Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Learning in a time of abundance - In Response to Erik Duval

Erik Duval talked about the information revolution and how it impacts our learning, in his presentation. What he is talking about is a topic that forces people to really consider the implications of all the information and how we as humans filter it effectively.

One example of how the information has caused issues for us as learners is that we need to double check our research. So if we were to google something and on one website, we read a fact, the second step is to find the exact fact on other resources (other websites, books, etc). The reason is that not all the information is true or correct or altered. Due to the amount of information that is availble on a topic, it really causes us as learners to pause and ensure during hte learning process that the information is correct and up to date. As a result, the amount of time spent looking for information and resources can increase...

Digital Scholarship - In Response to Martin Weller

Martin Weller presented Digital Scholarship as an alternative to traditional academic scholarship. Here's a link to see what Digital Scholarship is all about: http://www.bloomsburyacademic.com/view/DigitalScholar_9781849666275/chapter-ba-9781849666275-chapter-005.xml;jsessionid=543AAE770E2327FAFF05AA94554E28FE

I think Digital Scholarship is a great idea, as it has significant benefits for the learners. Anyone around the world can access something that they wouldn't otherwise be able to access via traditional scholarship. The only problem as a learner that I identify with is the credibility of the scholar, as we have seen with a resource like Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not considered among the academic world as a reliable source of information, mainly because anyone can go in and edit the content.

I do hope that as technologies develop, we will see significant developments that would allow for removing the unreliable information from the reliable information.

Mobile Learning - In Response to Zoraini Abas

Zoraini Abas presented his experience with Mobile Learning at Open University Malaysia. You can view more details of what he presented here: http://eyeonlearning.blogspot.com/

Basically the University took some classes as a sample and had the professors/Tutors communicate via SMS with students upcoming assignments, test, and other course related information. At the end of the semester, the students were asked how their experience was and most were happy with receiving text messages of updates in the course. It provided them with an assignment.

My take: I think this was a really good example of how mobile devices can be used effectively in a learning organization. Students were given a sense of motivation and encouragement by the professor and allowed them to feel a sense of belonging within the course. Often, with distance education, it isn't easy for students to stay motivated and complete the required work, as most are working full time. And the technology used is very simple and not very new anymore, but the use was effective. In other instances, we have seen examples of social media being utilized for distance courses and face to face courses, as a supporting tool for students.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Video Conferencing Example

I used to work at a College in Northern Alberta, Canada, they had campuses scattered all across Northern Alberta. The challenge was to offer classes to the students in these locations. The solution was Video Conferencing. So the instructor would be in one location and have the other students attend using a Video Conferencing System. So in theory and for the most part this worked well. Instructor was able to see and hear the students and vice-versa, instructor would have a PowerPoint and present to the students, watch a video with the class. Some of the issues experienced were, Video Conferencing would not work smoothly, system would breakdown, bandwidth was limited at times, and prompt support wasn't given. In addition, when the instructor is delivering Video Conferencing classes, some didn't know how to do it properly, as there are etiquette one should follow when delivering, but some of the instructors weren't that experienced with delivering via Video Conferencing and instructors weren't trained much with using Video Conferencing. In Northern Alberta region, the government has fiber optics hooked up and extremely high speed Internet (SuperNet), which enabled Video Conferencing. The future for Video Conferencing especially in a rural region like Northern Albert is very bright and if the technical support is provided, it can be a solid substitute for face-to-face delivery.

Here's a sample video to KhanAcademy.org founder, it's published on TED Talks. http://www.khanacademy.org/video/salman-khan-talk-at-ted-2011--from-ted-com?playlist=Khan+Academy-Related+Talks+and+Interviews

Monday, October 31, 2011

Audio Based Technologies

Benefits of audio based technology
- It connects people in different locations
- It allows you to share your windows, word documents, etc with other participants
- People are able to work together on projects
- Reduces costs, as travel is not required as much
- This is essentially how an multinational organization like mine does meetings, via Live Meeting.
- Our trainers deliver webinars via Live Meeting to clients, this has been a popular delivery method amount the clients, it is cheap for them and cheap for us, compared with face-to-face training

Shortcomings of audio based technologies
- They are limited by the bandwidth of the participants, so not all participants experience the same thing, depending on their internet connection.
- I've found that people still don't utilize all the functions of audio-based technology, and that is a shortcoming as the training is not provided to the users
- And like most technologies, the key limitation is that it crashes from time to time or doesn't perform the way we are used to it performing.

Future of audio based technology
- I see it as a replacement of video conferencing, as we get higher bandwidth, which is a limitation to audio based technologies to using video effectively

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Print works

In my company, print is used for all purposes, as it was 15 years ago. We don't follow the current trend of avoiding printing as much as possible. And it has been working well. Here are some uses for printing our documents for:
- Printing day to day documents, i.e., emails, excel files, etc
- Manuals for internal and external training
- Trainers printing manuals when reviewing them

Our manuals account for around 100+ pages each, so if we have 6+ students for a class (webinar and face to face), it adds up. Once I remember printing around 3000 pages of manuals for a face to face class of around 8 students.
The reasons we print, rather than using the web are:
- Trainers need to review the material and so write notes on the paper (they are very old school, in my opinion)
- Clients prefer printed material, as the training we provide is they pay for it
- Our organization is very conservative and so change is not easy or quick, this is one of the traditions we still follow
- Not enough people are against using print

Personally, I don't think printing is a good idea, and web based documents are the ideal way to go and would provide significant benefits. For example, searching for key words would be possible and so you can skim and jump to the sections quickly. You save the cost of paper and ink.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Learning Organizations - Why aren't they all good at it?

I have done some research previously on Knowledge Management and comparison of tacit knowledge transfer vs explicit knowledge transfer. I've included a chart of IT project success/failure for 30 different cases, where you can see the more tacit the knowledge is the less success you see and the more explicit it is, the more successes you see.

Source: Grant, K. & Qureshi, U. "Knowledge Management Systems -- Why So Many Failures?" Innovations in Information Technology. 2006.

In order for an organization to become a true learning organization, it has to have the following:
- low employee turnover
- good knowledge transfer practices between teams, employees, departments, etc.
- effective information technologies that support in storing information and knowledge within the organization
- quick response to the needs of external and internal stakeholders
- more centralized organizational structure

I think when we are talking about learning organizations, we need to investigate their knowledge management practices as well. In the organization I work at, at least in our department, there is a high degree of employee turnover and the result is:
- we are putting out a lot of fires with respect to problems occurring with previous work that was done
- we are lost a lot when looking for documents, as the previous employee kept the file where no one else knows where it is

Because we are spending more time looking resolving issues that shouldn't have occurred in the first place if we hadn't had such a higher employee turnover or better knowledge management practices, we are spending less learning as a team, keeping up with the organizational vision, and learning new skills as individuals.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Transforming Teaching and Learning through Technology Management - In Response to Tony Bates

I think the existing classroom model is in need for restructuring, here's why:
- The work model has changed where people have the opportunity to work from home and they get paid for this... So then the question is, when you are paying for something, why can't you do it from home, esp when it can be done from home? That's one simple example of how traditional classrooms can change into a webinar format, esp when the class isn't hands on.
- Technology, in the example I just mentioned, has the key role to play, where it would enable the classes to be delivered via web conferencing systems and other related tools.
- If one is a professor or teacher, he/she can start delivering their classes virtually, it takes one person to start a revolution, and the rest will follow, especially when it is so attractive to the audience and even cost effective (considering the fact that the classroom that was freed up can be used for some other purpose).

I also think that the traditional model needs to become a bit more engaging in the sense #change11 is delivered, where students are having discussions after the lecture, so instructors can create forums for students to utilize, rather than have the students do it themselves, which some do, i.e., facebook groups.

Towards Open Learning

How do we promote open learning and our work?

I think the best way for my work to have an impact would be to first of all make it so engaging to the learner so that it is easily understandable, i.e., complex knowledge transferred in the best possible explicit way. To get to that point however, is a challenge of its own. However, I would definitely, try to market the value it provides to the learner, organizations, whomever has an interest in that topic. I think promoting it effectively would be essential, especially to the right people, organizations. Utilization of the social networks would make a "free" source of marketing as well.

In thinking about this my question back to you is, how do you get around the fact that if there's no financial or other benefit(s) to your audience, how do you sell it?

Friday, October 14, 2011

True Learning Organization

Military in my view is perhaps the greatest learning organization. The motivation of defending their nation is what drives them to be a learning organization. I have served in the Canadian military previously and I will try to relate my knowledge about that organization to Senge's "learning organization." Teamwork is the most important thing in the military and I feel tha the employees that survive from boot camp til they are permanent employees, are the ones that have good teamwork skill. You also have to be loyal, enthusiastic, honest, high morals, ethics, motivated, willingness to follow orders and follow one vision. I won't say, there's no corruption, back stabbing, politics, or any other bad practices that take place in other organizations, but I would say that in my experience, these things have not been as common in the military.

Here's why I think they are a true learning organization:
- They try to be innovative and remain competitive in the world, i.e., US military.
- Responding to problems quickly, i.e. When national security is at stake, military response, if required, is swift.
- They try to keep politics out of the organization. In my experience that has often been true, commradary has been highly encouraged and pushed to the employees.
- The military has been a pioneer in the field of knowledge management, which has been perhaps the key to their successes as an organization.

And here's how I would link the military to the learning organization characteristics from Senge.
Personal Mastery:
Military personnel spend most of their time training
rather than actually performing those tasks in the real world, as a result, they are heavily committed to learning better, more efficient and newer techniques. And repetition is the key to individual learning (i.e., weapons handling, target practicing, etc).

Building Shared Vision:
As with any other organization, the military has a shared vision, which is generally to defend a nation/state. Often, decentralized organizational structure suffer from not having a shared vision organization wide. However, given that the military is a centralized structure, it always has a shared vision from top to bottom.

Team Learning:
The best practices within the military are almost always practiced, because lives are at stake. In addition, they strive to be the best at their jobs with the resources available. They spend a lot of their time around their coworkers, which allows for individuals to share their experiences and transfer knowledge amongst each other.

Senge, P. M. (1990) The Fifth Discipline. The art and practice of the learning organization. London: Random House

Technology vs Learning Technology

According to Dictionary.com the term technology means the following:
The branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science.
Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/

Definition of Learning Technology:
Learning technology is the broad range of communication, information and related technologies that can be used to support learning, teaching, and assessment.
Source: http://www.alt.ac.uk/about-alt/what-learning-technology

My view:
I like both these definitions, however, I'd like to elaborate on the two. I think technology is something that can makes the society's life easier, more efficient, etc. Essentially any efficiencies that come about in an individuals' lifestyle is generally made by technology. Technology doesn't have to be an object, it can be a concept, idea, etc.

Learning technology on the other hand is, as per the definition from the "Association of Learning Technology" will support teaching and learning. I would like to add that just because a technology is not designed to be a learning technology, doesn't mean that it cannot function to serve the purposes of teaching and learning. For example, lets take a look at some of the software out there that are used world wide, i.e., adobe photoshop. This product can be used for the purposes of Marketing, Art, Designing Brochures, etc. However, it is also an important tool in assisting in creating eLearning pieces.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Binding force in collective learning, #change11, #collective

The binding force can be various reasons for why one would want to learn in a group rather than by themselves. One can be they are working within an organization and it is good practice to work within groups and often forced. Another reason can be you have a common interest with other individuals and you want to connect with them to see what their experiences have been for that common interest. And obviously when you are with family, friends that you happen to be around, these groups share certain knowledge as well, though you may not agree with their views, you still get to hear them and make sense out of them. All these reasons cause you to consume knowledge and allows you to create more knowledge, which would evenly lead to knowledge sharing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

#change11 Collective Learning Examples

Example 1: Learning from Coworkers
When working on a day to day task, one learns more efficient, better, and different ways of performing that task. The way one does that is by observing and talking with their coworkers when at work. These lessons then become part of our daily routine of performing those tasks. We take the best practices and embed them into our daily routine, while leaving out the less efficient practices.

Example 2: Learning from Researching
When we are researching for certain things, we often come across other people's research, and use that research as part of our work (referencing it of course). This example is best illustrated by writing and publishing a paper. When someone is researching, they use other individuals' ideas and either improve upon them or to use them to back up our own ideas.

Example 3: Improving on an invention
No one can invent the wheel anymore, one has to put together various inventions to create a brand new one. When entrepreneurs think of an idea, they utilize other people's inventions or ideas to either support or incorporate them within their own idea.

These three examples are a form of collective learning, where one is learning from others to improve their own practices or create new practices.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

#change11 Digital Scholarship

I will be answering this question for the "Digital Scholarship" presentation by Martin Weller: what impact has digital scholarship had on your practice and what difficulties have you encountered? #change11, #change11digschol,

From Martin Weller's presentation for the #change11 course this week, I've gathered that the concept of digital scholar is becoming important more and more. The usage of Internet as a source of sharing has not been an important part of my experience so far, as I have not involved myself up until recently. And in my experience of working in the post-secondary institutions, I have observed some people moving towards becoming digital scholars, but the numbers weren't huge. And as a result of that, I never wondered about creating a twitter account, joining facebook groups, blogging, etc. I do see the value in this though, as it allows you to share knowledge across the world and with different people and further develop your ideas and your thought process.
The main difficulties that I have experienced is the motivation and time, as there's no "dollar" amount attached (at least immediately) to being a digital scholar, the only other motivation then is your willingness to share and change your routine practices. For example, I will need to either spend couple hours a day to stay up to date and share my opinions with the rest, or carry a smartphone to do that throughout the day. The other problem is the amount of "information" that is available out there, which makes it at times painful to keep track of everything or most things on a topic. And if your network grows large enough, it could be a more and more time consuming task to keep up to date.