Personal Learning: Taking Ownership of Learning Online: Part One

Note: this is an unedited audio transcript generated by the Google sound recorder app on my Pixel 4. In the future I may edit it (or if you want to, feel free). For now, I provide it as is for your enjoyment. For audio and slides, please see

 Hello everyone thank you for inviting me my name is Stephen Downes as you probably already know and I work with the National Research Council of Canada.

I'm based in Ottawa, although of course all of our offices are closed these days, so I'm coming to you from my home and the village of Casselman it's in eastern Ontario. It's not far from where I grew up. And I'm pleased to be here now just to confirm it said that this is a two-hour session that's correct right okay, so we can do a few things.

I could I could talk non-stop for two hours, but probably that wouldn't be a whole lot of fun but I could do it.

Or we can have conversation and discussion as we go through that will of course depend on all of you with a lot of us here we're a small but mighty group but the more you participate the less you have to listen to me so consider that to be an inducement.

Um, So now I can share this slides and I I tried to set something up at the last minute to share this slides and my video all at the same time and it failed utterly and it messed up my headphones, but I think I can still share my slides yeah, let's do it this way.

I think this might be a bit better. All right, so. Now you should be seeing my slides is that correct yes correct, okay, so. Because. There's a fair amount of time. I want to approach this subject from a couple of different directions the the topic is personal learning taking ownership of learning online, sorry about using the same word twice in a single headline or try not to do that but.

Sometimes I do so let me first of all give you a bit of background about who I am. I've been working in this field for a very long time wonder. Are you able to read that okay yes yes, okay and I'm sensitive that some people might not be able to see this on a screen that you're you're on a telephone only and so I'll make sure that the things that I show that I'm also describing as well as much as possible if oh and also I'm not able to see the chat while I'm sharing the screen that's not good.

I can read the charts okay, that would be really helpful yeah. I thought I'd be able to see the chat but no so I just want to be sensitive to that if you're not able to follow if I've made something not obvious please stop me and and and and I'll make sure that.

That were interacting properly as well feel free any of you at any time to ask a question make a comment disagree with me, you know, I might be the presenter here but I think everybody has contributions to make and you should feel very welcome to make those contributions that's important to me and to the session.

Yes. That is a comment by sharing that will be able to see more yes, he's that better. I yeah, that's better, thank you, okay? All right so yeah, most of the slides are not this tiny but okay, so this is a whole bunch of stuff that I've done over the years really my work in this area began in the 1980s and you know the on here it shows some of my major papers and presentations but I want to add to that that I've been involved in teaching.

Online through all of that time in. Gee when was it 1986-87? I started with athabasca university in Alberta which some of you may be quite familiar with I did a lot of work with them over seven years, including interestingly going out to places like yellowhead tribal council to Alberta vocational college up in crew art to blue quills in Saint Paul teaching logic courses.

I'm sometimes those went well sometimes they didn't go well but it was certainly a learning experience for me. I've spent time at a Cinnabon community college in Manitoba. Developing their online program and for the last 20 years. Almost I've been working with the National Research Council of Canada first based in New Brunswick in Moncton and more recently the last two or three years here in Ottawa and I am more surprised than anyone that I've managed to continue working with a government job for 20 years on the last person I ever expected to do that my background is as a philosopher my degrees are in philosophy.

My specialization. Is philosophy of knowledge philosophy of science and philosophy of mind but I've done a lot of work in online learning new media and computer technology since then be all applications. I run my own newsletter, etc. I hate to say all this because it sounds like you know, I'm making myself a big deal which I'm not really but what I want to be able to establish here is that.

What I say in this presentation comes from a concrete background of practical experience in the field. I've been doing this for a long time and these are some of the things that I've learned doing it. Taco we bit about how I do my work as well because I'm not your ordinary researcher your ordinary researcher will conduct create a hypothesis go out do a study maybe some surveys or forms or whatever and then see whether that hypothesis was validated.

I work very differently and this is important because this research workflow that I have in. Forms a lot of what I have to say about personal learning because really research is a type of learning. And I have a four stage process aggregate remix repurpose feed forward and what I'm trying to do with this photo stage process is to experience directly as much of the field as I can.

And from that experience and by manipulating and working with that experience and trying things and doing projects, etc. I'm trying to find patterns whatever they are that's some people call these hypotheses, but I you know, I I don't I just say here's something I think happens here's a regularity up there.

I see in the world, whatever. Just something that seems interesting to me and then I try to apply that knowledge both in my online courses some of you may know me as the person who created the world's first MOOC that was just you know, one of these projects and it proved to be fairly successful.

I've had way many more failures and I've had successes but the mook was a success and I work in various projects both personal projects and, Is what? A. Numerous projects that I do as part of my job as a researcher with the federal government. So I'd worked with the school of public service.

I've worked with desire to learn. I've worked with Treasury Board and so on. So, that's a bit about me. So that's the boring part. Here are the takeaways if you will although honestly, you know, I hope you get what you want out of it not necessarily simply what I have to give you or what I think you should take away and we'll come back to that subject.

I hope you appreciate after we're done the difference between personalized learning and personal learning. I hope you appreciate why personal learning is important why it matters for school or for success for success of students for successive learners and indeed for your own success as an online learner. I hope you aren't able to see the key starting points and and indeed even some of what I call gorilla tactics to help you with personal learning.

And develop for yourself strategies to implement personal learning both for yourself as a learner but also from the perspective of a teacher or someone who's sharing knowledge in the community. So that's the plan. Now that said and any point if you don't like that plan we can change the plan.

You know, I prepare presentations but really this presentation isn't for me. It's for you. I'm the resource here and if you'd rather talk about something different, I'm totally up for it, no problem at all. So, I've divided this into two major sections. First of all, the that's just my message on my phone.

The practical side of personal learning will look at three concepts relevance usability interactivity starting points for those and supporting them for yourself and I will add that the slides. From this presentation will be available at the URL that you can see. WWW dot gowns that's do w and e s dot c a / presentation / five to five.

The second part we'll look at the theory of personal learning so here we're approaching it more from an institutional perspective or an instructional perspective. Of distinguish between personal learning and personalized learning in a more formal way and then talk about starting points and how to support personal learning for your learners or students online, so that's the plan how does that sound to people?

And either we're broken. Or.

Okay to me. I'm. Standing up a bit because I was just on another zoo. Stand a little. Response might be a little slow but yeah, it's. Okay. Few minutes area, that sounds good. I need you're saying she likes the feed forward process. Sorry, go ahead.

And education process because you know, you're using.

I've heard that. Yeah, I would.

Power because it's not just content, you know, it's more. Of it to change your practice. I think so, it's something.

Being presented in this manner right okay, well that's actually I'm not surprised but but I'm glad because. There is a large community of people who actually does learn this play. But you know, it's you know, it's not you know, the traditional instructional model that is used in in schools or universities, it's it's a mechanism for individual or as I say personal learning.

Okay good then. I will proceed. Back to sharing the screen. Back to my slides gotta find my slides. Oh this. All right and we're sharing everything.

Okay, so the first part is the practical part. And then the practical part. There are three principles now just as a brief aside when I say there are three of this or four of this or identify principles of that. I'm not saying that here is the way the world is right what I'm saying is here's how I've divided things up, you don't have to divide things up this way, but I find it useful.

So this is a mechanism rather than a statement about the world the the real important parts are you know in the details and not in the overall dividing up but I divide things up like this to make them more accessible and more useful easier to remember but that's the only reason so three principles.

Maybe there's four maybe there's two but I've come up with three first one is interaction. Participation in a learning community or community of practice. The second thing. Usability. What I mean by usability is simplicity and consistency and we'll talk about that. The third principle is. Relevance. Some can also use the word salience.

That's a ten dollar word that means relevance that is learning that is relevant to you now learning that is important to you now. So for the rest of this first part. I'll be talking about these three principles and basically. I'll discuss each one of these in turn and pause in between each of these for any comments or questions that you may have but again feel free to interrupt me at any time.

So interaction, that's where we're going to begin. Interaction the capacity to communicate with other people interested in the same topic we're using the same online resource. There are all kinds of formal definitions of interaction. But really, I think of it as conversation the sending of information back and forth communication, the feed forward aspect is a big part of interaction.

In fact, the whole mechanism that I described aggregate remix repurpose feed forward. All of this is a system for interaction, isn't it? I'm hearing or receiving content from or messages from people who are out there and then I'm feeding my own responses to those. Forward. There are two major reasons why these are important.

For us as learners. The first is the human contact. We learn mostly not exclusively but mostly from other people. So we want them to talk to us or write to us or send a video to us or whatever. And then the other reason is the content. We want them to give us information.

You know get like what we're doing here. I'm giving you content but I'm also getting a voice and some opportunity for dialogue and so we're doing more it's more than me just writing a book and you're reading the book and hoping everything works. So the interaction the back and forth.

Is really what underlies a lot of the learning that takes place. So, The big message I've had for students over the last 20-25 years is you cannot depend on traditional learning and by traditionally let me be very clear by traditional learning what I mean is learning as it is conducted in existing formal institutions of learning such as schools or ecologists or universities.

So, I'm not referring to traditional learning that is learning based on traditions or cultures, that's not what I need. Traditional learning specifically refers to formal learning practices. And, These formal learning practices are you know, sometimes they'll support interactivity and they're getting better at it but by and large. It's mostly based on the broadcast model one person talks everyone listens.

And even where they have interactivity it's often separated from the actual learning experience itself, first someone will talk to you and then in a different place there will be some sort of interaction. Now. That's not to say there should be no broadcast we're doing a bit of a broadcast here and that's okay, but to support your own personal learning you can't just depend on the broadcasts you need this interactivity this is what makes your learning personal to you.

So how do you get that? How do you replace? Interactivity. How do you replace the traditional non-interactive learning with your own interactivity? Basically build your own interaction network and that's what I did with my mechanism right my my research method. I built my own interactive interaction network where you place yourself and not the content that you're learning at the center of it.

This diagram here shows how if we look at learning from that perspective with the self at the center, then we reach out to different things that are available online we reach out to blogging websites we reach out to photo websites like Flickr maybe a personal hosting site like reclaim hosting maybe a to-do list like 43 things there are hundreds thousands of ways.

That you know, you can connect to other people online this list changes over time these days people are using social media and such but the main point here is that you need to give yourself many additional ways to interact with other people rather than depending on a learning institution to provide all of that for you.

So what are some of these mechanisms? Email and mailing lists are great. Google groups is a place that I look for mailing lists institutional mailing lists a lot of the websites that you may visit if you did so your Google search a lot of them will say, you know keep up with us follow us on our mailing list.

I actually do sign up for these mailing lists, although what I've done is I've created a separate email account on Google. For newsletters and so all of my mailing lists going to the separate account. Early addresses newsletters at downstairs CA and and you can do that with Google or you know, you can just create your own you can create multiple identities on Google I create what's specifically for mailing lists and then I sign up, you know any website that's interesting to me.

I sign up to that mailing list. And so from time to time I go to that account on Google and I read through the mailings, you know all the email that I got so I've got this, you know, it's like a private resource base that comes to me and it's free.

Another mechanism is blogging.

Blogging is you know a way of sharing obviously but it also becomes a way of interacting with other people particularly if when you blog something you share it with your friends, or your family or on social networks or whatever the point here is by giving something to the community.

You create the condition where the community can respond they're not going to respond to you if you don't say anything so blogging creates interactivity and it creates this alternative channel outside traditional education, there are many places you can blog it's free word press, for example edgy blogs is a place specifically for education blogger is a service that I use actually I use word.

Press end blogger because I have more than one blog. I have one blog for well actually. I have a blog for my photos in my art I have a blog for educational related stuff and I have a blog for political commentary and then I have a few more that I just use a scratch pads and again, why not?

I mean, if you really want to get a lot of followers you would have just one blog but if the idea is just to share then having a different blog for different kind of content. Is useful. Personal communication, this is what most people are using these days. I'm not such a fan of short messaging but certainly acknowledge that a lot of interactivity is created by it instant messaging you probably already use instant messaging Skype for video conference these days now we have zoom that we're using now here.

Google meat. Microsoft teams these are all. Good systems. I do not recommend Adobe Connect and I do not recommend WebEx. That's the previous generation of video conferencing or personal communication tools and they're just not as usable. That's why we're using zooms in it works really well. Social networks you're probably already on social networks but think of them as well as learning networks.

I use Twitter and Masterdon and LinkedIn Twitter everyone knows about Twitter. It's you know, your online chatterbox place Mastodon is a distributed version of Twitter. It's a lot like Twitter but it's a lot more difficult for people to you know, make it all about themselves. It's you know, like you do a whole other session on a mastodon, but I do recommend you take a look.

I find it. Quite useful. LinkedIn is useful for professional marketing professional communications. It's getting a bit more marketing than professional these days, but it's still very useful. Another thing I use is RSS. RSS is my major tool for aggregating content from other sites. Again, I could do a whole discussion of this but if you go to, that's an RSS reader and going to that site will get you started on RSS.

And you can subscribe to a large number of weblogs and news feeds from people all around the world and they're a great source of information like personal subscriptions are subscribed to yeah about 800 different feeds all about online learning new media artificial intelligence, etc and stuff comes out in RSS long before it appears in print media or in academic.

Journal. So for me, it's a huge advantage to have this.

Some principles for interaction. Pull is better than push. What? I mean by that is. Defining what you want and retrieving it is better than signing up for broadcast models like even like journals or.

Newspapers. It's hard to define but basically the message here is it's easier to select for what you want. That it is to filter out what you don't want and that's that's one of the reasons why I don't use Facebook Facebook. Says oh no, I mean we'll push the news feed at you and then you can filter your newsfeed for the things you don't want so you're only spending time on Facebook tweaking for all the stuff you don't want and they're pushing stuff at you that you probably don't want similarly with YouTube.

I do use YouTube but I'm very selective with YouTube and I subscribe to channels that I want and I depend on that rather than just the name you. Tube feed because YouTube will recommend stuff really that I don't want now. I'm in this business again. I'm trying to filter out this stuff.

I don't want. Pick what you want is the main message here. Another principal of interaction speaking your own voice. And and and that's less, you know, I don't have to say that as much now as I used to but people used to and sometimes still do put on this, you know, this is my internet voice and I will mark it myself brand.

Stephen stuff like that's well horrible and and people detect that if you're not authentic people will see that if you are authentic you can have real. Conversations and you will learn more share your knowledge share somebody talked about open content open educational resources for me here the fundamental principle is sharing right the more you share the more people will talk to you the more people talk to you the more you learn.

That has been the basis of my career. I would not have a career otherwise, you know, if if I just tried to depend on you know, my education and my training the traditional in-class kind of stuff, I'd be I guess your average philosopher. But by sharing. And sharing freely and openly to well anyone who would listen I've gotten to meet so many people and had so many conversations with people.

I would never have expected that I've learned a ton over the years and that more than anything else has led me to the position of where I am now. But it has to be a habit and it has to be priority. I have my newsletter I send it out every day.

I sent it out every day since May of 2001 and you might think oh that's an awful lot of work and it is an awful lot of work but it's an hour a day and it doesn't matter what else I'm doing for that hour a day. I'm doing my newsletter and sending it out and there's two reasons for it number one.

I have to find the stuff to put in the newsletter which means I'm doing some deliberate learning for an hour every day. And then. By sharing it. I invite all kinds of comments responses etc and it creates that you know, just that continuing flow of interactivity. I've spent a lot of time on interaction more than I will maybe on the other section but I think this is the key principle for personal learning from a practical perspective is interaction.

George Siemens and I came up with a learning theory called connectivism. Connectivism is about interaction connectivism is the idea that learning is based on the connections that we form with other people that knowledge is the organization of connections in the mind in society in the world and I think to alert to agree that that's true.

And because of that. The better you are at connecting the more integrated you are into this network of connections, the more you are able to learn. Now. Often you will not be provided. With opportunities to interact, you know, let's even take this presentation right there's there's five of you one of me, you know, it's not the best environment for interacting it's zoom, you know, it's a zoom lecture talk presentation, whatever you know, the purpose is a bit different so.

Create your own interaction. For example, if interaction isn't provided if you're taking a mook on course error or edX, for example, they're not really supporting interaction so if it isn't provided created, for example, if you're a you know, talk like this blog it okay, you don't have to blog this one but whatever right what it you know, a big source of blogs for me is if I try to do something.

You know, if I'm trying to write a certain piece of code or learn how to use a certain application, I'll actually blog that as I go through so you know, I'll have something like installing Drupal part 1 in a right about my experience and I get a lot of feedback and response from that yeah not by very first blog but after I've written a hundred or so of them people notice.

Gorilla tactic, if you're software doesn't support interaction at it this is for people who are using learning management systems and things like that, you can actually use html to embed content interactive content right into web pages and so anytime you're working with software that doesn't support interaction find your self some other way to add interaction this.

Doesn't matter what it is, but find a way to add the interaction to that experience. Use back channels. That's probably the most effective. In a lot of talks that I do like this I expect and you know, especially at a conference or something like that where there's a large group of people listening people use back channels, they use their own private communications and make comments back and forth to themselves during the talk.

Twitter is very popular for this of course, but as well you can use instant messaging you can use email whatever the the main idea here is that you have your own one to one or one to small group communication behind everything else, so it's it's your own communication not through an official channel.

So that's the first interactivity you look let me pause here for a moment. I'll stop the share and that tells me what time it is, okay, see if there's see if you have any comments etc for me.

And I'm also looking at the chat via DC sharing your please email the URL for the PowerPoint what I'll do in fact is. I'll put it and it's not gonna be there yet but it'll be there later. I'll send you the URL from the presentation.

So okay, so suppose we're having this conversation right now. And you're looking at it on the computer screen you could also have another window open to Twitter. And. You could make a comment on Twitter about this talk, you know, that's even down sure talks a lot or whatever and then other people who are in this you know who are watching this presentation could see that on Twitter or respond to its the idea is YouTube have a private conversation.

That isn't visible necessarily to the person giving the talk that's why it's called a back channel does that make sense? Yes. So I would.

What what is what's that? I'm not heard about it yeah it's called master.

N is very similar to Twitter.

It's um, what's called a federated social network, which means that there are different instances of mastodon that you can join so if you the the website is the main website is mastered on dot social. Typing it into the chat.

So when you go there, I think this is still the case.

Oh I just log in right but when you go there, you have a number of different places you can go to join in but the thing is it doesn't matter which place you join, it's all part of the same big network. But it's not owned by one company like Twitter the instances are owned by individuals or by small groups.

Otherwise it's just like Twitter. I'm sorry, go ahead. I don't know sorry. I thought yesterday. I had a question about vlogging, yes.

Okay doesn't have to be very good it'll get better on its own. It does take work. But the the trick to that is to. Allocate a certain amount of time for yourself. You don't have to do it every day and most people don't. But you should do it like once a week.

I do it once a day, you know, but it's one of these things right? The more effort you put into it the more you get out of it. But when you have a regular schedule like that what you'll find that you're doing is planning ahead. With different topics that you might blog about whatever is of interest to you and and I find myself doing that where you know, I kind of take notes on the side.

Oh, yeah data analytics, there's here's a thing here's the thing, here's the thing. Maybe I'll write a blog post about that sometime in the future.

And that's you know, and that's to me, that's the secret of blogging is you're always responding to something. It's never the case never that you just open up a blog, you know a blank page and just start typing things that you think of. Nobody can do that. Well, I mean you can but it's really hard and and it's it's not good.

So. The the trick to blogging is to spend as much time reading as you do writing and then you're responding to something and and it you know, I don't want to say it doesn't matter what the response is, but it almost doesn't matter what the response is. The main point is you're reading your responding you're reading your responding.

The the risk you asked about negative comments, the first big risk is no comments. That's harder to deal with it really is and that's what you will have at the beginning and and maybe even forever. You have to be ready for that. 99% of the stuff that I write I get no comments.

I know people are reading them because they mentioned them to me later but they don't comment, you know, people used to comment a lot, but now they don't so much. Maybe the only comment on Twitter or on Facebook where I won't even see it because I'm not on Facebook and your respond to that by just sharing it as widely as you can if you write a blog post then you put the link on Twitter or you know, if you use email you create a signature at the bottom where you put your name your email address and the URL of your blog.

Right so that people know where it exists. I used to suggest to people that if they have business cards put their blog or their home website on your business card. I used to be able to actually put it on my my inner C business card and then they said well, you're not allowed to do that, so I created my own business cards and and those are what I hand out at conferences or whatever.

If people respond negatively.

You know, and I've been really criticized sometimes and the best and fairest response that I've had is thank you for caring so much to make these comments, you know, I've had people really angry some of this stuff I've written and and you know, even attacking me personally which takes a bit of dealing with it's not easy when you're being attacked personally, but my thought was it's obvious that they cared a lot about.

This no and in the end. Negative comments our feedback, negative comments are useful negative comments make you think. Maybe I was wrong possibly or you know, they cause you to review why you wrote what you wrote and saying well still think I'm right send that person is just wrong, you know people it's hard to deal with negative comments, but they're a fact of life and.

And you know, you just accept them that said and here's the other point I don't put up with abuse. And you shouldn't either and and I'm very lucky because I'm part of the demographic white male professional. I get the least amount of use of anyone and other people women especially get a lot of abuse or can get a lot of abuse and my response to that when I get it and this is what I recommend to others.

Delete it. Don't respond to it. Don't acknowledge it just simply delete it. And block it because nobody should have to put up with the abuse. Especially on your own website. So for me on my blogs all of the comments are moderated. And what I'm reading through the comments and I'm moderating them as soon as I see that this comment is going in an abusive direction.

I deleted. I don't read the rest. I just delete it. Because you know that can be harmful to you. And I learned that the hard way. I mean, I used to read even the abusive criticisms and and did not have a good reaction to that. But you know ultimately and and if you're really worried about that and or if if you're getting if you're having a lot of problems with that turn off the comments.

A lot of people do that. And and that's perfectly okay too because the interaction is still happening. You're still reading your still responding. You know, the comments are the least of it the main thing is you reading you responding. And so you know, there's no reason why you should have anything you don't want on your own website.

So that's a good question. It's an important question. I think the same is true with Twitter and the same is true with Facebook and anything else right, you know, if if these forms of interaction they're making you unhappy for whatever reason cutting them off, they're harmful. There are so many alternatives and this is why I use the same astronaut.

There are so many alternatives that it's not necessary to use a harmful form of interaction. With that help.

Okay, I'm gonna move on now. I've totally you know, I see it's 12 16 here, which makes it 10 16 there. So I've completely messed up my timing and schedule because I can be really bad at this sometimes but we'll go back to the slides. I'm gonna move a bit more briskly through the next two sections.

But I think you've got a flavor of this now. Then we'll come back to more conversation and then we'll talk about the theory some. But I'm not gonna worry if I don't get through all of the slides because that's life. My history is a series of failures and the slides are available and as well, you know, I mean.

If you go to that presentation page once it's up yeah it will be 5:25 you'll be able to access another 500 of my presentations so plus all of the slides from this one so there's plenty of stuff it won't matter so much if we don't cover everything with this.

And we don't have to it's not about the content anyways, it's about the interaction the community.

Right? Share screen.

Power point slide show share, alright usability. So. Usability at hurt. Is the idea of taking stuff that isn't useful to you and making it useful. This to alerts agree is the. Remix and repurpose part of aggregate remix repurpose feed forward and it's partly about selecting the right content, but mostly about making the content right for you.

So there are two elements of usability that I've identified here, there are other elements but these are the two that matter to me consistency and simplicity. So consistency is basically knowing what to expect. And simplicity is I can understand it. Reason, you know, notice how these are very personal definitions of consistency and simplicity and that's how just as an aside that's how I work there are official definitions of usability and consistency and all of that but I take these definitions and I revised them just for me, right?

I mean, I don't go out proclaiming to the world necessarily but for me, I take these definitions I and and I make them. Personal and relevant to me, so for me consistency is I know what to expect now it's not the formal definition of consistency but that's what it means to me, and that overall is what I mean by usability right it's not necessary for you to try to think and see the world according to.

More formal definitions, now these formal definitions are useful. They certainly aid in communication but when we're talking about just your own personal learning. These are just tools words are just tools meanings are just tools and you can work with them to make them work for you and this is an example, right?

I take a word like consistency. And when I try to understand what consistency means for myself, I use the principle. I know what to expect. And that's a really good principle for me.

Let's expand on this a bit.

Screen sharing will end up moving my slide for There we go. All right consistency. Yes, take charge of your learning right? Don't depend on other people for consistency.

Other people won't necessarily. Enable you conditions. Where you can expect what's coming next. And I'm just admiring my cow picture. Okay, so. How do you do consistency for yourself? First of all. Clarify first principles. What? I mean by that is think about. What you believe about the topic at hand for talking about learning for example.

What do you believe about learning for talking about forestry? It's what do you believe about forestry? Now these might change. That's okay. But you are where you are, right? So, Think about how do you understand these things? So I have for example. My understanding of learning theory. I mentioned it a bit earlier about interactivity and connections and that right learning is managing creating working through these connections.

That's what learning is to me. Right? So think about the topic clarify your first principles. Then based on these principles organize your knowledge. One thing you could do for example is make your own content management system. Now, I no longer recommend using Drupal. But you might make your own.

What would you make? You might use a concept mapping tool. You might create a database, which is what I did. You might I used to when I was a. University student. I created graphs. To organize my knowledge and what I do is and and they're sort of called concept maps today, but I take a philosopher.

And I draw a line from that philosopher to another philosopher who was influenced by the first philosopher. Then I draw another line to another philosopher so I draw connections from philosopher to philosopher to philosopher a very famous one from Socrates to Plato and then from Plato to Aristotle. So I started with some of these basic ones, but then every time I came across a new philosopher, I'd ask myself who were they influenced by kind of draw that line.

I ended up with the huge map of all of the philosophers. Talk about a way to understand the history of philosophy. So I just did that on paper just this was in the 1980s there weren't these tools available and you know papers good enough. You know, I might you know at a good exercise, you know, what are the first principles of learning my five principles of learning and then I might put some sub-principles under them and the idea here is just to organize my knowledge organize what I already know.

Then. As stuff comes in as you're reading stuff. Number one simplify it and then number two. Put it into your own knowledge base and you can actually explicitly write it down or you know, these days put it into a computer document or.

Or you or you can just think of it that way just thinking thinking about us as a perspective. I'll give you a quick and sloppy example. Let me just share my web screen. I said, I would go through this fast. I'm such a liar. I'm sorry. Yeah, okay. Would like to invite you to do a series of presentations, so don't trust me learning a lot.

Okay. Yeah, yeah. I might do a part two to this later. Not like either way to go. Yeah, that's a good don't trust because we want to learn. Yeah. No, I'm. Not rushing. I shouldn't yet I what I'm doing is talking to myself saying yeah, I should rush I should rush but then the voice of reason is no don't rush take your time.

I can always come back and do another one just like you say. Assuming you liked the first one. Alright, so here's what here's what I did. This is.

This is a web page. I created for myself. It's all the stuff that I access and I'll actually. I'll actually put that into the chat except they can't. Well, I've saved it. There we go. No. Okay, well, I'll put the wire all in the chat once. I'm here we go.

I know what to do.

I'm sorry say that again, please.

Yeah, basically yeah. These are what what this is. This is my personal start page. And each one of these is a link a one of these is a link to Google Docs, which is where I wanted to go. But they're all linked to all the different services and tools that I use.

So here are my Google documents and this is where this is where I'm organizing my thinking now. So, One of my documents. Is my research. This is a Google Doc. Oh actually it's right now it's a web page. So here is me organizing some of my thinking. I'm sorry, that's not very big, maybe.

I can make that bigger for.


How's that?

Oh, I'm not sharing duh. Okay, sorry about that. All right.

All right. So, okay. Here's the start screen that I mentioned earlier and I've put new URL in the chat. Um, I need this for me, you would make a personal one of these for you. Then. Here. Is a page. I created. Where I'm organizing my thinking just like I said in that presentation, right?

I'm organizing my thinking so here's ethics analytics in the duty of care, which is a topic that I've been working on e-learning. 3.0 is another topic distributed ledger technology or blockchain been doing a lot of work on that. Creating an online community, this is a class or conference this is all of the technology for that so those are those are my four main things that I have going on right now.

So. One of those well. I'll come back to it, so one of those is say this ethics and analytics. So. What I've done right so now I've created a Google doc. And now here this is just one subject right the duty of care in that larger topic and so I'm just taking notes.

I'm using the headlines here like anytime. If I want to play if I create a headline. All right. I now I highlight this and say okay, this is a heading a big heading. I there it is right so. I use the headlines to create a table of contents on the left hand side here.

And so these headlines are all the different subtopics and then as I read stuff here's feminist ethics from the Stanford Encyclopedia philosophy, here's ethics of care from encyclopedia Britannica, so on right here's an article ironic cross by Stephanie Collins the core of care ethics and what I've done. This is really simple isn't it skepticism about principles the value of relationships.

I'm taking that entire article and reduced it to seven words. Now if I'm writing a paper or something like that later on I'll go back to this and expand on it but for now to keep things usable. I've reduced it to seven words and the seven words that are useful to me other people might read that and come up with completely different words to summarize that but this is how this article can be understood here, this is useful to me here now.

And that's what I do. So, I don't always use. Google Docs to organizing home. Just to if you're not sure.

Well, I think it always shows yeah show document outline. When you first start Google Docs, it will look like this and you'll be going where's the table of contents? View. Show document outline and that's the way to get that table of contents. How's that pretty useful practical place? So.

You come back to the presentation.

Right? So, you see what I've done, right? I've taken charge. I've clarified my first principles, right? The things that I'm interested in the way I would subdivide those then I've organized my knowledge in this case using Google Docs. Which is free and easy to use and even better with Google Docs, what's even better is I can share it with the world and that's what I did with my tools.

I mean, let me stop share here. I'm gonna go back to that. Share.

This one. So, This quick tech guide is a Google Doc.

This is everything you need for creating an online community class or conference. These things here in the upper right hand corner these little round circles are people who are looking at this document right now. They could actually edit it if I allowed and there's a link here right at the top share.

And this is how you can share. With other people and groups. So what I've done is I've used this to know like I did it as a response to the whole coded thing. So I created this document all of these different topics resources for under each one of these topics things that I already knew about again real simple very simple description making it usable for me and hopefully for other people and then I shared it.

Now hundreds maybe thousands who knows how many of people have been able to use this guide it's just a way for me to organize my thinking but then I shared it then I put the link on Twitter and in my newsletter and now I've created this mechanism and what's happening is people are now suggesting to me things that I can put in here they've had they've suggested new categories new ways of organizing some of the suggestions.

I accept some of my, Didn't but yeah if you're doing work online, I'm wondering what tools you can use for free for me that was important for free then you can go to this website somebody. I didn't do this somebody created a short. URL for sharing this. And I'll put that in the chat window as well using bitly so thanks to them.

I can share this really easily. So that's the sort of thing you can do by you know, you focus on making things useful and then oh we've created this really useful resource for other people. So that's the principle. Okay, let's come back to. Right, we're sharing again share screen.

Right sure. Summarize summarize summarize and then put it into your own knowledge base put it into your Google doc put it on your paper diagram put it in your spreadsheet doesn't matter what tool you use to organize all that matters is the tool works for you. You slips use your own words.

I don't let academics tell me what words to use, um, people are always trying to get me to use a word like praxis. And. I say to them what you mean is practice, don't you and they go no no no practice it's totally different and I say well no it's practice based on theory right yeah that's but you should use the word practical and it's I think that's silly I use practice and I'm not interested in the word like praxis, you know, I use personal learning.

Instead of the word hauteaggy. Because everybody knows what the words personal learning mean and more importantly. I know what they mean but. Hold of God G is going to be something technical and then when you use that word if you use it in the slightest incorrect sense, you'll get drawn into discussions about what the word really means and it'll pull you away from whatever is useful to you, so I'll use my own vocabulary.

I use my own language and I'll tell people I don't let people tell me what words to use, you know, people like to pretend that there is one ideal language that everybody must use and it's simply not true. Each person uses their own individual version of language and it kind of meshes and kind of overlaps but there is no one single right way to use any of these words.

And then simplify.

Don't and adhere it says don't compartmentalize. I've divided everything into topics and subtopics, etc but. I always keep in mind this is all one really big interrelated mess and all knowledge is like that there's this view of knowledge as this thing that is carefully constructed with categories and subcategories it's all based on an approach to biological taxonomies and who limiting classification that's it used for.

Species and and things like that, but in the real world things aren't organized collection neatly everything into rats everything is related to everything else. So I think of you know, even though I divide things up like that in my mind, I still think no this is one large interconnected network of concepts so I don't separate them, you know biology is not completely separate from engineering, for example, they're both just two ways of looking at the same thing.

So. What are the principles of usability? In a sense usability is social. In the sense that. You know. At its core it's thinking about communication. But the first and most important principle is can you search your own learning? I have a my basement now. About. I guess it's eight or ten large two cubic foot two square cubic two cubic foot boxes cardboard boxing two cubes is what they're called filled with notes that I took in the university and I wrote detailed notes when I was studying.

They're great notes but they're useless to me because I can't search through them. I can't find you know that thing that John Bordeaux talked about in my second year philosophy class on the history of philosophy. I remember it was great. I would actually have to go down into the basement move boxes find the folder with that information in it leaf through the folder and maybe I could find it it would take me like all afternoon.

That's why I use something like Google Docs, I can search through it very quickly. And the other thing is consistency in the sense of do I represent similar things in similar ways, that's a you know, that's a bit tricky and it's a hard concept but. You know in different subjects you'll see the same thing come up over and over again and this is how.

A lot of this stuff on networks came to me is I was seeing the same thing in biology as I was saying in physics, as I was saying in chemistry. And then I just started representing them in a similar way and now I've got this thing that cuts across all of these fields so in a sense it's like mathematics right no matter what the discipline is, we're going to use numbers the same way in all of these different disciplines for me.

I use things like forms of argument different patterns, so I've seen stuff like that so if I see something. That looks like something else that I've seen I'll start talking about it in the same way. Um, and this personal. You know, you have to listen to yourself you have to ask you know is my method of learning working for me.

You know, let's. Now let's probably the most important question to ask him am I actually learning am I actually making progress am I getting better? Because you know, I guess you know, it's that question that doctor. Phil asks, you know, how is it working for you? And yes, I'm quoting Dr.

Phil. Without shame, how's that working for you, you know always ask yourself that and but ask yourself that of the very specific things that you're doing. I describe learning as a type of networks how does that work for me does that explain the things I need explaining does it help me bring concepts together, does it help me remember, you know.

What's wrong way. All right gorilla tactics. Don't depend on the institution to organize your knowledge. Key, especially learning management systems if you're studying at a college or school college or university because one day hopefully you'll graduate and then you won't have access to that anymore and so your whole knowledge base will have poof.

So start building your own. Knowledge management system your your own way of keeping your notes. Google Docs, whatever and. As I always say and back up your data if you're using Google Docs, make sure you save copies on your own computer always have a backup because these things go away.

Even Google Docs you might think oh no. Google will never kill. Google docs, they might they've killed other even more useful things so. So create your own knowledge management system. Create a blog. Just to take notes. Somebody asked earlier does your blog need to be good, oh you don't even need to tell people that exists right you can begin a blog just to take notes.

It's a free place to store thoughts. So you know, go to blogger create a blog take notes and and blogger and and wordpress as well have systems that allow you to tag your notes, so you have your organization of your knowledge give each thing a tag. And you know, and then use that tag in your blog.

That's a really easy way to have all of your notes match your organization and makes it really easy to search later on now you might be asking what do you mean by tag? Well what people do is they use what are called hash tags?

And a # simply uses the pound sign or the hash sign and then a word or phrase.

And so that makes it really easy to search because you're searching for that specific tag with the # mark.

And so you're getting only that and not just accidental incidental appearances of artwork it's much easier to search on hash democracy than simple democracy because if you just search for the word you get everything where that word ever appeared but if you use a tagging system you get just the stuff you take.

Save your photos and flicker. I've been doing that since 2007. I have some 30,000 forty thousand whatever photos on flicker now all of them licensed under creative comments, so I'm sharing them as well now, my photos are more personal than professional. I've taken pictures of the places that I've been and I put those up online.

But why not? And the thing is my photos are there it's a really good backup in case my computer dies and my computer has dying or you know, and I've got a pile of broken broken disc drives here in my office, so I'm living proof that technology breaks so store your photos and flicker you used to be able to store your photos in Google Docs, but they're Google photos, but then Google closed Google photos, so.

Always back up. Created. Gmail account. This right now. Gmail is is my main mail account, but I used to have a separate personal email account and then Gmail was just a backup. But what I do is I'd forward my important emails to Gmail so I'd have a record of them and then I could search through them using Google search instead of the email search on my own email which wasn't very good, so it's kind of kind of a neat idea.

I always work with several email accounts. Um different email accounts for different purposes. I think that's a really good trip, you know, it's like Hillary Clinton got in trouble for using her personal email account for business. Should learn from that, you know separate these things out business on your business email account personal and your personal email account newsletters on your newsletter email account important save for later on your important safer later email account.

Use Google desktop search. I think they closed fan desktop search isn't good yet. That's why he should be using things like Google Docs and and so on because you know, just if you just store everything in files on your computer the search on your computer isn't good the search on your mobile phone is even worse so save it and things like Google docs or on a blog or something like that, so that's usability.

Relevance. I've already addressed a lot to do with relevant texting, why don't I stop here and see if there's any comments because I said I was going I wasn't going fast so I'll stop here check on the time, how was our time doing oops.

Okay, so yeah, so we're almost done. Aren't we?

Yeah, so we've got a few minutes left but. Um, I will stop here but see if there are any more comments or questions and I'll make a commitment now to pick this up in a part two, we'll do another session, you know, maybe in September. I don't I don't know how long these are going on, but why not right?

So is there are there any comments or questions? I did not think of blogger in terms of you know, I think it was writing and it can be what you wanted to be yeah. I'm also I'm also organizing, you know, I learned from you organizing photos like in trickle so you've created a creative commons like a repository your personal repository, which is accessible you like your organization skills.

I love your table when you showed on the website because sometimes you need like an index page at a glance or table. Of contents. From places you'll be. Slideshare and you had many different tools you are using yeah.


Between them if we just put a heading and copy and paste, two three things then it's easy for us to continue. I was not doing it. I was not using group. Dogs in in this manner by giving it headings and that's better than using a Microsoft. Warren giving it a you know, heading I think Google Docs can be accessed anywhere.

So, thank you for sharing these gorilla tips and I said in the beginning when you mentioned the field, you know, I like. Repeating content and then we are repackaging when we are creating our courses, so again, we are feed forward like but that's really cool.

And what else share? Yeah, hi.

I'm not that heavy into you know, medium stuff but often wondered about that hashtag for the Twitter I did open a Twitter account and.

What do you do with that? How do you use? So, I've never used it. Well, that's helpful. And yeah, I do have a separate email course. Descriptions and stuff like that, but I kind of went away from it, so I'm going to go back and use the deck because that's that keeps my main email from getting clogged.

Yeah, so yeah, just a multitude of little tips, which I really appreciate. And and with Twitter. And hashtags. I actually use tweets deck. And let me show you this because you'll love this. Yeah, so Okay, I'll share this. So. I'll go to my homepage, which is this right? Tweet deck is the application and it's just tweet deck dot. And I'll copy that and put that in the chat in a bit. Now, what's cool is? If I come here to the search and tweet deck. I'll type in I'll pick a hashtag can be any hashtag and again, I'm going to use the #. I know oh yeah hurricane.

Laura, that's a good one.

And what tweet deck will do is it'll create a new column. Of links for that particular and it's over here way over here on the right for that particular # so now any tweet that anyone has tweeted using that # I can I can read them now. So here's one that I use for open educational resources.

It's just a search for the OER #. Here's one for scholar strike, someone's proposing a scholar strike.

With respect to black lives matter. Well, that's something that's interesting to me. So I did a search for that hashtag and now I'm following all the discussion on scholar tortoise scholar strike.

And remember I talked about back channels. Well what people do with back channels is they'll come up with their own #. Let's call this Steven's back channel.

That can be long right? And now this is the back channel for us. Now right now it's empty but anybody who tweets using this hashtag it will show up in this column.

You can see nobody else is using it. So it's a perfect way for us to have our conversation about this session as a back channel while the presentation is going on. Just one morning everybody can read your tweets right? whoever follows you can read your tweets. So don't say anything you wouldn't want to say to all your friends.

I love hashtags.

You picked up something interesting.

Yeah information and.

What time is it but it's. Very helpful and I want to go back and watch the presentation again but a lot of tons of resources and strategies that one can be the life the creating your website. And just a way to organize your content and on one now also I was thinking about you know, I'll try to start using that and and so that kind of give me some ideas and also just making creating things using your own voice and making them make me for you and and stuff like that and not get involved on with.

With other people's definitions and so on so that was very helpful. Thank you. Thank you for sharing comment. How can you apply the knowledge that you learned today?

Either I really really enjoyed the blogging information and I've been really understand what blogging.

Was supporting my own learning. I've never loved and I don't think even think I've read a blog. I really like the idea of. Importance of interaction between. You know, the human contact also building community online. I also like the. Idea that students should not be using me as the only resource that they should be accessing other resources for their own learning and and actively.

I think you're very much. Thank you thinking yeah holy it says iPhone holy please share with you if you think you learned something today.

If you want to use chat that you're welcome to share your learnings because you know, it's really feeling forward for the next session. I'll just to know what we should focus on you know, the concepts or the tech tools because today was a beautiful session which had a blend of both, you know, like consistency.

Okay, so this is very this was very interesting awesome.

So on. Behalf of all of us. I'd like to thank Dr. Downs and he will be doing part two because there was so much knowledge. He has which he's going to share and we're going to learn. Thank you so much. Miss tahi Nina and ask him on the market, so when any question so on behalf of all of us in this learning circle and the mascot is cultural college and Dr.

Downs we are very grateful and. Please do we look forward to learning again from you? Reza your welcome to share if you would like like to share.

What did you learn today? sorry, hi? Understand was yeah, but for big quick moment for the iPhone ring yeah. I really appreciate for the your presentation and in your presenters and your and it's a kind of the category of learning is a very interesting area for both learners and instructors at that that was wonderful, thank you very much.

So. Thank you and I will end this session. I'll stop the recording so you still have a couple of seconds if you want to ask. It's just like hanging outside the classroom or you can ask your instructor for something if you would like to chat with him for a couple of seconds or connect with him.

Or because it is also networking opportunities and we call this a learning circle because see we come together for more different fields from Kenya to you know, we have people from all over the world listening. And it's not being recorded so you can say what you like?

So I'm just curious because you are one of the original people that came up with the the MOOCs has really blown up and it's a big thing now and so what are your thoughts on that and then and do you? Deal with so in your reset do you see anything coming up in the future yeah my first thought about MOOCs as well, they're all doing it wrong, no.

I'm just kidding, um, For me the important thing about MOOCs was always that it's free and open online learning. And what the success of MOOCs has meant is that this now is a permanent thing we'll never go back to the days where there's no such thing as open learning and that to me is really significant and you know, it almost doesn't matter if there's following the right model or doing it exactly right the main thing is people now are offering learning online for free and not to me.

Is really important. The other things coming up. If you. Go to my thing that said e-learning 3.0 you can access that from my start page. That's the stuff that I think is new and that includes things like cloud technologies data-based content blockchain the idea of community as consensus and some similar topics.

And these are the sorts of things that I think will be important in learning and in learning technologies probably starting about five to ten years from now.

Another way. Thank you. So I once again Mustang thank you so much for attending and I will end this meeting and I'll send a recording and I'll communicate with all of you about the date for our next presentation. And thank all of you, I think all of you for taking the time to come and listen to talk to me.

I really appreciate that and thank you.



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