Tag Archives: massive online course

my first pass at practical advice for engaging a ple: foundations

Couples at Bowness

A caveat: I’m working only from my own experience in making these suggestions. Experience is limited and limiting, but these are the moves that I can trace back and forward to my being able to learn independently. I’d suggest that my experience is not unique, so others might find the set useful. These are not the only moves, but I would argue they are foundational.

For a learner new to using a PLE, I would advise the following in no particular order. Get everything used. Ideally, you can pass the books on when you’re done with them.

> Get and read and work through the first 8 chapters of Stoner and Perkins, Making Sense of Messages. For evaluation, don’t compose a paper. Do something else, multimodal.

> Read Lanham’s Analyzing Prose, 2nd edition. Follow his lead in a chapter of your choice in workiung with someth9hg other than a literary text: use your drivers license, or a menu. Then see if you can apply any of the techniques Lanham uses to something visual.

> Read and work through Berthoff’s Forming/Thinking/Writing. There are assisted invitations. Take up the invitations. Start and use a dialectic journal. Draw as well as write. Read Louis Agassiz as a Teacher, by Lane Cooper (Gutenberg link), especially those of Shaler and Scudder. Pretend you are a student and Berthoff is your Agassiz.

> Read social semiotics – not commentary on it but the actual stuff. Social semiotics will give you the literacy chops you’ll need to really read the texts you’ll encounter online and in RL. I haven’t found a good practice book yet, so practice Kress’s techniques on non-textual artifacts: a fashion spread, a car or two, something your kid drew at primary school. Try one of these: Multimodal Discourse, Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual…, Multimodality: A Social Semiotic Approach to Contemporary Communication. If you don’t get it right away, push on. You will.

> Read and with practice something on visual thinking. I like Colin Ware, Visual Thinking for Design, and Horn, Visual Language, but Dan Roam, The Back of a Napkin and books of that ilk are good. Ask around. Search Amazon and read reviews to find something comfortable.

Why not read bits and pieces of these things online? If you want to, if you can locate them, go ahead. Some of the books aren’t available in e-versions, or only bits are available online. Those that are will read differently – hence mean differently – than the print versions. Materiality is modal; we create meaning with it – but you’ll still get what you need. My suggestion is to read and manipulate the texts: try to do what they do. Practice. Take your time.

Two more if you fancy novels: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Lila, both by Pirsig. Read these as you read about Agassiz: as an autonomous learner on the move. Just don’t romanticize them. Please.

semiosis & open learning course pedagogy: my spurious connection?

As seen on tv in Walgreen's

Reading Kress, Multimodiality, I was struck by how his model of semiosis lines up with Downs’s and Siemens’s open course pedagogy of connectivism as it appeared in the critical literacies course earlier this summer.

Here’s Kress’s sketch of the sequence by which semiosis moves:

the recipient’s existing
interest shapes
attention, which produces
engagement leading to
selection of elements from the message, leading to a
framing of these elements, which leads to their
transformation and transduction, which produces a
new (‘inner’) sign.

Or, from the perspective of the interpreter:

interest produces attention;
attention shapes the form of the engagement;
this leads to selections being made;
the selections are framed;
there is the subsequent transformation and transductions of the elements in the frame;
and, in that, the (‘inwardly made’) sign is produced.

The sequence reshapes (aspects) of the initial message, the ‘ground’, into a prompt. Interest is the motive force: it is the basis for attention to the ‘ground’ constituted by the exhibition, for engagement with that ‘ground’; it shapes selection, transformation and transduction; and interest becomes evident in the new sign, the map.

And here’s Stephen Downes’s explanation of how the Critical LIteracies Online Course is designed:

1. Aggregate
We will give you access to a wide variety of things to read, watch or play with…. , what you should do is PICK AND CHOOSE content that looks interesting to you and is appropriate for you. If it looks too complicated, don’t read it. If it looks boring, move on to the next item.

2. Remix
Once you’ve read or watched or listened to some content, your next step is to keep track of that somewhere. How you do this will be up to you.

3. Repurpose
We don’t want you simply to repeat what other people have said. We want you to create something of your own. This is probably the hardest part of the process.

Remember that you are not starting from scratch. Nobody every creates something from nothing. That’s why we call this section ‘repurpose’ instead of ‘create’. We want to emphasize that you are working with materials, that you are not starting from scratch.

4. Feed Forward
We want you to share your work with other people in the course, and with the world at large.

Now to be clear: you don’t have to share. You can work completely in private, not showing anything to anybody. Sharing is and will always be YOUR CHOICE.

I wasn’t going to map Kress’s sequence to the course sequence, but I will: The instruction to aggregate let’s the learner draw on interest to shape her attention, to produce engagement which leads to selection, which slides into remix. Remix and repurpose put the focus on framing the elements of aggregation, to produce a new inner sign – which can then be shared, or not.

This connection between theory of communication and pedagogy – I’m not sure if it’s spurious or not yet –  also gives the vernacular activities aggregate, remix, repurpose, feed forward a pedagogical strength that I hadn’t recognized before.

That’s my morning started.