Friday, September 24, 2010

The LMS is like Temple Grandin's Machine #PLENK2010

Just watched Temple Grandin the fantastically inspirational story of a woman with autism who used her special sensitivities to promote humane treatment of cattle in abattoirs and stockyards.
She couldn't stand to be held or touched by humans. She said "New things scared me". She was really impressed when she first saw a cattle squeeze, a device with a head gate and a lever operated device that immobilizes cattle so you can treat them or work with them with out risk to cowpersons or cattle. When she asked what the gate did for the cattle she was told that it "gentles them". She was so impressed that she built her own squeeze that she could get into and squeeze herself to get gentle. She went on to have a great career and still teaches apparently at a University in Colorado.

Grandin, Temple. (1992) Calming Effects of Deep Touch Pressure in Patients with Autistic Disorder, College Students, and Animals JOURNAL OF CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY
Volume 2, Number 1, 1992 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers

When we were talking about LMS in the #PLENK session in SL after the Elliminate session today, it struck me that many people like the comforting self-imposed squeeze of the LMS. Maybe they feel it gentles them. No LMS for me, I much prefer the wild wooly west of the open range.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reference Management Systems #PLENK2010 My fav, Zotero!!

Zotero is my all time favorite and it is the one reason I continue to use the Firefox browser, otherwise I now use Chrome for everything else.

Years ago, doing my MA, I used EndNote and got completely fed up with constant and expensive updates and a crappy user experience. I used Zotero exclusively for my doctoral program and subsequent writing.
I also now use the Zotero on line groups functions to coordinate resources for various classes that I teach. Each participant can add resources to a shared collection of references and synchronize the group resources in their own Zotero account. I use it for the MEd ICT classes I teach and for the various Grounded Theory Method study groups in which I participate. Check out and join this one if you like. Critical Pedagogy in a Digital World.

Academic social networking and sharing. I use to use Delicious for this but now I mostly use Zotero, I can add tags in Zotero but I can also use the 2 click function to create a citation in perfect APA format or many others. I can even use customized formats required by specific journals or publications.

I've explored Mendeley as well, mostly because I wanted something that wasn't browser specific. I am a little more nervous about the proprietariness of it. I get the feeling that someday there will be a large fee and that they will hold my data hostage.

So I received the news with great joy when Zotero announced yesterday that the extension of an Andrew W. Mellon grant had made possible the development of Zotero Everywhere, which means it is no longer exclusively a Firefox add on. It will have a standalone desktop version and a web version with an enhanced social networking function.

Dan Cohen is one of the principal developers of Zotero and blogs at Digital Humanities.
Great blog and the development of Zotero is a great story of the success of an socially responsible application that supports digital humans! My buddy and partner on a few projects, Susan Stillman, is also a big Zotero enthusiast for a couple of reasons. Her son Dan Stillman works on the Zotero project and we sometimes get the inside scoop on things and we have a go-to guy for any questions or concerns.

The Zotero story is inspirational. When Dan announced the new Zotero on Ustream yesterday and I watched it on the wall in Second Life. I think I noticed a little tear of joy in Telmea Story's eye.

My ICT Mindmeister for #PLENK2010

I like mindmaps, I make a new one for each class I teach or for an article or book that I want to analyze. I used CMAPTools for a while but now I like MindMeister.

Invited guests can collaboratively edit the map in real time. I often do so in conjunction with a Skype conference conversation.

Click and drag the map around, click the + signs to open the nodes. Click the arrow icons on the nodes to go to a web page. Click on the full screen button to get the full effect. Just get in there and click!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Chance Favors the Connected Mind" #PLENK2010 in Sl Week Two

Check out this TED talk from Steven Johnson author of one of my favorite books, Everything Bad is Good for You. The talk is called Where Do Good Ideas Come FromHe starts of with a picture of a 19th Century Coffeehouse where he said that many ideas fundamental to our intellectual history arose. He says that a coffee house is where "ideas go to have sex." He says we should connect ideas rather than protect them. Under the right circumstances two people with half an idea each, get together and the whole is greater than the sum. "Chance favors the connected mind"

We connected again today for PLENK2010. 

So broadcasting Elluminate with Ustream didn't work out so well for the session. Multiple issues were apparent and I obviously need much more practice with the Ustream application.

So here is what I was trying. I was broadcasting my desktop on my Ustream channel. I had the #PLENK2010 Elluminate session open on my desktop. I had the url for my Ustream broadcast loaded as a texture on the media board in SL. I wasn't able to figure out how to display the UStream as a full screen so everyone in SL saw the whole web page, chrome, ads and all. Tonito consulted with someone who suggested that we alter the repeats per face menu in the texture tab for the display board prim. It worked to change the size of the display but didn't help to make the Ustream text chat any clearer. Plus no Elluminate audio was available. So pretty much a wash. Plus after a while the lag seemed to build up tremendously. Learning, learning, learning....

Looking for a new plan for displaying the Elluminate. Or looking for other ideas, generally. One suggestion was to invite one or more of the moderators to present in SL and invite others to attend. I thought it was a good idea and it might work at some point. Stephen, George, are you up for a visit to SL?

After the PLENK session proper we had a great discussion in SL of some of the days topics from Martin Weller's Elluminate presentation and the ensuing discussion. ( Although I was so busy piddling around with the tech I didn't focus on Martin much. I went back through the recording) We made a few more plans for PLENK2010 in SL. In the picture you see Tonito, 2B Writer, Sean, Sutah, and Telmea. I'd forgotten I had this Mystitools, DynaTable and chairs in my inventory. As each avatar sits, a new chair is created for the next avatar. According to the specs you can add 250 Avatars!!

Topics that we reviewed included the notion that George Siemen' mention, ie) Public intellectuals and the responsibility of publicly educated people to make their views known and to model critical public discourse. Blogging is the new salon where people meet to discuss and debate important intellectual issues. That is a bit of a problem when people rely on the forums in the Moodle. No matter how accessible the Moodle is, eventually it belongs to someone else and your ideas are going to get locked away. If you post in a Moodle forum you should also provide a link to your own blog, wiki or podcast where you can develop your ideas more firmly and have them available for posterity or at least for future learning experiences.

The other idea we discussed was a thread from the Elluminate chat. Some one said that nobody wants a 1/4 hp electric drill with a 3/8 keyless chuck. They want a hole. The professors at the University of Drills are the only ones who are interested in the History of Drills or the Critical Theory of Orifices. An argument for learning and education to be anchored firmly in authentic experience.

I talked to Fleep Tuque of Chilbo where the PLENK2010 in SL group is meeting. Fleep as usual is so supportive and thinks it is a good idea to add materials from PLENK to the Connectivism Reading Room. I'll see if I can figure what is required.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

#PLENK2010 in SL and UStream

More complicated fun!
Things are coming together for the cohort of people who use Second Life as an important part of their personal learning environments.
Sean Fitzgerald has started a new wiki to coordinate things a bit.

We met for a while tonight in Conviviality Corners and tried imagining a few things. One proposal was to incorporate a in-world RSS feed aggregator for the feeds of the PLENK SL cohort or anyone blogging about virtual environments in a PLE ( as a PLE). We could post Stephen's master list of feeds if he is okay with that and if we can find the proper code.

I was playing around with an idea that avatars could gather to participate in the PLENK Elluminate sessions. Kind of like getting together in the bar to watch a football game.

I'm pretty sure it can be done with UStream and the in-world shared media. I tried it out tonight. After downloading the Desktop Producer version of UStream I started a UStream broadcast. I think grabbed the url for the UStream feed and put it on a shared media panel in Second Life. I then opened an Elluminate demo session on my desktop and switched UStream to screen capture mode. I was able to view the Elluminate session on the wall in Conviviality Corners. I will have to play around a little more to see if people can participate in the Elluminate chat from within SL and whether the audio will work properly but it looks promising.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

#PLENK2010 in SL

Just getting set up to participate in this MOOC (Massively Orasimatastical Online Course) with 800+ other folks from around the world. The course is about personal learning environments and networks and knowledge.
An increasingly important part of my ple is the virtual world of Second Life. I have offered to help organize a cohort of people who want to use SL in various ways to participate in this course.

I have already had a few meetings with other PLENK attendees in SL and we have established an SL group to support the inworld cohort. Search for it by name PLENK2010 in SL

A similar course to this CCK 08 also used SL and a wonderful Connectivism Reading room remains in world with an archive of documents, podcasts and Elluminate recordings.

I hope we will be able to do the same for this course. Things have also changed in SL since 2008, media sharing is available and the VOIP system works very well so it will be interesting to compare and contrast the experience this time with 08.

I intend to use this blog as a main organization point for my PLENK activities. It is one that I have used for many other courses, seminars etc and as a general reflection and thinking out loud spot. Love to respond to comments.