Friday, July 31, 2009

New Media Challenges and changes in learning

As I have learned more about open education and open learning I have asked myself.."What does this mean? How does this change learning? What are the challenges?" With that thought in mind I put pen to paper and started to jot down a few things. Learners will have plenty of information via the internet and other means but more this information will be also not be categorized. Further challenges will require that the learner has the skills to determine the validity of the information, but chances are he/she will at times suffer from "information overload, and will be challenged by determining the credibility of the learning resources.

The learner will have unprecedented opportunities for interaction with others; for learning and socializing but he/she will have to determine the legitimacy of this interaction for learning. These interactions go beyond the individual one to one interactions to the basic team interaction to social learning. In order to do this the learner will need to have the skills to evaluate the arguments and be able to objectively develop his/her own arguments. The learner will have to develop critical thinking skills to understand the diverse points of view and understand all sides of an argument to craft his/her own.

The advent of social networking may also be driven by the economy, not only will universities and colleges be looking at cost effective ways to communicate with learners the learners will also be make the same decisions. Social networking tools, most of which are free or basically free, are demonstrating a positive return on investment as more and more learners, faculty, and institutions turn to them in this economic downturn, to underpin communication in online classes and facilitate communication for classes. Not only are these tools free they are easy to access and use.

The formalization and acknowledgment that games are tools for learning. Learners will move away from the notion that using virtual worlds for learning, 3d environments, and immersive environments offer more to their learning experience than just "video games." These environments can be highly structured to meet the outcomes of the course or curriculum and provide the potential to engage a student in his/her learning experience. The learners will need to have the ability to evaluate what he or she is learning and how that applies to the course.

Learners will need to be able to critically self-evaluate in order to understand whether or not the learning experience was meaningful and applied to what they needed to learn. The informal learner will especially need to have this skill as he/she reviews the offerings of open course ware, for example in order to ensure that the course materials he/she is accessing are those that will lead him/her to the intended educational goal.

Finally the learner will have to have the skills to present the informal learning in such a way as to get credit or recognition for it, this could be through portfolios or other presentations. This is a critical skill, a review of univerisity or college course catalogs may indicated whether or not that institutions give credit for prior learning, challenge exams, or CLEP tests.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

How Open Education may change how learners learn

Has the open education or open courseware movement changed how people learn? Without a doubt it already has...and will continue to do so.

What is open education or open courseware and why is this important to education today? According to Wikipedia entry the definition is as follows:

Open education is a collective term that refers to forms of education in which knowledge, ideas or important aspects of teaching methodology or infrastructure are shared freely over the internet.

It was inspired by related concepts like Creative Commons, Open source, Open data and Open Access, and expands them to include lectures and other courseware.

(retrieved from, 7/28/09)

Open education resources provide for more avenues for a learned to learn informally, hwat is lacking a mean to measure this learning, to determine if it meets academic standards. Will there be a recognized method of evaluating learning in the future that gives a student credit for his/her informal learning? Perhaps.

Will movements such as open courseware and open education lead to changes in how people interact as they learn and interact with and access information. People are hungry to learn, this is evident by my interaction with others in Second Life. I have noted changes in how I access information, web searches are the rule of the day, however since 1995 when I first got on the internet those searches have changed dramatically, resources are more openly available on the web.

Initially you had to pay for access, have a library card or pin number, but now resources such as MIT's open scholarly journals, Google, etc., have all made that information freely available.

I, like many I know, stay current on new events, moment by moment accessing Google News, which I did during the financial meltdown on an almost hour by hour basis, watching trends. I now keep track of news trends and information through Twitter.

Hoe people interact with information, as it exists and as news breaks, and then use that information to create new knowledge is the most exciting and perhaps scariest trend that exists today. But most exciting is how we use the information to learn.

In Second Life I meet new people almost everyday, and many of those I meet, from other countries and the United States are there to learn, specifically to learn from others everything from history, to the English language, to science. Those I meet, who are there to learn are looking for universities, language labs and to visit different sites they have heard about. The potential of virtual worlds as a place to access inforamtion and to learn is only beginning to be realized.

Furthermore the potential of the open education movement is only beginning to be realized as a means to improve our world, give us a common ground and bring high quality education resources to everyone. The future is bright as this unfolds! I can't wait.

Monday, July 27, 2009

why I am passionate about distance education

Distance education,through a variety of modalities, has played a role in my life from high school to today. When I was in high school I lived in rural area that required that I travel 45 miles one way to high school or live in town. My parents and I opted that I live in town, making the trip on occasion. I soon tired of living in town with relatives, high school, and I was the normal impatient teenage anxious to get on with being an adult. I am not sure how I figured it out but I found out about correspondence courses and that the University of South Dakota offered correspondence courses at the high school level. So I urged my parents and the high school that I attended to accept two correspondence courses so that I could graduate from high school a year early. It is apparent, that even at this age I was not engaged in the social scene of high school at all! Well I was and I had some good friends that I am still friends with today but I was eager to get to college and get on with that next phase of adult life.

I went on to college and while there I met my husband and soon afterward got married, this also meant a halt to my college education. I finished out at technical school and we moved to Wyoming. Wyoming is a rural state with one university and seven community colleges. The University of Wyoming is located in one corner of the state and the community colleges are located throughout out the state. After having two kids I enrolled in community college to complete my associates degree. At that point it was fully my intention to complete my associates degree and get a job. Close to completion of my associates degree I learned that I could get a bachelor's degree from the University of Wyoming via a distance. The modalities used at point were face to face with instructors located at the outreach sites, video conferencing and teleconferencing. In addition to this I enrolled in correspondence courses from other universities.

I was able to complete my bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of WY via a distance using these modalities. It wasn't until the late 90's early 2000's that online learning was applied at UWY. Even though I had completed my master's in public administration I decided to take some online business courses from UWY. This was fortuitous it was after this time that I got a job at the local community college and decided to get a Ph. D. I found an online university, Touro College International, which offered an online Ph. D. in Business. I contacted them, worked out the details and started my Ph. D. Touro College International, (TUI now) was a perfect solution to a working parent like me. Accredited, fully online, and an easy to use course management system I quickly found success with this university. Not only that I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to teach online, as a graduate assistant with them. This truly made the experience a rewarding one as I interacted with students and I was able to reduce the costs of my tuition.

This is why I am passionate about online education, the opportunities that it provides to working adults and adults with children who may not otherwise be able to go to college. My experience as student, instructor and administrator in the online education/distance education realm has been a rewarding one. There is room for both avenues of getting an education, face to face or online..and there are students who need to have access to both or one or the other for various reasons. Franky my interactions in an online classroom have been richer in many ways than face to face...much of that depended upon the course design. For students who are pursuing online/distance education today, it should be more than a matter of convenience, it should be a matter of accessing a quality education.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cathy Anderson
Report on World of Warcraft, Eve, Evony and Second Life

I have looked at three different games in the last couple of months. One was World of Warcraft, Eveonline, and Evony.

I will start with Evony. There is little or no application of this game for learning. It even bills itself as a game that you can play without being discovered at work. I didn't spend much time here, but the screen shots are below.

You can buy games tokens, etc., in order to gain status in this game. I am not sure there is much incentive to do that. There are some nice features to this game, you can build you own town, there is a nice email feature that I wish Second Life had, and a very active chat feature. In order to really get into this game I think one would have to spend some there and reviewing the forum that is related to the game.

I tried to ask questions regarding the game in the chat but that seemed to be more for people just “goofing off” saying they were “bored,” and that they were new in the game. The forums for the game is here The forum actually seems very informative. I spent some time here looking for information on how to play the game and found some idea here.
This is not a game that I would recommend for the classroom, given the tone of the chat that sometimes gets a little “risque.” I also would not recommend it given the fact that it encourages player to play at work and even a means to hide the browser address. I do think that given some time if one got into it it may have some fun aspects.

Eve is a very sophisticated game, it had a 10 day trial so I decided to take advantage of this to see what this game is all about. In this game I learned that one should read up on a game as much as possible in order to learn about the game before taking advantage of the free trial. It would have been nice to know more about the game before actually starting the game.

For Eve I actually think that going here to the WikiPedia entry on the game is a good way to start. I went through the tutorial in order to get comfortable with the game. This game, without a doubt has a steep learning curve. There are many menus, huds, etc., on the screen.

While I didn't get too deep into the game what could make this game a game for learning is the ability to develop critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and learn about how economies are developed. There are several elements of this game from which a player could learn something such as crime, communication skills in a game environment, governance, and team building. I am not entirely sure that this game would lend much towards learning in a particular course due to the fact that those unfamiliar with gaming or this specific game may have a very steep learning curve.

This game also features a fairly sophisticated chat element. Unlike Second Life where you can only chat within your groups or contacts this provides an ability to chat with anyone who is online and in the game.

The final game I will address is World of Warcraft. I went into World of Warcraft prior to enrolling in this course, but decided to include it here because I actually think that this is a game I would enjoy, however this is not a game for learning either. In fact I do think that using these games for learning would be a stretch. There is an ease to this game and an outcome that seems to make sense. Again the application of this game is the networking with others. I think a student could gain critical thinking skills that could be applied to life from participating in this game. Do I think that this game “brings out” violent tendencies in I don't.

When it comes to gaming I agree with my teacher from a class I am taking in Second Life, he is John Jamison, he presents that it is the state of “flow” that we want stud nets to gain from a learning experience similar to what they achieve when engaged in and playing a game. Can we create games that are geared to a specific subject or learning opportunity that allows the learner to achieve a similar state....I would like to think so .

Finally I would like to talk about the use of Second Life for learning. I have been exploring Caledon a bit for fun and find it a fascinating place in which to learn about life in Victorian times. Caledon is described as “The Independent State of Caledon is the name of a rapidly growing group of Victorian-themed Estate Sims owned by Desmond Shang. Caledon can be considered an example of a developing micronation.”

This is a role play sim, in part. Part based in history and part in fantasy. There is much to be learned here in Caledon. I explore a little when I get a chance. There are several role play sims in Second Life from Western, to Science Fiction, to those based on fictional books like the Harry Potter books and more. This environment can be immersive and engaging, however Second Life like any online virtual world has a learning curve that can be a barrier to learning and access to the content. I have included some screen shots:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Overview of the Edgeless University

earner centered/ The Edgeless University “perfect storm”

The authors of The Edgeless University assert that universities are facing times like no other, the define this as the “perfect storm” a time in which universities “are to offer more varied provision to a growing number of students in an era when they can no longer depend on ever-increasing allocation of funds.” (retrieved from page 15). Colleges and universities will not remain unscathed by the changes and challenges they face in the current economy. Like any other entity they will have to innovate and change, some of these changes will be more drastic than for others.

Further challenges beyond funding and increased student demand may also include unprecedented numbers of retirements by faculty and staff further changes will be driven by innovations in technology.

In order to provide online delivery of educational content to students as economically as possible universities may move to accessing free Web 2.0 tools and integrating them into their learning management system or in place of a learning management system. As it is noted in The Edgeless University ..

“Open repositories of online content, social media networks like Facebook and the use of virtual learning can all help universities provide more flexibility and new ways for people to access scholarly and research material. Open repositories of online content, social media networks like Facebook and the use of virtual learning can all help universities provide more flexibility and new ways for people to access scholarly and research material.”

Further initiatives include designing the learner centered/student centered university. These terms maybe defined as:

Learner centered: to refer to environments that pay careful attention to the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and beliefs that learners bring to the educational setting. (retrieved from, July 23, 2009)

Learner-centered education places the student at the center of education. It begins with understanding the educational contexts from which a student comes. (retrieved from, July 23, 2009)

Examples of learner-centered educational practices from the University of Arizona include, but are not limited to:
• Collaborative group learning, both inside and outside the classroom;
• Individual student research and discovery;
• Research and discovery by students and faculty together;
• Problem-based inquiry learning;
• Student-faculty studio and performance activities;
• Asynchronous distance learning;
• Synchronous interactive distance learning;
• Service learning activities;
• Hands-on, experiential learning activities;
• On-site field experiences;
• Self-paced tutorials. (retrieved from, July 23, 2009)

From Maricopa Community College:
The learning college is based on six key principles:
• The learning college creates substantive change in individual learners.
• The learning college engages learners as full partners in the learning process, with learners assuming primary responsibility for their own choices.
• The learning college creates and offers as many options for learning as possible.
• The learning college assists learners to form and participate in collaborative learning activities.
• The learning college defines the roles of learning facilitators by the needs of the learners.
• The learning college and its learning facilitators succeed only when improved and expanded learning can be documented for its learners. (retrieved from; July 23, 2009)

• Instruction changes from being teacher-centered and content-driven, and becomes more learner-centered and learning process-driven.
• The student’s role changes from that of being a passive recipient or empty receptacle into which the instructor “deposits” knowledge—the “banking theory” of education (Freire, 1970)—to that of an engaged learner and active agent in the learning process.
• The instructor’s role expands from that of a knowledge-laden professor who professes truths and disseminates factual information, to that of being a learning mediator or facilitator who assumes the following roles. (retrieved from, July 23, 2009)

Weimer outlines the key premises of learner-centered teaching as:

• Assume that students are capable learners who will blossom as power shifts to a more egalitarian classroom.

• Use content not as a collection of isolated facts, but as a way for students to critically think about the big questions in the field.

• Change the role of teacher from sole authoritarian to fellow traveler in search of knowledge.

• Return the responsibility for learning to the students, so that they can understand their learning strengths and weaknesses and feel self-directed in their knowledge quest.

• Utilize assessment measures not just to assign grades, but as our most effective tools to promote learning. (retrieved from, July 23, 2009)

Woven through these observations and definitions is the use of technology to strengthen the relationship between student and institution, student with other students, student and faculty. Technology, which engages learners, can be used to build relationships.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Real LIfe Second LIfe play

I needed to complete the below for a class I am so I decided to post it here as well:

Cathy Anderson

Comparison between playground and second life

In both situations there is a lot of movement and communication, there really isn’t much difference interactions between people. You also get a sense that there is a high degree of experimentation, learning, and adjusting to a new environment or situations in both scenarios.
Each situation is obvious created for “play,” whether that is on an adult level or a child level. In the children's scenarios their home and yard is obviously their place to play. There are toys, children's gear, their pets, and even a cartoon on the television, all pieces and parts of a child’s play room. The children interact with each other, their pets and other family members in the room. Sometimes these interactions are fleeting as they spot one thing after the other that intrigues them. The children are building and manipulating their environment; it seems like play but fundamentally is for learning.
It is apparent that the children learn from interacting with their environment and with each other in this environment. As they play it may not be directly obviously that they are learning something about the world they live in , about communication, and about being “human,” however that is the end result of their activities.
Communication in this environment is essential and in many ways the children are communicating verbally and non-verbally. It is these non-verbal cues that are difficult to convey in a virtual world environment such as Second Life. Essentially, in a virtual world environment the primary communication comes through text chat, this make play difficult without the verbal inflections of tone and voice and non verbal cues it is sometimes difficult to judge a person’s intent or whether they are “joking,” or serious.

In Second Life, you can enter great vast and empty virtual spaces and have little or no contact with anyone. Or you can enter “crowded” rooms such as dance clubs and be overwhelmed by the “closeness” of others. The first place I opted to go to was Caledon. Caldeon is a “steampunk” role play sim, which is a Victorian Country Village. More information on Caledon can be found here If being in a virtual world and creating beautiful spaces is “play” on an adult level then Caledon is a good example of that. I explored Caledon (my state of play) but did not observe many humans at play.

In a quest to find adults at play I traveled to Frank’s Jazz Club. The place was quite full of men and women “at play” in Second Life. Frank’s is an “adult meet-up” joint. Listening to music and “avatar” watching is the rule of the day. Is it fun..yes it can be if you are open minded and enter the “immersive environment,” of Second Life. In many respects one will learn a great deal from observing, watching and chatting with others here…techno play is a whole other world for sure in this arena. Regardless of the aim of people at play in Frank’s Place in Second Life or Caledon the experience of building relationships here versus “1st life” is an entirely new experience. People have different objectives while here some are here to do what they can’t do in real life, have fun, and some view it as a game, while others view it as real life and second life blending together.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Discussion in Second Life

Second Life is my professional development, playground, and 1 hour vacation spot ..if I need it. Second Life is what you make it...emphasis on you. Essentially it is up to you to create your Second Life is not an environment that allows you to be a passive player and not interact with and seek out events or sites that provide visual elements that are interesting or interaction with others in that an environment.

I have met people from all over the world and nearby ... all of these people will leave a lasting memory of some sort with me as I go on with my life. Will Second Life always exist as it is right now? I hope not...I hope that Linden Labs will continue to push the boundaries of what the technology can do.

I have only been in Second Life for a rez day is coming up August 1st. Those first days and those first steps were awful..frankly I really didn't see much that I liked about Second Life..but I learned more, I have invested in a library of books on Second Life and immersed myself in experiencing the environment---and today I can say that it has been a rewarding experience.

I frequently have conversations with people, like Bevan Whitfield, half a world away discussing our Second Life experiences, personal lives and creating a future for virtual worlds and the virtual experience.