Archive for education

The Social Artist – Interactivity

Posted in eci831, MAIS with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2012 by onepercentyellow

Learning happens when the world bumps up against what you already know.  In our clumsy stumble through life we’re constantly colliding with new ideas in text, in music and video, in objects around us, and in other people.  The thrill of having your own notions of existence confirmed, and the conscious-raising experience of understanding a resistant view of the world is one of the great drives of education.  We want to understand our world no only for ourselves, but for each other.

In the educational world, it’s tempting to submit this interaction to a top-down structure that reinforces power relations found throughout society, but one of my favourite pedagogues, Paulo Freire, argues (with the help of Erich Fromm) that this type of interaction is a drive toward “necrophily”.

“The necrophilous person is driven by the desire to transform the organic into the inorganic, to approach life mechanically, as if all living persons were things… He loves control, and in the act of controlling he kills life” (Friere, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 77).

It is not enough to simply have interaction among the players in an educational enterprise.  We must encourage authenticity, presence, and a drive toward a dialogical method of teaching that will encourage a love of life through a profound curiosity and desire to interact with ourselves, one another, and our world.

The Social Artist – reflection

Posted in eci831, Online with tags , , , , on October 25, 2012 by onepercentyellow

When I returned from teaching abroad to finish my undergraduate degree, I was not expecting to truly engage in my coursework.  I had planned to complete the necessary tasks to obtain my parchment and had written off any naive desire to engage in the big questions of life.  My first day in class at Augustana banished that thought as I suddenly had names and theories to analyze my experiences in other countries over the past 4 years.  I realize now that this was my first taste of reflection, and I was immediately hooked.

The process of engaging the world with a set of questions and theoretical tools in the hopes of coming to some kind of understanding of how this crazy train fits itself together is the joy of the human project.  It’s the motivation behind learning – we want life to be easier, more rewarding, more enriching, more fair, and if we can determine why it is not this way, perhaps we can unlock the mystery that would lead us to our own utopia.  If we are sensitive enough, we move from examining the ticking mess of the outside world to scrutinizing our own reactions and interactions with our existence.

This process of reflection is not always a given.  There are many ways we have learned to refrain from asking questions of those things that are ‘working’ – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it – but there are cultural norms, systems of power, political agendas, and personal relationships that are not actually ‘functioning’ though they seem to be ‘working’ when analyzed with the untrained eye.  It is only through exercising our critical reflection skills that we may have a chance to understand our own KEY role in life and the greater world.  Suddenly our actions have meaning, our thoughts and ideas have influence, and we begin to consciously create the world we want to live in, rather than blindly reproducing the world we have been taught.

The Social Artist – What is liberal arts?

Posted in eci831, MAIS, Online with tags , , , , , on January 11, 2012 by onepercentyellow

The question, “What is a liberal arts university?” is a little like asking someone to describe post-modernism. Often people know more what it feels like and looks like rather than exactly what it is. A description involves questions of the value and purpose of a post-secondary education, and, as such, becomes a rather self-revealing political statement, rather than a detached list of descriptors. Individuals are involved in the telling of liberal arts stories, and perhaps this passion is the most revealing of all.

In this second video of the Social Artist, we discuss the makings of a liberal arts university in general. For me, this video has been created alongside readings in the theory of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) for my MAIS 638 course with Dr. Carolyn Redl. As a part of CDA not only am I considering the responses to the question, “What is a liberal arts university?” but this new theoretical background has me pondering the context each person inhabits in the liberal arts system and how that has influenced their responses. What’s more, I am reflecting on how my role as editor is manipulating the recordings to speak back to the audience in an abridged, entertaining and engaging format. I find it fascinating that in many ways, my own voice is populated by a series of clips of the voices of my interview subjects.

I have also been contemplating my goals in creating these videos. I want the story I am portraying to encourage people to take up their own conversations on liberal arts and online learning. From this perspective, I wonder how the individuals interviewed view the responses of their colleagues. From the social artist perspective, I wonder how presenting an audience’s words back to them influences levels of interest, involvement and buy-in on a project.

These ponderings are simply questions I have come up with along the process of creating the videos. I hope to share more of my reflections on the creation of the videos and the OLI process in this space. In the meantime, enjoy the show!

reading in a rhizome

Posted in eci831 with tags , , , , on October 25, 2011 by onepercentyellow

When form meets content, the heavenly chorus meets in perfect harmony.

This week has been about making my edumecation work for me.  After posting my shout-out video to University of Mary-Washington and getting amazing response from those fine folks, I decided to tackle the ECI831 googledoc.  Personally, I prefer having the suggested readings available before our guest speakers arrive in class so that I can more actively engage in the presentation, so I decided to take the blank page as an open invitation to share my reading journey.  I decided to start with Dave Cormier’s 2008 post on Rhizomatic Learning.  As I began reading, my ears alerted me to the fact that the autodj was ruling the#ds106radio stream (likely through some kind of punk or a discussion on the ontology of screaming).  I realized that I had not done my duty in killing the autodj and decided to take a page from @DrGarcia‘s study manual and put out a broadcast monologuing the thoughts swirling in my head.

hey there #eci831, I’m going to read @cormier ‘s post on Rhizomatic learning on #ds106radio tune in if you’re game
October 19, 2011
Sure enough, that little signal tweaked another rhizome….
@davecormier really? everyone’s reading about your rhizomes. @onepercentyello publicly reading and reflecting /LIVE on #ds106radio rules!
October 19, 2011
@onepercentyello You were doing some talky talky about my paper today? What it rhizome stuff? is there a recording? I’m working on that now.
October 19, 2011
@davecormier bah!! no recording. thought of it after the fact. read out your paper on #ds106radio and commented when ideas struck me.
October 19, 2011
@onepercentyello I have a weird blog post that i’m turning into a better article (hopefully) how does that look?
October 19, 2011
@giuliaforsythe @onepercentyello it’s the choice of reading material that i find particularly noteworthy
October 19, 2011
@giuliaforsythe no. i meant it proved she was awesome.
October 19, 2011
@davecormier ah. yes. agreed. @onepercentyello is awesome. Have you seen her #eci831 reflection video for this week?
October 19, 2011
@davecormier @giuliaforsythe I think it proves that @courosa is awesome for #eci831, you’re awesome forthe article and #ds106radio justrules
October 19, 2011
psssttt….. #eci831 I’m talking to @davecormier before he comes to class next week #howcoolisthat?
October 19, 2011

(side note!! I just went into the HTML to figure out how to end the table and go back to full left justify! Geekin’ out moment… I’m so easily excited!)

From there, I read Dave’s other post on Community as Curriculum and one on the importance of having a philosophy of education, both at his suggestion, and shared that with the ECI831 googledoc in progress.  I made a bunch of reading notes and took the amazing @giuliaforsythe‘s suggestion of recording my reading/thinking out loud on #ds106radio.  She then pushed me that one step further and asked me to post the recording on my blog with the meta-reflection to go along with it.

This was my first time archiving a #ds106radio cast.  It was super easy (in nicecast it’s just window-archive) and there’s only about 15 minutes of my talking on there (only! jeez! How long will I ramble on!?).  From there I put out a couple songs by independent Alberta artists – Scott Cook, Jesse D and Jacquie B, and Wool on Wolves.

As for the meta-reflection, the process of writing this blog post and creating a storify (thanks to Tannis Emman for boldly going before me) has made me realize that this entire process has happened because of a rhizomatic learning environment.  I need not remind you that in other circumstances, I would have been shut up in my little room with my little books thinking of all this on my own – waiting for my weekly class for the chance to engage fully.  Instead I put out my first reading, get directed by the author to two other salient posts and get pulled along on his journey of rethinking the theory.  Dave even put up his most recent post on our googledoc – giving me yet another opportunity to connect and share in the thinking.  While the comments after mine show that I have missed the context of the “nomad” learner (and given me more to read up on), the process has pushed me to grow just that much more.  Another great link about the possible ways trees communicate, sent by the one and only @jimgroom gave me such a beautiful image to meditate on – those tall trees in the forest are all connected.  When you’re looking up to those who have grown before you, realize that they’ve got the resources, the stuff of life and learning, to share with you.  All you’ve got to do is get back to your roots.

Redefining reality – a journey of trust and sharing

Posted in eci831, travel with tags , , , on October 5, 2011 by onepercentyellow

This post has been very difficult to edit.  There are a couple reasons for this.  My lack of voice has complicated my final editing which would have included a voiceover or some connecting shots to bring out my ideas.  In addition, so many things have happened this week that it’s been nearly impossible to capture it all on film.

Some quick recaps:

  • I had the chance to watch Micheal Apple speak on Critical Pedagogy at the University of Regina.  A renowned scholar dealing with my deep belief in the need for a liberating education, Apple reminded me of my respect for the work of Paulo Freire.  It was also really cool when I realized that I had used Apple’s work in defense of Freire in a course last year!
  • Response to last week’s video made me think that it may be time to be up-front about my own educational philosophy.  (Interesting enough, others felt the need to put that out there!)  In addition to Freire’s work, I have great respect for George Siemens and Stephen Downes’ theory of connectivism.
  • The footage from my cross-country trip lent itself to a bit of digital scrapbooking.  I had a lot of fun on the way!
  • Great conversations with fellow masters and PhD students alongside global response to exploitative systems pushed me to question the ways we are all succeptible to prescribed realities.
  • Constant and consistent questions about my safety and sanity reinforced the entire circle.  To those who asked if I was afraid, I replied: “I tend to believe that the majority of people are good.  Besides, if the bad guys are going to get me, they can get me anywhere!  On the street, in my home, or anywhere else.  If we continue to live in fear, think of all the great things we miss out on!”

Connectivism in Elluminate with George Siemens

Posted in MAIS with tags , , , , on November 19, 2010 by onepercentyellow

I recently had the great fortune of bringing together a community of people I respect.  We came together for a presentation on connectivism and a guest lecture by George Siemens.  First of all, I would like to thank George for coming to my session, and demonstrating what integrity in learning looks like.

While I recognize it is only one aspect of connectivism, the consistency between the words and actions of a teacher is key to establishing trust in a learning connection.  As the tenets of connectivism make no judgment in themselves on any type of hierarchy of connections, we can see any new connection as something worthwhile that has the potential to create new or interesting knowledge.  In agreeing to come to the session, and for staying much longer than originally anticipated, George gave me hope that I had the potential to create valuable knowledge in interaction with his theory.  While I’m not sure I had much interesting to say in the session (I was awfully nervous), I hope that my reflections on the theory from the perspective of some of the people in the room will help me elucidate some of the strong attributes of and questions I have for connectivism.

If we can consider anything consisting of a set of connections to be a learning thing, and if this includes biological systems such as our brain patterns, then could we also consider ecosystems and our planet to be learning things?  We certainly establish the first patterns in our pre-reflective mind by interacting with the forces of nature.  As we get older we begin to take for granted the physical nature of our being and begin to engage in the constructed reality around us, but as environmental educators and stewards remind us, the natural world is an entity with which it is important to connect.  The knowledge we can create with the natural world can be astoundingly beautiful and have dramatic effects on our systems of meaning and our health.

In addition, I see connectivism as a view of learning that could be used in community service-learning (CSL) models.  The image of connection between theories (shifting application of thought) and experience (shifting instance of being), is also at the root of CSL.  The deepening of a student’s relationship with a professor, theory or an organization that becomes possible when the connection between entities is considered an important aspect of knowledge, has the potential to fundamentally affect change in all entities.

Of course, as in all education, I must question where the power lays in this system.  In the online world it seems to hinge on the status as an early adopter, and by the amount that an individual contributes to a community.  In the analogue world, a relationship with a professor would seem to follow the same rules.  With the seemingly a-ethical stance of the theory, I wonder where grounding principals come from.  Connections are where knowledge is created, so any connection has merit.  It is the creation of knowledge that lends merit to the existence of connections.  What is the point of creating knowledge?  Is this a fundamental human need?  Or is the fundamental need to create connections and knowledge comes about as a fine side-effect?  I suppose I wonder what the underlying motivation is within the theory, as I am a bit skeptical of knowledge for knowledge sake.

Finally, the economics of connectivism continue to perplex me.  While there is much sharing and liberation of knowledge happening in the online world, the gift economy must be more sustainable to challenge our present economic model and the economy of privacy complicates our view of what comprises capital.  In the meantime I wonder how George encourages himself to make time to connect personally with small groups of people.  I hope that he enjoyed the session.  I certainly gained a lot in hosting it.

The elluminate recording will be available for about 2 weeks before my temporary account expires.  I hope you have a chance to check it out.  George begins his discussion at about 6 minutes in.

Elluminate Recording




Posted in Online with tags , , , on November 9, 2010 by onepercentyellow

NOTE: George Siemens will be in an elluminate session on Connectivism on Monday, Nov. 15th at 7 pm. Alberta time.  If you’d like to join us for this short session, please follow this link:


This is the basic transcript for my presentation on connectivism for Athabasca’s MDDE611 course.

I followed the pecha kucha format, a style of presentation that attempts to use 20 slides for 20 seconds each.  This is also my first attempt at making a video in imovie.

I hope to follow this presentation with a synchronous session with theory architect, George Siemens, later in the week.


Connections – from the sequence that just made up your last train of thought, to the linked flights that transported you to the other side of the world on your last vacation; from the associate that introduced you to your last job, to the grammar holding together the sentences on your resume, the human experience is built on connections.

In a new learning theory called connectivism, George Siemens and Stephen Downes develop the thesis that knowledge is not something externally constructed  – reality is not something that exists “out there” – nor is it internally constructed – something that I simply build in my own mind – rather, knowledge is what emerges when two learning entities are connected.

Connection, from Latin connectere, ‘con’ meaning ‘together’ and ‘nectere’ meaning ‘bind’, is the basis of this learning theory.  Two learning entities are connected if a signal sent from one entity has the potential to affect the state of the other entity.  Without a connection, learning cannot happen.

The learning entities encompassed by connectivism are diverse, and it is only the presence of connections that determines if something is a learning entity.   Everything from our physical brain to our individual mind, from our socially constructed families, organizations, cultures, and countries, to our technologies and even our planet can be considered a learning thing.

From the instant one neuron connects with another, our learning brain begins to form.  Our existential self connects past, present and future self into a learning individual.  As learning individuals we connect with other individuals to create learning societies.

In our technologically mediated world we must also consider the connections in our digital devices as indicative of their status as learning entities.  While I sleep, my ipod automatically connects with other entities in order to update expired information, the same way I consult individuals for new developments in my learning society.

The explosion of readily-available information has spurred this revolution in educational philosophy.  With so much information available, teaching in Friere’s banking-model is even more problematic.  It becomes the equivalent of encouraging students to fill their head with pennies rather than teaching them how to make a living.

In order to avoid walking around with a brain full of useless change, I cache information in a variety of centers.  My brain develops pathways in particular neurological patterns, I fuse information to particular memories, people, and places for easy retrieval, and I rely on my digital devices to hold a wide variety of information – from complex theories to my daily planner.  In a way all of these things have become a part of my phenomenological mind.

My ability to create, maintain, and traverse the connections between me and my information caches is the most important skill I will develop in my lifetime.  While this skill has always been present – the first human societies were formed around survival connections – this has not always been the focus of our education system.

Knowledge since Guttenberg has been conceptualized as a fairly static entity.  Accessible in a book and acquired bit by bit through intense prolonged study, and since there was little knowledge to be found, within a lifetime it was possible to know most of what was worth knowing.

Presently our information is increasing exponentially, and knowledge seems elusive in a sea of post-modern relativism.  Siemens and Downes posit it is not that knowledge has been submerged under this wash of information, but that we are now able to see the non-propositional nature of knowledge as it really is.

In connectivism, knowledge is emergent from the connections between entities.  It is not a static thing that can be pinned down in words for all time, but contextual, process-driven, and constantly shifting.  This depiction of knowledge as something of an organic entity is reflected in the language of connectivism: connections and networks are grown and nurtured rather than constructed or formed.

With this view of knowledge, the important role of connection becomes clear, and the focus of teaching and learning presents itself.  Siemens and Downes argue that the connections between entities are more important than the information passed between entities.  If the connections are pipes and the information is what is in the pipe then the existence of the pipe itself is more important than its contents.

This aspect of the theory appears a-ethical and certainly conjures images of the most damaging forms of propaganda, but after much deliberation, I must agree.  By placing the emphasis of education on connections, the role of the professor is to model connectivism, demonstrating to students how conclusions are reached in consultation rather than disseminating the conclusions on their own as doctrine.

In teaching students how to grow their own set of connections, professors liberate their students from a by-rote mentality and invite them into the live, messy, and exhilarating process of knowledge experience.  Students become interactive with others, excited to discover the knowledge that can exist in any new connection.

In this dynamic milieu, knowledge ceases being a commodity on offer to those students willing to take on debt-load for access to the piece of paper that grants better jobs.  Knowledge, instead, rightfully takes its place as a process of forming relationships and nurturing the depth and meaning of those relationships through the complexity of trust.

Vetted knowledge, once a collection of words on the printed page, has become a shifting hypothesis representing the interaction of information between, across and through learning entities. And this is much in-line with humanist perspectives on how teaching should be conducted, connectivism implies that the source of information, or the nodes to which one is connected is important.  It is not enough for my professor to simply pour Nietzche down the pipe and into my brain.  My ability to form a connection with my professor determines my ability to accept any information that passes to me from a teacher.

For more information, please watch the following videos:

The connectivism blog outlining its unique ideas:

A chart outlining major learning theories in comparison to connectivism:

And a discussion around the differences between connectivism and constructivism:

If anyone could identify the song in the youtube video, it would be appreciated.🙂


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