Cyberlearning Summit 2014: A Quick Recap

VicSutton80By Vic Sutton

[Note: See Bonnie Bracey Sutton’s report. -Editor]

There is reportedly a wealth of research being conducted unto cyberlearning, but there are no clear views about how to translate research results into action in the community context, in particular for schools or informal education.

This emerged from the recent Cyberlearning Summit held in Madison, Wisconsin, on 9-10 June 2014, which brought together some 200 participants — mostly academics, plus some educators, industry representatives and grant makers — to highlight “advances in the design of technology-mediated learning environments, how people learn with technology, and how to use cyberlearning technologies to effectively shed light on learning.”

Bonnie's photos

There was no discussion about quite what cyberlearning is, but it appears to be a fancy name for on-line learning.

The meeting was organized by the Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning (CIRCL), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and featured a number of eminently qualified speakers.

Yasmin Kafai, from the University of Pennsylvania, reminded participants of the remark by the late Steve Jobs that “everybody in this country should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”  Continue reading

Social Media Tips for Virtual Conference Attendance

By Melissa A. Venable

[Note: Jessica Knott, ETCJ’s Twitter/Facebook editor, has coordinated the publication of this article. -Editor]

Last month The Sloan Consortium’s 7th Emerging Technologies for Online Learning took place in Dallas, Texas. According to the latest Sloan-C View newsletter, there were “more than 700 onsite and 1,000 virtual attendees representing 47 states including DC and 23 countries.”

Saint Leo University provided virtual access to a limited number of instructors, including adjuncts like myself. In my formal request to attend, I made a commitment to “be active on multiple social media platforms and use the symposium hashtag – #et4online – to further engage in live sessions and network with other attendees.” I was fortunate to be selected to attend, and it was this social media commitment that made all the difference in my experience.

Recorded sessions are helpful but don’t provide the energy and interaction of real-time attendance. And there is a lot to be gained from following the social media backchannel of a conference, but formal registration allows for a different level of access to the sessions and other attendees. This article includes a few of my lessons learned as a virtual conference participant.

Prepare to Participate

Are your social media accounts up-to-date? This may be the best place to start. Take a look at the platforms that are being encouraged by the conference organizers and review your profiles before the event starts. If it has been a while since you logged in to an account, it could take some time to review and refresh the information you are providing about yourself. Keep in mind that these profiles serve as your business card in an online networking sense.

Follow the conference itself and the sponsoring organization. In addition to the conference hashtag, this Sloan Consortium event was also active with social media accounts focused specifically on this conference, including Twitter and Facebook. These accounts provided a constant stream of reminders, letting participants know about upcoming sessions, highlighting participants and presenters, and announcing schedule changes.

Set Realistic Expectations

The Sloan symposium offered fewer streamed sessions than onsite sessions, but there were multiple presentation options for each time slot. The streamed sessions took place in Dallas with a live audience and allowed virtual attendees to watch both the presenter and his or her slide presentation simultaneously. Members of the online group were able to interact with each other via text chat and ask questions of the presenter through an online session chairperson who relayed them in real-time. We also connected and exchanged thoughts and resources through our social media accounts.

Take a look at your schedule for the week and identify, in advance, the sessions you would like to attend. Add these sessions to your calendar. I was tripped up when logging into my first session (an hour early), before I realized I needed to calculate time zone differences. The website mentioned this, of course, but sometimes you have to learn on your own, and I instantly connected with other virtual attendees on Twitter who made the same mistake.  Continue reading

Girl Develop It: A Safe Environment to Learn Coding

By Jessica Knott
Associate Editor
Editor, Twitter

Fields ensconced within the walls of academia grow more technical by the day. As Andrea Zellner of Michigan State University points out in a recent GradHacker post (“Learning to Code,” 14 Nov. 2012), programming skills have become increasingly important in disciplines outside of computer science, especially for those teaching online. If you’re like me, the idea of learning to program is daunting. I’ve taken programming class after programming class, to mixed results. Zellner’s article had me thinking about the struggle to gain technology skills and how faculty members and teachers, already strapped for time, must feel in their pursuit. I asked for insight, and my Twitter network delivered yet again.

Antaya and Zellner

Erin Antaya (@gypsymama75), with a 10-year background in education and counseling and experience working for her family’s business and Biggby Coffee, turned me onto a group called Girl Develop It (@girldevelopit). Girl? Develop It? How had I never heard of this before? With more research, I discovered they are everywhere, and Erin, along with the founders of the Detroit Chapter of Girl Develop It (@GDIdet), Michelle Srbinovich and Erika Carlson, were kind enough to speak to me about what it all means.

Carlson and Srbinovich

Erin took to meetup.com and found the class offered at WDET in Detroit. “It was awesome,” she says. “The class [was] a safe and comfortable environment to ask questions and network.” According to Srbinovich, the story behind the Detroit chapter is amazing. In March 2012, she wanted to learn to code before the year’s end and set about finding the means to learn. In the process, she found Girl Develop It, and, she says, “The prospect of having an in-person introduction to web development and a female support system was exciting, and I knew it would give me extra motivation to continue learning.” Knowing others would feel the same she started her own group. The Detroit chapter was born.   Continue reading