Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Facebook used to be cool, and now it's all, like, junkie"

I'm not sure what it means, but my 15 yr old daughter who has been a Facebook fanatic, laments that "Facebook used to be cool, and now it's all, like, junkie"--a sentiment I share given my own experience with Facebook.

By opening up their API, have they imploded under the weight of wave after wave of junk apps--compatibility tests, "hot or not" and the like? My daughter says she has to "ignore" 50 invites a day, even from supposed "friends" in her network, and she doesn't even accept solicitation from anyone outside her network.

My point is that as educators have spoken about being where our students are--being in the spaces that they occupy--being in Facebook and MySpace. I'm not sure what to think about that if my daughter and here friends are already growing weary of them...and yet she doesn't want to start all over again in another social network She feels trapped.

I honestly don't know what this means or how this will all shake out, but I tend to put more trust in my daughter and friends than I do in the industry trend reports. At the same time my Linked-in account has grown quite a bit in the last couple months. Maybe the smaller networks are the more meaningful ones, maybe this is just Facebook experiencing growing pains.

What seems obvious to me is that we educators must create truly helpful/useful or fun applications, and not just empty applications aimed at trying to show how hip we are cuz we've gotta Facebook app too (this is no comment on PSU's recent entry!).
It will be interesting to watch.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sink or Swim: Front loading Challenging Learning Activities

I teach a digital-video-production-for-educators class online for Penn State World Campus, and am finishing a significant revision of the course. With this class, I'm concerned that I'm throwing my students in the deep end right at the outset of the class by having them plan, record, and upload an introduction of themselves on a video hosting site (Viddler, Voicethread, Teachertube, etc.). Some have never done anything with their videotapes--ever! let alone, connect their camera to their computer, edit, compress and post their videos to an online hosting site.

My concern is that by requiring this, I may be setting myself up for a tech support nightmare. I'm hoping this is not the case. I'm hoping that we've come to the point where 1) tools are easy enough to use, and 2) participants have enough online media literacy. The first I hope is especially true. The latter I'm here to help my students with.
Later assignments will have them first edit their videos and then post them and comment on each other's videos throughout the class.
E-learning guru, Michael Allen, says:

Learners prefer jumping into interesting tasks, then breaking them down into their components as it becomes necessary....Actually it's much more effective to present challenges first. If learners can meet the challenge then you won't have bored them by telling them what they already know. If they can't meet the challenge, they can ask for help, and in doing so will value the information they receive more and will see its relevance [paraphrased].

Believing he's right, I proceed to front load the challenging part of the class and get right to the whole point of the class--create and share effective instructional media using the tools of the day. I look forward to this new model over how we used to do it by sending videotapes back and forth by snail mail, email attachments or posting files to our CMS. I'm hoping that this new approach encourages far more collaboration and discussion around the videos, facilitates more experimentation and gives class participants new media skills--and that these skills will help them better do their respective jobs.
...but maybe deep down inside, I hope most of all that I haven't created a support nightmare.
-JG (did I mention that I've submitted ALL my final dissertation materials...all that's left now is the walk)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Assignment #1: Post to Wikipedia

A professor has students publish a wikipedia article rather than generate and submit a term paper for only herself and the student to enjoy. I love the idea, and don't know why such a simple and fabulous idea didn't come to my mind a while ago. I do have my students post their videos online for the world to see...I guess that counts for something!

-Joel G.

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