First, the post. Clint Lalonde discusses the widespread adoption of Zoom to support online learning in the current crisis. Why Zoom? Lalonde offers various explanations (incumbency, marketing, business model) but the main reason is this: it actually works. Lalonde also depicts the company as a "move fast and break things" company, but nobody cared about any of that until we all started using it. If Zoom hadn't made tech that works, nobody would be having this conversation. Now that they're successful, everyone's a critic. As though we should have just been satisfied with all the non-functioning conferencing solutions out there (you know who you are).
Now for a postscript. Lalonde says "I don’t think what is happening right now can be or should be considered online learning or distance education... Online learning is planned, deliberate and thoughtful in the sense that online courses often take months or even years to develop, not days or weeks." No. No no no. People who think like this are the ones who are breaking online learning. Look at the newly resurgent Twitter, "a lot of great sharing, support and conversations. It feels like the best of what Twitter and a PLN is." Exactly. People stopped planning their Twitter messaging strategy and just started sharing.
Online learning should be fast, fun, crazy, unplanned, and inspirational. It should be provided by people who are more like DJs than television producers. It should move and swim, be ad hoc and on the fly. I wish educators could get out of their classroom mindsets and actually go out and look at how the rest of the world is doing online learning. Watch a dance craze spread through TikTok, follow through-hikers on YouTube, organize a community in a Facebook group, discuss economic policy in Slack. All of that is online learning - and (resolutely) not the carefully planned courses that are over-engineered, over-produced, over-priced and over-wrought.
A few days ago I linked to an experiment from Firefox called Scroll in which readers paid a collection of content partners directly through the browser. "Not so fast," I said. "What about the rest of us?" We get the answer today in "a Web Monetization experiment using Coil to support payments to creators in the Firefox Reality ecosystem." Basically the idea is that you pay Firefox, and Firefox pays the content creators based on how much time people spend with them. I think this is smart - Firefox Reality is essentially a version of the web for virtual reality headsets, so the audience is limited, and the space is new enough you can still establish new habits (like paying for stuff). But it raises the sceptre of encountering “Error code 402 – payment required” warnings as we browse - exactly what we don't want to see online.
This is a good and detailed Guide (31 page PDF) on how to create a channel and broadcast live events with YouTube. Note that if you're not a 'brand' you can just skip over the sections on brand accounts. The information on live streaming starts in the second section (page 13) and is detailed enough that you should be successful. Note that you can get away with lower bandwidth than they recommend (I have), but you probably shouldn't try. Note also that you don't have to use an encoder (a webcam or your mobile phone will work fine) but the encoder allows you to do a lot more.
I've signed up as a member of this support group and I'm sure there's enough work for everyone who wants to help. Here it is in a nutshell: " the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and the OERu are joining forces with the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE) and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) to support education institutions around the world transitioning to online learning using open educational resources (OER)." Discussions are here.
This guide steps you through some of the basic elements of hosting a Zoom video conference and then discusses some facilitation techniques. Not deep, but useful if this is all new to you.
OK, fair warning, this didn't work for me, though the problem may be either me, my reading of the instructions, something undocumented, or a glitch on the site. But it's an interesting enough idea that I'm passing it along anyhow. The idea here is that you can create a Google spreadsheet of tagged open educational resources and connect it with an online search service (called Elasticsearch) to search and browse your OER collection (I tried using appbase.io, but there are other cloud Elasticsearch providers out there. This may seem pretty basic, but I can easily imagine this basic application extended with, eg., content-harvesting functions, content summarizers, automated metadata generators, or other analytics services. What would be great is if this worked just by following simple instructions, without programming needed, but we're not quite there yet.
So I'm pacing myself by writing this post on a rainy Sunday to give myself time on a sunny Tuesday to add a few extra minutes on the bicycle. Because, yes, taking care of yourself is the top priority, as Lawrie Phipps writes. But note: this has always been the case. When people ask me about it - whether it's personal self-care, personal learning, career management, whatever - I have always responded with that old adage passed on my the sailors who worked on the top sails: "one hand for the ship, one hand for yorself." And note: self-care has more than just the physical, social, emotional and spiritual dimensions listed here. Self-care for me includes learning, creativity, challenges and adventure.
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