sábado, julio 30, 2005


Last winter (2004) a study group was formed in which following Doris Moleros’ initiative, teachers in Venezuela meeting face to face and a group of webheads completed a unique blended learning experience. The course “The Learning Classroom: Theory into Practice” (published by Annenberg/CPB) was reviewed during 13 online sessions in which the content of the course and the skills in the use of the virtual classroom at Learning Times were addressed. The experience was documented and is currently awaiting being included in a chapter to a book (in press) written by me, Karen Garcia and Renata Suzuki: “Gaining a Voice: Re-Viewing a Blended Global Online Teacher Training Program".

The opportunity to talk about the Blended Learning Classroom experience in the International Council for Open and Distance Education Conference takes me to San Juan, PR this week where I will be webcasting the Learningtimes virtual classroom and presenting with Renata from Japan, and Doris from Venezuela our working paper: “Harmonics Online –The Blended Learning Classroom”. Notice that we gained a voice and are now harmonizing ; )

With the innovative spirit that characterizes us, I want to follow the webhead’s practice of joining these activities online inviting you to come support us in this attempt to present our work to a live audience at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras on Friday August 5 from 3:00 - 3:30 pm EST (19 GMT). If you want to witness the presentation from my Learning Times office, let me know so to set up enough seats for everybody.

Of course, I am expectantly wondering how this will work!

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viernes, julio 29, 2005

Freedom of Speech, censorship, lipservice and blogs 

Reviewing my thoughts and concerns I realize that my silence is easier than examining and reviewing each word I project verbally and or in writing. I’ve been doing that lately, being silent here while reviewing how projecting my ideas has an impact.

We’ve submitted papers for publication dealing with a culture of silence, with gaining a voice and about actually harmonizing that voice. so the bias is towards expressing thoughts, ideas and reflections. and then…. the realization of the impact that those words have. and that is carrying reflections, monologues.. words, to the next level… to dialogues.

And then evidence is clear that a filtering of the expression is required, specially when performance is under scrutiny. OK.

While scanning Downes OLDAILY I was directed a while ago (July 8, 2005) to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education in which a search committee describes how their review of blogs from candidates to faculty positions negatively influenced their decision making process. I am aware that goggle quickly directs searches to this page and that in essence, I choose to have a voice through this blog. Likewise, if a judgment against my candidacy is taken without giving me the opportunity to advance a dialogue, then that decision is the correct one, since that verdict also signals a culture of silence.

Much more has to be said about these issues of privacy and public self-expressions in blogs. We must truly respect diversity online and in essence nurture it beyond lipservice.

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viernes, julio 08, 2005

Production, categorization and distribution of knowledge. 

Is on-line multiculturalism a myth?

Since the early nineties I've been concerned about learning and helping others to use the internet for educational activities. Yes, educational institutions are equipped with the tools, and some teachers find them useful. Culturally however, there are voids in the use, comfort and skills of teachers. And that void is most critical if we are committed to the social inclusion idea. Currently I am most puzzled with my understanding that on-line multiculturalism is a myth; and that online multiculturalism is a culture of silence.

The getting computers and not knowing what to do with them seems as a universal experience. Also difficult for many is the opening of a blog account at Blogger and facing an empty page, or navigating a Moodle in a collaborative experience. We can discuss whether the technology responds to the needs of the user, or the other way around. I think that mastery in the use of technology is as important as being able to convey a message.

With opensource there is the ideological assumption that the technology can be altered and modified to suit the user's needs. Although the potential is there to accommodate everyone, I am skeptical about true open engineering remaining open and available to everyone. Not only there is the need to "show off" the latest technology and fastest tool, but will technology be comprehensible in simple words? For me, the most important effort is to find the lowest common denominator and find ways to raise it by education and social justice activities.

Found this file in my old computer....(6/20/04)

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martes, julio 05, 2005

Reading about Grant Readers@ Technology and Learning 

I found an article (Kerney, 2005) that attracted my attention after spending two weeks last month being a reader myself for a federal competition. The Department of Education in the USA has a system in which a panel of 3 readers reads 10 proposals and gives a score according to the guidelines offered in the request for proposals (rfp). What I found imperative was to have a working knowledge of the priorities set by the particular federal program and also to follow the guidelines without departure. Yes, it is not creative writing… and it is amazing how hard it is to witness the difficulty shown in most proposals in following clear and specifically the guidelines.

In the case of my last reading there was importance placed on issues of performance outcome and the evaluation process to ascertain that objective where met. Hence, a very straight forward system of enumerating objectives was required as well as an operationalization (quantification) of what was going to be done, and by whom to meet the objective (leading to a management plan) which was then the basis for evaluation. Straight forward. But no, most proposals were vague, disjointed and the content at times insensitive to the established objectives.

I agree FULLY with the article’s following statement:

"Follow the rules. The grant readers’ main job will be to determine how well you responded to the Request for Proposal. Therefore, ensure that you have responded to the RFP thoroughly and clearly. Make it easy for the grant reader to see that you’ve included all the requested information. To do that, organize your proposal by the subtopics outlined in the RFP. Use the same words and the same numbering system…". (Kerney, 2005; p. 64)

The article focuses on a proposal aiming at the reader and using designing publishing styles suited to easing the reading. I don’t really think that is the priority…. although I did notice that proposals written by professional writers were definitely superior. Superiority in proposals where directly related to the scoring guidelines and adherence to them. So in essence, study the rfp and submit the information required in it and according to the scoring presented in the selection criteria … a no brainer!

Kerney, C. (2005). Inside the mind of a grant reader. Technology and Learning, 25(11), 62-66.

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domingo, julio 03, 2005

“Harmonics Online –The Blended Learning Classroom”* 

a paper presented by
Karen Garcia, Renata Suzuki and Doris Molero
“Harmonics Online –The Blended Learning Classroom”
June 30, 2005
for discussion at the
International Conference of Distance Education
(CIED 2005)

* The purpose of this document is to complement the information offered at the panel: "Gaining a Voice: Re-Viewing a Blended Global Online Teacher Training Program". This document highlights the procedure, assets and resources used leading to the virtual experience which will be described in the panel and available in the video archive of the session. This is an abridged version of a thorough examination of the Blended Learning Classroom experience submitted for publication by Garcia and Suzuki (in press).

We are getting ready for our virtual presentation at the International Conference taking place in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the beginning of August. A working document was just submitted and we will be setting up soon the details for the presentation about the blended online project that we completed last winter among a virtual community of practice and English teachers in Venezuela utilizing Annenberg’s “The Learning Classroom” course.

The course material was used in a face to face learning environment in Venezuela and each module adapted for its use in a virtual classroom housed at Learningtimes.org. A description of the project by Jonathan Finkelstein Executive Director of Learning Times follows:

"Karen and Renata recently completed teaching an original "hybrid" or "blended"
course called "The Learning Classroom", which they adapted from the pre-packaged, free asynchronous course by the same name on the Annenberg/CPB http://www.learner.org/ web site. Renata and Karen combined the free video resources and reading materials on the Annenberg site, with synchronous communication in a virtual classroom to lead English language teachers in South America through a 13-week peer mentor learning experience with members of a global virtual community of practice. According to an advance copy of a book chapter Renata and Karen have authored about this teaching experience, "discussion [in the course] focused on how best to adapt this content to the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) environment, how to apply it to adult learners and particular challenges of online teaching." LearningTimes.org provided the base of operations for the interaction among learners in this hybrid learning experience."

We submitted a chapter for publication describing main issues learned from the experience and we will be presenting that work in an international conference sponsored by the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) next August.

Let me know if you want to be virtually present during the presentation.

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