Wikis, Wikipedia, Wikibooks, and Collaborative Writing

24 10 2010

John S. Brown (2010) explains the benefits of working in groups in his closing keynote presentation about “A new culture of learning.”( http://www.nmc.org/2010-summer-conference/keynotes#brown) He states that collaborative study groups improve people’s critical thinking and creativity, and with emerging technologies, study groups can also work virtually. Wikipedia is an example of a larger type of study group with the participation of everybody. In Wikipedia people are developing their own content and change others’ content virtually. Brown also states that there is no better way to learn than explaining to others. In Wikipedia people are explaining what they know, and they learn.

I think the motivation behind the Wikipedia is the relation between the master and the apprentice. When people create content in the Wikipedia, the expert writers start changing the content to improve its quality. Thus, apprentices start learning from the master. Another motivation is sharing. People like expressing their thought and knowledge.

The limitation of the Wikipedia is the evaluation of the quality of the knowledge. There is no professional organization checking the quality and reliability of the content in this environment. There are hundreds/thousands of pages incomplete waiting for people to develop. Another thing is the dominance of some languages. In order to have a global collaborative environment, we have to support the use of different languages in Wikipedia.

Reference: John Seely Brown (2010, June). Closing Keynote at the New Media Consortium 2010 in Anaheim, CA. A Culture of Learning. Gardner Campbell’s reflective blog post: http://www.gardnercampbell.net/blog1/?p=1278; Video of keynote: http://www.nmc.org/2010-summer-conference/keynotes#brown





Connectivism, Social Knowledge, and Participatory Learning

17 10 2010

Around 20 years ago, the definition of the socialization was going outside, meeting new people and being social with them face-to-face. Today, being social has additional defining factors and environments. One of the example of this environments is Facebook.

There are millions of people are using Facebook. They spend hours in a day to post messages, to share pictures and to see what other people are doing. But the question is, why? How can we define these people’s characteristics? Why are they using Facebook? What are the benefits of using Facebook? What is being social?

All these questions are answered with a new learning theory: Connectivism. It is a new theory for defining these people’s behaviors and learning. In social networks, like Facebook, people learn from each other with recognizing and interpreting other people’s ideas. In these networks, people create their own meanings while in the dialogue with others. They relate their own knowledge with other people’s ideas and form their own knowledge. There is no start and end of the course, there is no class rules and there  is no due date. People learn from each other  and they are eager to learn.

Overall, there is a new form of life. We call it Internet. It is living with us, with our beliefs and with our contribution. Our desire to be social is the vital resource for it, and as a reward it gives us opportunities to learn.  And, connectivism explains how we learn.





Open Educational Resources (OER) and OpenCourseWare (OCW)

10 10 2010

Many people have heard about the MIT open courseware. MIT provides free and open courseware for educators, students and self-learners to use for teaching, learning and research. Why are they doing this? OER movement is a new approach to the sharing of knowledge. With OER, individuals, governments, institutions and academics started sharing on the web for free for various reasons.

Individuals: With the development of less costly and more user-friendly tools, people started being the active participants of the sharing movement.

Governments: Economic challenges force governments to do something. OER open gates to life long learning and bridge the gap between formal and informal education. Therefore, government can have more educated and adapted citizens to the economic changes around the world.

Institutions: OER is a new tradition in the institutions. OECD (2007) report states that quality can be improved and costs can be reduced by sharing and revising. Institutions follow this idea to support the OER movement.

Academics: There is a new motivation for sharing in academic world. Academics see the OER movement to get public, to reach the market quickly and to get reputation.

In addition to all these supportive ideas, there are some limitations within the OER movement. The first critique is the issue of property. Some people emphasize the use of copyright and would like to have legal restrictions to “protect” their knowledge. On the other hand, Hilton (2005) argues that when you give your property to somebody you lose it; however, when you share your idea, you still keep it also the person you shared also get the idea. Therefore, the property in OER movement is not giving what you have to people.

Another limitation is the technology. Technology can be a driver when we have it, but it can be a limitation when we do not have it with OER. Related to this, it is not enough to have the technology. People need to have skills to use required technologies. This is the social barrier of the OER movement.

Overall, my idea is that we have to support the OER movement because it gives us chance to learn. There is a motivation to share and we should be the part of this movement. While learning English before coming to the US, I used MIT courseware several time to improve my language skills and I know you all used OER to learn. So, let’s share…

References:

Hilton, J. L. (2005). In praise of sharing. EDUCAUSE Review, 40(3), 72-73. Also available at: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM05310.pdf

Jennifer Howard (2010, June 13). Digital Repositories Foment a Quiet Revolution in Scholarship. Chronicle of Higher Education. http://chronicle.com/article/Digital-Repositories-Foment-a/65894/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en





Open Source Software Movement

3 10 2010

This week’s topic is open source software (OSS) movement. OSS means basically free online tools which are free to copy, share and develop for the use of all people. With the inspiration of sharing and competitiveness of development, people started being developers of the open source software in their young ages.  In week 5 class, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the OSS movement compared to copyrighted software. Let’s talk about the free one first.

OSS movement promotes the use of end online product and the product’s source code.  The first advantage of the OSS movement is being free. 7zip and audacity are some of the free programs we are using at IU.  The second advantage is developing it with the open source. When somebody develops a tool, you as the user can reach to the source code, and improve or change it according to your needs. The other advantage is copying and sharing the program with your friends.

People who are against the OSS movement emphasize some issues in terms of quality and usability. Since there is no professional organization many times behind the end product, nobody is sure about the quality. Research on the OSS shows us that when we compared the products of free and copyrighted tools, there is still a need to improve the quality and time. Also, there is no usability testing process of the free tools. There is a natural usability testing process by the users and these people are changing the product.

There are so many exciting free online tools now like Moodle Learning Management System. However, we still need time for the OSS and need more capable people to participate in it. Internet has been evolving for around 10 years and it is a very fast evolution. I believe in a short time we will have more effective, efficient and enhanced free tools.

Olgun





The Continued Expansion of Blended and Fully Online Learning

27 09 2010

E-learning, online learning, distance learning… maybe some other names I don’t know. Why are we using so many terms for just one thing? Are they different than each other? OR, are they not defined clear yet?

There are gaps in the definition and pedagogy of online learning and academics are trying to answer questions on this topic. I have listed some questions above to have your ideas about what I don’t know. Online learning is growing very fast and today’s trend in higher education is using online education to reduce costs, to have more students and… Like all other new things, it has come with some advantages and disadvantages compared to traditional learning.

Here they are:

From the week 4 class, with all the article we have discussed, the most important advantage of online learning is freedom. What is freedom in online education? It is freedom in time… If you are working in a business, you don’t need to be in a class in work time. It is freedom in location… If you are living in Turkey, you can have your master’s degree in Instructional Systems Technology Department at Indiana University. It is freedom in sharing, collaboration, learning… I know with listing all these fancy words, it seems perfect. However, we, educators and students, still have problems with it.

As I stated in previous week, people are resistant to change their beliefs and habits, and also we old people don’t know how to use all these tools. As an online class professor, Mr. Mister haven”t used any learning system before, and nobody is teaching and consulting him about how to use them. Also, he says that online class takes more time than traditional because students are always asking questions on the forum page and it takes a lot of time to write them. Students in his class are also grumbling that the class needs more effort than the traditional class to succeed.

Another American University professor is discussing the  limitations of teaching medical sciences on the web. She says that students in her department need on the job training and practice. They cannot learn how to cut a person’s body with the animations and visualizations. On the other hand, online MBA professor Mr.Master likes to discuss hot topics in business on their learning management system because it gives them so many interaction opportunities that they cannot have in the traditional class.

I hope my fictitious names and examples helped you to understand what I feel and understand about online education. I know we have so many things to say on this HOT topic. Please feel free to share your thoughts.





E-books

19 09 2010

Yesterday I went to Starbucks  to discuss on an assignment with my team. I had a package of books on my backpack to be ready for the discussion. When we met, all my friends were ready for the discussion except one. When we saw the last group member, we were frustrated for some minutes because he didn’t get any books and materials with him. However, when we asked him, he opened a brand new i-pad with all the resources in it as a pdf file.

Almost all the internet people are using internet today for reading newspapers and journals. In addition to daily use, we are today hearing the term electronic book more than yesterday. The term e-book was first used in 1967 and 1968’s (Anuradha & Usha, 2006) and today most of the internet people are familiar with the term. Some people know e-book as hardware like i-pad or kindle some as software like pdf books; however we all recognize that they came with a lot of convenience and advantages. The advantages of the e-books are: portability, 24/7 access, text search, and reference linking. Imagine 10 years ago as an international student using Oxford Dictionary to find a translation of a word. It was taking few minutes to find a definition of just one word. Today, it just takes seconds. Imagine as a graduate student doing a literature review with a package of articles with you in the Starbucks. Today it is just a 14 inch computer (around 5 lb) in your backpack. So, why are we still using books?

In a class last year, professor told me that people are always resistant to change the habits. People who are older than 20 year-old grew with books and we feel more comfortable using books than electronic devices. I still, unfortunately, feel that I cannot learn without underlying a book or drawing the important keywords. In addition to these habits, we old generation are not familiar with the technology. My high school teacher was using the mouse like touching a real live mouse. We are still not familiar with the soft and hard technology, and resistant to use them. Another factor, maybe the most important, is the cost. People cannot afford the prices for i-pad, kindle and even the software.

Nevertheless, today is different than yesterday, and every new generation has fewer limits than previous one. Using electronic texts will be inevitable.

Reference: K. T. Anuradha and H. S. Usha (2006). Use of e-books in an academic and research environment: A case study from the Indian Institute of Science.





Digital Literacy

10 09 2010

When I was a teacher in my country, there were some non-literate students in my school in 4th and 5th grade. Teachers were challenging to teach them how to read and write because they should be able to read and write when they were in 2nd grade.  Time and roles are changed and today being literate means new additional skills.  Children are now teaching how to use internet and what it means to “google.”

Learning no more depends on teacher’s knowledge. Education is no more a way to form a society according to power’s beliefs. “We all learn!”and we all find our own truths from the open world. We, educators, should expect everybody to have skills such as ability to use internet, learn from open world and solve their own problems.

We have a new global language now.