Notes on Course Design 2011

After participating in two MOOCs, I revamped Weblogs and Wikis significantly with principles of PLEs and MOOCs firmly in mind - if not firmly in hand.

I'm basing the design of this course on current work going on in online pedagogy and computer-audgmented learning.

Much of what we're doing in this course is being developed by George Seimens, Stephen Downes, and other teachers, mainly in Canada and Europe. I like how Downes works and writes, so I'll quote him here:
Your job isn’t to memorize a whole bunch of stuff about [what we look at]. Rather, your job is to USE THE TOOLS [to work on and with the stuff]. We will show you the tool, give examples, use the tools ourselves, and talk about them.... You watch what we do, then practice using them yourself.

More by Downes: Two Slideshare presentations

Pedagogical Foundations for Personal Learning

Connectivism in Practice


If there is a thesis for this course - a thread that holds everything together, an argument behind it - it's this:

Social media challenges - if not undercuts - our understanding of how information, power, and writing play out. Social media have created alternative grounding and theory of communication, one based on produsage [citation needed] rather than production and consumption. New practices of creation and invention, new means of production, and new channels of distribution all feed back to influence what gets written and how and when, what we value, and how we value it. This means that engaging in social media means learning the subtleties not of a new genre or form or kind of writing but the ways and means of a new system - from invention to production to distribution - and a new way of valuing production and content. Sharing rather than monetizing, in short.

One of the interesting effects of structuring a class this way - as a MOOCs/PLE - is a change in how materials must be read and worked with. In the syllabus, it appears here:
By the same token, you'll be expected to find out about those things you're unfamiliar with - terms, concepts, sites, histories - on your own. Rather than explain what hash tags are, I would expect you to find out on your own and post links and and annotations to what you find to your blog or your social bookmarking site. Rather than walking you through how to use markdown to edit wiki pages, I'll point you to the GettingStarted pages and a book chapter. You can set up your page on your own. Again, we'll spend the first few weeks of meeting in class to get used to doing these sorts of things together.

This means students have to use the readings and other materials to learn how to do things - not just read and respond, but read and work with. The readings become instructional, even when they deal with theory. The trick there is to make the leap from theory to practice. Rarely easy. Usually rewarding. Leads to understanding.

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