Sospensione didattica

Ricordo l’opportunità di sospendere le attività didattiche per partecipare alle manifestazioni relative alla Legge 133.

Non è questione di destra o sinistra.

È questione di un’impressionante superficialità e scarsa lungimiranza in settori come quelli della scuola, dell’istruzione, della ricerca scientifica, che in molti altri paesi vengono considerati di importanza strategica per il futuro della società della conoscenza.

Un paese incapace di scelte strategiche. Un paese che naviga a vista. Un paese destinato a rincorrrere gli eventi. Questo è il paese che stiamo consegnando ai giovani.

CCK08: reactions of students

(versione in italiano)

Just to answer briefly to some CCK08 friends who asked me about the reactions of students to the freedom they have in the blogroom. Some numbers and students reactions of last year are available in an older post. Here just some partial ongoing reactions.

Emotional reaction

Admittedly, I work very much on the emotional side, believing that real learning takes place only in presence of some kind of emotional involvement. Perhaps this relates to some reflections about emotional involvement I have read somewhere, for instance in Marus’s blog.

During the first lesson where students are told about the course organization, typical reactions range from

uff yet another course -> what’s going on here -> hey boys .. but this guy is crazy -> uhm where is the trap?-> what are you going to do guys? -> may be nice .. let’s see ..

to

uff yet another course -> what’s going on here -> hey boys .. but this guy is crazy -> uhm it sounds cool -> wow I wanna begin now!

In any case nobody sleeps as it is quite common … I mean that way of sleeping where … apparently eyes are wide open … in reality eyes are wide shut

This is already a result, I believe.

Numbers

We should have a total of about 200 students. For a number of reasons I cannot know the total in advance.

The first lesson was done between the 3rd October and the 24th October in the various classes.

Students should first make an account in the wiki and then write their email addresses in the appropriate page: 104 have done it so far.

Secondly, they have to fill a form with their data, among which their blog addresses if they chose to use one; I sent the form (googledocs) on the 27th and 50 have answered so far.

About 10 students proposed ideas for contributing to the wiki or contributed to translate some posts.

CCK08: On writing posts for italian students in english

(Versione in italiano)

We met 10 times with about 200 students of 18 curricula distributed in 7 classes, so far. We have discussed with the students all the options they have as well as the first steps they must take to begin the course.

Among other things we agreed that my posts with their assignments and suggestions will be written in english because they may be seen as contributions to the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Online Course that I’m trying to follow, in some way. It’s interesting that the students can see their teacher playing the role of a learner. I think this is good.

These students are brave in accepting this proposal because they have problems in reading english texts, generally. It’s not their fault but it’s because the italian school is not able to teach foreign languages in an adequate way. Not only english and not only the italian school, incidentally. There may be exceptions, of course, but in the vast majority of cases this is a fact. When I give assignments where the use of english is implicit, such as try or look for something in the scientific literature, about the half of the students claim to have problems with language. And they have studied english for 5 or 8 years. I have problems too, you see it very well from my floundering english. Well, in the ’60 I wanted to learn english because I liked sciences but the school bureaucracy imposed me to learn (badly) french and german. My english is self-learned. That’s one example of poor connections between schools and needs of society.

Any way, dear students, since I know that sometimes you may have some difficulties, I’m proposing you the following.

You are so many that for sure there is someone of you who knows english very well, probably better than me. I propose that you provide the translation in italian of my posts and that you do it in a collaborative way. If you see a translation has been provided by someone else but something is missing, go and update it. You are also encouraged to find english errors in my posts and tell me. My posts will be improved and I will get an extra chance to improve my english, I need it!

I created a wiki page for this post. Just go and try.

Those who will contribute in this way will get an extra grade.

In this sense this is a kind of assignment. Yes, because assignments in this course will be often fuzzy, just suggestions, and they will be very much oriented to foster cooperation and sharing of knowledge you may have. Your personal initiatives in this sense will be graded as assignments. In doing all this you will develop or improve your digital literacy (which is the title of the course) but as a kind of by-product where in reality you will be focused on expressing yourselves about your interests, on sharing them, on reflecting about the role that digital technologies may have in your life, on cooperating, on helping others.


Next steps

In the meanwhile about the half of you wrote your email addresses in the appropriate wiki page. Very good. In the next few days I will send you the form to complete your enrollment. Please, answer to the form when you will be sure about the path to follow: 1) conventional multichoice test, 2) contribution to wiki contents, 3) blogroom activities.

Lezione in piazza?

Lunedì prossimo (27 ottobre) dovrei fare lezione agli studenti del Corso di Laurea Magistrale Teorie della Comunicazione per l’insegnamento Tecnologia di Comunicazione online.

Tuttavia la facoltà di Facoltà di Scienze della Formazione potrebbe essere occupata per via delle agitazioni relative alla Legge 133. Si pone quindi il problema di cosa fare.

Propongo di fare la lezione in piazza. È una proposta che faccio senza fanfare e con il desiderio di dare una piccola testimonianza di un dissenso molto ampio e che non deve essere assolutamente strumentalizzato confondendolo con un movimento di parte o peggio con una vocazione all’ozio e alla vita facile.

Non ho idea di dove si potrebbe fare e non ho particolari preferenze: il giardino all’interno della Facoltà di Scienze della Formazione? Ponte Vecchio? Altrove?

Vorrei che foste voi studenti a fare delle proposte che mi potete inviare commentando questo post, scrivendomi in Twitter, in Facebook o per email (andreas DOT formiconi AT gmail DOT com.

Di cosa si potrebbe parlare? Della complessità del mondo e in particolare della complessità del mondo nel quale viviamo la nostra identità di esseri sociali e nel quale lavoriamo. Di come le istituzioni, le organizzazioni, le strutture si stiano rivelando inadeguate ad affrontare tale complessità. Di come stiano emergendo infrastrutture, fenomeni sociali, forme di creazione e produzione, strategie industriali che stanno cambiando profondamente la visione del mondo e che forse offrono nuove opportunità per affrontare i grandi problemi che gravano su di noi.

Non dovrebbe però essere un discorso particolarmente erudito o tecnico bensì un discorso per ricordarci che, se mai vi sono delle nuove opportunità, queste possono essere colte solo attraverso all’impegno personale, al recupero della capacità di stupirsi, alla disposizione ad appassionarsi, a perseverare, a rischiare, ad un atteggiamento aperto, alla condivisione.

Beninteso, se l’occupazione non dovesse avere luogo allora ci vedremo come lunedì scorso nell’aula informatica della Facoltà di Scienze della Formazione in via del Parione 7 e di queste cose parleremo in modo più diffuso negli incontri successivi.

Ricevo dagli studenti e diffondo

In relazione ai tormenti che affliggono l’università italiana diffondo il seguente messaggio


Subject: Assemblea di medicina

domani (24 ottobre) ore 16:00 al plesso morgagni, si terrà un’assemblea degli studenti di medicina e delle lauree triennali di professioni sanitarie per decidere se proporre al consiglio di facoltà di medicina una sospensione della didattica per giornate particolari (ad esempio nei giorni della manifestazioni).
E’importante un passaparola tra tutti gli studenti di medicina e delle triennali.
E’IMPORTANTISSIMA LA PRESENZA DEL MAGGIOR NUMERO DI STUDENTI POSSIBILE!!!
Grazie!!

CCK08: Hidden connections?

(Versione in italiano)

Amazing, really. I read Developing Online From Simplicity toward Complexity: Going with the Flow of Non-Linear Learning and what I have found is a perfect description of my experiences with the blogroom I have quoted in other posts here.

In the short paper 1 I said that often one has the feeling that ideas flourish just because the context is mature. Here again.

Renata Phelps is a professional and I’m not, coming recently from other fields. I heard nothing about such ideas in my entourage here. I had absolutely no specific background. I had just to face a large and complex problem: to teach something

  1. changing too fast
  2. to too many students
  3. having extremely different backgrounds.

Nothing else.

And probably, in some other parts of the world there are other people developing similar solutions to similar problems without having an explicit and common background on the subject. Solutions that are in the air brought by a set of hidden connections.

Poor Italy …

Italy’s economy is struggling. Among the cost-cutting measures we have a bill proposed recently to dispose of about 2000 temporary research staff, who are the backbone of the country’s grossly understaffed research institutions.

The bad new is so bad to appear in a note of one of the most important scientific journals, Nature 455, 835-836 (16 October 2008), where we are reminded that Italy spends barely 1.1% of its gross domestic product after having signed up to the European Union’s 2000 Lisbon agenda, in which member states pledged to raise their research and development (R&D) budgets to 3% of GDP.

A translation in Italian by Italia dall’estero.

CCK08: A couple of questions

Yes, let’s go for a walk in a wood and relax as many times as you like and with the passing of time you will know that wood in your own way. This means you will be looking for something there and you will disregard the rest.

Jørgen asked me if I’m establishing valuable connections in this course. Yes, I do. Moreover, patterns begin to emerge and it is easier to choose what it is worthwhile to follow but the choice is personal, depending on its own interests and needs.

As far as my connections are concerned, these depend on my wish to improve what I’m trying to offer to my student. Specifically, I’m willing to

1) share my teaching experiences
2) learn from teaching experiences of others
3) gather some general background that may improve teaching practice
4) learn about some useful tools.

Consequently, I like posts that report on teaching experiences or make points that may be of some interests in real teaching practice. In particular, I’m interested in experiences made to test the idea that by means of Web 2.0 tools it is possible to improve the learning experience of students substantially.

I usually like very much Lisa’s posts 🙂 but I was upset by her Highly Exaggerated View of the Implications of Groups, Networks and Collectives. I mean, it depends on specific context so that it is difficult to make such a general point.

For instance the blogroom I’m trying to describe in this blog, represents the attempt to transform the classroom group in a network where concern for others, responsibility for contribution, commitment, getting something accomplished are basic values. Values that are extraneous to the classroom group, where each student works for himself and almost only for a good grade, which rarely means to get something accomplished, I mean really accomplished. I have hundreds of students saying this when asked to give their opinion about the course, four of them provided a translation.

When talking about networks applied to education we should think to a farmer taking care of its field and its crops. With farmer I intend the contadino of first or middle 900 in Italy. Old farmers loved their piece of land and knew what to do to let crops grow by themselves.

We cannot say: “Look these networks, what a mess!” Of course, if there is nobody to take care of them. This is the role of the teacher in network teaching: to create conditions so that the students will learn, share, cooperate, really achieve something autonomously. And they love it if only we give them an opportunity.

In classroom groups the teacher controls processes. In networks teaching the teacher takes care of its network, as the farmer takes care of its crops. We have to love our students. We have to love our network of students. It is such love that will guide us in using technologies appropriately.

Now I have seen, with great joy that there are people sharing, in some ways, this vision.

For instance I was impressed by Lani’s blog. And it is from her Through a different lens — that of shades of grey CCK08 post that I learned, among other things, about the thinwalled classroom of Clarence Fisher. It was really interesting do see similarities and differences between the Yes, I do Grade Blog Posts and my Come procedo per dare i voti nella blogoclasse which in English sounds How do I grade in the blogroom that I wrote last June for my students.

There are other blogs that often give me the feeling to learn something useful when I read them. I will put them in the blogroll here but I’m afraid to miss something interesting somewhere. Therefore, a couple of questions:

  1. If someone is reading this post feeling to have similar experiences to share or to quote, please, let me know.
  2. Is there anyone who is thinking or even trying to extract some patterns of clustering in this course? I mean to find who is primarily interested in theories, or ideological aspects, or sharing teaching experiences and so on?

In other words, if, for instance, I find myself looking for mushrooms more and more often, well, this means that probably my way of knowing the wood is through the mushrooms I can find there and I will look for mushrooms, definitely, trying to not miss the good ones.

CCK08: Networks, groups, nodes

Life struggles to emerge from the inexorable increase of entropy stated by the second law of thermodynamics with two legs: groups and networks.

As usual, we tend to dichotomise the discussion.

Groups and networks are synergic. Nodes are not a sort of dimensionless points but have structure. Internal structure of nodes is related to their functionality within the network.

Nodes “are” groups. I mean, Nature creates groups to function as nodes in networks.

Nodes require internal structure and hierarchical organization to function. Networks grow spontaneously, or better said, chaotically. Our world is entirely made of chaotically grown networks made of structured nodes.

How do we build a car today? I read of a new chinese car which is chinese because its conception and the management of the industrial process took place in China. However, the various systems that compose the car are manufactured in US, Germany, Austria, China and some other places. The car will be assembled in south Italy. This is the trend. Today you buy a car of a given brand but more then 50% of that car has been designed, built and assembled not by the brand you choose but by a worldwide network of suppliers. Do you need brakes for a new car? Well, you have to choose among all the available brake manufacturers and you will connect to those who will be able to provide the brakes you need at the lowest cost. The nodes of this industrial network are companies. Companies are highly structured groups of people. All the employers of a company are members of a group organized in a strictly hierarchical way. The company, in order to function behaves as a node in a network characterized by a very well defined set of rules. However, the network grows chaotically.

Our society is made of communities, ranging from minuscule villages to very large metropolis. All these communities are very structured groups of people. There have always been communications among communities, even a long time ago. Our society have been always shaped as a network of communities. But the network of communities grows spontaneously. Villages and towns rise because of a very complex blending of factors. Nobody has planned the whole distribution of towns in a country. Scaring experiments, such as in the implementation of communism, have been made but they all ruined in human tragedy.

The world of open source is a network of software developers. Each developer acts as a node in this network. Each developer is a human being, that is an extremely complex group of cells organized in a set of very complex structures.

The most complex of these structures is the brain which in turn is a network whose nodes are nervous cells. A single nervous cell is a very structured group of macromolecules.

And so on.

Our discussions are always too anthropocentric. We believe to take fundamental decisions about the use of groups or network. It is not so. Things happen. Just happened that way before us. And they will happen despite us.

This does not means that we are condemned to be passive observers of our destiny. Not completely. The world changes continuously, evolves continuously and we find ourselves in the mainstream of evolution but, fortunately or unfortunately, we have consciousness and we are able to take decisions.

Here it is important to improve our understanding of the relationships between networks and groups because the world use both of them. I would like to understand better the role of groups as nodes in networks.

I would like to understand better the balance between chaos and structures which produce stable stratified networks, despite the second law of thermodynamics.

CCK08: Students begin to enter the blogroom

Dear students, you are just beginning to enter the blogroom. Welcome!

During the last week we met in your respective classrooms of Firenze, Prato and Empoli.

You belong to the curriculum for Radiologic, Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine Technologists (TRMIR in local jargon). Next monday other curricula will join.

Let’s recap here what we said in classroom.


Basics

Contents are available in the wiki but my attention will be focused on your activities and not on your assimilation of contents. By means of the activities you should learn to integrate contents written by me with Open Educational Resources (OER).

Is not me, your teacher, who plans your path but you, each one for himself. You can choose among three different ways to follow the course.

We met last week and we will meet once again after the next couple of weeks (as specified on the calendar in our wiki) but only those who need to discuss something are supposed to be there.

Otherwise, you are autonomous. I will be available in the computer classroom in Firenze as specified on the calendar in the wiki front page (Verbali ed esami) to discuss with you any possible issue.

You can ask me for lectures or seminars on specific topics that you find particularly difficult or interesting for you.

Follow my blog (posts in category INF08) to know what’s going on.

Pose any questions, technical ones as well as organizational ones, in the forum.

Your choices

You have three basic options:

  1. The conventional way. You will study available contents and pertinent OER. At the end you have a multiple choice test.
  2. The way for those who already have particular skills and would like to share their expertise.  You can go and browse the contents in the wiki. If you will find a section that you believe to be able to update or to improve then write me. We will discuss your contribution. If you will do a valuable work you will get a B or A grade (30 o 30 e lode).
  3. The new way. You have to create a blog or use an existing one. You have to keep track of this blog, the forum and the wiki. In my blog you will be asked to do some activities. Just a few of them will be mandatory, some will be optional. You are encouraged to invent new activities. I will value creativity, cooperation, sharing. I will build grades using 1-5 scores for each activity. Your grades will just build with your activities, there is no time limit and no predetermined order in the sequence of activities.

You may also mix these paths.

How to begin and sign in the course

  1. Go to the sign in page (Iscrizione studenti) and follow instructions to enter the wiki. There are two short videos.
  2. Edit the appropriate page according to your curriculum by writing your email address. Just the email address!
  3. Read carefully the course description (Descrizione del corso) and the social networking chapter (Social Networking). This readings will allow you to choose one of the three available options.
  4. In the meanwhile, I will send to you a link by email. There you will find a form where, once you have chosen your option, you will have to specify name, university identification number, email, blog address and some other items. The form is related to a Google spreadsheet where I will find your data ordered in an appropriate way. Only name, number and email are mandatory. If I will find a blog address then I will assume that you chose the third option, otherwise I expect to see you in the test days or to discuss a specific contribution.

How to use your blog

You should see the blog as an exercise book (quaderno). After the course you can throw it away or you can keep it and use it as you like.

I will suggests activities in my blog. I will do this with a certain pace but you can go on with your own pace.

You are supposed to write required contributions in your blogs. You are also encouraged to use the blog as a communication device. You can write what you want and put there any gadget you like with just one fundamental constraint:

do respect others and their opinions

If you feel shy you can use the blog just to write what it is required by the course. To use a blog does not imply to put your inner ego into the open. It is just a powerful communication instrument and it is up to you how to use it.

Grading

In conventional courses time is a constraining parameter. One starts with the first lecture, then there are a sequence of lectures and other activities, then you have a final test, kind of a race photofinish, where you get your grade.
Here the constrain is not time but the minimum quality of learning. You can require as much time you need; just try to plan carefully. You will perform a sequence of activities. I will tell you when the activities you have done will correspond to a minimum acceptable quality. Since I’m obliged to produce grades I will quantify the mimimum acceptable quality to a grade of C, say 25-27/30 in the cumbersome Italian grading system. You can try to improve your grades with further activities if you like.


When you try to do something take your time to do it very well
If you have to choose among several activities begin with the most amusing for you
Have a good time!