Friday, 26 September 2014

#PhD: importance of personalisation in #qualitative research

Although I know and understand the concept of trust in online communities, up until yesterday I underestimated the effect of being among participants to allow them to connect.

In my current main study, I am investigating online learning as it is done by experienced online learners. I look at how they learn inside of the course. I ask them to fill in and share learning logs to get an idea of their informal learning as well. The learning logs also try to capture who learners talk to, or reach out to, either to find additional answers, or simply to share learning experiences. And as the first learning logs are coming in, I read them with the utmost interest and enthusiasm. The learning logs capture the learning in self-reported descriptions coming from participants taking part in three different FutureLearn courses. Although my research is qualitative, I was not fully part of the courses, not as much as I wanted to at first. But then the importance of personalisation kicked in and now I adjusted my way of research a bit.

Increasing personalisation
The first steps I took to increase a personalized approach for each of the research participants was:

  • building different documents, research instruments and communications for each course. Practically this means 14 different communications, 7 different research instruments, 6 different reference documents. Not taken into account the small adaptations I made to the documents (e.g. for those participants joining the research later on in the course, requiring a different research timing).
  • ensure each document, communication, or research instrument was written in a personalized way (this is not always easy, but it turned out to be definitely worthwhile)
  • providing a course recognizable unique identifier for each participant, creating a visible link between a number  and the course (the unique identifier is a number used to anonymise participant data)
  • address each participant with the first name they provided in the informed consent. This I do for each communication going out from me to them.
  • add the unique identifier to each outgoing communication, making sure it is connected to that participant

As you can imagine, all the above measures increase the mistakes that can be made. I have been mailing about 900 communications at this point in time, all personalized - or trying to. And indeed I have been making mistakes (e.g. forgetting attachments, referring to wrong online links that are actually from other courses under investigation). Rectifying these mistakes is necessary of course, but it means sometimes participants get multiple mails, which is tough on their time schedules.

How far can you go with personalisation?
Though the learning logs are coming in, I kept feeling I was not reaching out to my research participants in a way that I could reach out to them. I felt I was missing a step. As such I strolled through the three courses of which I had participants. After having taken a look at the courses, I took another look at my research instruments (the provided learning logs in particular). Then I realized that my instruments were not personal enough. Not personal as referencing to the participants, but personal in connection with the FutureLearn courses to which the learning logs were referring too. I suddenly realized I could make them fit each course more carefully, hence making them more meaningful, more trustworthy (or that was what I was thinking).

So I went back to the drawing board, and before the last of the three FutureLearn courses started, I made sure that I personalized some of the research instruments (mainly the learning log) to make it more recognisable to the participants of that specific course. This was really necessary, as the third FutureLearn course (Basic Science: Understanding Experiments), was a hands-on course, while the other two courses I am investigating were more classic study courses (no hands-on experimenting, just understanding): one on Decision making in a complex and uncertain world, and one on the Science of Medicines.

More time, better realisations, becoming more involved
While having adjusted the documents and instruments, and beginning to get more familiar with the communications that need to go out, I was beginning to breath again. Gaining time once again. So, I had a look at the courses once again. 
This is where I realized I had not engaged with the courses the way I intended. Granted, for the course on Science of Medicines, I had planned to follow the course week on Diabetes only, as I have diabetes type 1 and I feel that all knowledge can help by keeping in tune with my illness. 

So I started to engage with the courses, and suddenly I realized that this extra layer of engagement provided me with a triple return! 
  • First of all I participated in the same courses as my participants, I could understand some of their remarks in more detail. 
  • Second I connected with some participants, hence becoming more of a 'real' person to them. Not the distant researcher, but the human sharing experiences.
  • Thirdly I learned the content of the courses, and got motivated to learn more. 
Wondering what the limit is of this type of personalization?

Did this result in an extra return for my research? 
It seems so, as people seem to respond more on my requests to share their experiences. So now I have a potential paper taking shape in my mind on the importance of being their as a researcher, also for online phenomenological research (which is what I am doing), and pointing towards possible effects of being part of the learning environment in a non-formal role, simply as a participant but for no other reason then simply taking part in the course. A bit of ethnographic research presence, but with less impact on the proceedings in the learning environment. 

Well, just sharing so I can remember once I write my thesis. Research is such a learning journey!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Whistly Bird? Flappy bird with a whistle, procrastination

A friend of mine told me about his gaming project a couple of weeks ago. He was all excited, and almost could not wait for his game to be full proof in order to shout it out from the rooftops: Whistly Bird!!!! So I told him, just give me a hands-up when you finish testing it, and I will gladly try it out.

And finally he let me know - proud as a peacock - yesterday evening. And indeed it is fun (read: solid procrastination!). So I gladly send it out to the world, as that is what friends do, and the more we procrastinate, the more peace we all have :-)

Whistly bird is build around the concept of Flappy Bird, but with an audio twist. You need to whistle to direct the bird in between the pipes.

The game information and download options can be found here at OceanshipGames.

So find your microphone set, get a glass of water (to use in between whistles ... I needed it) and get whistling. As a bonus: it practices the mouth movements, so it must have a linguistic or speech specialist benefit as well. But I must confess I found it hard, and I wished it had an adjusted speed for whistling responses. I simply do not seem to have a steady whistle in me (yet).

The short trailer gives the idea behind the game.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

#PhD qualitative versus quantitative #research: trials and tribulations

Why did not I simply stick to quantitative data, the beauty of numbers in simple, straight forward formulas ?!! That scream of despair kept me awake at night for weeks. Weeks filled with hopes and doubts on getting enough data for my PhD study, eagerly looking at mails and learning logs.

Up close and personal
Qualitative research brings along much more discussions with all stakeholders, for everyone needs to be willing to share. Due to the fickle nature of language, everyone also needs to understand what is meant by the researcher when ideas are investigated. A difficult endeavour.
Quantitative research is like watching ants. You track the colony, and you get a fairly good idea of what they are doing. In a way this is what happens with learning analytics or Big Data derived from watching humans as well. You get the facts of the human colony when studying learning analytics or quantitative research, but you do not get it’s spirit, it’s drive or reasons why.
I want to know more. I want to get into the minds of people, into the minds of online learners, and understand why they are doing what they are doing, and how they do it. But this means I need to get into a conversation with them. And as we all know not everyone wants to start a conversation with just anyone.

Finding what no wo/man has found before
The setting of my research is simple enough: finding out how experience online learners learn. To see whether the assumption of us ‘grand experienced learners’ is indeed filled with online connections (personal learning network), finding what no wo/man has found before (surfing the Web), and sharing (blogging our learned reflections, ideas and thoughts). But my chosen approach could not be anything else but qualitative. It had to be laboriously gathering written data from good, willing research volunteers who’s lives are already cramped with time staking demands. Why? Because there are no quantitative holistic tools available that will capture all learning (formal and informal), and offer insights into why these data emerge.

No holistic research tools, due to no learning blueprint
The research tools of today do not (yet) permit me to simply trace or track what a learner does while studying an online course. The course related resources can be tracked of course, but there is so much more that some of us do: connect with others (partners, face-to-face colleagues) to find solutions related to the course, gather extra information connected to the content of the course as well as our own contexts for the topic. Granted, xAPI provides some self-reported informal learning diaries. Twitter and blogs offer idea and diary options so personal learning reflections can be shared. But there is no holistic learning tool available yet. This is due to the fact that at this point we can only assume how people learn in such online environments (especially regarding informal/formal learning actions). So as long as we do not know what learners actually do to get to a full understanding of an online course in relation to their personal learning needs, no tool will grasp all that is needed. This of course provides a solid rationale for my research: getting a blueprint of how people learn in an online teaching environment.

Time is of the essence
Which brings me back to the tension between qualitative versus quantitative research. Up until now, and for this type of exploratory research the qualitative research options seem to be the best option to get an idea of how experienced online learners learn.
However, I do get the impression that all of us are losing out on time. Our time is under pressure. We work, have hobbies, care for our families, … and now with MOOCs rising, we learn as part of our lifelong learning or leisure learning realities. And this is where my research comes in, with yet another demand on precious time of learners that simply want to get on with life. This lack of time, manifests itself in people willing to engage in research, but finding they simply cannot do it (if they want to stay sane and on top of their lives). Some volunteers get slightly cross due to questions that they find irrelevant, others interpret the words I write in a different way than they were intended… and all of them have a point, as language is fluid, as is any meaning making. So, as a researcher I listen and try to find adaptations that can make life easier for my willing research volunteers. This is not always an easy task, but I owe it to them to try and make it work, or to make participation in my research easier.

Big Data or Big Emotions?
So now, with questions and discussions rising (on questions and instruments used), inevitably emotions come into the research and into the hearts of all volunteers. Inevitably people discuss ideas, have an opinion on what is asked and they feel positively or negatively inclined towards what is asked from them.
Sometimes this gets to me. I really want people to get a positive feeling from sharing their experiences, and in turn use their experience to provide guidelines to new learners, as well as insights to course facilitators and teachers. That way we all grow, and – hopefully – make learning a more intuitive, natural act. The way it is supposed to be.

Luckily most volunteers know this, they put their efforts in, knowing it will help others. And I am deeply indebted to all of them. The data keep pouring in … I am grateful.
(Another great cartoon by Nick D Kim:

Thursday, 11 September 2014

presentation on eLearning and #mobile influences for #ICT4D

Sharing a presentation I gave for the Deutsche Welle Akademie in Bonn, Germany. It was a wonderful talk thanks to all the input and questions the attendees shared, and the wonderful facilitation provided by Holger Hank and his team.

The questions were multiple, and gladly sharing those that are posed frequently.
One of the reoccurring challenges in every type of online learning (elearning, mooc, mobile...) is:
  • motivating learners to take and keep up with the training (possible answers: use an 'earn as you learn' approach where you provide extra incentives for those who participate, only develop learning that answers a real need indicated by the trainees, build a learning community, enable offline or at least asynchronous learning - synchronous can demotivate for those learners living in unstable connected regions)
  • how to attract your intended learner audience: that is difficult an in many cases (as Holger mentioned) also the case with MOOCs, attracting the right learners is part of providing a very clear course description, sharing the learning outcomes and the prior knowledge needed. The more specific the course description is, the higher the success rate for attracting the right learner profiles. And of course let your own network promote your course, they know who you are, they know your excellence. 
  • the connected learner as superlearner: is it a myth or a reality? This is of course a difficult assumption to test, but there is a very natural way in which most of us connect to like minded, or professionally interested colleagues (connecting through old school face-to-face meet-ups). This natural flair to connect (if you are such a type of person) is reflected in the virtual environment as well. But this does not mean that the 'best learner' is indeed a networked, connected learner. It could well be that you only need to have very specific connections (limited) or even that you can be really good without having connections, but ... that remains to be proven (and yes, I intend to proof it with some of my research).  And when you live in a developing region, it can be quite tough to be a fully connected learner as well (infrastructure, life and reality), which would mean an additional digital dividing factor turns up. For me, the connected learner is a good thing to be, but then I do have specific personal traits that would set me up with favorable inclinations towards being virtually connected to attain my knowledge goals. Big Five personality traits makes up good reading for this. 
  • what is a good way to plan and test new online or mobile trainings? Planning means: working on a need before anything else, get all stakeholders around the table (participation and knowing what everyone REALLY wants), define the learning goals and learning outcomes needed with everyone, involve strong, experienced instructional designers that know with which learner/teacher dynamics these learning outcomes can be reached (and still be creative and engaging), and test it in a similar, yet safe environment (e.g. in a flipped classroom approach prior to a workshop moment, enabling you to test what you have by people you know, and get feedback in real life enabling to see their expression as they give feedback). 

These were my shared slides:

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Free course on teaching connected #online courses

Thanks to the wonderful Maha Bali, I was pointed towards a really nice initiative that allows everyone with an interest to learn how to set up, facilitate and experience an online, connected course (cfr connected-MOOCs). This initiative is called the Connected Courses Initiative, and will introduce active co-learning in higher ed. There is a wonderful bunch of intelligent, kind and creative people at the helm (look at that awesome list of online learning gurus! - I mean the list is simply mind baffling!), all with loads of experience and insight in the matter, so this looks like an exceptional chance to deepen, strengthen or simply explore the idea and the actions related to connected learning. 

There is an introduction on the 2nd of September, and the first (online and free) unit starts on 15 September 2014... it looks like fun. 

The course runs from September to December 2014 and has 6 units all focusing on another - very well tested - online connected learning feature.  

Some words of the organisers (with useful links):
We invite you to participate in a free open online learning experience designed to get you ready to teach open, connected courses no matter what kind of institution you’re working in. We’ll explore how openness and collaboration can improve your practice and help you develop new, open approaches.
You can mix and match — take one unit or take them all, and go at your own pace. You’ll be joined by other participants from around the world who are looking to:
  • get hands-on with the tools of openness;
  • create open educational resources, curriculum and teaching activities and get feedback from a community of your peers; and
  • connect with and learn alongside other faculty, educators and technologists.
Sign up and receive updates from the organizers. Everyone is welcome, and no experience is required. We will all learn together in this free and fun opportunity to start planning your own connected course. The instructors, award-winning university professors from around the globe, are the innovative educators behind successful connected courses such as FemTechNetds106phonar, and the National Writing Project CLMOOC.
An orientation starts Sept. 2 and the first unit starts Sept. 15, 2014 and you can sign up and find more details about the topics we’ll be exploring at
When I read this options, I immediately looked at all the units and though: I must register at once!
Blatantly copying from the core website for immediate reading:

9/2-9/14 Pre-Course: Move in, Registration, Orientation

12/1-12/14 Unit 6: Putting it all into practice. Planning the connected course

Facilitators: Jim Groom, Lisa M. Lane, Jaime Hannans, Jaimie Hoffman, Mikhail Gershovich, Alan Levine

Monday, 4 August 2014

Serendipitous, #informal learning through some ages

Informal learning has been an important self-constructing force throughout the ages. At present it gains interest with the increase of online learning options (eg. MOOCs in all forms and formats), and it also becomes more visible through the concept of learner-centered learning, personal learning environment... So I picked up a mail from years ago, and revisited it with some of which I learned now. For I wonder how much of informal learning is actually new, in the face of technology I mean.

Informal learning - a (very) quick serendipitous tour:
Leonardo da Vinci is a great example of a human that was instructed as a painter, but through his ideal location (a city filled with artists and knowledge) and the need for travel (sometimes voluntary, sometimes political need), the exchange with other artists (peers) from other regions and the fact that he was able to talk with people from different trades molded him into a genius (cfr. a personal learning network, but possibly with less sustainable connections through travel realities). Da Vinci became interested in different fields which he than explored pushed by his own curiosity and sometimes political circumstances. Looking at his interests, it is clear the man absorbed whatever he found of interest. Chances are he would be a prolific Internet surfer and producer.

Learning from peers and looking up specialists in different fields to learn from them is a natural human learning trade from every era, and current technologies just link more of us together. Plato traveled to peers (School of Pythagoras) that were working on different topics to be able to learn (or exchange ideas) with them. There were more people learning their trade by themselves or with peers and thus the idea of autodidactic learning became a term. This term fascinated artists and scholars and the idea that a human being could become more by learning became a theme in the arts.

The child in the wild or the whole in the wall
A human being raised without external influence and becoming a better human being has been a theme in many cultures. One of the ground breaking novels that cornered this type of self-learning is 'Hayy ibn Yaqdhan' written by Ibn Tufail (known as Abubacer) in the early 12th century al-Andalus. It was later on referred to by Kant, Locke a.o. It later became a theme in Western literature (Mowgli from Kipling, Nel from Jodie Foster a.o.). So we have always known that this approach added a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to every type of new knowledge. For in a way expert learning is always a result of informal learning, for there is no other way new knowledge can be produced... the frontiers of what exist need to be surpassed, and only informal learning can fit exploring minds. And it is all to easy to leap to what Sugata Mitra and colleagues of that train of thought propose in the whole in the wall project.

Grand tour or Google view
Let’s move closer to our era. I see informal learning also as the further democratization of the Grand Tour that started in the late 17th century and which wanted to instruct (mostly British) noblemen in order to become more in touch with the most important features of their times: classic arts, becoming a worldly person. This Grand Tour could be seen as the next step from the early autodidacts. Although the Grand Tour only provided the possibility to learn, a lot depended on the person on whether or not and particularly what they would learn. I like the political awareness linked with literature that was mixed in the writings of George Sand after and during her travelling. So in a way the world became smaller thanks to technology, and principles that worked (or at least that worked for specifically hungry minds) then worked in another era as well, and become more common place. The more I think of it, the less important technology becomes, as we only embed it to fit human action anyway. What do we do with Google view?

Tech results from informal learning
The autodidactic, or self-taught approach to learning has always been crucial to IT (yes, we all know the biggies like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson - euh... missing recent women here). Even at the beginning of the computer age self-instruction was crucial, the mythical Ada Lovelace (image in this post) for example who developed the first computer program for the Babbage machine. Where would the computer age be if self-taught learning or informal learning would not have been an option? Where would anybody be?

To come to heutagogy
Throughout history the concept of autodidact learning has been spoken about on many occasions, but at this time in history this term becomes pivotal again (or with extra focus) to being an efficient knowledge worker. Self-taught learning is now (in part?) encapsulated in a new concept: heutagogy, where it is called self-determined learning, for indeed you need to have determination to really achieve deep learning.
Informal learning is now key to effective corporate, academic, personal learning and I feel that if I could only master this skill with zest, it will bring us closer to the geniuses of all times.... thrilling!

If I could only have more time to learn!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Blogphilosophy: does #peace, pacifist education exist in #MOOC?

How many MOOCs focus on building peace? It seems not too many, yet we all need it. So… this blog rolled out of my keyboard.

The summer of war
It used to be that July and August were said to be leisure months. In Flemish: cucumber time: a time where nothing important is said or done, and life can be lived and enjoyed in simple ways.
With social media, networks and connected communities… this is no longer the case. No matter how hard I try I cannot keep war and conflict out of my mind’s eye. It is there, and it provides me with tons of anxiety for I myself feel helpless while watching the world stage as it is alight with anger and grief across multiple regions.

Helpless one 
Here I stand. And in all honesty, there is not a single course of action I seem to be able to take. The powers that be are using all their influences - no matter from which point of view - to instill all of us with the thought that “war is necessary and good”. Propaganda has multiple tongues, the media is everywhere, and humanity has nowhere to hide. War never pays off for us normal folk. It never does, simply because it is always us citizens and civilians that pay the price. We are canon meat. Now more than ever, as guided missiles, drones, and long distance weapons in general are deployed by whomever, whenever. And as such, many citizens turn to social media (if it is not censored by government) to share their plight, giving a human face to evil circumstances on both sides of any fence.

Searching for free peace education
As I was taken aback by my own powerlessness, a mail came in from FutureLearn (blog picture), telling me the upcoming courses. And what did it show me? Four courses related to warfare and telling me either what good came out of it, or how war changed the image of heroism. Luckily one course will focus on trauma from war, which seems more in touch with the horrors of war. Although these war courses are related to celebrating the end of World War I, I was dumbfounded. And then it struck me that peace is celebrated so little in current times, and particularly in open education. But how can we propose education for all if we do not provide free courses on obtaining peace, on celebrating togetherness? Is academia so distant from the concept of peace that it does not come to mind to provide teaching on creating peace, or harmony, or simply living together? Or is it too difficult to obtain? We all know it is possible, theoretically that is. So I started to search some of the MOOC providers, searching keywords like “peace”, “pacifism” and “nonviolence”. And that resulted in only one course, a Spanish course provided by Mirada and not yet with a fixed starting date ( ). Of course I am not a specialist in the field, and maybe these keywords are not used, but still… it made me wonder in which educational world I live in. 
So can someone please build a peace MOOC? I am more than willing to help in some way (no content expert, but I do feel I could support in some way). No funds needed, just doing it will make a difference.

Ebola for humanity?

There is no greater good for all of us, except humanity in its frail and bare self. If we kill, we are beasts in state of hunger and ignorance. And as I learned in primary school, we are all part of the same ecosystem, and as such humans are vulnerable to nature just like all other living beings. Maybe nature will help us understand our precious human condition once again. Unfortunately, nature is already taking lives of innocent people who live peaceful lives. So maybe nature will march forward in its almighty variety? All it takes is one airborne Ebola infected person (I admit luckily it has not come to that, but time is always on the side of small living creatures and human and infrastructure resources are scarce in the affected regions). So let’s imagine one such a person is to fly to each of the conflict zones (each time at each side of the fence). But it might just happen without any planning, just nature taking its course, and humans dying equally. Would this result in more propaganda? Probably as any devastating human loss tends to result in propaganda, at least at first, for as long as we do not take up a shared responsibility of our earth and all of our neighbors, we are prone to divide ourselves into ‘good’ and ‘evil’ however stupid this dichotomy is in the face of all of us who try to live a simple life. But maybe after the pandemic, we will all understand our own vulnerability, and how precious life is to all of us and who knows rebuild a more grateful, open society. 

#MOOC for development report #ict4D

Finally the inspirational and informative report of Massive Open Online Courses for Development (MOOC4D) is published by the Penn University, and it can be downloaded here (link I got at first was not working, so added a new indirect link. Once I have retrieved the official link I will put that one in). The panel discussions are also available online here. The conference on MOOC4D was held in April 2014 and it focused on the challenges and potentials of MOOCs in developing countries. The conference existed of panel discussions on various MOOC topics. And thank you to John Traxler for sending me the link!

The 18 page report gives a very nice insight into potential bottlenecks and the status of MOOCs in developing regions. The report also puts MOOC into a broader perspective, linking it to:
  • Economics of MOOCs,
  • Open Educational Resources (OER), 
  • National and Global perspectives, 
  • Online Distance Learning (ODL), 
  • Expanding inclusion, and of course 
  • International development. 
The educational challenges in developing regions are multiple:
  • Teacher pro student rata 
  • (Digital) Infrastructure
  • Local content (and language)
  • Global health issues
  • k12 teacher development
The conference report offers a good deal of interesting reflections: the free model versus sustainability, using a blended learning model to combine what is best from online and face-to-face classroom teaching, ... and as the report mentions it is the start of the MOOC4D narrative as the new options are unfolding. 

Many questions that resounded during the panel discussions are mentioned in the report as well: "How MOOCs might or could fit in with Higher Education" (a global question and debate) and the ever reoccurring question: "how do we measure the impact of MOOCs". Where I feel the latter question is just a conundrum coming from an established order looking to calculate profit, where in fact profit resides in non-numeric and very qualitative profit. Education (in all its variety) works for everyone, whether you have self-taught learners, or kindergarden/primary/secondary/higherEd learners. Education is a primary human need, and should - in my view - not be pushed into boxes coming from production oriented analysis. And although I understand the need for benchmarks related to quality, getting education on the rails is the most important thing. Because let's face it, education in the Global North (and not related to MOOCs) still faces a lot of challenges. So any benchmarks based on a failed education in another part of the world, might not be the best structure to measure success. Produce education and rely on experienced teachers to provide content guidelines, they know. No matter where you live in the world, and experienced teacher makes a difference, knows her or his stuff and gets students inspired. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

#Phd update: interest for older employees learning research niche

The quest to provide research based evidence to upgrade or at least hold on to older employees, and build a rationale to keep them in corporations based on their expertise and knowledge. EU, US, Canadian statistics are clear, we have an aging population and there is a need to keep employees at work, in meaningful work based on their expertise and knowledge.
It is a marginal option that I can chose to work on after my PhD is finalized (yes, still a lot to do, but ... reflection is a nice pastime). It feels like an interesting professional research and knowledge niche. So this subject is just something that sits in the back of my mind as I work on my heutagogy-MOOC-online learning based PhD topic, for I see a future in MOOCs or by that time enhanced, global online learning - for older, lifelong learners, including employees.

While looking for a solid research definition of 'learning episode' I came across a FREE, online book from 1971 by Allen Tough entitled 'The Adult's Learning Projects: a fresh approach to theory and practice in adult learning'. The book is freely available online (per chapter) and chapter 2 provides a really handy definition of learning episodes, which comprises learning actions, and relates it to personal learning goals of the learner. I am still filtering out a transparent, useful definition that I can converge to my research participants, but getting there and will hopefully be able to share soon.

The weird - and nice - thing about this book and follow-up research done by Hiemstra (1976), based on Tough is that all of a sudden I realized it resembled the learning factors I was looking at: learning happens based on networked connections (I admit the term networked learning or anything closely resembling it did not come up in 1971, but grouped learning - either by experts, family/friends, ... - is mentioned). Hiemstra, based on ideas of Tough (1971) seemingly also looked at learning via non-human objects (check), and individual learning (call it self-determined learning - check), and offers the similar drivers for learning: professional, recreational,  ... (check) but also offers one that I had not contemplated, although very important: social/civil. So, I am adding that last term to my research as well. The sources of information have been changing over the last forty years, but again they resemble each other: written, multimedia, ...

So all of a sudden I find a short overview of what I look at, in a brief learning project dating from 1976, done by Roger Hiemstra (a very Fries/Dutch name at that - I am 25% Fries, so it feels familiar even though the researcher worked for Iowa State University), and where adult learning is connected to learning happening in older learners (older defined as 55-64, and older then 65 years). At present a nice paper that emerges from my pilot study findings, and relates to this over 40 year old research begins to crystallize in my head. And I like it.

The wonderful comic is part of: "Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham -

Linking #k12 to #mLearning, networked learning, cloud computing

As the New Media Consortium report is out looking at the upcoming trends for k12 and online learning, I was pleasantly surprised by the emerging combinations which clearly embrace new educational technologies and student-centered focus.
The almost 50 pages report is a source of interest for any teacher, school, or elearning expert. It provides a nice overview of new options and trends for young students, as well as interesting assumptions. One of the assumptions is: mobile acceptance in schools, teacher proficiency in a variety of digital skills, and even the contemporary classroom (filled with ICT and edtech options). This is the ideal setting and for many schools not (yet) achievable. Nevertheless the points raised in the report are interesting.

For those with little time a quick read through the 9 page preview report will already raise interest, but for those having more time, I do recommend reading the full report as it narrates not only what is to come, but also why the authors of the report think so, and what importance it can have. The NMC reports always have the same structure providing a nice overview of which technologies are already adopted, which to watch out for and what lies in the (5 years) future.
The emphasis on the importance of networked learning, open content (open educational resources or OER), cloud computing and the allround student (and teacher) mobility is nice to read.

Quickly sharing the table of content here:
I. Key Trends Accelerating K-12 Ed Tech Adoption 
Fast Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in schools over the next one to two years
! Rethinking the Roles of Teachers..........
! Shift to Deep Learning Approaches...........
Mid-Range Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in schools within three to five years
! Increasing Focus on Open Content..............
! Increasing Use of Hybrid Learning Designs ......
Long-Range Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in schools in five or more years
! Rapid Acceleration of Intuitive Technology .....
! Rethinking How Schools Work ........

II. Significant Challenges Impeding K-12 Ed Tech Adoption 
Solvable Challenges: Those that we understand and know how to solve
! Creating Authentic Learning Opportunities.
! Integrating Personalized Learning ..
Difficult Challenges: Those that we understand but for which solutions are elusive
! Complex Thinking and Communication ..
! Increased Privacy Concerns .
Wicked Challenges: Those that are complex to even define, much less address
! Competition from New Models of Education...
! Keeping Formal Education Relevant....

III. Important Developments in Technology for K-12 Education
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less
! BYOD.....
! Cloud Computing .............
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years
! Games and Gamification ....
! Learning Analytics .........
Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years
! The Internet of Things........
! Wearable Technology.........