Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Different Teaching Reality?

The reality of most of my etMOOC colleagues working in education differs significantly from my own. An article in the local newspaper, The Guardian, describes how 80 students share one text book. This is not uncommon in much of sub-Saharan Africa. With one textbook, it often falls upon the teacher to read the information to the students, who dutifully repeat the information back to the teacher later. There are many well-intended book donation efforts, but the need greatly outstrips supply. Furthermore, the used textbooks, which are sent with best of intentions, often do not match the learning levels of those who receive the books. Of necessity, then, my vision is a book-less classroom, similar to the one shown in this YouTube by Cybersmart Africa. A laptop and projector, powered by solar charged batteries, a white sheet against the wall or on a movable stand, and appropriate interactive learning programs, which are downloaded in peri-urban centers where there is more reliable connectivity, would be truly revolutionary. While having current materials immediately at hand would be revolutionary, the more revolutionary aspect would be making the classroom learner centered, requiring an entirely new mindset on the part of teachers and school administrators from the currently predominant "banking" model as described by Freire. This, I suspect, is the reason why these innovations have not taken hold. As I read conversations among my etMOOC colleagues, it's clear that the same pedagogical proclivities exist outside of sub-Saharan Africa, which is more the frustrating given all the digital tools and advanced learning materials available. So upon further reflection, maybe the pedagogical realities across the across the oceans are not that different after all.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Entering the Waters Slowly

I have spent an inordinate amount of time downloading YouTube videos on how to setup and use HootSuite, which also motivated me to setup a Google + page. I'm still a fumbling tweeter. My online practice continues to be hindered by the on-and-off nature of my ISP, compounded by electrical brownouts.

I watched and listened to the enjoyable archived etMOOC BlackBoard Collaborate session by Sue Waters on blogging. My takeaway: Blogging first requires a lot of reading and reflecting as the foundation for blogging. As one blogs, one becomes more comfortable with sharing the personal learning. During the BB session someone in the chat window wrote: "We write ourselves into being." I can relate to that. I graduated from an intensive undergraduate program that required lots of reading, reflection and writing--integrating poetry, stage plays and fiction on a weekly basis. At least two writing assignments per week  required experimenting with new persona and led to lots of self-discovery. But I was so exhausted by the time I graduated that it took me many years afterwards to pickup any of such genre again. That may partially explain why I'm entering the blogging waters so slowly.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Testing the Tools

Three days ago I got up in the middle of the night to participate live in the etMOOC Blackboard session on Social Curation, but about a hour before it was to begin the electricity went out. So I felt my way along the walls in the dark and climbed into bed, under the mosquito net. Fortunately, I found the session in the archive, which motivated me to sign-up for Hootsuite, Diigo and Scoop.it and added an image to my blog banner. There have been excellent posts about information overload, but at the moment I'm just happily focused on getting the tools set-up and trying to understand how they work. (The ISP has only dropped three times over the weekend for no more than an hour each time, and the electricity has only been out about an hour. So I've been pretty lucky.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

etMOOC pushing me "out there"

I have resisted setting up a blog because I'm not particularly interested in being "out there" in the public--until this moment. My "publics" are smaller ones in my immediate physical world and from previous physical worlds now held together through email and other social network tools. Yes, I have met many others virtually. Some connections have endured for a significant period of time, but others have survived for only a specific engagement, mirroring the physical world.

What has motivated me to surface is the enrollment in etMOOC http://etmooc.org/calendar/. We shall see how long I can remain connected--literally because either the ISP or the electricity in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, is known to frequently isolate me. This happened several times during chats with my team mates enrolled in the Stanford University MOOC on Developing New Learning Environments.

My first etMOOC assignment is to introduce myself. My submission uses PhotoPeach and can be found here. Intro etMOOC on PhotoPeach