Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Module #2 - Distributed Learning Communities

Distributed Learning Communities
You are entering a distributed learning community. Distributed learning environments are often separated by distance.  More importantly, the dynamics of a successful distributed learning community will be on the students. It will emphasize building a community of learners where individuals work collaboratively with their group members rather than competitively. Students can be experts and are acknowledged as such. It is a community where individuals work for the betterment of the group.

A learning community is a group of learners who actively demonstrate 4 characteristics:
    1. Diversity of expertise; 
    2. Shared objective of advancing the collective knowledge;
    3. Learning how to learn; and 
    4. Mechanisms for sharing what is learned.

Dr. Christopher Dede of Harvard University wrote about how distributed learning communities can be supported/enhanced through emerging technologies. Read the following two articles and consider how this model relates to your past and present educational experiences: 
Web 2.0 Tools  

The interactive nature of Web 2.0 tools facilitates interaction between people. The Internet has flattened the playing field between people and nations of the world. No longer is geography a limiting factor for human and professional interaction. X-rays taken in Bangor, Maine, can be read by a doctor in San Diego, California. A customer support call from Las Crusas, New Mexico, is answered by a specialist in Manila, Philippines.

The educational opportunities have been expanded as well. Ninth grade Spanish students in Pleasant Plains, Illinois will practice the language as they Skype with high school English students in Aguas Dulces, Uruguay. A third grade student in Des Moines can work weekly with a tutor in Bangalore, India. Our ethnocentric world will never be the same.
While you are reading, consider these following points. These questions are similar to the basis for the reflecting you will do in the Discussion section of this module:
    • How is the Distributed Learning Community scenario different from your present/past educational experience.
    • Will these learning environments fit your learning needs? How about those of your present/future students?
    • Consider specific instances that would demonstrate your ideas.
      Communicating through Social Media.
      Social Media is one of the most important emerging technologies today. Not really emerging if you consider how it has taken the world by storm. YouTube and Hulu are becoming replacements for network television. Governments are being overthrown in the middle east by civilians armed with nothing more than Twitter and Facebook. Newspapers are closing down because information is so accessible through blogs and online sources.

      Social media is important in education as well. While the transition seems to be slower than many would like to see, using social media to build connections between teachers, students and the world is happening throughout our schools. 


      Blogging is the tool that has done a great deal to democratize information and communication. No longer do we need to have our own printing press to share our ideas with others. It is as easy as 1-2-3 (see Blogger) to hang out your publishing shingle and get into the business of writing for the public.

      Let's see what a blog is and what it can be:
      Before you can blog, you need to know what composes a blog. You need to have background in reading blogs in your area of interest. You need to see how postings are usually more interesting if they have been well researched and provide a variety of links that will help the reader explore further into the topic. You need to become an active member of the Blogosphere. You will be reading blogs this module and begin to write your own blog in module 2.

      Working with blogs during this course will involve Reading, Commenting, and Writing/Creating. 


      1. Follow at least 2 of these professional blogs over the rest of the semester.
      2. Read at least 1 blog in a personal area of interest.  Use the Google Blog Search ( to find someone who writes about what you enjoy. This search will provide you with postings, but usually the blogs that hold the postings are in your area of interest. 

      Commenting is important if you are going to be an involved part of the Blogosphere. Your comments give a blogger an indication that someone is reading her/his work. That gives a sense of mission. Interestingly enough, bloggers will often respond to your comments either directly or in an future posting.
      Useful comments are much more than just a quick reaction to a posting. They can build the basis for an ongoing discussion. They can add additional content to the discussion. They can  . . . tell you what, I don't want to make a huge list here. Why don't you jump over the Vicki Davis's CoolCatTeacher blog and read her posting, How to Comment like a King (or Queen)Comment on her blog using her guidelines. Say something about being in our EIT class. We will be working with her later on in the semester.

      This week we are commenting on other people's blogs. Soon we will begin writing our own blogs.

      Twittering (#eitF13)

      Another thing that we will be doing this week is signing up for Twitter.   This will be a way that we can follow each other as well as follow any comments that apply specifically to our Emerging Instructional Technologies (EIT - You will see me using EIT to refer to our class.)

      Twitter in Plain English video - Short video that provides an intro to Twitter.  "Plain English" videos are simple, low tech videos by Lee LeFever. They are what you should watch if you want to learn about anything from Twitter to Blogging to RSS to US Government to Zombies.  You can find them in YouTube by searching for "Plain English"

      Getting Started with Twitter - 5-minute video about how to sign up for Twitter. Good tutorial.

      User Name Advice: 
      Before you sign up for Twitter, consider this when selecting your screen name. Twitter is usually used for more professional activities. You should use a username that you will use for ALL of your places on the social media network.  This should be a professional name that will easily identify you.  
      • DON'T use one with long numbers or cute sayings: jbrown714456 or funnyguy3933
      • DO use something with your name if possible  zeitz, leighzeitz, leigh.zeitz, vvrotny
      1. Join Twitter.  Go to the Twitter homepage and sign up (
      2. Follow Dr. Z. Once you are signed in, go to   Click on the Follow button so that you can follow my tweets. I will follow you back, so you will know that you have at least one follower.
      3. Tell us Your Twitter Name. Go to our Student Contact page on our wiki where you will post your twitter name.
        Read about Guy Kawasaki's 10 Steps to Terrific Twittering by Lauren McKay.  Consider how you could use this in your professional life.  You don't need to just use it with your students. Twitter can be a powerful personal professional development tool that will open you to the world. (Optional Reading: the Edutopia posting, Twittering, Not Frittering: Professional Development in 140 Characters)

        You can follow people using Twitter. This is useful if you want to know about a person, but what if you want to know about a topic?  Twitter has something called a Hashtag for that.

        We are interested in hashtags that have to do with education, but here is a link to the Top 7 #Hashtags of 2011  It's not surprising that #7 was SuperBowl but did you know that #1 was Egypt?

        ASSIGNMENT:  I know that I said all assignments would be part of the module, but this is a small one and I didn't want to waste a whole assignment page on it.

        This week, you need to Tweet at least 5 times about realizations you have had from our class, the MPP class or life itself.   You MUST include the hashtag: #EITF13
        You can search for #EITF13 to follow what other students are saying.

        Hope this has been useful.


        Leave your comments below. Click on the Comments word and then add your ideas.

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