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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reflecting on Stephen Downe's presentation

#cmc11 I'm still thinking about Stephen Downe's discussion about connectivism. He certainly uses terminology differently than I've sued it previously.  But, what he says makes lots of sense. Think of learning a language- one can memorize words, but, unless someone has made the connections through immersion, one can understand very little from a real conversation.

I mentioned my improving at Scrabble from practicing on my ipad app. I could spend days studying new words with little effect on my score.  That's because studying a dictionary does not provide learning in s connectivist way. 

I do think there are connections bewteen connectivist learning and deep learning.

Here's another example- one of my first jobs was working with hearing impaired students at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Is sign language a visualization of connectivism? In a research project I did, we interviewed some students using ASL, not signed English. I was fascinated by how ASL uses space to connect ideas and things in physical space. If I relaxed and immersed myself in their language, I understood!

As I said in the chat box during the session, connectivism has lots of implications for assessment.  I definitely need to reflect more on this aspect of the theory.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

MOOCs for networked learning

#cmc 11 Although I've registered for other MOOCs (PLENK, MobiMOOC, EduMOOC), this is my first time in many ways. I've been reading the DailyPosts and checking out other blogs.  And, I'm participating in the Google group.  I've already found someone interested in using play for learning and have reached out to him.  And, I'm excited to see some participants excited about this model.

I'm listening now to the press release on the Digital Media and Learning  competition on badges. Should we consider badges for participating in a MOOC?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Orientation Session Completed!

Our orientation session is completed.  It went well- Glen had some problems uploading his mindmap- hopefully his access will get straightened out for his presentation.  Maybe we should use something else that week?

I found the chat fascinating and also enjoyed today using NewPosts to check on the blog enties.  It's the first time an RSS feeded has made sense!  Thanks, Stephen Downes.

One of the discussions was about how to measure success in a MOOC. Since every person's path is unique, this is a challenge!  We definitely need to do some qualitative research here.  NewPosts provides the data. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Multicultural vs Intercultural

Carol and I used Multicultural in our MOOC title. As I read further to get a better sense of this word, I was amazed and impressed by the different ways these words are used.  Many use them interchangeably.  However, others insist that there are differences, but I’ve not found much consistency in the differences.  Kymlica speaks of multicultural states vs inteculltural citizens. My husband, Gautam, who wrote an article on Interculturalism (see link in MOOC) that interculturalism is more dynamic, while multiculturalism is more static. 

My interpretation of the word comes from my mathematical viewpoint, with “multi” meaning “many.” Among the participants of this MOOC, we represent many cultures. In this MOOC, we have an opportunity to interact on the topic of creativity. We can learn from each other, but we certainly need to be sensitive to the fact that we listen with different perspectives. As the article in our MOOC readings suggests, communicating in a multicultural environment enhances our creativity. I have certainly found this to be true through my work with international students.  But, lack of sensitivity can also lead to unfortunate misunderstandings.

I offer the definition of culture from Milton Bennett in the slide for today as a theme for our time together over these next 13 weeks: “the learned and shared values, beliefs and behaviors of a group of interacting people.” May we share with each other and learn from each other through our interactions over these weeks.  It will enrich all of us.

Some Background

Today is our orientation presentation for our MOOC, Creativity and Multicultural Communication. Today is therefore an opportunity for me and Carol to discuss our theme.  So, let me begin my contribution in this blog.

I knew my area of interest was education from an early age.  I was a member of “Future Teachers of America” in high school (Sacred Heart Academy, Hempstead, NY) and loved to help others to their “ah-ha” moments. I learned by thinking about how I would explain the concept to someone else.  My interest in mathematics came quite naturally, since my father was a high school math teacher.  He made math fun by having us (me and my sister, Diane) crack codes to get presents and compete with flash cards.  As a student, I had a full range of teachers and learned  techniques that worked and strategies to avoid.

At Wells College, my focus was on mathematics and mathematics-physics. I loved seeing how mathematics made physics work and the applications in physics deepened my understanding of math. I also loved the theory behind mathematics, since it deepened my foundational understanding of this area, making me a better facilitator of others’ learning.

As I neared completion of the Bachelor degree, I knew I wanted to continue my education, since teaching doors would not open without an advanced degree.  I applied to both mathematics and mathematics education degrees and got accepted to both. A chair of a mathematics department in New York tried to convince me that teaching was inferior to research. I fortunately declined to accept this view and proceeded to the University of Rochester.

While completing my degree there, I was asked to serve as a sabbatical replacement at Wells College.  There, I had an opportunity to teach calculus as well as advanced level subjects.  For my dissertation, I developed a peer teaching model for my calculus students. My firm belief that mathematics is accessible to all was reinforced in these early years.

In 1982, I came to Empire State College. Mentoring came very naturally to me.  I am a firm believer in constructivist theory and my role as a facilitator of constructivist learning.  Not many years later, I met Dan Apple and, a few years later, we presented a paper on Process Education.  Process Education is based on constructivist theory. The underlying premise is the potential for every learner to improve and that one can learn to be a better learner. There are many parallels between Process Education and Creative problem Solving, the subject of many of our upcoming presentations in this MOOC.

In 1998, I had the opportunity to join and later lead the Empire State College team for our program with Lebanese students.  Before my involvement with international programs, I had limited opportunity to travel outside the US. This program offered me the opportunity to learn about multicultural communication firsthand. The experience changed me. As one of the articles in our reading list indicates, the experience also made me more creative.

In 2006, I met Gautam Dasgupta and we were married this summer.  Through Gautam and his world of friends, I have gained a deeper understanding of what he calls interculturalism.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First day of MOOC!


Exciting day! We now have over 250 registered.  I am preparing some thoughts on multiculturalism vs interculturalism.  Please provide your comments ahead, wither here or in twitter, using the #CMC11 tag.

More tonight...