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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Friday, December 30, 2005

New Year Webcastathon

If you're an educator interested in learning more about technology you NEED to get connected to the New Year Webcastathon.

Dave and Jeff continue to do great things with technology and they really do "get it" when it comes to making connections and reaching out to audiences the world over.

The kids get it....

This is the concept I was referring to in my recent conversation with Will. The kids do indeed get it and it's time that, as Josie says, in Learners as Teachers as Learners "Let's hope these types of initiatives soon become common practice."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Blogging and Community

This blog started in Jan. '02 as a "voice in the wilderness" during my second semester as a graduate student in the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning faculty at OISE/UT. I've recently completed coursework for my M.Ed. and will continue to use this blog to track the learning and work I'm doing in some of the "communities of practice" of which I'm fortunate enought to be a part.

Here's a link to a community of practice here on the south end of Vancouver Island.

Blogging as a medium provides a way into the conversation that's taking place on the web; provided, of course, one has access to the means of communication.

If you're a Canadian citizen reading this post you owe to yourself to go to your local all-candidates meeting and ask your prospective parliamentarians what they intend to do to ensure accessible high-speed internet access for all Canadians.

I had to pay a "recording tariff" on the CDs I bought yesterday to be able to send holiday pictures and video home with departing family members. I'd like to propose that the CRTC impose a similar tariff on telecommunications companies -- with the proceeds used toward development of the infrastructure needed to ensure all Canadians have access.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Here's a picture of our mascot. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all the gang at samlab.com

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Making Connections in the Technorati Cosmos

I'm back with a post to this interface. Last week I had the opportunity to participate in an experiment that Will Richardson put together with Skype conferencing. I had a chance to chat with Will for about 20 minutes and was especially interested in Will's thoughts regarding the recent controversy regarding blogging in schools.

Here's what Will has to say about the experience. Special thanks to Will for interrupting his "blog break" to make this post, and enjoy a well deserved break.

Regular readers of this space will know that I've been doing more and more work with my Drupal-based space at http://samlab.com.

Most recently I've used the book feature within Drupal to put together a term paper for this semester in which I refer to my interview with Will last week, and some other interesting (to me at least ;-) stuff I've been doing with media on the web.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My 501st post

I logged on to make a post here since the one I made with on my cell to see if I still could. (While possible, the difficulty of text-entry from the phone make it less than practicable for the most part. I don't own a Treo or "crackberry" but I imagine thumb typing would be better).

I've just returned from this year's version of the Winterstart World Cup at Lake Louise and I'm here to relate some "learning" I did yesterday. I learned that driving toward the coast in "diminishing" winter conditions can be exciting.

NOTE: A little over a week later I'm back to finish my "501st" post....
Last week ago I learned that the change in road conditions between here; here; and here in a snow/rain storm can be a white knuckle experience indeed.

For more on exploits from the Lake, check out the Flickr and YouTube pages with "artifacts" from this and other years.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Thursday, November 10, 2005

T the blogger -- Part II

Here's the latest from our man T:
To continue the saga....for yesterday's junior tilt it was a day of gale force winds and biblical rain....fitting given the two Catholic schools competing...you lads remember the Thanksgiving game in the 'Prior in 77? 78?......this time not quite snowing......and we didn't get stuck at Fay Thom's farm later in the night....
Regi opens up passing....which is promptly picked....we march about 30 yds for the first score and never looked back.....pound it up the middle, off tackle, around the end....whatever you like.
Three different backs...three touchdowns...a 27yd field goal....and by third quarter we're up 25-0.
Then the weather really got bad......some lightning and the rains really picked up.
Both teams and all the fans head into the school while they sort out what to do.
Regi wants to keep playing as I think the coach is determined to teach the lesson of finish what you start....and it gives them a chance to roll everyone into their last game.
The weather lets up and they return to the quagmire.....JJ comes in to direct the offence with a posse of other grade 9s and handles the ball well given the conditions.
We finish it off 25-0 and head to Queen's this Saturday to defend the City Championship againts the mouthy bastards....and that's the mothers.....from Frontenac.
So if you're passing through Kingston Saturday you can swing by Richardson Stadium at 11 for the juniors or 1 for the seniors where I'll guarantee you'll see quite a spectacle......
......ya I'll be the one with my shirt off and "GO CRUSADERS GO!" painted on my belly.
T

For the those of you who may be in K-Town this weekend, I will pay money for a picture of the aforementioned belly ;-)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

T the blogger

My buddy T is blogging, he just doesn't realize it.
Here's a sample about his sons and their exploits on the gridiron:

Round one of the football semi-finals went yesterday.
Mike's senior squad travelled to the much hated Frontenac Falcon lair to face a heavily favoured Falcon team......they clubbed us 28-7 in the regular season.
Our boys took it like Chuck Wepner and dished it like Spot McGlauglin......came down to the last 40 seconds we're down 17-14 with the ball on their 45....2nd and 22 ......Pawliuk rolls left and fires a strike to Flude who gets drilled in the centre of the back and has the ball spring up into the air....[edited]! it's over....no wait....just before it hits the ground O'Donnell scoots in to snatch it and rumble down the left sideline to about the 10....he knows he can't get by the two defenders so he runs out of bounds to stop the clock.
Now it's first down on the 10 with about 20 seconds to go.....Pawliuk rolls right....Flude runs a hook just inside the goal line and Pawliuk hits him right in the bread basket.
Touchdown Holy Cross!
We win 20-14 and are off to the Senior final on Saturday afternoon at Queen's against the farm boys from Sydenham.
The Big Man might not be in the lineup as he had his left shoulder chicken winged early in the game. He played the whole game but I could tell he couldn't really lift it.....he's so tough you'd think he was from Tiger Island.
Sorry no pictures of the big catches as I was too rattled to hold the camera steady.
Johnny's juniors suit up this afternoon in the junior semi vs Regi and hopefully I'll be able to report a Championship double header for the lads


Great stuff.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Blogs in Schools 2.0

Check out Scholar Podcasts. Now this is some powerful stuff.

I arrived at the link thanks to D'Arcy Norman, a member of the Canadian edTech blogigentsia.

The thing is, I didn't find the link on D'Arcy's blog, but rather in a comment on Barbara Ganley's.

It's really exciting to see what's taking place on the web in terms of media and connections. I'll make a post to samlab with more about the latter.

NOTES:
  • Dave and Jeff -- the "movers and shakers" at World Bridges -- need to get him hooked up for one of their 'casts

  • I see on D'Arcy's blog (just now, when I went there to get the URL for this post) that he's going to try to make it to Thursday's EdTech brainstorming session, so there you go....

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Blogs for schools

Many of the issues that are associated with blogs and younger students are addressed in a new offering from James Farmer. Long a proponent of blogging in education, James now offers blog hosting to both students and teachers. Visit edublogs.org to set up your blog.

Teachers wanting to introduce classes to blogging, but are worried about "inappropriate" materials and issues of privacy can use the supported medium James is providing to ensure a "safe area" in which stakeholders can access blogs in a supported and safe environment.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Blogging as active research -- part II

I continue to work on my ideas for a research study for this semester. I'm feeling a little better about the endeavour now that I've decided to focus on blogs. I'm also feeling better about the whole thing after finding the published work of Torill Mortenson and Jill Walker.

Their paper Blogging thoughts: personal publication as an online research tool (PDF), Chapter 11 of Researching ICTs in Context is full of provocative thoughts on the role of blogging for academics and the opportunities it provides for publishing and sharing academic research.

As I struggle with the design of my own research study for this semester, I found the authors' thoughts on "academic writing" to be enlightening -- especially their prescription for writing "in the humanities and social sciences" and that an "academic article" must contain:

a) References to theory, preferably updated, focused, wide enough to display a healthy variety to our reading but not so wide that we can be accused of being shallow.

b) References to empiric data, or the object of our research. This should have enough status that we can justify spending our valuable time on it, eith through being a classsic, being something entirely new, or being popular enough to have social significance.

c) An original and spirited discussion of how a) relates to b). (p. 261)


The authors also go on to tell us that the profile of the "modern researcher" has changed.
The modern researcher is not quite the old man in a dusty, smoky study behind a labyrinth of books, unable to relate to the rest of the world. Research is supposed to be related to contemporary topics, and preferably lead to results tha can give new insights to more than a narrow group of specialists. (p. 261)

I'm especially interested in some of the phenomenon that Mortenson and Walker see at work in their 2002 consideration of blogging and how the medium has grown and changed since. Indeed, because both continue to blog, we can track developments in their thinking and practices related to the "blogsphere" and the topics broached in the paper.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

blogging as active research

I'm currently participating in an experiment in "active research" as part of the GRAIL project at OISE/UT. This began as a blogging experiment in a course I took (CTL 1608: Constructivist Design of Online Learning Environments) last semester. This experience and others as a blogger, has me thinking about research I have to do for another course semester, CTL 1009: Reading and Writing in Schools - Elementary. We've been asked to produce a research survey on a topic of interest.

I'd initially hoped to be able to do some research on the impact of technology on the acquisition and development of literacy skills; however, I can't wrap my head around how one would be able to measure the impact of technology for those that can't join the discussion by reading and responding to posts. I thought that "alternative" media (i.e., podcasting) might help to give voice to those who can't participate in text-based environments, but this brings me back to "technical literacy" and the fluency required to contribute to the discussion in this manner.

All of this has brought me full circle and back to blogs. Specifically, do blogs make better teachers and students? Why or why not? What is the benefit of blogs to education? Are they better suited for "professional development" of teachers, or do they have a role to play in education? Furthermore, if there is a place for blogs in schools, under what conditions is it appropriate to use blogs in the classroom to develop the "literacy skills" of students?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

online spaces

I'm back with more about this forum and online spaces in general. I've owned the domain name samlab.com for some time now. It was/is a tribute to my dog Sam, and the fact that he's a lab. The tie-in was that maybe "old dogs" (me, not him) can learn news tricks.

One thing I'm learning is that I may be better leaving the "heavy lifting" to others. I'll still use my space (eventually ;-) for some things, but I'm thinking I may be better using this forum, as well as blogmatrix, flickr, getFAST, GRAIL, QuickTopic World Bridges, ELGG, and others to not only get away from the overhead associated with online spaces, but to stay connected to larger communities of practice. Having content in these other forums will also allow me to continue to use samlab.com to "mess around" and not be worried about "outages" when one of my "experiments" goes awry.

Of course, the danger in leaving the lifting to others is that the relationship may change over time. Indeed, Blogger has been snapped up by Google and Flickr by Yahoo, but to date they haven't been asking for money.

On the topic of the 'net and money -- I've often fantasized about how much the 50 bucks I sent Ev "back in the day" to help keep blogger going at one point, would be worth relative terms today with Google stock somewhere around $350 a share.

That said, there may come a day when for whatever reason, blogger or the others listed "goes away" or becomes part of some conglomerate that demands fees for hosting; however, from where I sit, I'm content to enjoy the current "open" nature of the web and take advantage of third-party hosting of my content, while the "getting's good."

Monday, October 31, 2005

learning with technology

My website is currently down due to a problem with an "upgrade".

I'm working on committee in which we're looking at web technologies for learners, staff and tutors. I've been pushing Drupal as a solution and today in an email it was mentioned that my experience will be valuable with the learning curve as we explore technology options.

Well today I smacked right into the side of the curve today when working on my site.

The good news is that while I'm not enthused by the fact my site is down, I am enthused by the learning opportunity it presents. "Technical difficulties" are a fact of life in online environments. I think the important thing is to be as prepared as is practicable and "roll with the punches" along the way.

I also think that it's important to push the envelop in terms of technology and how we use it. I think technology in general, and blogging in particular, hold promise for giving voice to those who might otherwise remain silent. The asynchronous space provides an opportunity for reflection and contribution that might not be possible in face-to-face environments, for any number of reasons.

There's no question that Participation Engenders Competence and I think this is just as true for educators working with technology, as it is for Konrad's students:
When I think of blogs, I think primarily of what this technology enables my students to accomplish. When I look forward to reading their entries and comments I am really looking forward to thoughts made visible.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

technology and higher learning

While I recognize that "brick and mortar" institutions aren't going away any time soon, I also think it's important that those within keep up with what's going on outside academia.

Visit this link for a provocative exploration of the topic.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Learning Diary revisited

I'm still working on samlab.com and haven't given up all hope. I've decided that I'll attempt to use this forum for its original purpose -- to track my learning in coursework at OISE/UT. As always, watch this space for updates.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Back to school

Well it's here once again. I'm busy getting up to speed in the two courses I'll be taking this semester at OISE/UT. I'm really excited to be back in school and be part of the learning community at OISE/UT and look forward to learning a lot this semester.

I had intended to make this post to samlab.com, but have reached the conclusion that it's probably better to be using this interface (Blogger) for my blogging efforts until I switch my webhosting service.

No names will be used to protect the guilty (and to prevent work for my lawyer ;-), but suffice it to say that I've had it with the company I've been using to host samlab.com I simply don't have the energy, money, patience and time to be "working around" technical difficulties vis a vis my email and website on a near daily basis.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Learning in online environments

The learning continues. Today I've been "working around" the fact that samlab.com and related email accounts are "off line." My experience has me thinking of all sorts of things, from changing service providers, to co-location on another server for redundancy, to what email account to use....

The thing is, much like in the "real world" -- these problems don't come into high relief, sometimes, until they come and whack you upside the head. This in turn makes one much more aware of backups, contingencies and workarounds.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Philgrimage Open '05

pGrimage05_1stTee
pGrimage05_1stTee,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
A picture from the 1st tee of this year's golf event

Saturday, July 09, 2005

meadow

meadow
meadow,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
A picture I took last week in a meadow in Aylard Farm in East Sooke Regional Park.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Blogging

It's been a while since I've posted here. Work and "life" have gotten in the way in the last while and have kept me from being as current as I'd like with posts.

What's most interesting is how "web technology" has evolved since this blog was first posted. As one example of how technology has evolved in the past 3+ years, a select few were able to access it wirelessly and now it's most often posted that way.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Power of Us

I've long known that online collaboration presents a powerful medium for sharing and devloping "capital" in a number of areas. One clear example of this is the article The Power of Us from today's daily links from the Association for Computing Machinery.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Technical Difficulties

Apologies to those of you who have missed my posts to this interface.

I'm back to add to my record of learning about and with technology.

I've recently been volunteering as a computer tutor here in Victoria and the experience has reminded me once again about the impact that "technical difficulties" have for new and beginning users. Unless someone (coach/facilitator/friend/instructor) is there to comfort and cajole the frustrated newbie, s/he is likely to "throw in the towel" on technology and drop the class, tank on the assignment, or whatever the case is in a particular circumstance.

The funny thing is that I'm essentially where I was at the beginning of this exploration into learning in distributed environments. How does one establish the social rapport necessary when attempting to include technical "newbies" in learning communities in online or "distributed" environments?

When the medium is the message, how does one efficiently deal with the "dissonance" that pervades one's online existence until the "workaround" is discovered? Those of you reading this who know what a workaround is know what I mean. The first time you "beat the machine" is when we start kidding ourselves that we have technology "figured out."

The bottom line, in any type of learning, is that the motivation of the learner to learn. There will always be "barriers" (real and imagined) to learning for all learners; however, web-based deliver presents another whole degree of difficulty for all involved. That said, I think that as with any endeavour, it (online learning and teaching) definitely becomes easier with time.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Island Living

Here's a picture I took last week aboard the Queen of Victoria on my way from Victoria to Vancouver.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Happy Birthday Babs

rhodo
rhodo,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
Here's a birthday picture, compliments of Flickr for Babs.

Hope the weather co-operated enabling a birthday celebration on Santorini, and that all your wishes come true.

Friday, May 06, 2005

sam Swim

samSwim
samSwim,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
Another beautiful day here on the island. Here's a picture of Sam exiting Thetis Lake after a swim this afternoon.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Firefox: Blazing a Trail

The Firefox web browser is indeed blazing a trail on the web. Unless you've been in a cave you've at least heard of it. I've had it running for a while now and can "highly" recommend it. I was immediately impressed by how much faster pages loaded when browsing.

This morning it was downloaded for the 50 millionth time.

All this without radio or television advertising.

50 million "word of mouth" customers from around the planet!

Are you kidding me?

I'd say the only marketing department with an easier job is the one at Nike [that's a golf joke, in case you're wondering].

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

more on samlab.com

Back with a progress report. Those of you who've been following along know that I've been busy tweaking samlab.com over the past few days. Full marks to the gang behind Drupal.

I think they've "hit it outta the park" in terms of the flexibility and ease of use. The fact that it's possible ot develop and post themes to change the "look and feel" of an interface, without having to mess with all the "data" (i.e. the "content of the CMS (...management system) that I've been getting online.

To make this story slightly longer, suffice it to say that my attention (such that it is ;-) will be turned to the continued development of samlab.com, so look there if you're interested in "the latest."

Friday, April 22, 2005

samlab.com

I've been doing some work on my website, samlab.com. Specifically, I've installed Drupal as a CMS content management system for my site.

It's been a little over 24 hrs since I've installed and begun to use Drupal and I have to say I'm very impressed. I'm especially excited by the scalability Drupal promises -- visit the link above for more information and to chart progress.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Vint Cerf on Internet trouble spots

Here's blog entry by Ron Farber I happened across while looking for reviews of open source CMS (content management systems). Given my recent experience, I thought it pertinent.NOTE: The text below is compliments of a "blog this" option for bloggers of Farber's post. This is the first time I've seen this type of option for a blog. I would expect that it's increased trackbacks since it was added to the blog.

Vint Cerf on Internet trouble spots by ZDNet's Dan Farber -- Good reading: Phil Windley has written up and photographed a recent talk given by Vint Cerf on challenges facing the Internet and computer science. Cerf should know as he is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet,. He also currently serves as chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned [...]

Internet Fraud on E-Bay

This morning, while combing through my daily alottment of spam in my mail box, I happened across a notice that my account at eBay had been suspended due to a problem with my account. Essentially some #$%& who is pretending to be me has been up to no good and hence the account has been suspended.

For the record, I've never used the account and only registered for one, nearly a year ago now, because my buddy Phil and I were looking for NHL playoff tickets.

What I want to know is, how exactly was my account was compromised? The e-mail I received asks me to visit a link and input a number and supply all kinds of personal information. Furthermore, I can't see anywhere to input the "Fraud Alert ID code" they provided in the e-mail advising of the problems with my account.

Let's say that given my experience with a compromised account, I'll not be supplying eBay with any more information than I already have. I recognize that they're probably doing all they can to ensure the integrity of their system, but it will be without any more input from this former customer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Monday, April 18, 2005

Brett Research group webcast

I'm "multitasking" and making a post while participating in a Brett Research group webcast from OISE/UT via Breeze from Macromedia. Current discussion is about blogs and their place as tools for reflection and caching resources.

Is Constructivism Enough?

Here's link to this semester's term paper for CTL 1608.

I had hoped to use SMART Ideas software to make a concept map of contents of this paper, but have been doing some work with the software developers at SMART and am currently unable to produce HTML versions of models I've made.

As always, watch this spot for updates....

sunshineSpring05

sunshineSpring05
sunshineSpring05,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
A picture from atop the Continental Divide at Sunshine Village near Banff, AB

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Reflection and Learning

Finally back with a post.

I've been working on my term paper for CTL 1608 and happened across a link (again thanks to Stephen Downes) that's very pertient to my considerations of "constructivism" and learning in online environments.

Specifically, Dave Tosh refers to a graphic from an excellent article by Helen Barrett Researching Electronic Portfolios and Learner Engagement. Barrett's graphic referenced at Dave's blog post shows the relationship between motivation and control when it comes to electronic portfolios.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Masters

Yet again rain is delaying play on the PGA Tour. This time in Augusta, GA at the Masters.

It would be a trip for the ages to stroll among the Magnolias as a "patron" one year.
Visit this link for "Patron-submitted photos" from this year's tournament.

Monday, April 04, 2005

ePresence Release

Happy to report that the gang at at the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto has announced that ePresence is about to be released to the general public.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

bears

bears
bears,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
A picture of Sam's bear collection
Set Decoration by Frances and Martha.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The learning continues

I'm back with some thoughts on the learning I've been doing in CTL 1608. The more I think about the threaded discussions we have in the classes I'm taking at OISE/UT and the more I compare them to the posts to blogs like this one, the more convinced I am that "persistence" of posts is nearly as important as the content of individual posts.

Indeed, the fact that writings will persist beyond a given course or activity, and are available for "public" display, may mean that I'm more dilligent and thoughtful in preparing individual posts. I may be less inclined to merely "go through the motions" if I know that I, or others, may want to refer to what's been written into the future.

I know that I've come to depend on blog posts as reference tools and I frequently post information and links that I think are valuable to the research and work I'm doing and, therefore, more likely to revisit and reference in the future.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Knowledge Building Communities

I've started a discussion space about Emergency Preparedness in Saanich as a "knowledge base" for my local community and anyone else who would like to contribute.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

More Blogs in Education

Seems I may have been a little hasty in my take on colleagues' reaction to blogging in CTL 1608. Seems that more are warming to the notion of the blogsphere and it's reflected in the posts being made.

Visit this page to see the blogs we're working on a part of the course.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Blogs in Education

I was going on a couple o' weeks ago about what it would be like to be involved in a class with "accomplished bloggers" when asked to do some of the blog-based stuff that we're doing this semester in CTL 1608 at OISE/UT....

I'm back to say that I think I've found a prime example here.

I think this type of "open" learning environment is important both for the type of interaction it promotes among course colleagues and 'net-based resource it presents.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

ePresence evolution

I checked in at the KMDI's blog and happened across a post regarding their new "light setup v2.7" which looks very slick.

In the ~7 years I've been following the work of all those at the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto I've been repeatedly impressed by their efforts in the design and implementation of knowledge media.

The evolution of ePresence has been particularly interesting to me in that it has provided me the opportunity to "engage" and "participate" in webcasts over the years.

The "scalability" offered in their latest release, being able to 'cast with a "laptop, video camcorder, and usb capture box" on an open source platform, means fantastic opportunities in terms of accessibility. Suddenly multimedia is avaiable to so many more for use in production of "conceptual artifacts" (Bereiter, 2002).

Archived and available for future reference by both the author/contributor/participant/audience of a given 'cast and current and future stakeholders of the larger community, these "artifacts" are valuable for recording learning with and about technology.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Safe and Sound in Saanich

Safe and Sound in Saanich
Safe and Sound in Saanich,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
Hope all had a safe and sound St. Patrick's Day.

Here's a poster I made for an "emergency preparedness" event that I'm working on with members of my local community association.

If you're going to be in Saanich (i.e., Victoria, BC) on the 30th of April, stop by and say hello.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Reflections on Week #10 in CTL1608

Our blogs at OISE/UT are now "public" which I think is a good idea. As I've said in this forum, until or unless I have something to say to the "world at large" maybe it's better I wait until I do.

This week for our blog posts we've been asked to reflect on our "ideal graduate student community and why?" as related to these points:
  • With whom would you want to talk to in the field?

  • What kinds of interaction would you find helpful studying at a distance and why?

  • Thinking outside the confines of "the course", how would you design a learning environment that supports graduate community? For example, consider when you like to discuss ideas with people. Is it after you've thought about it a lot yourself or is it in the formative stages as you are working things out, etc., with whom, how frequently, and why.

  • How would technology support any or all of this?


I'll address each in turn:

I'd talk with those who have a sense of the theoretical foundations of their pedagogical practice. Ideally some of these "real world" individuals would be holders of degrees earned online.

Getting a chance to relate practice to theory would be informative. It might afford the opportunity to:
  • consider whether or not a given theory is valid

  • decide if you agree that the theory "fits" -- in terms of conception/implementation/integration and the given situation


In terms of the types of interactions which are valuable in online environments, I think OISE/UT needs a student run edCommons. In a previous iteration (circa 2001,02) the edCommons was really onto something. At that time they had, among other resources, a series of "how do I know what I don't know" PDF assessments posted online.

These were the perfect tool for helping beginning users ("newbies" as they're affectionately known) both assess or guage their own level of proficiency with computers and get suggestions for remediation. An "open forum" with some form of "metamoderation" scheme with volunteers would be easy to get up and running and maintain and would benefit "young and old" (in terms of relative online experience) learners at OISE/UT, or any institutions which offers graduate degrees online.

Regularly scheduled chats are a good idea too. I've noticed that colleagues at OISE/UT, for the most part, have become more inclined to participate in synchronous chats. We're still a long way from the comfort levels that have been seen with telephones as a communication medium; however, text-based chats are much more likely to happen this semester than they have been in some past.

We've been introduced to Breeze from Macromedia this semester. It's a powerful application to be sure; however, in my experience it's not often used for more than text-based chats. I used the "record a meeting" function to archive a meeting and it seemed to work well. There's been some talk of arranging a "virtual wine tasting event" using Breeze, we'll have to archive/post some video evidence if we can make that fly >;-)

I like to "discuss ideas with people" at all points in my learning; however, I'm probably most like Dan from my course in that I learn/decide on an individual basis and then take that premise "to the table" in terms of knowledge building with colleagues. As with most things, this is by no means an absolute and is dependent on a number of factors including how strongly I feel about the topic of dicussion.

Technology can support and enable all of these types of interactions. The key comes from providing a variety of options and giving students the ability to maintain a "dynamic knowledge base" to build knowledge and get/provide peer support that's not "bounded" by a given course.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

sunshinePhil_Mar05

sunshinePhil_Mar05
sunshinePhil_Mar05,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
Another picture from Sunshine Village, this time of Phil waiting for his lesson.

Thanks to Phil for hosting us over this past weekend, a lot of fun was had by all.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Sunshine Village

andreaMarcStephanie
andreaMarcStephanie,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
Here's a picture of Andrea, Marc and Stephanie that I took yesterday at the top of the Wawa Quad chair at Sunshine Village.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Back in YYC

Greetings from Calgary.

I'm back in YYC to do some skiing with Phil and Marc, and hope to get some of the "usual suspects" to join us.

From the looks of the temperature it'll definitely be skiing of the spring variety.

Today's high temperature is forecast for 16 celsius with a high of 20 for tomorrow -- definitely sunscreen weather to be sure.

I'll do my best to get some pics posted over the next couple o' days.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Maeve_top

Maeve_top
Maeve_top,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
A picture of Maeve "on top of the World" at Sunshine Village near Banff, Alberta.

Learning about multimedia

In terms of my own learning about multimedia...the more I work i do with video, the more appealling and "audio-only" approach becomes.

I don't have to worry about how I look on camera >;-) and the files (especially MP3) are more easily distributed and accessed. By my intended audience.

That said, I need to experiment with open source video and get away from proprietary applications that are constrained by cost and accessibility concerns.

The Audioblogging Manifesto

Yesterday and today I've been experimenting with low resolution video. My goal is to make videos that are accessible to dialup audiences, albeit ones with faster connections. Most "stakeholders" of online media will tell you that connection speeds of at least 56 Kbps are needed for access of online (multi) media.

As outlined in The Audioblogging Manifesto muultimedia -- voice and video recordings -- change the dynamic of the online experience. For instance, the "four minutes of your life" MP3 tells us that such "media" posts:
  • are invisible to Google
  • hold the audience captive
  • and deliver content at about 1/10th the speed an accomplished reader can read, let alone skim the content
Notwithstanding all of that. I think that media files have a distinct ability to humanize the 'net. As I've mentioned in this space. Multimedia is worth the effort in terms of "the buzz" it generates. I know this because of the weekly videos Dr. Clare has been posting for our class, although it would be interesting to hear from colleagues with slower connections as to their experiences with the *.MOV (Quicktime) files.

I've been experimenting with Windows Media Video (*.WMV) files in this test video. NOTE: Clicking on the link will begin the video download. Efforts have been made to reduce file size and streaming rates to facilitate "access" by those with slower connections.

Interested Macintosh users who haven't already done so, will need to download and install the Windows Media Player 9 for MAC OS X, or this version for MAC OS 8.1 or better.

Please post comments regarding your video experiences (be sure to include operating system (OS) type and connection speed information, if you know it, otherwise just tell about your experience) by clicking on "Post a Comment" near the bottow of this page.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Readings for Week #9 in CTL 1608

I'm back with my thoughts on the readings for this week in my course. This week we have readings from the "chief architects" of the interface we're using at OISE/UT. Indeed, Knowledge Forum owes its existence to the continuing work of Marlene Scardamalia --
Scardamalia, M. (2000). Social and Technological Innovations for a Knowledge Society. In S. S-C. Young, J. Greer, H. Maurer, & Y.S. Chee (Eds.). Proceedings of the ICCE/ICCAI 2000: Volume 1. Learning Societies in the New Millennium: Creativity, Caring & Commitments. (pp. 22-27). National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan: Taipei.
and Carl Bereiter --

Bereiter, C. (2002). Chapter 8, Putting learning it is proper place. Education and Mind in the Knowledge Age. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


At the risk of sounding like a brown-noser, I found these articles "more accessible" -- I think this comes from what I perceive to be the conversational tones of the articles and the fact that both articles focus on the application we're using for our course, Knowledge Forum.

I was taken with a number of the ideas expressed by each author.

Specifically, I was interested in Scardamalia's assertion that:
...we take it for granted that some communities will make advances with greater regularity than others. That is what we expect of knowledge building communities, as they represent a social organization that invests in resources in the advancement of the group's knowledge, so that the group as a whole is striving for advancement beyond present limits of competence.
I also liked what she had to say about the fact that "experts seldom exist in isolation" and how "replication and merger of design spaces allow communities to replicate portions of one design space into another and to create new cross-community discourses."

Bereiter's paper represents, as he puts it, his efforts to "establish a workable distinction between learning and knowledge building."

I was particulary struck by Bereiter's introduction to the notion of "sharpening the distinction between learning and knowledge building" -- specifically tabular based comparisons of one approach versus another [His description reminded me of the Wired, Tired, Expired list in each month's edition of Wired magazine] -- and how "such comparisons appeal only to those who are already sold on the 'new' and for them they obscure differences that matter and bury real problems under a flurry of self-congratulatory cliches." I saw a bit of myself in this quote in how I reacted to what I perceived to be colleagues' resistance to blogging in our course last week. Somehow because I've been blogging for a while, my interests were vested in medium and maybe more enamoured with the medium than I should be.

In terms of what people learn, we're told there are "two rules of thumb" --
  1. People learn what they process
  2. The skills most likely to be learned are the minimal ones necessary to accomplish the range of tasks presented


Bereiter ends his paper with the assertion:
"To grasp the idea of knowledge building, educators have to understand the following:
  • Knowledge building is not just a process; it is aimed at creating a product.
  • That product is some kind of conceptual artifact--for instance, an explanation or a historical account or interpretation of a literary work.
  • A conceptual aritifact is not something in the minds of the students.
  • It is not something material or visible, either.
  • It is nevertheless real and preferably something students can use


I'm still working on just exactly what does and doesn't constitute a "conceptual artifact" as its defined here, but think I have an ideal. I don't know it it's synonymous with "collective intelligence" but I think it's close.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Martha's Birthday

Martha's Birthday
Martha's Birthday,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
Here's a picture of Martha and friends on her birthday

Thursday, February 24, 2005

kalinSamlab

kalinSamlab
kalinSamlab,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
Here's a picture of Kalin and Sam the lab taken during a hike at Thetis Lake.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Affordances for Distributed Learning

As indicated previously, this week at OISE/UT we've been asked to use the blogs we have for our class contributions. Specifically we've been asked to consider blogs as well as the "traditional" or threaded discussions we typically use for knowledge building in online environments.

The question I'd like to address in this post, relates to the "affordances" we need to make when working in either of these online environments.

What do you find are the affordances of blogs and the affordances of the discussion environment for different kinds of thinking:

Specifically:

Do they both support aspects of distributed constructionism? of distributed intelligence? please explain


While both dicussion groups and blogs support "distributed constructionism" it is my belief that blogs are a better type of interface for building and disseminating knowledge. I think there are a number of reasons for this:
  1. Blogs are forums that individual contributors (i.e., the "owner" of the blog in question) need to make work

  2. Even though the process of blogging may be a solitary pursuit, "public" posts are more likely to be thoughtful and pertinent to the topic(s) at hand

  3. Blogs are more likely to referenced by others and thus contribute to the "relationship" or "social" aspect of the "network" in question.

  4. While each blog may stand on its own, the more it is linked by others, the more popular and relavant it becomes to the others members of a given "community" of "network"

The Sagers

The Sagers
The Sagers,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
Here's a picture of Sheena and Eric and the boys following their arrival at the Victoria airport late on Tuesday evening.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Distributed Cognition and Blogging

This week at school we've been asked to use our blogs to make our posts related to the week's readings. I like the idea of using blogs to reflect on the readings.

I've been trying to reconcile the notion of "public and private" as it relates to blogging versus posting to a collaborative forum such as the one we use at OISE/UT -- Knowledge Forum. My take on it is that they're both "private" in that participants must have a username and password to contribute to either forum.

Even though blogging is a solitary pursuit, the irony comes from the fact that I feel the whole benefit of the medium comes from posting to a larger audience. Unless or until I've got something to say "to the world at large" I'm probably better off reflecting and reading until I do.

I also know from personal experience that public posts with peristent links are valuable to me. I frequently look back on posts I've made over the years -- both for reference and to track my thoughts on a subject at a point in my learning.

That said, I think the "self-indulgent" nature of blogging provides a "think out loud" space for testing ideas and pushing the limits of one's knowledge. In this way the individual learner is more likely to be "reflective" when posting. This week will be very intereting when we get together in the group forum after having "blogged" in reaction to this week's readings.

I'm still posting to this interface and the one at OISE/U,T and have already asked "administration" if I can make my school blog "public" -- as always, watch this space for developments.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Computer Supported Collaborative Work

As part of this week's discussion, we've been asked to add to a list of "quotable quotes" related to Distributed Cognition. I happened across this gem while exploring the notion of distributed cognition as it relates to computer supported collaborative work (CSCW).

Errors will occur in any system of human behavior; the advantage of designing for errors is that the cooperative system can turn occasion of errors into opportunities. Thus when designing for CSCW, it's also important to "design for errors".


Distributed Cognition as Framework for Cooperative Work by
Fran├žoise Decortis, Samuel Noirfalise, Berthe Saudelli
Visit this link for the full article.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hard to believe that we've been in Victoria for more than a year now.

You think with the practice I've been getting that my golf game would be better than it is ;-)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Situated Cognition

This week's readings and discussions for my course at OISE/UT related to "situated cognition." Situated Learning, or SitCog, as it's come to be known in our class, is pretty interesting stuff.

A big part of the equation in online environments, is, of course, the interface itself. The fact that communication is "mediated" by and through computers and connections to the 'net becomes a "design issue" for designers and developers of online-based curriculua.

A continuing interest of mine is how best to share the wealth when it comes to knowledge and learning in online environments. Specifically, how can we best spread the "fluency" of functioning and contributing members of online communities to those "new" to the situation online learning presents.

Here's a link to an online version of one of this past week's readings:
Wilson, B. G. & Madsen Myers, K. (1999)
Situated Cognition in Theoretical and Practical Context
.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Open Source|Open Access

Regular readers of this blog will know that I've been a big fan of the Knowledge Media Design Institute at the University of Toronto. Today I logged into their latest webcast.

Dr. Michael Geist is talking about copyright and the internet: is there a canadian way?. Dr. Geist's is another of a series of fantastic webcasts I've enjoyed from the KMDI.

Participating in these 'casts from the other side of the country -- or anywhere with a 'net connection -- is something I continue to value greatly. I continue to get a charge out of fantastic work being done at the KMDI and thank them for making this fantastic resource publicly available.

Being able to listen to Dr. Geist's lecture, and ask him a question from Victoria (via text chat with the Moderator and the "Ask Speaker a Question" button) makes this interface an extremely valuable learning tool.

I'm especially excited that they've turned their attention to open source|open access "across the disciplines."

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Victoria Film Festival blog

Still with blogging, this year's edition of the Victoria Independent Film and Video Festival has its own blog, by "Cinephile Liam Lux [who] has an all-access pass to this year's screenings and events. You can read about his daily exploits here"

OISE/UT Blog

Apologies to those of you who had your heart set on exploring my new blog at OISE/UT.

Seems as though the blogs aren't going to be made public for the first bit. The notion, I think, it to let course colleagues get comfortable with the interface, and making posts, before going "live" with the interface.

While I understand the concept of wanting to ease participants into the process, I think this semi-private publication detracts from what blogging is all about. Indeed, it seems to me that the whole "soapbox" notion is what blogging is all about.

Unless or until I have something to say to the world at large, then I might as well send an email.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

New Blog in Town

Here's a link to my latest blog Doug's Journal is part of my course work for this semester at OISE/UT.

I really like the Movable Type interface. It's one of those interfaces, if memory serves, that began life as an "open source" application and is now a commercial product.

I really like to interface, it seems very robust and notwithstanding my own difficulties in getting my "journal" off the ground (thanks again to Wendy for all the help), the interface is intuitive and has a nice clean "look and feel" with lots of whitespace and muted colours.

My first reaction is that there are more similarities than differences between the two interfaces; however, I'm looking forward to exploring, comparing and contrasting each of the blogging platforms.

I haven't exactly decided how I'll cross-reference the blogs, but I think I'll avoids merely cross-posting between the two, which seems like cheating somehow. As always, watch this space for details.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Super Sunday

As the football fans in the crowd know, today is "Super Sunday" the day the American Football Conference winners play the winners of the National Football Conference for the "world championship" of the NFL.

I intend on watching the game this afternoon and hope that the game is a good one. I don't really care which teams wins, as long as the score is close throughout the game and it's entertaining.

Ahead of this afternoon's tilt, I thought I'd check in to my course at OISE/UT and see what's up on the server in the way of posts. I'd wanted to look in today and catch up on the posts my colleagues had made in the last 24 hours, and then "turn the page" on this week's discussion.

Seems there'll be no access, at least currently, since I can't get a connection to the server. Of course this is a HUGE issue for online learners for a number of reasons:
  • New and beginning "users" are likely to be more "unsettled" by technical difficulties than experienced participants. When in the process of just getting comfortable with the "human-computer interface" as a learning tool and "technical issues" have the potential to alienate, or "turn off" these participants before they get started

  • Many who take these part-time, online courses at OISE/UT have a finite and distinct timeframe in which to participate in each week's discussion. This is particularly true on weekends when many schedule "school time."

  • Even experienced stakeholders of the community affected may become discouraged and become less involved in contributions to the ongoing discussions, even though they themselves are fully aware that software "upgrades" often present challenges [staff @ OISE/UT is currently upgrading/reinstalling software/servers for Knowledge Forum].


That said, my heart goes out to those who are no doubt scrambling as we speak to get the server up and running again. It's no fun to have disappointed "clients" looking to access a server that you're responsible for and can't get to work. I think it also bears noting that these types of "hiccups" are going to be "the Rule" versus "the Exception" when it comes to working and learning with technology, and that all stakeholders better be prepared to "roll with the punches."

Suffice it to say, again, that this learner would have given up on technology a long time ago if I hadn't become familiar with the workaround.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Old Dogs and New Tricks

Seems like you're not out of luck with those old dogs just yet....

This week a study out of McMaster University in Hamilton, ON has been making the rounds. It's the one that found that older subjects are better able to apprehend the "bigger picture" when it comes to a given situation.

While researching, I also happened across this article about moving images, perception and age.

Both of these articles have relevance to the design and development decisions one makes when producing web-based content.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Open Source

Here're a couple of link to articles I happened across earlier today.

Seems that "open source" in general, and Linux in particular, has gotten to the point where it's attracting more and more attention.

This time from the UN and Microsoft.

Monday, January 31, 2005

scaffold

scaffold
scaffold,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
We've been talking a lot lately about "scaffolds" in our class. Scaffolds, as we're using the term, are intended to help us build knowledge in threaded discussions.

Couldn't resist posting a picture of the scaffold being used in the building next door.

Week 5 Reflections1608

I'm back with this week's question, and my response, to the Week 5 Reflection question for CTL 1608 @ OISE/UT:

This week's questions are metacognitive in nature!! I want you to think about how you approach the reading and resources and use them to make sense of the questions and discussion. For example, do you respond to questions early on and then use the discussion as a stimulus for doing the readings?, or, do you plan your discussion entry(ies) as you read? Or do you read to get a gist of the main ideas then formulate entries based on where the discussion is at that point? or do you have a different strategy? Please describe the strategies that have worked/not worked for you.

I think currency with the online discussion is paramount to my success as an online learner. Ideally I'll have completed readings for the week and have the time available to read posts daily. If pressed for time, I know it's better for me to maintain currency with posts, even if it means I fall behind on the readings.

Unless a reading is particularly good (or bad ;-) I don't usually approach posts with an agenda. I'm much more likely to "wait and see" what direction the mediators are interested in taking the discussion and respond accordingly. I don't have any problem starting discussions (i.e., being the first one to post) but I do prefer to respond to the posts of others.

I really depend on the give and take of a discussion thread or threads to help me with my understanding. I mentioned some of the things I'd learned about my reactions in online environments last week in a post to this forum. I'm certainly one that needs to be involved in order to be effective. (There's that limited attention span rearing its head again ;-)

For me it keeps coming back to the social side of the equation. Unless or until you have a social connection with someone, what's the point of putting up with the inevitable "technical difficulties" that will present and require "work arounds" along the way?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Golf in January

janGolf
janGolf,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
Here's a picture of me and Phil taken yesterday on the 9th tee at Olympic View Golf Course.

The Olympic mountains can be seen in the background.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Img-20050128-0454310566

Img-20050128-0454310566
Img-20050128-0454310566,
originally uploaded by dougsymington.
Here's a self portrait I took with my new web cam and posted to Flickr, which I then used to make this post.

The convoluted name of the picture is the one given it by the camera.

Online Learning: Stamina and Frequency

The other day in my course at OISE/UT, Dan mentioned the notion of stamina as it relates to our course work. In essence if we were in a "face-to-face" (f2f) course we would have weekly classes that we'd need to be prepared for, but the rest of the week we'd be able to "turn off" and turn our attention to other pursuits.

In the online environment the frequency "any time, anywhere" web-based nature of the interface means we can check in from a 'net connection anywhere in the world. This means that posts can add up in a hurry. On top of readings and assignments posts take time to digest and may prompt responses, further adding to the material that needs to be "processed" in the learning environment.

All of this is to say that "falling behind" on posts is a sure way to discourage one's self in an online environment. In the 3 and 1/2 years I've been an online graduate student, I've learned a few things about stamina and frequency in "bounded learning communities."

Specifically, I've learned:
  • The longer one waits before becoming involved in discussion, the less likely one is to join the discussion

  • Self-disclosure ("I really don't understand...") while sometimes difficult, is a VERY effective way of building knowledge in online communities. This type of post will always generate some type (most often positive ;-) of response

  • Even if a given discussion thread is one I'm not interested in contributing to by making a post, it is imperative to follow along and stay "current" with discussion. This type of "lurking" will allow me to be able to contextualize subsequent posts by colleagues

  • Efforts to generate "multimedia" content are worth the effort in terms of the buzz they generate

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Corporate Blogging

Here's a link to a podcast that I happened across on this page at Corporate Blogging Info site

g-WH!Z: PodCast 1.0

More School

I've found this week challenging as a co-moderator for our class.

For me, the biggest problem I have is "shutting up" and letting others have a chance to advance the conversation. I know I have a tendancy to post too much and sometimes I intimidate colleagues.

Of course the danger in any correction is overdoing it, and I still struggle to find balance between too much and not enough moderation. The good thing for me in my current instance is that I've been a co-moderator with Peter and he's doing an excellent job. He put up the framework for our discussion and continues to skillfully advance discussions with his posts.

I think I've done reasonably well; however, I've fallen a bit into my bad habit of spending too long on posts. When I make up my mind to make a post, it seems, I've got to go ahead and post it, without getting too critical over analytical. The problem is that these posts don't see the light of day because I end up deleting rather than posting them. This week I think I had three such posts--ones that ended up in the trash bin.

Of course, this is most likely not a bad thing when it comes to my experience. I know I have a tendancy to over post, and while this may be no big deal in a "normal" week when I'm only a participant, over-posting is an issue when one is in a moderation capacity. A balance really needs to be struck.

Another balance I continue to search for is the one between prompting and promoting technology adoption without alienating one's target group. Going back to my days at SMART, this is something that I've wrestled with.

I've seen again this week, that synchronous "conferencing" in online environments(while I know it holds promise) is an extremely challenging enterprise. This can be especially true in groups that are already familiar/comfortable with "asynchronous" (i.e., discussion groups with threaded posts) forms of online learning where they can participate whenever they'd like.

Of course "timing" is just one of the many issues associated with "synchronous learning in online environments" and I look forward to learning more. As with any communication technology, the challenge is going to be to get enough people using it to see if synchronous web-based conferencing actually works as a tool for learning.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Reflection#2b

I'm back with more reflections on my learning for this week. Specifically, I'm back to post the question that's been posed to the class for this week in reference to the blogs we're doing for our course.

The posted directions in our "knowledge forum" include questions to "keep in mind throughout the course" as well a specific question for each week.

Here're the general questions:

In what ways is research useful?
To you, to others you work with or to society in general?
What resources or experiences this week (either in the course or elsewhere) helped you to understand the course topics and to make progress generally in your understanding of educationally-related issues? Resources can include books, articles, conversations, web pages, other blogs etc.


...and the Week 3 Reflection Question:
What are your personal learning goals for this course?

I'd like to learn more about synchronous conferencing and how to best use it to support 'net-based learning. I'd also like to work with colleagues to determine how best to introduce new users and get them "up to speed."

I'd also like to make three posts a week to this blog to keep me "up to speed" ;-)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Reflection #2

This marks the end of the second week of CTL 1608. I've felt a little pressured this week due to the fact that I've had the readings for this week, the readings for next week, and an assignment to wade through. On top of that, I'm trying to get some discussion questions about two to next week's readings (I'm moderating discussion with Peter, a class colleague) prepared for posting.

The good news is that I just posted the assignment which I'd started as a post in this forum last month and think I've got an idea of how I'd like to approach one of the readings for next week.

Another piece of good news is that someone I've known for years (Lynn) has joined our course from the waiting list (regular readers of this forum have been subjected to sundry rants about my experiences on OISE/UT online course wait lists ;-).

Welcome to Lynn, it's exciting to have you join our course and I'm looking forward to working with you and our colleagues as we explore the theory and practice online learning.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Update

If you're running a Windows OS machine, and you haven't checked out available updates lately (i.e., earlier today) you may want to visit the Microsoft Windows Update page and run the wizard and install any patches it recommends.

This includes those of you with computers not yet 60 days old, running XP SP2. Yet another example of overhead that doesn't seem necessary in open source environments.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Reflection

It's been a good week at school. I'm really enjoying the readings. I'm happy to report that I've already had a look at the online versions of the readings for Week 3 (aka next week). Peter and I are moderating the class discussion for the week and Peter's email got me motivated to have a look at Building vs. Borrowing and the Good the Bad and the Ugly.

With all due apologies to my buddy Paul who works for Adobe--I really don't like PDF as an application for web-based content. It bears noting that this "problem" has as much (more?) to do with browser behaviour as it does with Acrobat Reader; nonetheless, the 'net-based user will have difficulties (and from my experience they've gotten worse w/ XP) viewing PDF files online. Also note that PDF is the hands-down winner when it comes to faithful reproductions (what comes off the printer will look exactly as it does on the screen) and print jobs.

I've found an html-based version of Building vs. Borrowing

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Many Faces of Constructivism has proven more difficult to find in an HTML version due to copyright concerns. I find this ironic given the "stolen" title and the fact that article is readily available as a PDF file.

As a bonus, whilst looking for the aforementioned html, I happened across this provocative article from 2002. Are constructivism and computer-based learning environments incompatible?, by Stephen Gance.

I'm struck by two things:
  1. Gance's nod to the promise of web-based technologies (he mentions WebCT and Blackboard -- I think webKF is better)

  2. from my experience, online instructors are increasingly "going the distance" to ensure that social constructivism is indeed part of courses that do not have a "face-to-face" component.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Snow in Victoria

Here's a picture I took this morning of the snowy street in front of our house.

A picture of a snowy street on the south end of Vancouver Island

I've always loved snow and think it's great; however, you can well imagine the havoc the storm is bringing in terms of traffic.

Unfortunately drivers here don't get much practice in these conditions and it shows.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Post Composition

I'm back with some observations about my learning this week in CTL 1608: Constructive Learning and Design of Online Environments, but first a little background.

The interface we use for the course is called Knowledge Forum. It's been developed at OISE/UT for use in courses and is primarily as a space for participants to add to threaded discussions with new posts or build-ons. Because the interface is web-based, it's been suggested that we compose posts in a word processor and then "copy/paste/post" to contribute to the discussion.

What I've learned this week is that my posts are "different" if I use this method. I struggle to describe just how, but the lack of spontaneity hurts the post. The more considering and editing of the post I did, the less I liked it. Normally editing/revising is a good thing, but in this instance, I don't think it improved things.

My sense is that the more I worked on my "Bio" post for our class, the more clinical, convoluted and impersonal it became. In other words, pretty much the opposite of what I'd intended.

I think I'm left with two choices when it comes to my posts to KF-based "knowledge communities" @ OISE/UT:
  1. Revert to browser-based posts (and accept the fact that compositions will "go away" if the connection to the server is lost)
  2. Force myself to be more spontaneous, and "web-like" (i.e., warts and all) with my posts...even if they've been prepared in advance

While there's no question that posts need be informative and well-considered, I think it's just as true that online knowledge building needs spirit and personality to work. I'll suggest that the more "human" (those warts again ;-) the composition--be it a KF post or a picture, or a chat post or a video--the better.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Three Years' of Blogging

Today marks the third anniversary of this blog. I've learned enough over the last three years not to make any pronouncements about what the future holds for this forum, but I do know that I enjoy posting text and pictures and look forward to continuing.