DCMOOC – Digital Citizenship MOOC

Well I’m jumping into the DCMOOC a little late, but I just got caught up with the recordings this morning and you can too. I’m really excited that the Ministry of Education thought to provide this PD opportunity to the people of Saskatchewan and beyond.

A key component of Saskatchewan’s Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying is the support and promotion of digital citizenship instruction for K-12 students in Saskatchewan schools. The Ministry of Education is pleased to support this professional development opportunity for educators.

And who better to lead the charge, but our own Alec Couros. Very Cool.

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about digital citizenship lately and how there is an ever widening gap in our understanding of information usage and how companies like Google and Facebook are using our information. Jim Groom’s A Domain of One’s Own project and other whistle blowing warriors of the open web like Audrey Watters have been really pushing me as an instructional designer to subversively insert Digital Citizenship skills into course developments here at the U of S.

Large web companies are getting better and better at exploiting the information we share for their own profits and under the guise of serving you better. But if we don’t understand how our information is being used, if we click next next next on every terms and conditions screen we come across how can we be responsible digital citizens. Multi-billion dollar companies are researching and developing new ways to harvest and use this information and yet we keep using the internet like it’s our own personal computer.

I don’t mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist or a propaganda pusher, but the gap between their knowledge and ours as average users of the net is exponentially widening and that is a real issue.

I’m really hoping that DCMOOC will open some eyes and encourage a much deeper focus on digital literacy and citizenship skills to grow in all curriculum and help promote an attitude of informed internet users in our kids, teachers, and administrators. This is a great start to the conversation and I can’t wait to see all the resources and conversations that emerge. Thanks to everyone involved in this great project for making it happen!!

AR is getting interesting

Just saw the Metaio Showreel for 2013. I’ve always loved the concepts behind position based information systems. It’s the ultimate in just-in-time training which I think we need to invest more thought in with regards to faculty and student training. But this Augmented reality company is really starting to think (in a very commercial and capitalist way of course) outside the box with some of their developments. Take a look. The vehicle inspection piece particularly caught my eye. imagine this in a poly technique institution with an auto mechanics program. Fantastic

Here’s another one for the polytech’s and engineers.

The Digital Classroom is a Sham

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the way we “deliver” online learning. Spurred on, most recently, by Jim Groom’s Sloan-C keynote I’ve come to the conclusion that the fundamental flaw in how online learning is designed is the preconceived notion that we need to create a “digital classroom“. From copyright policies to access and privacy to the structure of course materials we almost always refer to the “digital classroom”. But what is this fictitious construct? In a face-to-face class the classroom serves as a meeting place for a social network of learners engaged in making connections through their interactions (at least in a well facilitated classroom). But how do we translated this to online learning?

A huge part of the projects that come through my door as an instructional designer at a post-secondary institution are translating f2f courses into online versions. The success of this process always relies on the SME being open to not just PDF’ing their lecture notes or worse yet lecture capturing a semesters worth of lectures and posting them online, but actually stripping the course down to it’s core objectives and building meaningful online interactions and activities that take advantage of how the online world works.


The Digital Classroom via the LMS

I attempted to illustrate how we often construct the digital classroom within a locked LMS (warning I am NOT an accomplished illustrator hahah). We have a large box into which we pour our content, some readings, assignment drop boxes, and host discussions for ultimately anonymous students to interact with. But students come to this “digital classroom” through their own portals and peer into the box to see the lecture show. Assignments they complete and interactions they have all take place within the box and are sealed there until the end of the term when the digital classroom doors are sealed forever.

We need to stop thinking of the online course as existing in an online classroom. No other activities we partake in online is confined like this. We hop around the world wide web like fleas on the back of a great dane. We create content and publish it here and there and wherever the most relevant space is, we bookmark articles and websites on a variety of topics and organize them to suit our own personal learning needs, we curate content and make web posts to synthesize and articulate our own understandings of things. The World Wide Web IS the digital classroom. It is large and expansive and messy and personal and powerful and a web of learning networks that can connect ideas and students and teachers and content and industry and scholarly activity and research and your mom’s Facebook page and that’s all really great!

“But if my course is scattered all over the internet how will students know what is expected of them and how will they know where to find the content?”

Ah, the voice of the masses. It’s actually a really good question, but one with simple and logical answers that many educational technologists and instructional designers have addressed. In my own explanation of how this works there are two basic components; the Syllabus and Syndication.

The syllabus template that has been developed for our own use here at the U of S was a collaborative project between the campus wide Instructional Designers Group. It not only fulfills all the legal requirements within the Universities policies, but is a VERY comprehensive map of the requirements of the course and the core learning outcomes, objectives, materials, and assessments. This syllabus should provide the students and instructor the necessary direction for their activities. The activities and content for the course, however, is the active participation part of the learning process that takes place in the open web. Making use of any online tools, networks, and avenues is fair game for both the instructor and the students.

But how do I keep track of all this crazy internet traffic to make sense of it as a cohesive course?

Web Learning Network

Course-Based Learning Network

Syndication. The Domain of One’s Own project at the University of Mary Washington has developed and mastered this process like no other at this point and if you wish to see how to implement syndication on a large scale I’d recommend starting with “Considering Running Domain of One’s Own on Your Campus?” on Jim Groom’s blog. For many individual ed tech’ers or ID’s we’re just trying to get this done in small controlled successes at this stage so that we have some samples of innovation to show the next SME and begin changing philosophies one course at a time. For us, it can be done through simple systems such as hashtags and social bookmarking. these two tools alone will allow students to curate, create, and network in a way that they’ve never had the opportunity to do in an LMS. A course homepage in the form of an instructors blog can act as a hub for activities and announcements and provide a space where students can keep up to date with the activities week by week. Ask students to tag their work with a class hashtag wherever they publish it and also link to it using a social bookmarking account that the class has accounts for. In this way students are given control of their own content and activities, but can share it with their peers and, if they choose, the public. Each student can maintain their own level of privacy and participation and those who learn best by lurking will still have plenty of content to help them achieve the designed objectives of the course.

We need to move beyond our paradigm paralysis of this traditional classroom model being “translated” into an online “space”.  The Digital Classroom is a sham. The internet doesn’t work like that. We don’t work on the internet like that. Start thinking of the grand world wide web as the classroom, or a field trip or let’s stop thinking of it in traditional forms all together.


Designing a Course as an Event

Ok I’m totally nerding out over here! I recently found this promotional video for a MOOC out of the University of Applied Science in Potsdam, Germany on The Future of Storytelling.

The energy and style of this video got me really pumped about this class. So I started to analyze why and I think it has to do with the way in which they’ve presented their course. It’s as though you are being invited to participate in a research event. It almost creates a FOMO (Fear of missing out) effect. Although this piece was designed as a marketing tool to drum up participants for a MOOC, I started to wonder what the implications of such a video would be for registered students within a program.  I think it’s a residue that MOOCs are leaving on distributed learning design. People put so much thought into “marketing” a MOOC. Why don’t we do that with all our courses? If I saw this video and then the other elective option was “ENG101″ with a boring course description and a readings list you better believe I’d take this. I liked the concept of introducing the “team” of instructors, but also that they really emphasized the role of the student’s interests and how that fits with the class. It’s got me thinking about how we design, market, and facilitate. I think if we create courses that have the excitement of an EVENT like this that we would improve student engagement 100%. For our courses at the University we basically rely on students being enrolled in programs. That’s our audience. They HAVE to take courses to finish a degree. In that way, we’ve never really marketed specific classes to them, because they’re already enrolled in a program. That’s where I think this idea is innovative. Using the same marketing techniques of creating an exciting event for core courses, not as a marketing tool to make them TAKE the course (they have to take the course regardless), but as a way to increase motivation and engagement. To get them excited about being a part of the learning experience that’s been designed. I think this approach really appeals to today’s student. We are bombarded with marketing media all day and have an expectation of some kind of wow factor. The way we deliver and design and market our courses does nothing for these senses.

Transmedia Storytelling and Course Design

Transmedia storytelling is something I’ve been interested in for quite a while. Aside from the blending of diegetic and non-diegetic realities in the narrative, I think it’s the depth to which the design needs to be constructed that really interests me. Scattering the pieces of a puzzle across various media formats including text, video, social media, email, text messages, and more, Transmedia storytelling designs a path of experience where the audience feels as though they are at the controls, but where there is only one outcome. Reminiscent of a “choose-your-own-adventure” book, this form of story design is highly motivational and demands interactive engagement. Delivered across multiple platforms and sources, Transmedia storytelling also taps into the way in which we naturally “discover” in informal learning environments. In particular, how we surf the net or how we click our way through information to make connections. It uses our natural sense of curiosity and ability to problem solve to move you through the labyrinth. How then could we use this concept of mapping a path using clues and rabbit holes to engage a learning audience?

This concept is very intriguing to me indeed. What if the objectives of a course could be achieved by planting breadcrumbs of content along a maze of discovery in which the student stumbles upon key pieces of the puzzle. These puzzle pieces would become the rabbit hole which directs them to subsequent learning content and further objectives. Learners may not discover all the same clues nor engage in the same activities in the same way, but in the end they would all find the same conclusive end point or outcome. Take a look at this video on Transmedia storytelling to see an example of how it works in marketing and try to imagine designing a course using the same conventions. It’s not that far fetched an idea and one that I think would create a very motivational model.


Project Tango

Johnny Chung Lee has been on my radar since the Nintendo Wii first hit the market in 2006. He’s a developer that took the technology from the wiimote and allowed us to create projected interactive whiteboards for under $50 and a host of other amazing tools and hacks that blew my mind. So where does a superstar of this caliber go?…Google.

Johnny is now invovled with Project Tango which is looking at 3D scanning technology in a mobile phone. Bringing 3D scanning technology to a mobile device is….well game changing to say the least. I’m so stoked about the furture of mobile computing it’s not even funny. I am the Super nerd fan-boy of this project right now. No shame.

OpenMedia’s Fight Against Mass Surveillance

OpenMedia has been a watchdog for unjust policy and government actions on the web here in Canada for a long time now. Today they are promoting action against the mass surveillance that is taking place in Canada with The Day We Fight Back. Here’s some more information about what’s happening and what you can do to help.

OpenMedia.ca has joined with experts to call on Big Telecom to come clean about their role helping government spy agency CSEC collect hugely revealing information on thousands of law-abiding Canadians. CSEC has spied on innocent Canadians, even targeting air travellers at Canadian airports.1

Is Big Telecom both price-gouging Canadians and spying on us for the government?

We don’t know and here’s the kicker. Guess who’s footing the enormous bill for this reckless spying behaviour? Turns out Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for billions of dollars to pay for government spying – yes, that’s BILLION.2

Are our public dollars going to be used to pay Big Telecom to monitor us?

Today is budget day in Ottawa and MPs need to hear from you right now about opposing wasteful and invasive spying on our private lives. Speak out with our easy-to-use tool to tell your local MP exactly where you stand.

What we do know is that Bell has launched an invasive spying scheme to track the Internet activities of all their customers3. The government has also tabled legislation to give them immunity if they hand over our private data to the government.4

If you speak out today you’ll be joining people around the world to stop dragnet government spying on law-abiding citizens.

Today is an international day of action called the ‘Day We Fight Back’ and it’s our best chance to turn the tide on one of the most crucial issues of our time:

Join with thousands of your fellow Canadians and tell your local MP to stop out-of-control spying on our private lives.

We know from experience that when tens of thousands of Canadians join together it has a powerful impact. Today, we’re sending Parliament a message they can’t ignore – stop wasting our tax dollars on reckless Big Telecom spying for the government. The more that take part the stronger our voice – so join us right now, Jordan.

Thank you for being a part of this,
Steve, Josh, and David, on behalf of your OpenMedia.ca team

P.S. Thanks to brave whistleblowers, we know just how far CSEC spying has spiralled out of control – they’re recklessly invading our privacy while dragging Canada’s international reputation through the mud. It’s costing billions and you’re the one picking up the tab. Had enough? Don’t miss this chance to tell your MP where you stand – speak out right now.

[1] CSEC used airport Wi-Fi to track Canadian travellers. Source: CBC News
[2] Inside Canada’s top secret billion dollar spy palace. Source: CBC News
[3] Canadians react to Bell’s latest affront to citizens. Source: OpenMedia.ca
[4] Lawful access is back. Source: Michael Geist