Weaving Conversations

TLT Knowledge Log

Archive for September, 2006

An interesting collection…

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on September 20, 2006

…of tools at this site.

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Spreading the word!

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on September 18, 2006

I wish I could get to TeachMeet06… oh, wait. I can! Ewan Mcintosh will Skypecast part of the session! See you there!

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Downes Skyepcast

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on September 15, 2006

From earlier posts, you’ll know I braved waking up in the middle of the night to participate in the Skypecast of Stephen Downes’ keynote from South Africa.  I would have participated in the workshop the day before, but I found out about it too late! So, I’m glad it was posted by Stephen and looking forward to listening to it tonight!

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Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on September 13, 2006

Today I read, with great relief, that Stephen Downes had recovered his passport and tickets and was on his way. I was moved by the diligence of Diddy and of Stephen’s thoughtful comments. Then I was mesmerized by the blog from an airport on writing. I thought to myself… Stephen had all this in his head??? Oh my! Then I thought how wonderful for him to share these gifts with us. Those of us who believe in unfettered access to education and our collective contributions to knowledge have a wonderful mentor in Stephen. None of us can copy him but all of us can learn from his message and his practice.

Thanks, Stephen! Happy travels. Look forward to another Skypecast from another exciting place on this pretty planet!

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The FITness Report

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on September 11, 2006

As VP for IT at a small liberal arts college in New Hampshire, I was consistently confronted with out of sync expectations of students, parents, faculty and administrators regarding the appropriate and effective use of technology on our campus. I believe a college’s first responsibility is to the academic life, when technology dollars are slim. Students prefer that they have access to the best and fastest network because of their social and recreational needs. Faculty are all over the map in skill level and understanding.

The report that often guided my thinking — in presentations to the Board, as part of the senior leadership team, as leader of faculty development sessions and as a mantra to my staff — was what I referred to as the FITness report (Being Fluent in Technology). I hadn’t thought about that report much in the past year or so… with all the other goings on in my life… but it returned to my thinking when I began reviewing last year’s e-book from Educause… Educating the Net Generation. I really like the concept of fluency… it extends literacy. Somewhere a few years ago I read an article about technology as language… same idea.

I’m looking at these reports in the context of the dialog on Web 2.0, and I think there will interesting connections among these ideas.

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Illuminating… Read/write web…

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on September 8, 2006

I’ve heard the term read/write web referred to many times in the past few months and my reaction remains the same…”What the heck does that mean?” This techno terminology is not helping to make this process feel accessible and inclusive. Even myself, fondly referred to as girl geek and cybergal by my classmates, found it “off putting”. I found it — and terms like “web 2.0” — too tech and too male, quite frankly. I do not wish to be controversial here, but we really are talking about “soft” ideas — “intuitive”, “accessible”, “interactive” in terms of people… not hardware. I really dislike any image that refers to machines (hence my dislike of anything that tries to term the Web with human characteristics… because the Web itself is not human).

The web, as its USE has matured, does support interaction among people at an entirely new level. And it deserves a term that brings people to it… doesn’t push them away because they don’t understand the mumbo jumbo (another passion of mine is understanding what keeps people away from technological approaches that could help them… and how technology can address some issues of structural inequality… but that is for another time… my mind is just too busy right now!)

So… I’ve set about describing my experiences…  they have been:

  • conversational
  • interactive
  • international
  • engaging
  • motivating
  • illuminating
  • challenging

So, of those words I pick, at the moment, the word “illuminate”, in adjective form, to describe the “next generation” web.

Imagine, if you will, a spider web at dawn…the sun is rising, the droplets of dew are on the web, and the spider is spinning. You are the spider… the web is strong… and each droplet is an opportunity for that “ah-hah” moment in learning. You traverse… meander… yet keep such a beautiful pattern… of your own making… attached to the world around you. You can be alone or you can be together… but a light shines for you just because you make the effort.

So… my current metaphor is the illuminated web.

Amen…. for now!

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I woke up…

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on September 6, 2006

…and it was worth setting the alarm for 3:30 AM ET in order to hear Stephen Downes’ presentation on learning objects. It was really quite awesome to be part of the experience. As I’ve started to explore the personal learning environment I’ve had some challenges, as a teacher, in understanding how that would work. I get the idea… primarily when I think about it as relates to what we know about adult learning theory… we learn best when we own our learning. I guess I can only relate that to myself and my beginning understandings of learning in web 2.0 world… there isn’t a text book (at least I haven’t seen one) and when I search in the library journals what I do find is pretty technical. But, when I participate in the accessible conversation that is occurring via blogs, skypecasts, podcasts, wikis… those who are generating and formulating the knowledge and ideas… I am learning in a very different way. By this experience I am challenged to produce work in a way that isn’t understood by a lot of academics… so there in lies both the teaching and the learning moment I surmise.

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Wake me up!!!

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on September 5, 2006

For the first ever Keynote via Skypecast… Stephen Downes from South Africa. ….Read all about it… Half an Hour: Learning objects – what are they good for?

9:45 AM South Africa time… that’s about 3:45 AM where I live! But… that’s what alarm clocks are for (if I go to sleep) or espresso is for (if I don’t!)

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I must be missing something…

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on September 4, 2006

…as I move through the various materials on Web 2.0 (I’m going to find a better term for that too!) in the classroom. So much related to K-12. That’s wonderful!

But, where are the adult educators? Where are the graduate programs? Where is the research into adult learners and application of Web 2.0 at the graduate level. My guess is… from my own experience… that there isn’t much there. I’m focused on it for my doctoral work, and I guess I’m just surprised not to find very much in the blogosphere… must be buried in academic journals (tongue planted firmly in cheek). I wonder if academic freedom is being redefined… only if you’re in my classroom will I share my thoughts with you. I have to be careful here as, after 20 years as a higher ed administrator I have a somewhat cynical view of “academic technology”.

When I’ve discussed this with a couple of colleagues they’ve commented that there are a lot of online learning programs for adults… what’s my problem? Aargh… that’s not the point, obviously. I’ll keep working on this and blogging my results…

Back to work.

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Keeping track

Posted by C Elizabeth Thomas on September 3, 2006

As a doctoral student, full-time CIO, consultant and adjunct faculty member I find myself losing track of stuff often! I lose track of paper, of electronic files (oh my… did I save it on the desktop a work, the desktop at home, the Macbook for school, the tablet for consulting, this blog, that blog… is it on paper? Oh my… in my office at the school, in my office at the corporate office, in my office at home, in my office at the other home… in my briefcase? which one? the one with the tablet? the one with the Macbook? in my car? which car… the Jeep or the clamshell… did I mention I despise cell phones but yet the file might actually be on my treo?)

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