Deciding where to work…

Work with the smartest people you can find, do something you’re not ready to do, find an environment in which you’re very comfortable so you can find your voice, and work for someone who believes in you — because when they believe in you, they’ll invest in you. – Marissa Mayer in Google Exec Marissa Mayer Explains Why There aren’t more Girl Geeks

I have to say this is really good advice – no matter what kind of career you are in.


Teaching vs. Instructional Design

I came to a realization today that Instructional Designers do not seem to see themselves as teachers.  I say this because whenever I see ID it is more about the structure of content.   And much of the reading does not mention an instructor at all.  Now I do understand that the majority of those claiming the title of Instructional Designer are in corporate settings, but why is teaching demoted, relegated to the K-16 setting?  (The article that prompted these thoughts.)

I am reminded of my search for a job, after making the decision to leave teaching high school (long story, right decision, but I miss it terribly most days).  Because all my experience had been in schools I was not seen as “fit” to work in an office.  I honestly could not believe what I was hearing.  I had to defend my experience in organization (managing 200+ students – as people, in grading, in work assignments, planning lessons, working with the office staff); in interacting with a variety of people in a professional manner (parent teacher conferences with so many different types of parents, negotiating with publishers and vendors, fundraising, open houses, school psychologists, special ed teachers, district support people); and office machines.  (Ok, that last one – I don’t know a successful teacher out there that does not learn quickly how to fix just about any duplexer, copier or fax machine.  And when I finally did get an office job – I seemed to be the only one not afraid of the copier!)

So back to Instructional Design…I’m not understanding why the teacher is eliminated from the equation.  I understand that there are situations that demand a self-paced, individualized learning environment.  However, successful life-long learners seek out experts, colleagues and mentors.  This is the feedback loop in the Systems model.

I love the “Granny-cloud” in the research done by Sugata Mitra.  His research shows that children will naturally learn (Hole-in-the-Wall Education).   The “granny-cloud” is added in and the children get to practice their English accent, show off their work, be encouraged, pointed in better directions, made to answer questions about their work.  In other words they get feedback.

Feedback can be “programmed” in to any type of learning instrument.   My school currently uses Moodle and between creating questions and setting up the quiz there are 4-5 different types of feedback that can be made available to the students within Moodle.  But the real feedback comes from a person analyzing and adjusting the upcoming coursework based on the performance of the students.  A teacher’s compliment in a forum encouraging students in the right direction.  Feedback must be real if the system is going to effectively maintain itself and grow.

I suppose the root is I just don’t understand how an Instructional Designer does not see himself as a teacher.

Update: For more thoughts and explorations on Teaching vs. Instructional Design see the Teaching vs. Instructional Design Category.

NWeLearn Conference Lists

In attending the NWeLearn conference I took a variety of notes.  Some for me, and some to share.  In looking over my notes there are a few “lists” that I need to pull together.

List of Links

Keynote – Alec Couros

Event Planning

Open Learning

Learning Tools

List of Readings

MOOC Difficulties?

I don’t think I could say it any better than Steve did. See

PLE and PLN = Personal Learning Ecologies

In reading articles, blog posts, discussion boards and perusing diagrams I find the fine points of defining the difference between PLE (Personal Learning Environment) and PLN (Personal Learning Network) a small portion of the dialogue.  Especially when you add the information that one term evolved in America and the other evolving from Europe.  In  Emerging Technologies for Learning, Stephen Downes states that it is not in the technologies themselves, but in the thinking that underlies the concept.

It is the idea of “rich tapestr(ies) of resources, dynamic and interconnected” (Downes, 2007) that draws me to the term suggested in Dave Cormier’s blog post 5  points about PLE’s PLN’s for PLENK10 and also introduced by Josh Underwood in the PLENK2010 forum of Personal Learning Ecologies.

As I see it some of the key concepts of the PLE/PLN conversation are

  • People being accountable in their own learning
    • The idea of responsibility/accountability of one’s own learning.  The willingness to change, grow, adapt. An understanding of and a drive for knowledge acquisition; not simply for accumulation but to modify, connect and create new personal knowledge. As Downes (2007) states, “The idea behind the personal learning environment is that the management of learning migrates from the institution to the learner…Learning therefore evolves from being a transfer of content and knowledge to the production of content and knowledge.”
  • People connecting and forming communities
    • The key use of the online tools mentioned below is the ability to network.  To create webs of connections between people which can then be leveraged for learning.  The mentoring, partnership, criticism all come to play as connections are strengthened and learning increases. “Learning becomes as much social as cognitive, as much conrete as abstract, and becomes intertwined with judgment and exploration.” (Graham Attwell , quoted in Downes, 2007)
  • People using online tools, as well as others
    • “.. the heart of the concept of the PLE is that it is a tool that allows a learner (or anyone) to engage in a distributed environment consisting of a network of people, services and resources. It is not just Web 2.0, but it is certainly Web 2.0 in the sense that it is (in the broadest sense possible) a read-write application.” (Downes, 2007)
  • Personal knowledge and learning growing and expanding
    • One of the amazing things of a community of learners is the capacity to increase knowledge.
  • A life-long portfolio of learning
    • In reading through the articles this idea of PLE/PLN vs. the LMS – student centric vs. institution directed – freedom vs. controlled – dynamic vs. static.  It would appear that if one’s PLE/PLN were maintained it could become a life-long portfolio of a learning journey.

There is more to come on the Personal Learning Ecologies.  The living, breathing, adapting, sustaining nature of a system, an ecology.

PLENK2010 –

I have jumped in with 1000 (and counting) participants for my first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in Personal Learning Environments  Network and Knowledge.

This is my first time using WordPress.  I like the look of the final product but have found the interface a little less intuitive than I like – and I’m not a newbie to technology nor blogging.  Hopefully I’ll get all my widgets and such in quickly so they can be helpful as I learn alongside my fellow “classmates” around the world.

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