Sunday, November 29, 2009

CCK09 Final Project - Thoughts and Reflections

For our final CCK09 project we were given a number of possible questions we could reflect on. The questions I choose to focus on were "what is the quality of my network?" and "how connected am I?".

I first wanted to record a video podcast of my thoughts but the words just wouldn't come out without me reading a script and no one wants to see that. I turned to a tool I have never used but always wanted to, Prezi. I found it useful since I have a lot of thoughts that seem disjointed. I managed to pair a few with pictures I have taken. You can view the presentation here.

So, how connected am I and what is the quality of my network?

These are difficult questions to answer. I always end up comparing myself to others I see online. My network is smaller and compact, but it is growing and changing and I think that is a sign of a developing network.

Within my network I have a variety of people who share different things with me. I have also noticed that my network is made up of lots of different groups.

The best way to answer is to say for now my network and connections do what I need them to do. As my needs and interests change in the future so will my network and the connections I make.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Changing Roles in Instructional Design - CCK09 Paper #2

Everything changes, so it is no surprise that the role of the Instructional Designer will also have to change to keep up with society. There is a vast amount of information available on the internet and increasing social connection possibilities. We are coming from the framework Martin Weller refers to as a Pedagogy of Abundance (2009).

I received a comment in one of my recent blog posts from suifaijohnmak (2009) which stated, "In an learning ecology over the net, we are able to pursue our own interests with autonomy, and broaden our learning horizon as we engaged with different learning sources, experts, and media". I think this comment gets right to the heart of the matter in that there is so much in the way of content already out there and we have the potential now to easily access that.

This is completely different from reasoning for courses of the past. We are coming from the idea that knowledge or ideas reside in experts and those experts are few and far between. We needed to access them from either a recognized institution or a lecture or video that would be limited in distribution or accessibility.

The abundance of information also impacts the role of the student. No longer are students going to be passive learners. They need to take an active role in choosing the content of the course through the connections they make socially and also with the course material itself. This will inevitably have an impact on how an Instructional Designer will design a course.

I think the big change will come in how courses are actually designed. If education is moving more towards philosophies such as constructivism, problem based learning, and connectivism, Instructional Designers need to be involved through out the course, not just designing a set course and leaving it to run. Formative evaluation will play a much larger role.

Students are going to become more in control of where they want the particular course to go based on their own interests. There will be less emphasis on required readings and topics and more freedom for students to bring their own materials to share and for them to choose which way the course unfolds.

I propose the metaphor of the Instructional Designer as the Gamemaster or GM, a term borrowed from role-playing. A GM may have a particular story line he/she would like to players to go down but ultimately a good GM knows that the players have to control the story. If they choose not to take the story bait the GM has left, the story line must change. I think the same will be true in designing a class in the future. There maybe a learning path that the designer wants the students to go down but based on the interests, connections and experience of the students they may end up going another way. The Instructional Designer will need to watch where the students are taking the course and make changes to the design to accommodate that learning path.

There are many possible impediments to this idea. The first is that this is not a very good system for keeping consistency in courses for accreditation purposes. We would have to completely change the idea of static course outlines. Instead we might be able to use more open descriptions about possibilities of materials the course might cover. However there would be no guarantee that each group within the same course would learn the same materials. In all likelihood they would have very different learning experiences as their groups would be different. I think this is evident in our current course CCK09. From what I have read it is significantly different from CCk08, even though it is the same course and the same topics are covered. We as the student of CCk09 have taken the course materials in a different direction based on our interests.

A lack of purposefulness is another potential impediment. The current idea is that education should take a student from point A to point B in a logical predictable manner. In my idea of the Instructional Designer as a Gamemaster this is not the case. There of course is a purpose for the course but the purpose is often more vague than people would like. The purpose is to make connections and forge your own learning paths as a group of students.

Currently my idea of the Instructional Designer as a Gamemaster is not practical for many courses at a K to 12 level, however I think courses like this could be experimented with at the post secondary level. The blending of the informal and formal learning models is a gradual process. There are more an more people within education everyday experimenting with personal learning networks and discussing ways to incorporate learner empowerment into their classes. I think the more we experiment with these ideas the closer we become to the learner directed course as an accepted model.

Works Cited

Weller, M. A Pedagogy of Abundance (Elluminate Presentation). Retreived from CCK09 Recordings Wiki:

suifaijohnmak. (2009, November 20). My Position on Connectivism (Msg 1). Message posted to

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Response to John Mak's Blog

Hi John,

Thank you for sharing this thoughtful post. Although you may not recognize me from CCK09 I recognize you :)

I have to admit I have been a bit guilty of lurking for some of the forum chats but I have been trying to chime in lately.

I will attempt to answer your questions from my point of view:

1) I expected CCK09 to be a bit overwhelming at first and it was. I did not expect some of the types of conversations though. Some have been well out of my comfort area in terms of knowledge. This has been helpful though as it has exposed me to all sorts of new concepts and terminology.

2) I am not totally sure what my needs are. I am taking the course as a part of the Emerging Tech certificate at the University of Manitoba so I think that makes me different to a lot of the participants. I need to understand enough to pass the course, but I want to meet different people and be exposed to different ideas. I also want a chance to work out what my own ideas are.

3) My needs have been met so far in the course. I think I could be doing more in the way of starting conversations. At the beginning I was quite intimidated, not because of the online nature of the course but rather the depth of the subject matter being discussed by participants. I also have needed time to reflect, which I try to do on this blog. I also do my reflecting with the people closest to me in real life, such as my husband and friends, which is not meeting needs on a course level but that is my fault :)!

4) My needs are fulfilled on the forum. I had heard that this course would probably take place mainly outside of Moodle so I ignored the forums for a while. That was a mistake. I think if I had been more attentive inside the forums I would have been saying more earlier. I do enjoy the formation of concepts that takes place inside a forum. I like that I can see who said what, in relation to what, and when. It gives me a good picture of how the concept is developing.

5) I am not sure what sort of new emerging concepts, knowledge, and connections I expected from the forums. I think it is difficult to predict where a course like this will go, but that is part of the fun of it.

6) Yes the concept of connectivism resonates very strongly with me. I have always been aware of my need to discuss and reflect on concepts. I love exploring and sharing with my colleagues and classmates. I was recently labeled a "connector" at a PD event my college held.

Once again John, I appreciated your blog post and enjoyed thinking about these topics.
I look forward to us continuing our learning journey!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kippers for Breakfast

This week's CCK09 topic was openness and transparency. Transparency in particular is a topic that is very interesting to me.

George Siemens in the CCK09 outline for this week states that transparency "involves making our learning explicit through forums, blogs, presentations, podcasts, and videos". I love it when I identify with what I read in a blog or hear in a podcast. I think this is probably a very common feeling. I also love it when I can see inside someones thinking process. How did they solve problem "x", did they even think that "x" is/was a problem? These are all things that transparency allows us to view.

There are many people who think that sharing or transparency is invasive or that people won't care about their experiences. Someone in one of this week's talks made a comment about posting about having kippers for breakfast on twitter. I just about died laughing. It cuts right to the core issue; do we care that you had kippers for breakfast? I respond with a loud YES! I want to know little things like that about the people I communicate with online. It is what strengthens our connections. I feel like I know you a bit better for that. Maybe I am in the minority, but I am probably not going to remember you for some deep insight you made in class last week, I am going to remember that you ate kippers for breakfast and then remember that you also made that deep comment.

I feel like transparency and openness are necessary for us to connect and have meaningful conversations and that is especially important in an environment where we cannot see each other. I know that you my classmates are not robots, even though I can't see that you are wearing a shirt I really like in class. It is as if we all live on these tiny little islands and when we find out our islands share some features we can say "Hey! My Island has that too" or we could say "How can I get that on my Island?".

I have decided to post a list of 10 things that you as classmates probably don't know about me so that we can get to know each other better. I also invite you to post back with some things about yourselves.
  1. I love the TV show Lost. I mean LOVE it. I read numerous blogs about it, twitter about it and even have my own Dharma Initiative jumpsuit to wear while I watch the show.
  2. I live in a really small town called High Prairie in Alberta Canada. I moved here about 3 years ago from Vancouver BC. When I first moved I lived in an even smaller community called Grouard which had less people than my old apartment building in Vancouver. I really enjoy living in a small community which is a big surprise to me and everyone who knows me. There are days when I am frustrated that I can't have a Latte or buy lemongrass at the supermarket but I get over it quickly.
  3. I have a cat named Loki and a husband named Pat, but no children.
  4. I am currently contemplating applying for a Masters Degree in Instructional Design at Athabasca University and would love any input from anyone in the field.
  5. I am guilty of lurking. I am slowly getting over that though .
  6. I am really bad at sharing stuff I find on Twitter. I keep thinking people will have already seen what I am looking at. I need to get over that.
  7. I spend a lot of time on Facebook which many would consider a bad thing but I love because I get to see what is going on with my friend and family who also use it a lot.
  8. I love to cook and to eat.
  9. I am attempting to win a weight loss contest with some friends this month.
  10. I don't have an amazing story of openness but hope to one day.