Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy new year, Feliz 2009

Hi all

It's a Spanish tradition to eat grapes at midnight of the New Year as good luck.

Thus, I wish you an Happy 2009 - Feliz 2009 - proposing you the following video which asks Obama to eat grapes - comer uvas - for the luck of all of us.


Friday, 26 December 2008

Mi discurso en Guadalajara

In Spanish: because the speech is in that language.

I publicado en YouTube mi intervención a Guadalajara. YouTube pone un límite de 10 minutos por vídeo. Por lo tanto, lo he dividido en diferentes partes.

Esta es la primera:



Si desea que el otro está aquí: http://it.youtube.com/pierfrancoravotto

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

I wish you ...

... Merry Christmas & Happy 2009.

I have taken a lot of photos in Mexico: many of them on Christmas theme; also an igloo in Zocalo.
Thus, Merry Christmas and happy New Year ... with Mexicans scenarios.


Sunday, 14 December 2008

My speech in Guadalajara

Just to confirm to my friends that I have really been in Guadalajara:



I went also to another Centre of the Guadalajara University: Ameca.



But now I'm at home :-)

Friday, 5 December 2008

El futuro de la education

I have been invited to take the inauguration speech at the "XVII Encuentro International de la Formation a Distancia" in Guadalajara: The future of education.

Find here the paper (in English):

Saturday, 29 November 2008

CCK08 - The end?

CCK08 Friday Daily: "So this is it: the last regular newsletter, the last discussion, the last day of our online course".
The end of the 12th week and of the course ... but I have remained at the 8th week: my last post is dated 2 November. I didn't found time during these weeks ... sorry :-(

I have enrolled myself in the course because of its free/flexible nature, knowing that enrolling myself I didn't take out possibilities to others.
I've read interesting materials/discussions and I had some interesting hints on which to reflect. Thus many thanks to George and Stephen. I hope you will leave the course materials available in the next months.

As for me. Opened this English blog for the CCK08 course, I'll go on posting on it.

I have been involved in an European project, TeNeGen, and I'll use in that project something that I have learned in this course. I will share in this blog TeNeGen's ideas and results.

I'm flying tomorrow to Guadalajara, Mexico, where I have been invited to speech about "The Future of Education" in the XVII Encuentro International de Education a Distancia, organised by the Guadalajara Virtual University. I'll tell you about the conference.

Keep in touch
or, better, keep in connection.

Pierfranco

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Yes, you did! Thanks Americans

Many of us, here in Europe, have spent the night connected, looking at the electoral results in USA. Mostly of us hoping for Obama's victory.
Change and hope have been the two leitmotivs of Barack's campaign. Obama said that there is a need of change. Yes, the World needs a change: the economy, the environment, the relations between countries, ... need a change. In a connected world the role of USA is essential for the change. Thus we hoped in a change of USA politics.

The slogan was: "Yes, we can". Yes, you did.
Thank you. Today, is a better day.


Sunday, 2 November 2008

CCK08 - Week 8 - Power, Control, Validity, and Authority in Distributed Environments

CCK08 course propose us, this week, a lecture by William H. Dutton titled "Through the Network (of Networks) – the Fifth Estate":

"Today I would like to explain why I believe it would not be an exaggeration to argue that a new form of social accountability is emerging in what I am calling the ‘Fifth Estate’. It is enabled by the growing use of the Internet and related information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as the personal computer and World Wide Web. Essentially, the Internet is enabling people to network with other individuals and with a vast range of information, services and technical resources. This is being achieved in ways that can support greater accountability not only in government and politics, but also in other sectors. I will argue that this could be as important – if not more so – to the 21st century as the Fourth Estate has been since the 18th".

I have a question about terminology. Dutton uses the same term "estate" referring to two different elements.
In Italy we use two different terms: stato referring to social classes and potere referring to power/authority.

In the French revolution, the terzo (third) stato, the Commons, is opposed to "clergy" and "nobility". As the "middle class" presented itself like the terzo stato, the quarto (fourth) stato has been introduced to refer to the proletariat. Remind Pellizza da Volpedo's picture just titled "Quarto stato".


Quarto potere is the Italian title of Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane".

The expression quarto (fourth) potere refers to the theory of the division of power in a democratic state: legislative, executive and judicial. The "fourth" is the one of the media that can exercise a control on the other tree powers.

With this meaning, I agree: the new forms of accessing and sharing information, of producing and sharing digital contents, of networking with other people can be considered as a fifth power.

Monday, 20 October 2008

cck08 - Week 6 - Complexity, Chaos and Teachers

Cck08 week 6 focus was on Complexity and Chaos: a very interesting matter!

George Siemens asked: "In what way is learning complex? In what way is it chaotic?"
My answer is: in many ways. Learning is complex and chaotic because life and world are. And because learning is a social activity, and social activities are complex and chaotic.

Jon Kruithof wrote: "Learning is complex not because of the subject matter but because of the learner. There's emotional connections to learning. When you get several complex people in a room with different agendas, different expected outcomes and different needs, that I would say is chaotic".
I partially desagree: it's also a question of the subject matter. The more the "object" of learning is complex, the more learning is; the more the "object" is simple, limited and localised, the more learning is not complex nor chaotic. Ie: learning computer science is chaotic, learning how to attach a file to an e-mail isn't.
But Jon is right: also if the subject is simple, human aspects of learning can make learning complex. Question of emotions, of different goals/expectations, of different use of the same terms (it's what Tim Gillibrand note for the discussion started from George's question: "… we are each using these terms in an imprecise and personal way").

Pat Parslow wrote: "If you think of chaotic systems in terms of the path followed by an "actor" through a 'landscape', the unpredictability occurs because you cannot precisely know the forces acting on the actor. …
… we each act to reduce the level of complication of things we interact with (by using our own filters). one thing we might want to do is find ways to help people engage their filters to focus on a domain - it is easier for them to navigate their learning landscape if they have landmarks".
I have appreciated his propositions. Learning is complex/chaotic as shown by its unpredictability. But then: what the role of teachers? In my 30 year teaching experience - as I wrote in a previous post - I tried to promote processes (learning experiences) renouncing to know which long-terms effects they can produce.
But I think that we are, rightly, required to produce some verifiable results. If I propose my students to project and realise a web site, I will not be able to know how such a work produce results on the capabilities of each of them, on their planning skills. But I must guarantee that they become able to use an HTML editor and to present a documentation of the work done.
Using Pat's terms: I propose them a landscape to be explored, but I must provide them some landmarks.
It's a question of filters (thanks again, Pat). My task is to help them in growing their own filters, but to do that I have to propose them some filters to make easier their exploration.

Carlos González Casares wrote: "A good teacher is the teacher who let you thinking about what he/she says. A great teacher is the teacher who start a process in an individual context and he/she doesn´t know really what it is going to be in the future with this process, because it is a chaotic process.
Learning is always a path without a predictable end. Learning is movement.
I learn, I know something and that is the little fire that can change all your complex personal context".
I strongly agree. But I think it's necessary to repeat: teachers have to play inside a contradiction. They must promote processes that they don't know where are going to, but they must also guarantee the fulfilment of limited goals/results. Changing the order: they must guarantee the fulfilment of specific goals/results but that is not sufficient, they must promote learning processes.

Do you agree?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

cck08 - Week 6 - Complexity, Chaos and Research

On Sunday, I posted the photo of my grandmother Maria - schoolmistress at the beginning of past century - with her little-schoolchildren in their white smocks.
A good introduction for this week subject! ☺

Have you read Renata Phelps' article? Citing Lee she says: "the two learning systems and cultures, that of school and of the Web, are fundamentally different; one has a basis in control and structure, and the other is seemingly unstructured and chaotic." The photo I have published perfectly visualises the idea of control and structure, order and directive-style typical of the traditional school. (Any element of chaos, in some way present in any classroom - also at the time of my grandmother, I suppose - has been eliminated at the moment of the photo, that means "at the moment of the formal representation").

In my thirty-year experience as a teacher - without having read Doll, Bjork, Honebein, … - I have, step by step, shifted from a directive-style, focused "on objectives and learning outcomes," to the promotion of processes: use of the laboratory, projects activities, working experiences out of the school, also out of Italy. I strongly agree with the statements: "Rather than simplifying the environment, the goal of educators should be to aid the learner to function in rich learning environments" and "education should be process-oriented and students must be actively engaged".
In the lab, teaching Electronics, I asked my students to design, realise and test simple, or more complex, circuits; teaching Automation, to write programs for a PLC in order to control motors or other devices. In the last course year, generally, I proposed to my students to choose a project and work on it for many months.
It's a way to capture students interest, to promote their creativity, to develop their problem solving capability, to learn through "errors, mistakes and difficulties" (see Bjork quoted by Phelps).
I have also spent a lot of my time organising working experiences, exchanges with foreign students and working experiences abroad. Wonderful learning experiences - in the real, complex, environment - for my students!

Thus: it's not only a question of digital environment and of digital natives. I did such experiences 20 years ago, and I found them useful for my (not-yet native) students learning.
Obviously, with digital native students it's much more crucial to leave the old - linear and teacher centered - school.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

cck08 - week 5 - "Groups & networks" ... but I speak about school-uniforms

Oops. It seems that I'm not a well-behaved student ☹.
It's Sunday evening and, during this week, I have never attended the course. I have read just now the posts in the Italian Community.
I'm not in the condition to write anything on the theme of the week.

But an answer by Jenny Mackness to my previous post - she says: "We (teachers) will need to rethink our role" - gives me the cue for sharing an idea coming to me from this photo (not a new idea, just a new visualisation).



The schoolmistress on the right is my grandmother, Maria, in the school year 1925/26. I used this photo for a polemical post, on my Italian blog, towards the Italian Ministry of Education, who would like to reintroduce the use of "grembiulini" (school-uniforms) for the schoolchildren (and unfortunately that is not her worse measure).
Watching the photo I thought that my grandmother was able to handle all the communication tools at a level higly superior then the lovely little girls in their white uniforms. She was higly superior to them in using the pen and the ink, books, the enciclopedia, newspapers … she was native in all such technologies. I don't know if she was native also on regard of the crystal radioset … but anyway, children were not allowed to use it!

Obviously, things are changed.

Friday, 3 October 2008

cck08 - week 4 - "Learning networks" ... and my mind wanders

CCK08, week 4: History of Learning Networks.
I think to "learning networks" in my history, to my use of the net with my students … and some images appear in my mind.

1999.
Computer lab. My students are working in group. Now I don't remember the task; anyway a traditional problem: a group can't work because what done in the previous week is on the floppy of the absent girl student.
Jessica: "Prof, can I use my mobile to send a message? I write her to send me by e-mail".
No sooner said than done.

2000
The same computer lab: they have to produce some web pages (once again I don't remember the matter). I look at Sofia's monitor: clearly she is not using the web editor nor seeing her pages; she is browsing elsewhere.
"Prof, I would like to use a water effect. This site explains how to do it".

2002.
I enter into the classroom. Katia: "Prof. I'm sorry. I haven't done my homework. I've seen it only at midnight … it was too late".
I expected they see it today, once in the lab. I have sent it about 20 minutes before midnight.

Epiphanic moments for a digital immigrant. Thus I have tried to exploit my students' use of the network to change my teaching and to boost their learning.

2007.
I send to my students marks, corrections and new tasks into our eLearning environment. And I'm surprised by the speed of their feedback. It seems they are there, waiting for my message (but I'm sure they aren't so interested).
One, two minutes: one of them send me a question, another calls me for a chat. Half an hour: some one send me the homework!

They are not waiting for my messages. They are online to download music, to upload photos, to chat with friends, to see a video, …: not only one of these activities, but all of them at the same time. Having so many windows opened, they open also our learning environment, probably because there is a pub, where to joke with the schoolfellows.
Thus it happens - surprise! ☺ - that my message takes her/his attention off eMule or YouTube … and she/he corrects the mistakes done, or carry out a new exercise.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

cck08 - Week 3 - Connections in a small world

CCK08 Moodle is where I have posted the comment that I reproduce here.

Mária Hartyányi - from Hungary - answering to my post Week 1 - What is Connectivism? (2) added a comment "we are already twofold connected: a friend of mine (Istvan Bessenyei, how takes part in TENEGEN too) some days ago met with your fellow in Italy! We are all connected? Or would be the world really so small?".

George has now mentioned the same question in his presentation "Introduction to networks": slide 5, "Small world". He has cited the Six degrees of separation (see on Wikipedia): everyone is an average of six "steps" away from each person on Earth.

I like the tool offered by ClustrMaps. You can see, on my blog, the Map of the people who have connected:
Nice to see the growth of red points from new countries.

I have known Maria - till now only virtually, not face2face - because she has contacted me as coordinator of the SLOOP project, an European funded project, on the sharing of open/free LOs. She intended to present to the European Commission a new project - TENEGEN, that has been approved and will start in a few days - based on SLOOP results.
I'm fashinated to see the ClustrMap of the connection to the SLOOP site (after the formal end of the project, I didn't know the tool before):

Can I suggest Stephen and George to add a ClusterMap to the CCK08 site? or to our CCK08 Moodle?

Saturday, 20 September 2008

CCK08 - Week 2 - Learning connections like a rhizome?

CCK08 course has proposed us, in this second week, an article on Rhizomatic Education, by Dave Cormier.

While reading the article (on my Mac), I used Google to search "rhizoma" and "rhizomatic", then I followed some links that seemed to be interesting.
Thus, starting from an article on a Learning theory, I learned:
- some botanical notions (types of stems and roots),
- some philosophical notions, for example that Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari used the term "rhizome" to describe theory and research that allows for multiple, non-hierarchical entry and exit points in data representation and interpretation (Wikipedia),
- some notions on the Guattari's theories on "schizo-analysis".
And I have developed an interest to learn more on such fields.

It's a confirmation that often the learning process is not linear (as the arborescent - single trunk - stem of a plant) but more similar to a rhizome stem (like Iris and Ginger):


I found also an article (in Italian) that - starting from the incorrect idea that rhizome is a kind of root (it's a kind of stem) - proposes an interesting comparison between superficial development (like the one of rhizome) and in-depth development (like the one of taproots). The author quotes Michael Tournier’s "Friday":
“It is a strange prejudice which sets a higher value on depth than on breadth, and which accepts ’superficial’ as meaning not ‘of wide extent’ but ‘of little depth,’ whereas ‘deep,’ on the other hand, signifies ‘of great depth,’ and not ‘of small surface.’.”

A part from the botanical mistake: interesting concept concerning learning (and teaching). I'll return on it.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

CCK08 - Last reflections on the first week

CCK08 is now in its second week. But let me dwell a little bit upon the first one.
As all the participants, I have experienced a tide of nodes, deeply over individual possibilities of connections.
The course appears to have such a chaotic structure as the life has. Billions of connections could be set (in the life, at the moment in the cck08 course they are just a bit less), but we are able to set only few of them. What connections we establish, it's a question of choices and a question of chance. That way in the life, the same in the learning.
Thus I picked up here and there.

Being our Italian CCK08 community (LTever) not too extended I have read all the messages of my fellows.
Andreas - Let’so go for a walk in a wood and relax - has contributed to avoid my puzzling for the "chaos".
Silvana - Reflections on week 1 readings - speacking about "responsability" in learning has proposed the story of a mullah.
Emanuela - Week1- II part - proposes the extremely connections of her students (she is a P.E. teacher) when playing a team sport.
Antonio - A day of ordinary connectivism - tells us a story about connectivism: the one of his activities on 12th September from 7.30 to about 8.00; a story of a solution of a problem thanks to connections/networks.
Carlo's comments - Berlusconi, cognitivism and connectivism - start from a groundless but accepted statement of our premier, Mr Berlusconi.
I have referred - see the two previous posts in this blog - to how I feel my mind.

No one of us has faced the question - what is connectivism - from a theorical point of view but proposing connections to stories and experiences.

And now: I'll try to start with the second week activities :-)

Thursday, 11 September 2008

cck08 - Week 1 - What is Connectivism? (2)

Many years ago - 25? 30? - I read somewhere the expression "cognitive matrix". From then on, I think to my knowledge as a net of connections amongst information, concepts, stories, … I imagine it like in this figure

but tridimensional.
(I haven't studied neurophisiology: may be it corresponds to real links between neurons).

As I have written in the previous post, I feel to have learnt something when a new bit of information links in my mind to one of more of pre-existing nodes. Generally it's only a question of new nodes and connections. But sometimes happens that new nodes and their connections cause a reorganization of the matrix so that it has a new shape.
It has happened in my mind, for example, with the introduction of the open source concepts. They linked not only to pre-existing ideas related to computers, but also to economy, ethics, politics, ecology … in this way creating connections amongst nodes previously unconnected. My ideas on copyright and intellectual property changed and new ideas - sharing learning materials and cooperate in their production - grew in my mind.

This is the way I think my own mind. When I firstly heard "connectivism" - very few months ago - it sounded me very familiar.
To the question "what is connectivism?" I should answer: the way my mind works.

cck08 - Week 1 - What is Connectivism? (1)

In the last 3 days, the very first ones of the cck08 course, I have attended the Word Computer Congress in Milan. Interesting experience.
I'm starting a collaboration with AICA (an Italian Informatics Society) on the EUCIP certification. Thus I've attended the 5 sessions of the conference "ICT Professionalism and Competences". They are new matters for me.
The speeches were, for me, a flow of bits of information, often a simple flow of words. An experience very different from the one I normally have in conferences on eLearning, or in school teaching, that are my fields. Difficult to understand the meaning of a speech, its relevance, to make comparisons, …
Sometimes a light: a match - a link - with ideas (concepts, stories, theories, …) in my brain. When a connection appears, things start to have a meaning. My knowledge begins to growth.

"What is connectivism?" I'm not sure to be able to answer. I can ask: "Is this one?".

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Dipity & my timeline

The CCK08, "Connectivism and Connective Knowledge", course has not started yet, but many activities are under way: translations (into Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian), opening online environments (Moodle, Googlegroups, Facebook, Delicious, ...), advice of software tools.
Esperanza - a Spanish participant - has realised, using Dipity, a timeline about connectivism. You can found it here.

Thus here the first course result for me: I have discovered Dipity and I have started to build the timeline of my professional activities, that you can find at the bottom of this page.

Monday, 18 August 2008

I have enroled in the online course CCK08, "Connectivism and Connective Knowledge", organised by George Siemens & Stephen Downes (Canada) wich will start September 7.
It's "a twelve week course that will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and explore their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning".
People that, like me, don't require a final certification can enrole freely.


This is the program:

  • Week 1: What is Connectivism?
  • Week 2: Rethinking epistemology: Connective knowledge
  • Week 3: Properties of Networks
  • Week 4: History of networked learning
  • Week 5: Connectives and Collectives: Distinctions between networks and groups
  • Week 6: Complexity, Chaos and Research
  • Week 7: Instructional design and connectivism
  • Week 8: Power, control, validity, and authority in distributed environments
  • Week 9: What becomes of the teacher? New roles for educators
  • Week 10: Openness: social change and future directions
  • Week 11: Systemic change: How do institutions respond?
  • Week 12: The Future of Connectivism
The first aim of this blog has to be a tool for my partecipation in the CCK08 course.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

WOW! My English blog

Hi all

I have an Italian blog at the address www.pierfrancoravotto.ilcannocchiale.it.
Unfortunately most people don't speack Italian. Thus, if I like to share ideas not only in my country I'm obliged to use English.
And I'm interested in sharing ideas concerning School, Pedagogy, eLearning ... and the sharing itself. I'm particularly involved in the production and sharing of learning contents (free/open LOs & courses).

Well: here the first post of my new blog :-)