Thursday, May 7, 2015

Philosophy of Education -- Technologized

To whomever is still out there,

Here's the syllabus I've come up with for an online version of the course I teach, "Philosophy of Education." I'd be curious to hear what everyone thinks! In particular, what readings on technology do you think would be appropriate given the aims I outline in the course description? 

Philosophy of Education (ESEPHL 3410)
Online Course Syllabus
The Ohio State University

Instructor: Douglas Yacek
Email contact:
Place: Everywhere and nowhere 
Time: Anytime  

Course Description:
What does it mean to be an educated person in our modern technological society? This question has two parts, each of which will correspond to a line of inquiry that this course will pursue. The first will focus on the concept of education. What is the purpose of education, and what is its aim? What should be taught, and how should we teach? Who gets to decide? These questions have preoccupied Western philosophy since Plato first enunciated his provocative educational vision in the Allegory of the Cave. In this course, we will explore the myriad ways that philosophers have revised, reiterated or revolutionized this vision – from Aristotle and Augustine, to the Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment thinkers, to the twentieth-century progressive educators, and finally to the radical critics of consumer capitalism. This journey will acquaint us with robust philosophical views on education that we will use to enrich our imagination of what we can expect from our schools. In doing so, we will be exploring both the idea and the ideal of education.

The second part of the course will question whether these educational ideals passed down to us from the Western philosophical tradition are still achievable, or even desirable, in a thoroughly technologized society like ours. What exactly is a technology? Is its use in education neutral, or does it carry with it certain values and norms to which education must then conform? How might it endanger, or enrich, the educational process? Can cyberspace be a place of deep learning? These questions explore one of the most powerful and influential forces in our society today, one which has shaped the course of history as well as the very nature of this course. Although the pervasiveness of technology seems to be its own justification, we will attempt to adopt a critical, philosophical stance on technology and its ubiquitous application. From this standpoint we can acknowledge what is at stake when technology is brought into the classroom, and when the classroom is uploaded to the internet.

Assignments and Grading:
- Blogposts 20%
- Reading Quizzes 20%
- Multimedia Projects 20% each
- Final Exam 20%

The blogposts are an opportunity for you to reflect on the readings or lecture materials for each week. Additionally, they are a space for you to connect these materials to your own life – to other courses you are taking, to social and political issues that are relevant and interesting to you, to happenings on social media etc. You are encouraged to respond to other people’s posts and are required to comment on at least two each week. The blogpost should be more than 150 words, preferably more than 250, and should contain at least one hyperlink. You can make multiple posts per week. If the interests and issues that people share on the blog are interesting, I may change the lecture material to accommodate them.

The reading quizzes will consist of five multiple-choice questions about the reading due each week. The questions will be available to you as guides to your reading. 

The multimedia projects should be uploaded to the blog in the week before midterms and again two weeks before the end of class. Your choices for these are (1) a minimum 1250-word blogpost with at least three self-made visuals, (2) a minimum three-minute YouTube presentation with visuals, (3) a minimum seven-minute podcast featuring an interview with an educator, (4) another idea you have. I will make “idea prompts” available to you several weeks before the due date to help guide your creative process.

The final exam will be written, cumulative exam, in which you will have to draw on the work of the philosophers we cover in class to comment on and critique contemporary views on education. 

Reading Schedule:

1 Introduction to Philosophy of Education
Plato - Allegory of the Cave
2 The Socratic Tradition in Philosophy of Education
Plato - The Apology of Socrates, Meno
3 Aristotle - Nichomachean Ethics, Book I, II
Strike - Trust, Traditions and Pluralism
4 Medieval Philosophy of Education
Augustine - The Teacher
5 (Counter-)Enlightenment and Philosophy of Education
Rousseau - Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality, Emile - Introduction
6 Nietzsche - On the Future of Our Educational Institutions, Lecture I; Schopenhauer as Educator
7 Progressivism and Philosophy of Education
Dewey - Democracy in Education; Experience and Education, Chapter 2 and 3
8 Freire - Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Chapter 1 and 2
9 Illich - Deschooling Society, Chapter 3, 6 and 7
10 Technology in Education
Marcuse - One-Dimensional Man, Chapter 1
Mumford - Technics and the Nature of Man
11 Heidgger - The Question Concerning Technology, The Thing
Borgmann - Focal Practices
12 Clark - Natural-born Cyborgs, Chapter 1
Downes - Connectivism and Transculturality
13 Burbules - Some Alternative Futures of Hypertext Learning Environments
14 Wood - The Future of College? (Atlantic)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My Final Paper

Connections to Rheingold and Hafner as an Educator

     As a learner, I had struggled considerably to find my anchor in the first half of this course. I felt more comfortable after we resumed class post Spring Break. For me to really enjoy something that I am learning, I need to be able to make connections to it. It could be connections to what I enjoy doing or it could be connections to other things I enjoy learning about; but, it is a pre-requisite for me to be able to start engaging with new material. This is why when I read Howard Rheingold’s ‘The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier’ and Katie Hafner’s ‘The Epic Saga of the WELL’, I finally felt, well…umm…connected.

     The two pieces describe the history of how the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link’ came into being and how it continued to thrive as one of the first virtual communities that represented a ‘community’ in the truest sense. More importantly (to me), these two pieces tried to respond to one of the most baffling questions for current educators who, like me, are interested in being able to utilize the communicative possibilities of the Internet to build richer learning experiences for students in their class – what are the minimum requirements that are absolutely necessary for a group of people to feel a sense of belongingness?

     My current research project is focused on finding out effective ways of incorporating online discussion into a course that is conducted within a face-to-face context. While my classroom context is fundamentally different from the WELL in the sense that it is not a purely virtual community and to be honest I am using the online communication to supplement what happens in my actual classroom. That is, the latter remains crucial to community building in my instructional model. Yet, there are valuable points made by both of these authors that are relevant to the context I teach and do my research in. In this paper, I will establish the connections I see between what these authors point out as pre-requisites to developing a sense of belongingness in virtual communities and factors that contribute to fostering a community feeling in Web-assisted classroom environments. In the process of drawing out these links, I will be using actual examples of events that have transpired in my own classroom context. Finally, I shall also shed light on some of the challenges that I am still facing as I am striving to develop a model for educators interested in Web assisted learning environments.

Authentic communication

     The WELL phenomenon strongly challenges the assumption that face-to-face communication is comparatively more meaningful and fulfilling than virtual communication. This assumption is based on the logic that virtual communication allows us to edit our thoughts before we express ourselves and there is a significant loss of spontaneity in the process. Scholars like Sherry Turkle feel that we are losing the capability to converse with each other as virtual communication is becoming more and more prevalent. Advocates for the face-to-face instruction in education use the same reasons to reject the potential of online communication to contribute meaningfully to learning environments. Yet, as Rheingold astutely asks – is someone who is unable to find productive social connections in his/her immediate physical context and actively seeks to satisfy social needs through virtual communities to be considered lacking social skills? Or someone who is actually being proactive in his/her approach to satisfying social needs given the circumstances? In an educational context, there are students who prefer to think things over before that say something; this might be the case because of several reasons: preference to structure thoughts that occur in a disorganized manner in order to be coherent to others, inhibition to express oneself in class because a student feels self-conscious of his/her proficiency to use verbal language skills and then there are students who are uncomfortable expressing themselves in public.

Illustration 1:

     The first semester I started teaching Educational Psychology at OSU, I have had a students in my class who was from South Korea. She had come up to me during the second week of class to express her concern to me that in Korea she had never been encouraged to express her own opinion in class and she was struggling to do it in my class. Moreover, she also felt that her verbal language skills were inadequate for public speaking. I had encouraged her to participate in class by letting her know that I felt that she was a bright student and had an unique cultural background and if she shared her experiences it could help the rest of the class gain a holistic perspective on educational psychology. Her in-class participation had visibly increased over the course of the semester; however, the main reason why I chose to tell her story is because at the end of the semester she said that she felt that having an online discussion activity was especially helpful for her as it helped her express herself freely and gain confidence in her ability to discuss things she was learning about in class.


     Hafner mentions in her piece that there were certain members within each of the conferences on the WELL who commanded a certain degree of respect because their posts exhibited certain qualities – the content added something meaningful to the ongoing conversation, the length of the post was just right, and the language used was impactful. What is interesting to me in the way she explains why the all of these qualities matter if you want to feel valuable within an online community. Given that all of the WELL members were bound together by a common interest in the topic they were discussing about, possibly all of them were capable of contributing something of informative value to the discussion. Yet, the presentation of the information is just as important as the content. If someone presents information that fails to fit into the size of a regular computer screen then in Hafners’ words “you are not trying too hard”.  Getting noticed in the discussions is critical to experiencing a feeling of togetherness. The recognition that getting noticed is accompanied most likely satisfies the need for competence in participants in an online platform. Being recognized for one’s online contributions in face-to-face educational contexts attempting to utilize an online discussion platform is of paramount significance to successful integration of the online component with the face-to-face context. Too often, online discussions aren’t quite as successful as they can be because instructors do not attempt to bring it into the classroom making it a fragment of the course that bears no connection with the overall course in the eyes of the student.

Illustration 2:

     In my course, I make an effort to bring up posts that students create in response to the discussion prompts during in class discussions. In my observation, doing this achieves two purposes – one, it communicates to students that what they say on the online platform really matters and their shared experiences do contribute to the overall understanding about the topic at hand; two, it conveys to them that as an instructor you are actively investing your time and energy to go through their inputs. When I was getting feedback on the online discussion activity from my students during the first semester I was teaching here there were two responses that I think are particularly pertinent in this discussion. Student A told me that she felt really important when I brought up something she had shared in her post with the rest of the class. Student B said she would have liked me to do this more often. Both of these reactions clearly emphasize the importance of feeling valued by the community one is a part of. And interestingly, this sense of community continues even when the semester is over if you do it right; for instance, this semester I brought up a post created by one of my students last semester which was particularly interesting and relevant to the topic being discussed in my class this semester. I ran into this ex-student on campus after I had shared his post, much to my amusement he said to me “I heard that I was mentioned in your class this semester! Glad to see my legacy has lived on in your class!”


     Rheingold and Hafner both mention that one of the reasons behind the strong sense of community that emerged among the members of the WELL is that the designer of the platform made it necessary for all members to reveal their identities. That is, everything you were saying on the platform could be tied back to you and you had to bear responsibility for what you were saying to other members. According to both the authors, preventing people from being anonymous on the platform added to the sense of togetherness because members felt like they were indeed interacting with ‘real’ people and an increased a sense of trust in the community as a this step minimized the chances duplicity. The ability to remain anonymous increases the likelihood of experiencing de-individuation giving people the feeling that they could be vicious to others in the online platform with impunity. In educational contexts, this does compel students to take responsibility for what they are sharing and saying to other members of the learning community. I am still on the fence as far as identity revelation is concerned in a learning environment.

Illustration 3:

     I have given some thought to the issue of letting students remain anonymous on the online platform. Yet, even now my thoughts are inconclusive owing to varied observations in my teaching experience that point to contradictory directions. One week during the last semester we discussed the importance of socio-emotional skills to success in life; that week, one of my students shared how he thought that school should focus on teaching these skills because parents may not always be able to do it successfully. He described why he thought so by sharing some intimate details of how his home life as a child had been turbulent because both his parents were psychologically not fit to take care of him. At that point, I recall thinking that if there is a sense of trust in the learning environment, being unable to post anonymously does not really prevent community members from sharing intimate details about their lives. However, there was another student who suggested at the end of the semester that she would have preferred to post anonymously because she considered herself an introvert and did not like the fact that her posts could be tied back to her. Given the diversity in the way community members view the ability to stay anonymous this issue I don’t think this question has an easy answer.

Sense of place

     One of the noteworthy features of the WELL was the fact that all its members hailed from the same geographical region. The designers of the WELL considered this to be an important factor that would generate a feeling of belongingness. In fact, because of this feature, the online relationships would often carry over into the real world through events that were organized for the group to get together in-person. The reason why I consider the face-to-face experience more important compared to the online interaction is exactly the same – the sense of place is undeniably rooted in actual physical proximity. In fact, some of my peers who teach online classes at OSU are very dissatisfied with the online model of instruction. The blended model of instruction allows the sense of place to be established firmly while simultaneously taking advantage of the ability to engage online beyond the confines of the classroom. However, without fostering a sense of place it hard to create a feeling of oneness among members of the learning community.

Illustration 4:

My students are diverse in the sense that that they are all majoring in a different area of education.  In fact, each semester I always have a few students who are not training to be a teacher instead they are taking the class just to learn about Educational Psychology. While they are all interested in education in some capacity, they usually do not know each other from before if they are not in the same program. Under these circumstances, it is extremely important that a bond develops among them for the learning environment to be productive. The classroom experience helps me establish this and allows me to build a sense of mutual trust so that they are able to communicate freely and effectively on Carmen.


     The first members of the WELL were carefully selected based on interest in common issues (and geographical location as mentioned before). This was influential in keeping members engaged in the community and helped them persist despite the moderately challenging demand to master rudimentary command language. In face-to-face educational contexts using online discussions, students’ level of interest in the subject matter is rarely considered. Students become very disengaged over time and the online discussion is often looked at as a burden. It is assumed students will persist in participating actively throughout the course; this expectation is misguided and inevitably leads to disappointment on the part of educators. With time, the quality of the posts decline as does the frequency of posting.

Illustration 5:

     I have used online discussion twice in my teaching experience here; the first time I used it taught me important lessons as far as what makes the activity useful. There was a lot more flexibility in the activity the second time I utilized it. The students were asked to select any eight out of the twelve topics to engage in online discussion. This ensured that when they did participate they were doing so because the topic interested them. I also incorporated choice in the prompts provided to them with regard to a topic. They also had a choice as far as replying or responding to other people. They could do either or both if they wished to. At the end of the semester, they told me they really liked having control over how they engaged in the online discussion. Some of the suggestions they made will be implemented in my future courses – making prompts available before class (the got the prompts after we covered a topic) and doing away with the word limit (the requirement was 100-200 words). They liked the nature of the prompts and the way they were structured; they emphasized that having the prompts before class would give them more to talk about in class (they really enjoyed the class discussions!).


     The WELL members were participating in conferences that mattered to them; for instance, Rheingold felt connected to the conference on parenting because that is something that was deeply important to him. In educational contexts, this would go back to the point that has been made about student interest. However, establishing relevance gets tricky when students are required to take the class and their level of interest in the subject is completely ignored. When required classes have students participate in online discussion it is often seen as just another thing to be done; a feeling that is often reinforced when instructors don’t make the connection between the online discussion and what transpires in class. They are left wondering – why are we doing this when we meet every week?

Illustration 6:

     This semester I made my students take a look at the licensure exam that they will eventually have to take as part of the process of becoming a teacher in Ohio. Establishing the practical relevance of the course to their career works well students who may not be interested in the subject matter to begin with. And of course, there are students who love to learn new things for the sake of learning. However, one of the things I point out is that the test has a section which requires them to develop responses based on their knowledge of theories in Educational Psychology to hypothetical situations in educational contexts. I explain that engaging with the discussion prompts will help them practice critical thinking in connection with topics that will be relevant to their work life. I think about the choice of topics/prompts I provide them with and so far most students have mentioned that they like the prompts in my class. Furthermore, by bringing the responses to the classroom I demonstrate that it helps me to get to know them and their interest areas better. Based on what they write, I often make suggestions to students about things that they may find interesting to watch/read – this is very effective in building interest and community.

Sharing resources

     The authors of both these pieces make the case that when people come together to discuss issues that bear relevance to their lives, they are often able to work on problems together and arrive at solutions that are of higher quality than if they were working alone. Problem solving is the result of sharing resources that each community member brings to the table and synthesizing them in a productive way that serves some immediate goal. In an educational context, the goal may be an actual problem or it could even be trying to understand a topic better by looking at it from different perspectives and relating it to the real world.

Illustration 7:

     The last topic we covered in my class was ‘Culture and Diversity’. This is a topic that is very close to my heart and I share my experiences with diversity as a teacher, a student…a human being. This semester things took an interesting turn as we started talking about sexual orientation and the idea of gender. One of my students came out as bi-sexual in class which I am sure would never have happened if she did not feel like she could trust the entire community. On the last day of class, I had asked them to come prepared to share something they have seen in the media that drives home the point that any kind of label we attach to people is ultimately a social construction. I shared something that I thought might get them thinking and then let them do their own thinking with their classmates. When they shared what they had found, it made me feel so immensely satisfied as a teacher that they were making connections, being thoughtful and above all, feeling connected to the class.


     Communication is authentic when we feel understood by the person we are speaking to and there is a mutual sense of being on the same page as the other person. It really does not matter whether it happens face-to-face or virtually as long as the interaction is characterized by honesty and mutual respect. The commonly touted perils of online communication – lack of spontaneity, pretension and misunderstanding – may and do occur in face-to-face interaction as well. It just seems less of a problem. After all, it is familiar territory. Challenging accepted ways of thinking about ‘authentic communication’ will push us toward change which causes uneasiness even among the educational researchers who desire to be agents of change. So, the real question isn’t – can virtual communities be successful at engendering relatedness? But, the more important question is – are we willing to turn the question on its head and will we dare to ask a different one?










Monday, May 4, 2015

EdTech.FM - Final Project

Here it is... by Autumm Caines, Nicole Kraft, Byron Roush, and Cory Tressler

"Do something meaningful..."

We collaborated on this podcast project as a way to create something meaningful to us and something that is hopefully useful to a broader audience of educators. This project was much more than a podcast. It was an opportunity for collaboration amongst peers that resulted in the demonstration of knowledge via the use of technology. Throughout the process the group researched topics, developed show ideas, recorded and edited the podcast, created a WordPress website, wrote show notes for each episode, created a SoundCloud website, submitted the podcast to iTunes, developed artwork, created a Twitter profile, advertised to the masses, and developed a continuation plan.

Please let us know your thoughts.

Additional links:
EdTech.FM main website -
EdTech.FM on iTunes -
EdTech.FM on SoundCloud -
EdTech.FM on Twitter -

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Is There a Doctor in the House? or Should this Blog be Saved?

I’m still taking some time to compose my response to the week 3 prompt in #rhizo15 but please excuse me while I run with the rootstock in another direction for just a bit.  Though this post does concern content and containers.

If you have been following my posts here then you know in the last weeks of my Philosophy of Educational Technology graduate course at The Ohio State University I started using our class blog to post for the cMOOC #rhizo15.  There was quite a bit of overlap with people from #rhizo15 commenting here - though I don’t know of anyone from the class participating in #rhizo15 directly except for Jamie though I am not sure I would call it participation so much as prompting. 

I have written in many of these posts about how I don’t have a personal blog.  After much encouragement from the #rhizo15 folks and some technical set up from Byron I am in the process of developing a personal space as an off shoot of our podcast that we are doing as the final project in this course over at (oh the rhizome just keeps branching out).

The professor of the course, Michael Gassman, just offered me the keys to this blog in a recent comment suggesting that I turn it into a community blog. At first I did not think that this was something that was feasible… Going back to my thoughts on death and loss this blog was created with a specific shelf date that it has already outlived. Perhaps it is just time for this blog to meet its end.

Whenever I bring up my interests in death and loss I meet with resistance. No one wants to talk about this even if it just a metaphor for growth.  Reflecting upon this it made me think about my own bias in regards to the shelf life of this blog and make me want to challenge it.

From the beginning this blog has been a place to hash out ideas around philosophy and educational technology that are still forming in people’s brains. There was a struggle in the beginning about putting out ideas that were not fully fleshed out but still posting. I was reminded of this in Dave Cormier’s recent reply to the week 3 challenge where he says “I also like to be entertained by people’s ideas… regardless of whether they are accurate.”

If this blog were to continue I think that it would be most useful as a place where multiple authors without clear vision but with lots of questions could collaborate with no end date set around ideas of philosophy and educational technology. I think that we learn from dialoging out different ideas and allowing them to change and be influenced by others.

My question is - is there a need for that kind of space and people that are willing to contribute?  Maybe something like this already exists in a better form elsewhere. If so I say let this blog die - if not let's see if we could build something. This could be any authors from any group be they from the OSU class that started this blog, #rhizo15 people or just someone that stumbled upon this post.

If we have a good number (I am looking for 5) of authors that see a need for a space like this and want to contribute here I am willing to take over the blog and see to it’s continuing health. 

Otherwise… and unless someone else can come up with another use for her… Rest in Peace sweet Philosophy of Educational Technology blog… I knew her well.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rhizomes in my Brain: Introvert, Extrovert, Ambiverts, and the Solitary Learner in a Social Context

I need to make it clear that this IS IS IS a #rhizo15 post. This post in no way reflects for-credit work at The Ohio State University. I am continuing to post to the ESEPHL for-credit space because I do not have a personal blog and because the instructor of this course has indicated that he has interest in seeing if a blog can continue after the course and if Internet communities can be integrated with in-class communities and I am interested in those questions as well. This blog post contains exploratory data analysis for the purpose of my learning about data analysis and collection that would probably never be accepted in a for-credit environment and is not intended for that audience.

This was a big big week for me with #rhizo15 - I did a lot. I don’t think that I am a solitary learner.

There was the spreadsheet, the survey (I just closed it), the radio show, tons of tweets and Facebook posts, but things went a little crazy when I took my classmate Jamie’s question from this blog to the #rhizo15 community.

So for #rhizo15 people you should know that Jamie is not participating in #rhizo15 (unless he is secretly posting as an avatar) and that his post was directed at what he called the "solitary learner" (not introvert) and was directed at connectivism after reading Stephen Downes (not in relation to rhizomatic learning.)  But I saw enough of a connection to send this tweet.

I had no idea what I had opened up. I think I used the term introvert because I created a faculty reading group around Susan Cain’s Quiet book a few years ago and it felt right to me. I think that I am more of an ambivert (or a contextavert) personally but Cain’s book touched me and I know I have felt that way from time to time.  However, after all of this I think that I may have chosen the wrong term… keep reading…

So, the freaky part is that I think that it was this very question that gave me an experience that let me see what might be at stake here.  Shortly after sending this tweet I just got hammered by responses and conversations - there was no way that I could keep up with all of it. For the next few days I kept finding stuff - a blog post here - and then it was on Facebook. Some people tagging me but others just typing my name or misspelling it (its Autumm btw eheem- ESEPHL). The thing was that I largely enjoyed trying to keep up with it but I could kind of see how someone else may find it overwhelming. 

I then started to see some evidence online from comments about how the connections might be getting in the way of learning… Or at lest people’s perceptions of their own learning... or maybe the way that they think that other people might perceive their learning...

From Lisa Hubbell on Greg McVery’s compilation of the twitter conversation 

To Kristen Bourgault’s response on Facebook to Sara Honeychurch’s post of Susan Cain’s TED talk -

I started to think that there might be something to this… 

Now mind you there were tons of people who stepped up to identify as introverts saying that #rhizo15 enabled them to learn better. That the flexibility allowed them to participate how and when they wanted. This is a thing - I have experienced it myself - and I don’t think that it can be denied.  But my question is does it go the other way and not just some of the time for some people but for some people all of (or most of) the time?

And then there is my little survey. <disclaimer> And I need to say that I am not a measurement kind of gal - I do my best but I struggle through. I like to ask questions so in that respect I think survey’s are fun but I also don’t really know what to do with the results like some others that I know - I am not a statistician (but I’d like to play one in the next #rhizoradio.) I really did this for fun and to spur conversation. I threw this thing together in about 20min because the theme for this week was measurement and I just wanted to see what would happen. 

For those who are not rhizo people (and for those who are) please don’t judge me too harshly on the simplicity and messiness of design and my analysis of data here. I am sure there are many many errors in this study. None of this has been validated and my measurements are very simplistic. This is really done in the spirit of exploration and learning and is not meant to be generalizable knowledge in that world of things. 

So, </disclaimer> I realized I did not need to run stats so much on these data - I was just looking to see if there were people out there who sometimes felt like the connections were overwhelming and that those connections were inhibiting to their learning. Do those people exist? Is there even one person who may feel this way?

So, let’s review a bit (methodology):

I asked for some demographic info including participation in #rhizo15, if they had participated in another cMOOC, and for respondents to self identify as introvert - extrovert on a 7 point scale where I defined the levels but I also allowed them to self-identify as something else in an "other" field.

Then I asked for agreement on two statements as a part of this survey:

S1. I find that the learning experiences in #rhizo15 (Or other cMOOCs) lean too heavily on collaborative pedagogies and tools to where it impedes my learning in the course. I feel drained after these experiences even though they don't take place face to face.


S2.  I find the use of collaborative learning experiences in #rhizo15 (Or other cMOOCs) to allow me to learn in a way that enhances my learning experience and does not drain me. After these experiences I feel invigorated even though they don't take place face to face.

I allowed respondents to gauge their agreement on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being agree and 5 being disagree.


I had 41 responses over 5 days as of this writing

When looking at those that scored S1 as a 1 or a 2 (agree and one step away from agree) the results look like this and I think it is really interesting

So first of all - they do exist

Second, they are almost all Extroverts or Ambiverts NOT Introverts!!!

Third, many of them, 3 out of the 7 (I’m not counting line 2 because that’s me - I know I should have just removed that but see the disclaimer) ALSO agreed with S2!!!

Fourth, 4 out of 7 agreed that the collaborative experiences impeded their learning and disagreed that it helped their learning. This is what I would call the solitary learner. 

What could all of this possibly mean? Well, I think it is safe to say that I was using the wrong word - perhaps I should stick with solitary learner and not introvert. However, it does seem that there is a small population that does find the connections impede their learning. The fact that they are largely extroverts is really interesting and may point to some kind of enabling of overload by the technology with a personality that is prone to social stimulation. The fact that some of them agreed with both S1 and S2 I think may speak to the multi path complexities surrounding rhizomatic learning - I think that it encourages multiple and sometimes conflicting experiences often at the same time - but I also think that is a reflection of the world we live in.

The thing is those other 4 people indicated that they agreed with the statement that the collaborative experiences were impeding their learning (S1) and they disagreed with the statement saying that the collaborative experiences were helping their learning (S2). What about those guys? Yes, there are not a lot of them but they are almost 10% of the respondents. If we believe that important things can come from introspection then I want to say that there is a good chance that they have something of value to offer the community. And when the community is the curriculum that seems of vital importance.

So, I am going to take this back to my bias thing and I am going to tie in Cain even though I don’t think that “introvert” is the right word. I think that there is a good chance that we social learners can be somewhat (and often unconsciously) biased against solitary learners. I think that social learners often are extroverts - though that is not always the case especially in an online environment. I think that in all things we tend toward what works for us, often with good intentions, but not realizing how it impacts the other. I think that there is room for the solitary learner in a cMOOC and I think that the solitary learner can have just as rich of an experience as a social learner. Though I am not sure how - and it might take a solitary learner figuring that out and sharing it for us to realize it and I’m not sure if that is going to happen without some prompting.

And so this is the scary part for me - grading Dave Cormier

I mean who the heck am I to be grading Dave? I’m practically a nobody. I’ve published a few papers and book chapters but I don’t even have a personal blog for goodness sake! This is my first cMOOC and I read Downes for the first time last week!! 

But you did ask for Dave so here it goes - 

I’m not much one for grading so this is going to be feedback. I do have to say that I am loving the course so far personally, making lots of connections, #rhizoradio was so much fun and I used a ton of tech tools that I would not have otherwise, I find the course is kind of haunting me and getting in the way of other things - it is breaking my brain a bit in a way that I’m loving. However, in regards to all of this solitary learner stuff I am going to call out your prompt for this week in which you addressed those that might be looking for structure.  You told them to “find someone who sounds like you” and I would just like to suggest that while that will work for most who are attracted to rhizometric learning - I think that you may have some outliers. I think that many could benefit from not finding someone but rather finding some thing.

And this is where I wonder if we might be able to help as a community. Am I wrong in thinking that most of the ways that a learner gets started in a rhizomatic environment is centered around personalities? It seems that twitter is all about personalities. Even the blogs are centered around the authors. To get started as a new learner it seems I need to know or get to know the people. Could there be benefit to (alongside of curating by personality) curating by theme, topic, argument, or subject? So that one could search for topics that others are talking about that one might be interested in with the focus on the subject and not on the personalities? I think that the connections would still come but they would come in a different way. I don’t know… I think that might be trouble (especially in the rhizome with all the forking) but I am curious what others think… 

… In other words… tag… you’re it community… grade me.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Observation from My Class

Hi, all! I hope no one minds me posting again.

I wanted to share an observation from the class I am teaching, Ethics and the Professional Context of Teaching. I put it to my students to select any topic that interests them, though I guided them with a list of approximately 30 questions from which they could choose. Just last week they presented on their research progress, and I was struck by what a large percentage of my students chose to discuss: defenses of arts and music in K-12 education. Another segment of my students chose to rail against standardized tests. There is a drive in pre-service teachers to foster the freedom and creativity that emerge from performance art. Our future teachers want this. And yet, I fear they're not going to get it, and I was not prepared to discuss this inevitability... I was also thinking about the preservation of the arts in online ecologies and what this might look like - if these spaces could ultimately be conducive to safeguarding the arts...