About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Categorizing elearning

Ken Allen had a post entitled "Classifying elearning." This post is about what my first thoughts were when I read the title.

There are 3 different ways I thought of classifying elearning: by structure, by level of education, or by tools. Of course, there are many more classification systems out there, but these are what came to mind from my own teaching.

Classification by administrative structure

I begin my introduction to distance learning course by going over the different ways in which distance learning can be organized. There are five models:

Synchronous online: Instructor uses real time technology such as chat to students who access the course at a given time. This is especially changing due to mobile technology and access to social networking sites.

Asynchronous online
: The use of mostly Learning Management Systems in which there is interaction between the instructor and student and other students. Normally, all members of the class will have interaction only online.

Blended learning 1: This is when there is some classroom instruction augmented with online (either synchronous or asynchronous--usually asynchronous) instruction.

Blended learning 2
: this is when the instructor is at a different location (perhaps with a live class) and gives instruction to another class at a remote location. The remote location may have a cooperating teacher or they may have just a technician or moderator.

Learning objects and self regulated learning
: This form has been around for a long time, but technology has developed it so there is more opportunities for students to learn with out an "instructor". Rather, they use interactive media, have learning assessment at remote locations, and/or develop their own Personal Learning.

Categorizing by level:

Each level of distance learning has different needs and goals:

Elementary: make connection to the outside world, access locations and experiences not available in school, develop communication, critical thinking and problem solving skills

Middle and High School: Developing social skills, access to expertise and complex problems, learner support outside of class, making connections with the outside world

Higher Ed: Access to expertise, developing regional or international research communities and agendas, access to resources and complex problems

Adult or Community: creating dialogue within a community and consensus building, developing best practices and support system, combining and organizing distributed knowledge for redistribution, access to resources and expertise

Categorizing by Tools:

Garrison and Anderson use a useful system to categorized based on the type of tool. First generation tools were those used for one on one dialogue (mail). The next generation allowed for the broadcasting of instruction. It was one way communication, but to a large group. This included radio and television broadcasting. The last generation that they identify is what I would term as the LMS generation. These are tools that allow for two way communication and group learning. However, this is all managed through the instructional design using online technology. I see there being an emerging generation, networked learning. This allows for students to manage their own learning with access to multimedia learning tools. This also allows for both formal and informal learning.

Ken's classification

In fact, Ken was looking at classifying elearning in a totally different way. I see his classification more about the instructional design of elearning. But I will leave that discussion for another posting.


D. Garrison & T. Anderson (2003) Elearning in the 21st Century. London, RoutledgeFalmer.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How safe are social networks?

Mike Gotta, on his Collaborative Thinking blog, discussed a good article available at Knowledge@Wharten addressing the security issues around social networks. As I read through the linked article, I thought of some issues I have not seen addressed as yet.

At the conference, Hoffman illustrated how social connections are made online and the ease with which a stranger can become part of a network. He noted that he is regularly added to mailing lists and invited to become a friend -- or "friended" in the social network parlance -- of businesses that use the sites as a marketing tool. Indeed, pages used by businesses on Facebook were recently redesigned to look more like those of individuals.

The implications for this is mind boggling. This means that marketing representatives or organizations would have access to a person's personal information and preferences. So what's wrong with that? Unless someone has set their facebook privacy on "friends only" thousands of others will have access to your information. For example, my daughter "friended" her favorite local radio station when her status was "friends of friends" could see her data. This means that any radio listener has access to her information. At a minimum, the radio station knows the topics she discusses with her friends, what her interests are, and what she is susceptible to.

On the other hand, as a marketing professor, I also see the strength of this tool as more and more people are resistant to marketing research via phone or person interviews. This is less obtrusive than traditional forms of market research.

Another point made in the article had me thinking of personal responsibility and educating users of social networks:

When a business contact from the LinkedIn world wants to become your friend on Facebook, do you accept the invitation, giving them access to the photos on your Facebook profile from last summer's rowdy beach party?

And what about the person you don't really know who wants to be your friend because you have some friends in common? According to Hoffman, that new friend may just be mining your social circle for information. As networks grow and more friends of friends (and their friends) are accepted by users, it's unclear who can be trusted.

As my kids use facebook, I review who their friends are. Sometimes friends are declined which can be a form of bullying for middle or high schoolers (I don't accept you as a friend). On the other hand, students do need to feel they can decline interaction with anyone on the internet. This is not a new problem. I remember when my son was a toddler, he would speak to anyone. I had to teach him that he could be friendly with anyone, but he needed to keep his distance and never go away with them. My daughter, on the other hand was always very skittish around men especially. I did not want her to be rude, but I wanted her to trust her instincts. The same balance needs to be achieved in using social software.

The article recommends:

Ultimately, social networking security rests with each user of the service (those friend invitations can always be declined). Hoffman recommended that social network denizens know the privacy policies -- governing, among other things, how the information you provide can be used -- of the sites they frequent.

At the same time, Hoffman said, web site operators need to make privacy policies easier to understand. "Privacy policies differ in theory and practice. In theory, consumers know about a site's privacy policy and trust the network. The reality is that no one reads the policies. I don't read them myself." Hoffman cited Facebook's privacy policy -- which promises that users have control over their data and what information is shared -- as typically murky. (The most recent version is more than 3,700 words -- more than twice as long as this article.) Hoffman advocates new formats for privacy policies that act as simplified "nutrition labels," like those on food products.

Vicky Davis
also suggested last year that there be different "friend" categories and different ways to block depending on the friend category (i.e. family, best friends, business friends).

As more and more of my information creates a digital finger print, though, I keep asking myself, "How is this different than what I do face to face?" In fact, before I post anything, I always wonder, is this something I would do in a face to face situation? When my kids are posting things, I will look over their shoulder and ask, "Would you say this out loud in a class?"

In fact, I find most of the youth use texting as their private form of communication and (for the most part) understand the public nature of social networks. Just like they may not be so careful when they are with their friends in a Mall, another public setting, they may not be careful when they are on facebook.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A new way of typing?

I wrote the following comment on Karyn Romeis's blog post about new software to teach typing:

Interestingly enough, my daughter was taught touch type, but does not use the process. Since getting a facebook account and a cell phone, she uses a two finger (forefinger and thumb) process that I see many of her generation using at a much faster rate than she ever used using all of her fingers.

I wonder if touch type teaching will change because of these new technologies.

It made me think of how difficult it is to change our patterns (both individually and culturally--in any society) to reflect new ways of doing things. What often happens is that those with greater power might deem what is acceptable or not.

I have found this in my data analysis for my dissertation. Because it was taking so long to create new processes, and because some group members were in a more politically viable position (department) than others, new processes were ditched to revert to the old templates (with some adjustments) and ways of doing things. However, before the big boss stepped in and began to set procedures to expedite the work, there was a high level of learning within the group (between group members). Many expressed their hope that they were creating a new format to present training within their field.

But, alas, there was just too much difficulty in changing those work patterns.

One of the problems I think I have in using a cell phone is the unlearning of patterns and relearning of new patterns. It is much easier for me to use facebook as it does not require the "unlearning" of anything. I do believe my kids are finding new ways to type that are every bit as effective as the way I type. However, it is considered "wrong" because it is a change of patterns, by necessity in light of the technology they are using.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some interesting turns of phrases

For the last couple of months, I have been saving some terms and phrases I found on other sites that seemed odd to me or that I had never heard (and don't really know, but could guess the meaning from the context).

All of the writers are native English speakers (although some are bilingual) so I assume the terms are used in their neck of the woods (this expression means that part of the world where they come from). What got me thinking about these different terms was an expression I used in one of my own posts: Everything is gravy. As gravy is the luxurious extra you can put on a meal, this expression means it is above and beyond the minimum; a luxury.

Below are the expressions I have collected. I have included a link to the post with the expression. If you know what these mean or the origin of these, I'd appreciate your explanations. Also, feel free to add any that maybe you find "interesting."

Karyn Romeis: Parents need to step up the oche

Michael Hanley quote of Suzanne Shaw (Ireland) All of them are at the coalface of the current economic climate and many of them use tools like LinkedIn

Karyn Romeis: Friday sees the start of the BBC Proms season. This is a series of classical music concerts held around the country which has been running for 115 years, now. (Note: this was interesting because in the US a prom is a formal dance for high school students).

Ken Allen: Your fingers will be running up and down the keyboard like little fiddler crabs

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


As I have been working on my dissertation, one of the "emerging" ideas (using grounded theory) has to do with expertise and how it is accessed within an organization. I have identified three "expertise" concepts that effect distributed teams (teams that are not located in the same place or department): identifying expertise, lack of expertise, and no expertise.

Identifying expertise

In identifying expertise, distributed teams may find an expert internal or external to the group or identifying the communal expertise. In other words, individuals may not hold the expertise, but the group together may possess expertise for their work by combining human capital and resources.

The factors that go into identifying expertise, however, may include the willingness of individuals to share their expertise, having an expertise that is needed or recognized by individuals, the group and/or the organization, or defining or identifying expertise that is important within the team or organization's power structure. For example, someone might have an expertise that is not considered relevant by decision makers. As a result this expertise is either ignored or a person with this expertise will not share it because it is not politically advantageous.

Withholding expertise effects teams and how they work. Often the withholding of expertise is dependent on the level of trust that team members have within their group, but also within a department or the organization as a whole.

Lack of expertise

Lack of expertise differs from no expertise in that there is some knowledge, but perhaps it is not relevant for the situation, it is distributed among group members so no one person has the expertise (each individual lacks expertise) or the expertise cannot be accessed as a group (perhaps it rests within a department that hoards the expertise or it is not recognized within the power structure of the organization).

There are three options when a group lacks expertise. They can either go outside to access an expert, they can bring in a new team member with the expertise they need, or they can train or develop the expertise within their group. The choice they make depends on scheduling, resources, the power structure of the organization and where the team fits, and goals. A forth option is to deal with lack of expertise the best they can, making up for the lack in other areas of the project where there is a high level of expertise.

No expertise

More often than not, no expertise will be met with a disruption in the group. Like the lack of expertise, no expertise can result in accessing outside consultants, putting a project on hold until new team members with the expertise are brought into the group, or training one or more of the group members in that expertise.

Of course, it is rare that there is no expertise. Often there is the expertise within the group, but that expertise is overlooked because of organizational politics or withheld by group members because of the organizational power structure. An individual may also not recognize their level of expertise, so be unwilling to share their limited expertise for fear of failure with the group or organization (thus creating a lower level of cognitive trust within the group).

The "expertise grid" or the "social grid for knowledge"

What I am working on now is how expertise is accessed within an organization and/or distributed group. How do groups identify expertise that they need to accomplish their work? How do they maximize the pathways so there is not a bottle neck to expertise in a timely manner? How do groups manage the need of expertise?

I look at it as similar to how power companies use a grid to route power through its structures as demand ebs and flows or how companies develop structures for communication (communication grid) during emergency situations.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

On hold for a week

Well, I'm stepping away from the computer for a week and a half. As this is the northern hemisphere, we are supposed to be having summer. And I guess, we should be happy not to have snow (although a few weeks ago there was 2-12 inches of hail). July had 10 inches of rain, so we do feel ready for the sunny days of summer. Hopefully, we'll have good weather to do things with the family.