Tuesday 29 May 2012

Blogphilosophy: #socialmedia #participation is reproducing powers that be

We live in a participative world. Social media allows everyone with an internet connection (and who is not behind censored internet walls) to like or dislike any topic or content open to voting. We all have opinions that can be heard. But having an opinion does not necessarily add to a more humane world. In fact, opinions are most of time simple reproductions of what already rules governing ideology: war and inequality.

When social media got on to societies stage I was thrilled. The educational opportunities seemed limitless… Yes, I am a tech utopian. I belief – every time – that this or that new technology will save us and give birth to a world where all creatures great and small will live in harmony. Where people will know peace and love their neighbor’s no matter how distant or different they are. How can we not love ourselves in all our different appearances?

After the first feeling of utopia, once again reality kicks in. As social media followers are growing in numbers, the ruling norm is becoming more visual in the content shared within these now established media. It seems that establishment is such a true power concept. Once any technology, however promising and liberating at first, is taken up by the masses, it becomes part of the establishment. Participation will only result in a reproduction – although slightly different at best – of existing powerhouses. So why do I belief in participation?

The voiceless human beings that roam our global village once again stay silent. Numbed by their own context, lack of expertise, circumstances thrust upon them, life’s unfortunate circumstances... What can I do about it?

In an attempt to give a bit more voice to those that are scarcely represented in the digital world, I have decided to pick up m4D or ICT4D (mobile for development/ICT for development) as one of the topics of MobiMOOC. Although it is not in the top 6 of topics. But I take that liberty, as I hope that it might close the existing digital gap just a bit. Call it a utopian action. I am strengthened in that choice by Michael Sean Gallagher who is a utopian believer as well (not sure if he would agree). He is on a mission and as such I am truly thankful that he wants to facilitate that topic in the upcoming MobiMOOC. In fact he is gathering people from different regions to share their expertise on the subject. He seeks to give voices to those who are unheard, and looks to alleviate dire straits for those living in less fortunate areas. I am sure all (future) participants can relate to that as we are all in this together, learning to improve our lives as well as those of others no matter where our target audiences live.

Picture of the digital divide is from a wonderful blogpost by Todd Q. Adams.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Topic update free #mLearning course #MobiMOOC

If you are interested in mobile learning (mLearning) in a variety of aspects, feel free to join MobiMOOC2012. MobiMOOC2012 is a free, open and online course that will focus on the subject learning with mobile devices in a wide variety of fields. The course will show examples from around the world with facilitators and speakers from different continents. And six of the focus weeks/topics are chosen by YOU.

As the registered participants for the course are growing, most of them have already voted for their preferred course topic. I also got suggestions for topics, these suggestions were added to the list or embedded in existing topics if they had parallels. There are 4 fixed topics: mLearning introduction (with myself as guide-on-the-side), setting up a mLearning curriculum (facilitator Adele Botha, South Africa), planning a mLearning project, impact of learning with mobile devices worldwide (facilitator John Traxler, United Kingdom).

Feel free to vote for your preferred mLearning topics here, so the course reflects what all of us want collaboratively.
Below you will see the favorite topics so far (as soon as the voting stops I will look for great facilitators to be guides-on-the-side for those topics):

The registration is simple: just sign up for the MobiMOOC Google group and you will be informed of any new developments, announcements...

Details of the course:
Date: 8 - 30 September 2012
Course format: open and with emphasis on discussion and knowledge exchange
Cost: free
Location of the course: online, the course uses many social spaces, but there are 2 core spaces the course wiki and the MobiMOOC Google group.
How to register for the course: request membership for the MobiMOOC2012 group here, once you are a member, you are automatically registered for the course. 

Feel free to send this through to anyone you might think has an interest in mLearning.

@eLaconference #ICT4D #eLearning Africa report covers a lot of ground

ICWE people who organize the conferences Online Educa Berlin and eLearning Africa have just published a report on the status of eLearning in Africa (which is organized in Benin this year). The report is published at the beginning of the conference, which I think is a wonderful idea. It is a free report and can be downloaded here

The publishers indicate that the eLearning Africa 2012 report is a collaborative endeavor to enrich the conversation on ICT-enhanced learning and training in Africa. It seeks to inform and inspire, providing thought
leadership and shaping policy and practice across the Continent. Now who would not be interested in that?

In short the report covers:
  • What technologies are used, and in which context?
  • Why do people use ICT and how do they decide what to use?
  • What constrains ICT-enhanced learning and training at the country level?
  • What determines ICT enhanced learning and training at the organisational level?
  • Government - the most important change agent
  • The place of radio
  • Critical content and communication capabilities: foundational for African education in a digitally-mediated age
  • Appropriate and sustainable technology solutions for education in Africa
  • Africa’s choice: digitise traditional knowledge or lose culture and development
  • How the education sector produces eWaste in Kenya and why it should be responsible for eWaste management
  • Why invest in using ICT in education in Africa?
  • African youth, identity formation and social media
  • How African entrepreneurs are training for new opportunities
  • Teaching Cape Flats ex-gangsters and moms how to tweet and blog for change
  • Early reading acquisition using mobile learning in Africa: the case of Graphogame adaptations in Kenya
  • The challenges faced by Portuguesespeaking universities in Africa
  • Financing and sustainability of ICT solutions in higher education in Benin
  • Security and technology-assisted learning in Africa
  • mLearning: a connection to opportunity
A nice side note of the report is this one "
Whilst noting the positive energy revealed, The eLearning Africa 2012 Report also wants to caution against feeding exaggerated expectations about what is possible with technologies. The Report wishes to encourage more critical and open engagement with the messy complexity that technologies are also instilling within our systems. This requires ongoing exploration of those aspects that are beneficial, of which there are potentially many, and those that are a lot more challenging. In turn, this requires adopting a culture of openness regarding failures, the ways in which systems break down and whether technologies also play a role in precipitating further damage."

The reason I like this critical side note is that all over the world technology is sometimes seen as an instant solution for everything and that simply is not the case. It will still be us humans, becoming more human and empathic that will alleviate the worlds challenges, creating a better world for all of us. Technology is only a tool, not the actor.

As the world is taking about emerging countries China, India and Brazil, I can see how Africa is becoming a strong continent. The diversity is so rich that people and organizations are cross pollinating each other. For when the world is looking in a different direction, the road to innovation and personal creativity is wide open. 

Just take a look at the wide variety of topics covered in this promotional video. It is promotional so skip the first minute, but ... once the speakers share their thoughts it becomes inspiring, you cannot deny the topics shared.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Setting up a #mLearning Curriculum Framework for any institution

In the past months I have had the pleasure to work on the idea of getting a generic Mobile Curriculum Framework structure built. One that would allow any institute, corporation, organization... to set up their own mobile learning curriculum for their own target audience or students.

So I gladly share the first formal publication giving an overview of the mobile curriculum framework. For those interested you can find it here. The paper was presented during IST Africa in Tanzania.

This wonderful idea came out of the brilliant brains of two of the most driven mobile researchers I know: Adele Botha and her colleague Jacqueline Batchelor, both from South Africa. These  two researchers have been setting up mobile projects across South Africa and beyond. They are always searching for new ways that benefit all of us, not just the lucky ones having access to stable connectivity and electricity.

The framework gives an overview of what nuggets of knowledge, technology and information you need to take into account when you want to roll out a mobile curriculum in your own institute or organization. In this first paper everything is kept broad and general, but in the upcoming months we will focus on different parts of the framework, entering into detail.

The mobile curriculum framework will be shared, discussed and collaborated on during MobiMOOC2012, the free online course on mobile learning. MobiMOOC will run from 8 September until 30 September 2012. The framework will be discussed in week 2 of MobiMOOC, so feel free to register for the course by becoming a member of the MobiMOOC Google Group and join us in September 2012.

Friday 11 May 2012

Learning analytics as indicators of online course drop-out a paper by the MobiMOOC research team

Under the lead of the wonderfully driven Apostolos Koutropoulos, Sean Abajian and Michael Sean Gallagher, all of us in the MobiMOOC research team (other members are Nilg√ľn Keskin, Rebecca Hogue and Osvaldo Rodriguez and myself) got a chance to collaboratively write a paper on "emotive vocabulary in MOOCs: context and participation retention". This paper came out of MobiMOOC2011 and it takes a deeper look into the emotive language that is used by MOOC participants and whether this language can be analyzed for words that indicate future drop-out/participation.

Here is the abstract:
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have been growing in popularity with educational researchers, instructors, and learners in online environments. Online discussions are as important in MOOCs as in other online courses. Online discussions that occur in MOOCs are influenced by additional factors resulting from their volatile and voluntary participation structure. This article aims to examine discussions that took place in MobiMOOC in the spring of 2011, a MOOC structured around mobile learning. This line of inquiry focused on language from the discussions that contained emotive vocabulary in the MobiMOOC discussion forums. Emotive vocabulary is words or phrases that are implicitly emotional (happy, sad, frustrated) or relate to emotional contexts (I wasn’t able to…). This emotive vocabulary, when present, was examined to determine whether it could serve as a mechanism for predicting future and continued participation in the MOOC. In this research, narrative inquiry approach was used in order to shine a light on the possible predictive qualities of emotive text in both participants who withdrew from the course as well as moderately or moderately active participants. The results indicated that emotive vocabulary usage did not significantly predict or impact participation retention in MobiMOOC.

Yes, participating in MOOCs can result in many different outcomes. If you have not signed up for the next MobiMOOC that will run between 8 - 30 September 2012, feel free to register here by becoming a member of the group and you will be kept up to date.

Thursday 10 May 2012

1st #Moodle research conference and Dutch MoodleMoot

Moodle is still going steady and leading the community based LMS world. I love it, so I gladly send out the news for the upcoming Moodle research conference and Dutch MoodleMoot.

The Dutch MoodleMoot is planned for 30 May 2012 and you can find more information (in Dutch) here. And as a keynote they give the floor to Hans de Zwart (English blog) who is the innovation manager for global learning technologies with Shell. It will be a great Moodle meeting moment.

Alice Jesmont pointed me towards the upcoming alledgetly first Moodle research conference that will take place from 14 - 15 September 2012 in Heraklion, Crete, Greece (what a great location!).
More information can be found here: 

Deadline for submissions: 14 May 2012

And the description off the event is as follows: "The Moodle Scientific Conference will become a major event for academics, researchers, experts and practitioners - sharing experiences, research achievements and innovative developments with Moodle. It is a unique opportunity to participate in an event dedicated to research and development (R&D) on learning and teaching carried out with Moodle. The conference will provide opportunities for sharing, discussing and providing constructive criticism of research outcomes and methods.

The conference venue is a beautiful location in the historic island of Crete, Greece.  Participants will have opportunities to connect with peers and learn about new Moodle R&D trends and debate research ideas that could improve the design of Moodle in the future.

We invite scientists and practitioners to submit manuscripts (full papers or posters) critically reporting on quantitative and qualitative research results concerning learning with Moodle.


Prospective authors are invited to submit manuscripts reporting original unpublished research and recent developments on the following topics:

•             Research studies and case studies on teaching with Moodle
•             Mobile Learning with Moodle
•             Innovative Moodle plugins 
•             Learning Analytics in Moodle
•             Collaborative Learning with Moodle
•             Moodle communities of practice
•             Interoperability with Moodle
•             Accessibility in Moodle
•             Adaptivity in Moodle

Paper submission guidelines

Prospective authors are invited to submit
·         Research papers - of up to 8 pages, including figures and references
·         Posters and research in progress that should be up to 1000 words in length.

Submission will be made by the conference management system EasyChair conference management system. All submissions will undergo a blind peer review process involving two program committee members.
Accepted papers will be published as conference proceedings (with ISBN) in an open access, online-only version. The proceedings will be available online approximately one month prior to the conference opening

Important Dates
14 May 2012: Submission of manuscripts
11 June 2012: Notification of acceptance
9 July 2012: Submission of final copy of accepted papers
16 July 2012: Early Bird Deadline
14th and 15th September 2012: MoodleSco2012 Conference

Keynote speaker:
Martin Dougiamas, Founder of Moodle

Creta Maris Beach Resort in Crete[http://www.maris.gr/creta.aspx ].

More Info

URL: http://research.moodle.net/

Monday 7 May 2012

Amit Garg on #mLearning in the #workplace

As mLearning is still growing in interest from a variety of stakeholders (government, corporate, education), it is always great to read a short presentation that brings everything together. Amit Garg (founder and director Upside Learning Solutions) is one of the people I like to follow as he has the ability to bring together key points of a specific subject matter, in this case mLearning in the workplace.

I particularly like his list of mLearning myths:
mLearning =
  • eLearning on the phone
  • just learning on the move
  • small screen-size is unsuitable for learning
  • create once and deliver on all devices (yes, still an impossibility, darn)
  • mobile content is expensive to create and distribute
  • it is not secure
  • SCORM compliance is a must

Thursday 3 May 2012

Blogphilosophy #EdX where #MOOC becomes a joint venture

Video streaming by Ustream After reading the launch of EdX with great interest, I feel that the work of a lot of us open learning minded learners has been tamed by big institutes. Utopia has been monetized (although seemingly only limited as it is under the umbrella of non-profit, however I did read Joint Venture in the press release) and put into a stricter model where - if I understand it correctly and please put me straight if I did not get it - the assistants, professors, and grading algorithms of the richer universities will blast away smaller initiatives that are based on peer knowledge exchange, natural learning and human enrichment.

Of course this is me writing, the me who believes that a diversity of approaches is more closely related to human evolution than providing only one model, due to economical potential. A learner should be able to choose the model that fits her/him best.

In the launch of EdX there was a big focus on the fact that enormous research will be done on the nature of learning via the participants that register for the courses. I applaud this with all of my heart, for yes, I do believe in research (not sure if research results are necessarily taken up by policy makers, but ... it has value to me). Only wondering if the EdX research will also be open? So that anyone will be able to benefit from it? That way small schools in less fortunate areas or with underpriveledged students can benefit from it as well. For research results can be embedded in a diversity of approaches if those research results are open for all to read, grasp, build upon.

Nevertheless I am happy to see the conscious choice to put out content open to a global audience on a wide variety of really, really interesting subjects and ... with a certificate option?!!! That is more than most of our educational institutions could/can offer. In fact it looks to me as if this is a major educational magnet that can attract a plethora of students.

The New York times did quote George Siemens, but ... it just is not the same as moving ahead with people that choose another way of teaching/learning because of philosophical reasons. Now all of a sudden the concept of being open, discussing with people who are simply 'in to it' will become a business model. It is good to hear that no profit is expected, but ... it will have a business model and ... that is the way the world turns.

Reading the almost salivating comments of Harvard/MIT people on connecting to the Chinese and Indian learners makes me wonder if the world is better off only using one learning/teaching model? The rich history of pedagogical approaches, embedded in cultures on all continents will again be flatted down into one, overarching model.

Okay... there is only one thing left to do before learning/teaching diversity comes down to the one, global, dominant model: getting the diversity of models gathered in a book. An eBook preferably, giving a voice to the diversity of teaching that happens around the world, in a multitude of cultures, because they can and have been doing it since the dawn of time. Learning is human, as such we are all part of it, and all science related to it should be open, natural and diverse in order to evolve towards a more balanced world for all of us. Maybe I should knock on the door of Stephen Downes and others to reach out to those teachers/sharers of knowledge who live it, love it and teach it ... their way and collaboratively write the book.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Selecting meaningful #socialmedia tools for a #MOOC or #PLN

A big part of setting up an open, online course (e.g. MOOC), or gearing up for a Personal Learning Network (PLN) is the selection of meaning social media tools. In order to get an overview of the big families in social media, I started to make a list for my own comprehension and future selection. A added some examples to each group, but those are just the ones that immediately came to mind.

If you see that I have missed a group or set of social media tools, feel free to let me know. 

Social Media Tool
Why use it + implementation
Example with possible extra
Idea and content sharing

Twitter allows the learner group to share short messages with one another, linking it to more content.

Real life: educators have twitter meetings where they discuss a particular educational issue (#lrnchat)

Extra: using a hashtag (#) to keep on track of specific topics. Look here for all tweets regarding mLearning (updated life).

Social Networking
Building a network of people that can add to the knowledge creation of the learner.

Real life: people with mutual interest in management joining up in a group to discuss strategies (LinkedIn)

Extra: LinkedIn has a nice feature enabling you to send Q/A to your professional network. A nice way to meaningfully stay in touch.
Social bookmarking

Social bookmarking allows the learner group to find bookmarked items related to the topic at hand gathered in one place.

Real life: organizing online resources relevant to your learner group (e.g. augmented learning).

Multimedia sharing
Sharing visuals, audio and/or movies to give others an in-depth view on what is happening.

Real life: health care workers sharing X-ray pictures and how they diagnosed it (Telemedicine).
Video (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo).

Audio (e.g. Skype)

Pictures (e.g. Flickr)

Extra: make sure you choose a good copyright, you might want to look at Creative Commons licenses.

Extra: geotagging, sharing the location of the object of the video, audio or picture that is shared. This metadata can later be used for additional learning tracks or research.

To reflect on what is learned, or what the learner thinks is of importance.
Keeping a learning archive or personal learning environment (PLE).

Real life: engineers keeping track of complex issues they encounter in the field and how they solve it. These accounts can later be used in similar situations.

A special mention must be made about Posterous. This great blogging tool enables you and any group member to e-mail content to a variety of social media tools: Flickr, Facebook, twitter… Try it out, it is fun AND easy!.
Virtual meetings

Virtual meeting tools allow synchronous communication to take place. Great for collaborative discussions/brainstorming.

Real life: sales protocols are provided asynchronously and learners need to go through them. Afterwards virtual meetings are set-up to roll play what is learned and discuss the protocols.

Big Blue Button (open source project)

Wiziq(free for basic use)

Sharing presentations

Sharing presentations offer an immediate way of enhancing knowledge on a certain subject.

Real life: this can be used for assignments. Where learners are asked to build a presentation, share it and discuss each other’s work (constructively).

Collaborative reference managers

For those learners interested in research or formal accreditation,

Real life: easily access citations, building reference lists, creating literature reviews.

Collaborative mindmapping

Planning or structuring thoughts, future steps, content.

Real life: teachers coming together to set up a new curriculum, collaboratively building the course architecture.
Augmented reality additions

Great for adding authentic information to geo-located spaces.

Real life: seeing archeological history unfold itself over centuries, simply by looking at your mobile device.