Where’s the Beef?

 recettes2lise from Flickr

During the 80’s, the Wendy’s slogan “Where’s the Beef” became a cultural metaphor for where is the meat, the substance, the authenticity?  Earlier this week, participating in an online session consisting of 53 adult learners exploring the nature of community and open learning, I found myself musing where is the beef? Can 53 very different people linked by one common class and instructor create an authentic learning experience?  How can such a MOOC   be an inclusive experience for all learners? When we discuss authenticity in a learning environment what do we really mean?  

According to Oblinger  (2007)  as well as  Herrington, Oliver, and Reeves (2002) in Patterns of Engagement in Authentic On line Learning Environments authentic learning is one that replicates real life experiences. These authentic learning activities lead to a bigger learning event which according to Oblinger (2007)   provides “cognitive capacity to think, solve problems, create.”  For this to happen the learner must also be engaged, a difficult task in large on-line learning environments.

I owe my colleague, Alison Seaman credit for first raising the question of community on her blog. As I read and listened to Dr. Richard Schweir  discuss the attributes of community I was not surprised that among the many were authenticity.  As a digital immigrant who is admittedly more of a tourist, I fully admit my limitations in multitasking. Not unlike Alan Lowrie who questioned in his blog whether anyone could really multitask, I found myself overwhelmed, baffled and amazed at the efficiency of fellow learners who tweeted, blogged, engaged in the backchat discussion and inserted links in seemingly effortless fashion. I, on the other hand was attempting to listen, read, scroll, minimize and maximize, not to mention internalize the myriad of information bombarding me. I felt incompetent and frustrated. I was attempting to ingest information, but unable to digest it, all the while feeling as though I was dining alone! I wondered how do students in MOOC environments manage the volume of information and how do they internalize the message? In otherwords, where is the substance, where is the beef? The New Media Literacies clip this week only highlighted these concerns, in particular for the digital natives sitting in our K -12 classrooms. Although they likely will not be overwhelmed by the technological skills required to navigate and consume media, are they critically analyzing what they consume? If not, how can they ever be creators and producers of media; how can the learning ever be a truly authentic experience leading to greater cognitive capacity?

As the week progressed and I had the opportunity to go back over the information and research it occurred to me that I was in fact engaged in the learning. In fact, I was simply using inquiry and creating a personal learning network  that allowed me to chew, swallow, digest and ultimately nourish my own hunger for understanding. I discovered with a great deal of relief, that the discussion was merely the invitation to peruse the menu and order the beef! The questions and confusion spun my hamster wheel brain prodding me to question, explore, discuss, and evaluate and reevaluate my own biases and understandings. Although I am relieved, for my momentary feeling of accomplishment, I recognize that I am a motivated, professional learner! My question remains as an educator in an era of fast food education how do we motivate our kids to ask “Where’s the beef?”

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Information Management – Help Wanted!

Wow, what a crazy week! First off, I just want to say I should read ahead to all the suggested reading/viewing materials before posting – I didn’t realize that there was a Danah Boyd video – pure coincidence (so much for looking like a keener!). But, now that I have caught up on the suggested materials and read many of the Blog posts, I am quickly realizing that I will need to develop some strategies for navigating all the sources of information and class responses – Twitter, googledocs, and the Blog posts via Googlereader. This is way out of my comfort zone, but pretty darn exciting! My goals this week are to contine  step three of Cormers’ 5 Steps to Success which is network, network, network!! Speaking of Cormer’s advice, I really loved the videos on MOOC – it really helped to clarify and validate the use of social media as an instructional medium and I was pretty darn proud of myself for being able to orientate, declare and begin networking! Here’s to hoping I can touch upon steps four and five, clustering and focusing during this course. I suspect I may be overwhelmed by the networking and the management of information process. Thank goodness for the session last night as it provided some useful hints for managing information – Tweetdeck and Delicious being two I plan to investigate further.

In the meantime, I found some interesting clips I thought I would share. The first one helped curb my feelings of ineptitude, dazzling me with the staggering statistics surrounding social media – check out “The World of Social Media” courtesy of Omobono, a digital marketing agency and if that wasn’t enought to get you revved up about social media; check out the TrueNetSource video!

So with all this information available I suspect I am not alone in my confusion. I know we discussed Tweetdeck last night and there was a backchat discussion of Hootsuite – this was video was useful to me in getting started:

I am open to all tools to help me manage my Twitter, Facebook, and Blog subscriptions so let me know what works for you!

ECI 831: A Brave New Journey into Open Education!

Hello, ECI 831! This is the third class I’ve taken specifically targeting the use of Web 2.0 as an educational tool, leading me, I hope (not kicking and screaming too ferociously) to a deeper understanding of how to use social media not only to engage students in their own inquiry and learning process, but to guide my personal professional development,  and hopefully inspire the teachers I serve! Wow that smacks of lofty (and possibly arrogant) ambition, but hey, I might as well aim high! If you want to know more about who I am and where I’ve been ( it should shed light on my penchant for literary allusion) please check out my About Me page!

As prologue, I’ll share that I began this Blog last spring as part of EC&I 834. This was my first experience with a Blog and since then I have left my comfortable but limiting Wikispace world far behind.  My  journey through that course is chronicled in my previous posts and the specific pages I created outlining various 2.0 tools, many of which were new to me at the time, but which I have since been able to incorporate in my professional practice. If you are interested in these tools, feel free to peruse these pages and offer your comments or reviews!

However, this post marks a change in the direction and purpose of this Blog (insert drum roll and inspirational score here…) – Beginning today, this blog will serve less as a summary of my learnings but more of living, active archive of my own inquiry based learning. I encourage you to respond honestly to my Mutterings and Musings as I struggle to understand the concepts and pedagogy of open education and how social media  can enhance the educational experience of high school students, not just give them a cool place to hang out and call  homework!

In my role as a Vice-Principal, I deal weekly with the byproducts my students’ use of Facebook and mobile microblogging – harrassment, bullying, misinterpretation, dehumanization, humiliation, alienation –  a result of their inability to recognize or exercise social protocols, identify audience, establish context, distinguish between private and public, or appreciate the permanance of print and its mass exposure . Last year I stumbled upon a lecture delivered by Danah Boyd at the Penn State Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology (2009). It echoed what I believed to be true from my own experiences and provided me with some startling insights – how college students and adults use social networking sites is quite different than how teens use it. Adults “network” , teens “socialize” – How do we close the gap so it can be a truly effective educational tool?

Check out the Youtube Prezi presentation which serves as a shortened summary of Danah Boyd’s key points, or if you have 40 minutes on your hands – view the original. I would love to hear your thoughts! Do you agree or disagree?