Archive for the ‘ETmooc’ Category

Over the last couple days one of the images from my masters thesis and from this blog has been retweeted and liked more then 20 times. Thanks for sharing Mr Hinchcliffe @dhinchcliffe and others. I know 20 isn’t that many, I’m sure many out there get hundreds of retweets, but for me it was pretty satisfying. What made it surprising though, is that the image was from a five year old post, which of course caused me to reflect on how much has changed.

How an online community uses learning strategies throughout the internet to learn.

How an online community uses learning strategies throughout the internet to learn.

The above image and the same being retweeted was my attempt to explain how some influential learning theories could be used to conduct informal learning online. My research uncovered many learning theories  and I came to the conclusion that the  Cognitive, Constructivist, and Connectivist theories of how we learn, could all be used to learn online.

Whats interesting now, is to see this actually happening. Since this image was created 5 years ago, online learning has made many headlines. From the early cMoocs of  Siemens @gsiemens and Downes @oldaily to xMoocs @coursera@edXOnline and, many, many universities. Online learning has become popular and profitable. Learning is  happening everywhere right now.  On social networks, as evidenced this week, and through out the internet informally and formally using the explosion of educational technologies and devices many schools have adopted today.

So while I agree with Mr Hinchcliffe that “Communities for #learning are changing everything about how we prepare for the future”, I say the future is now. We have already changed, and our continually changing, how we connect with communities .We are prepared to choose how and where we learn what we want to know. Our community is a Twitter PLN,  the blogs we follow, and even the reviews read on Amazon or Yelp. The future for online learning is bright and plentiful. Share it, write about it, and of course retweet it.



Who, what, where, when, how and why. These questions are the usual suspects that drive conversations and “who done it” mystery novels. They are also essential questions in journalism, research, and education. Lately though, I have been thinking more about the “why”. I seem to notice more “why” questions being asked, especially in education. Why does public education have so many issues? Why does a college degree cost so much? Why do we need MOOCs or online learning?


Theses are all good questions, but I would like to focus on some other “why’s, that may have a more positive impact on education.

I attended the Slate Conference last month and saw the keynote address by Dr. Kimberly Lawless a faculty affiliate with Learning Sciences Research Institute, and a professor and chairwoman of the Department of Educational Psychology at UIC’s College of Education.

In her presentation she asserted that instructors shouldn’t just focus on what students need to learn and how they will be taught, but should instead explain why the mastery of a subject or concept is important, and why students should learn it.

Students should be told the reasons why they need to learn the content provided by the instructor. Dr. Lawless advocates for providing authentic learning experiences using problem based leaning (PBL). Her GlobalED2 project keeps students immersed in real life situations while dealing with critical world issues like water scarcity.

During her keynote, she discussed a book by Simon Sinek entitled  “Start With Why“. In his book Sinek proposes that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

Sinek has a model that codifies the three distinct and interdependent elements (Why, How, What) that makes any person or organization function at its highest ability.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 2.56.30 PM

With “why” in the center circle surrounded by “how” and “what” in the outer circles he proposes that a computer company like Apple for instance is more successful then their competitors because they explain the reasons why a customer would want a computer or smartphone. By demonstrating through their advertisements all the things you can do with their devices, not just the specifications and price of the hardware, they give someone a reason to buy their products. Many in the high tech community only communicate the how and what of their products and give no compelling reason to act. Apple not only answers the “why in their ad’s, but also infuses “why” in their philosophy of business.  Apple preaches that their mission is to make products “that empower people”. Their aim is to inspire their customers to create, share and make a difference.

Dr. Lawless relates this same model of placing “why” in the center to the teaching and learning process.  She stresses that a student could potentially be more motivated to learn about a particular subject when they know the why. They have an incentive to understand the importance of learning scientific concepts like the water cycle, pollution, and desalination of a country in need, in order to be able to solve water scarcity issues. A learner inspired by the difference they could potentially make in the world, takes action to improve their ability and knowledge.

dewey-john-youngA hundred years ago, John Dewey hinted at the “why” question when discussing the subject of “interest” in his essay “Interest and Effort in Education”. Interest, he notes, means “being engaged, engrossed, or entirely taken up with” a particular subject. Explaining the reason or purpose, by discussing the” why”, certainly seems to have a similar effect in sparking interest.

Students though, aren’t the only ones that need to know the why.  Instructors would also benefit greatly.

In his post entitled “The Calling of the Online Teacher and Having a Compelling “Why” Dr. Bernard Bull Associate Professor of Education at Concordia University Wisconsin lists some “Why” questions online instructors should reflect on to improve their practice. He also contends that it is very important that a teacher teach from a compelling “why”. Dr. Bull poses “why” questions like “Why do you teach in a given context and for a given group of learners?  Why does it matter to you and others?” He says that “great teachers always seem to have a clear “why?” that inspires them, that helps them persevere through the challenges, and that encourages them to remember that what they are doing is a calling and that it has deep significance.

So it seems that “why” is not just simply a plot twist in a classic crime novel. It is an inspiring meaningful question that Dr. Bull remarks,” helps us keep a passion for what we do, to devote the sort of time, care and energy required to do it well”.

This reflection has encouraged me to start thinking more about the “why.” I hope to integrate the practice in to my work, research and personal life. Why?

Because I believe that if you are going to do something, anything, you should strive to do it well. And I believe in the power of “Why”.  Do You?

What’s a pop up school? Is it like a pop up book?

Well, not exactly, its more like the pop up art gallery or retail stores that have become common in Chicago. The recession has left vacant storefronts, so why not use them for something.

pop-up-school image 2

A recent question from Chad Sensing in the CLMooc caused me to revisit my idea to start up such a school.  Instilled with knowledge from an education degree, a passion to teach, and a love of technology, I thought about opening my own pop up school.

I believe its possible to teach anyone almost anything armed with an iPad. So naturally I thought about finding a vacant storefront, buying some iPads and going to work. The first thing I could teach of course would be how to use an iPad or how to use it effectively at least. There seem to be so many people out there with fancy devices that have no idea how to use them much less use them for learning.

It was probably a bit unrealistic to think I could post a few flyers or craigslist ads, get a booth at the local ribfests, or create an inviting space out of an old dollar store and the students would come. That didn’t stop me from often pondering the idea, and going as far as posting the company on my Linked in profile in order to fill a hole in my resume. Unfortunately my resources have never been adequate to pursue this idea. A stay at home Dad with two young kids has neither time nor money.

The question though from Chad Sensing recently that asked “How do we make a pop-up school?” on Google + made me think of the idea, and how it may relate to connected learning.

My initial thought is that a pop up school conveys the idea that learning can happen anywhere at anytime. It might be online with people from around the world or with your neighbors around the corner. A pop up school can occur in a home setting,(Red Wine Drinking 101 or How to post pictures to Facebook, for example), or it can happen in the town square, teaching children how to make bead art.

I believe learning, and school for that matter, shouldn’t just happen at an educational institution. It doesn’t need four walls or desks, or Smartboards or lunch ladies, or principals or overblown budgets. It only needs someone willing to learn and someone willing to teach.

A pop up school in the theoretical sense is related to Connected Learning in that it also can make learning relevant to real life and real work. Whether it is just in time, just for fun, or because you just want to know. The focus is certainly on the learner and what they are interested in learning at that moment in time. The connections made between Teacher/Mentor and student are completely authentic.

I think where I first encountered the idea of a pop up school was a website for the Oklahoma 2010 Creativity World Forum. They created the video here.

Since the internet enables us all to learn anytime, they wondered how long will it be before schools are more like events than buildings? They also questioned why we would choose to come into school, if we can learn on our own, at home, online, any time of the day or night? Are schools are always the best places to learn something? Shouldn’t young people be given credit for all the things they learn and the skills they acquire outside school? Why are they not part of our assessments in school?

Some recent searches reveal other organizations looking in to this same idea.

Dean Groom posted “Why we need pop up schools” last year on his blog. He argued that all a pop-up school needs to get past an idea to a reality is creative thinkers who like to do, not talk – and temporary space that is accessible. I hope he wasn’t talking about me.

green market pop up

The New School in NYC recently held some pop up classes on Urban Farming. Creating classes at the Union Sq. Greenmarket, they invited participants to: “Come and see what your community is doing”.

My local library now has some seminars like these about native plant gardening. Not exactly a pop up school but close.

Knowledge Commons DC runs what they call a floating school. They have been around since 2011 as  “a free school for thinkers, doers, and tinkerers – taught anywhere, by anyone, for everyone”.

Their website states that they are dedicated to forging unusual intersections and conversations by providing a platform for free and hospitable knowledge sharing. They partner with existing organizations, individuals, and communities to foster collaborative learning and community exchange.

knowledge commons pop up

As I reflect on the thinking behind Connected Learning, specifically that we need new models of education, and entirely new visions of learning better suited to the increasing complexity, connectivity, and velocity of our new knowledge society, I can’t help but think that pop up schools fit somewhere in that definition.

Pop up Schools are more then simply new models of schooling, they reflect a trend to informalize learning, while also introducing new concepts and capabilities to learners who don’t participate in Moocs, have never heard of a PLN, and may like the comfort of hands on learning within their community.

Sophie library

As I finish this post, I can’t help but think I may have started a pop of school after all. I realized long ago that I have to think outside of the box when caring for my my 3 year old daughter, and son who is 6. For us learning happens anytime and everywhere. There are always new interests and new concepts to learn.

Not exactly how I intended my school to be, but it’s always a learning experience.

How about you? Have you seen any pop up schools in your neighborhood?

See on Scoop.itHow We Learn

And why everyone hates Comic Sans MS

Thomas J Okon‘s insight:

Is learning affected by typface? Can a lesson, a website or an e-learning program be affected by it’s typeface? This article unearths fascinating research on how people respond to various typefaces and how they can affect what we think about the words we are reading. Though it does not specifically refer to it’s influences on learning, it brings up some important factors to consider when designing learning resources.

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Does you wish you had an avatar that could coordinate all your e-mail, twitter and blog posts? Sort of like a personal secretary. I know Siri takes care of a lot of things, but not enough. Well I created this Avatar to do my intro for CLMooc. He doesn’t do much else, but it was easier then having to do it myself. Getting dressed and shaving just takes too much time. I want to look good but I’m too busy minding my PLN to bother getting all presentable. So here’s my introduction by Tommy. I look forward to connecting online with you in the future.

I realized yesterday that Twitter, what we do on Twitter could be considered to be a Massive Open Online Conversation or a MOOC.


Yesterday I opened up Twitter and discovered a tweet by Bill Clinton. Yes that Clinton, William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States. Clinton just recently came on Twitter and its been interesting to hear what he has to say. The really great thing is because of Twitter I am able to hear his thoughts, instantly, unedited. Something I certainly have never been able to do before except of course possibly filtered through some news source.

The lightbulb really went off in my head though when I read Clinton’s tweet, which said that Warren Buffett was now on Twitter. Warren Buffett who is widely considered the most successful investor of the 20th century.

So here I am thinking that this is great, I am able to hear the thoughts of some of the most influential and successful  persons in history. I am in the conversation, often just listening to the conversation, but I could jump in anytime. This is unprecedented, could you imagine reading Abraham Lincolns tweets when he was fighting for the 13th amendment, or the thoughts of General George Patton while he was fighting the World Wars.

We live in a time that allows us to have a conversation with the most important people in the world, the rock stars, our idols. A Massive conversation with everybody, Open to everyone Online. A Massive Open Online Conversation not a Massive Open Online Course like in education, but just as significant.

Maybe it’s nothing, maybe I just have MOOC’s on my brain, but I certainly enjoy a good conversation.

What do you think? I’m on Twitter @thomasjokon

This post combines two Mooc’s. At #etmooc we are discussing digital storytelling, and the other Mooc I am participating in is the  MITMedialab course on creative learning, which began with the concept of kindergarten learning. So over the last week I have been using the kindergarten approach to learning, in order to come up with the best way to tell a story about my son and his experiences at kindergarten. I have been creating, experimenting, and exploring with different digital creation tools introduced to me by #etmooc  like Prezi and Mindomo  and also Thinglink and  VUVOX.

I had the opportunity this week to just be creative. No deadlines, requirements or expectations. It’s a bit unsettling to be so irresponsible but I was doing it for science, or at least to learn about the science of learning.

My inspiration for this story is my son Harrison who is now six.


I have taken him to school everyday since preschool. This may seem like a fairly routine task, but with Harrison everyday is an adventure. He has some special needs, nothing too severe, but enough that moving him from point A to point B is a major undertaking. He’s often stubborn and defiant, but sometimes scared and uncertain about how to navigate the world. This makes the task of getting him to school everyday quite challenging.

Last year at the beginning of preschool he didn’t want to enter the classroom or even the building on some days. He refused to line up with the other kids unless he was the first one in line. He became anxious standing there with the other kids until we figured out that giving him something to occupy his attention, like a squeeze toy in his hand, settled him down. We had to work with him for a few months till he was comfortable lining up and would consistently go into his classroom with the other students.

Once he finally got with the program, I started taking pictures of Harrison every day  just before he entered school. It started in preschool, and I have continued this year during kindergarten.

1 Harrison School - 119

The pictures are interesting because they capture Harrison’s wide range of emotions each day, and every photo is from a different location around the school with differnt people in the background.

I think the pictures tell an interesting story about what it’s like to be a young child starting school. You can read the emotions on his and the other students faces as they contemplate the day ahead of them. I’m not sure if Harrison will appreciate this video journal of a small slice of his life, but I wish someone had done it for me.

First day of school

The first tool I used to exhibit the photo’s was  VUVOX.

Here’s he VUVOX version of my story.

You can only put a link to a VUVOX collage in a blog. You also can’t export your collage to your hard drive. They only provide a link to their site if you want to email it or send it to social media. It didnt like that aspect since I like to take ownership of my creations. I also didn’t like the time it took to upload the photo’s to their server. I desktop application that used their technology would be welcome.

I liked the way you are able to make a scrolling collage of your photo’s with VUVOX. You also can place hotspots anywhere on the photo’s that link to websites or other media like audio or video. I wanted to add some video segments I had to the presentation, but Apple quicktime videos would never load correctly. I am still searching for an inexpensive way to convert the .mov movies to flash video.

Since none of the other creation tools met my criteria of being inexpensive, easy to use, and allowing you to keep your project, I moved on to iMovie which I own and know how to use fairly well.

iMovie has its own limitations, but I was able to create a video that properly told my story. I even found time to play with GarageBand to create my own original soundtrack.

Here’s my Digital story about Harrison as he starts school everyday:

Just to finish the story. I continue to take photo’s everyday. So the video is “to be continued”.

Harrison has been adapting well. On days we are late, he is able to enter the school on his own and go right to his classroom. It may seem like a small step for most kids, but its a giant leap for Harrison.

He is getting used to kindergarten and learning. I don’t think kindergarten in his school is exactly like Mitchell Resnick describes it in “All I Really Need to Know (About Creative Thinking) I Learned (By Studying How Children Learn) in Kindergarten”. I feel like his preschool was more about designing, creating, experimenting, and exploring. His kindergarten is more like first grade. More traditional schooling.

I hope he doesn’t stop using the kindergarten approach to learning. I agree with Resnick’s ideas and will make a point to follow those ideals for my own learning and for teaching Harrison in the future. It’s a useful philosophy if your a kid trying to learn the ropes of kindergarten or an adult trying to tell a story.

Whats your story?

There’s all kinds of ways to tell stories. The music video has always been one of my favorites. Having the singer act out the lines from a song or the band members performing in unique situations, adds some punch or excitement to the music. These are common ways to spotlight the artists and showcase them for the fans. It worked pretty well on the #etmooc Lip Dub project too.

The music video actually has a very long history as a way to tell stories. Most might remember seeing their first video’s on MTV, which started up over 30 years ago, but according to “it may come as a surprise that the genre itself has a much longer timeline that stretches as far back as the late 19th century.


A Scopitone machine, one of several visual jukeboxes that played an early form of music videos. (Credit: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons)

In their article titled “The Music Video, Before Music Television”  They state that “the oldest known film with music was made for the Kinetophone, a device developed by Thomas Edison’s lab that showed moving pictures and was also fitted out with a phonograph. In the film, its inventor, William Dickson, plays music from a popular operetta on a violin as two men dance beside him.

There are other interesting notes in the article including: “that Jiles Perry Richardson, who went by The Big Bopper, became the first person to use the phrase “music video” in a 1959 interview with a British magazine. (Richardson died that same year in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.) The “Chantilly Lace” singer is also credited with making some of the earliest known rock videos in 1958.”

Here’s the Big Bopper on American Bandstand in a music video like segment. Apparently no one cared that performances were lip synced back then.

The best known examples of early music videos though came from the Beatles. They used the emerging genre to tell a story in a film such as “Help” and “A Hard Day’s Night,” and recorded dozens of promotional clips, some with stories and others mostly just psychedelic images, that were broadcast in England and America.

I also remember watching “The Monkeys” television show which seemed to be one long music video stitched together by a few “Lucy” or”Scooby Doo” like situations that would introduce some kind of plot to the episode. In the end I believe the point of the show was really just to promote The Monkeys music and sell records.

When MTV came on the scene and played the Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star as their first video ever, my generation seemed ready to embrace the music video as the preferred form of entertainment.


I can remember going over to friends houses (since we didn’t have cable) to watch MTV for hours. The VH1 website has a nice article entitled MTV Memories: the first 30 videos ever played on MTV where they have many of those early videos from Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, and Reo Speedwagon available.

The popularity of MTV and VH1 might have died down, but the music video continues to live on through You Tube. Adding your own pictures to someone else’s song or performing a song on camera is still very popular type of video post. The music video may not be the best classiest way to tell a story. Take a look at this You Tube post entitled The 5 worst amateur videos.  It is though a fun, and easy way to communicate ideas, and it can be produced by just about anyone with a camera on their phone.

As video becomes a more predominate way of communicating in the digital age, I think more and more of us will use the music video to get our point across.

I was a video editor in another life and made these videos many years ago. I thought I would share them with you. The first was a just an editing sample demo I made when the company I worked with didn’t have many produced projects to show potential clients. The kid here is an adult now and I’m pretty sure he never became a rock and roll star.

This next one was for a young bunch of guys who responded to an ad I placed for a free music video. We had a lot of responses, but they were the most fun. I shot and edited everything here to use on my demo reel. See any similarities to The Monkeys ?  I hope you enjoy it!.

So thats my story about music videos. I’m still a fan and plan on devoting some more time to watching some good music videos on You Tube, (since I still don’t have cable).

Do you have any memories of music videos? Are they an authentic genre for telling stories? Let me know in the comments.

Where do I start? I have learned so much. I could write a book. I’ll start with a post. I wrote this post a few months back but thought I would share it with #etmooc. Etmooc is all about sharing and learning. So maybe theres something to learn from my story, as I have learned from other stories.

This isn’t really about what I learned directly from Harrison, who’s six , and Sophie, who’s three. It’s more like Meandthekidswhat I learned because of them. I guess I could say the same thing about getting married to Joy. I could make a post-What I’ve learned from my wife- but I’ll save that for another day.

I’ve learned first of all, that they need me very much. More then I could ever imagine. Not just when they were babies but also now, and probably forever, if I’m lucky.

For ordinary things like food , shelter, clothing… and also toys, of course toys and yummy treats and a bottle, and juice please, and someone to play with, or watch a movie with, or help put on shoes. They also need love and hugs even if they don’t ask, and kisses on their foreheads and on their ouchies.

Sleeping Sophie

They need so much. They test and humble me everyday! It’s hard to accomplish some days, but I want to do it.  I understand now, even if I didn’t before what It means to be a parent. Maybe I see things differently now, since I have been their main care provider for the last couple of years.

I understand that parents must give themselves up, sometimes forgetting who they really are, making sacrifices, for our kids, so we can make the world a better place for them, or at least make their world, their life, the parts we can control, make that better, the best it possibly can be, no matter what. So they are happy, and loved and successful, and have all we wished for when we were young, …and more… so much more.

I think I have done that, I hope I have, well it is a work in progress.

I’ve also learned that if I am going to provide for them, and do it well, I have to be happy, with myself, with what I’m doing. For me that means working, as in having a job, making a difference, making a contribution, being creative, constructive. I’m not sure my previous career in real estate ever did that for me. I enjoyed working as an assistant teacher at a middle school more. Helping the students and teachers learn.  That’s why I went back to school. To learn a new profession so I could provide for my kids and provide for my own sense of well being.

I became fascinated with the process of learning after enrolling my son in an early education program. Discussing the curriculum and the science of teaching kids with the school director, struck a cord with me. I thought back about my former jobs and realized I had already been a teacher. I didn’t exactly have that title but I was often a trainer. I taught producers and copywriters how to best piece together their video project as an editor, I taught users how to best operate their Macintosh’s as a technician. I taught clients how to buy a house.

So, I started looking for jobs at schools. I found one that wanted me, and that set me off on a path towards a career in education. So its possible, if I never had my son, that I wouldn’t have discovered a passion for teaching. Wouldn’t have completed my masters, wouldn’t be here in #etmooc. Everything happens for a reason.


So what I’ve learned from my kids is how to become a better person. The steps to take, and that you should absolutely try to be better.

I aspire to improve, because of them. If I become smarter, learn more about life, learn how to navigate the ups and downs and how to be happy with who I am, learn some secrets of success, learn how to discover what I am passionate about or what I am good at, well then I’ve made myself better.

It’s something I’m working on, will always be working on. If I’m a better person, I will have more to contribute to my children’s well being. It’s an important discovery I learned because of Harrison and Sophie. It’s also a lesson I plan on teaching them.

Whats your story? I’d like to hear.

See on Scoop.itConnectivism for Online Learning

A couple of weeks through the Educational Technology and Media course #etmooc, and it seems like a lot of participants are learning and enjoying themselves.  Recently though I have noticed some pos…

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