Mapping the four quarters

It’s a Monday on Tuesday, due to the holiday, and time to try and make sense of where I am, of late. Being visual I roughed out a map of what interests I’m currently focused on and how it ties into my professional life here at work. So, without much further elaboration:
Like any tentative map its up for question – learning can surely be folded into collaborative activity, but not all learning in collaborative and so on. The key, the thing I need to figure out how to represent, is the p2p element. There are links to various sites that work with this map, and no doubt some more thought and contextualization would be useful, but it’s still – technically- Monday morning so……

Technology for Community Conversation and Learning – Online Summer Seminar

We share a world of finite resources, rapid changes, and evolving cultures. Can technology help us talk about the challenges inherent in this environment? This seminar will focus on case studies of the effective use of a global technology to support local community conversations and learning.

We will critically examine a variety of technology-based tools and how they are being used. Seminar discussions will focus on the impact of these tools in our work, when and where they can be effective, and how to manage online learning and conversation.

The online nature of this seminar allows us to use discussion forums, wikis and other tools to learn together over the course of the summer. The timeframe for this course was set with the hope of making this a low-stress, engaging online experience that you can participate in as the season unfolds.

Session: June 15 – August 29.

Registration is open from April 1 thru May 10, 2009. Register online for this course at:

Communities of reflection

I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking (one might say reflecting) about what it is we actually do when we come together online. There’s a lot of talk about Communities of Practice and how and what and when, but what I find or what I find interesting is the act of reflection as a way to learn and refine/change practice. And perhaps I am being too much the literalist here, but mostly practice happens out there, in the world. What we do here, online, is tell the stories about the practice and then, hopefully, reflect and engage around the story and our reflections.

Yes, yes…CoP’s have a reflective component but I am seriously wondering about building intentional communities of reflection. I believe it would be a different experience…the boundaries and rules would alter and, perhaps, the stories would be given more space. (On the other hand, maybe not. ) Perhaps a kind of story circle…

Marrying Adobe Connect and Polycom to Deliver In-service Training

I’ve spent some time this past semester (Fall ’07) working with an undergrad adult ed class. A major project for the students has been to develop an in-service training for extension staff that will be delivered “at-distance”. This past Friday was the first in-service and I’d like to elucidate our setup for content delivery, which included participants connecting via Polycom and Adobe Connect.

Schematic of Polycom and Connect

The Polycom unit (VSX700e) is located in a smaller conference room. This room has been recently upgraded and includes a Pioneer flat panel for videoconference display, a ceiling mounted microphone and 2 ceiling mounted Bose speakers, for audio. The question, or challenge, was, how can we integrate an Adobe Connect meeting and have it come as close as possible to replicating the “presence” of a full on video conference?

The schematic diagram lays out the components, as I set them up in the room. We were able to capture the audio of the presenters and Polycom attendees and channel it into the Connect meeting by using 2 MLX V63M condenser mic’s, fed through a Behringer Eurorack UB802 mixer. A webcam, placed on the conference table broadcast the presenters to Connect meeting attendees.

The system required 2 “operators” – the presenter narrating the powerpoint using the Polycom set-up and a Connect host,Over the shoulder image from the in-service clicking through the presentation, in -sync with the main presenter, and fielding text questions from Connect attendees. Questions from Connect participants were then read aloud to include the Polycom attendees and also to re-enforce the connection between the 2 mediums.

Some comments were offered, at the end of the in-service, regarding the issue of presence and the differing methods ofdelivery and while Connect attendees did indicate a slightly more detached feel during the presentation. The overall response was positive indicating that marrying these 2 tools may be an effective practice to increase the accessibility and reach of web cast presentations.

Latent Information Networks

When an emergent issue arises and a response is initiated, what accounts for those instances when the response is both rapid, informed and collaborative? I pose this question in the context of our work at Cooperative Extension and the responsibility we have to educate. And I think, that in some instances, there is a latent information network which is activated in these situations. (Anyone is welcome to point me to similar research/speculation here)

Latent information networks (LIN’s)….was tempted to call them Latent Educational Networks (LEN’s) … but I digress…the point is experts, specialists, professionals meet (and I’ve come to think face to face is a much more key element in forming stronger bonds) at conferences workshops or virtually. The commonality of topic/interest/specialization holds the potential for the formation of Communities of Practice and connections are made, but may not be utilized or acted upon in any fully formed manner….the connections exist as latencies…sort of narrowband relationships.

When an issue or need  arises these narrowband connections/channels can rapidly grow to broadband…or become active (AIN’s or possibly AEN’s). These active networks produce materials, educational opportunities etc…as needed and once the emergent issue passes or becomes institutionalize the network can shift again.

Rambled, garbled but a start…..

Collaborate and Evaluate – The new database activity in MOODLE

MOODLE’s new Database activity provides a solid tool for collaboration and evaluation of images, documents and data. This short video provides a brief overview of this new activity. Setting up a database, adding fields and basic customization of the template are covered.

We’ve discussed this capacity for over a year now, internally. This new activity offers tremendous potential for collective data gathering, evaluation and knowldege building. As time goes by we will be developing some specific activity “frameworks” that will make use of this capacity. As they come online I’ll post relevant links here. As always we are open and welcoming of any feedback, experiences, comments, etc…

You can view the screencast by visiting the MOODLE Documentation site.

Scales and Ratings in MOODLE Forums

One of our collaborators wanted to post some documentsin MOODLE and then have participants read, respond to and rate them. I intially thought Choice was the way to go, but…no commenting there. So a forum can be set to allow participants to rate posts. Simple enough, right? Select that option and hey!presto.

In theory and in actual practice it is easy, once you understand how. It took me some time to track down the right way to do this. I checked MOODLE help forums and it was never laid out straight and simple and sometimes I need that-especially if I’m jumping in to help someone.

So, I figured maybe there are others out there who need or want the straight and simple. You can view the video of “Scales and Ratings in MOODLE Forums” here:

As always, comments are welcome.

Tools for Collaboration – PmWiki documentation

We’ve just begun to use wiki’s with a more focused intent and as part of that process I’ve created an introductory video on using PmWiki. This video covers basic editing, using tables to collect data, importing from EXCEL and creating new wiki pages. It is a 640×480 flash video and runs 12m5s.

The video is availalable from the Tools for Collaboration | Documentation site.

Part 2 will be coming soon…..