Faculty Observations

As an LMS support person for faculty (and the occasional student) I’ve worked at a three year community college and now a university. I’ve delivered training at both institutions, and had the opportunity to talk to a lot of faculty. Here’s some interesting observations:

Most faculty have some experience with an LMS by now. They may not know it’s an LMS, but they’ve had some experience somwhere along the line.

Even those who are most resistant to the idea that they should teach somewhat online recognize the power of sharing their content (whether it be Word docs or PowerPoints or something more web friendly). Many are happy to stop here.

Very few faculty members at either institution are making use of the LMS’s capabilities fully. Most are using it as a sharing platform to augment what they do face to face.

Very few faculty feel that sharing their stuff with their students is a bad thing for class attendance. Glad that myth is over.

Faculty at the university are more comfortable and familiar with LMS’s and technology in general, when compared with faculty at the college. This might be due to the nature of college courses and diplomas being geared towards tradespeople, which have been stereotyped as lower class jobs. I’ve seen the literacy rates of incoming students first hand, and they’ve decreased significantly over the last decade. The same is true for university, but university has been traditionally for the upper and middle class. It’s interesting to note how clear the lines are drawn once you’ve worked at both places.



Many people hate real life. By that I mean, people create a new identity online to satisfy what “real” life doesn’t provide. For some, it’s purely entertainment, others it’s a sense of community, for yet more it’s escapism. For many, it’s a combination of all that. You’d think that after indexing 6 billion pages, Google would understand that the reasons for creating an identity online is as complex as the identity we create for ourselves in any medium. So why are we limited to connecting via our real name? Security is a common pushback from Google – but there’s many people I only know online, I would like to maybe connect with them using Google+, but I’m not going to be able to. I don’t know their real names. I’m entirely fine with that. Some of these people I’ve “known” for well over a decade. In fact I trust them.

I really liked the article at Boing Boing about pseudonymous posting and why it matters – the comments are even more illustrious of the issue.  So inferring what we know about what Google knows, doesn’t it make sense that Google is insisting on real names is based on something else other than security? Perhaps it’s more about data mining – which has been Google’s strength and main asset since day one. It’s also an easy way to validate ranking through what’s being shared on the platform.

EduPunk For Sale…

T-shirts only $10, badges only $3.50. Buy, buy, buy from DIY. Like hula-hoops in a disposable craze, another fast food fad to throw away… (with apologies to Anarchy For Sale by the Dead Kennedys)

So I finally come around to taking a look at The Edupunk’s Guide, well a PDF of it anyways, which seems to miss the whole point of edupunk, which at least one other critic seems to get. Sure, it’s like what Green Day or Blink 182 is to punk; palatable, accessible and easy for the mainstream to swallow, but with a hint of rebellion. We wouldn’t want to upset the status quo too much, would we? While the Edupunk Guide talks a lot about taking responsibility for one’s own education. In fact, taking responsibility for one’s education is something millions of people do on a daily basis. Whether it’s how to fix an excel spreadsheet at work, how to do a calculus equation at Khan Academy or  connecting with a foreign language speaker over Skype, people do that already on their own. That’s not edupunk, that’s daily life. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time someone made a career out of stating the obvious. Where the edupunk moniker really holds weight (with me) is that it accepts an idea that a course (but could extend to a program of study or less than that too) can be done differently than what has already been done. It’s a good primer, missing a lot of the “so what” moments and crucially missing that the majority of the world is already past it. And that’s where Edupunk (with a capital E) Guide sort of falls down. Really, it’s too late. Missed the boat. Jumped the shark? Maybe.

It’s already 1978 in edupunk. The Sex Pistols have broken up, Jim Groom’s now in PIL. Sid’s dead.

Don’t worry, 1978’s not all bad. Ramones put out Road To Ruin. Two of my most influential records were released Crass – Feeding of the 5000 LP and Black Flag – Nervous Breakdown 7″ EP.

Whole Language and It’s Relation to Modern Learning

The whole language method of teaching language involves teaching only the relevant piece of language to the student at the time they need it – closely relating it to the method most of us learn to speak. Of course, there’s a difference between the codified rituals of writing to convey meaning and speaking, although in deeper thinking about it, I don’t think there’s that wide a gap between the way we learn to speak and the way we learn to write. Whole language is rooted in constructivist thinking, certainly drawing a parallel to redefining teachers as guides or facilitators. The idea is certainly tied to how we learn when self-directed; for instance if I need to know how to fix a sink and I don’t know anyone to ask, I turn to YouTube and watch videos, look at some web tutorials, use some critical thinking skills and fix a sink.

The problem is that some critics of whole language look at reading and state psychologically that it is a skill that unlike speaking, is something that has no instinctual basis. In other words, reading and writing has to be learned. Which is the parallel for 21st Century Literacies. You can draw the conclusion, but I don’t think anyone has said (outside of perhaps Prensky) that this generation has a second sense of computers and information on computers. I think educators need to be very careful how we assume people learn, and that people learn a holistic and varied foundation of skills which they can then scaffold as they become more familiar with the technology at hand. Much how many people decry the basic literacy skills of many first year students in post secondary, we may be decrying the basic information literacy skills of everyone in the future.