Mapping Our Worlds


Alisa Miller shares the news about the news


Discover UNESCO World Heritage with Street View


Lalitesh Katragadda: Making maps to fight disaster, build economies

Maps have long been used to visually represent our interpretation of place and history and in so doing, reveal the cultural lens through which we see our world. With the advent of web-based mapping environments like Worldmapper, Google Earth and Google Maps, we can more easily conceptualize relationships between objects and data sets and more readily understand how geography influences culture. We can also tap into as well as contribute to the ever expanding repository of user-generated, geotagged media frequently associated with online map environments.

So what are the possibilities in using online mapping tools like Google Maps and Google Earth in language, culture and civilization courses? And what role might these tools play in developing our students’ intercultural competencies, global awareness, communication, collaboration and literacy skills? We’ll use this week’s session to consider these questions and to explore some classroom examples. We’ll also spend time working in our course wiki and I’d like to give you the opportunity to get feedback from a colleague about your classroom project idea.

Learning 2.0


Rethinking Education by Michael Wesch

In Rethinking Education, Michael Wesch invites us to reconceive the university using today’s technologies in the service of today’s students. Does the university system need restructuring? Is it true, as Cathy Davidson suggests, that educational institutions today, for the most part, prepare our students for the 20th century? What do we need to rethink and what can and should we keep of our current university model?

When we meet face-to-face this week we look more closely at Diigo as a teaching and learning resource and learn about Zotero, an example of a tool that helps you to organize, cite and share your research. In our online session, Jorge Castillo will show us how he is currently using Diigo with his students in his literature class. We’ll also look at Educause‘s 7 Things You Should Know About series and I’ll ask you to evaluate some examples of new models of teaching and learning and how they might reconceive or support our current university model.

Finding and Evaluating Information in a Hyperconnected World

The words 'Information Overload' are being filtered through a sieve to become Information
Photo Credit: Information Overload by verbeeldingskr8

In your discussion on Educational Trends you reflected on new ways of creating, sharing and understanding information that the read/write web affords us now as described by Tim O’Reilly in Dan Gillmor’s We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People. In George Siemens and Peter Tittenberger’s March 2009 Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning, the authors suggest that our relationship with information has changed significantly, that “what once involved mediators and experts (journals, books, encyclopaedias) can now be handled informally through the aggregated actions of many (Wikipedia, blogs, ebooks).” They go on to describe the new literacies and key skills our learners must possess to successfully navigate, evaluate and participate in a hyperconnected, information-saturated world.

Based on your own experiences and your readings thus far, how does this resonate with you? In what ways have these technologies made an impact on you as an educator and as a student?

Presentation Tools

Michael Walker Tweet About Using TodaysMeet During An Online Presentation

Digital presentation tools figure prominently in many traditional, online and blended learning environments. As we saw in the 2007 Educause video highlighting Net Gen students’ use of technology, our students consider themselves very proficient technology users, even though deeper probing reveals an often surface-level understanding and use of these tools.

Reflecting on your students and your own learning, how might these ‘next-generation’ presentation tools help students both as individuals and as members of a community of  practice? How might they serve to address the criticisms Mott and Wiley level against traditional higher ed learning environments often shaped by course management systems? In exploring this week’s materials, can you identify ways in which these tools could support our diverse learners as suggested, for example, in the nine Principles of Universal Design for Instruction?

In our face-to-face session we’ll explore some ‘next-generation’ presentation tools with an eye to how they can support and engage our learners. We’ll take our first look at our course wiki and talk about our upcoming virtual session.

Educational Trends


Above is a 4 minute video on Social Syllabus, an online teaching and learning platform in development by John Kuiphoff that promotes the democratization of course content through the use of social media. In what ways does John’s platform address the limitations of current course management systems as described by Jon Mott and David Wiley in Open for Learning: The CMS and the Open Learning Network?

Our discussions thus far have touched on communities of practice that facilitate our formal and informal learning experiences and the significance of Web 2.0 as an easy-to-use platform for users to connect, create and collaborate. This week we’ll have the opportunity to explore trends that have and will have an impact on teaching and learning in the near future, and see if we can make better sense of these trends through our understanding of and engagement in communities of practice. We’ll also start to expand on our communities of practice by posting our own and responding to our colleagues’ reflections here on our blog.

Some questions to jumpstart our discussion on this week’s materials if you wish:

  • As more secondary and post-secondary institutions adopt and engage in more open and collaborative learning exchanges, how could this impact our programs, our research and our students?
  • What are some of the barriers to learning that impact you and your students? Based on what we’ve explored thus far, does this shared, networked platform offer potential solutions? Any challenges?

Why Social Networking?


Through Web 2.0 by Tomaz Lasic

In this course we will explore what many refer to as ‘Web 2.0’, a concept first coined by Tim O’Reilly after the dot-com crash of 2001. In this 45 second interview O’Reilly mentions two components of this environment that are key to the work we will do in this course: the idea that the network is the platform and that users add value to this network. Over the course of the semester we will explore and evaluate some of the many expressions of those concepts, with a particular focus on their import for our students’ and our learning as well as for our ongoing professional development. I specifically chose the term social networking over social media to place priority on the interpersonal connections these environments enable over the tools themselves.

In our first week (both face-to-face and online) we will start off by looking at informal and formal communities of practice in education, how they currently impact our teaching and learning and how they might evolve as our formal and informal educational networks adopt and adapt these ‘network platforms where users add value’.

Personal Learning Networks

Alec Couros' Diagram of the Networked Teacher of Today

Photo Credit: Networked Teacher Diagram by Alec Couros

Over the course of our semester together we have explored what it means to be a part of communities of practice. In our final session together we’ll reflect on these learning networks and how they could and will shape our learning environments. For this week, we will all read Educause’s 7 Things You Should Know About Personal Learning Environments and watch the 13 minute video interview with Alan November on Myths and Opportunities: Technology in the Classroom. We will then divide up a selection of the rest of the session materials and post here your reflections on your selection, especially as it relates to our two common items for this week. Finally, during our Friday class our final set of presenters will share their class projects with us and we will have the opportunity to reflect on our experiences this semester.

I want to thank you all for the rich learning experience we shared this semester. You’ve enriched my community of practice!