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


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.