed into the 21st Century. When we landed in Dallas/Ft. Worth I discovered he was on his way to Hawaii (almost as good as SF) In fact I was so intrigued I almost was late to my plane!

I arrived in SF in the early afternoon and decided to drive my rental car around the area. I had high hopes for driving to Sausalito finding a quiet coffee shop on the water and letting the boats drift by. Instead I found a rally for "Stop the Spray," and no parking - but at least to get to Sausalito you have to drive the Golden Gate bridge :)

I made it back to the hotel (which is in South San Francisco - which is a town, not a location - think North Myrtle Beach).

Now I am meeting the other members of my group for dinner - but the problem is I have no idea what they look like. Right when I am thinking that I wish I had a rose in a book (see thinly veiled blind date reference) - I recognize someone. Now the odds of me running into someone from NC State in my hotel is slim to none. So I say, "You guys look like NC State people," Which if they weren't would have been quite awkward. Luckily, these were not only the other people in my group, but I actually had met some of them via a friend of a friend. It turns out that we have all been going to the same Christmas party for going on 10 years.

In other words - I love how Raleigh is such a small town. It makes the world feel a little bit more accessible.

My updates on the Conference to follow....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

NECC Unplugged

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After my last post I had to sit back and think about why I was so incensed by some of these comments about participation. It reminds it bit like being forced to play a sport and being afraid to be chosen last. But I really had to think about why I wasn't participating. I came up with a few reasons.

1)I looked at the list of talks at EdubloggerCon and completely felt not only overwhelmed - but also inferior. What can I add to this conversation? But after looking at the list - I was determined to find a place where I fit in. As an Instructional Technologist at a College of Education, I figured this would work:
Web 2.0 in Teacher Education: Discussion and demonstration of best practices of web 2.0 technologies in undergraduate and graduate education. Co-facilitators are strongly encouraged. Please add your name and/ or suggested topic/ technology below. We'll be able to customize the actual discussion in San Antonio.
So I did it - my name is on the wiki - as permanent as wikis can get :)

2) Now the NECC Unplugged was much more accessible to me. The format was much less intimidating than a full blown session. I could demo something for 5 mins. But what? What do I do that is cutting edge? So I couldn't decide between VoiceThread & Moodle. So I chose Moodle - this way I could do a quick overview of how Moodle is different yet similar to BlackBoard.

I hope you're happy now :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Participation REQUIRED?

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I'm really excited about NECC and especially the Edubloggercon, but I am also a bit nervous. The last time I went to NECC it was my first National conference and I was just dizzy with excitement. I read a few blogs, and was excited to go to the first edubloggercon at a bar in San Diego. The group was small and I had no idea who Wil Richardson, Jeff Utech, or David Jakes were - I just talked to them - like they were normal people. Now two years later after reading their blogs everyday - I am completely afraid to make a (well you know) of myself.

Now, those of you who have met me may find it hard to believe that I can keep my mouth shut, but speaking to your "education idols" can be quite intimidating. My ideas feel feeble and unworthy. My work is so last year or my blog not updated enough. So when a cry goes out that I "should be participating in the discussion," or implying that if I'm not there to share I'm not contributing to the conversation and therefore "unworthy."

From Drape's Takes

In doing so, I had also hoped that others would follow suit, eagerly adding their names to the list of Short Talks, Speed Demos, and Facilitated Discussions.
Sadly, at this point in time, only a handful of people have followed suit.
It’s pathetic, really - to phrase it honestly.
As I think about the throngs of Twitter enthusiasts that continue sign up for Monday night’s Twitter dinner, I can’t help but feel sickened by “our” overall hesitancy to teach - particularly in light of Twitter with all of its “educational value”. Are we not teachers?"
From David Jakes

So here comes NECC, with the Blogger CafĂ© and EdubloggerCon. I can only imagine what a scrum for attention those could potentially turn into. But EdubloggerCon provides the opportunity for those who have blogged and twittered for a year to step up-let’s hear what you have to say face to face. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to earn it-really earn it?

Did it ever cross anyones mind that this is taking us out of our comfort zone? I'm going to a national conference - would teaching VoiceThread be old hat to some? Does a participant in an conference already define you as cutting edge? What can I offer?

I mean every time I can get the gumption to leave a comment on one of the "education idol" blogs - it is either the 10th of several or just comes out sound stupid and insignificant. The comment challenge, grant us nubies some leeway - but for some of us this is still really hard.

Now I understand that sometimes people need a push, and that some are dismayed about the lack of participation, but sometimes people need some time to scaffold their experiences. I may be a big fish in a small pond (i dare to presume), but when I get to San Antonio I may as well be a guppy.

So keep us little fish in mind. Yes we may be in awe of you, but don't take it to heart - one day we won't be.