Any changes?

Has society changed at all in 100 years?


But of course, look how funny clothes they wore in 1911!

Teacher but not lecturer

So, I quit my position as a senior lecturer, but that does not mean I quit teaching all together. On the contrary, I have started my “new life” by planning a course – of all things. But there won’t be a single lecture in that course because my students are 450 kms away and I don’t see any reason why I should travel or why I should give lectures over the web. Instead I’m building a 100 % virtual course (unfortunately it needs to be a course because the beauty of other forms of learning, like in- and non-formal has not hit the education system quite yet), which I have not done previously, even if I have experimented a lot with blended learning av all kinds.

After thinking a day or two I have decided to build a teaching/learning system for this GIS course which technically consists of 5 components. Why so complicated you may think? It’s because I want the course to include these:

  1. A dynamic manual including links to resources
  2. Reusable learning objects (this is a quite technical course so learning objects DO make sense)
  3. A secure inbox for the products the students are producing during the course (mainly different kinds of maps)

For 1. I will use TreeDBNotes where I both jot down my ideas before and during the course and have a more formal structure describing the objectives and content for the different parts of the course. Based on feedback from the students or my own reflection on how things are going I can add to or delete certain parts, if I like.On a regular basis I will export the more formal part of the hierarchy with the inbuilt HTML-exporter and put it on a website that I own (the school does not provide teachers with personal web spaces anymore). The whole manual can also be exported as a stand-alone ebook, but then it’s not dynamic anymore.

For 2. I’ll use two tools: a Mediawiki site, and by Techsmith. The wiki contains the exercises that all students need to do to master the basic competencies in GIS. offers 2 Gb free space for videos and 2 Gb of traffic per month. I plan to make around 30 short 5-10 minutes screencasts which should not take up more space than 100-200 Mb. The screencasts will show how to accomplish well defined tasks within a GIS program. The idea is that students who have problems with doing the exercises described step by step  in text in the wiki can have a look at the screencasts which show how similar tasks are done.

For 3. I will use Moodle, though I’m not a Moodle fan, especially as the school still offers only Moodle 1.9 which is not as open as version 2.x.

Then there will of course be a need for more personal guidance. I’m not sure yet if I will use a discussion forum in Moodle, Skype or something else. With Skype desktop sharing is possible, and it’s more personal than a forum. I would not like to use email for this. It would be really nice to test out Google+ (circles and hangouts) but it might be a little early for that.

The setup is in it’s early stages and will change – especially if I get good advice in the comments!

Criticism against web 2.0

When reading recent blog posts this morning I noted that two prominent bloggers have posts which are questioning the read-write/social web.

First, it’s George Siemens who after testing out Google + for some weeks realizes that there is too much hype around social media. He writes:

Social media is good for event-based activities. But terrible when people try to make it do more []

Hmm. Partly right, says me. But I still believe there is a lot of untapped potential in using social media for sense-making and for deep cooperation and collaboration. It’s just that the media are so new that humanity has not yet found so many productive ways of utilizing them. Or rather, the productive ways have not yet been put to use by most people who still are just playing around with the nice, new toy. This George knows of course, because social media has a definite role to play in his theory of connectivism. What he is more annoyed about is that some people claim that social media have far more potential and power than they actually have. Well, time will tell.

What is a bit surprising (surprising because George is a non-traditionalist in academic circles) he emphasizes the dualist view of emotions and intellect in this context:

Social media=emotions.
Blogging/writing/transparent scholarship=intellect.

Maybe he only had a bad day?

Second, its Paul Carr who writes for TechCrunch who takes a look at what web 2.0 was “supposed” to do:

The Internet — particularly “web 2.0″, with its communities and tagging and reuniting and friending and liking — was supposed to civilize us all.

but what it sometimes does is getting hijacked by ruthless financial interests. He concludes by giving a recommendation to the investors and entrepreneurs:

What’s cool is keeping your soul, whatever the financial cost.

That conclusion resonates especially well with me today, formally my last day as a senior lecturer, but for different reasons. I’m trying to save my soul from ruthless bureaucrats and administrators, whatever the financial cost for myself.