An artifact perspective

Randy at open artifact posts an interesting perspective on the ‘pro’ article I mentioned yesterday. He sympathises especially with the statement:

“‚Ķstudents who are not actively participating in the learning community are not assisting other students.”

And reflects on his own efforts to facilitate participation, especially in relation to the structure of his courses, the use of rubrics and mandating (or not) participation.

I’d agree wholeheartedly that ‘flexibility’ in its purest form (and often, unfortunately, as is advocated by many e-learning sorts) is not really a good idea. People need structure, need to be held and guided, and that is the facilitators role.

As for mandating participation though, am not too sure… I and others have been toying with the kind of assessment criteria that might work with online communication (e.g. Engages with other learners ideas / offers constructive and critical comment) but each time I approach it I instinctually feel like there’s something not quite right with that approach.

Either way though, reading other peoples experiences of working with these challenges is a stimulating and valuable process!

Teaching online – two very different ways of looking at it

Feel compelled today to share a couple of articles around, both of which have been doing the rounds but which I think offer an interesting perspective on online teaching when viewed side by side.

The first is Kaye Shelton & George Saltsman’s “Tips and Tricks for Teaching Online: How to Teach Like a Pro!” and the second, Brent Muirhead’s “Contemporary Online Education Challenges“, both from the latest edition of the International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning.

What I get from these is really a pattern that seems to be apparent throughout on-the-ground online teaching and learning and also in a fair bit of the published literature, a kind of ‘practical’ vs. ‘pedagogy’, ‘tips’ vs. ‘theory’.

The first article is actually, despite the title, pretty well referenced and gives a good link into a lot of the literature. However, it comes from a, quite understandable, perspective where virtually (and literally in Australia) everyone (via Ray) is hooked into big ‘Learning’ Management Systems. Within these systems there are few other options than to strictly require attendance, sort out your welcome announcement, work the discussion boards in a reasonable manner (although I’m not sure of the advice that “an instructor should randomly and selectively reply to students”) , manage your virtual space and stick by these rules because anything else will result in failure.

(although I do note that email is also being used here… wait for that to disappear in your latest version though guys!)

In contrast the second by the ridiculously well qualified Brent Muirhead (I mean, how many people have a degree, 4 Masters & 2 PhDs… disorders anyone? ;o) works much more with the importance of context sensitive learning environments and an educational model “that provides adequate flexibility for instructors and students to freely interact.” Now, granted I also believe strongly in this but I think the way Muirhead distinguishes himself in dealing with this topic is by incorporating the regular ‘tips and tricks’ from an open and reasoned perspective which suggests, rather than proposing, that in our teaching online we need to be more considered and theoretically engaged with what it is we believe and where it is we want to go, without the hard and fasts that the prevelance of the WebCTs & BlackBoards of the world force us into.

Creative commons license for incsub users?

Matt Barton at Kairos suggested that I put in the terms and conditions for incsub that people must have a Creative Commons license.

I thought about this when I was setting it up and even included it in the first draft, but, thinking about it, it seemed a bit full on. Obviously the software will be GNU or CC or whatever but as for individual teachers, learners, educators etc. it seems a bit rich to insist they CC their work as a term of use.

Any thoughts on this?

e-Literate new design

e-Literate has had a lurvely makeover (especially in the dates), ‘owever the reason I write this here is that the comments are too fort knoxy for words… I can’t figure out how to register in order to comment that you shouldn’t have to register to make comments… especially when there’s word recognition in the way already.

So hopefully trackback should work on this….

p.s. am I being unreasonable when I say it’s an enormous pain to have to register to post a comment and that there are plenty of other decent spam protection methods which don’t require that?


Thought I’d go into the whole incsub project in a bit more detail as the revised version of the site is now up.

Please have a look around, it’s my, um, third ever effort at putting up a website so feedback would be VERY much appreciated :o)

Basically this has come into being from a frustration with not being able to experiment with or use some of the technologies and approaches that I think can revolutionise online learning… and the experiences I have everyday of talking to teachers who feel the same way.

So, by providing free-for-teachers hosting, installation, support and consultation for weblogs, wikis, CMSs and more, I figure I get to learn an enormous amount (which will certainly help me in my career), help some frustrated teachers out and show the light to others who would have a lot of trouble technically getting there. Well worth a few bucks a month I think.

If you would like to help start this thing off then the best thing you could do would be to suggest incsub to your colleagues or write about it on your blogs. Thanks for your time, here ends this public broadcast :D


Stumbled across this browsing for quotes about wikis:

Wikiquote, a free online compendium of quotations in every language, including sources (where known), translations of non-English quotes, and links to Wikipedia ( for further information.”

Here’s some Wilde for ya.

Six criteria of an educational simulation

Via Jane Knight, Clark Aldrich (must be a day for people whose surnames begin with ‘Al’) has written a paper entitled Six criteria of an educational simulation (.pdf).

It’s an interesting read actually and reminds me of one colleague in particular who is very fond of (and good at!) illustrating concepts with visual metaphor. Again though, simulations for me fall into that confusing category of ‘not sure’. I know this is simplistic (it’s about the best I can do this morning) but if it isn’t real and purposeful… if it doesn’t motivate through actual (as opposed to simulated outcomes)… then I don’t know if it’s really going to be any help.

But that could be just me as a learner, I certainly need to do more reading in this area so this is a good start for that!