Thursday, 21 April 2011

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Facebook: A Virtual Coffeehouse???

Hi again,

I was thinking about what implications a social networking site such as Facebook could have when it is used with classmates in CCK11 MOOC. You know that we have created a Facebook group for CCK11 course and some conversation has been going on this group where everyone is an admin so that no one is superior to anyone, and the number of members is increasing each day. We are currently 121 experts, ameteurs, lurkers, creators, consumers, educators; we are all different people with different backgrounds, expertise, interests, religions, languages, countries etc. 

I can see that people including me have concerns about privacy, security and misinformation. In addition, some concern seems to arise from the original reason or the objective why Facebook was created in the first place in 2004 by Zuckerberg. Furthermore, the highly informal nature of Facebook gets even more scarry for people who don't want to be bothered by people hoping to hook up with the opposite sex, or when they hear stories of what other people had to go through because someone used the information on their Facebook accounts to do harm.

Further issues were raised about free tools on the web including Facebook on yesterday's CCK11 session. As George Siemens stated these web 2.0 tools makes us more digital and gives us more control. However, every FREEdom comes with a PRICE to pay, so these free tools are not actually free in a sense. The price you have to pay is that these tools give the provider more control too. I agree with George that if you are not paying for a service, then you are the product that's being sold. However, I think this is a win-win situation even though seeing yourself as a product being sold is an unsettling one. We are using Facebook to connect, to converse, to discuss, to create and share and in return Facebook does use us. I think it's a matter of where you draw the line, how much you really want to get involved in. To me, one needs to create a sense of balance and be aware of his/her actions and their possible outcome when he/she is present on an online environment just like real life. 

Another price that you have to pay is "social lock-in" which is a term raised by George and Stephen during the last session and it's an issue that I am yet to explore and learn more about. What I could make out from the last session about Facebook or other platforms is that we need to take care not to allow one particular space to own all the connections, information, and knowledge. As Stephen puts it knowledge rests in connections and if Facebook holds connections then knowledge rests in Facebook. I can see that when you allow one particular space to handle all the connections, it contradicts to the rationale behind a PLE and in conclusion to the connectivist principle because knowledge is distributed and diversity is a richness. When George and Stephen reject the idea of an LMS like moodle because it creates a danger of centralization against distribution, Facebook or any one particular space shouldn't be allowed to centralize all the connections and information or knowledge. I understand the danger when one particular person/space holds all the knowledge. Yet, this fact doesn't mean that we aren't going to take advantage of features of these environments on the contrary we need to keep this connection as well for the sake of diversity and distribution. 

Finally, I would like to mention one perspective of how I view CCK11 Facebook group. Someone posted on this group Stephen Johnson's video on where good ideas come from discussing the importance of environments where people get together casually and come up with innovative ideas. He holds coffee houses responsible for "the enlightment" of England. Like the coffeehouse of England Facebook CCK11 group for me is a space where people get together with different backgrounds, different expertise and share, and honestly I am learning a lot from the conversations taking place on this group mainly because I have a lot to discover and learn from the other members of this group. This group might not lead to "enlightment" on a big scale like coffehouses had in England but it seems to be leading at least one participant, me, to big enlightment. Moreover, I can see that people bring their friends into this virtual coffeehouse so people are making new friends with similiar interests. You know what they say a friend of a friend is a friend. For me this FB group serves as a cafĂ© in a school where learners get together to have a nice chat and the chat itself turns out to be a learning opportunity. If the provider of Facebook makes a change on this space that we would not appreciate or decides to close it down, we will do what we would when the owner of a real coffehouse turned it into a place where it is impossible for us to hang around or decide to close it altogether: move to another coffehouse and carry on where we left off. 

Personal Learning Environments (PLE)

I feel terrible because I missed yesterday's session on PLE and PLN. I would like to begin with how I would define PLE. To me PLE is collection of any kind of platform that an individual uses to collect, control, create, share and collaborate resources.  A PLE is also an environment where multiple experts, amateurs, resources and tools are brought together. The key point in a PLE is its participative and creative side. Within a PLE the individual does not only comsume information but also participates the conversation and creates information. Other people join in this personal learning environment, review personally created information, engage in a conversation which might lead to reconsideration or further expansion of the information in this PLE. 

At this point I have three issues that I want to open to discussion:

1: I am aware that certain processes might require the use of certain tools or environments. However, considering that alternative tools or environments are available, Is it important or relevant that the individual chooses himself what learning environments he wants to make use of or take part in?

2: Considering people get their certificates or diplomas from institutionalized education systems, how do we manage assessment and evaluation when we follow a PLE perspective of learning and teaching?

I think I might have a suggestion for my second question but I am not sure that would be a good answer. We could assign a problem/task based case study and observe the process and evaluate the final product that is put forward. However, I believe we need to provide well-defined rubric telling the learner clearly what will be assessed and how. The final question is:

3- What are the characterictics of an effective PLE? Thanks for your ideas in advance. 

Friday, 18 February 2011


Can Facebook be an LMS? I am using FB to supplement my English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classes with my 25 Turkish students giving them a chance to go out to the open world, connect people from all over the world, and practise language skills learned at school which I beleive is an unnatural language learning environment.

I need ideas from experts. Does that make FB an LMS? Can FB be used as an LMS?

Here is Stephen's blog on Facebook as an LMS:

Friday, 21 January 2011

Second Connection

Here is a video on one of the questions that were asked in the live session today.

First Connection

This was the first time we connected on a live session. This is my second MOOC and sometimes I feel a bit lost about what to follow because there are so many things that people have been sharing about CCK11. Because the course itself is not a centralized one, and all the sources (let's say knowledge) is distributed accross a wide range of environments it's like jumping from one branch of a tree to another. However, I feel that this chaotic nature of this course shows the true characteristics of a connectivist approach to learning and teaching. Besides, I should admit that this is more fun but challanging maybe because I am used to being educated through centralized methods where the instructor was at the centre of all acitivites. In this course, however, even the facilitators do not seem to be at the centre. I must also add that I am benefiting from what other participants have to say about the concepts and themes we are discussing on various environments. This definitely adds to the diversity of opinions and gives me access to resources I wouldn't be able to access or create myself. I also created a Facebook group for this course and two videos posted on this group page helped me better clarify what connectivism is. The first one is below:

And here is the second one:

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Me Myself and CCK11

Hi everyone,

I'm Abdullah from Turkey. I've been teaching English as a foreign language for 7 years now. I am following my MA in Distance Education at Anadolu University, one of the mega universities providing dual mode (both distance and face-to-face) education. I am specifically interested in social networking, networked learning, social learning. 

I'll be posting my reflections on Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2011 (CCK11) massive online open course (MOCC). I hope my reflections will help me and others have a better understanding of the new concepts brought up by Connectivism.