Not What I Expected.

 EC&I 831 – Tuesday, March 11, 2008 – Presenter Stephen Downs

Our presenter this week was Stephen Downs who works for the National Research Council in New Brunswick and specializes in online learning, content syndication, and new media. Stephen has created some excellent on-line resources, writes a blog called OLDaily, and continues to be an important leader in the field of education technology.  If the network really is more powerful than the node, then Stephen is certainly a very powerful and influential node.

Stephen’s online presence is very impressive.  He is read by many who often link back and refer to his ideas.  I have been reading his blog for most of the semester, and was a little disappointed by his presentation.  I felt that much of his presentation was disorganized and was mostly about software that was relatively over my head, or at least of little interest to me.  Although there was much that I couldn’t relate to, he did make some very good points. 

Stephen was at least the fourth of the presenters in our class to promote the power of the network.  One thing that I’ll take away from his presentation is that the idea of Personal Learning is that you learn more by being a part of a network.

Stephen asked the question, “How do you teach if you no longer have power over the students?”  My immediate thoughts toward this question were about the importance of keeping current with new technologies.  What I’m questioning is,

“What if the students think you are disconnected, out of touch, and lack knowledge in areas in which they are highly motivated?” 

I feel that I’ve been relatively capable of keeping current thus far in my teaching career.  I’m certainly very thankful of all of the experiences I’ve had so for through this course as I feel that I am learning some very valuable tools that allow me to keep up to date and should be helpful in motivating student learning.


4 Responses

  1. I agree with you that it is important to keep up to date in teaching. Students are more likely to be engaged if materials and presentations are relevant and current. This class has certainly given me the opportunity to engage a few more students. Blogging has become almost a daily occurrence (reading others or posting). I hope that we stay connected once this class ends. Did I see your name on the ICT Committee? I think I did. We will soon meet to discuss issues in our division. Looking forward to it.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Yes, you did see my name on the ICT Committee. Looking forward to meeting you in person. I’m sure that the meeting will be quite productive, as we have a lot to discuss.
    See you next Tuesday.

  3. I think your questions is correct, and also problematic. the “in areas in which they are highly motivated” is the tough part. How can we possibly keep track of a moving target? It is a tough question for teachers and administrators but important that we grasp its relevance.

  4. Great post Ryan. Your thoughts are very similar to many of my own. I agree that Stephen is obviously a very influential person, but I too was disappointed with his presentation. I’m sure the code writers found it quite interesting, but a lot of what he went through was beyond me, Greek you might say. I guess presentations have to try and touch everyone and maybe Stephen did that. He touched on code writing for those that can and do. For people like us he introduced ideas of the power of the network and the idea of personal learning. He is right about those concepts. I have learned a lot as part of this network and continue to be exposed to things I would never know about. Our latest discussion on the closure of Al Upton’s blog is something I may not have come across. To add to this we will have a discussion about it. Like the discussion on internet safety, being able to hear the opinions of many others enhances the quality of the information I will be exposed to. So Stephen is dead on, networks and personal learning through networks is so powerful.

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