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Dadamacadamy learner's diary–Pamela: May 2011

if you've read earlier episodes of the Dadamacadamy story then you'll know that I'm a Dadamac learner at the Dadamacadamy. There is no accreditation for Dadamac learners. Instead of accreditation there is the opportunity to develop a digital footprint that serves as evidence of learning - a kind of learning profile.

Earlier episodes

Starting my learner's diary

This blog is my first entry to my learner's diary, which contributes to my learning profile. My main area of study is “educational systems in the post-web world” (of course the precise title may vary over time). The easiest way to learn about my topic is to do my own studies in a “post-Web way”–i.e. on the Internet and outside of any educational institution that was established “pre-web”.

Walking the talk

For my studies to be true “post-web” I believe they should also explore and demonstrate other aspects of “post-web culture”. What these aspects are becomes clearer the longer I study. For example “post-web" it is easy for us to share information, and therefore easy for us to apply new information to our own situations and thus become more knowledgeable. The digital age is an age of knowledge plenty, not knowledge scarcity. As a general rule the knowledge I'm gaining through my studies has been available to me at no financial cost (except for my standard charges to access the Internet). Much of the information has been tailored to my own needs, everything has related to a combination of practical work and theory, and many wise and knowledgeable people have acted freely as my mentors and teachers.

Face to face events

Sometimes I have paid money to attend face-to-face events, but most of the face-to-face events I attend are no-cost or low-cost. These events can be seen as extra-curricular activities  rather than core studies. As a Londoner, I would be crazy if I never took advantage of local events which add variety to my studies, but they are not essential. Others could learn what I'm learning without attending live events.

Events from my calendar

As I get in the habit of writing a diary I'll include events from my calendar. Until now such events have been included in my posts to Dadamac's Posterous.

CDI and learning profiles

A face to face event very relevant to my studies is in my dairy for next week. it is "Where next with e-learning? A seminar on Personalisation. This seminar, conducted by James Ballard (Learning Technologist, ULCC) and Philip Butler (Senior eLearning Advisor, ULCC), will look at the results of their work which has culminated in their innovative ‘Personalisation of Learning’ framework now widely used across the education sectors.

If I wasn't going in person I would be able to watch and listen online instead. My approach to learning profiles may be dramatidaly different after attending their session.

Online activities and groups

Most of what I learn comes from online activities and groups. Currently I'm engaging actively with Coalition of the Willing (COTW). Other online groups central to my interests and studies are the Dadamac UK–Nigeria group, and Collaborators Connect.

Coalition of the Willing (COTW)

I'm not learning anything about climate change with COTW yet, although that is the focus of the group. The people I connect with in COTW are more concerned with:

  • software use and development
  • the theory and practice of becoming an online community
  • open stewardship and pattern language

The dominant culture in the part of COTW that I'm getting to know is North American, very technically competent, and exceedingly well read. There are people from other locations too, but all culturally similar. As someone who likes her technology to be a simple to use as a fridge I am often somewhat out of my depth, but we do have overlapping interests so I dip in and out in case the shared interests are bobbing around.

Observations from working with COTW

COTW is an interesting community to observe. Its technical competence means that it is comfortable in more online spaces than I can mention here. I'm learning a lot just by hearing the techies discuss these different spaces, and from seeing how they use them. Much of what I observe is only appropriate for bandwidth-rich, technologically confident, communities, but some of what I observe is more widely relevant. The “what, where and how” of this relevance will probably feature  in future learning diaries. The flows of information in COTW go through e-mail lists, Skype threads, Skype voice and video chats, Skype group chats around etherpads, wiki pages, and more. I am learning a lot through COTW, and any researcher looking at how online communities form, and the use of online tools by such communites.would find rich pickings here.

Applying what has been learned in another context

Recently I have had the privilege of working with Ken Owino on the preparations and planning for a linkup between teachers in Denmark and teachers in Kenya. (Ken is a fellow Dadamac learner and member of Collaborators Connect).

This is a rich learning experience for us both, and an example of long-term collaborative post-web learning. Ken and I have been in contact  for some time (five years or so) in various online spaces, including my LearningFromEachOther group. We benefit from a valuable combination of: overlapping interests, high-trust, and dramatically different perspectives and areas of expertise.  In planning the Kenya–Denmark teachers' linkup we are applying lessons learned from the Teachers Talking program,  and from various online groups. This includes lessons from COTW, and its use of etherpads.

New lessons in this new context

The big difference i am observing this time is that Ken is working on the high-bandwidth side of the divide. He will be with the people in Denmark who may find it hard to imagine the technical realities and challenges being faced by the Kenyan group. Ken's friends are working with the teachers on the Kenyan side. I am realsing the implications of this now. (We did a preparatory link-up between the organisers recently.) I recognise now that it was always easier for me regarding the expectations of teachers participating. 

Benefits of being on the low-bandwidth side

In my Teachers Talking work, when I arranged a link up from one continent to another, I was always on the low bandwidth side, and my friends are waiting with patience and understanding on the high bandwidth side. As I was always working with people who had no previous experience of connecting with people in other places via the Internet, the fact that we managed to connect at all in real time was a lesson in itself. There was no great pressure on us to do much more than make the connection and exchange a few introductions and greetings. As we got into the preparations for the linkup with the Danish teachers, who of course live in a world where the Internet is common-place,  I began to learn that Ken has very different challenges to face.

First and future learning diaries

This was the first entry in my learning diary (and I have been studying for a long time) so it has been a long entry:.a mixture of current observations and putting things in context.  I imagine tha future diary entries will be much shorter. It is even possible that this may be the one and only diary entry. I may alter the whole approach after the learning profile siminar - it all depends on what i learn there.