Week 6 – Personal Learning Environments & Networks #CCK11 #ELTchat #edchat #edreform #ukedchat #lrnchat #elearning #edtech #technology #education #esl #efl #elt #ell #Teacher #esol #TEFL #TESOL #IATEFL

The story begins (Credit: google images)

Once upon a time, so the story begins, and how it ends, is yet to be revealed…

For me, this week was, and is, the most important one of the whole course. It directs my reflections to my personal reason(s) for investing my time in this course, #CCK11, namely, what are the implications for my teaching?

As a learner, I recognised immediately that my personal learning approach, especially in its informal manifestation, was precisely defined by connectivism. The course has enriched the way I go about my personal informal learning. For example, I was previously more than content to have only contacts that shared my passion for teaching and learning. That is to say, people like me.

The course helped me to become aware of the significance of having people from other disciplines, with distinctively different ways of seeing the world, as a part of my personal learning network (PLN).

All of my PLN’s, from #CCK11 to Facebook to Linkedin to Twitter, have been substantially improved as a result. Now, I not only have mutually beneficial access to some of the most brilliant minds in my profession, but also to some of the most brilliant minds, in the world.

Turning to Week 6, I read the suggested material and watched the numerous related videos I found.

Cable Green has an abundance of material available on Slideshare, and I quickly grasped, what for me, is his message. Open Educational Resources is something that is not going away, and it will have to be dealt with appropriately, not only by learning institutions, but by the individuals who are its intended beneficiaries.

Free the Textbook (Credit: Eric Frank)

My post, “Free the Textbook”, represents my thinking on this aspect of Week 6. Most notable is the lone comment that post received, from a coursebook author whose material is being field-tested by myself. Since I did not clarify my call for “Free the Textbook” it was open to misinterpretation.

To be specific, when a textbook costs $200 US dollars, in this digital age in which we live, then in my mind, the time for a revolution has come. Yes, I know it’s hard to make a buck in these tough economic times, but a two-hundred dollar textbook is ridiculous abuse, in my humble opinion.

To date, everything I write, from poem to story to instructional manual to Power Point presentation, has been made with the intent to freely share, at no cost, no price, as free as I could make it, to the end user.

The only cost to you is the time it takes you to decide if the material is of value to you, or someone you know. I do recognise your time as a valuable commodity.

So, when a teacher circumvents the system that creates $200 dollar textbooks, as did Mr. David Deubelbeiss, the author of “We Teach ~ We Learn, an innovative, self-published coursebook that promotes Student Created Content (SCC) for English Language Learners, I applaud.

After I finish applauding, then I invest my own time and resources to advance what I see as an admirable approach to putting high-quality materials in the hands of the learner, in as economical form as possible, while adequately honoring the work of the author.

I sincerely believe the Teaching profession needs, and desperately so, more people like David Deubelbeiss, who are willing to circumvent the system in a mutually beneficial way, between author and student.

As I see it, there is honor in paying a fair price for goods and services. My call for “Free the Textbook” is not a call for authorial exploitation, intellectual abuse, or economic exploitation of the end user, the consumer.

The Storyteller (Credit: Google images)

Leaving this area, I come to the Week 6, Friday, facilitator-led session. It was unique due to its use of Interactive White Board (IWB). If I’m not mistaken, it was UBeam, but I am not certain.

The point I’d like to make is the changed dynamic that it created in terms of interactivity between facilitator(s) and participants. I feel this use of technology truly reflected what teaching and learning should be, if we are to engage students in the learning process, to invest themselves fully.

There were comments that brought a smile to my face. For example, someone said, I paraphrase, “Without Evernote I would die”. I smiled because if Evernote were to disappear tomorrow, our ingenuity and connectivity would not tardy in finding a suitable replacement, in a functional sense, that might even prove to be more efficient, more effective, than Evernote had been.

The discussion on teaching and learning interested me greatly, so much so, that I departed from my usual methods of working with the recorded version. I opted for the chat session, the written record of what the participants were saying to themselves during the facilitator session.

I isolated this, and asked myself one very difficult question: If I could only take away one thing from this, what would it be? As a teacher, where is the impact for me? What is most significant?

Here is the exchange that captured my attention:
BrainySmurf: @keith and cris – importance of story and conversation is resurfacing, isn’t it?

Cris2B: @keith –“We think in metaphors and learn through stories” — Mary Catherine Bateson

Storytelling (Credit: Google images)

This particular exchange resonated with me, powerfully, because everything we do, in my humble opinion, is a story to be told.

We have to be first, encouraged to tell our story, even if it doesn’t “ring your bell”, as the receiver of the story.

I actually wrote a poem, which I called Poem 1, or Let It Be, which captures this aspect perfectly for me.

You see, untold stories speak loudly, crying out from the centuries, from this day to all the past days of recorded history, falling again and again, on deaf ears, ears that can hear, ears that could hear, but hear not, despite the story’s need to be heard.

Secondly, it’s not only telling the story, the “what”, but “how” the story is told that will decide its ultimate fate.

Stories told in ways that fail to touch the mind, fail to touch the heart, fail to touch the soul, fail to touch the imagination of its hearer(s), will also go to the graveyard, as a silent scream, told, yet unheard, by ears that could hear but hear not.

Of these stories we will ask ourselves: Is a story told, really a story, if it is heard by no one?

Sadly, the answer must be, “Such a story can not be a story, for it was heard not, although told…”

As an example of a story told but not heard, I can point to the following example, from my friend Tracy:
Tracy Parish (@hamtra): My Biology Prof in University did nothing but read a textbook. DULL DULL DULL

Ladies and gentlemen, this was a story told, but heard by no one.

To conclude, with a question, rather than a statement, is questionable, I know. Nevertheless, here’s my question:

Will the story of Connectivism be heard, will the story of #CCK11 be heard?

If it is to be heard, not as a silent scream, but as a tale to be told, from this day to all the days of all the centuries to come, will rest largely upon the storytelling abilities of ourselves, the participants of #CCK11, and to those like us.

What will your story be? Once upon a time…

Best regards,

The story begins (Credit: google images)

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
This entry was posted in Connectivism, Education, Reflections and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Week 6 – Personal Learning Environments & Networks #CCK11 #ELTchat #edchat #edreform #ukedchat #lrnchat #elearning #edtech #technology #education #esl #efl #elt #ell #Teacher #esol #TEFL #TESOL #IATEFL

  1. leahgrrl says:

    Dear Thomas, I just wanted you to know I read your blog all the time and haven’t been good about saying how much I enjoy your very thoughtful approach to the CCK course materials and discussion. I’m in the textbook industry, actually, and I’ve been urging the people at my Day Job to get busy reimaginging their future. Because soon, frankly, as Cable Green said, they may be gone if they keep relying on the old business model.


    • Hi Leah,

      Thank you for dropping by for a visit. Also, I must thank you for your generous comments. You are too kind, but you have my permission to don’t stop! Flattery will get you everywhere with me! 🙂

      Leah, I think there is a place for everybody in the textbook industry. Authors are needed, you are needed, and I am needed. When we realise that we live in a changed world, the question becomes, how do we be responsible for the interests that we serve?

      If we are lucky, the answer is one in which there is universal agreement. In the worst case scenario, there is a parting of ways, as each searches for the avenue that one hopes will be the most beneficial.

      At the moment, an industry that sells textbooks for $200 dollars will soon find itself without any buyers. The consumers will all be going over to David Deubelbeiss and authors like him, who are self publishing high quality materials.

      Now, that’s only my opinion, and I have been known to be wrong from time to time. I actually hope that I am wrong, and that your industry develops a new business model, with more choice, allowing the consumer to seek out what best suits their needs.

      Leah, again, thank you for your visit. I’d like to comment on your perseverance in this course. You have always been a part of every single session, facilitator or guest speaker. That’s commendable, and I encourage you to continue.

      Best regards to my friend,
      Princess Leah,

      your friend in Santiago de Chile


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