Connecting 131008

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It has been a busy few days.

I am delighted with the response to Darrell Cobner’s guest post.

I have been thinking a great deal about the “disciplinary gaze” issues raised by Darrell and by Chris Carling and his colleagues (2013).

I believe profoundly that this gaze has agnostic qualities … it occurs in a variety of contexts and at different tempos.

Digital sharing is transforming scholarship and I hope that by connecting through a range of media we enable thick descriptions to emerge and be shared openly. I keep returning to the concept of CommentPress:

CommentPress is an open source theme and plugin for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph-by-paragraph, line-by-line or block-by-block in the margins of a text. Annotate, gloss, workshop, debate: with CommentPress you can do all of these things on a finer-grained level, turning a document into a conversation.

Whilst installing the CommentPress Core plugin for WordPress, I managed to remove all my customisations for Clyde Street! I am going to set up a new blog space to share the functionality of the plugin and explore the possibilities for co-authorship.

As I open up these opportunities, thanks to Jenny Mackness, I am mindful of the growing discussion of connectivism.

George Couros has reminded me that Isolation is now a choice educators make. He notes:

Personally, blogging has made me really think about what I do in my role as an administrator, and I would say that the process has really clarified a lot of my thinking.  The other aspect of writing for an audience and getting their feedback has made a huge difference on my learning as being challenged has made me really think about my work.  In fact, I am writing this because someone read my blog post, challenged it, and I came back to revisit my thinking.  That wouldn’t have happened if I wrote it in a journal that I tuck away at home.

When my daily feeds enable me to read about James Grayson’s work and contemplate data shared by Ted Knutson, I am excited think about what co-production might achieve.

Propsects of co-production returned me to a Dan Pontefract post from 2011. I have been thinking about how our personal learning journeys and environments move us through his Digital Learning Quadrants.

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I do think gaze is transformed by the opportunities to collaborate and cooperate. It might lead us to engage in the kind of discussion about data  Annette Markham proposes.

Data is, as research terminology goes, a deceptively easy word to toss around. It’s easily accessible for most of us, fills in as a better descriptor than the term ‘stuff,’ and adds instant credibility to that which it describes. The term ‘data’ does far more than describe units of information used in the course of one’s study. It functions as a powerful frame for discourse about knowledge — both where it comes from and how it is derived; privileges certain ways of knowing over others; and through its ambiguity, can foster a self–perpetuating sensibility that it is incontrovertible, something to question the meaning of, or the veracity of, but not the existence of.

 Photo Credit

Busy District Line (2) (Owen Blacker, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Personal Learning

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I have had a wonderful opportunity to explore personal learning in my new role at the University of Canberra. There are so many colleagues at the University keen to discuss and explore learning and there is a vast array of forums in which to engage. Last week I attended a Gaggle (“an orderly and cheerful group of professional educational advisors”) which led me to think again about personal learning (the topic for the gaggle was wiki development in vocational education). The meeting coincided with my reading of Steve Wheeler’s Dead Personal post.

Steve distinguishes between the personal web (“a collection of technologies that confer the ability to reorganize, configure and manage online content rather than just viewing it”, Horizon 2009) and a personal learning environment that “extends beyond personal web tools to encompass other tools and resources, such as paper based resources and broadcast media such as television and radio, as well as conversations with other people and so on. Having said that, each and every one of the above could be mediated through web tools, but they are not exclusively so”. Whilst reflecting on Steve’s suggestion and re-visiting the Horizon Report I was sidetracked by the delightful way the Horizon report is shared with readers. I managed to spend the next couple of hours looking at CommentPress as a format for my WordPress blog. (But I missed reading the About page!)

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A week later I was delighted to see that my fascination with a personal web met my personal learning environment when Bob Stein spoke with Ramona Koval on Radio National’s Book Program.  In their discussion there was an exploration of writing as a collaborative process with readers and the Gamer Theory project became a focus for this. Bob raised the question “If a book is a place what is the place of a book” (this post explores these ideas in detail) which lead to an intense discussion of the “broader ecology of reading and writing”. Bob was in Australia to participate in the Melbourne Writer’s Festival (for posts about his participation see here and here.). The promotion literature for his talk on the Future of the Book noted that:

The shift in our world view from individual to network holds the promise of a radical reconfiguraton in culture. Notions of authority are being challenged. The roles of author and reader are morphing and blurring. Publishing, methods of distribution, peer review and copyright – every crucial aspect of the way we move ideas around – is up for grabs. The new digital technologies afford vastly different outcomes ranging from oppressive to liberating. How we make this shift has critical long term implications for human society.

CCK08 opened me up to a wonderful perspective on sharing and collaboration. Many of the participants have added to my personal learning environment in the last year. The growth in Twitter since the start of CCK08 has been remarkable and this is becoming an important filter for me. Although my blog has links to many of the CCK08 participants it was a Twitter exchange between George Siemens and Howard Rheingold that added to my personal learning reflection.

Howard Rheingold has produced some great material this week (social media and mindful infotention) to ignite my revisiting of personal learning.  Seth Simonds in his post encouraged me to think about and clarify why to post (“The internet is not going to die if you feed it less frequently”). When I reached Justin Kistner (via Howard Rheingold) I realised the enormous possibilities for a vibrant personal learning environment (as with Nancy White’s delicious configuration links). This Editis video emphasised for me the possibilities of a ubiquitous personal web meeting the teachable moments created by one’s environment (I noted Tim McCormick‘s point) or as this video demonstrates the lisable qualities of digital technology. Lisa M Lane had two excellent posts this week (here and here) about creating spaces and reflecting on the process of creating these spaces.

Nancy White’s post  about The Social Media Tools I Use brought me back to Steve’ post about the personal web and as ever I was keen to read what Graham Attwell had to say in his posts at Pontydysgu. Fortunately I read Michele Martin’s post about critical thinking so that my decisions about what to consider and share can be enriched by Snopes.

This post is a placeholder for me about incandescent ideas in a week of eclectic reading. It was initiated by a group of colleagues discussing wiki development and concluded at the Melbourne Writers Festival via asynchronous reading and participation. I was trying to write the post whilst listening to the Public Sphere 3 event as a virtual participant. The week reinforces for me the collaborative potential of personal webs and learning environments.

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