Cathy Anderson

How do we harness the energy of information? Through Education!!

#Change11 and more random notes

Written By: Cathy - Mar• 25•12

Education is an everchanging landscape, that maybe viewed by some as one of the last institutions to be disrupted by technology.  The proof is also in the diverse range of topics covered by the presenters for Change 11.

Today listened to Stephen Downes presentation, now at week 25 in to the this marathon massive online course (MM – ooc) LOL!  Following are my notes from the session:

I did gain a lot from Stephen’s presentation on Pedagogy.  He covered three domains: knowledge, Learning and community.   I did a web search and found this Slide presentation, prepared by Downes and available on SlideShare.  He states that “Knowledge is the network.”  This makes sense to me, but maybe not exactly how Downes intends.  I do seek out others who share my interests to grow and expand my  “personal learning network,” and my knowledge.    Downes identified three different kinds of Knowledge, which are somewhat driven by research methodologies:   Qualitative:  properties qualities and relations.  Quantitative, which includes number, mass and proportion.  and connective which includes patterns, networks, causes and impacts  The group in the session were asked to define knowledge so I did a web search to see how researcher and other leaders in the field of education define knowledge:

Stephen Downes: (you have to read his blog to get the full definition)   The traditional definition of knowledge is ‘justified true belief’. There are many problems with that definition, but it does point to the fact that we think of ‘knowledge’ as being something broadly mental and propositional. Knowledge, in other words, is a macro phenomenon, like an entire set of connections, and not a micro phenomenon, like a single connection.

Don Clark provides several definitions on knowledge providing the following comprehensive definition of two types of knowledge:

Explicit knowledge can be articulated into formal language, including grammatical statements (words and numbers), mathematical expressions, specifications, manuals, etc. Explicit knowledge can be readily transmitted others. Also, it can easily be processed by a computer, transmitted electronically, or stored in databases.

Tacit knowledge is personal knowledge embedded in individual experience and involves intangible factors, such as personal beliefs, perspective, and the value system. Tacit knowledge is hard to articulate with formal language (hard, but not impossible). It contains subjective insights, intuitions, and hunches


This website and many others provide quotes about knowledge.



. As I listened, with no prior knowledge…putting a new wrinkle in my brain. I realized that knowledge is a pattern that we put into context and from that we learn.  Downes refers to this as Emergence.  Emergence is taking the actual connections and interpreting them as a distinct whole. ..then taking the distinct  whole and interpreting it as a set of connections.


This was kind of a eureka moment for me as this sums up how I believe I learn and make associations that develop my knowledge base.   Personal knowledge is very individualized and probably internalizes however, public knowledge is that which is open and broadly available.

Downes’ presented his Theory of Pedagogy in which he states that to teach is to model and demonstrate and to learn is to practice and reflect upon what you have learned.

Just about everything I put on this blog is based upon handwritten notes I have taken, which are observations on something I read or that I have listened to.  Even though I have not blogged here much in recent months does not mean I don’t have a backlog of notes.  Following is my review of those notes.


John Dron Change 11 Week 11:


My notes are in a question form..has technology made learning better?   Dron in his blog defines hard and soft technology as follows: soft; where phenomena are actively orchestrated by humans and shard where orchestration of phenomena is embedded in rules and tools.  Soft technologies are those which are guided by people.  Dron points out that it is not the what that you do but the how that determines the success of what you do.


My notes also include notes on things totally unrelated to Change 11 but still a part of education.  I was reviewing material on the web on assessment.  Assessment is taking a realistic view of what we do and how well do we do that.  Assessment should also include an evaluation of the findings and using that “knowledge” to make improvements.    For these notes I focusd on:

Assessment information is used to improve, to inform, and prove (are you doing what you say you are doing and are the students learning..and to support the efficacy of campus decision making).

The American Association of Higher Education has defined the following nine principles of good practice in  assessment:

1 The assessment of student learning begins with educational values.

Assessment is not an end in itself but a vehicle for educational improvement. Its

effective practice, then, begins with and enacts a vision of the kinds of learning

we most value for students and strive to help them achieve. Educational values

should drive not only what we choose to assess but also how we do so. Where

questions about educational mission and values are skipped over, assessment

threatens to be an exercise in measuring what’s easy, rather than a process of

improving what we really care about.


2 Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of

learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance

over time.

Learning is a complex process. It entails not only what students know but what

they can do with what they know; it involves not only knowledge and abilities but

values, attitudes, and habits of mind that affect both academic success and

performance beyond the classroom. Assessment should reflect these

understandings by employing a diverse array of methods, including those that call

for actual performance, using them over time so as to reveal change, growth, and

increasing degrees of integration. Such an approach aims for a more complete and

accurate picture of learning, and therefore firmer bases for improving our

students’ educational experience.


3 Assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have

clear, explicitly stated purposes.

Assessment is a goal-oriented process. It entails comparing educational

performance with educational purposes and expectations — those derived from the

institution’s mission, from faculty intentions in program and course design, and

from knowledge of students’ own goals. Where program purposes lack specificity

or agreement, assessment as a process pushes a campus toward clarity about

where to aim and what standards to apply; assessment also prompts attention to

where and how program goals will be taught and learned. Clear, shared,

implementable goals are the cornerstone for assessment that is focused and useful.


4 Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to

the experiences that lead to those outcomes.

Information about outcomes is of high importance; where students “end up”

matters greatly. But to improve outcomes, we need to know about student

experience along the way — about the curricula, teaching, and kind of student

effort that lead to particular outcomes. Assessment can help us understand which

students learn best under what conditions; with such knowledge comes the

capacity to improve the whole of their learning.


5 Assessment works best when it is ongoing not episodic.

Assessment is a process whose power is cumulative. Though isolated, “one-shot”

assessment can be better than none, improvement is best fostered when

assessment entails a linked series of activities undertaken over time. This may

mean tracking the process of individual students, or of cohorts of students; it may

mean collecting the same examples of student performance or using the same

instrument semester after semester. The point is to monitor progress toward

intended goals in a spirit of continuous improvement. Along the way, the

assessment process itself should be evaluated and refined in light of emerging



6 Assessment fosters wider improvement when representatives from

across the educational community are involved.

Student learning is a campus-wide responsibility, and assessment is a way of

enacting that responsibility. Thus, while assessment efforts may start small, the

aim over time is to involve people from across the educational community.

Faculty play an especially important role, but assessment’s questions can’t be fully

addressed without participation by student-affairs educators, librarians,

administrators, and students. Assessment may also involve individuals from

beyond the campus (alumni/ae, trustees, employers) whose experience can enrich

the sense of appropriate aims and standards for learning. Thus understood,

assessment is not a task for small groups of experts but a collaborative activity; its

aim is wider, better-informed attention to student learning by all parties with a

stake in its improvement.


7 Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and

illuminates questions that people really care about.

Assessment recognizes the value of information in the process of improvement.

But to be useful, information must be connected to issues or questions that people

really care about. This implies assessment approaches that produce evidence that

relevant parties will find credible, suggestive, and applicable to decisions that

need to be made. It means thinking in advance about how the information will be

used, and by whom. The point of assessment is not to gather data and return

“results”; it is a process that starts with the questions of decision-makers, that

involves them in the gathering and interpreting of data, and that informs and helps

guide continuous improvement.


8 Assessment is most likely to lead to improvement when it is part of a

larger set of conditions that promote change.

Assessment alone changes little. Its greatest contribution comes on campuses

where the quality of teaching and learning is visibly valued and worked at. On

such campuses, the push to improve educational performance is a visible and

primary goal of leadership; improving the quality of undergraduate education is

central to the institution’s planning, budgeting, and personnel decisions. On such

campuses, information about learning outcomes is seen as an integral part of

decision making, and avidly sought.


9 Through assessment, educators meet responsibilities to students and

to the public.  There is a compelling public stake in education. As educators, we have a

responsibility to the publics that support or depend on us to provide information

about the ways in which our students meet goals and expectations. But that

responsibility goes beyond the reporting of such information; our deeper

obligation — to ourselves, our students, and society — is to improve. Those to

whom educators are accountable have a corresponding obligation to support such

attempts at improvement





I have been thinking about quality in online education programs again and found this in my notes:

There are many components, definitions and avenues for delivery in online educational programs and courses.  Online learning can be approached by the student either formally or informally.


The analysis of online has almost always included the question of whether or not it is as good as if not better than traditional face to face courses.  (even though now that question will be tougher and tougher to judge as more and more course content goes online to supplement face to face courses.)  However, it requires a continuous evaluation and monitoring to deliver the appropriate level of quality.  The literal cost of developing a quality educational course in online is money and time intensive but also requires an investment in the technical infrastructure.


According to the research I have done the model for the delivery of online is one that is “technology rich,” and highly interactive.  Interaction is that which facilitates the interaction between students, student to faculty, student and content and student with the institution.  Research even supports the assumption that the student spends more time engaged with the content in an online course which lends itself very well to student success.


In my current situation I believe some content of every course that we offer, whether it is online or face to face should be present via the learning management system.  One would be to provide a student access to course material that we previously handed out via hard copies.   Video is used more and more as bandwidth expands and server space is more available and more affordable, now recorded lectures can be delivered to the online class. Pertinent and relevant content is really key to developing an online course, however the content is delivered is al critical to successful knowledge acquisition by the student.


Those are my notes!! More to come!


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