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Leigh Blackall will loose his job on December 23. I will loose mine a week later if I can’t come to an agreement with my university on how my views of developing our unit (including the Decision Theater) can be reasonably combined with the views of the HPPs (Highest Paid Persons) in the organization. And time is running out.
Leigh, whose blog I have followed for quite some time, formulates his goal for his job search like this:
To gain full time employment in a dynamic organisation that draws on my strengths in research, innovation, teaching and policy in social media, online communications, networked learning and education.
Hmm, I could borrow most of that for my own statement of goal for my job search, if it turns out that I don’t have a job in January.
Mindless, ill-informed, or perhaps simply naive adoption of techno-rational management approaches such as top-down, ”strategic” thinking and aspects of quality management are amongst the biggest problems for higher education at the moment.
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:
- A dynamic manual including links to resources
- Reusable learning objects (this is a quite technical course so learning objects DO make sense)
- 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 Screencast.com by Techsmith. The wiki contains the exercises that all students need to do to master the basic competencies in GIS. Screencast.com 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!
I’m considering skipping FaceBook and starting to use Diaspora more frequently instead. Marshall McLuhan offers a relevant viewpoint (via SpaceCollective.org):
Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left. Leasing our eyes and ears and nerves to commercial interests is like handing over the common speech to a private corporation, or like giving the earth’s atmosphere to a company as a monopoly.
– Marshall McLuhan, 1964
The strike today caused traffic jams in Heraklio, so we did not visit the market as planned. But Cretaquarium was a nice experience.
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