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Visits to Moms for Thanksgiving and NAIT in Edmonton
Friday, November 25, 2005
It is late Thursday night November 24th, 2005. I am here in Edmonton (Canada) which is much warmer than Milwaukee. Earlier today, I was in Milwaukee to eat turkey dinner at my moms house for Thanksgiving. I went running in Milwaukee this morning where it was 12 degrees farenheit and I faced a brisk 40-50 mile per hour winds (you can look up the wind chill). I ran backwards at 9 am from my mother's house past my elementary school (Irving) and high school (West Allis Nathan Hale) and to a park my uncle used to supervise decades ago called Greenfield Park (running home was much much easier. I was out for an hour in that cold). Keep in mind, that I only go backwards about once every 5 or 10 years--that is how cold it was today. In comparison, it is balmy here in Edmonton which is much much further north. Go figure! They are rich with oil monies so perhaps they can control the temperature.

I am speaking at a technical institute (NAIT--Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) in the morning which is growing fast with 18,000 fulltime students and 30,000-40,000 additional ones taking continuing ed courses of some kind). About 150-200 people expected for 1 of my 2 talks. Then I have a couple of informal meetings and a reception. Will see folks like Terry Anderson from Athabasca. Terry has a free online book. He says 55,000 people havge downloaded it. You can find it at:
Anderson, Terry & Fathi Elloumi (Eds). (2004). Theory and practice of online learning (An edited collection of research and reflection on online learning by AU authors). Canada: Athabasca University. (Free Online Book).

The people at NAIT are interested in blended learning--apparently it will be a knowledgeable audience. So I will talk on blended and also throw in my best of pedagogical strategies online type of talk using the perfect e-storm framework. These talks are partially sponsored by the folks at McGraw Hill. So that is cool.

On the plane coming over here, I read a story of woman from China who came to US in 1981 (after nearly being executed for university research she was asked to do--census stuff about the killing of young girls for population control). She also saved her sister from drowning when Chinese officials threw her in river a few years before that. She was deported to the US and she earned her English degree and then computer science degrees and became an excellent programmer and supervised the guy who started Netscape and then started her own company with husband. She is USA entrepreneur of the year. A wonderful story in Inc. magazine ( Ping Fu is her name. She is just a little older than me so it struck home. There is more to this story so I recommend you buy the Inc Mag and read it.

We all have a lot to be thankful for here on Thanksgiving. May we all find good fortune like Ping Fu but without all the suffering.
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Exciting Visit to the University of Calgary and the Learning Commons: To Blend, or Not to Blend...
Saturday, November 19, 2005
I visited the University of Calgary this week Tuesday and Wednesday for a couple of talks to the instructors there as well as from nearby places. The people (e.g., Randy Garrison) who brought me there were from the Learning Commons (see Kim, K.-J., Liu, S., & Bonk, C. J. (2005). Online MBA students' perceptions of online learning: Benefits, challenges and suggestions. Internet and Higher Education, 8(4), 335-344, They are perhaps at the forefront of e-learning thinking and training. I found articles on e-learning and blended learning at their Web site. Their president has provided monies for faculty to embed inquiry learning in their college courses. I read through the projects that have been funded and they represent a wide range of areas--business, philosophy, kinesiology, nursing, etc. And they are quite innovative. I was really wondering why they needed me. But they indicated that my talks on blended learning and the perfect e-storm went well.

BJ Eib, who used to work with me at Indiana University was there and kind and gracious enough to organize a dinner on Tuesday night. BJ got more professional development grants when at IU than anyone I have known. And she knew how to deliver high quality programming. She worked in our Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) which showcased educational technologies at IU to the world. Thanks to faculty I work with (who decided to build the Center for Research on Learning and Technology) and various administrative decisions during the past 6-7 years, the CEE no longer exists. It is unfortunate indeed. But that is life in higher education--a life of politics.

Now back to my story...They use quite a range of tools in Calgary including Blackboard, Elluminate, and a low level version of Breeze. Areas they have been pushing e-learning and blended learning there include continuing education, business, kinesiology, educational research, social work, nursing, and engineering. They had a large jump in online courses (from 400 to 900) during the past 2 years since switching from WebCT to Blackboard. They have gone from 60 percent of students having exposure to the CMS to 80 percent. Telehealth also seems to be important there with even some new ventures into video displayed brain surgery over the internet. The use of Clickers for live student polling is also increasingly popular there.

I presented in a great room in the biological sciences building with a large rear screen projection, a sound person, a TV at the back of the room which served as a teleprompter, a prop table, tiered seating, and just a great layout. It was fun to present in there. One of the best rooms to present in ever and perhaps the best one of the year. Unfortunately, my 2 short days there were cold. Next week I travel to the north--to Edmonton--right after finishing Thanksgiving dinner at my moms house in Milwaukee. This will be 2 trips to the province of Alberta in a little over a week and have never been to that province before in my life. How strange! And with visits to Seattle last week and Vancouver 3 weeks ago, I will have been in the northwest 4 times in 1 month and I have not been there in 4 years. How strange is that? Perhaps e-learning is expanding in Canada and the NW just as it is in the UK.
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Saturday, November 12, 2005
My son came with me on a trip to Microsoft this week. It went well or so I think. I talked about the 10 technology trends that have flattened the world of learning. You can get my handouts at the e-learn homepage The ten flatteners are:

The Ten Forces that Flattened the Learning World
1.Tools for Searching and Finding Information (e.g., Google, Yahoo!)
2.Rise in Demand for Online Learning
3.Open-Sourcing Learning: Sakai, Moodle, eduCommons
4.Collaboration (e.g., SharePoint, Groove, Word, Interwise, Breeze, Google Talk, Skype)
5.Learning Portability (Podcasting, Mobile technology)
6.Learner Empowerment and Individualization of Learning (Blogs, Wikis, etc.)
7.Online Portals of Information
8.Online Learning Object Repositories (MERLOT, Connexions, Careo, Jurom)
9.Open CourseWare (MIT OCW, Utah State, Johns Hopkins, Japan, CORE, OOPS)
10.Knowledge Brokers and Collectors

In effect, it is mainly about sharing knowledge. Each of these technologies or trends is playing a role in the sharing of knowledge. We have moved from technology to enhance what we do (like CDs for testing) to technology to extend what we do (like international collaborations in my class with students from Finland and Korea) to technology to transform what we do (with students writing cases and exam questions based on real world experiences instead of the instructor using Harvard business cases) to technology to share what we do (for example, learning objects). The use of MITs opencourseware and's learning objects are just 2 key examples. There is so much to be shared. We all have a role in that sharing. What will your role be? What can you do?

My student, Guoping Ma, who now works for Microsoft came to my talk and showed us around Microsoft for a bit. She needs to complete her dissertation in the next year or two on online communities. I hope she does. Her husband, Steven, and son, Patrick, and her took us to a fantastic Asian restaurant before we went home called Wild Ginger. It was a long flight home on the red eye. Nice to see Guoping! She helped me start CourseShare by designing the initial code back in 1999 for InstructorShare which allowed instructors in different disciplines to share articles, teaching ideas, media, etc., and discuss ideas in an asynchronous forum and to chat on them as well. We had perhaps 1,000 people using InstructorShare even though we never advertised it. I took it down recently due to concerns I had about copyright.

I posted some pictures from this trip in Flickr. I will try to provide a URL soon.

Alex and I also got a tour around the University of Washington as he may go to school there. He likes the city and university. It is around 40 percent Asian so that is good for him to fit in. The mountains in the background and lakes in the city make it a great place to go to school. Former students Barb Halpenny and Erin Maher now work there and they each showed us around. Barb took us around campus and Erin got us dinner. Each of them used to work for me at CourseShare as project managers 4-5 years ago.
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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

See my complete profile

Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

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