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Picture credit: Buthaina Alothman
Greetings all, and welcome to this TESOL Certificate Program course, PP 107: Multiliteracies for Collaborative Learning Environments. The course starts today, September 13, and lasts until October 10.
This should be the second email you have received from me. The first was a note I included in your invitation to join the Yahoo Group for this course. By now, on the first day of our session, 10 out of 18 registered participants in this course have joined the group, which is not all that bad a start. The Yahoo Group is necessary for several reasons: Primarily it gives us a means apart from our discussion forum (at Desire to Learn) to communicate with each other many-to-many.
(This is to my knowledge ... I should say here that I am a novice D2L user and there are liable to be features that I have missed up to now which you can show me or that we can learn about together).
The YGroup gives you this ability while retaining privacy of individual email addresses. It also gives us file storage capacity (and a special area for photographs, of you, which I request that you submit). It also allows group members to input links to their blogs and websites (which I'd like you to do, because that way YOU maintain the integrity of those links). It has a database which can serve as a kind of Wiki, and last but not least it provides us with the potential of staying in touch after the course has finished (in keeping with the ideal of lifelong learning). In practice that does not often happen with groups such as this, although you might want to get involved with other YGroups that have formed such ongoing communities, such as Webheads in Action http://www.webheads.info and Real English Online http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Real_English_Online.
Now, in order to avail yourself of some or all of these features, you need to either:
All this is mentioned at the portal page I've created for this course: http://sites.hsprofessional.com/vstevens/files/efi/papers/tesol/ppot/portal2004.htm. This is an alternative portal to the one I will maintain at Desire to Learn, which you can access at http://uwec.courses.wisconsin.edu (after inputing the ID and password you received on enrollment in this course).
There are several reasons I have chosen to create this alternative portal. First of all, I felt it was easier for you and me to see the big picture overview of the course when it is set out in this flat space. I was having trouble myself with the big picture until I developed it in this manner, and from this workspace the pieces can then be more easily slotted into the D2L interface and developed there. Another reason I have chosen to sketch the course in broad strokes and place this much on public access is so that others in the community of educators I've been working with online for the past several years can see it and become involved. I am a firm believer in enhancing the power of the zone of proximal development by ensuring that there are knowledgeable people populating it, and if you've looked at our schedule over the next four weeks you will note that we have encorporated many opportunities for interacting with that wider community. Not only can 'they' become involved with 'us' but there are several conferences, workshops, and presentations which we can attend in the same spirit of sharing that we extend to others. Several of these are noted in both portals.
I think the community will benefit as we (participants in this course) will benefit from involvement with the knowledgeable others in the community. I don't see this as violating the integrity of participation of this course any more than MIT's placing its course content on public access compromises the validity of its degree programs. It has been widely noted in that case that simply putting content online does not at all replicate the experience of attending MIT. Similarly, only participants in this course will have access to its forums and other features particular to the D2L environment, to the close involvement and interaction which this instructor intends to provide enrolled participants in this course, or of course, to certification. (And incidentally, there is yet another precedent of an online training site http://www.w3schools.com/default.asp which puts its content online for anyone to access for free, but which makes its money by charging for certification of having worked through the material).
At the moment, what is on public access is pretty much replicated at the D2L site, but this is only the starting point of both endeavors. I expect as the session progresses, and as we interact and record that interaction, and alter our course accordingly, that the D2L site will become enriched in ways the public offerings will lack. Accordingly, I expect that the D2L course will evolve in different directions from the public view as the Multiliteracies for Collaborative Learning Environments course plays itself out.
Speaking of the course itself, I hope that I have placed instructions online (in both places mentioned) clearly enough that we can get started. Therefore if you visit the portals mentioned above you should be able to get going on the first week's materials, what I call the first of 8 event cycles (2 event cycles each week, for 4 weeks).
Each cycle lasts three days, as follows:
The 3 day cycles are intended to help us keep up with our work by imposing a bit of routine, but of course cycles can last longer than three days and cycles can overlap, with multiple threads taking place at once, as the situation warrants.
There is a lot more at the web portals about the particulars of the first week and the general organization of the course. Roughly speaking, there is a book we can all read (though I consider this optional): Selber, Stuart. (2004). Multiliteracies for a digital age. Selber's book is current and seems to be referred to a lot, so I settled on his breakdown of computer literacy into functional, critical, and rhetorical parameters. To give you time to obtain and read the book (if you wish) we'll look more closely at this a couple of weeks (4 event cycles) from now.
Here are the specific instructions for the first week: http://www.homestead.com/prosites-vstevens/files/efi/papers/tesol/ppot/portal2004.htm#wk1
The first event cycle is an organizational one (enroll with YahooGroups today, reflection and hearing from you tomorrow with your first postings, and starting or pointing us to your blogs on Wednesday, with a discussion of What is Multiliteracy Anyway? starting up around that time.
That is a difficult question. Like the term blended learning, it seems to mean different things to different people. As we examine the term and pick it apart and put it back together again for application to our own situations, I'd like each of you to start (or dedicate existing) blogs and web spaces in addition to our interactions
Through it all we'll learn to get better at using technology as well as to articulate what we're doing and why by couching our discourse in the language of the frameworks we'll be discussing. Meanwhile I look forward to hearing from you on the many and various channels, and of course to getting to know you better through working with you intensively over the next four weeks.
Please let me know if you have questions, suggestions, or comments about the course.
There was a question: why two lists??
What I have in mind is using this list
This list is many to many, meaning we can all write to each other, and everyone gets emailed each response (you can also set preferences where you don't get emails if you wish, while retaining your right to post). It also pushes the mail to us all, so it's for things you want people to know right away, or if you have a question that anyone on the list might be able to help with. The D2L list should be more reflective, and people access it when the feel like it (nothing is 'pushed'). It's also threaded, so we can discourse on multiple topics if we like. That can be confusing or orderly to you, depending on how you like your world structured.
The D2L list should be getting active soon since the event cycle starting tomorrow specifically requests that you post there. It will be for an in-depth exploration of our topics which are set each biweekly. I've put the next two event cycle topic questions there already and will put more as the time comes.
You might say things in this (Ygroup) list that you think would go well in the other. Like I just gave my definition of multiliteracy in my last posting, off the top of my head, but maybe I'll post it to the other list.
Another thing to keep in mind is that this YGroup list is public. Anyone can visit the site and see and read the mail (Anyone can see the mail when they visit the YGroup site url - I can hide it from the general public if anyone strongly prefers it that way). I also intend to allow people outside this course to join this list. For example, the event Sept 17 is a workshop taking place in Venezuela. Some of them might want to join us and some of you might want to join them. So this list is in a way our corridor to the outside world, to the wider community of practice. I see advantages in having such a corridor.
The D2L list is the inner sanctum accessible only by people enrolled in this course. It's an in-class discussion area. Also the traffic on that list might disappear after this course is closed. The traffic on this list is archived and will remain available as long as this group exists, which might be for a long time. This list will also remain open for continued discussion for an equally long time.
So to recap, this list is good for right now, and starting Thu or Fri, once you've seen Stephen Downes's presentation, you can start putting your reactions there, working toward insights into what multiliteracy is exactly.
For comments, suggestions, or further information
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Last updated: September 16, 2004
©opyright 2004 by Vance Stevens