Friday 10 February 2012

Blogphilosophy: why I stopped measuring my e-ego #rankingsoftware

Sometimes I need a good (figurative) slap in the face to keep it real. A few weeks ago David Bezemer put my feet back on the ground in a tweeted reaction (@dbezemer) on me sending him a 'klout' invitation: "over my dead body! there are enough people out there desperately measuring their e-ego, I do not feel good about that".

So he got me thinking ... and he is right (of course). Why would I even look up and share my uncritically analyzed ranking in anything with others, if I am propagating critical awareness, open learning, open standards... openness? If I want to promote an idea, that is what I should do. It is not about the rank or level, it is about the act or idea itself. And so it should be, and I should keep this as my main focus.

The Arab spring or the occupy movement are not about the quantity, but the quality of argument. The same with any content that I value, it is seldom the most followed person or topic (Lady Gaga, Superbowl...), but it is content or a person or idea that makes me tick and get motivated. I mean, I can think for myself, or at least I think so - so I should feel confident with my actions and with what I do simply for the sake of it.
Of course there is nothing wrong with looking at 'the most, the longest...', but if it does not say anything about the essence itself, and it only means 'being picked up by many', it's not worth anything. And when the idea of 'most, best..' is translated into a general, computer-driven algorithm not made by myself, chances are slim that the ranking results are actually of interest to me (well, not sure about the effect of google search algorithm, I could see this as an exception).

So I stripped my blog from 'Klout'. However I did keep my 'top blogposts' as a widget... after considering that this might be of genuine interest to others as this is content and not just a number coming from an unclear algorithm. I did the same with other ranking tools and ... it feels right.

Another reason to strip away nonsensical ranking stuff were my own actions. I do not follow the highest ranking Facebook people or companies, but I do want to stay on top of individuals that inspire (Anticon's music company, Stephen Downes Open Learning Daily, Janet Clarey, Wilfred Ruben's blog, Henry Rollins ... your blogs and tweets). There are also a lot of fresh researchers and teachers on mLearning like Dieter Blomme, Ronda Zelezny-Green, who do not necessarily have their own webspace (yet), but who keep me on my toes with their insights and reflections via their comments and tweets - they rock! and it is just great to connect with them: fresh ideas, new ways of attaining knowledge, out-of-the-box thinking... no need to know their ranking, they simply inspire.

So thanks David, I needed that.

Thursday 9 February 2012

4 Calls for #papers and 2 #PhD opportunities

Educause 2012
Conference dates: 6 – 9 November 2012
Location: Denver Colorado, USA
More information:
Deadline for submissions: 21 Februari 2012

The conference program will be organized around IT-related themes and how they are tied to different IT professional domain focus areas. Please be prepared to identify the most prominent theme you would associate with your proposal. You also can select up to two additional themes that are reflected in your proposal. Indicate up to two domain focus areas for which your session will most resonate with representative staff.
Program Themes
• Analytics/Business Intelligence
• Cloud/Hosting/Sourcing/Virtualization
• Consumerization of Technology
• Green/Sustainability
• Leading Edge/Strategic Innovation
• Mobility
• Open and Community Source
• Openness
• Partnerships/Collaborations
• Professional Development/Training
• Risk Management
• Social Media/Networking/Web 2.0 and 3.0
• Strategic Communication, Media and Marketing
• Strategic Value of IT
• Student Success/Learning Outcomes
• Universal Design/Accessibility
Domain Focus Areas
• Enterprise Information Systems and Services
• Infrastructure, Information Security, and Identity Management
• Leadership, Management, and Governance
• Libraries, E-Research, and Digital Content
• Support Strategies and Services
• Teaching and Learning

Alt-C call for papers
Conference dates: 11 – 13 September 2012
Location: University of Manchester, United Kingdom
More information:
Deadline for submissions: 27 Februari 2012

Alt-C welcomes submissions of two broad types:
1. An abstract of up to 450 words describing either a Short Paper (20 minutes), Short Presentation (10 minutes), Symposium (60 minutes), Workshop (60 minutes), Demonstration (30 minutes), or a Hybrid (60 minutes). All abstracts will appear in the online Conference Abstracts Handbook.
2. A full Proceedings Paper of up to 5000 words, for publication in the peer-reviewed Conference Proceedings of ALT-C 2012, together with a 450 word 'long abstract' (which will appear in the online Conference Abstracts Handbook), and a 200 word standard abstract.

The time, effort and money that learners invest in their education need to be matched by commensurate learning experiences, improved use of technology in learning, and effective methods of delivery, all underpinned by sustainable business models. Here are three of the hard questions that we face, both as institutions and as individuals, each centred on the development of knowledge about technology in learning:
• How can learning technology better support the core processes of learning, teaching, assessment, recruitment and retention?
• What will be the place of open educational resources and other kinds of free, shared, low cost or informal support and organisation in good provision?
• How should we respond to learners themselves, who are increasingly voluble in their desire for value for money and for effective use of technology?

EDEN Annual Conference
Deadline for submissions: 10 February 2012
Conference dates: 6 - 9 June
Location: Porto, Portugal, Europe.
More information:
The EDEN Annual Conference will approach the key questions of learning methodology and technology focusing on the 'Open learning generations', the contexts of socially significant target groups: junior and senior e-learners. We will explore their learning cultures, technology use patterns and discuss new approaches in the schools, universities, lifelong - informal - adult learning settings that respond to them.

The 2012 European Year of Active Ageing and the Solidarity Between Generations serves as framework for raising awareness, generating innovative approaches and disseminating good practice.
• Open learning for and amongst diverse generations
• Innovative pedagogical models have been significant in empowering learners and their communities as co-producers in networked lifelong learning. The spread of educational resources as digital content which accommodate different learning pathways, widening participation and shared learning experience between generations will contribute to closing the technology gap.
• Online and Social
The 2012 EDEN Annual Conference will be supported and accompanied intensively by social networking, online and virtual presence and involvement possibilities. That will be implemented through the EDEN Members Portal: the NAP area on the web.

Call for Contributions
We invite all interested professionals to take part and discover the conference themes by submitting their experience.
There will be opportunities for submitting and presenting papers, workshops, posters and demonstrations. At the Porto conference, virtual presentations, as a new form will be introduced. The conference allows openness in choosing the topics and in applying interactive formats and ways of presentations.
To learn more about the scope of the event and consult the themes, please visit the respective conference pages.
For details visit the Conference web-site and the Call for Contributions links.

Paper Submissions - 10 February, 2012
Registration Open - Mid February
Notification of Authors - 31 March

Conference: 11th World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning mLearn 2012 - Mobile Learning in Context
Conference date: 16-18 October 2012
Place: Helsinki, Finland
Deadline for submissions: 30 May 2012
Conference website:
Follow updates at:

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
* Mobile learning in and across formal and informal settings
* Ubiquitous and ambient learning and technology
* Theories, models and ethics for mobile and contextual learning
* Open and distance education with mobile devices
* Mobile language learning
* Interaction design and usability for mobile learning
* Interoperability and standards for mobile learning
* Challenges for mobile learning in developing countries
* Mobile learning strategies in schools, higher institutions, industry, and organizations
* Adaptive, virtual or collaborative environments for mobile learning
* Augmented reality for learning
* Innovative approaches to learning of current and emerging mobile technologies
* Toys and smart objects for learning
* Mobile learning across cultures
The conference programme will highlight keynote talks, symposia/workshops, plenary sessions, parallel presentations, roundtables and debates, special Focus Sessions, poster sessions, technology and product/service demonstrations.

Call for proposals for dissertation grants from the American Educational Research Association (20.000 $ for one year project)
Deadline: 1 March 2012
More information:

Short description
AERA invites education-related dissertation proposals using NCES, NSF, and other federal data bases. Dissertation Grants are available for advanced doctoral students and are intended to support the student while writing the doctoral dissertation. Applications are encouraged from a variety of disciplines, such as but not limited to, education, sociology, economics, psychology, demography, statistics, and psychometrics.
The Governing Board for the AERA Grants Program has established the following four strands of emphasis for proposals. Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals that:
• develop or benefit from new quantitative measures or methodological approaches for addressing education issues
• incorporate subject matter expertise, especially when studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning
• analyze TIMSS, PISA, or other international data resources
• include the integration and analysis of more than one data set

Fully-funded PhD Studentship in ‘Design-based Research for Open Inquiry Learning’
Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Based in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom
circulation date : 10/01/2012
closing date : 24/02/2012
More information:

With an international reputation for research, a supportive environment and excellent research facilities, CREET offers unique opportunities for postgraduate research to study the theory, application and practice of Education, Technology Enhanced Learning, and Languages and Literacies. The studentship will be associated with its Institute for Educational Technology.
Applications are invited for a fully-funded studentship in the field of design-based research for Open Inquiry Learning. This is associated with the recent appointment of Professor Mike Sharples to a Chair in Educational Technology.

For direct entry to the PhD you should have, or expect to gain, a recognised Research Masters qualification in Educational Technology or a related area. For entry to the MRes you should have a 2.1 degree or above in a relevant subject area

The Open University provides excellent support and offers training in computer, library and presentation skills. Students normally live within commuting distance of Milton Keynes.
Closing date: 24 February 2012. Interviews start April / May 2012. Equal Opportunity is University Policy.

Monday 6 February 2012

8 contemporary #learning needs for the #knowledge age and K12 reform book

While writing a chapter for a book, I was wondering about the contemporary needs of a course to fit the demands of this knowledge age.

The beginning of the new millennium has been described as a Knowledge and this shift from the industrial age affects all of us (global audience). The societal changes brought along with the Internet, social media development and the rise to ubiquity by a number of technologies (wifi, mobiles…) has changed human society as a whole. Within only a decade people from all continents started to use the same tools to connect with others and most of all, to improve their lives or livelihood’s. I belief this global change also has a profound effect on the leading educational model that was used in the Industrial Age and which has served as the balanced educational framework for the past century. Where the educational model of the Industrial Age focused on the linear transmission of information and knowledge; this era searches for a new system dynamic to complement the new educational realities of the Knowledge Age.

Barry Wansbrough wrote a great 24 page paper on this, focusing on k12 (reform) for the knowledge age, nice read and he also invites others to give feedback on it. He strongly beliefs (and I concur) that the emphasis of future education should not be on instruction, but on engagement.

I tried to find the challenges that current educational designs need to meet, and I came up with a list of 8 (some references, first I wanted to delete them, but maybe they are useful in some way even if it is in a post): ·
  1. Networked Learning, Connecting to People: networking amongst peers, is essential for learning to appear. A mMOOC can be thought of as a "short-term" community of practice. All the participants are brought together to share community, domain knowledge, and practice for a short period of time, hence strengthening their knowledge through a network of specialized peers. A MOOC is all about connecting to others to strengthen learning and knowledge creation/exchange as indicated by Siemens (2004). Mobile devices on the other hand have always been used to connect with others. ·
  2. Becoming Active, Critical Content Producers: in a world where information is exploding exponentially, it is increasingly important that any learner finds their way to the most relevant information as the basis for their knowledge construction. McElvaney and Zane (2010) came to the conclusion that “when learners adopt personal web technologies, it enables and requires them to discard their roles as passive consumers of information, learners must become editors who critically question content and sources. ·
  3. Emerging Collaborative Peer Learning: networking in itself is not enough, in this increasingly connected world collaboration becomes ever more important, not only to obtain relevant knowledge, but also to constructively scaffold on each other’s expertise. Garrison (2000) mentioned that “this adaptability in designing the educational transaction based upon sustained communication and collaborative experiences reflects the essence of the postindustrial era of distance education” (p. 13).·
  4. Setting Up Communicative Dialogues: conversations between people in learning communities are at the center of those online communities. This exchange of ideas that goes back and forth between members of a community is essential, because “more than any other way, people learn not from courses or Web sites but from each other … through dialogue” (Rosenberg, 2006, p. 158). ·
  5. Optimizing Informal Learning: informal learning happens depending on the context the learner is in and the learning needs s/he consciously or unconsciously perceives. As we move through life, we transfer our insights and beliefs from one experience to another abiding by the flux of life and knowledge itself. By providing and disseminating information in a way that a mobile device can log on to it whenever the need arises, informal learning is optimized. ·
  6. Strengthening Lifelong Learning: by allowing learners to acquisition information and as such construct knowledge by using their personal learning device(s) will increase their lifelong learning capacity as the learning facility is kept close to the learner her/himself. This acquired learning skill will also last a lifetime. ·
  7. Supporting Authentic Learning: as professions and subsequent education towards these professions diversify, authentic learning that fits the learner’s needs is getting crucial to allow tailored and relevant knowledge to be constructed. Naismith et al (2004) mentioned that “mobile devices can provide more direct ways for learners to interact with materials in an authentic learning context” (p. 13). ·
  8. Enable self-regulated learning: Pintrich (2000) indicated that most models on self-regulated learning include strategies to shape, control or structure the learning environment as important strategies for self-regulation. A MOOC is built on a learner-centered approach. This means that each of the participants is responsible for their own learning.
Would like to know what your thoughts are on these?

And here are the references for those interested:
  • Garrison, D. (2000). Theoretical challenges for distance education in the 21st century: A shift from structural to transactional issues. Retrieved 8 December, 2010 from
  • McElvaney, J., & Berge, Z. (2010). Weaving a Personal Web: Using online technologies to create customized, connected, and dynamic learning environments. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology/La revue canadienne de l’apprentissage et de la technologie, 35(2).
  • Naismith, L., Lonsdale, P., Vavoula, G., & Sharples, M. (2004). Literature review in mobile technologies and learning. FutureLab Report, 11.
  • Pintrich, , P.R. (2000). The role of goal orientation in self-regulated learning. In M. Boekaerts & P.R. Pintrich & M. Zeidner (Eds), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 452,-502). New York: Academic Press.Rosenberg, M., J. (2006). Beyond E-Learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
  • Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, January 2005, Volume 2 Number 1. Retrieved from web (accessed 18 May 2011).

#qualitative research: introduction to #grounded #theory and some emotive language use in courses idea

The last couple of months I have been immersed in data analysis research: some qualitative (argh) and some qualitative (well, argh as well). No matter how I twist and turn it, I need to really dig into data analysis to understand how it works and why this type of analysis is a good thing. Let's just say my mind is not naturally equiped for data analysis, although on the other hand I get somewhat of a high when an analysis is done. My MobiMOOC Research Team (MRT) colleagues and I have also been working on a paper regarding emotive language use in an open online course, in order to deduce whether some sentences could be indicators of emerging demotivation and even dropout of an open course. For if this would be the case, course facilitators and even computer data mining programs could be used to pick-up this effec and enter in a motivational conversation with those learners (nice idea). This experience got my eyes opened as I understood how less I understood of qualitative research.

So for all of you that are also struggling, I will gladly share any meaningful resources that might just get us a bit more knowledgeable on data analysis. Starting with one of the most commonly used one's: grounded theory. I found this set of videos on YouTube, these are lectures given by Gra Gibbs, who teaches at the University of Huddersfield (United Kingdom) and with a typical British under-cooled flair (how do those Brits keep their passion so controlled?) he gets the key points across: coding, ethics, approach...

Below you will find the first (5 min) video, but you can also subscribe to the Qualitative Research Channel right here and get all of the videos on the subject.

Btw if anyone knows great resources on data analysis, feel free to share, I can use every bit of it. Now diving back into Creswell (2007) on qualitative methods design.

Thursday 2 February 2012

Noam Chomsky on the purpose of #education via #LWF

Across time there have always been people who's voice was sounding louder than the voices of others. Simply because they have/had a solid opinion based on vision and strong arguments. And apart from the fact that you can always agree or disagree, listening and reflecting on ideas of outspoken, well-argumented people always brings you to the next level of understanding. One of these voices in the past 50 years has been Noam Chomsky. In this 21 minute video you can hear his opinion on education. The video was produced for the wonderful and energetic conference of 'Learning Without Frontiers'.

Noam's ideas on education in short (and paraphrased by me at times):

There is a constant struggle between two realities: the principles of the enlightment and indoctrination.
From the enlightement: the highest goal is the quest for knowledge. For this the learner is going to achieve that quest, it is her/his responsibility.
Indoctrination: young people are placed in a framework and they are molded to what is to be expected.
These two sides are always there. Do you learn for a test or are you learning for creative inquiry? There are always two different ways to look at things from kindergarden al the way through graduate and beyond...

Technology is a neutral instrument, education is a framework
Currently there is a substantial growth in technology, culture... but we should bare in mind that the technological changes that are happening are not that impressive as we think at times. The technology of the past century were impressive as they influenced life expectancy, health..., but the shift from a type writer to a computer, is in no way in comparison to the changes taking place a century ago.
Technology is a neutral instrument, also for education. So for any technology we should always look at the framework where in the instrument is used: what is significant, what is to be pursued... If you do not have a framework, the internet will not lead to significant enlightenment. So behind any significant use of technology, there needs to be a well constructed apparatus.

What does society want its citizens to be?
Do we want a society of free, critical thinking people? Education is a value on itself, because it can help to build better human beings.

Assessment versus autonomy
Increasing demand to take tests to follow personal evolution. But tests never tell you very much on the real insights, the real personal progress that is made. Sometimes tests are just a couple of hurdles, nothing essential. Teaching out to be inspiring, and motivating students to explore on their own (remark of myself: this is a close link to buddhist, ancient greec and jewish learning tradition). The questions and the discussions are important.

Personal thoughts after hearing the talk
But the thing I wonder about is, how can you build a critical thinking framework and ... even if such a framework is provided, who is to say how 'critical' is defined? Or is critical only defined as non-conform? No matter what we teach our children, I have the feeling that in the beginning, when they are young they want a better world for all of us, but as the realities of society is getting to them - to us - many of us turn bitter, or we turn away from the concept that human society can indeed become peaceful, compassionate and nurturing. I wish enlightenment was possible, but power and establishment seems to be getting in the way. Sometimes I even wonder whether research is not just another way to keep intellectuals outside of society, and give them a bone to chew on so they will not stir up things for the happy few. Why cannot science be the establishment? We know so much to bring about a cooperative world, yet violence is still all around us despite of different educational approaches and new technologies...

Wednesday 1 February 2012

New issue of the free #eLearning journal #IRRODL is out - a great read

Below you will find the contents of the new issue of IRRODL, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. The issue contains 12 research articles and one field note, research note, and article reaction note.
The winners of last years Best Articles of the year in IRRODL for 2011, have also been selected by the Editorial Board. This is a new reward the IRRODL people launched and it comes with it the opportunity to have the work translated and published in a number of our partner educational journals that publish in languages other than English (great initiative!).
The winning articles and authors of 2011 are:
Vol 12, No 6 (2011) Examining motivation in online distance learning environments: Complex, multifaceted and situation-dependent ABSTRACT HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
by Maggie Hartnett, Alison St. George, Jon Dron

Vol 12, No 2 (2011) A pedagogical framework for mobile learning: Categorizing educational applications of mobile technologies into four types ABSTRACT HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
by Yeonjeong Park

And these are the articles of the new IRRODL issue:

Vol 13, No 1 (2012)

Table of Contents


Editorial Volume 13, Number 1 HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Terry Anderson i-v

Research Articles

An open education resource supports a diversity of inquiry-based learning HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Catherine Anne Schmidt-Jones 1-16
Toward a CoI population parameter: The impact of unit (sentence vs. message) on the results of quantitative content analysis HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Paul Gorsky, Avner Caspi, Ina Blau, Yodfat Vine, Amit Billet 17-37
Pretesting mathematical concepts with the mobile phone: Implications for curriculum design HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Rita Ndagire Kizito 38-55
Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Lisa Marie Blaschke 56-71
Science teacher training programme in rural schools: An ODL lesson from Zimbabwe HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Misheck Mhishi, Crispen Erinos Bhukuvhani, Abel Farikai Sana 72-86
Investigating instructional strategies for using social media in formal and informal learning HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Baiyun Chen, Thomas Bryer 87-104
An investigation of communication in virtual high schools HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Marley Belair 105-123
Connectivism and dimensions of individual experience HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Carmen Tschofen, Jenny Mackness 124-143
Online social networks as formal learning environments: Learner experiences and activities HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
George Veletsianos, Cesar Navarrete 144-166
Rapport in distance education HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Elizabeth Murphy, María A. Rodríguez-Manzanares 167-190
The implications of the local context in global virtual education HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Ståle Angen Rye, Anne Marie Støkken 191-206
Challenges of virtual and open distance science teacher education in Zimbabwe HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Vongai Mpofu, Tendai Samukange, Lovemore M Kusure, Tinoidzwa M Zinyandu, Clever Denhere, Shakespear Ndlovu, Renias Chiveya, Monica Matavire, Leckson Mukavhi, Isaac Gwizangwe, Elliot Magombe, Nyakotyo Huggins, Munyaradzi Magomelo, Fungai Sithole, Chingombe Wiseman 207-219

Field Notes

Learning management system migration: An analysis of stakeholder perspectives HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Thomas G Ryan, Mary Toye, Kyle Charron, Gavin Park 220-237

Research Notes

Motivating factors that affect enrolment and student performance in an ODL engineering programme HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Pushpa Ranjani Dadigamuwa, Nihal Saman Senanayake 238-249

Article Notes

Article review - Social presence within the community of inquiry framework HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
D.R. Garrison