Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Interview with Alex Hayes from EDUPOV

On  September 15, 2010, the combination TESOL pp107 Multiliteracies course, TESOL Arabia EdTech SIG professional development series, and the regular Webheads meeting each Sunday noon GMT conducted an interview with Alex Hayes.  Alex is the CEO of EDUPOV (, a company that sells wearable technology for education.  Because it's wearable, it presents itself from the wearer's point of view, or POV. 

Alex left us his PhD proposal to read in preparation for his talk:

In reading this over, if I were a Wordle, the word I would make most prominent in Alex's proposal is CONNECTIVISM. On p.8/16 of his proposal Alex mentions the role of connectivism in networked learning to be one where participants build "a living literacy that embodies electronic connections amongst all other human considerations," which seems quite relevant to the topic of the Multiliteracies course. He says also that his proposed research "posits a Connectivist theoretical framework as most suited to examining  the risks inherent with adding more veillance to flexible education settings." Wearable POV technology is as rich with affordances (for vocational training, for example) as it is fraught with potential for invasion of privacy, especially when the technology is geo-locatable, contains photographs of others, etc.  These latter issues conjure a world of veillances: sousveillance, uberveillance, and of course surveillance, which we already (think we) know about (

This word 'connectivism' stood out for me because although Alex and I have never met in person, we have interacted on numerous occasions.  Alex and some friends of his held a relaxed chat for example as a keynote address at the 2009 WiAOC convergence, which I moderated (; I haven't located recording yet). Apart from that I have occasionally crossed paths online with Alex sometimes socially but always in connection with some learning event.  This is not surprising because connectivism is how we both learn best (Siemens, 2005:

Quite a lot of what I know about Alex I acquired not live but asynchronously, through podcasts (, for example).  He is an organizer of conferences in Australia (e.g. Because Australia is a big country with huge distances separating learners from places they would previously have had to go in order to learn, their educational system tends to be strong on distance learning innovation, and the conferences Alex organizes feature speakers discussing how POV technologies help trainers overcome some problems inherent in those distances. Having had this wider context in which to understand Alex's work, I realize that participants in the multiliteracies course I'm teaching might, without this perspective, be wondering what connection his work has with them. 

Thus the frameworks underpinning Alex's work are not so apparent when Alex discusses the products of his work; however, I hope that we are modeling here with one another new insights into connected learning. One good example of connected learning was reported just the other day when a teacher in Brazil had her students blog and then requested comments on their posts through the Webheads list. This message reveals the serendipitous outcome of that:

Another practical intersection of Alex's work and pedagogy is where Alex mentions in his proposal the New Media Consortium's Horizon Report.  The NMC's annual reports of what's new on the near and distant horizon in educational technology make interesting assessments of trends for the near and far future: For example, this trend: "People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to. Life in an increasingly busy world where learners must balance demands from home, work, school, and family poses a host of logistical challenges with which today’s ever more mobile students must cope," helps explain the prediction that "On the near-term horizon — that is, within the next 12 months — are mobile computing and open content."

So I invited Alex to talk with us because I too feel that mobile technologies are crucial to the near future, if not the present, of connected learning, which is in essence the field that Alex is working in. I think mobile technology is moving faster than teachers are at this point; for example in Argentina, almost all bars and restaurants have wifi which customers frequently access through their mobiles, which they all seem to have; yet classrooms there block mobiles and seem resistant to technology of any stripe. Where I am in the UAE we are at the stage where all students have mobiles, often more than one, and bring them to class, and use them to get on the Internet, yet teachers here in the UAE are not really exploiting even computer-based internet that much in teaching (I mean, falling short of its true potential; mobile tech hardly at all: Stevens, 2010, I noticed when traveling this summer that more and more travelers are carrying smart phone and using them in conjunction with Facebook for what they used to do in Internet cafes.

This question of how what Alex talked about is relevant to teachers touches on the issue of cohesion, which has been raised in the multiliteracies course I'm teaching. There is some suggestion that cohesion could best be achieved if we worked from one learning platform (Desire to Learn, for example) rather than spreading ourselves thin on the Internet (wikis, blogs, Ning, YahooGroup and Grouply).

Cohesion should not be confused with simplicity. Simple things are easy to understand.  For example if I show you black and white and frame these with respect to a color scheme, this is cohesive, and easy to understand.  But if I explain that color is only one aspect of human subjectivity, and that the importance of color might depend to some extent on whether you are right or left brained, and whether your eyes can detect colors in the first place, whether you have a prior schema based on racial prejudices or the color of hats in early cowboy movies, then you might feel that this topic is not so simplistic, though we might be able still to supply cohesion to our discussion.

We would have to provide a platform for our discussion.  If I chose just one then this might simplify our task of discussing the topic, but when the topic itself is multiliteracies and connectivism and how cohesion is achieved when people try to learn and disseminate knowledge on the Internet, then not modeling how that works through some sort of emulation of real life in choice of learning management system could in the long run be detrimental, like presenting simplified native-language based language learning materials as opposed to exposing students to authentically communicative situations.  Of course if the students know nothing of the language then some simplification is in order, but if the topic is multiliteracies and connectivism and new ways of learning and knowing via networked learning environments, rank beginners are becoming fewer and farther between.  Some degree of immersion is appropriate.

One way to draw a distinction between beginner and experienced learners of a topic is to ask whether they are ready to learn on their own.  If they need guidance at the start of their learning path, then the teacher can consider simplifying both the material to be learned and the platform for delivery. But if the learners are capable of driving their own learning, then a real-world simulation might be the best platform for them.

This what I was hoping to discuss with Alex, some of the connections between his work and new literacies, and how we achieve connected knowledge by mobilizing that!

MobilizeThis! and StreamFolio are two initiatives of Alex's I also hoped to get him to talk more about.
Also, Alex and I had both reviewed the slide show here
which I intended to ask about with respect to a podcast Alex left online recently at the Australian eLearning09 conference:

This would have been a discussion of interface vis a vis what people actually do when using social networks online. The issue of privacy would have come up (veillance and uberveillance, and Adams's thoughts on distinguishing your networks by strength of ties, and preventing items meant for one set of ties, close friends for example, from getting out into another, a professional network for example). You can judge how closely we came to these goals when you listen to the recording of the interview in Elluminate at:

Tiny URL for this post:

One further comment, and thanks for this one, not sure I deserve it but I am humbled

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Welcome to the latest version of the TESOL pp107 Multiliteracies course

The TESOL Principles of Online Teaching PPOT 107 2010 session on Multiliteracies for Social Networking and Collaborative Learning Environments takes place from September 6 to October 3, 2010

This course is part of TESOL's Principles and Practices of Online Teaching Certificate Program; see The course has fee paying participants but in such cases I focus on them while inviting the network of past participants who have taken previous TESOL or EVO Multiliteracies courses to join us if they wish.  In networked learning, it takes a network! (at least a personal one, or PLN). So if you are reading this message you are welcome to participate.

The central URL for the course is at, but we are carrying out conversations at and

We have a calendar of events with events we have arranged for this course, especially our noon Sunday GMT sessions at We are also arranging events for 13:00 GMT in various presentation venues each Sunday.  You can find the calendar at and note that it includes events from this Calendar as well,, which is in turn a mashup of calendars from other communities actively producing webcasts and podcasts keeping conversations going around topics of interest to 21st century educators (these are listed and color coded at the Classroom 2.0 site. What I did was I got the embed code for that, figured out what line of code aggregates each part of
it, and then added a line for the calendar in my account when I got ITS embed code so the result was their calendar plus mine in one embedded object. I added pp107 in front of all the items I've put in the calendar so you can tell which are for the Multiliteracies course. At the moment it's noon and 13:00 GMT each Sunday and one other event at 11:00 GMT Sept 15. There will be more.

Now you might wonder why include the other calendars? That's because it's a berry bush full of berries. When offered a berry bush we can choose the berries we want to try and maybe some of us go there. If I gave you only events that I think you should see, that would be a conduit: today we do this at this time,
and next day that at that time. I prefer the berry bush as a metaphor for setting out learning activities, you choose from a menu.

This post began as a stub to see if I could get one of its tags, evomlit10, to show up at  Tweets containing #evomlit10 show up immediately, but YahooGroup/Grouply posts and pictures on Flickr took hours to appear.  The Flickr photos tagged evomlit10 eventually appeared at as well.  So far this tagged blog post has not appeared at Spezify, nor have any of my delicious bookmarks, all tagged evomlit10.  Oh well, go figgah!

Meanwhile, here are some thoughts on my philosophy for this course:

Networked learning

Personally I like the network aspect. We haven't seen people from previous courses post here yet, but I'm sure they are lurking. We've had a number of people not enrolled in the TESOL course join both our YGroup and Ning just before the course started, so again I like the public aspect and the potential for wider perspective. All are welcome to contribute constructively.

Berry bush vs. Conduit metaphor for course delivery and access

I first read about the berry bush / conduit dichotomy in a work by Scallon and Scallon that I cited in my MA thesis in the very early 80s.  A conduit is a linear progression of learning benchmarks, as would be presented in a book or on cassette tape; whereas the availability of random access via computers was opening up the possibility at the time of learning being accessed via a menu of choices, as one would pick berries from a bush, going for the most succulent and accessible (watch for thorns!) morsels.

With this in mind, the readings and media files at Goodbye Gutenberg are all suggested for you but you don't have to do them all or in any order. You can treat those as berries on a bush too. If I set up a conduit
(now we do this, next that, then this) it gets a bit teacher directed. I realize some people are most comfortable with this and others are UNcomfortable if NOT this, but at least if we set up the items as a berry bush, the LEARNERS determine direction.

Someone asked about a Common Area for our course.  I replied, think of a university campus, some might choose the TV room in the dorm, others might hang out at the campus center, others might frequent the pub down the road, many might be found in all these places. Plus you have your cell phone; I guess on the Internet that would be the trail of tagged artifacts you leave online. We might find you through your postings to one of our common areas, or through the spaces you tag. It's a berry bush, we'll look for you in the bushes. You'll find others there. One of the things we'll learn in this course is how this works. 

ePortfolio assessment

I expect each participant in the course to have an ePortfolio. This could be a blog where participants could  link to other spaces in their sidebars, as I do at this blog The ePortfolio I have in mind could resemble a table of contents, of which participant blogs would be but one entry.

To create an ePortfolio  table of contents, one way would be to open a Google Doc and keep a list of links to accomplishments in this course (and Publish it and share the link with us). Or create a Wiki with the same effect, or even a Delicious URL that points to all the items you had tagged 'pp107eporfolio-me' for example. Items pointed to could include your blog, your tagged URLs for the course at your delicious or Diigo account (as another example),and it could include also the URLs of any blog posts you had created at our Ning, as each post should be accessible via its URL on the Internet.

Basically it's somewhere the rest of us can go to see what you've been doing in the course. I might go there in the first week in October to decide who deserves credit in the course. I would think that anyone who had an ePortfolio linking to a reasonable number of artifacts documenting reflection on the course topics, and who had interacted with others during the 4 weeks of the course, would deserve credit for having learned something during our time together, as demonstrated in the ePortfolio.