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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shift Happens (Module 2, Irish)

The Shift Happens folks have been producing thought provoking videos since 2007, they currently have produced five versions on the same theme.  The theme is the globalization and shifts in society.  The question I always come back to when watching these is how do we as educators answer to these shifts?  Below is the fourth version of their video, published in fall of 2009.

One of the key points that Shift Happens continues to hit upon is that "individuals have more control, more capacity to create and to connect than in any era in history" (Siemens, 2006, p. 72).  With the vast amount of information available to humans at their fingertips, learning at this point in history is radically changing.  Siemens outlined in the video Future of Distance Education that one of the hallmark characteristics of the identity of distance education is collaborative interactions.  With the increased possibilities to connect with other people the potential for collaborative works are at an all time high.

The Internet is the main engine that has expanded the possibilities to collaborate.  Prior to the Internet connecting with others was limited by the network of people that you worked with, or knew.  Today, collaboration is limitless.  So the potential for collaboration has evolved from the network of people you knew within your own physical space, to the never ending reaches of the Internet.  There are social networks where a person can connect with people who share their same interestes.  There are countless blogs, forums, and websites dedicated to the most obscure topics.  From these blogs, forums, websites, and social networking sites come the potential for collaboration.

Once the connections have been made via the Internet to collaborate, the people do not ever actually need to meet in person to accomplish their work.  Through the use of video conferencing tools such as Skype, or online chat programs such as AOL Instant Messanger, and online collaborative word processing software such as Google Docs a collaborative project can be completed without ever having to meet in person.  Prior to the advances of the Internet these collaborative projects would either have to be emailed back and forth through attached documents, or mailed through the postal system.  With the advances of the Internet collaboration is literally at a persons fingertips and only limited by the imaginations of the people working together.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

You Say You Want An Revolution? (Irish Module 1)

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right

The lyrics to the Beatles song Revolution seem fitting when discussing the need to evolve distance education for the next generation.  I highlighted the phrase change the world and evolution in the song lyrics because in the situation of distance education there is going to beed to be change in the world in order for distance education to evolve for the next generation.

Simonson outlined in the video Distance Education: The Next Generation that the concept of distance education is not new.  The first form of distance education happend through correspondent courses, and then over time these courses migrated to the internet.  Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned thinker in education, inovation, and creativity stated during a TED Talk interview in response to the quality of distance education:

There’s been a tendency in universities to try and cash in on the interest in web-based learning. A lot of them have been dumping programs online: lecture notes, videos of talks, and so on. They’re of variable quality. Some of them are great, and some aren’t. In a way, TED is a great example of how distance learning can work well. TED doesn’t have a formal curriculum. But it has new ideas about getting ideas across in a powerful, condensed way, with high-quality visuals, and then syndicating that. TED has shown us a dramatic appetite for new ideas presented in an interesting way.  

Moller, Huett, Foshay, and Coleman outlined five impacts for instructional design: 1) quality, 2) needs assessment and measuring outcomes, 3) connecting training, performance support, and the management of knowledge, 4) improved instructional systems methods, and 5) looking again at learning models.  These five impact areas that Moller, Huett, Foshat, and Coleman outline are universal to a variety of distance education settings, they are applicable to the business, K-12 education, and college environments.  

In order for distance education to meet the five goals that Simonson outlined in the video Equivalency Theory.  these five goals are: 1) to provide equivalent education as face-to-face environments, 2) potential increased return on investment, 3) increased convenience for students, 4) increased motivation to learn, and 5) increased access.  

I agree with all of the suggestions of Robinson, Simonson, and Moller, Huett, Foshay, and Colman. Without improvements distance education will not be able to live up to its potential.  With all of the advances with technology within the last 10 years it is now possible for distance education to provide an equal or improved learning experience to face-to-face learning.  But, without the changes outlined then distance education will continue to be for most situations glorified correspondence studies existing in isolation.  

We clearly have all of the necessary technology tools, as well as the knowledge about how distance education needs to be improves it is time to stop singing about an evolution and actually start the evolution!

Enjoy ~SJ  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Emerging and Sharing

I am proud to admit that I am a technology geek.  If there is a new technology product, website, or tool on the market I love to learn how it works and figure out how to include it in my daily life.  As a classroom teacher it is my goal to incorporate as many technology applications as I can effectively.  When selecting technology for the classroom it is important to find tools that are appropriate as well as useful for all students.  It is important to not expose my students to tools that will require them to pay any fees, while also keep their identity safe on the internet.

Tools that live in a cloud are one of my newest technologies that I try to share with as many people as possible.  Cloud computing is an amazingly powerful tool since it is often free - thanks Google, as well as available from any location.  Cloud computing meets the requirements of being gender, culturally, and socioeconomically sensitive.  There are no fees associated with cloud computing, as long as a person has access to a computer their cloud is at their fingertips.

For my final project in EDUC 8841 I created a video on how to utilize the power of the cloud.

Enjoy ~SJ 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

DVD's vs Streaming Video

I have not been a subscriber to satellite TV or cable for over five years.  I made the choice years ago to get rid of cable for financial reasons, and have not regretted my decision yet!  The only downside to not having television programming is that I cannot always keep up when people are talking about television commercials, or the latest reality TV show.  But, I have even found a solution to this.  

Just because I choose not to have cable, does not mean that I don't watch my fair share to TV.  I am an avid supporter of Netflix.  I have an extensive list of DVDs in my queue, over 100, and have streamed my fair share in a week.  I was a member of Netflix before I officially decided to give up cable, and it was one of the supporting reasons why I thought I could survive without cable.  As Netflix has enhanced its streaming options, I too have streamed more programs.  When it was time for me to find one of the required movie for the module 4, I quickly turned to Netflix.  One thought that went through my head was, "what if Netflix doesn't have one of the movie on the list?  Where am I going to turn?"  Thankfully Netflix didn't let me down.  
So are DVD and streaming video the next Red Queen, or are they an example of increasing returns? Dr. Thornburg defined an increasing return as "two technologies that hit the market at the same time.  By chance, one technology gets locked in and drives the other to extinction" (Laureate Education, 2009).  By this definition, the two technologies would need to hit the market at the same time.  DVDs became popular in the mid to late 1990s.  Streaming video emerged ten years later.  Due to the fact that they did not enter the market at the same time they are not an example of an increasing return.

Dr. Thornburg defined a Red Queen as "huge competition existing between two technologies, in the process all other competition is left behind"  (Laureate Education, 2009).  By this definition streaming video would need to be clearly competing with one source for DVDs.  At this point in time Netflix is the leader in streaming video, but there are several other sources.  iTunes is one place that you can acquire digital versions of media.  Also, at this point in time there is not one source for DVDs.  People are still choosing between renting them through several different companies, or to purchase them.

From my vantage point it seems that at this point in time in regards to McLuhan's tetrad, streaming video is making DVDs obsolete.  Within the next five years I would predict that very few people are still watching the video entertainment on DVD, and are turning to the streaming option.   

Enjoy ~SJ 

McLuhan Tetrad In Audio

I am an avid listener to NPR and Prairie Home Companion is one of my favorite programs.  Yesterday morning while I was listening to PHC Garrison Keillor did a rendition of Little Deuce Coupe which can be heard here

It seems that almost every day I hear someone complaining about high gas prices and how much it costs to run their car.  I happily chime in with "Glad I own a Prius" and then tell them my most recent gas millage (which is currently climbing to over 48 mgp!). 

Since one of the themes of the course Emerging and Future Technologies was how one technology takes over for a previous one, I found this song only timely and fitting.  In today's society it seems to be more important how many mpg your car gets then how many horsepower the engine has.  This rendition of Little Deuce Coupe seemed like an audio version of McLuhan's tetrads.  I know the Prius isn't a "cool" car, but it does make a great conversation starter, and it is great on my wallet right now. 

Enjoy ~SJ
* This is simply a blog post that seemed to fit for the class that I wanted to share.  It is not intended for the Module 5 assignment.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Second Life: A Disruptive Technology

Christensen, author of
The Innovators Dilemma
Clayton M. Christensen coined the phrase disruptive technology in his 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma.  The term disruptive technology refers to a technology that "the process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves ‘up market’, eventually displacing established competitors" ("Clayton Christensen," 2009).  It is important to recognize with disruptive technologies that it is not the technology itself that makes it disruptive, but rather the impact that it has that makes it a disruptive technology.  PC World listed the ten most disruptive technologies as of 2008 as: entertainment on demand, inexpensive digital camcorders and YouTube, open source software, MP3 files, blogs, inexpensive portable file storage, cloud computing with mobile devices, high speed wireless internet, the Internet, and smart phones.  It is critical to understand that just because the word disruptive has a negative connotation, disruptive technologies do not have a negative impact.  A disruptive technology simply shifts how we do a task, or interact with media. 

Second Life is a virtual world filled that is populated and created by its users, and was created in 2003 by Linden Lab.  Second Life allows users to create a virtual character that interacts in a virtual world.  The founder of Lotus 1-2-3, Mitch Kapor stated “Second Life is a disruptive technology on the level of the personal computer or the internet” (As quoted by Nuthall, 2008).  The reason why people are claiming that Second Life has such potential at being a disruptive technology is that it radically shifts how and where people can interact socially.

Second Life replaces that traditional environment for people to interact in.  Through the Second Life world people can attend classes, meetings, stores, and parties.  Now people from all over the globe can get together in a virtual environment to interact.  In a 2008 TED Talk, Philip Rosedale (founder of Second Life) summarized the popularity of Second Life with two aspects: it is a new way to socially interact with information, and since it is a virtual world with images language becomes less of a barrier. 

There seems to be a lot of hype about Second Life in the technology world, but in the real world Second Life does not seem that popular.  Personally, I know very few people who have heard of Second Life, never mind use it on a regular basis.  It is going to take a many years before Second Life is a fully adopted technology.  Once Second Life is a fully adopted technology it is at this point that a new technology could be developed that disrupts Second Life. 

In the academic world Second Life has the potential to offer courses to students who live in rural areas with limited academic offerings.  With deep budget cuts affecting academic offerings at many high schools across the country Second Life is an inexpensive option for students to take a larger variety of courses.   

Enjoy ~SJ

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wish Books to Wish Lists!

The Sears and Roebuck company began as a mail order catalog in 1888.  Since at that time people bought must of their goods from the local general store they were required to pay inflated prices.  Sears and Roebuck were able to offer lower prices through their mail order catalog which featured farm supplies, toys, sewing machines, cars, houses, and just about anything that a person could need.  This business expanded until 1993 when it stopped producing its large catalog.  Today it prints fewer and smaller catalogs due to the interest in online shopping.

The Sears and Roebuck catalog and transitions to online shopping is an example of what Dr. Thornburg described as a Rhyme of History.  Someone once said that "The future will be like the past, only with cooler toys."  Although new technologies are invented, these new technologies allow us to go tasks that we used to do, but easier.  One example that Dr. Thornburg used in his Rhymes of History vodcast was social networking.  Social networking is a rhyme of history because it brings back the concept of a watering hole.  The watering hole was a place in a community used by people to not only gather water, but to also exchange news and stories.  Social networking sites hold the same purpose today, they allow people to share news and stories in the digital age.

Online shopping at mega stores such as Amazon.com allow people to accomplish the same task as the Sears and Roebuck catalog did.  People can log onto Amazon and browse until their hearts are content.  They can read about an endless variety of items, read descriptions as well as reviews from customers.  Once a customer finds an item that they are interested in they can either place it in their virtual cart, or my personal favorite place it on your wish list.  Placing something on your wish list is the same as turning the corner down on a page that has an item you are interested in.

It isn't that the idea of dream shopping has died with the lack of print catalogs, it is simply the way that people interact with the catalog has changed.  Gone is the thrill of receiving the Sears catalog in the mail, instead we receive email updates on family members growing wishlists!

As a side note, according to a Boston Globe article if you are interested in viewing all of the Sears catalog pages since 1896 they can be viewed at ancestry.com 

Enjoy ~SJ 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Reality of Virtual Reality

Early flight simulato
Virtual reality (VR) has advanced dramatically since the days of flight simulators used by the military.  VR is currently available in three different types: by placing a helmet over your head to experience a 3-d reality, BOOM - binocular omni-oriented monitor, and a VR theater that the user moves through.   

Below is my tetrad on virtual reality.
Looking at a technology through the lens of McLuhan’s tetrad lens allows me to understand where a technology came from and where it was headed. By understanding this one technology it allows you to see how it fits into the history of other technologies like it. New technologies are created because there is a need for them. By looking at technologies through the tetrad lens it becomes more apparent what the technology needs of society are.

By understanding this four areas of McLuhan’s tetrad then it can aid in technology decisions in the future. If the technology does not make another technology obsolete then it may not be a wise technology to invest in. If a technology does not enhance a technology already available, then it may not be wise to invest in. If the technology does not enhance old ideas, then it may not be wise to invest in. Lastly, if it does not set the stage for future technology, then it may not be a wise investment.

Enjoy ~SJ

Friday, March 11, 2011

You Twit Face!

 No, it isn't the lasted slang word from urban dictionary floating around the halls of your local high school.  YouTwitFace is the result of a joke at a dinner party reaching the mouth of Conan O'Brian and then going viral in the summer of 2009.  YouTwitFace will be a website where all of the great aspects of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are all rolled into one website.  According to Conan in the year 3000 these three webistes will combine to create one giant time wasting website known as YouTwitFace. 

There is no question that YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are three of the largest wasters of employees time.  The question is, what is it about these three websites that people enjoy so much?  The ability to watch entertaining short videos?  The ability to follow friends and celebrities in 140 characters or less?  The ability to update the entire world on the fact that you are wasting your employers time while tending your virtual farm?  Yes, these are three reasons why people are drawn to these three websites, the question now is how to get YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook to be a part of students time while being on task at the same time.

David Thornburg, an award winning futurists, stated (2009) "If we who care about education truly take the time to examine emergent technologies, we can perhaps anticipate some of the changes that can take place in our schools to help students learn more effectively.  The sooner we know what may be coming down the line, the more time we have to think about the implications of these technologies, and to plan on their eventual adoption when they do come to the market" (p. 2).  It is clear that YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook have emerged and become a regular part of our daily interactions with technology.  The challenge with these three websites is not figuring out educational aspects that can be included in the classroom, the challenge is the fear of coming across material that is not appropriate for students.  In response to coming across inappropriate material on these three very public websites, similar services have been created that offer social interaction with an educational focus.  Edmodo is a social media website that looks and feels similar to Facebook, but with the protections that a teacher needs.  TeacherTube is a educationally focused video website that is similar to YouTube, but again with the safety protections that a classroom needs.  Twitter can be an educationally safe resource as long as the students create accounts specifically for class and are only subscribed to each others tweets.

Between TeacherTube, Edmodo, and Twitter a teacher can create a safe environment where students can interact using social media.  Through including these three websites into the daily classroom a teacher can demonstrate to students that these types of websites are not just for entertainment, but can also be used to collaborate and interact in way educational ways.  It also demonstrates a unique way to stay connected with each other, as well as provide a different way to share ideas with each other.  These types of connections through the Internet are the types of connections that businesses are trying to create and want their future employees to be able to participate in. 

There are several ways that these technologies could be improved.  One improvement would if these three services all being replaced by one website, like the fictitious YouTwitFace.  One website would mean one username and password that the students would need to remember, as well as the ability to access all of the resources in one place.  

Enjoy ~SJ