Monday, October 24, 2011

Institutional Interconnectedness

MOOCs and blogs have greatly increased my awareness of the interconnectedness of institutions. People with an undergraduate degree in philosophy or History or English and want income security for continuing to devote their life to intellectual pursuits and the common good have had a commonly recognized path - teacher, librarian, professor, clergyperson, journalist, writer, artist,lawyer ...
The web has greatly expanded access to information while at the same time created an environment where the value of universities, libraries, churches and publishing houses are being questioned.
Through blogs and MOOCs, it's easy to see the interconnectedness of these institutions and how if the first domino falls, the others could quickly go down as well with impact down the line on other professions with degree requirements.
I think we have to be watchful of how technology is impacting the intellectual community as a whole and how the various professions are trying to redefine their roles to maintain their value to society. Because there is so much overlap in the skill sets, strengthening the value of one, strengthens the value of all and weakening the value of one, weakens the value of them all. The other issue is that if any of those professions fall, where will those professionals go. It seems most likely that they will try to flow into a related profession or find themselves in the even more crowded retail sector.
Without having an actual revolution as occurred in China in the late 1950 (or perhaps in our interconnected world, the unease in political circles about the effectives of organizing a revolution through mobile devices), we could see a flowering of intellectual freedom followed quickly by a massive devaluing or even supression of thought and culture.
Do we have time for each profession to grope its way into the 21st century or is there a great impetus for pooling the insights gained from the perspectives of each professional grouping and move forward with greater collegiality and awareness of shared interests as well as uniqueness.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Historian

I came across an interesting quote in the novel "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova which I think relevant to our discussions about e-learning vs learning on traditional campuses.
..."One of the few pieces of research I'm sure I'll never finish. I have a theory, however, that this ghastly trail of scholarship, like so many less awful ones, is merely something one person makes a little progress on, then another, each contributing a bit in his own lifetime. ...Again he hesitated. 'Scholarship must go on. For good or for evil, but inevitably in every field.'"

In this novel, 4 scholars at various times receive ancient books with blank pages except for a wood carving print of a dragon in the centerfold. If you found such a book, you became an unfortunate successor who would be searching out clues around to world to find the exact location of the grave of Vlad Tepes of Dracula legend. The book comes to the scholar in a library. It wasn't there before he took a break but mysteriously has been left either where he was working or where he will return a book to the stacks. Librarians in this novel are extremely knowledgable about the location of everything ever published on Dracula and more often than not have the bite marks to show that Dracula has taken an interest in them as well.

I suppose if this becomes a movie, the characters would be running around with mobile devices but much of the creepiness would be lost without the musty books and ancient libraries with their most unusual librarians. The story itself reminds me of the movie "National Treasure" with the obsession of discovering the clues spanning generations and aborting whatever scholarship would have happened if the book hadn't appeared in their lives. However I'm not sure an e-book would be as compelling as holding the ancient leather-bound book in one's hands.

Monday, February 21, 2011

While listening to an Elluminate Session, I capture the back channel links on diigo. Wish I thought of it sooner. Usually the links are quite worthwhile and it's efficient to do it as soon as they are posted

Monday, February 7, 2011

Delicious & CCK08

A member of the CCK08 (the first Connectivism class led by George & Stephen) put everyone's blogs on Delicious. I opened a Delicious account, put those pages on my account and didn't post to Delicious much after that.
Because of CCK11,I decided to revisit Diigo and Delicious.

Discovered there were some advantages to having the links to class members blogs.

1. They are in a variety of languages. Over the years, one would accumulate a list of bloggers on connectivism writing in languages under-represented in the current class.

2. Most of these blogs are still in use because creating a designated blog for a course was a bit of a strange concept so many of us didn't create a designated blog until after the blog addresses were put on Delicious. It's possible to go from what the blogger was blogging about before taking the course, while taking the course and the evolution of the blog until today. While not pure, it does give a bit of followup as to whether or not the blogger continued to write on the subject, decided there was sufficient interest for a separate blog and the ways he/she is currently connected online.

3. These blogs were put on delicious very early in the course. As in all MOOCs, most of the members were silent lurkers so didn't submit their blogs. But there remains 2 groups: those who intended to post but left or went into lurk mode for other priorities and those who sustained their interest in the course.

Think there is enough to be learned from this to give some of the original bloggers a re-visit. Back in CCK08, I wasn't as committed to transparency so I opened the account under a fictitious word rather than my own name. May have to correct that problem by transferring the information to a new account and closing the original one.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

CCK11 Introduction and Map

In the introduction, I never really said what I do. The easy answer is nothing. But it's not exactly nothing because I can point to something that exists amidst the nothing. There's a photo on the side bar. Son, daugher-in-law, son, me, son-in-law, daughter, husband, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, son. Two grandchildren expected in 2011 - one in March and one in August. That's my legacy. I brought people into the world who are bringing people into the world.

My husband's an Anglican priest which makes me a clergy spouse which is a reflection of something. Here's the parish website http://parishofthetransfiguration The official Diocesan death notice for me will read, "Ruth Demitroff (only Ruth will be about me - everything else will be a record of my husband's career).

I've been advised to say that I'm retired because that's a term that makes sense, is more understandable. The husband, kids, parish still have expectations so I guess I retired at 31 from Human Resources, Salaried Personnel, General Motors of Canada but no one retires at 31 with 5 years service so retired isn't true. I was in school until I was 26 so I'm considered to have done something for 5 years of my life. Is that true? Only to me. What one did 30 year ago is irrelevant - not resume relevant.

So on the map, I described myself as a life-long learner. That's the closest to true I can get.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rev. Dr. Ellen Bruce - Unusual Credentials

The Rev. Dr. Ellen Bruce, a resident of Old Crow, Yukon Territories died at 98. She became an Anglican Priest without being academically qualified, received an honorary doctorate and was given the Order of Canada. All were in agreement that she fully deserved every honor bestowed upon her.

So here's the link to her story. If you want to know an alternative way of being acknowledged as a scholar, read on

I met Ellen Bruce on at least 2 occasions - once in Old Crow and once in Haines Junction. She radiated love and devotion. Love and devotion to one's people can qualify someone for an honorary Ph.D.

You might also be interested in learning about education in Old Crow - the school goes to Gr.8

The King's Speech & Lack of Credentials

The confrontation between the King George VI and Lionel Logue after the Archbishop of Canterbury reveals that Lionel Logue is not a doctor but an actor and teacher of elocution fits nicely with CCK11's pondering about what is a scholar.

Upon meeting Lionel, the future King presumed that he was Dr. Logue. Lionel did not correct him. Should he have done so? Does it always matter to be precise or are there times when it is permissible to not draw attention to the mistaken assumption. I would think it would be fairly common for someone in the academic world to be mistakenly introduced both socially and in introductions as doctor. What do you do if someone has printed flyers for a lecture or conference and without consulting you had them printed with a higher degree than the one you hold?

Lionel did not have any degrees behind his name on his office door. The Duchess and later the Duke came to his office to consult with Lionel and could clearly see that it was in a poorer section of London, the rooms were humbly furnished, Lionel had no staff and that when therapy wasn't happening, the office area was part of the family space. It was clear that Lionel did not intentionally deceive anyone but didn't point out his lack of academic credentials even though this potential client wouldn't have used his services if he'd been aware that Lionel lacked formal credentials.

Lionel was trained in elocution, acting and had been asked to figure out a way to help the shell shocked WWI vets who came back from the wall psychologically unable to speak. He'd had permission to find whatever might work and had experienced successes. Even if he wanted to train to be a speech therapist, no courses existed when he began his work. The men with the doctorates were interested in the physical aspects of speech whereas Lionel also explored the psychological reasons for speech hesitancy.

So how do you acknowledge the expertise of someone who cannot receive it from an academic institution. In Lionel Logue's case, he was inducted into the Royal Victoria Order by the King.

Connected Learning & Isolation - CCK11

In the introductions, Scott Johnson mentioned connectivism and connected learning with regard to living in an isolated area. In 2008 and 2009, I don't remember this aspect ever being discussed.

Canada's cutting edge work on distance education for advanced degrees lies in the history of Athabasca College. There seemed to be a dividing line at the Manitoba/Ontario border with the East committed to bricks and mortar, traditional practices and the West and North more willing to experiment. I think we owe a debt of gratitude to our Canadian Indian people for raising awareness that not all cultures count the days until their kids turn 18 and head for the cities. Some peoples have deep connections to their tribe or clan and value those connections more than city-based educational opportunities.

Perhaps online connectivism is tied to connectivism in the real world. If people are so strongly connected to their communities that they remain with their friends, family and work associates rather than pursuing distance opportunities, then online connectedness is a logical extension and reinforcement of their core values. How important are connections to you and when thinking about the connections that add value and pleasure to your existence, on what ring outward from self does online connections fit?

A major problem in Canada is that we have large, sparsely populated areas and a few major cities. While attracting immigrants and youth to Canadian cities is easy, the flow of population outward into less populated areas is more of a trickle until people retire. Would the ability to remain connected and learn and work online be enough for you to consider moving from a city to a less populated area?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Scholarly Expertise - CCK11

I'm a lover of pageantry and processionals. They send shivers up my spine and add another link in a long chain of protecting and passing on what is valued.

Even though I never had the intellect, perseverance or endurance for post graduate work, I believe the progression from bachelor to master to doctorate to lifetime scholarly commitment is worthy of whatever sacrifice it demanded.

In the MOOC world where everyone is expected to create and add to a body of knowledge, I think both more openness and equity can be achieved while acknowledging a debt of gratitude to those who followed an ancient route. At the moment, I think there's tension between everyone having expertise from their experience as human beings and those whose expertise required long years of preparation, examination and being granted rank through a ceremonial process. In a MOOC those taking the course for credit pay fees and have to meet standards of excellence imposed by academic institutions. So what is a dilettante and what is a scholar and what is a traditional wisdom bearer in the tribal sense? Are distinctions irrelevant or do we have a sense of where we would fall in processional order. If one lives and has their being in a Medieval world, everyone knows his rank. Is the same true in the world being created? That's for others to decide. By virtue of my age and my identity, I'm not going to be able to cross into the land of future promise.

Here's a link to Wed's processional at Trinity Wall Street
The short version of the professional starts at 2:33 min to 4:30 min. but if you want the prelude start at 2:09 min

Truth As Theme - CCK11

A new experience in Connectivism for me is taking other courses along with it. On Thursday and Friday, I took a 2 day seminar on a subject that I wouldn't expect to have common themes with CCK11. It was offered by Trinity Wall Street on "Reading Scripture Through Other Eyes"

I was enormously surprised on Wed. Elluminate session in Connectivism that "What is True" became a subject of interest. My philosophical thoughts about "What is True" began and ended with an introductory philosophy course that met at 8:00 a.m. Monday, Wed & Friday and maybe 18 year olds attended on Wed. In the Scripture course, one of the discussion points was whether or not the truth in scripture can be discovered until all voices have been heard including the powerless, the imprisoned, the abused, the illiterate, etc.

One would think that as the world becomes more and more connected, a filtering process would occur that would allow people to concentrate solely on the voices of the world's most respected scholars. While the barriers of access to scholarly lectures has disappeared along with it has arisen a desire in those scholars to actively seek out the voices of the disenfranchised, the illiterate, the oppressed to discover how the material is seen in a wider array of contexts to thicken their knowledge base.

The metaphor for truth in the connected age is more like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. People are searching harder because the discernment of truth is seen as the way to save ourselves from fear, ignorance, mistrust and hopefully global destruction. No matter how elegant individual pieces of truth may be,it's easier to know where the colorful, stunning pieces fit as opposed to the blues of the sky and the sea or the browns of the mountains, animals and soil. Without the hard work of discovering the unique place of all the blue and brown pieces, the picture can't be completed. The puzzle of truth will remain incomplete, frustrating, unsatisfying, of limited value if one person's piece is missing, hidden, tossed aside, treated carelessly. MOOCs are a bring together of the elegant and the common.

I'm a traditional grandmother - a bit of water or a bit of soil. If after reading the introductions you wonder if you belong in a MOOC - yes you do.

Spam on blogs

I haven't been blogging much over the past year and hadn't been checking my comments section either. Fortunately the feature that filters out spam is doing a wonderful job. When I looked at the blocked spam section, there were about 4,000 comments filtered out that would have bothered me enormously if they had been posted. Even though the writer takes a break from posting, spammers don't.
I've wondered why my husband gets daily spam to his email site while I very, very seldom receive any. Looks like they email is the default if it can be sent to a blog site instead.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Intro to CCK11

Nothing I'm saying applies to the students taking this course for credit. They have a lot of work to cover in a set period of time to meet the standards set in the academic world.
Those of us who are non-credit have set a lower priority bar for ourselves. Don't look at the volume of assigned readings and information being created by course members and decide to stop because you can't carve out that much time. Learn what you can and give yourself an open-ended finishing date. People who create content keep on creating content. Methods of connecting keep evolving. Stephen and George like a mix of new class members and returning class members in the MOOC so if you like the structure of being in a course, you can join in future sessions and concentrate on the things you didn't get to before.

So take a few deep breaths, jump into the water and enjoy this opportunity to connect with people from around with world representing a wide variety of disciplines.