Landing : Athabascau University


  • Comments
    • Hi Mark - it is good that you are sceptical about "temporary centre" claims :). Since networked learning is still somewhat new (at least in its technological iteration), research on "the pedagogical value of temporary aggregations as a substitute for centralized design" is largely incomplete. Of course, there are many jumping off points: what is the impact of learner autonomy on grades? How does self-efficacy influence participation? how does active participation in a networked course influence feelings of orientation and content coherence? "Pedagogical value" can lead us into numerous side channels. 

      In our elluminate discussion today, the topic of networked learning as a replacement for centralized courses was addressed somewhat. My views on this are more radical than AU's. I think a networked course could (should) replace centralized courses. However, that is not AU's stance. AU sees the landing as a means to add a social layer that is often lacking in self-paced courses, and to extend the social presence of individuals after a course ends (groups in the landing have a longer life expectancy, in theory).

      wrt your comment on temporary centres as perhaps lacking critical information skills, I see it as the opposite: when we make our assumptions and views explicit, we reveal our conceptual understanding in such a way that it can be critiqued by other learners or in a way that can solicit responses from the educator. The Private Universe ( example emphasizes the failure of centralized systems of instruction that lack opportunity for learners to reveal their conceptual structures through discourse. The corrective feedback of fellow learners or the instructor is lacking if content duplication and replication are the key learning tasks. A networked course - again, theoretically - will reveal conceptual errors as learners engage. It's the educators role to monitor conversation and respond when feedback is needed.

      btw #2 - your work of pulling together lists of posts is very much an example of learning. You serve as a content/conversation curator. You create artifacts as you try to make sense of complexity...and when you share those artifacts, you  help other learners make sense as well.



      George Siemens April 30, 2010 - 10:53am

    • Mark,

      I read your post with interest, specifically your comparison of the centrality, permanence and structure inherent in scholarly discourse to the dispersed, impermanent, and ill-structured (from certain povs) nature of information within social networks. The information may seem ill-structured because we do not have the correct algorithm or adequate background (e.g. prior experience, disciplinary expertise) to interpret the information in the network (or database). I agree that the results of some searches seem to be the product of a deranged computer mind (Hal perhaps), however tagging is intended to reduce some of the randomness but it is only as good as the effort put into the creation of the tags. Even then with each participant in a network having such diverse interests and unique filters with which they interpret information it is unlikely that any search will perfectly match anyone's individual needs.

      Its almost a question of an orientation toward the world - one orientation (status quo) seeks to replicate pre-existing structures, patterns and practices. The other seems alien (given that it is based not on a human approach to classifying a small number of objects according to directly observable criteria) and founded on the use of algorithms and generated from vast amounts of data.

      This brings me to a novel that I read sometime ago entitled The Dispossessed (Ursula K Le Guin) in which there are two opposing views of civilization, one based on a kind of seeming anarchy (but with an internal logic of human relations albeit threatened by bureaucracy and tendency towards centralization) and the other based on traditional hierarchical power structures. I think sometimes it is in how we perceive things as much as how they are. Social networks seem anarchic disruptive but they are also an organizing force. It may just be that our technology is not perfectly able to reflect the complexity (but a complexity that is penetrable) of social networks, hence the disconnect between what we expect and what we get as a result of searches.

      Sandra Law April 30, 2010 - 11:05am

    • Thanks all for your comments here.

      @Michael: Let me break it down like this.

      1. The preference of networked learning for temporary not fixed centres cultivates the critical skill of selection -- but at the expense of its counterpart skill, organization.

      2. Both selection and organization are valuable critical skills to teach, in balance.

      3. A preference for temporary centres nromalizes an individualized experience of precarity that reproduces the neoliberal ideology of privatization (structurally, not necessarily intentionally).

      @George: I don't mean to suggest that "temporary centres [...] perhaps lack critical information skills," only that more fixed centres and centralizing strategies cultivate different but equally important kinds of critical skills.

      Your point about the metacognitive value of "mak[ing] our assumptions and views explicit" is well taken and worth keeping front and centre for this course and for DE pedagogy in general.

      @Sandra: One point I tried to make in my post is that I think networked, temporary centres are now more the "status quo" than are centralized structures. Maybe not for university curriculum, but moreso for its increasingly contingent labour force and dispersed student body. And that kind of labour and social dispersal seems to me consistent with the status quo of social relations under neoliberal globalization: flexible and mobile, but precarious and intensely surveilled.

      And now I have to revisit LeGuin's novel, which I started some years ago but for now-forgotten reasons didn't finish.

      Mark A. McCutcheon May 3, 2010 - 10:19am

  • Mary Pringle commented on the blog TLSTN April 28, 2010 - 2:28pm
    • I am interested in podcasts, too. I would like to make an mp3 of any long stretch of text in a course available for on-the-go listening. I liked the robotic voice of IRRODL at first, but about halfway through an article, I started to zone out and wish I could listen to a person. There really is no substitute for a good human reading voice.

      Mary Pringle April 28, 2010 - 2:28pm

    • In reply to: Mary Pringle


      There are several options if you want to record your own podcasts, depending on your operating system.

      Macs come with GarageBand included, and PC users can download Audacity for free (little cumbersome though).

      Colin Madland April 28, 2010 - 3:07pm

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  • Mary Pringle commented on the blog TLSTN: Week 1 April 21, 2010 - 10:42am
  • Mary Pringle commented on a wiki page titled Week 1: Introduction to Networked Learning April 19, 2010 - 6:19am