Archive for May, 2007

A small group of us have started to think about what guidelines we might suggest to community college student bloggers.  Here are some suggestions from the list so far:

  • Write openly and honestly (without disclosing any personal information).
  • Respect confidentiality. Never use people’s names or post pictures or information about them without their written permission.
  • Never plagiarize. Always make sure you link back to any information you cite.
  • Remember that everything you write online is stored on search engines. Be careful since your posts may be searchable even after you delete your blog.
  • Take time to think about what you want to say.If you feel emotional about a particular topic, get some sleep or take a walk before you respond.

Is there anything you’d add?  Take away?  Does this sound inviting or harsh?  Is it clear?   What do you think?


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It’s an education project, not a laptop project. ~ Nicholas Negroponte, head of the OLPC project

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Project began as a challenge to build a Linux-based laptop for $100 so that technology would be accessible for even the poorest children to use and learn. However, what’s inspiring about the project is not just the idea of giving laptops to children in lesser developed countries. It’s that these machines are specifically designed to help children communicate, collaborate and create. The first machines were delivered last month to students in Nigeria. (These photos are amazing.) Students in Uruguay have also received a shipment. I can’t imagine the impact these cute little green machines will have.

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Everything is miscellaneous

In my Google notebook I keep a little list of how things change when they become digital. How does teaching change? How does the idea of a course change? How do relationships change? How do conversations change? (If you have any thoughts on these, I’d love to hear them.)

Today I added a few notes that come from David Weinberger, one of the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto. Cluetrain is the quintessential treatise on what changes when we go digital. It’s hard to believe that it was written in 1999 because its message has become even more relevant in the age of social software.

Weinberger has just written a new book called Everything is Miscellaneous. In it, he looks at the ways information changes when it becomes digital. As it turns out, everything changes. Things that are considered bad in the analog world (i.e. messiness!) turn out to be a benefit when information is digitized. Putting information on a network allows us to categorize and make meaning in a way that makes sense to us. It allows us to see patterns and connect with other people who see the world the same way … or not. And when we tag, blog or edit Wikipedia, we give a context to information that makes our understanding deeper and richer. These are fascinating ideas and Weinberger expresses them so well and with such humour. As luck would have it, he spoke a couple of weeks ago at Google & his presentation is up.

Good stuff. I can’t wait to hear what Weinburger has to say about education in a few weeks at U. Manitoba’s Future of Education conference. His presentation is titled “Knowledge beyond Authority.” See you there.

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I couldn’t help but do a silly post. I ran my very first marathon yesterday. It was the Bluenose 10k, and I’m thrilled I did it — although I don’t think I would have been so positive two days ago. The training was onerous. I wasn’t sure I had what it took, but then a lot of the great experiences of life are like that. It strikes me that running a marathon is a lot like learning …

  • The start and the end are usually the hardest parts.
  • You need to set a goal that feels right for you.
  • It doesn’t matter if you run or walk. It only matters that you get to the finish line.
  • Every once in a while, you’ve got to high-five someone along the route.
  • You’ll be a lot more motivated if you run with other people.
  • You can cut across an alley, but you’ll be in better shape if you run the distance.
  • And finally, it helps to have people to cheer you on.

Carolyn Before the Start

(Photo, Carolyn Before the Start, by Chris Campbell)

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Here’s a beautiful little video done by Vermont librarian Jessamyn West to show people how easy it is to install Ubuntu on a couple of old, donated computers. Ubuntu is a free open source linux-based operating system, and it’s great for schools & non-profits.

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A fantastic commenter

I want to recognize Ian MacLeod as fantastic commenter (and really good & wise friend). Ian, you inspire the rest of us.

Fantastic Commenter Award

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Or more importantly, will they stay? 

The issue of student retention in online courses has gotten some attention over the years, so it was interesting to read a bit of research on the matter.   This study was done with students in an online certificate program at Montana State University-Bozeman  that had near-perfect retention.  It’s no surprise that these mature students enrolled in the program because it offered them flexibility and was related to their work.  Technical issues are still a factor in retaining students but less so now that basic computer literacy is a component of all programs, whether online or not. 

However, it’s interesting to read that students stuck it out in their online program because of the qualities of their instructor, the quality of their experience and their own personal motivations.  In fact, one of the things students valued most highly was the ability of their instructor to give them a sense of themselves as a real person.  I have to admit that I find that reassuring.  I also have to ask, are we paying attention to the things that matter most for ensuring student success in online courses?

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