Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stanford AI MOOC Reflection - Homework 2

I'm definitely not as confident in my success on homework #2 as I was on homework #1.  The probability equations were challenging.  I guess I'm more interested in observing learner behavior.  The course confirms that most students do procrastinate.  I, like many others, popped in at the last minute on Monday to find that we had a 24 hour extension on homework.  Server crash.  Apparently, too many people trying to finish up in the final hours.  Even more interesting was doing a quick Internet search on Bayes Rule to find the first three hits were also churning.  Guess a lot of folks were searching for content support.  Still no discussion forum on the course site, but I'm getting a daily digest from http://www.reddit.com/r/aiclass .  My goal is to do a better job keeping up this week.  Time for a coffee break!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sometimes social learning isn't the best option. Stanford AI MOOC Reflection - Unit Three

I earned a respectable grade on my first homework assignment.  Now, on to unit three.  I've already been warned in the introduction about the difficulty of the probability unit.  I'm not sure if warnings are an effective pedagogical tool for everyone, but I'm definitely paying closer attention.  All I can say about Bayes Rule is too many steps.
While I really want to connect with other students in the class, I haven't had much luck with the forums because I can't really trust the accuracy of the posts I'm reading.  With these probability challenges, I feel like I might get a better result visiting Khan Academy.  Sometimes the social network isn't the smartest choice.  Frankly, there's too much noise which only increases confusion and stress.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stanford AI MOOC Reflection - Unit Two

The first homework assignment was posted today.  I had to finish up state spaces, sliding blocks puzzle, and problems with search before attempting homework.  Apparently, my homework answers are saved, but I can go back anytime before the due date to change answers.  I feel about 80% confident in my responses.  I think I'll sleep on them a few days, read the text, review prior lessons and take a final shot at it on Saturday.  In the meantime, I hope to explore the reddit forums and the #AICLASS hashtag on Twitter to connect with other students.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stanford AI MOOC Reflection - Unit One

I started Stanford's Open AI Course today.  I plan to share reflections on learning in a Massively Open Online Course with over 100,000 other registrants.  We'll see how long they (and I) can hang in there.  I'm already a day behind, as the course began yesterday.  At the end of unit one, I've had an introduction to intelligent agents with vocabulary words such as deterministics, stochastic, discrete, continuous, benign, and adversarial.  A machine translation exercise using a Chinese/English menu as an example gave me a new appreciation of machine learning.  I answered 62% of my unit one quiz questions correctly, but learned from my mistakes.  Hopefully, I'll  do better than that on the tests that count.
The discussion feature is not yet working.  I look forward to the reflections of others in the course.  At the moment, it's a lonely endeavor, but I am learning.

Here you see unit 1, Welcome to AI, in which the video lecture runs on the right with progress checked off on the left.  I can check my progress on quizzes with the Progress tab across the top.

Unit 2, Problem Solving, was a bit more challenging.  I thought I understood breadth first search, but my quiz answers beg to differ.  I will go over it again, but this is a point of frustration where I would like to ask questions and/or challenge the instructor.  I'm thinking about how I would approach the learning if sitting in a classroom rather than here online.  I definitely feel the pressure to go back and review.  If sitting in the classroom, I doubt I would ask the professor to repeat himself as many times as I've gone back and reviewed the video.

Evernote is turning out to be a great learning tool.  I can take notes on the lectures and integrate screen captures throughout.  It syncs to my iPad and iPhone, as well.  Here's a shot of my full desk top, Evernote on the left with screen caps from the course and lecture on the right.  Better than being there.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Open Learning as an Avenue for Higher Quality - #PLEK12


Facilitating an open course gets you thinking a lot about the benefits and challenges of teaching and learning in this environment.  There are definitely challenges.  The focus of week #3 was digital responsibility.  Kristin Hokanson provided an excellent perspective on copyright amid some technical difficulties with Elluminate.  We just chalk this up to part of the learning adventure, but I personally know how frustrating it is when a presentation doesn't load correctly or the audio doesn't stream well.  In any case, Kristin handled it eloquently and we had some very positive feedback.

My aha moment this week highlights a potential benefit.  The focus of week #3 was digital responsibility.  We posted some resources from various sites providing guidance on copyright.  Kristin, as an invited speaker, reviewed the course resources and noticed that some of our references took an outdated, highly conservative stance with regard to fair use.  She provided updated resources and we were able to revise the content immediately.  Think about the walled garden approach in the traditional classroom where one person's point of view is predominant.  The content we posted was not wrong, but it didn't provide the whole picture.  What would happen if all university courses, especially those that are offered repeatedly across the country or around the world, were open to feedback from others?  Would that have an impact on course quality?  In what other ways might quality be improved in this scenario?

#PLEK12 Week #3
#PLEK12 Resources
Kristen Hokanson's ISTE2011 Workshop on Copyright Clarity

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pulling it all together in #PLEK12

Well, we finished week one in the Personal Learning Environments for Inquiry in K12 course (#PLEK12).  I have already had conversations with students about the experience.  Organization of content is always a challenge.  Chris and I have tried to provide structure to the course to allow students to access content easily.  But, once people dive in, they are often confused about what to do next.  I try to be transparent in my teaching and learning.  In all honesty, I often feel disconnected from my online students.  I don't know how they are feeling unless they reach out to me and share.  What can we do to feel more connected to one another?
  1. Don't be afraid to ask for help.  If you email me or message me in Twitter, I will respond.
  2. Reach out to others in the course.  Many have already posted their blogs in the week 1 repository.
  3. Set up your own RSS subscription service (Google Reader, NetVibes, Symbaloo). 
  4. Use #PLEK12 on anything you post anywhere.  The RSS feeds will pick up the hashtag.

In an attempt to model personal learning management, I set up a NetVibes aggregation to help.

PLEs for Inquiry in K12 NetVibes Page

There are many ways to aggregate content on the web.  I don't advocate one over another.  Symbaloo is a great option for kids because they allow students under 13 to use the tool with parent permission.  But, ultimately you should use what works best for you.  We will look at this in further detail in week 5.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Reflecting on the demoralization of an entire profession

Paul Bogush offers a sad and very honest view into a teacher's psyche, yet most teachers have felt this way at one point or another.  I know I have.  Teaching is by-far the hardest job you'll ever love.  Teachers are being blamed for ills that can be directly attributed to the system. We can not afford to further demoralize an already over-burdened profession.  We need more teachers to "step out of the corner", as Paul says, and speak out on what should really be done in the classrooms.  I believe most teachers know how to reach kids.  That may (and should) look different depending upon the teacher and the students in a given class.  But, teachers are being forced to conform to a system of uniformity, high stakes testing, and fear.  I wonder how many teachers struggle with shame because they follow the directives rather than do what they know is best for kids, or worse, hide in the corner with fear because they ARE doing what is best for their students.