Thursday, November 15, 2012

CMC11 Learning Contract

The 2012 crop of MOOCs has been called the "Year of the mOOCs".  While there are a variety of MOOCs available; cMOOCs, xMOOCs, and a variety of other online LMS agencies, the majority of the offerings carry no formal credits.  This has been a topic of many discussions in many arenas of business, education and media pundits.  A multitude of methods of analyzing and awarding credit have been discussed and recommended.  An entire industry seems to have sprung up to address these and other issues.

Empire State College has had "Prior Learning Assessment" as a method of recommending higher education for college level learning obtained beyond the classroom.  Further discussion on this topic will occur elsewhere.  For now, my purpose here is to publicly share the Contract attached to this MOOC for those who desire to participate for SUNY/ESC credits.  There are 2 methods, to the best of my knowledge, in which to obtain ESC credits.  One is to register as a matriculated, or non matriculated student and pay the tuition for the MOOC.  The other, is to participate in the MOOC and then apply for a review of the number and level of credits desired through a priocess of Prior Learning Assessment, for which there is also a fee.  The academic ramifications of these two methods will also be left to another venue.

My purpose here is to make public the contract that credit seeking participants follow.  In this way, the contract is a reminder for currently enrolled ESC credit seekers, as well as a guide for those who may wish to apply for higher education credits in the future.  This is a guide, subject to updates and revisions,  and bears no guarantee of credit beyond the normal ESC course registration.

Creativity and Multicultural Communication

Instructor: Carol Yeager

Co-facilitator: Betty Lawrence

2-4 credits, introductory or advanced level


Increasingly, the challenges we face are complex and open-ended and knowledge alone is not enough to reach innovative and effective approaches to these challenges. In addition, our networked world can provide us with a rich global environment for creative problem solving.

In this course, students and mentors will interact through web-based and mobile-based modes, completing practical implementation assignments and web 2.0 activities designed around creative problem solving challenges in a multicultural environment. Connectivist theory will be used as a guide for navigating our networked world. Approaches to creativity will be applied to student-generated challenges. Students and mentors will strive to improve their creativity and communication skills throughout the term.


Students can enroll for this course for 2,3 or 4 credits. Expectations for differing amounts of credits will be identified throughout the contract.

This course is built around a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). In a MOOC, participants register, but participation ranges from zero to hourly engagement. The CMC11 MOOC is contained within 15 week segments. While there are 5 defined semesters within the ESCschedule, non ESC particiants may enroll at any time and create their own schedule.  Each week, Elluminate sessions have been held and recorded for all to view.  There will be supplemental sessions, on occasion, the will be live for participant participation. For each week, readings have been included within the session template. Participants are exeted to research topics on their own and bring the discoveries back into the CMC11 learning journey.

Students will begin with reading and viewing introductory material about MOOCs.  MOOCs are lively environments and one can easily become overwhelmed. In order to encourage some deliberateness, students will be required to enter their reflections in a blog. Through their entries, they will document their improved skills in creativity and multicultural communication. They will reflect on session readings. In addition, students will need to join Diigo, for sharing and annotating of online resources. The Diigo group is CDL_CMC11.
There is also a FaceBook group under CMC11 for those who wish to connect in addtion to Discssions, blogs, Diigo ad any other arenas developed by participants.

After the introductory session, there is a session on connectivism and one on Personal Learning Environments/Knowledge Networks. These sessions have been facilitated by Stephen Downes and George Siemens, respectively, who have co-facilitated MOOCs on these topics.  From these, students will acquire the framework for their explorations of creativity. From this framework, students will then investigate the topic of transliteracy and metaliteracy, new ways to navigate our digital world, with Dean Tom Mackey.

The next three weeks will be devoted to aspects of Creative Problem Solving (CPS), with readings and presentations about core practices. Students will be given specific exercises to complete and report on in their blogs.

The next six weeks will be devoted to some specific examples of creativity in a multicultural environment, including examples in Second Life, language learning, digital storytelling and grant development.

As the MOOC experience continues, with reflections and assignments completed in the blog and sharing of resources as well as class-related discussions , students will discuss with the tutor a topic for their final project.  The project should be a creative approach to multicultural communication. The project is required for 3-4 credit students and is optional for students completing the course for 2 credits.

Students will present their projects through Blackboard Collaborate sessions during the final two weeks of the MOOC.


Evaluation will be based on participation in the MOOC, reflections in the blog, references shared and annotated in Diigo and discussions in Diigo. By the end of the term, the student is expected to:

1.    Be able to describe connectivism to a newcomer to the concept in a way that the listener is then able to explain it to another person
2.    Have identified for himself or herself a Personal Learning Environment/Knowledge Network that s/he will continue to use for lifelong learning
3.    Have found and shared (on Diigo) at least 10 electronic resources on the topic of creativity and multiculturalism
4.    Have reflected in at least two blog posts about what it means to communicate in a global environment
5.    Demonstrate improved creativity through applying techniques covered in sessions on Creative Problem Solving
6.    (for 3-4 credits) Have demonstrated through a creative final project a connecting, integrating and transforming of what has been learned throughout the term.

A narrative evaluation will be written by the student to identify how the student has achieved these learning outcomes through the activities identified in this learning contract.

For students completing this course at the advanced level (and that is the majority of the enrollments), incoming writing skills should be sufficient to complete all tasks at an advanced level. If an initial assessment of incoming writing skills indicates that subsequent assignments may not be at the advanced level, the student will be advised to change the registration to the introductory level, so that sufficient time can also be devoted to improving writing skills.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Network, connections and learning concerns ...

We are a smaller number of active participants than in other time spans of this MOOC and this has created some challenges, asking for some serious CPS (creative problem solving ... as outlined and discussed in several weekly sessions and pages of CMC11).

A few credit seeking folks have been very active in attempting to generate some interest on topics and engagement of others ... duly noted and we appreciate your engagement. A few long term participants have also weighed in from time to time.  I suspect you are learning more about engagement and self directed learning than you are about basic content ... this is the intent, as you can also shape the content as you wish to use it ... as long as you use it :)

Critical thinking (knowing how to access, assess and best implement the processes of learning information) and more creative ways of learning and implementing what we know and what we need to know are two of the underlying concepts in this learning journey.  Additionally, developing your own methods for learning and knowing and sharing is the other important, very important element. How are you doing in these arenas?

As A Toffler wrote (back in the dark ages of the 1980's) regarding the illterate of the 21st century " they will not be those who cannot read and write, they will be those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn" ... we are now in the 21st century!

WARNING: this is gong to be a long post, as it is in the interests of openness, and that is also a hallmark of this sort of learning endeavor.  I received an e mail from a participant who is engaged for credit in this MOOC .... massive, open, online, course (although I refer to it more as a learning journey than course).  MOOC is the meme of 2012, along with GIF in the current list of most popular new usage.

I sent the following e mail as a reply, and now realize that it opens a number of areas you may wish to investigate further ... perhaps it will help you in your further navigation of this journey, and ... perhaps it may encourage some to start thinking and writing a response, or a community of response, to an earlier posting I made about how you might design your own "academic institution" ...
"invites" refers to the Google + Hangout invitations.

I am sorry you have not been receiving the invites.  I have sent them to  It may be possible that Yahoo reads them as spam and blocks them, unless you tell them to let invites from me @ come through.
One of the purposes of this course is to encourage you to searh and discover answers on your own and not to rely on being told what to do and how.  In addition, the session on transliteracy/multiliteracy discusses the multitude of methods of communication that have and are continuing to develop.  Additionally, the personal learning network concept encourages folks to connect and build on learning ... I know it is difficult when others do not connect and I am thrilled that you wrote your blog post today!!! Hopefully, some enhanced participation will occur.

As for activities ... there are so many you can develop on your own and share ... you may have noticed that my blog posts always include a photograph of some sort ... visual communication is a powerful tool for learning and reflecting.  There are some small activities suggested at the bottom of each weeks' run down ... perhaps you missed them?  Not every week has one, and there are always more to be found.  Research and discovery are also a part of this learning journey.  As you indicated in your blog post, you have learned great deal already ... and I suspect you have learning more than you realize now ... over time, more and more will become more obvious.  Each of your blog posts is a reflection of something that has piqued your interest and may even have been something new to think about.

Life is not linear and we learn as we go along, depending upon the people and events and circumstances we encounter.  Te definition of creativity is one where something new and useful is created ... this is not limited to art or crafts ... it is also thinking, products, ideas, research ... scientists use the basic creative problem solving process as they work on research and discovery.

Yes, it does seem that we are in a vaccuum and nobody is playing in the sandbox.  And yes, there are some broken links ... it is another part of that research, discovery and connecting to tell others what you have learned.  I am not a teacher in this learning journey.  I set up guideposts and many different types of possible journeys for folks to make.  Each person needs to make their own, unique journey and the intent is to share what you find and how you feel about what you find .... and you have done that ... and continue to contribute despite no connection from others.  Kudos to you for your perseverance, and thank you for hanging in there, venting your frustrations and making your observations!

As for not knowing about Blackboard or Google + Hangouts, the usefulness of Twitter and tweets, Facebook and many, many new and changing methods of communication ... research and reflection and implementation are the best ways to learn about them.  The tools and means of communication are changing so rapidly, it is difficult to get a good grasp on all by oneself ... this is where a Gogle, Bing or (and I just learned about this yesterday ....) can heolp you learn about new "stuff" as well as discovering "old" stuff ... like where to find parts for old machinery, or where to go to learn about the latest solar developments.

Yes, there is a lot of stuff out there and it is hard to know where to go and when.  And so, as Dave Cormier said in the early video ... declare (blog or discuss ... in the MOOC, Second Life, a Google doc ...), cluster (gather ideas from others and other places) and focus (decide what is of interest to you) and then explore some more.

By the way, you are so on target about the grade thing.  ESC did not give grades until a few years ago.  We wrote detailed narratives about the learning we observed (or not) for each and every student in each and every study.  I am very sad that we no longer do that.  Why do we no longer do that?  Bottom line ... other academic institutions and work/career entities do not wish to take the time to think (my analysis).  Folks always want the easiest way to make a decision and grades give them a way to say, it looked good (or bad) from the GPA ...and to me, that means nothing.  It is how you implement, integrate and continue to build on what you know that counts ... not a number or letter that says you have reached the end of your learning at that point on that topic.

I had best stop here ...  Blackboard is the LMS (Learning Management System) that the weekly sessions (recordings now) are held in.  Several people have already given me an idea of what they would like to do for the final presentation. Do you have any ideas of what creativity, communication, education, CPS, risk taking, your feelings about formal education ... anything that you might have found interesting and informative for you and your future in any of the 13 sessions?  If not, then develop something around the fact that you are unhappy about this particular learning journey and share that with us in some sort of creative presentation.

I hope I have addressed most, if not all of your concerns here.  Feel free to let me know how, other than telling you exactly what to do, I can help you. :)  Trust me, I can see and understand that you are learning ... and will continue to do so here and beyond.  Just the frustration of writing a blog that gets no response spurs you to write one that should get some feedback.  You have found a creative way to try and solve your frustration !!!!! Good show ... :-)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Creative development ...

 within cmc11 could be an interesting, collaborative, connective process with some surprising outcomes.  A few days ago I posted a challenge to all to write about what might a new form of higher education take.  So far, no takers.

This weekend, an article on the current MOOC endeavors of the elite schools appeared.  HERE is a link to the article.  A fellow MOOC developer who is with Duke was quoted in the article and has written a blog rejoinder and poses some interesting ideas:

And so, I ask again ... what might your version of a new learning endeavor look like?  I am joining Cathy Davidson's course and will work on developing a "new model".  Perhaps we could also connect here in cmc11 and develop another version.  Do I have any takers out there? Can we form a collaboration and develop the project?  Or, form your own group and work on the development within your personal learning networks.  Paint your own picture of what it would look like ... Make it fun and enjoy the process!