Monday, August 27, 2012

Soft coral: The Extreme and Informal Learning Survey - MIT OpenCourseWare and Open Educational Resources, Written responses to Questions 28 - 42 about World University and School as a learning experience, and ways that it began

The Extreme and Informal Learning Survey - MIT OpenCourseWare and Open Educational Resources

I received an email about this from MIT OpenCourseWare

and you can take it here, if interested:

Indiana University

28) Some people learn a lot from exploring Web resources or information on their own. Can you describe your most interesting or successful informal learning experience? What did you accomplish? Please provide as many details of your story as you can remember.

It's putting together World University and School from so many different resources into WUaS's wiki, extensible, main pages (with their numerous, other, WUaS pages) - which are Courses, Subjects, Languages, Nation States, You at WUaS, Research, Educational Software, Library Resources, Museums, Hardware Resources, and the WUaS Foundation, - that focuses my learning. For example, each Subject page, becomes a focus for learning, and also an accomplishment. Perhaps graduate students, in particular, at great universities, will continue to develop new, WUaS Subject pages, as part of their teaching, and in all 7,358 languages. Facilitating such learning potential for others is also an accomplishment.  WUaS's Course-centricity, particularly from MIT OCW and other great universities' OER facilitates an academic standard and academic focus, but since wiki information technologies are so open, - yet another accomplishment is in how creatively open-ended WUaS is for others, as wiki.  (WUaS also plans to create a great number of jobs and eventually with people from all over the world).

29) In what ways was this informal learning activity unusual, interesting, or different compared to how you have learned in the past or compared to others?

To generate knowledge, by synthesizing resources in new ways (especially MIT OCW, but so many other different ones), - and also to make it possible for others to do this, for example, by teaching to their web cameras, or adding a paper they've written, or hopping into a virtual world or a group video space, to engage in the Conference Method, is something I think is different from how I've learned in the past.

30) Why did you want to do this learning activity or task? What was your purpose or goals? Please describe what captured your interest.

To create a free, global, world university and school, - with an all-languages' Music School, with all instruments, each a wiki page, for example - is fascinating, and will help so many people. (Thanks, too, to Creative Commons' licensed MIT OCW, as well as Wikipedia, in 285 languages, as precedents). It's a very creative process to create WUaS, especially since the internet will develop so much in the years ahead, and WUaS plans to develop with it. The potential for wiki academic conversation, for WUaS students, and particularly with great universities like MIT OCW, Harvard, Cambridge, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, etc. (and these - is an opportunity to further a knowledge conversation which is opening, especially since WUaS will be free. Universal education, digitally mediated, is exciting.

31) Has your life changed in a small or big way as a result of this informal learning activity or experience? If so, how?

I spend a lot (20-50 hours per week) of time developing World University and School (for years now, and the lack of financial resources for this thus far is an ongoing, growing worry and concern). WUaS is a big focus in my life.

32) What was the key moment when learning informally with technology where you felt a personal change? If so, please describe that moment, as best you can. For instance, were there certain things you recall happening that led to this key moment?

It's the generativity and freedom to create which are key moments, both teaching- and learning-wise, that was apparent early in this process (in 2007, in the class I was teaching in SL, and which specific conversation is the beginning of WUaS - I saved the transcript online in the first WUaS wiki) for developing WUaS as a personal learning process which facilitates open teaching, and is what I think might benefit other people who engage WUaS, both matriculated students (beginning in 2014), as well as participants in its open teaching and learning conversation.

33) Did any of this influence your personal, school, or social life? If so, how or in what ways?

The process of starting an organization, a startup, global university, has lead me to think of WUaS as a separate university (despite that lack of job and financial opportunities this entailed at other universities, since I wasn't applying for teaching positions, etc. because of developing WUaS), even while going very regularly to lectures, talks and colloquia at Stanford and Berkeley, at which I institutions I might have been seeking employment / teaching otherwise.

34) Did you face any obstacles or challenges during this time when learning informally with technology? If so, how did you overcome them?

My small savings are significantly depleted, even after applying for grants (MacArthur HASTAC, HP Open Innovation, etc.), unsuccessfully. I haven't overcome this obstacle or challenge, yet.

35) What did you think about during this event or experience? Did you share your thoughts about this informal learning activity with anyone else? Please explain.

WUaS began fundraising as a 501 c 3 a few years ago, without success so far, and I've talked with numerous people about financial resources, with no resources forthcoming so far. So, WUaS hasn't been able to hire anyone yet, such as graduate student interns from great universities. This lack of financial support for innovation has been quite a learning process in itself so far.

36) Who or what influenced you to learn informally online or use a certain technology or online resource? Did you have any role models or mentors? Did anyone help you? If so, how?

Teaching the class "Society and Information Technology" on Harvard's virtual island for 7 semesters, and on Penn State Isle for a semester, both in Second Life, as well as in the classroom in Pennsylvania (and other classes - mostly sociology I.T. related), was exciting, partly due to engaging Manuel Castells' work on the Network Society, as well as for the freedom to go in-world.

37) Did others help or support you to learn this way? For example, were there any friends, family members, or organizations that might have helped you?

It was great to have free, interactive classes online exploring the possibilities of virtual worlds, etc.

It was also particularly the office hours (facilitated by Becca Nesson) in Charles Nesson's class "CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion with Rebecca Nesson and Gene Koo" in Second Life in 2006, as well as in the class itself (prior to the introduction of voice in SL) where the potential for 'flow experiences' (i.e. absorbed mind viz. Csikszentmihalyi's book "Flow" - what enjoyment is per his psychological studies) in group text chat emerged for me.

38) What role did technology play (if any) in this key moment? Stated another way, how did technology help your informal learning experience?

Virtual worlds like Second Life opened a whole range of changes in learning for me:

pseudonymous / anonymous avatar/names

information technology of group text chat

being able to return to previous ideas in the transcript

the creation of a document with everyone's points of view and reasoning

39) Were there any cool, extremely different, or unusual uses of technology that helped you learn or succeed?

Changing even the social psychology of the situation, with pseudonymous / anonymous avatar/names, and therefore changing the dynamic of the role of the teacher vis-a-vis the student, the information technology of group text chat facilitated multiple lines of reasoning as (academic) conversation, with everyone being able to write at the same time, about serious ideas, and being able to return to previous ideas in the transcript, as well as the creation of a document at the end of the office hours or class, that were key moments that informed my learning experiences. The conversation potential of group texting in SL in a serious class influenced me in this informal learning.

40) Were there any particular technologies that you wish you had that might have helped improve your overall experience?

For one, I'm looking, for example, for 'interactive, movie realism' - so, for example, something like interactivity in Open Simulator / Second Life / World of Warcraft, but not cartoon-esque, and extensible to a 16 panel screen of '60 inch screens, such as the one at the MIT Media Lab.

41) Imagine someone trying to accomplish the same thing 10 years in the future. Can you think of what technologies or other supports they might use to accomplish a similar task? What technologies might you use in the future?

Building on #40 above, - a virtual earth, with all 3-100 million species, oceans, mountains, atmosphere, volcanic activity, museums, music, and MIT science labs, for example, in 'interactive, movie realism' would be great, and it seems quite possible, ... for both incredible teaching and learning possibilities.

In addition, if such a virtual earth allowed for the generation, through a brainwave headset, what we imagine, this would also facilitate great teaching and learning possibilities. It would be great to weave together, for example, interactive lines of music, e.g. counterpoint, manifest on screens, or narratives we could be telling to our children, all with headsets. And this would have enormous possibilities for learning.

Encoding avatars, visible on 16-panel screens, to be interactive, empathic chemistry professors (as digital robots), for example, who could make accessible a whole variety of approaches to chemistry problem solving and learning, etc. would also be astounding, and seems do-able.

42) How might others try to do what you are doing? Do you have any suggestions for others who want to learn on their own or informally with Web technology or resources?

The conversation goes on.  I'd suggest wiki-engaging World University and School, by teaching to a web camera, starting a subject, editing a page, developing a physics' research problem ... ... with its developing, generative, wiki, learning resources.

(submitted August 26, 2012)


World University and School would like to build the possibilities of innumerable, scientific studies of students' learning, (and professors' teaching), and particularly their enjoyment of learning, by MIT researchers for example, from the beginning, and in all languages, in exchange for free bachelor (, Ph.D., law and M.D. degrees ... and probably in WikiData ... so that MIT OCW-centric WUaS improves and develops with the web. What a trove of developing and emergent data this will be!



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