About Anything

The personal blog of Al Stevens. Focus is overrated.

Archive for January 18th, 2009

Introduction to Open Education is Open

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IPT 692R: Introduction to Open Education – a course taught at Brigham Young University‘s Department of Instructional Psychology and Technology during the Winter 2009 term by Prof. David Wiley is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license. As described by the instructor:

Instructional design faculty are frequently criticized for delivering information about innovative new pedagogical methods to their students in the form of traditional lectures – for talking the talk but failing to walk the walk. Setting positive examples is important for people in every field.

There are two ways to describe the design of this course, and both are equally valid. On the one hand, this course is a mix of direct skills instruction combined with project-based learning and collaborative problem solving. The course employs a progression of increasingly complex problems with supportive information, and requires students to synthesize hundreds of pages of literature, interview data, and their own design intuition to produce meaningful artifacts both individually and as part of highly inter-dependent teams. The idea of teach-reteach (characterized by Gong’s description of the Three Person Problem) is at the heart of the students’ day-to-day learning experiences.

On the other hand, the course is a massively multiplayer role-playing game in which students select a character class, develop specialized expertise, complete a series of individual quests, join a Guild, and work with members of their Guild to accomplish quests requiring a greater breadth of skills than any one student can develop during the course.

Course material: IPT 692R: Introduction to Open Education

Written by Al Stevens

January 18th, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Being More Specific About Openness in Learning

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Terry Anderson, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Distance Education at Athabasca University writes on his blog, the Virtual Canuck that there are many dimensions of openness. He says:

Since these criteria of openness have important implications in many dimensions for both learner and teachers, I tend to use adjectives like distance, unpaced, free cost and other adjectives, rather than ones associated only with the media of delivery.

Blog Post: On Open, distance, e-learning and other name confusion

Written by Al Stevens

January 18th, 2009 at 6:41 pm

A Student Argues that Limiting Internet Access is Wrong

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Jon-Michael Poff, a senior at Batesville High School, in Batesville, Arkansas argues in an article on the Edutoipia Website that severely limiting Internet access does high school students a disservice:

Instead of embracing technology as twenty-first-century schools should, the Batesville, Arkansas, schools — along with many others — have been turning on the firewalls, preventing students from realizing the full opportunity the Internet offers.

Students and teachers need online tools to create projects, dispense information, and deepen their understanding of the subject matter. After more than a year of imposing a strict blockade, it’s high time for the Batesville schools to bulldoze the firewalls and let the light of the Internet shine on students and teachers.

Article: Stop Blocking Online Content

Written by Al Stevens

January 18th, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Project IT Girl Reviewed on Edutopia

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Maya Payne Smart reviews Project IT Girl on the Edutopia website.

Project IT Girl is a program for 60 high school girls throughout Austin to learn how to change the world through the use of Information Technology. Program participants apply technology to a global topic they are passionate about to educate and persuade their peers.

Article:  Project IT Girl Makes Computers Cool

Written by Al Stevens

January 18th, 2009 at 5:43 pm

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Impact of Cloud Computing on Education

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Thomas Bittman, A member of the Gartner Blog Network begins his November 26th post with:

Recently, I started working on a committee developing a technology plan for our school district.This has been a huge eye-opener for me. The web, social software and cloud computing will definitely have an impact on enterprise IT – but the impact on our educational system will be astounding, and many in our educational system don’t see it coming.

The post: Cloud Computing and K-12 Education

Written by Al Stevens

January 18th, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Building and Using Databases of Student Misconceptions

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Tara Madhyastha, of Facet Innovations and Steven Tanimoto, Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington in an article in the Journal of Interactive Media in Education describe “facets”, their use in education and methods for identifying and cataloging them.  A facet is an attempt to categorize the partial understandings that students have in early stages of learning a subject in a way that can be communicated to a teacher. Their paper explains the reasons for using facets, and describes a process for developing a catalog of facets.

The paper abstract (links added):

A number of educational researchers have developed pedagogical approaches that involve the teacher in discovering and helping to correct misconceptions that students bring to their study of their subject matter. During the last decade, several computer systems have been developed to support teaching and learning using this kind of approach. A central conceptual construct used by these systems is the “facet” of understanding: an atomic diagnosable unit of belief. A formidable challenge to applying such pedagogical approaches to new topic areas is the task of discovering and organizing the facets for the new subject area. This paper presents a taxonomy of misconceptions and a methodology for going about the task of preparing a database of facets. Important issues include the generality and diagnosability of facets, granularity of facets, and their placement on a scale of problematicity. Examples are drawn from the subjects of physics and computer science and in the context of two computer systems: the Diagnoser and INFACT.

Article: Faring with Facets: Building and Using Databases of Student Misconceptions