Thursday, July 28, 2016

Student E-Portfolios for Future and Current Teacher Practitioners

I am working this week in putting ideas together about student e-portfolios (for English language teacher trainers).  Any comments that you might have about student e-portfolios are greatly appreciated!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Establishing Expectations Around APA and Plagiarism

On Monday, July 25, 2016, I will be discussing with our academia expectations we have around APA and plagiarism related to academic writing essays throughout the BA in English language teaching program.  The session will be recorded and subsequently uploaded to this post.

Permalink to Presentation

Monday, July 18, 2016

What is a Personal Learning Network?


A personal learning network (or PLN) consists of ideas, materials, and social relationships.  Each of these three elements cannot be described in the absence of the other two.  For example, I cannot talk about Twitter being part of my PLN without understanding the relationship Twitter has with the ideas I share and to whom I share those ideas.

How many times have you heard educators of 1:1 schools ask, "Now that I have an iPad, what do I do with it?" Any one of the three elements of a PLN cannot be taken out of context when determining its meaning.  Materials, such as technologies, can be  expressed in terms of environments, places, and spaces, as well as any related objects that make up those environments, places, and spaces.  New technologies are constantly being introduced to the public, but they become no more or less important than the ideas and social relationships that make up the holistic set of associations.  Thus, there is an iterative and reciprocal dynamic between ideas, materials, and individuals that continually impact each other to the degree they remain connected.  Being connected emerges when a change or the existence of one (ideational, material, or human) node causes a synchronous or asynchronous change in another.  To understand any one of the three elements of a PLN (an idea, technologies, or human relationship) is to understand this three-way association from both a diachronic and synchronic standpoint. 

A PLN is not constructed, built, nor created. Nor does it grow, develop, nor flourish.  It does not start from nothing to become something.  It is and will always be present. 

What has changed over the years is the way individuals communicate, and how they communicate can best be described as having an understanding of the complexity of a PLN.  This understanding emerges by asking two separate but related questions: 1) How has my PLN changed over time? And 2) What does my PLN currently look like?

A PLN is inherently personal to the degree the individual has autonomy in making decisions about how ideas, materials, and human relationships come together.  Any barriers that hinder ideas, materials, and human relationships will ultimately impede one's PLN.

The ideational, material, and social relationships that connectively form a PLN are both causes and effects.  Each is a result of something happening before it and each is a potential cause for something happening after it.  Similarly, a PLN as a connective whole acts as both a cause and an effect.

A PLN is both intentional and incidental.  An individual will purposefully use a PLN for some sought after goal, but will also recognize the frequency of ideas, materials, and social interactions that cannot be anticipated.  An awareness of one's situated PLN leverages the potentiality of intentional and incidental learning, and offers insights into how they each relate to one another. 

Earlier, I mentioned that a PLN is not constructed, built, nor created. Nor does it grow, develop, nor flourish.  But what a PLN does do is adopt and adapt to a degree on its own and to a degree based on autonomous decision-making that occurs from the individual.  The individual sets out to  _adopt_ and _adapt_ a PLN in order to become more _adept_.

Intentional vs. Purposeful Learning

Taking OpenFlip Spring 2016 (#openflip) provided an opportunity to reflect and share my ideas about intentionality and its roles in education. Last night I watched a Netflix documentary about Tony Robbins, I Am Not Your Guru. This morning I listen to Self-Confidence Matters: "I Determine School (Student) Success", specifically towards the end of the podcast where Baruti Kafele speaks briefly about intentionality. Having done all three continues to solidify my thoughts around how the idea of intentionality is being used in the field of education.

One of the four pillars of the flipped classroom addresses the idea of intentional content by stating,
Flipped Learning Educators continually think about how they can use the Flipped Learning model to help students develop conceptual understanding, as well as procedural fluency. They determine what they need to teach and what materials students should explore on their own. Educators use Intentional Content to maximize classroom time in order to adopt methods of student-centered, active learning strategies, depending on grade level and subject matter.
One of the best things that I got out of taking OpenFlip Spring 2016 was the realization that basing the flipped classroom mindset on intentional content 1) places too much emphasis on content and not enough on the realities (complexity) of learning and 2) ignores the role of incidental learning as a necessary counterpoint to intentional learning. Content (whether intentional or incidental) is only a potential enabler to intentional and incidental learning that both co-exist in any dynamic, purposeful, educative experience.

Regardless as to how you view Tony Robbins, the documentary illustrates how intentional and incidental learning come together for a purpose. There is a clear purpose for each of the six days that Robbins dedicates to his followers, and his plans for each day are well-thought out and can change based on what had previously transpired. So his events are clearly purposeful, with a lot of aspects to the experience being intentional (e.g., content, physical environment, and social relationships). But during the event, much of what he does cannot be anticipated. Many testimonials (I.e., experiences, understandings, perspectives, etc.) shared by the attendees are unexpected (i.e., incidental). This provides the backdrop into making those experiences, understandings, perspectives, etc. revealing for not only the audience member but also for other audience members by linking the testimonial back to the goals for that particular day or event (i.e., intentional). Coupling incidental occurrences with intentional occurrences is what good teaching is all about. Educators can anticipate student mistakes, but there are still many more that are unanticipated. Knowing what to do about unanticipated learning that can occur in the (flipped) classroom is key.

Kafele's point about students walking into an "intentional" classroom is noteworthy, but he appears to be contrasting this kind of classroom with an "arbitrary" classroom experience.

I would use a slightly different vocabulary, since I view "arbitrary" not synonymous with "incidental".
Students need to enter into a purposeful classroom each day - there needs to be a reason for coming to class. Within a purposeful learning context, students and teachers co-adopt and co-adapt by understanding the intentional and incidental learning that can emerge, which should ultimately transform learners based on curricular and individual goals. There is nothing arbitrary about this process.
A flipped classroom mindset needs to embrace the complexity of intentional and incidental learning from ideational, material, and social perspectives so that decisions about content, process, and product can form a more educative experience for each learner.

Friday, July 15, 2016

An "Argument" for the Traditional Lecture

An "Argument" for the Traditional Lecture
Gross-Loh (2016) argues (kind of) in Should Colleges Really Eliminate the College Lecture? for the traditional lecture and greater training to professors for improving public speaking skills. I have gone through the piece and have tried to outline parts of the argument that seem incoherent, along with some perspective as well.

Traditional Lecture as an Endangered Species

The first line of reasoning the author makes is as follows:
  • R1: A lack of training exists among university professors to give good traditional lectures.
  • R2: Although there is a focus on training professors to improve teaching skills, such training focuses more on flipping the classroom (and related technologies) than on the traditional lecture.
  • C: This, in part, is why "the endangered" (para. 2).
This line of cloudy reasoning is a formal fallacy. First, saying that there is the wrong kind of teacher training which focuses on flipping the classroom does not mean there is a lack of training in the right kind of training needed to give traditional lectures in the classroom. Flipped classroom training certainly could focus on producing traditional lectures that are effective and providing these as recordings to students asynchronously. There is nothing in the piece about what kind of lectures are being recorded and how traditional (or non-traditional) these forms of lectures are within a flipped classroom approach. So, to jump to the conclusion that the lecture is "endangered" seems a stretch. Gross-Loh does go however into some level of detail about the lack of training in public speaking among professors, but because it unnecessarily contrasts the notion of a flipped classroom, it certainly seems probable that a traditional lecture (that meets the author's standards) could be recorded, produced, and made available to learners outside of the classroom experience. If the author feels that a worthwhile traditional lecture has to be delivered face to face, then this is a different argument not being made in this piece.

Getting the Question Right

Later in the article, the question is posed: " it the college lecture itself that’s the problem—or the lecturer" (para. 5)?

In problem solving, often it is about getting the problem established that becomes the intellectual exercise. Similarly, sometimes getting the question right is more important than ever being able to truly answer it. What additional insight can be made when separating the performance (i.e., the lecture) from the person (i.e., the professor)? The question in the article can be separated into two empty notions: 1) There is no problem with the professor, but the lectures are a big problem. or 2) There is no problem with the lectures, but the professor is a big problem. I do not see the need to entertain this question.

Training Means Performing Means Learning

The author states,
...although proponents of the movement to move away from the lecture cite data on its ineffectiveness, the debate has failed to take into account the fact that academics are rarely, if ever, formally trained in public speaking.
Another fallacy of sorts...Even if training automatically enables the professor to become a good public speaker, being a good public speaker does not necessarily mean an educative experience for the learners. Public speaking does not always equate to comprehensible input. This is the underlining premise that I cannot subscribe to. Learning has more to do with what the students do than what the teachers do.

The author goes on to say,
The lecture was a highlight of my own education,” Molly Worthen, a University of North Carolina (para.14).
Here, the author provides evidence of linking the traditional lecture with active learning, which seems out of place within the overall thesis of the article. In fact, this is where I asked myself, what is the main thesis of this piece? Is it that professors lack public speaking skills? Is it that professors lack the training to implement dynamic lectures that mix the traditional lecture with active learning? Should a flipped classroom approach be part of this training or not?

Flipping is Elitist

There is a lot to the concept of a ‘flipped classroom,’ but it is also very much an elite-institution idea,” says Hacsi, referring to a model in which students view lectures outside of class and focus on homework elements inside of it (para. 17).
So here the argument is that expecting students to work outside of the classroom is "elitist" because many students have to work their way through college. Thus, only the privileged few (society's greatest) who can afford to go to school and not work could ever have enough time to devote to assignments required outside of class.

As far as I know (and correct me if I am wrong), students are still required to complete course assignments outside of class. So given this assumption, if anyone fails to see how a flipped classroom provides an equitable educative experience to many (both to credit and noncredit-seeking students alike) - the polar opposite of an elitist viewpoint - then more research needs to be conducted before one chooses to write about it in any intelligible way.

This post leaves me confused as to what the overall thesis actually is. Removing any mention of the flipped classroom, I am unable to disagree with many points if presented separately. But the way the ideas are organized as a whole leaves me confused as to what the author is really getting at.

I present my views in hopes someone can shed light on the overall mean of the original post and/or my interpretation of it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Defining MOOCs...if we must

MOOC Definitions
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) published Making Sense of MOOCs: A Guide for Policy Makers in Developing Countries (2016) where they define the term, Massive, Open, Online Course (MOOC). They preface the definition by admitting that how one defines the term is open to interpretation, and go on to state that their approach in reaching a definition was to consider a variety of prior definitions first, then present commonalities in ascertaining what they mean by massive, open, online, and course (p. 17). Since defining a MOOC is open to interpretation, I offer an alternative definition after presenting how UNESCO and COL define each of the four facets. I include italicized text where I feel there are shortcomings in UNESCO/COL's interpretation and attempt for mass appeal. When planning, implementing, and evaluating a MOOC, definitions do matter, but admit that reaching a consensus about a single definition is not all that important. My thoughts on the matter are what crosses my mind when I am confined to using such a nebulous term.

The itemized list below is how UNESCO and COL define massive, open, online, and course (p. 17):
  • Massive: designed for, in theory, an unlimited number of participants. This means that the course is designed such that the effort required to provide all services does not increase significantly as the number of participants increases.
  • Open: access to the course is free, and there are no entry qualifications.
  • Online: the full course is available through the Internet (using a laptop or desktop computer, a tablet computer or a smartphone).
  • Course: the offering is a course, meaning that it offers a complete learning experience — i.e., it is structured around a set of learning goals in a defined area of study and includes the course materials, assessment tools such as quizzes, feedback, an examination and a certificate of completion.
I particularly like how they define online when they say the course is available through the Internet and not that it is necessarily delivered through the Internet (although it often is). But I view the other three definitions from a slightly different perspective. I define each and then provide a rationale as follows:
  • Massive: The course is designed to be scalable; it has less to do with an actual number of participants and more to do with the potential to educate. The course is designed such that the effort required to deliver the course does not increase significantly as the number of participants increases. Rationale: A MOOC, even in theory, is not designed for an unlimited number of participants based on much of my explanation related to the term course (see below). One should not expect that a MOOC of any kind provide all services to the educative experience, even if the term all services could possibly be defined. Trying to come up with a magic number that defines "massive" misses the point: MOOCs are scalable when it comes to the potential of having a larger number of participants interact without changing much in the way the course is planned and implemented (from a learning design perspective). Of course the implementation of the course (from the learner's perspective) will vary greatly when more participants are engaged, but it does not relate to the effort course designers or instructors put into the course per se. The higher number of participants, the higher learning potential, and the greater level uncertainty or variation into types of assessment and engagement. Uncertainty and variation depend on the degree of prestige and power potential (as social networking concepts) course creators have with the target audience.
  • Open: like any open educational resource (OER), access to the course and any subsequent engagement throughout the course may be "retained, reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed" by anyone (p. 20). Rationale: The term free (as in free beer) is irrelevant because learners may still participate in a MOOC but pay a fee in order to receive more direct feedback (e.g., as one might expect in formal education situations) or they may not pay for the course and rely on emergent feedback that is more dependent on the learner's personal learning network (PLN). Feedback (i.e., formative and summative assessment) coming from a learner who pays for the course usually comes from an educator from an institution who then accredits the learner for having participated in a MOOC, likely engaging with other accrediting and non-accrediting learners alike. The attributes of a MOOC are independent to whether the learner pays for the course or not. Also, stating that there are "no entry qualifications" is misleading if 1) the learner needs to take the course and get accredited (when receiving accreditation is for a fee); 2) the learner fails to have the appropriate readiness level or prior knowledge to begin or to complete the course; 3) the learner does not have the technological wherewithal to access a course available online (e.g., Internet connection, hardware, software, etc.); or 4) the learner does not have the appropriate habit of mind (or metacognitive skill sets) necessary to begin or complete the course (e.g., navigating course content, online engagement, etc.). Depending on the target audience, these considerations may need to be addressed at the beginning of the course in order to make entry qualifications explicit.
  • Online: Course is available publicly online. Rationale: Fine for a general definition but would need to be clearer depending on the context. Some discussion of blended or blended online learning would more than likely be necessary and would directly link to the entry qualifications mentioned above.
  • Course: the offering is a course, meaning that it has a set of course objectives around a particular domain that includes either a recommended or required (synchronous and/or asynchronous) timeframe to complete learning outcomes. Rationale: Of the four facets, this is the one that misses the mark the most. In no way is a MOOC a "complete learning experience". When compared with the learner designer, there is greater potential for the learners themselves to create an educative experience by using a PLN for a particular learning purpose within the context of the MOOC. The learning experience comes from learner decisions (based on both course and personal learning objectives) as to how to interact with the content and with others; it does not come from instruction and differs from differentiating instruction. And a MOOC does not inherently include all course materials and assessment. Course materials used in a MOOC come from learner decisions to one's PLN and may or may not be part of any course content provided by learning designers. And assessment relates to the rationale provided above under open. Assessment for non-accredited learners will depend a lot on how the learner interacts within the individual's PLN, and subsequently will receive forms of assessment on a complete voluntary basis (presumably formative assessment over summative assessment). Assessment for accredited learners (who usually pay a fee) is typically more adopted and adapted to the learner's needs, wants, and hopefully learning preferences, and although should include good amounts of formative assessment can be assured to receive some form of summative assessment. Calling this kind of educative experience a course though does not mean that all forms of assessment are inherent or guaranteed which could be a reason for the low completion rate around MOOCs.
If one is to make sense of MOOCs, then one needs to understand what it is under the particulars that make up the educative experience. For me, it's still all about SCHOOL!

Photo attribution

Friday, July 8, 2016

Learning within a formal educational context

The following was a short response to Measurement, Magic, and Balance...

In a formal education context, assessment depends a lot on the written and taught curriculum. The syllabus should state what declarative and tacit knowledge is to be expected and how learners will be assessed. The balance between formative and summative assessment (heavier on the former than the latter) will determine how learners transform as they close the gap between where they currently are and the expectations articulated in the syllabus as to where they need to be. The educator and the learner work together to help close this gap by assuming different roles and actions as the learner becomes more interdependent and the educator becomes less needed over time. There is nothing magical about this; the balance is knowing how to apply formative and summative assessment in terms of learning what, how, why, when, where, and with whom about both declarative and tacit knowledge based on how they are presented in the syllabus.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Cooperative Learning to Rid Teaching in Isolation

I read with great interest Weston's Teaching Problems (And How to Solve Them) - The Paradigm Series and can certainly appreciate issues around teaching (and learning) in isolation being brought to the forefront. The basic argument is a problem-solution scenario based on distinguishing between teachers co-existing and teachers co-evolving as being a solution to issues related to isolating teaching practice. Teachers who co-exist assumes that teachers, "do their core work alone, all the time, never together" while teachers who co-evolve, "establish mutual goals, foster a common professional language, and develop a shared commitment to specific educational practices for doing core-work" (para. 8). But to better understand the problem, a more nuanced discussion is needed in terms of framing the problem sans suppositions and recognizing the value of cooperation above all else.

Teachers teaching in isolation is a problem many face that few would disagree with, but how to go about addressing this problem typically reduces down to the following: 1) administrative responsibilities toward change and 2) teacher responsibilities toward change. Here, I will focus mainly on the latter and assume a great deal of administrative responsibilities rely on understanding teacher evaluation from a formative assessment lens conducive for making change happen across the institution. Another reason for focusing on teachers as change agents over administrators is that making generalizations about schools or school administers as the problem (e.g., teacher isolation) seems to skirt the issue, thus sidetracking the fact that much of one's own professional learning is within one's control. Thus, the problem should be framed simply as teachers working in isolation are at a disadvantage when it comes to improving pedagogical practice that yields higher student achievement. Framing the problem this way refrains from presenting broad accusations that rarely are always true in all cases. And even if they were true, educators will more often than not have more control over their own professional development than leaving it up solely to school administrators.

Teachers have a responsibility in avoiding the complacency that is teaching and learning in isolation. Even classifying teachers as co-existing and co-evolving does little to shed light on how teachers seldom are ever stripped from having the power to seek professional learning opportunities as needed - think cultivating a personal learning network through elearning. To "exist" or to "evolve" has more to do with a personal choice than school confinement or mandate. Still, I cannot share the same enthusiasm in using words like co-existence and co-evolving in separating two philosophical mindsets that dichotomously put teacher isolation at one end and an apparent community of practice (CoP) at the other. In my mind all humans adapt and adopt based on their surroundings, for better or for worse; perhaps one could argue to co-exist is to adopt more than adapt and to co-evolve is to adapt more than adopt, but regardless, adapting and adopting does not automatically mean the individual is transforming into a better person (e.g., educator). For this reason, an alternative term is needed to clarify what it means to "co-exist" and "co-evolve".

Taking responsibility of one's teaching practice by cooperating with colleagues underpins how teacher isolation begins to dissipate. Cooperation typically happens when individual strengths (based on individual interests, needs, contexts, preferences, identities, etc.) are supported and promoted within an institution and through self-organizing networks that align with individual goals as well as the individual goals established by fellow colleagues. Cooperation contrasts the notion of collaboration where common domains, interests, goals, like-minded individuals, etc. come together via a CoP, striving for organizational goals that take precedence over individual goals. So, teachers who are able to self-organize with colleagues both internal and external to the institution are better positioned to cooperate if they begin making their teaching and learning more transparent and who are willing to work interdependently so that individual goals and objectives are met. Teacher isolation begins to dissipate when cooperative learning begins to meet individual goals and instructional leaders, supervisors, and other administrators learn how to leverage and align the meeting of these individual goals within the context of overarching organizational goals, objectives, and values. A big part of leveraging between organizational and individual goals depends on how teacher evaluations are formative in nature by the support teachers receive when taking risks in their own teaching practice and student learning.

Institutions have a commitment to adhering to a mission and vision statements, but the responsibility of the teacher is to self-organize and to become a network of interdependent individuals by cooperating with each other on topics related to the field of education. There is a synergistic effect when individuals (at any level within the organization) are able to align self-forming and cooperative action among a group of educators to an institutional mission statement in ways that are absent of any coercive behavior interfering with one's pedagogical practice and own professional learning potential. It is beneficial when top-down support facilitates this process when individual goals take precedence, but even in an absence of such support, much can still happen directly from teacher cooperation that emerges bottom up.

Quoting Blanchard, “None of us is as smart as all of us” (as cited in Weston, 2016, para. 16). Perhaps this is true in certain circumstances, but it is also not a given in all cases. The limitations of developing only strong ties, cliques (, and rationalizing are real phenomena that can go against an oversimplified notion that groups of individuals are somehow inherently smarter than the individual. It ignores the dynamic ways individuals communicate: collaboration vs. cooperation; strong vs. weak ties; groups vs. network formation; and leadership by rank, position, or title vs. leadership by entitlement.

Organizations that promote self-organizing, teacher cooperation through interdependent professional learning instances that ultimately align with overall mission and vision statements are better equipped to address issues of teacher isolation when it comes to both individual teaching practice and professional learning potential. Organizational change in this regard is both a bottom up and top down endeavor, but both do not necessary need to occur at the same time - one can have a positive impact on the other and one be precede the other (e.g., cooperative learning from self-organizing groups preceding top-down mandates).

How do you initiate change when it comes to addressing the problem of teacher isolation? Is it hopeless or can something be done? Should change be bottom up or top down? Or does one happen before the other or are they concurrent?

Types of Knowledge Within a Personal Learning Network

Originally posted as a response to Downes's Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful.

"...a carpenter has an understanding that goes beyond the tools...This, not the tools, makes a carpenter."

A carpenter comes to my house and makes claims of her craft, articulating a comprehensive understanding of principles related to her profession.  But after beginning the job,  it is apparent that she lacks the tools necessary to bring about this understanding in the form of evidence.  

The tools are never more important than one's understanding (knowledge, etc.), but they are necessary in reifying an understanding.   That is, knowledge, understanding, etc. are not more important than the materials, objects, technologies, etc. used to demonstrate such knowledge, etc...what is more important is understanding the (synchronic/diachronic) associations between the ideational, material, and social relationships that exist around a particular domain, event, or circumstance.  

How relevant is a knowledgable carpenter who is unable to perform (because of a lack of tools) than one who has no knowledge at all.  Ideas (including declarative knowledge), materials, and social relationships (aka a personal learning network) together bring about tacit knowledge.  To understand any one of them is to understand how the other two form a single (synchronic/diachronic) aggregate. 

It is hard to see how an understanding can ever go beyond the tool.  Artificially, I can see how some might view formal education through the use of quizzes and standardized tests as measuring declarative knowledge in the absence of tacit knowledge (practical skills), where perhaps one could admit that understandings go beyond the tool, but I would not put much weight behind this argument. 

Finally, I can see when one might find clever ways to use simpler or more antiquated technologies to become more effective, efficient, and engaged, but one's understanding is not going beyond the tool.  Instead, this is just an example of understanding ideational, material, and social relationships within a particular context.  Conversely, a teacher who has a traditional ideology related to teaching and learning (which creates inefficiencies, etc.) but uses different kinds of technology in his practice is just demonstrating a lack of understanding between the ideational, material, and social relationships that help define the situation.  It is not a misunderstanding of the technology, course content, or interactional pattern(s) as separate entities, but rather how these three come together and how they influence one another.

Curious how others feel.  When do declarative knowledge, understandings, etc. go beyond the tool?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Connectivist Story About Gratitude

Below is a story involving my son, which also serves as a text I plan to use for a future composition course where we discuss the differences between academic and creative writing...

I talked to Beny on the phone yesterday afternoon as he explained how he had slipped on the stairs walking up to his seat at the Cinepolis movie theatre in Altaria (Aguascalientes). While he was telling me the story, taking it all in stride, I could see how it might have been a little embarrassing, having this happen in a public place while celebrating the last day of school with three pals from school.  Later did I find out the whole story...

After performing a common ritual of securing soda and popcorn, Beny was walking up a poorly lit stairway before getting tripped up and losing his grip around snacks that he has come to enjoy while watching the opening credits to his favorite movies - yeah, food rarely has a chance of surviving the opening lines of any given film.  As he sat on the stairs trying to gather himself, his pals could hardly contain themselves.  The subsequent 30 seconds that it actually took to pick up after himself and move on to his assigned seat had to feel more like several minutes as slow motion seems to enjoy dragging out embarrassing moments for full effect.  For the next 10 minutes (about the time we spoke on the phone), his crew continued to recall the moment, each having a particular vantage point in recollecting what had happened.  I image it being something like a variation on a theme of the humiliated.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, a perfect stranger approached Beny and his posse and went on to share a similar story of her also falling down the stairs, much in the same way that he had just experienced.  Unbeknownst to Beny, the lady had immediately posted to facebook what had happened, and within minutes the Cinepolis manager on duty had replied to the post, expressing that the boy could find her in order to get a free refill. The good Samaritan passed along the news to Beny, and well, all ended well.

This story is about gratitude more than anything else and how technology offers affordances to individuals who find fulfillment in helping someone else without thinking twice.  In this case, the end result was trivial; however, the chain of events that reached the end result remains the true lesson.  Although Beny thanked all of those involved at the time, he later never found the post in facebook so to extend his gratitude.  But by sharing his story, our "posse" gets to reflect on how empathizing with others leads to actually taking action on someone else's behalf.

Beny has read this post and has given me permission to share his story with others.  I wasn't sure how open he would be about me sharing his experience, but was relieved to find out that he had awarded me a 10 (an A+) for my efforts. I thought the issue might be about inaccuracies of what had transpired, my perspective, or simply not wanting to rehash what had happened, but he seemed to be especially surprised that I even had an ability to put ideas together in the form of a written text (admittedly, others may still not be convinced).  Regardless, what’s a story if it can’t be shared?  #cinepolis #gooddeeds

The Flipped Classroom and Personal Learning Networks


My final post for #openflip Spring 2016 includes discussing the fourth facet of a flipped classroom: a personal learning network (PLN).

Professional learning is to become self-aware of one´s personal learning network in how it contributes to a particular experience. A PLN is having the self-knowledge of how learning spaces, groups and networks, and all forms of learning come together at any particular moment and how they adopt and adapt over time. A PLN is about understanding ideas (beliefs, opinions, thoughts, etc.), materials (objects, technologies, etc.), and human relationships (uni/bidirectional communication, strong and weak ties, etc.) not as isolated notions, but as associations that are influenced by each other. In a flipped classroom scenario, a learning network can be viewed at any level: individual, pairs, small groups, whole class, domains, institution, district, community, global, etc., but what makes a PLN personal is that the power and prestige (from a network and not a sociological perspective) are revealed through the understanding of how all ideational, material, and human nodes connect and surround the individual (e.g., student, teacher, etc.). Thus, the individual remains the unit of analysis but cannot be taken out of context. Understanding a PLN (i.e., a learning network at the individual level) becomes a prerequisite for understanding a learning network at the group level, for instance. Understanding a learning network at the classroom network is to understand the learning networks of various groups, pairs, and individuals, etc. Within the context of formal education, an educator has a responsibility in bringing about awareness of student PLNs as well as one´s own PLN. An expert learner is one who has a high level of self-awareness of a purposeful PLN at any given time and how it adopts and adapts over time - a PLN is at the heart of understanding what a flipped classroom is; how it is employed; and how effective, efficient, and engaging it can be for both learner and educator. In order to become adept, one needs to adopt and adapt a PLN.