Teacher Learning Cast (TLC) #1: Creative Commons & ICTs

And this is how it all started, February 17, 2018!!

TLC Socials

Google Chrome Tab Order:
What is four elements to Creative Commons?

  • Non-derivative 
  • Non-commercial 
  • ShareAlike
Why Creative Commons?
How to apply Creative Commons license to content?
What are the six different creative commons license?

How does Creative Commons relate to TLC?

ICTs and Educational Processes

General overview of how the incursion of ICTs speed up communication processes in Educational Tasks. (focusing on TLC as an example)

Teacher Learning Cast (TLC) #16: Trello in the Classroom

TLC Socials

In this segment, we discuss a few decisions an educator must make before choosing to use any type of technology in the classroom: 1) espoused and in-use theories, 2) types of communication, 3) content (as input and output) delivery, and 4) closed vs. open learning environments.  This discussion is not meant to be a comprehensive review of Trello, but rather how I plan to use the tool after having spent only a week with it.  I currently have a Trello Gold account and will be pursuing an educational account discount of 30%.  I do not represent Trello nor have I received any compensation whatsoever for this segment.

What do you think of Trello in the classroom?  Share your opinions and experiences!

Academic Writing and ICTs

I'm preparing an in-house talk on using information and communication technologies (ICTs) for academic writing and am planning on using the presentation below (currently a work in progress) and will broadcast my talk live as well.  Feel free to share any ICTs you currently are using to promote better academic writing skills with your (language learning) students!

[office src="https://onedrive.live.com/embed?cid=25BA717264948AF4&resid=25ba717264948af4%21111648&authkey=AI7GTRptdfNwGD4&em=2" width="402" height="327"]

Applied Linguistics Group Can Hang!

I had the pleasure today to hangout with other EFL/ESL educators (via Google+ Hangouts on Air - HOAs) along with my 7th semester, applied linguistics group to discuss how we feel about portfolios and sharing work openly online.  We also discussed how feedback and error correction might take place and different rationales for doing so.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdndIy1f5nY]

After today's HOA, I immediately began thinking about how we might schedule future sessions since my group really enjoyed the experience.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyEWKmmsDBU]

I would like my students taking applied linguistics this semester to leave comments below regarding any topics we might discuss in our next session, and anything else about today's HOA that you'd like to share.

PLNs aren't built, but cultivated

Inspired by Building your PLN Twitter Chat, I felt the need to respond (and to disagree):

Amanda K. claims that a "PLN is an acronym for Personal Learning Network – a powerful collection of people, ideas, and personas that fuel your passion for teaching and learning" (para. 1).

Not sure where this definition came from, but it's a bit thin to leave out technologies - what's a carpenter without a hammer, or worse, a carpenter who knows what one is, but not know how to use it.  Also, not sure what the difference is between "a ... collection of people" and "personas..."

At any rate, think of what a PLN would be without technologies.  Sure, people would still connect, and ideas shared, etc., but it sure would look quite differently given the materials (technologies) we have today to communicate and interact, which weren't possible in the past.

A PLN is a material semiotic of ideas (opinions, beliefs, etc.), materials (objects, technologies, etc.), and social relationships (diverse interaction, communities, groups, teams, strangers meeting for the first time, author-reader, speaker-audience, friends, enemies, etc.).

A PLN doesn't start from zero, but is like intelligences, wisdom, knowledge, etc. in that it already exists...it is inescapable.  The question is not how to create one, but rather how to cultivate one in a way that is purposeful for the individual and for others.  It's been my belief (and experience) that if my PLN helps someone else first, that I ultimately end up benefiting much more than I sacrificed.  Understanding one's PLN means realizing that although the individual may be in control (to a degree), the individual still is just a single node that is being influenced and impacted and affected by the numerous (ideational, material, and social) nodes that form a more holistic network.  It's a network that is not only influenced by it's individual nodes, but also takes on a life of its own.

Can an individual be a carpenter without knowing how to use a hammer and nails?
Are we at a point yet where we should be asking, "Can an individual teach someone else (or coach someone else to learn) without knowing how to use technology?

Photo attribution

Is the issue really about control, #MOOCs, and platforms?

After reading Keeping Higher Education in Control of Higher Education, I immediately thought of a phrase commonly used in Mexico: ¿y que?

I certainly appreciate Winkler's (2013) take on the issue of control, but I'd like to try to unpack her perspective in order to offer an alternative point of view.

The article seems to pose the problem being about control. Who has control of content that is being delivered (presumably to the public) online?  The universities? Or the third-party platform providers (i.e., for-profit businesses)?  The argument seems to be in favor of the universities with the Miles Coverdale quote at the beginning of the piece, yet seems to switch to platform providers by the end of the article: "...a withdrawal of courses [from a platform provider] created by the top universities...could be fatal".  So, who should have control?

Another thing that muddies up the argument is the use of the term MOOC.  Just as an experiment, read the article again but this time when MOOC is used as an adjective ("MOOC backlash"), remove it entirely.  And when MOOC is used as a noun ("...if MOOCs had started...") simply use either "open course" or just "course".  When I did this, I quickly realized that the main point was between technology, material objects, platforms, etc. and educational institutions, academia, scholars, and in-house public relations.

Now, the first sentence of the article suggests that universities do not need platforms.  But as I reflect back on my experiences as an educator and learner, I don't recall ever seeing a university that offered a distance course that did not use a third-party platform: Angel, Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, etc.  Granted, these days we can include Coursera, Udemy, etc., but the difference here has more to do with degree of openness than it does about control over course content (universities or platform providers).  Not using a third-party platform would be like using a specific in-house LMS especially designed for the institution.  I'm not saying that they don't exist, but I've never seen or used them.

Instead of using the term MOOC platform, let's refer to them as business platforms (BPs) in order to distinguish something like Coursera, Udemy, even YouTube from Moodle or Canvas, for instance.  I would assume (and Winkler would know better than I), that Coursera has some sort of business plan or model from which to work with while Moodle, at the opposite side of the spectrum is simply an open source LMS.  When a university decides to offer a distance course, the platform they decide to use should align to the institutional policy that mandates who owns course content.  In some cases the institution owns the content, other times the educator owns the content. Whatever the policy, the BPs or open source platforms like Moodle must align with institutional policy, most likely by both parties signing a binding contract.

I don't think the problem is about control at all.  I think it's how institutions find value in the way they choose to deliver distance courses.  Which platform or combination of platforms adds the most value, both from an economic standpoint and an educational standpoint?  If institutions find ways to deliver distance courses in a way that adds both economic and educational value to the learner, who's going to argue against replacing faculty (besides the ones getting fired)?  I would rather avoid hyperboles like "...replacing faculty with cheap online education", and instead discuss how platforms become a natural extension of the entire institutional infrastructure that adheres to the mission, vision, values, and goals of the school.

The phrase ...y que... in Spanish means, So what? Winker's piece allows for a serious discussion that needs to be addressed with regard to institutions, platforms, etc., but I ask, So what if educators are not realizing the need to hone knowledge and skill sets in order to be more competitive?  So what if universities use Udemy as their platform for delivering distance courses?  So what if institutions use YouTube?  So what if BPs take over ownership of content due to poor planning on the part of the university (and I'm not saying that this is happening, although it could)?  My attempt here was to try to unpack these "So what?" questions by following them up with a simple (yet complex) notion that institutions, educators, and platform providers will co-exist if each takes a critical and honest look at how to plan and compromise for the betterment of higher student achievement.

How Do You Provide Affordances to The Nomad (Language) Learner?

From A is for Affordance « An A-Z of ELT. the following questions were presented:

How can you replicate [learning affordances] in a typical classroom? How can you turn the classroom into a hike through the snow, or a walk around the island? How can classroom talk achieve the degree of contingency that Crusoe and Friday achieved?

As a language teacher, I think in terms of how might I create cognitive, physical, and emotional affordances for each-as-every student.  The short answer in how to replicate affordances in the language classroom is by engaging students in opening up the content, process, and products in ways that allow them to make informed decisions and take responsibility for their own learning.  This requires constant feedback loops that stem not only from me (their teacher), but also the students themselves, their peers, and other experts that extend beyond the four walls of the classroom.  One example might be teaching an academic writing class.

Using a public wiki allows the writer to openly choose a topic and produce an essay, report, thesis, etc. where feedback loops emerge from anyone at any given time.  That is, public spaces used to complement face-to-face classes (i.e., blended learning) provide a key affordance: feedback loops that exist across time and space.  As a web tool, a wiki provides an affordance for more engaging, effective, and efficient feedback loops.  Since anyone can change the wiki, anyone can provide feedback.  And since each revision of the wiki is saved, the writing process is preserved and made explicit as well.  

In a learning ecology, the learner must adapt to the environment, and that adaptation is associating the potentialities that exist at any given moment.  Helping the nomad learner recognize learning potentialities also means recognizing that outcomes will vary.  In formal education, the challenge is reconciling the various outcomes to specific outcomes that are explicit or implicitly stated in the curriculum.  


At the end of the day, I attempt to promote understandings (Wiggins and Mctighe, 2005) and language so that each becomes both a means and an end.  Instead of following a task or problem-based approach, I guide the learner in helping to recognize personal adaptations made throughout the learning process and to problem-set along the way.  Very little is fixed when it comes to learning about something or learning a particular skill set, as in learning an additional language.


As a teacher, how do you go about designing a learning ecosystem?

Asking Why Instead of How (#Change11)

How to balance soft and hard technology?

Soft technologies are flexible, supporting creativity and change, because the gaps inside them have to be filled with processes constructed by people. They are needy and incomplete until people fill the holes, while hard technologies contain within them the processes and methods to achieve the ends for which they were designed [emphasis added], bring efficiency, scalability, replicability, freedom from error and speed.  Conclusion: "Most learning technology research concentrates on technology (including methods and pedagogies) not the talent and skill with which it is applied that is frequently more significant" (Dron, 2011).

I would approach the use of technology a bit differently, asking why instead of how.

I find it combersome drawing a distinction between soft and hard technologies.  Defining hard technologies as particular processes and methods that inherently achieve certain ends confines the user to act or think in a certain way.  This leads to linking technologies to individuals based on socio-cultural-historical assumptions.  If one concludes that it's not the technology but how one uses it, does it matter which contained processes and methods lead to arbitrary (decontextualized) ends?

When reflecting on the different (hard) technologies that I use, I have yet to find one that does everything.  I am constantly adding and pruning technologies as my teaching and learning context changes.  The hard technologies that I use (in aggregate) are as fluid, flexible, and incomplete as some soft technologies.  Individual web tools serve as nodes that make up part of my PLN; a change in one can influence a change in others, similar to how people interact.

Jumping on the ANT bandwagon, I find it helpful to view technology as designing an assemblage (i.e., PLN) which views the social as a "very peculiar movement of re-association and reassembling" (Latour, 2005).  I see a PLN as a movement that re-associates and reassembles reifying conceptualizations, people, and material. 

Reifying conceptualizations is the process of making some abstract idea, notion, or problem more concrete through open and ongoing interaction.  From a socio-technical perspective, people use artifacts to interact with each other around related conceptualizations.  Interactions that connect conceptualizations, people, and material are contextually rich and provide the basis for one's teaching and learning rationale.

Consequently, my approach to technology would be to ask why someone chooses to interact within a PLN in ways that foster open and ongoing professional learning.  Asking why, also requires asking what, how, when, and with whom (plus any other applicable question words), while embracing a perspectival sensitivity between subject (i.e., participants of the study) and object (i.e., researcher). In other words, it's about understanding how the individual's interpretation of becoming emerges from the recollection of the associations, assemblages, and dynamics of a PLN. It just so happens that my interest in such a topic has led me to a doctoral proposal.



Technologies I'm Thankful For

I know it's a bit late, but still wanted to get my list in for this year.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'd like to submit my list of technologies that I'm thankful for.  I'm thankful because all five technologies - that I use virtually every day - are compatible with Linux, and most are open source; that is, people self-organize and develope software so that others can freely modify and use it as they wish.

The first technology on my list has to be the Ubuntu Linux OS (Macbuntu 11.04 to be exact).  I did away with Windows the first part of this year and have never looked back.  Macbuntu (Linux) is more stable, faster, doesn't get viruses for the most part, and there's no need to defrag the harddrive.  Ubuntu works right out of the box and is ideal for a non-tech person such as myself.

WordPress is next on my list.  This entire website is built on Wordpress, in fact.  With a load of plugins available, WordPress is ideal for adapting a website to one's needs.

Although Mendeley is not open source, it works great on Linux.  Since I am involved with doing research, Mendeley allows me to not only keep track of references, but I can sync all my references to my work and home computers as well as sync to my mobile device (Galaxy Tab) instantly.  I can also create groups and interact with others who are doing similar research.  There's a premium account available but the free account allows for a lot of free space to include both the reference information and any attached PDF files as well.  This is a must for researchers!

Since I do a lot of screencasting, Tibesti is another absolute must.  Even though you must install the software from the terminal, it's an easy process, just cut and paste.  The great thing about Tibesti is that you can record your voice through the mic and also record audio coming through your sound card simultaneously.  For example, I can record an online live session in Google+ Hangout and capture my voice and the participants' voices with no problems.  If you are a tech. person, you can do the same from the terminal but you need to know what you are doing.  I don't know what I'm doing, so two thumbs up for Tibesti!

Last but not least, I'm thankful for Ubuntu One!  Cloud computing seems to be the thing these days, but Ubuntu One is great because it's "baked" into Macbuntu, so getting started is as easy as signing in with a username and password.  They provide up to 5MB of free space (premium accounts are available) and it allows me to automatically sync my files with my work and home computers as well as my mobile device, all in an instance.

Well, there you have it, the software I depend on daily to get the job done.  What software are you thankful for?

I'm back...

Well, after about a week, I finally made it back...sort of.  This past week I had an unfortunate incident with my website host provider (WHP).  I found out the hard way that I was not getting a service I was paying for.  I realized that it was time to change WHPs and I decided to move to GoDaddy.

About two weeks ago, I began to make several structural changes to my website in preparation for a doctoral study that will begin in the coming months.  The past year I've been using WordPress, Moodle, and Dokuwiki for most of my online work.  Although my old WHP includes other applications as well, it wasn't until last week's incident that made me realize I could do most of what I need in WordPress alone.  Although GoDaddy is a little more than my past WHP, I realized that you do get what you pay for.  I decided it was worth scaling back the applications for better service and deliverability.

So, as I waited for my last domain to transfer to GoDaddy (which usually takes 5-7 days), I began to get impatience and decided that it was also time to get a new domain. Since info domains are much cheaper, I also decided to transfer my entire website from the old domain to the new.  Within a day or so, I had most of my website up and running.

Some of the changes to this new site will be the inclusion of open courseware.  Since I am no longer using Moodle for the most part, I've decided to put most of what I do in my face-to-face classes here. Even though most content will be open, some information will remain private, depending on the class I'm teaching.  I've also decided to automatically assign new subscribers to this site as collaborators which will allow everyone to upload posts and to edit and add wikis as they choose.  My goal is to make this site as open and transparent as possible.  For now, Google+ hangouts will be used to conduct periodic online meetings as well. 

If you are new or moving over from my old site, welcome!  Expect many upcoming changes to this site and feel free to comment and contribute as you wish!

Improve Learning: The Socio-Material Dynamic versus Structure

My response to The Virtuous Middle Way...

The efficiency of the learning process speaks nothing of the effectiveness of it. Might we say, "the machinery of education is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the learning process"? I doubt that many educators would argue against this as an espoused theory, but as a theory in use, perhaps it is a different story (as Jeremy eludes to). Comparing MOOCs to educational institutions (if I must), I find that some MOOCs are actually more structured than some institutional courses I've been involved with - at least in terms of laying out a content timeline and delivery. Regardless, to understand the effectiveness and efficiency of any learning process, one needs to analyze how the socio-material dynamic (i.e., how over time people interact with each other together with the necessary artifacts that allow such interaction to take place) emerges within a given structure.

Offering guidance in any structure could be seen as being helpful or a hindrance. What constitutes guidance? A newsletter? Syllabus? Freedom of choosing an ICT? Personal explanation/feedback? Graded exam? Lecture? These all could be seen in both a positive and negative light depending on the circumstances. But it's precisely the circumstances that we need to understand in order to have a better idea about the effectiveness and efficiency of the learning process at hand.

Teaching and Learning with ICTs

 Well, Monday starts a new semester.  As I reflect on how I might create opportunities for my students to be more engaged in the learning experience, both in and outside of class, my current inclination is to use ICTs but in a slightly different way.

This semester I'll be teaching Microteaching I (third semester), Academic Writing (seventh semester), and Applied Linguistics (seventh semester) to pre-service English language teachers (i.e., eight-semester bachelor's degree program in English language teaching).  The primary ICTs that I'll use for these blended classes will be wikis and Moodle.

Student-teachers (STs) taking Microteaching I meet four hours a week, teaching in 15-minute blocks with their classmates (i.e., "students").  At the time of this post, the wiki was still under development, but will be further developed in the coming days.  The wiki will home STs' reflective wiki pages that will remain open for all to see and will also be integrated (i.e., embeded) to Moodle.  Since this is my first time teaching this class, there will certainly be tweaks and turns as the class unfolds ultimately driving which ICTs to use and how they will be used to best engage students.

I've taught Academic Writing in the past using primarily Wikieducator, but this year I wanted to do something different.  This year I will be using(Doku) wiki along with Moodle as I plan to do with Microteaching I.  The main reason for using Dokuwiki over Wikieducator is that (a) Dokuwiki is more user-friendly and (b) it integrates well to my website hosting service (Fatcow).  The wiki/Moodle integration will look something like the following:

 Wikis are a great tool for academic writing as it makes the writing process more transparent.




The course in Applied Linguistics will also integrate a wiki with Moodle...are you seeing a pattern here? :) Students will apply their understanding of linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and discourse analysis to their own teaching practice through an action research project.

The objective this semester is to make the learning process of each course as open as possible so that students see the value in transparent learning.  As their facilitator, making course designs open will provide other educators with ideas as well as opportunities to collaborate and cooperate in areas of curriculum, assessment, and instruction.

How will you use ICTs this semester or year?

ICT Challenge (#edumooc)

There was some talk this week during a recent Google+ hangout about how others were using technology to understand all the content related to edumooc 2011. I decided to share some ICTs that I'm currently using and thought I'd invite others to do the same. Perhaps this might help those who are still trying to find their way around the vast amount of information that's out there. Feel free to include the link to your video below.

My Favorite Things (#edumooc)

Here are a few of My Favorite Things:

  • I use my Galaxy Tab to manage tweets, email, facebook, Google+, and other web-surfing tasks.  And my favorite Galaxy app right now is live365!

  • I use my website and Moodle to organize my thoughts and my classes that I teach to pre-service English language teachers.

  • I also like VoiceThread, WizIQ as a virtual classroom, Internet Archive, YouTube, BlipTV, Google Docs, Google Reader, and NetVibes as I use all of these both as a teacher and learner.

  • Wikieducator is a great website.  Producing OERs and OEPs is something I wish I could dedicate more time to.

  • Skype is great for language exchanges and communicating with colleagues.

  • Overall, I love Linux Mint 11 as it allows me to work more efficiently and effectively at the computer while feeling good that an OS of this caliber is possible as a result of people working together in an open and caring way (open source).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw4Hy6MtBLE&w=425&h=349]

Using Twitter in the Classroom

In response to Using Twitter in the Classroom...

I've never used Twitter in my classes because many of my students still do not have Internet access on their mobiles. But since I teach and tweet, I do have a couple of suggestions.

1. Twitter inside the classroom: Conduct a "normal" class but have students tweeting at the same time. Setup a projector and computer (with access to the Internet) and project the backchannel on the wall using a decided-upon hashtag. Incorporate the backchannel into the class itself. This technique can also provide instant feedback when determining whether students are getting what you are talking about in class or not.

2. Twitter outside of class: Conduct a backchannel (again using hashtags) that students contribute to outside of class. Incorporate the backchannel in the f2f class as needed. This can also help to see if students are getting it and can contribute to collaborative learning (or colearning) since students can ask questions or complete assignments using Twitter both individually and in groups.

How have you used Twitter in the classroom?

Is it a PLN, PLE, VLE, LMS, CMS, or something else?

Good question.  In fact, this is a question that everyone should ask and be able to answer when choosing the different technologies and social, f2f contacts that ultimately become one's PLN.  In my blog post I say, " If I choose and determine that an LMS is the best way for me to learn, then the LMS is my PLN".  My point was that if a person can justify why an LMS best serves the individual's learning needs, interests, and learning preferences, then who am I to judge.  I also say this because many people are for or against an LMS; I think this is the wrong conversation to be having.  We should be addressing the question you pose that forwards this notion of articulating a learner's rationale in developing a PLN.  A learner's rationale for using any tool will also depend greatly on how the tool is being used.

Clearly for me, an LMS is never my PLN.  For this MOOC (and for the first time), I am completely staying away from Moodle and it's made all the difference!  I weave in-and-out of blogs, tweet, and read The Daily in order to interact with individuals and content for the course.  This part of my PLN works for me and I can explain why it works for me...but I cannot judge others if they can explain an alternative way that works best for them, including using only an LMS.

If someone says the only place they learn anything worthwhile is through some Moodle course, online community, etc., who am I to argue.  Technologies today are so integrated anyway that everything really is just varying degrees of a PLN.  Think of all the different ways online content can be brought into Moodle for example.

Digital native and the usefulness of the term in language teaching/learning

Recent quotes from an ongoing PD treatment for EFL educators...

Techonology seems something generational.

I am not using blogs currently as a teacher, because I think I need to practice more in order to get all habilities so I can be able to guide my students through all the process.

Quotes for the term digital native...

Wikipedia entry...(notice authors)

Quotes against the term digital native...

It seems that it is impossible to generalise about teenagers

...students they studied displayed an inordinate level of trust in search engine brand as a measure of credibility.

So, is the term digital native relevant to today's teaching and learning of another language?  Is there a positive correlation between a teachers age and the way in which technology is used to increase student achievement (i.e., language development)?