Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Canvas is another platform for offering free courses -- and Maria Andersen's course on social media deserves a look

Worth a look
Maria Andersen has a number of notable observations that have grown in popularity.  how about a click on her "Learn This" video?

She offers a Social Media course on Canvas.com, a platform for offering courses that has hundreds of instructors.  Kay Latona suggested that I look at it and I've invested about two hours in doodling on the site.  I haven't figured it out yet, but here's what a course looks like:

I like the ideograms for "no grade given" and some of the other features (peer grading) that are common to massive open online courses.

Visually the Canvas "look" has some appeal.  I plan to share this link with several students, especially students who claim that they'll never enjoy or want to take an online course.  "I have to see the teacher in the room," stated one student.  Well, it's amazing how much we can learn from someone's video so that when we are in the same room with that person, we'll be ready to ask questions and discuss some ideas.

The concept of "face time" with an instructor will eventually mean, "I read the instructor's works, I've seen some videos, and now I have some questions.  I've even emailed the instructor and gotten some guidance before the first class, so I think I've prepared myself for the first face-to-face discussion."  That might be the order of interaction.

As a survivor of an online degree program, I've gone trhough the stages of reading the author's words, scanning the author's website, downloading numerous recommended videos and audio files (that the author recommended), watching videos that the author had posted and even emailing the author (who is an editor of an online journal)... so I also read some of the journal that he edits.  Only at that point did I enroll in the author's class.   I felt more prepared to take the class than any course I'd taken before (where the usual first contact with the instructor is the first minute of the class).  

The online process is step by step... and I imagine that taking a course with Maria Andersen would be similar, since I had learned abou her lectures on YouTube and her writings in the Futurist before I saw her course on Social Media via Canvas.  

These logos and ideograms are the
ways to communicate in the future
So, students of the future, why not do a little digging into the archives of the Internet to learn what the instructor has previously written or posted on blogs or uploaded as "useful" or recommended as worth viewing?  You'll get some informal learning by reading what the instructor has read.   I also hope that my students who are taking a test prep class get the idea that informal learning that is tangential to the course's content is where more learning takes place.  For example, I read a book about Mother Cabrini (I think the book was called the Candidate) because the instructor recommended that book.  It had something to do with administrative law but the book revealed the spectrum of interests that the instructor had -- and the instructor eventually became a candidate and council member of the City of Fort Lauderdale.  His wife is a regular contributor to "what Steve is reading" because she sends recommendations to my wife (which I end up noticing, thanks to my spouse's tenacious sharing of her inbox).  

This ramble might give my students some ideas about what to include in their "learn this next" list.   The immediate goal might be certification and "learning enough to get through the gateway," but the long-term advantage goes to the people who have access to information... (and a system for developing a net to capture new information) and one way to get access to new info is to let enough of the right people know what you are interested in and hope that they will clip and pass along to you the information that you need.   

I want my colleagues at University of Havana to
have access to this material... 
My friend Mario and I are passing along requests for information from students in a university in the Caribbean who have limited access ot the Internet, so I'm looking for people who can help in their requests for information.  So look for the next blog item, something about "Request for Help in Responding to Requests for Information from Students who have limited access to the Internet."

https://www.canvas.net/courses/social-media  Maria Andersen's course

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