Thursday, February 24, 2011

week eight--The who, what, where, why, and how of Wikis

How Today’s College Students Use Wikipedia for Course Related Research
There are many teachers, both pre- and post- secondary that refuse to allow their students to use Wikipedia, citing erroneous information input by unqualified posters as the reason.  However, even with the professor refusing to allow it, many students still use the site.  This study tries to find out how and why the students are most likely to use Wikipedia despite their instructions otherwise.  The study focuses on college students.  With all the studies, 91% of the students surveyed admitted to using Wikipedia at least part of the time, while a whopping 30% use it always.  Many students just seem to use it as a brief overview, however, to get a general idea on a topic rather than as an actual research tool.
My first year of grad school I had to write a paper on why I though Wikipedia was a good resource to use when researching any issue.  Since that time, I have always allowed my students to use it with a few stipulations.  The first, the students had to be sure the copyright date was more than 3 days prior to their access date.  That is Wikipedia’s cutoff date for information to be reviewed and deemed accurate.  I also require the students to have at least 3 other cites besides Wikipedia in their information.  Since installing these requirements, the students complain less about not using the popular site and gather more information. 

A Window on Wikibookians: Surveying their Statuses, Successes, Satisfactions, and Sociocultural Experiences
This article is a plethora of information on how a wiki started, the different paths a wiki can take, and how it can be contributed to.  It seems to be that many wikibookians (no matter the medium) are males (97%), in the lower range of age (18-35).  It also goes into detail on the educational level of those contributing, which is at the highest percentage for the high school range.  That statistic is frightening a bit.  So many are using Wikipedia as a reliable source, but it is written by high school students?  Hopefully, the post secondary students are the editors in this scenario. 

Becoming Wikipedian: Transformation of Participation in a Collaborative Online Encyclopedia
Legitimate Peripheral Participation (LLP) is a coined phrase to explain why people get involved in the communities they do, such as Wikipedia.  While there are many reasons why a person may choose to get involved, it started out as an easy place to get work published and shared with the world.  It allowed all involved to share information and edit for each other strictly online, cutting out much of the cost associated with normal publishing efforts. 
This article was extremely long winded on many of the facts that I’ve already read in the above articles.  Perhaps I would have had better reception with it had I read it first.  However, I found myself skimming the article with less and less interest as the pages went on.  I did pick up some new acronyms, though!

Quote of the week from How Today’s College Students Use Wikipedia for Course Related Research
“Students in the sessions explained that Wikipedia entries have value in the beginning because they provide a ‘simple narrative that gives you a grasp,’ ’can point you in the right direction,’ and ‘help when I have no idea what to do for a research paper.’”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

week 7-social smocial

Future Learning Landscapes: Transforming Pedagogy through Social Software
We all know about the Web 2.0, and this article brings in Pedagogy 2.0, or teaching using technology and peer based media to enhance the learning and understanding of all.  Pedagogy 2.0 relies on the constructivist learner/teacher point of view to show those that question this type of learning how it can and should be accomplished in the future.  They claim Pedagogy 2.0 is built on the ideas on content, curriculum, communication, process, resources, scaffolding, and learning tasks.  Each plays a vital role in ensuring the success of the learner.

Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0
Open education is the answer to many of the educational issues facing us today because of a popular boom, according to this article.  There are many different ways that Open Education becomes that way, such as the OCW initiative at MIT, or the SecondLife lectures that take place at Harvard.  The article claims that most commerce comes from the fat part of a tail and most cost comes from the long part of the tail.  Companies such as Netflix and Amazon have managed to reverse that trend and are thereby doing much more profit than regular companies.
The first article I have read that uses cartoons and pictures to get their point across, it was rather refreshing compared to the many others I have read that just try to shove their point across.  It was both informative and entertaining at times.  I have a little trouble understanding the whole tail idea, but I agreed with almost all the other information.  In addition, as an avid Amazon and Netflix user, I wasn’t at all surprised that Amazon sells more abstract content than best sellers—I have a couple hundred abtracts titles on my Kindle and only one or two best sellers.

Is Google Making Us Stupid?
As an avid user of the internet, the author of this article has started to realize that it is changing the way he thinks about information.  Instead of having the patience and desire to sit and read a lengthy article strictly for the information it would garner him, he has a hard time concentrating after just a few pages.  It has forced him and many of his companions and coworkers to become skimmers—not reading to rad, but just glancing for key words if the article/book/story is more than a paragraph or two long.
I definitely agree with Mr. Nicholas Carr on this article.  I have noticed this phenomenon both in my self and my students.  Instead of looking up information, we now just type it into a google search, gaining instant gratification when our answer (and hundreds of other irrelevant answers) suddenly pop up in front of us.  Is it a good thing that we are pushing technology to new heights both in the classroom and in our personal lives?  I have to question it at times because I am an advocate for technology in the classroom, but I have seen what it has done to some of my students.  When a student would rather use an iPod than a paper periodic table just because it’s an iPod, that isn’t a good thing-it actually hinders the user many times because they can’t see the layout the way they have been taught in class.
Quote of the Week from Future Learning Landscapes:
“What distinguishes these exemplars from activities in which students might participate in more traditional classroom settings is that in these instructors’ courses, learners use social software tools to engage deeply with peers, instructors, subject matter experts, and the community.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

week 6--Open resources

OOPS, Turning MIT Opencourseware into Chinese: An analysis of a community of practice of global translators.
OOPS is a volunteer organization in Taiwan with the original goal of translating MIT OCW into chinese so that all could benefit.  Since then, however, with the astronomical amount of information available through OER, OOPS has become a clearinghouse where information is translated no matter what the topic is.  It is no longer just about MIT, but any information, such as the Lord of the Rings books.  This paper, however, doesn’t focus on what they translate, by rather why and how.  Since OOPS is a volunteer organization, they struggle with things like participation, struggles with translations being accurate, and asynchronous formatting for problem solving. 
OOPS seems to be doing a fantastic job, tackling this monumental undertaking to translate something as large as 1000 courses into a language that doesn’t even use the same letters that we do.  Looking at Figure 2 on page 6 of the article, I find it fascinating that the translations fit into the same space but look nothing alike.  I also like the idea that the OOPS translations must go through a translator and editor after completion, before they are posted online.  Much different from the Wikipedia page, where the information could be erroneous for up to 3 days before the editor can fix it. 

Models for Sustainable Open Educational Resources
Sustainability in this article focuses on costs of open source education.  Even if it is free to the public, it tries to describe where the costs actually come from and who foots the bill if the consumers/users aren’t paying for it.  It goes through many different possible models and scenarios.  Then it also brings up the case that it may not be free to the user, but it is sustainable in terms of technology—that it will continue to be usable in the future.  Or, it could be sustainable in that many people use it when it is not possible to use a different form of teaching that lesson.
There are so many different definitions of the word sustainable that it can make your head spin! There are ways to keep information sustainable, money sustainable, time sustainable, person sustainable, etc.  Once you get into the definitions of the sustainable education you want, the different models used to find the right way are bound to match each organization, because again, there are so many different options available.  There has to be a way for each organization to find one or two that can be tailored to fit their needs.

Quote for the Week from Models for Sustainable Open Educational Resources: “The use of a learning resource, through adaptation and repurposing, becomes the production of another resource.”

Monday, February 7, 2011

Open Source and Free Source

Harnessing Open Technologies to Promote Open Educational Knowledge Sharing
Developing web based portfolios to show how teaching practice and student learning can be documented with multimedia and share it for others to learn from.  The article goes on to explain all the reasons that it is prudent to keep an online, web based portfolio, how it would help not only the creator of the portfolio grow, but all those that read/get involved with it in some way. 
Honestly, I felt like I was reading an infomercial the entire article.  I understand that sometimes a company needs to promote their topic, but the extent to which this article seemed to be pushing a particular portfolio program rather than portfolios as a whole was very distracting and had me second guessing the entire article since I felt they were trying to talk me into buying something rather than a concept.

Open Source/Open  Course Learning: Lessons for Educators from Free and Open Source Software
Much like a tidbit that I read for this week, the beginning of the article focuses on how “free” mean free speech, not free beer.  It lays out the four types of free it refers to, which are freedoms that open and free source software embraces, which are freedom to run the program, free to adapt the program, free to give copies to others, and free to improve and release your new program modifications.  It doesn’t mean that it won’t cost any money to get initial access to the software.  “Zero price does not mean zero adoption costs”. 
Like my parents told me and I told my children many times, anything that is completely free is probably something you don’t want.  If it comes down to something I may not have had to pay for, that doesn’t mean it was free to everyone involved.  Someone, somewhere, paid for that software to be developed and distributed.  To get technical, I paid for access to it because I pay for internet access, I paid to learn to use it, and maybe I will buy something from one of the ads on the page.

Quote of the week from Open Source/Open  Course Learning: Lessons for Educators from Free and Open Source Software
“Eventually [open source communities] will transform education, no matter how modest their beginnings.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

week 4-Online, Blending, both, or neither?

First article I read was about Class Differences.  The things that seem to stick out at me in this article had to do with who and why.  For example, this article says that public education has the hardest time accepting that online learning or blended learning is where education is headed.  Then, it states that many campus leaders (around 66%) realize that online learning is strategic to the success of their school, but they don't see it as valuable or seem to want to work harder to integrate it into the school programs.  On the page after that, the statistics claim that there have been over 1 million student growth in attendance of online learning--anywhere else that would have made major news, but not in education for some reason.
One of the charts was used to show how debt to earnings ratios measure school training.  Many of those surveyed said they were neutral on that subject.  I can't help but wonder, were they neutral because they didn't care, or just didn't understand what was the meaning behind the questions and choices.
The last piece of the article that seemed to shock me was that the For-Profit institutes seem to think that the not-for-profits were just as good at education as they, if that were the case, why are we paying more for an Ivy League education than a public state school?

The second article I read was Learning on Demand.  I had to force my way through this because in many places is said the same things, even going so far as showing the same graphics in many places, as the Class Differences report. I gleaned no new information from this article than I had from the first.

The third article was Growing by Degrees.  Once again, it has the same chart that hte first two articles have on what online learning is.  Another Sloan Report, it tends to focus on numbers, which makes life easier for me.  I find it encouraging that over 50% of the higher education schools in the US, including IU of course, off online graduate coursework.  Many of the core faculties at these schools are also teaching at least one online course.  It serves to make the connection, then, that a school that is able to hire a professor that is able to teach an online course, but not be in the physical area of the school, will get better professors involved because they will be able to get a large pool of candidates.  However, many of the CAO's (chief academic officer) think that it takes more effort to teach an online course than a face to face, as well as it takes more effort and discipline to succeed in that type of course. 
Sloan makes some generalizations that I feel are common sense, such as the fact that the larger the school, the more likely they are to offer online courses.  Setting up the infrastructure needed to offer those courses is quite expensive, but worth it.  Once the system is set up, they can attract even more students because of the diversity of the courses offered.

I have tried to take advantage of any classes available to take online throughout my undergrad and grad work.  Since I have held a full time job throughout my higher education, plus having 1-3 kids during that time, it always worked better for my schedule because I could do my work after the kids went to bed or during naptime.  In addition, I found the more online classes I took, the less patience I had for face to face classes because I couldn't stop thinking about all the other things I could be doing while I was sitting in class listening to things that were off topic.  I enjoyed having self paced learning because I could go so much faster.  I still feel that way with blended learning as well.  However, I think that blended learning is more popular because there are some things that need face to face to be able to understand it and ask questions in real time to understand.  For example, I took a calculus class fully online and it was the worst grade I ever received because I had never done that before and I didn't understand it, there was no one to answer my questions.  It was horrible!  I predict that blended learning will be the wave of the future because there are very few people that would be completely happy with 100% online learning 100% of the time.

Quote of the week: "One area that has generated considerable attention, especially in light of the consistent finding the not all faculty accept the legitimacy of online education, is how to best motivate faculty to teach online." Staying the Course, Online Education in the United States, 2008, Sloan Consortium.